Archive for austin

In the ZONE – Heart Rate Zone Training 101

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2015 by runmyssierun

I’ve been asked a lot lately about Heart Rate Zone training since posting a bit about it on some of my social media accounts. Now let me be clear about this because there is a group of cynics out there who are quick to bash this way of training and/or quick to simply bash me and all that I do – I am no pro at this. Heart Rate Zone training has honestly become the most rigid, difficult, brutal and merciless type of training that I have ever done. But I’ve learned so much about myself, my body and my level of health and fitness in the process. I highly recommend you give it a try because knowledge really is power.

HRZ training is NOT about how fast you go or how far you go.

I’ve spent these last few years focused in on how fast my marathon time was, counting my strokes while swimming laps, adding and subtracting and adding again on the weight scale, or calculating how many miles I ran or rode. While all of these things I did are important, I completely missed the boat on what should have been the foundation to this whole journey.

HRZ training is all the above while measuring how effective and efficient your body is becoming while doing all these crazy workouts.


Here’s the basics:

Get a heart rate monitor and strap it on as per the instructions. Find your resting heart rate by laying down, relax in a quiet peaceful setting for at least 20 minutes (preferably when you first wake up in the morning before any coffee, caffeine or ANY heart rate inducing/reducing medications or foods have been ingested). Note the number on your heart rate monitor. If it bounces around for a bit, that’s ok. Take the average. This should be your baseline to work with. Check your resting heart rate once a month and note any changes… hopefully you’ll see a reduction in that number as time goes by and workouts increase.

Don’t have a heart rate monitor and want to know your heart rate right this very moment so when you continue reading, you’ll know what to do and what to expect during your next workout? No problem. Heart rate is measured in beats per minute. It can be measured at your carotid (neck) or radial (wrist) pulse. Be careful not to place too much pressure on your carotid artery as you can compress it and block blood flow. Once you find your pulse, count the heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by four to find your current heart rate.

See the table below and find your age


Heart Rate During Exercise

Measuring your heart rate during exercise gives you an indicator of how hard you are working. As your workload increases, your heart rate will increase. Heart rate is also an indicator of fitness. The more aerobically fit you are, the lower your heart rate will be for a comparable workout than someone less physically fit. This also means that you will have to increase your workload to achieve the same fitness benefits as you become more physically fit.

Target Heart Rate

To maximize performance and get the most benefit from your workout, you need to find and stay within your target heart rate zone throughout your workout. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. A 30-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute. Depending on your level of fitness, the American Heart Association recommends a target heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your target heart rate, take your maximum heart rate and multiply by 0.5 and 0.85. For a 30-year-old woman, the ideal training window is a heart rate between 95 and 162 beats per minute. If you are just starting to exercise, keep your heart rate closer to the 50 percent target. Those who have been regularly participating in aerobic activities should aim for the 85 percent range. When measuring your heart rate during your workout, do it as you are exercising or stop briefly and take it immediately as it will decrease rapidly with rest.

Additional Tips

You should be working out at a level that feels challenging. If it feels easy, pick up the pace a little. If your breathing is labored, you are extremely fatigued or your form is suffering, ease up. If you are exercising in water, your heart rate is an average of 17 beats less per minute, so decrease your target heart rate accordingly for an aquatic workout. Also check your medications. If any of them have a blunted heart rate response as a possible side effect, the use of target heart rates can be dangerous for you as heart rate is not a good indicator of how hard your body is working.

The following is taken from Runners World magazine (click here for the full article) 

Once you figure out your zones, the rest is like following the speed limit signs on the roadway. Since they are based on your redline, or lactate threshold, that becomes the point from which all the other zones are based—anything below the threshold heart rate zone (zone 4) is more aerobic in nature and easy in intensity, and anything at or above it is more anaerobic and high intensity.

The key to optimizing this knowledge is to train purposefully based on these zones. In a typical training schedule you’ll follow the flow of easy and hard workouts. You might have a tempo workout on day 1, and follow with an easy effort workout (or two) on day 2 and 3. By alternating hard and easy workouts, your body is able to recover efficiently, adapt to the demands of the workouts, and get stronger.

Many make the mistake of training solely by pace and end up training too hard most of the time (la la pace). It’s an effort that is too hard to be easy, and too easy to be hard. Somewhere in between purpose and the point of no return.

This doesn’t happen when you tune in and run by your body (effort) because pace becomes the outcome of every run rather than the purpose.

There are many variations of the zone percentages so don’t let that confuse you. The idea is to make friends with what they mean and then create a training plan based on the purpose of the run rather than the pace.

Here is a percentage chart by authors Foster and Edwards and how to use each zone in your training.

Zone 1: 60-70% of threshold heart rate: A very, very light intensity effort level marked by easy breathing and complete conversation. For many runners, this zone comes in the form of a walking pace as it is a very low intensity. Use it: for warm up and cool down, easy recovery workouts.

Zone 2: 70-80% of threshold heart rate: A light intensity effort level where you can still hold a conversation. Use it: for easy/recovery runs, warm up and cool down.

Zone 3: 80-90% of threshold heart rate: A moderate intensity effort level where you begin to hear your breathing, but you can still talk in sentences. Use it: long runs, training runs.

Zone 4: 90-100% of threshold heart rate: A comfortably hard intensity effort that is just outside your comfort zone where you can talk in one-word responses. Use it: for tempo runs and mile repeats to raise the lactate threshold (redline) and be able to run faster at easier effort levels

Zone 5: 100-110% of threshold heart rate: A hard intensity effort well outside your comfort zone where you can’t talk. Use it: for interval workouts and the final finish of your race.

The aim is to match your training workouts to one of these zones to maximize every run and its benefits. When you do, you’ll notice your recovery dramatically improves, your performance improves, and you’ll have fewer aches and pains from pushing too hard.

How has Heart Rate Zone training helped me?

My family’s history of heart problems go deeper and further than cancer so I do take this VERY seriously. I understand and am taking measures to reduce my caffeine addiction that clearly affects how hard my heart works, especially during tough workouts. Learning about my own personal heart rate efficiency and effectiveness is has been a huge wake up call to me.

I’ve learned that you can be a 30 year old size 2 and jacked up on pre-workout, diet pills and in greater risk of cardiac arrest during a half marathon that she attempts to finish in 1:20 pushing herself at a Zone 5 than a 40 year old size 20 pacing herself at a manageable Zone 3 pace and finishing that same half marathon in 2 and a half hours.

Currently, I am building my body up at a Zone 2 with longer workouts so that when I do my tempo and interval trainings as Zone 4, I actually increase my pace and endurance. By controlling my heart rate at a Zone 2, my body becomes more efficient with it’s power and effectiveness.

How is this different from what I’ve done before? I love pinterest. Before I go to bed, I try to unwind, zone-out and get “inspired” by asking pinterest for workout motivation. What comes back to me almost every single time are posts that have “no pain no gain”, “train insane or remain the same” and other such motivators that tell me push harder and not give up no matter what. To me, this means I need to go further, harder and faster. How heart rate zone training has changed my workouts is that it has worked on my patience. It has made me understand that while at Zone 2, it is still training my body for endurance. I can spend 4 hours on a tiny, uncomfortable bicycle saddle – which is a tough feat for any human – but not have the fear of going into cardiac arrest or muscle strain and injury because I’ve built up the stamina and an easy zone. I can jog for 9 miles, smile and sing and two days later sprint a couple of miles at half the pace of my long run.  It’s the toughest thing for me to be riding or running at Zone 2 and get dropped or passed up by fellow riders and runners because I want to be with them, push with them, be a recipient of their encouragement… and I can’t do that when they’re a mile ahead of me.

