Archive for beat cancer

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.


Her last wish: She said “Run for me”. So I did and I never stopped.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2015 by runmyssierun
Some runners measure their success in time, others in distance... mine was in keeping a promise.

Some runners measure their success in time, others in distance… mine was in keeping a promise.

Last night I was asked to tell my story at the “kick-off” party for ACS’s annual Cattle Baron’s Ball. From the moment I walked up the stairs to the event, I felt a gush of sweat trickling down my back. I was a big ball of nerves. I hate crying and I knew that by sharing my story to this group, I would eventually burst out into sobs… and not those Hollywood glamorous slow motion tear drops gracefully gliding down a single cheek… I’m talking full blown Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer blaring red neck with slimy boogers gushing outta my nostrils and the black mascara smudged down my face kind of train wreck. So as I approached the microphone, I apologized in advance. I hope it was sufficient for them… because all the above happened. I told my story… skimmed through some parts… forgot others.. purposely didn’t talk about that…and wrapped it up before I made a complete fool of myself in public… and then walked off stage. Dad was in the audience. Knowing he was there made me nervous and safe at the same time. George, the chairman for the event announced that Mark Chesnutt will be performing live for the Cattle Baron’s Ball with Costello opening up for them.  The band then performed some songs for the group there and closed with “After that speech, we’ve decided to donate the portion that we are being paid to perform back to the cause!” 11391191_10155671548305068_5516012634173941912_n costello cattlebarons 11391747_10155671362385068_2101660274164910459_n 11392989_10155671361745068_5148268348846252956_n I was floored!!! Lack’s Furniture donated $25,000.00 to support transportation services for those who need assistance getting to and from treatment. And so many others also stepped up to do what they could… This evening my cup runneth over. This… this is what Momma prayed for. It’s all coming together.

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!

Come With Me Now

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2015 by runmyssierun


And so it begins… the decision to do this last big event was one that took much contemplation, ensuring that proper time would be allocated to train and fundraise, my head and spirit were centered and I was around the right support network to keep me focused, grounded and as successful as possible.

I downloaded all three of the courses for Ironman Victoria already and googled photos to see the lake, get a glimpse of the average water temp, a sneak peek at what the running trail looks like and the bike elevation. I was told that because it is a sea side town, it’s a flat sea level area and that there is little chance of snow and that water temperatures are “relatively warm but wetsuit legal” and the running trails are the “greenest of all Ironman courses because they are all trail and not pavement or asphalt”. My concern is the use of the words “relatively warm”. See, my “relative” area is tropical South Texas and when we use the term warm, it’s about 100 degrees. I predict some temperature shock on my part. I also see some elevation, too. Lots of elevations… like multiple heights and colors. Oh boy.

ironman victoria bike elevation 2015

Whoa.. wait. Does that sign say "frozen"?

Whoa.. wait. Does that sign say “frozen”?

My first official week of my iron training didn’t come easy. Every day came with only a maximum of four hours of sleep. I pushed through my first few days of workouts and dragged the rest. Not good. If I continue this way, I’m pretty much begging for injuries to happen. Proper rest is just as important as proper nutrition and hydration. Before I go any further, a huge change must happen.

How did I prepare for my first triathlon this way? Oh yeah… I was living with my dad at his house who went to bed by 10:00p.m. (remember that my mom had recently passed away)

How have I done it since then? Oh yeah… struggled and lots of coffee. Not exactly a great plan for any triathlete. Especially one who has just had the realization AGAIN that life is fragile and a gift that is not guaranteed to be here tomorrow.

The weather hasn’t cooperated completely either… however, that could be just an excuse as I see my fellow run junkees post photos of their daily runs like these…

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So I have no real excuse when it’s drizzling and 45 degrees in tropical South Texas. These guys here would kill for conditions like mine. So bottom line is that I’m quite spoiled here… and used to it. I hit the gym and incorporated some weight training alongside my dreadmill run, RPM cycling and stairclimber workouts. I have yet to hit to pool but hope to do so tomorrow. I’ll suck it up and do only outdoor pool and OWS workouts to get used to colder temps as to acclimate my body to the Canadian waters of Victoria. *lets see how brave I am when it really gets cold!!!

Just as my workouts are planned, so is my fundraising and PR. This will likely anger some people as the community I live in is “humble”. We have been taught NOT to speak up, to turn the other cheek, don’t stir the pot, don’t cause waves, keep your head down, speak only when spoken to, don’t bring attention to yourself… yada yada yada. We have been taught to do what we can with what we have and never to ask for help… certainly never to beg or try to tell/inform others of better ways to do something. What this taught me was that if you are obscure enough… no one will see you, no one will hear you, no one will know about the things you care about and certainly no one will care and nothing will change… period. What good does that do?

This week, my emails will go out. My letters requesting help and donations – any kind of donations – money, sponsorships, materials, time and effort (including just sharing and reposting my crazy facebook and twitter and instagram posts to your friends) .. go out, too. It all happens this week. You’ve seen me on billboards

65535_10152587716350068_565418795_n (2)

You’ve seen me on the front page

TTB cover

You’ve seen me on TV

You’ve seen me on street corners


You’ve seen me speak at events, schools and any place where I can tell my story

I just spoke to the most amazing group of young women and my heart melted when a swarm of them caught me as I was leaving. They each asked me to take individual photos with them and spoke to me about their own experiences with cancer and their own "impossible goals" that they want to achieve. Honored and humbled and a smile from ear to ear!!!

I just spoke to the most amazing group of young women and my heart melted when a swarm of them caught me as I was leaving. They each asked me to take individual photos with them and spoke to me about their own experiences with cancer and their own “impossible goals” that they want to achieve. Honored and humbled and a smile from ear to ear!!!