Yesterday, a group of riders passed me up and as I yelled out to them “Y’all are dropping me like a bad habit!!!” I remember the wise words of Ramon Hermida:

One thing I learned a while back was: ride your own ride, at your own pace. I know what my goals with cycling and exercise are. I don’t let others dictate what I should be doing, and don’t even bother attempting to explain to others my rationale for doing the rides that I do. What matters is: there is a reason and I know what that reason is. Another thing that I learned is not to pay attention how others want to define me: whether it be by my spirituality, by my race or ethnicity, by my looks, by my weight, by my career, or by my material possessions. That is their problem, not mine. I am in charge of my own story. I can sincerely tell you that each year that passes has been the best one in my life. If not, then each day I have the opportunity to change it and make it so.


So I smiled as they all zoomed by me and I rode my own ride at the pace my coach designated for me to ride. And while I am explaining to you all why I’m doing what I’m doing, it is done in the hopes that it educates those who WANT to learn how to become a healthier, more fit version of themselves… and not for comparison sake or to compete against anyone. I am not looking for validation or acceptance from anyone but welcome everyone’s cheers and advice. I encourage the whole world to join me in this adventure but HIGHLY encourage you to join TEAM if you have a connection to cancer. Doing this is MY choice and I’m doing it the way I want to for my own reasons and I love that I am still learning something new about all that I do and all that I am every single day.

I hope that I have the patience to go slow when I need to go slow. I hope I have the power to go fast when I need to go fast. I hope I have the energy to go the distance when I need to go far. I hope I can do all of this so that I can make this the foundation of WHY I started this whole crazy journey in the first place. I am building my foundation.

I am in my now, investing in my future so that I honor my past and help make a positive impact on someone else’s future.  

I watched a movie last night that I got a great kick out of. It’s called Hector’s Search for Happiness and it chronicled this man’s journey around the world in search of happiness. During this movie, I was taken back to a time when I was sitting at the little bistro table with my bike guru at the front of his shop. He asked me how things were going and I responded with something like “what I would do to have just a normal average week with nothing super monumental or super devastating” implying that there were always ups and downs in my life.  The movie had one particular scene where Hector was in Tibet and a group of Tibetan monks were happily celebrating “all of it”. Hector couldn’t see it and didn’t understand. I think that was me. I couldn’t see it nor could understand it. At the end of the movie, the powerful flood of all the emotions is what clicked finally. It was all of it, the good the bad the ugly… it is all of it that has been my happiness. So I get it now.

In my own pursuit of happiness, I have found happiness in the pursuit and it is all of it and I celebrate it. (Confused? Watch the clip in the video link below) My wish today is that we all become as enlightened into the mystery of happiness. My journey has made me happy and I know my destination is still so very far away. Taking the difficult (higher) road has been hard but in the good, the bad and the ugly… I have found happiness. I hope you do, too. Cheers. May this journey continue on for a long time.

Listen to your heart… rate

Posted in triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2015 by runmyssierun

Be the weed that grows between the cracks of the concrete. The weed grows because it does not know it isn’t supposed to be there among the strong concrete. It struggles but survives and looks for the sunshine every single day. The weed never really belonged where it was and even when others tried to pluck it out, it knows it must continue or it will die.

I see no shame any more from being a weed anymore in a world where I never really quite belonged. I find strength in it now.  

What a week!!! I’ve made a major effort to minimize my caffeine intake down to normal human being levels… and no one has been murdered yet by my hands. (Whew! That’s a good sign.)

I can walk into or go to drive thru at my local Starbucks and they have my “regular” (Venti hot caramel macchiato skinny and upside down with a straw) ready for me AND call me Angelina Jolie to make my day. Yes, I know.. they spoil me! And I love it!

“Hello Angelina Jolie! Would you like your regular today? Or your Venti caramel skinny latte with two splendas?” asks Starbucks barista Alex in the morning 🙂

So when I made the move to decaf after ten years of the same drink order… I think a memo may have gone out to all the Starbucks employees – and our local PD may be on high alert to watch out for me. I dunno… what do you think?

Can you read the label? I think they're afraid it may the first sign of the apocalypse.

Can you read the label? I think they’re afraid it may the first sign of the apocalypse.

It seems that my coffee addiction is wreaking havoc on my heart rate training. In an effort to do my best to continue this crazy promise, I need to put a curb to my addiction to Joe and begin my affair with Zone 2. I find it odd that it’s difficult for me to train in this manner.  These last few years, all I’ve ever heard from people who I train with is “you can push harder”, “No pain – No gain”, “train insane or remain the same” so I’ve become used to pushing my limits and going hard – as hard as I possibly can – during my trainings.

I have an incredible new coach this season with Team in Training. I’ve known her for a while and admired her drive and accomplishments so when she agreed to coach the team this season, I was thrilled!!!


THAT'S MY COACH! LORI TIJERINA... and yes, that's her finishing time!!!

THAT’S MY COACH! LORI TIJERINA… and yes, that’s her finishing time!!!


She’s a beast and she knows what she’s doing, how to do it and how I need to adjust to do it, too. Keeping my workout routines but instead of focusing on speed and distance, she has me focusing on my heart rate zones.

Do you know what your zone are??? Here, try it out yourself.

Did you plug in your digits? Did you see where you are supposed to be at Zone 2? Ok, good. Now get that heart rate monitor and go run some intervals and try to keep it at Zone 2 and your regular run pace consistent. Or try doing a long run, say 8 miles and see how long it takes you to complete if you never go over your Zone 2 max number.


I don’t take pre-workouts. I don’t take any of that Advocare, Zeal, Plexus, IDlife, Herbalife, etc. or any other medication that messes with your heart rate and blood pressure. But I do drink an average of two pots of coffee a day. I know… I know.

So now, I’m on week three of extremely limited caffeine intake – not gonna tell you how much because I still have issues and I may go postal from admitting how bad I am and it’s none of your beeswax anyway. And there haven’t been any fatalities… yet. (Heavy emphasis on the YET) Can you feel my pain???

To date, so far I’ve gone from 135/89 in May to 128/78 in June to 120/73 this past Thursday. Baby steps in the right direction.

I’ve been consistent in my workouts and finally felt a difference yesterday in my swim. My breathing was very controlled. I get myself really worked up I guess because I see so many awesome athletes by me doing phenomenal things and I want to do them, too, forgetting that I don’t have the athletic experience and foundation that they have. These things take time and I have to constantly remind myself of that. sigh

I have also taken advantage of the network of doctors that I work around closely with. Adding Dr. Joel Solis and Dr. Joey Cadena has been reassuring to me this week as well. I should get some results from their findings later next week.

While some of my trainings have been under the radar, I’ve had some fun posting my anxiety filled musings on social media. Here’s some of them…

11011120_10155804743495068_5943489716128624158_n (1) 11027125_10155808888640068_235380690243121300_n 11705133_10155816936300068_6857811918016163866_n 11667299_10155816936610068_578493027482792462_n 11208637_10155820839855068_2671076773326002816_n

Oh! By the way… it’s that time again to begin looking for sponsors this season. Would you like to sponsor me and/or the Team? See that donation box? No??? Oh… ok.. I’ll just post it here for your convenience. Feel free to drop in $20 or $200 or $2000. However, if you would like recognition – and I’m all about sponsor recognition – contact me to see how we can partner up to beat cancer.

And the link is here, too:

Heal Over

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2015 by runmyssierun


Mission moment: “It’s not about me and it’s not about Dezma losing her fight against cancer. We are all still here, fighting for her and every other person fighting. So long as we continue to fight, we aren’t losing! Dezma hasn’t lost the fight.”


German, my run guru and cheerleader of my crazy dreams, advises the new team members on shoes, form, gear, practice, nutrition, hydration and consistency.


Sarah pacing Angel because sometimes he needs that extra little push at the end


I met Rolando about two years ago and finally got him onto our TEAM!!! I’m so happy and proud of him!!!


Sarah and Gio soaking up the sun


The first day of practice, a group practice with both the Marathon team and the Triathlon team, was so incredibly beautiful!!! The skies were blue, the air was crisp, our smiles were big and our hearts were warmed because Sarah was right there with us!!!

I talked about perception earlier and I’ve taken it deep into my heart and hoping to better show you what I see. Learning how to use the new gopro and have a ways to go… and no time to do it in!!! I’ll do the best that I can. I had to change the original song and quickly use one that Youtube chose FOR me and it ended up chopping it at the end instead of the fade out that made Jeanice’s flirty little hop at the end kinda cut off…

Training, watching what I eat, fundraising and learning new camera and video editing tricks is really tough.

Shouldn’t complain though… it really was a stunning day with great people!!!


myssie running 3

It really felt great to be out here again with this group!

Redemption at TRIROCK Austin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2014 by runmyssierun

“Run your race.
Stay in your lane.
Don’t look left or right and wonder.
Your journey is perfectly yours.”
~Angelah Johnson

7 seconds!!! 7 more seconds and I would have been DEAD LAST in my age group division at Trirock on Monday and I’ve never been more happy or proud of myself. Out of 2100 people who competed at Trirock on Labor Day, only 19 women aged 40-45 dared to do the full triathlon. I placed 18th!!!! Why am I so happy???

TRIROCK austin triathlon Myssie Cardenas-Barajas Felt Bicycle Mimi's Miles

Because I got MY GOAL. Not yours. I reached MY goal. This age group consisted of THE most competitive women of all age groups considering experience and speed. In fact, the person who won the whole entire enchilada of the event was a 42 year old woman, a mother of two and yes, in this age group.

Did I let these women, these facts, this event intimidate me from doing this event or MY very best?

No way Jose!!!

And because I never compared myself to these women (or you), I was able to keep focused on my goal. REDEMPTION

I just wanted to prove to myself that all that training, all those workouts, all those sacrifices I made, all those times I could have slept in, all those times I could have hung out with friends late night with drinks, all those times I pushed away the pizza, cup cakes, chocolate, all my effort wasn’t in vain.


The self punishment I endured from the DNF (Did Not Finish) at the Capital of Texas Triathlon on Memorial Day earlier this year was harsher than you could ever imagine. I’m very hard on myself. All my life, I’ve done everything at %110. I cannot allow myself to be less than my best. I just can’t. I understand that sometimes my best isn’t good enough and sometimes I make mistakes…. But those mistakes are made with me giving my all and I learn from each failure.

I am no longer a beginner marathoner, cyclist or triathlete. It is no longer cute for me to continue on this journey. In fact, it’s actually become quite “in” to dismiss and ridicule me within the circle that I once used to train with. People now perceive me as a competitive athlete. They are so very wrong.

I’m still just Myssie.

People forget that the only race I ever did as a child was in Kindergarten and I got a white participant ribbon as I came in last. I wasn’t in track or volleyball or swim team or basket ball in high school. I was VP of Home Ec, costume coordinator for drama, a non-officer Sergeanette… And a prissy Miss Edinburg.


So if it makes you feel better about yourself to compare yourself to me, go right ahead and scrutinize my times, my photos with cellulite and extra tires around my waist. My game is not with you. My medal holder is completely full of all new white kindergarten participant ribbons that shouldn’t mean much to anyone else but me. They are not first place trophies that contain State or Region records. They simply symbolize a challenge outside of my comfort zone that I didn’t give up on – something truly difficult TO ME, physically and mentally, that I accomplished not just for me but for a few people that I love that can never do something like this… Ever.

So let’s get down to business and talk about the TRI.

I roomed with the Ericas at a hotel close by. It was by far the WORST hotel I have EVER stayed at!!! Even though I reserved a room with TWO double beds, they put us in a room with only one double (not even a King) bed. There were more friendlier cockroaches scurrying around than there were friendly hotel desk clerks willing to accommodate us.
“Could you move us to another room with two beds?”
“Could you provide us with a roll away cot then?”

It didn’t matter what we asked for. The answer was NO.

Fast forward to race morning: I was surprisingly calm and organized. I walked over to transition while the Ericas slept in. (I was doing the Olympic distance and they were doing Sprint so we had different transition set up and start times)

As I made my way over, a young woman asked if I had ever done a TRI before. “Yes, but this ones special.”
“Why?” She asked.
“Because I never finished the last one. I have to prove to myself that I can do it now before I can do anything else.”
“Whoa…. And I thought I was high pressured.” She said softly. “This is my first time. I’ve done sprints before but never this distance..”
“Are you nervous?” I asked.
“Good! Let it fuel you. If you weren’t nervous, I wouldn’t think you’re normal.” And she smiled.

I entered transition as if I was a pro. My bag over one shoulder and my helmet in the opposite hand with my stickers correctly placed on all items, I stuck out my legs for body marking and announced my race number like a drill sergeant and my age with pride and marched directly to my Mimi.


There she was, sparkling in the moonlight waiting patiently for me like a good steed. I set up my area quickly, took some pictures with my phone, re-read the text from Xman, sent him back a text and then made my way out. I rubbed the seat of my bike lovingly and told her I’d be right back.

Lisa grabbed me as I was exiting transition. “Come on! We’re going to be interviewed on live TV!”

This motley gang of weekend warriors that I have found myself surrounded by these last couple of years are amazing. Trirock triathlon was NOT a TNT event but they all trained with me and showed up because of what this meant to me… and to them now. All donned in purple kits, I stuck out like a sore thumb in my orange sunflower triflare outfit. But I was still part of the team. The reporter did an excellent job and I wish I had the link to the video to show you how well Cat did!!!

Normally Jeanice leads me in a little prayer before all our events together but I couldn’t find her. She must have gone to the portapotties and got stuck in line. So I quickly grabbed Cats hands, looked up at her and blurted out “I can’t find Jeanice for prayer so you’re my Jeanice now.”