You’ve seen me with celebrities who also share similar struggles with cancer and other “impossible” struggles


Austin Mahone


Suzy Favor Hamilton


John “The Penguin” Bingham, author of the Penguin Chronicles


Ethan Zohn – Winner of TV Reality show Survivor and two time cancer survivor


“La Myssie es muy loca” if you know this song, you know who this is 😉


And you’ve seen me go to to the top to try to make a difference when it comes to treating and curing cancer and similar diseases


You’ve seen me coordinate other walk/run races to bring awareness and fund colonoscopies for people in my community who cannot afford them so that they have a fighting chance to beat cancer at an early stage

photo 2 (10) 10155485_658202580883549_1457805477_n RGV CAP5k

Some of you have shown your own support by wearing a little bit of the love around your neck or wrist or even continuing to show your own love at race events… spreading joy, love and showing everyone that we can all do what we can to be healthier and fitter

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You’ve probably had a little “magic in a cup” a time or two (and yes this local favorite shake really is the best you’ll ever have)


You’ve seen me as an advocate for health and fitness by exposing my own personal health factors and how I involved my team of medical doctors to follow me along in my journey through marathons, triathlons, century rides and now my half-ironman to ensure that everything I’m doing is good for me and within my body’s limits.

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ME Before and After

Before and After

My point being is that this shy girl has used all the PR and marketing skills she has to promote the cause closest to her heart and is exhausted. I don’t want to hide in obscurity (where I actually feel most comfortable) because I’m afraid that the quest for affordable and accessible cancer treatments and the ability to find the causes and cures for cancer will become pushed aside when hot topics of news, entertainment, etc. come around.

Facing the biggest physical challenge, knowing I’m WAY out of my league, at a time when a handful of the haters are most vocal and most people have spent beyond their means on holiday gifts and knowing that the majority of the people who have given already have no more to give and those who have listened/read/followed/joined along have made health and fitness a permanent part of their lives… why in the world would I still be doing this? Why would I continue to put myself through all this pain, ridicule, sacrifice?

Because my Momma cannot run. Because Sissy cannot ride her bike. Because Donny cannot swim. Because Rodney cannot laugh. Because Jana cannot smile. Because Dezma is no longer here.  None of them are. And I am. And I made a promise.

This is not about me. This is not about them. This is about us. All of us. TOGETHER.

So you’re going to see me again…. asking for your help and for you to join with me. Come with me now.

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetle….

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2014 by runmyssierun
Me, German and the Ericas sipping on chai tea and giggling about our crazy beliefs and what we would do if we were hypnotized.

Me, German and the Ericas sipping on chai tea and giggling about our crazy beliefs and what we would do if we were hypnotized as Harry Belafonte sang Jump in the Line (from Beetlejuice) over the speakers.

Last night I was with a few of my favorite people at Moonbeans, a favorite local coffee shop, sipping a chai tea and talking about sleep hypnosis and various other topics you wouldn’t ever imagine when a woman approached us at our table outside under the moonlight and cool breeze. She placed her hand upon my shoulder and looked down on me with a sweet smile and blurted out with grace a story about her grandchild, Jessica Garcia, who since the age of three had been fighting cancer. Now eight years old, she said as her eyes welled up with tears, that the doctors at MD Anderson had given them the news that she had only about six months to live but was still scheduled for another very powerful chemotherapy as they were adamant about fighting with the strength of God. Her voice cracked as she went on to say how channel 5 had done a story about her not too long ago and from the tone of her voice… it didn’t seem like she thought the story would end well. I’m not sure if she saw the look in our eyes as we clearly all felt her pain and she caught herself, smiled, touched her heart and then pointed up to the sky and said “The doctors don’t have hope but I do.”

The woman, I would estimate about her mid-fifties to mid-sixties, about five foot three inches, 180 pounds with short curly salt and pepper hair and in need of dental work but with a phenomenal smile, had no clue that she had approached a table with a woman who had lost her family to cancer two years prior, another woman who was an ovarian cancer survivor and two others who had just pledged to complete a challenge for the purpose of bringing awareness to the masses about cancer.

She was carrying around a handful of little stuffed holiday ornaments to sell for $6.00. They dangled from her delicate fingers as she explained almost shamefully how MD Anderson had given them to her so that she could raise money for her granddaughter.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my purse with me and only had my ATM card and felt awful about not being able to help her.  I asked for her granddaughter’s name again and one of my friends asked her for her name and a phone number explaining that she worked for one of the local news stations and would like to do a follow up story and possibly help even more at that time with awareness and a bigger cry out to the public for donations.

I told her that as soon as I got to my home computer, I would look up the story and donate online via the KRGV news story. She responded with overwhelming zeal and gratitude. However, when my friend asked if she could call her tomorrow for that follow up on the story… she became quite nervous, stuttered and started looking around. Suddenly, it hit us but no one wanted to say it.

Knowing that we were a pretty broke group of friends that weren’t going to buy $6.00 ornaments for charity with the hopes of someone giving her a $10.00 bill and then saying she was sorry she didn’t have any change and additionally hoping that we would say “Don’t worry, keep the change.” – because, really, who carries around six dollars exactly, right?

So when the text came in this morning….

Moonbeans cancer scam

It hurts me to a degree that is beyond what the English language can define to know that people would use cancer as a way to scam others… cancer survivors… people who have lost family and loved ones to cancer… as a way to get six lousy bucks.

Why this woman did what she did will always be unknown to me. She clearly was desperate and had no clue who she was talking to and how cancer had hurt us.