I said a short prayer, gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and lined up to Jump off the dock. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and opened them to Ben standing beside me with a big hug.

“I know today means a lot to you. You’re going to be fine. Have fun.”

And as I get closer moving like cattle to the dock, I see Anita with her camera. I wave her down making it impossible for her to get a good shot and I jump the barrier to give her the biggest hug ever. Anita was the first person I saw when I was dragged out of the water at CapTex. I sobbed uncontrollably that day on her shoulder. This morning was no different. The entire crowd saw the emotion between us and cheered me on. It must have been a sight because a photographer from a trade magazine asked if I always get this emotional before triathlons.
I responded with “Her daughter has cancer. I lost my mom to cancer. I’m doing this for them. I can’t fail.” And then he started crying!!!

10658765_370619459773791_684949514816928970_o 10518587_370619486440455_7190782060592891577_o

And there I was at edge of the dock awaiting my turn quickly trying to figure out if I need to have my hand on my goggles or on my Garmin start button….


I should have had my hand on my goggles. I plunged into the warm murky water and went deep… so deep I swear I must have been inches away from the center of the Earth. It seemed like an eternity!!! What in the world??? Seriously, it cannot be THIS deep!!!

Calm down Myssie. Its just your nerves. Grab your goggles. You’re fine. You’re just fine. Wait. Wait.


My head broke the water’s surface and I took a deep breath, adjusted my goggles and calmly began to swim. My strokes were perfectly timed. Slow and steady and strong. I kept my head up and out of the water. Coach W’s superman drills had helped tremendously and I was confidently going straight. My neck was hurting but I didn’t want to risk going a stray on my course and adding more distance than what was needed. 100. Turn right.

“You’re going too slow Myssie! Come on! Speed it up! You can go faster than this!” my evil inner voice yells at me. Hoards of swimmers skim past me and my “no wake zone” filling me with anxiety.

No! Stop it! Shut up! I don’t care who’s watching my time right now, who’s swimming past me nor who’s making fun of how much faster they are than I am. This is MY race and I am going to do everything possible to make sure I finish strong.. not fast. STRONG! YOU HEAR ME?!?!?

Ha! I put her in her place didn’t I? 200. Keep going.

BLAM! Seriously??? A swimmer slams into me.

Stroke. Stroke. Keep those knees tight and ankles light. Stroke. Stroke. 300.


With my head still up and out of the water, I felt my legs drift down. I knew I was creating drag but still too scared to trust myself with my head down and drifting off course with my drunk swerving swimming habits. My neck was really killing me at this time but I wouldn’t dare allow myself to stop.

“If you stop now, you’ll keep stopping throughout the race. Whatever you do, DO NOT STOP. DON’T YOU DARE STOP!” my inner voice keeps yelling.


Ok, this is where it happened. I was at the 500 mark at CapTexTri when I had my first cough attack. I’m fine now. Keep going. Keep going.


Yes! You’re doing it Myssie! You are doing this!!!

Arghhh!!! Stop it! Stop thinking about this so much! Ok…. then what am I supposed to think about?

700 meters. This is the point where I was removed from the last triathlon I did… on this exact same course.


As I take my breaths off to my left side, I can see from the corner of my eye people cheering from the bridge. I hear my name being yelled out. What??? Who in the world is that?

DON’T YOU DARE LOOK! Stay focused! You’re doing so well!!!! 800!!!! Right turn.

I felt the change in the current as I made my turn. I saw the 900 right in front of me. It seemed so close!

Come on Myssie! Push it hard now! Yes! Yes! Yes! 900!!! Right turn!!!


Oh my God! God! Momma! MOMMA!!! DID YOU SEE THAT??? DID YOU SEE ME??? DID YOU SEE??? I felt like a six year old girl making it across the monkey bars for the first time on the playground making sure that Mom saw while she was sitting on the bench nearby.

And just then… right that moment… the sun came out in such a glorious manner that each wave shimmered around me in ripples of gold glitter. I had surpassed my own personal moment of doubt and conquered it… and Momma was there to see me.

“Don’t get all happy now. You’ve still got half way to swim yet you silly girl!” My cocky inner voice never seems to let me win.

Alright, let’s speed things up a bit. BLAM! Dangit! Who are these guys in the silver caps that keep swimming into me?!?!?

I duck my head in and pick up my pace… finally! I sight every third stroke, keeping my form and finally resting my neck a little better. BLAM!!! Ok, seriously. This really needs to stop now. *I’ll bet I rolled my eyes in the water.


I didn’t even see any of the other marker buoys after that. I only saw the screaming crowd by the finish and all the kayaks blocking me from it!!! What? Why are there so many kayaks there? Ugh! Why don’t they get out of the way??? Don’t they know…..


ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! LAKE WEEEEEEEDDDDDD!!!!! LAKE WEED! LAKE WEED! IT’S EVERYWHERE! OMG! IT’S ATTACKING ME! Grabbing my arms! my hands! crawling around my neck! OMG! It’s trying to get into my mouth! OMG OMG OMG!!!

Yes, I screamed like a little girl. I admit it. There.

And so did everyone else.

img2012-06-19-19h51m55s1516654b62a-d0f4-4ef1-8214-7e724d850c0e 080212gm_plants_4_1527436a

The hydrilla infestation was so thick that you could not swim through it. I sloshed through the icky slimy vicious floating jungle for what seemed like the equivalent of the time I spent in high school and climbed out of Lady Bird Lake looking like the swamp monster. A man came up to me and immediately asked if I was ok.

Yes, I think so.

And that’s when I felt the ickies attack. All those weed leaves that were left on my were moving on my skin!!! Ewwww!!! I must have jumped up and around trying to brush off the ickies when the man tries to unzip my sunflower tri suit.

NOOOOO!!!! It’s a trisuit NOT a wet suit!!!

It suddenly dawned on him that there was nothing underneath it but my birthday suit!!! Good thing I took off towards T1 so that the photographer couldn’t catch him blushing!!!

Ahhhhhh finally! I ran barefoot almost a mile to T1 where I knew my Mimi was eager to get going. And so was I!!!

As I removed my Mimi from her rack and trotted her to the mount line, the volunteers began buzzing about the matchy matchy orange kit and bike ensemble I had.

“Nice Kit!”

“You are styling girl!”

“Wow! I love your trisuit!”

TRIROCK austin triathlon Myssie Cardenas-Barajas Felt Bicycle Mimi's Miles

The compliments were endless the whole time I was riding. But shortly after I was on the course, going South on Congress, I noticed my bike feeling heavy. I couldn’t pin point it. Was it because I had missed so many 5am rides that I lost my mojo? Was it that I hadn’t been to Austin in a while and needed more hill training? Was it the new tires I had put on and just wasn’t used to the new treads? What ever it was, I decided, I was just going to push through it. I didn’t stop in the swim so I certainly wasn’t going to stop in the bike!

Going North on Congress was a blast!!! I messed up my Garmin… AGAIN… by hitting the wrong button so I didn’t know how fast I was going. And again… I reminded myself… today is not about speed. It’s about finishing something I started.

After my first loop, a young female volunteer yelled out for me to stay to the right. I made a wrong turn. I should have continued straight. She apologized the next time I went around but by that time, I had already done an extra loop on my bike route.

Eh, it’s ok. It’s not like I have to worry about someone accusing me of skipping a loop, right?


After my ride, I jumped off and trotted my Mimi back to her parking space. I plopped down on my towel to spray my hamstrings with biofreeze and looked up. THATs when I noticed that her tire was completely FLAT!!! No wonder she felt heavy!!! (these photos were taken at the beginning of the course… it must have been a slow leak or caused by a little pot hole I bumped along the way)

Eh, nothing I can do about it now. Go run!

I sprayed so much biofreeze that Zilcher park will not have to be fumigated all year long!!! But it made my legs feel AWWWWEEEEEESOME!!! Boom! I took off! Holy Moly! This stuff is great! My pace hasn’t been like this in forever! Goodness I feel great! I feel fabulous!!! I feel…. hot. Holy Moly… I shoulda paced myself. Oh my… I need water.

I stopped. I walked. Oh man… I think I just bonked. Come on. Come on. Get yourself together. Push it! Push yourself.

I grabbed a paper cup of water and dumped it on my head. I had goosebumps everywhere. I was dehydrated. It was almost noon time and it was triple digit heat. I stuffed ice cubes in my baseball cap and poured more water down my back and face.

Ok… let’s do this! Vroom Vrooom!!! Nope. Not gonna happen. I ran/walked intervals for the remainder of the last loop and then cramped up yards away from the finish.

741108-1080-0028s 741108-1080-0030s


As I crossed the finish line, my teammates were all waiting and so were the volunteers who awarded me “best dressed” and gave me my finisher medal.


I did it. I did it Momma! Did you see me?? Did you see me do it??

And now that I know I can do this… I can continue on to what I set out to do in the first place.


*So if you find yourself now at the end of this entry wondering if you can do that thing you’ve been wanting to do, accomplish, discover, create – whatever that thing is – trust in yourself and keep trying. YOU CAN DO IT. YOU WILL!!! Even if you don’t succeed the first time or the second or the hundredth… you’ll get there. You really will. Just don’t give up.

And don’t let what those others say about you stop you either. It hurts, I know. But it’s because in your strength they clearly see their own weaknesses. Let it fuel you.


Don’t Stop Believing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2014 by runmyssierun

So remember that busy week I was telling you about a few posts ago??? Yep, it happened!


Fabulous fixie with orange wheels donated by Wally's Bike Shop for our auction!!!

Fabulous fixie with orange wheels donated by Wally’s Bike Shop for our auction!!!

We hosted a fabulous mixer at Cimarron Country Club last Thursday. Auctioned off a wicked awesome fixie donated by my trusty and generous bicycle guru, Wally’s Bike Shop, and some ticket concerts to a great show coming up and honored a great local gastro doctor who jumped on board to help with the cause.  RGV CAP board members even jumped in on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!!!

10483955_10203334108606459_5717622574584355663_o 10562753_10203334145647385_7887059980717037132_o

Friday was packet pick up.

And Saturday was our RGV CAP 10k race!!!

Monies generated from these events go to Rio Grande Valley residents who are at high risk of colon cancer and are unable to afford a colonoscopy. Since colon cancer is one of the MOST curable cancers if found in it’s early stages, many understand and empathize with the passion we have to this cause and supported it with all that they could. I’m so grateful for the amount of support we have received!!!!

Oh how I wish Momma would have found her cancer in an earlier stage.

But I know.. I know..


This was peak week for my training and I’m pretty pleased. I’ve swam more than I ever have and feel very comfortable at the pace that I’m at and my form seems to be improving each time I practice – thanks to Coach W’s drills every Wednesday.  I still wish I didn’t have my crazy reactions in the ocean water but am reassured that Town Lake in Austin won’t make me swell up like that with the ictchies or wheezies. My running was probably the sport that I needed the MOST improvement in. It sure is humbling to see me go from where I was to where I am now. But again, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. So long as I am moving forward, I know I’ll get there. I’m feeling healthy and strong and mentally… I’ve put that sarcastic, doubting voice in my head securely in place… with some duct tape 😉


I sure miss riding my bike as often as I did. But I had to work on my weaknesses. Cycling to me is FUN so I know that on game day, I won’t be riding with my legs, I’ll be riding with my heart. As I should be.

Getting over my personal disappointment on my swim at CapTexTri will be an adventure. But I’m confident I’ll beat my demons. Lets watch and see!!! My story is yet unwritten and only me and my coach have my goals.

Self improvement has lessons every day and on various subjects.

I am a forever student.

I am still quite a distance from my finish line.




Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2014 by runmyssierun
I'm trying to contact as many people as I can that plan on competing at CAPTEXTRI and let you know that LifeTimeTri has given me a discount code that gives registrants 10% off the cost of registration and in turn gives that discount to the charity of my choice (that would be the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of my mother and Sissy). Please help me spread the word to your training group that you work out with. I know most of us have already registered by this time but if you know of some people who have been on the fence or are procrastinators, please let them know about my discount code CAPTEXTRI1402 Thanks so much! I know... odd that you don't know who I am but I'm basically a girl who made a promise to her mother before she died to do all that she could to never let any other family go through what we did. See you at CapTex!!!

I’m trying to contact as many people as I can that plan on competing at CAPTEXTRI and let you know that LifeTimeTri has given me a discount code that gives registrants 10% off the cost of registration and in turn gives that discount to the charity of my choice (that would be the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of my mother and Sissy). Please help me spread the word to your training group that you work out with. I know most of us have already registered by this time but if you know of some people who have been on the fence or are procrastinators, please let them know about my discount code CAPTEXTRI1402
Thanks so much! I know… odd that you don’t know who I am but I’m basically a girl who made a promise to her mother before she died to do all that she could to never let any other family go through what we did.
See you at CapTex!!!

Giving almost %100

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2014 by runmyssierun

Last night was the deadline for recommitment to Team In Training. This is the time when you question your ability to fulfill your training and fundraising capabilities and ask yourself… “Can I really do this?”

If you really don’t think you can… You back out and remove yourself from the team.

If you think you can… You give your recommitment promise to the team, the coaches, the cause, the organization… And those currently fighting cancer right now.

From the very FIRST day of practice at Valley Running Company…. All but ONE person stayed and now the inaugural Rio Grande Valley Team in Training Triathlon Team is officially in place. Almost %100.

I couldn’t be more proud to be a part if this brave and courageous group of passion filled athletes!!! I think Momma would be proud, too.

And to top yesterday off… I received word that Life Time TRI chose me to be their Ambassador for this year!!! Watch out CapTex!!! Here we come!!!

P.S. If you are planning to participate in this year’s Capital of Texas Triathlon in Austin, Texas, I humbly ask that you help support me and my promise to my Momma by using the code #CAPTEX1402 in your registration. It won’t cost you anything but in turn, Life Time TRI will make a monetary donation for each registration that uses this code!!! I’m super thrilled!!!!




Weekend Worrier Warrior

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2013 by runmyssierun

The last few weekends have had some intense workouts. I got the chance to ride with the Mellow Johnny’s group last weekend and witness a few of my friends compete at the Couples Triathlon in Austin. I got just as much joy in completing something that I once thought was impossible as watching others complete something they once thought was impossible, too! And yes, I had cowbell!!!

I’ll insert the pictures now and explain back later…

941240_10153011040855068_1315287801_n 14767_10153025868740068_987307767_n 1069280_10153049076515068_938454116_n 1075769_10153053244390068_929700647_n 27117_10153053391830068_932134151_n juan pelota 1 juan pelota mellow johnnys mellow johnnys

2nd point of the Triple Crown – CapTexTRI

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2013 by runmyssierun

CapTex Triathlon panorama

The moment is here. THIS is what I have trained so hard for. THIS will be the most difficult of all three challenges towards the “Triple Crown” that I am vying for. It is the Triathlon.

Allow me to take you back to Friday morning. I’ve tried very hard to balance my family and training these last few months. It is the precious moments like these that I now cherish so dearly. My time alone – just a few minutes really – that I have with my two boys before I drop them off at school. We go over the day’s schedule, chit chat, sing to the radio, laugh or what not. This Friday morning was certainly not a “what not” kind of morning.

I dropped off my “Little Skittles” first. We do our traditional morning routine – except that I didn’t make him his sandwich or hot pocket because it was Friday and that means PIZZA!!! He slowly crawls out of the back seat of the car. I tell him “I love you baby! Don’t forget that I won’t be here to pick you up after school.” He replies, “I know Mom. Don’t worry. You’ll be back on Tuesday after you win your race.”

Michael smiles at me from the front seat. We both caught that… “win“.

“Thank you baby! I love you and I’ll miss you.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

And he closes the car door and makes his way through the double doors.



I begin to feel the nerves set in. My eldest son, my rock, is next. He’s always been so mature and calm.. and so intuitive! He gives me a huge hug as he leaves but comes back to poke his head into the car again and says “You’re going to be great. Good luck Mom. I love you”  – He knew I was already nervous. He can read me like a book.

“I love you, too, pops.”

I return to the house to stuff in my over packed luggage and race gear. I drive through El Pato and Delia’s tamales and exit with two incredible bags of deliciousness – a small token of thanks for Cyndi who has offered to host me for the weekend at her house.


Just by coincidence, I am stopped by a friend right as I leave my second stop. She said she knew it was me because she recognized the orange bike on my car. She was on her way to the interior of Mexico to pay homage to the Virgen of Guadalupe for all that She has bestowed upon her.

photo (6)

*Remember that I really believe in signs — this was from Momma. A reminder that I was who Momma prayed to La Virgen for. I will soon need to do the same thing.

So I’m driving up to Austin (alone) and it begins to rain. After getting advice from my bicycle guru to pull over and take my bike off its rack, remove the front wheel and place it in the back seat of the car so that it won’t get wet in the upcoming storm… I pull over at the next gas station and do as instructed. I’m a little worried because I’ve never dismantled my bike before by myself. The guys at Wally’s Bike Shop have spoiled me by making sure my “Mimi” is always in tip top shape. I say a quick little prayer for wisdom and courage.

Tada! I did it!

I turn around and tada!!! Summer (One of my dear friends from PNO = Parent’s Night Out) is there at the gas station… Lesson: just when you think you’re alone and scared, give it to God, say a prayer and everything turns out alright.  Summer *coincidently is with her family and follows me all the way through the rain storm so that I am ok and drive safely in Austin – a little later than expected but I’m safe.


I’ll fast forward to Sunday, the day of the Expo and registration and set the mood by letting you know that the rain storm continued nonstop for all those three days. Austin is sopping wet. I had planned on swimming in the lake and biking the race course early that morning to develop comfort levels… oh well! So much for that!!! The rain ruined those plans!

Sunday morning I was able to meet up with the Cyclepaths and examine the transition area in full detail. We all knew our bib numbers and where we were to place our bikes and transition mats. We studied and measured the way to the lake and the way to the bike exit and then all the way to the run and finally the finish line. But when we saw the wooden plank where we were supposed to jump off into the lake… it all got real.


Each of us stood there with faces that said nothing but explicatives. We all tried to hide our faces from each other. We all knew better. So what do we do when we become little chickens? TAKE OUT OUR CAMERAS AND SAY CHEESE!!!

I took an insane amount of photos that day. I wanted to remember every single detail of the lake, the dock, the transition, etc…  as if maybe somehow I could unlock a magic decoder and find a secret passage way to the finish line and not have to endure the pain and fear I knew was destined my way. I stared at that lake for hours.  I stood at the edge of the makeshift pier, dipped my feet into the water and my eyes slowly made their way from where I would imagine myself jumping in. I then imagined myself swimming to the first buoy and taking a wide right turn being careful to stay on the left. I had a strategy. I continued… slowly, conserving my energy for the run that I knew would take me down later in the race.  I reach the next buoy and take another right in the same fashion as the last. There! Now I’m almost halfway there! Speed it up Myssie. Here we go! Increase your speed now. Don’t forget to sight every few strokes. There you go! Another Buoy! and another one! Take a right. Look up! Don’t forget to sight! Last thing you need is to go off course and swim extra! See that there?!?! It’s the arch! It’s the arch!!! Go! Go! Go! climb up the artificial grassway under the arch and let’s go get the bike!

Yes!!!! That’s how I’ll do it! I imagined it all in my head. I went through the whole thing. I had a plan. I knew what to do, where to do it and how do to it! There. I felt good. The explicative face was gone.

I think everyone else did exactly what I did, too. We were all a bit more comfortable now.

Onto the expo! Let’s get this done!

As I walked through the lines that felt like Disney but no ride that day, I saw many familiar faces. There was truly an incredible showing of Valley athletes already in line offering to cut me in so that we could chit chat and comfort each other along the way. So many of the people I look up to were there in line with me. WITH me!!! with ME!!!! I remember thinking to myself “These are the elite athletes… how can I be here with them? I’m so out of my league!” And regardless of how I thought of myself, they treated me like a rock star.


Wanting to record every moment of this, I handed my phone camera over to a friend to make sure they captured me registering and getting my bib number and goodie bag. FAIL. The poor boy attending to me couldn’t find my number. I was sent to another line. And then another and another.

photo (7) 582100_10152869906370068_320938365_n

I was mistakenly registered into the “First Triathlon” group and NOT the Sprint Triathlon that I had trained for. I needed the Sprint to qualify for the Triple Crown!!!!

I calmly explained to the doe eyed boy on the other end of the table that I HAD to change from “First Tri” to “Sprint” because I was raising thousands of dollars for LLS and before I knew it… tears. Tears gushed out of my eyes. Janie immediately took charge and wrapped her arms around me and demanded that I get a space in the Sprint because it was a part of a much bigger picture. She tore into that poor boy! He never knew what hit him. “But it sold out last night” he responded. “There is nothing I can do.”

You know that part in the movie where everything just stands still and all you can hear is your own heart beat? Ya, it was kinda like that.

And then it was like the Heavens split open and the angels sang. Chavez tells the boy “Give her my spot.”

Who does that? Seriously? WHO does that?!?!?!

“I’ll take her spot in First Tri and switch her so that she can do the Sprint in my place.” Chavez gives him her bib number. He does as instructed.

I don’t think I’ve hugged anyone that hard since my momma. I couldn’t talk. Tears. More tears. And more tears. “You know I love you, right?” She said. “This isn’t my race. This is yours.”

lesson: we all live among angels

I settle in to my hotel room. I had opted not to go to the Team in Training inspiration dinner because of all the emotions that it brings up in me. I used my best friend as an excuse and told the team that I was going to have dinner with her. It was a lie. I just didn’t trust myself to be strong enough to deal with crying in front of complete strangers the night before I was to embark on one of the most challenging days of my life. I had lost way too many people that were so close to me this last year. I didn’t want to relive the story for others to understand why I was doing what I was doing nor did I want that dreaded question to pop into my head about “How did they survive and not my Momma, not Sissy, not Rodney, not Donny, not Dezma, not Jana…” I just don’t want to go there. I don’t want survivors to feel guilty that they received the gift of life while my loved ones didn’t.

I unpack my bags, drink my pedialite and make my phone calls.

I’m greeted a few minutes later by my roommate that I had gotten to briefly know via facebook. She was a cheery experienced triathlete. Whew! And then I get the text update from twitter about how awesome the survivor speech was at inspiration dinner given by… yep, you guessed it… my roommate!


What Facebook didn’t tell me: She was an experienced traithlete. She is a survivor.

lesson: never miss an inspiration dinner

We stayed up way too late chit chatting and getting to know each other. She truly was inspiring and a fabulous tattoo artist I must add.


So here we are… 4:15 a.m. The morning of the triathlon. I’m up. I’m up. No honestly. I’m up. Kinda.

We get our gear. I’m so used to Jeanice being my roommate. I miss her. She prayed with me before each event and always had the most perfect things to say. I said my prayer to myself.

I go downstairs to the lobby. I recognize the rest of the team immediately. The saying that I had heard all year long – “One Team, One Goal, Beat Cancer” – it really did make sense. I am really part of one team. They made me feel like I was always a part of them…. just further away than all the rest is all.

We snapped a pic and headed over.


It was dark. The trail seemed like just a few steps away from the hotel. Was it really this close? Why didn’t it look this close in the day light?

Oh my God. It’s here. I’m here. Oh my God.

Ok. Bring it. “Trust in your training.” I hear those words over and over again in my head. “Trust in your training.

I hear over the loud speaker “Olympic distance triathletes can enter the transition area.” I walk in. No questions asked. I was that focused. No one could stop me if they tried.



I go straight to Mimi. There she was. Perfect. Over three thousand bikes on racks and I went straight to her. It’s like there’s a bond between us now. No other bike existed at the moment.  I could almost feel how excited she was to get out on the road with me.  I laid out my orange transition towel atop the purple yoga mat that my TnT Team autographed for me and carefully placed my helmet, shoes, chomps, glasses and cap all in sequenced order.

375154_10152869905535068_1666244879_n (1)

I struggled leaving the transition area. Once you leave, you don’t come back until after your swim. I went over everything in my mind. Over and over and over again. “I must be missing something”, I think to myself. “Surely I can’t be this prepared.”

lesson: trust in your training

Port-a-potties stink! When nerves hit, my tummy goes bonkers. In the three to four hours of eternity that separated my time in the transition set up to the time I jumped off the dock, I went to the port-a-potty three times! This was probably one of the worst times of the entire weekend. I was in one of the last waves to race so I had no issue waiting in the long potty lines.

The combination of nerves and fear and focus probably had something to do with this next scene so I highly recommend that if you are ever around me during another time like this… leave. For your own good and the sake of the world. Just leave.

As I was waiting, the potty line formed along the transition exit to the last leg of the race, the run. Behind me are “pink” girls. You know the kind… they show up in make up wearing pink ribbons in their hair, curled and with hair spray and giggling. (It’s a TRI-ATH-LON!!! Do you feel my sarcasm??)

I watch in awe as the athletes race by me. Two athletes quickly pass by tethered to each other. One pink girl behind me blurts out “I didn’t know I could rope myself to someone faster than me! I wanna get tied to you (pointing to the other pink girl) cuz your faaast!”

My stink eye pops out. I turn around and calmly say “He’s blind. You should have seen them swim together. They were amazing.”

The pink girls solemnly say in stereo “Ohhhhh”

Go ahead and google the name Aaron Scheidies. I was in complete awe. The “pinks” were such bimbos. He won first place that day.

This is Aaron Scheidies tethered to Ethan Zohn. This photo was not of them at CapTex but just wanted to show you what it looked like on that day. Just by coincidence (or not) I ended up meeting Ethan Zohn (winner of the TV reality show "Survivor" and a real life two-time cancer survivor) a year later in Washington DC lobbying for cancer treatment reform and more affordable and accessible avenues to treat cancer.

This is Aaron Scheidies tethered to Ethan Zohn. This photo was not of them at CapTex but just wanted to show you what it looked like on that day. Just by coincidence (or not) I ended up meeting Ethan Zohn (winner of the TV reality show “Survivor” and a real life two-time cancer survivor) a year later in Washington DC lobbying for cancer treatment reform and more affordable and accessible avenues to treat cancer.

lesson: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”-Bambi

It’s almost time to jump in. I make my way over to the pier.

All the familiar faces are there waiting as well.  We give our hugs and wise words to each other. We all know we’re going to do well but some of us still have our doubts. And this is when I lose it…

Abba’s Dancing Queen plays over the loud speaker. This was one of her favorite songs and Mama Mia was the last play we got to see together. Nesta must have seen something come over me because she grabbed me by the shoulders, tried to shake me back into reality and cried out “Remember why you are doing this!”

It was just like the scene from Airplane. You know when the passenger screams out “I gotta get outta here.” And the line forms from all the other passengers to slap the daylights out of her…. yep, that’s what happened.

Ironman Lori was next in line. “You can do this!” she said. Tears rolled down my cheeks. She hugged and shook me again. “You can DO this!” Alex came up and tried to take a picture and quickly realized no amount of photoshop would make this a good photo op.

The crowd began to move forward. This was my wave. I’m on the dock.

Dear God! What have I done!!!

970792_740620016417_975567590_n 946463_740620131187_602864115_n 954755_740620221007_1393762350_n

I desperately try to remember this very spot from the day before. I close my eyes and take a deep breath and plunge deep into the water. The water is cool but not as cold as I had imagined it would be. I look up to what seemed like 20 feet of murky yellowish brown water and push my way up to the water’s edge for air. I pop up and see Farrah – the only cyclepath in my age group – off to the right. I look over to my left and screaming like a herd of banshees are my friends holding up their hands in my now famous hand sign saying “I love you”.


I hear the gun. And we’re off!!!


I start off a little slow to conserve just as planned. I get bumped. Bumped again. What is this? A pack of drunk swimmers???? I spent all that time worrying about swimming straight and no one else swims straight?? Oh come on!!! Not even 100 meters into my swim and between each stroke I’m already saying to myself “Never ever ever again am I doing this. Never ever ever!!!”

Here’s the first buoy! Ok Myssie. Just like we planned. Take it wide and slow and…. HEY!!! Watch it bucko! Slam! Blam! Oops! Hey!!!! Oh come on!!!!! More drunk crazy swimmers?

Alright so this isn’t really how I planned it. I stop and gather myself. Regroup Myssie! Ok, let’s go. Do it again. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Breathe. Stroke. Stroke. Look up! Don’t forget to sight! Breathe. Blam!

It’s the same crazy crooked swimmer!!! She keeps slamming into me. She must be using me as her guide just as I was using Farrah… wait. Farrah? Where’s Farrah???

I stop and do a 360 looking for her. There she is! Hanging from a kayak!!! Oh no! Farrah don’t give up! I try to yell out to her but nothing comes out of my mouth. I’m out of breath myself! Why would she go to the kayak? She wasn’t tired yet was she? What happened? Could it be… oh noooooo.


I absolutely hate lake weed!!! It was all over me! Tangled around my feet! Crawling through my fingers. Ewwwww!!!!

Struggling and hyperventilating, I push through. I had no choice. I wasn’t about to stay there and let the lake weed call it’s friends and have the rest of them hang around me, too!!!

Next buoy! Yay!!! I’m half way there!!! I remember the imaginary scene from the day before. Let’s go! This is where I speed up. Are you kidding me, Myssie??? Speed up??? Lake weed just tried to kill me!!! I’m so hungry. I’m so hungry. I’m so hungry. YOU speed up. I’m gonna take my time and gather up all the sense I have left now and rethink this whole thing through. (What? After all these stories posted you really thought I DIDN’T TALK TO MYSELF during these crazy races??? You’re nuts!) Fine! Let’s take a bit more time and… next buoy!!!

TAKE A RIGHT!!! Look up Myssie! What do you see???

THAT’S THE ARCH!!! THAT’S THE ARCH! That was the last buoy! Wooo Whoo!!!! Swim Myssie! Swim as fast as you can! We’re almost done with the hard part! Yesssss!!!!

I put my head down into that murky water and swim faster than I’ve ever swam before!!! Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! Sight and Breathe.. wait! Oh crap! Seriously???? I’m off course!!! Danggit! Swim! Swim!

Yay!!!! I made it! I hear a volunteer yell out to me “Careful! It’s a big step here.” They grabbed my hand and led me to the strip area. One person yanked my cord and pulled down. Another held one arm and another held the other while ten million others pulled my wet suit off, stomped on it (to get the excess water off of it) and handed it back so they could help the next person.

WOW!!! It’s over! The swim is over!

captex transition 1

MIMI!!! Here I come! I know transition was supposed to be no more than a minute or so but I was starving.

lesson: Eat well the night before and the morning of the event. Take extra food just in case.

I scarfed down two packs of orange Gu chomps. Got my gear on, grabbed Mimi and off we went. I know I was smiling the whole time! The fun part begins now.

Running in mud in my new orange clips felt odd. Like slippery tap shoes! I hear someone yell out “There’s the mount line” and of course… it’s an orange line. 🙂

I pass it, move to the left so that other more experienced riders don’t fall over me and carefully mount my bike.  One clip on. Hiyaaa!!!! Woo whooo!!! And we’re off!

It was like a parade of bicycle porn. The most amazingly beautiful bikes on this Earth were side by side with me and Mimi. And just as I was oogling their bikes, they were oogling Mimi. “Your bike is SIIIICCCCCKKKKKK!” a fellow cyclist cried out to me as my smile grew even bigger.


I reach the first hill. I remembered this hill from the LiveSTRONG marathon. It was tough but conquerable. An older gentleman is by me. He’s riding a gorgeous Cervelo but struggling on the hill. I immediately look over and yell at him “You got this! We can do this together. Come on. Let’s climb!” We both get up off our saddles and pump our legs up the hill. We make a left up another hill and then… weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Down hill. The guy had no mercy on me. He dropped me like a one night stand. He was FAAAASSSSSTTTTTT!!!  Good lord that’s fun! I don’t think I’ve ever gone that fast on this bike! Wow!!! Good thing this was just my first loop! Can’t wait to do this again! Then a hair pin turn and I see the guy again over the horizon. He’s a ways up. The competitor inside me awakens. I’m gonna catch him!!! I look up. There he is. Blam! He took the turn too fast. His bike snaps in half and shatters. I see him laying motionless on the ground with one tire between his legs and the rest of his bike on the other side of the street.

I had to ride by him.

I hear a lady yell out “Call 911!”  He didn’t get up.

The voice inside my head calmly says “There is nothing you can do. They’ll take care of him.”

lesson: this can be fun but there is real danger involved

The smile on my face is no longer there. This is exactly the spot where I saw the guy next to me wipe out on the loop before. What a surreal moment captured!

The smile on my face is no longer there. This is exactly the spot where I saw the guy next to me wipe out on the loop before. What a surreal moment captured!

Twice I see Coach Overly on the other side of the bike course. She yells out “Go Myssie!!!” each time. I see Jorge running. Dang he’s fast! It’s awesome to see so much purple on these bikes!!! TnTers everywhere!!! And of course they’re all along the trail with cowbell!!! I hear zooming up from behind me “I recognize that orange bike!” It’s my roommate! And shortly afterwards I hear “You are strong!” It’s MK Cooper. How can anyone fail with support like that????

me on bike at captextri1

I finish the last loop and see more familiar faces. Casey and Jackie Swanson are at the end of the bike course. They wave me in and cheer me onto my run. I dismount my bike but not before Alex catches me with a big smile. I remember telling her “I didn’t FALL!!!” That’s all that counted to me. I didn’t fall. 🙂


I place Mimi back onto the rack. I laugh as I take off my helmet. This is a huge joke between me and Chavez. I get my cap and glasses on and slip on my shoes. Wait. Stop. I’m not winning this thing. Savor this. Look around. Awwwww. Now that’s it. Feel that?

MOMMA!!!! The sun came out. The cool breeze whispered by. The smell… the smell. It wasn’t the damp stinky mildewy smell from the early morning. It was a clean fresh smell of life. My life. My new life.

Run!!!! I ran through a little shady trail, took a right onto the street, took a left up a hill and into a strange alley and poof! From outta the blue is MaryKay Cooper, my TnT virtual Flex Coach. “You are strong!” She says it in a way that is almost whispered. The tone at the end of the sentence didn’t go an octave higher which meant that it wasn’t a question. It was almost like an accusation. You are STRONG! I am STRONG! I am? Oh ya!!! I AM!!!!!

I run around the little circle and see a TnT coach and ask, “How many more loops?” He yells back at me. “This is it! Last one!”

“Woo Whoooo!!!!!” I exclaim. I’m so loud and jump up so high that the photographer asked me to come back and do that again. I reply “Are you kidding?!?!? I’ve gotta go THAT way to the finish line!” and everyone laughs.

941239_740619502447_238689651_n 603170_740619342767_1341154048_n 996973_740619637177_1610712790_n

As I make the last turn to the right to the finish line, I can’t help but wipe away the tears.

I did it. I did it. I really did it.

And I hear her familiar voice… “I knew you could do it, baby. You were the prettiest one out there.”

“Thank you Momma”

I crossed the finish line and got my medal.

captex finish2 captex finish1


%d bloggers like this: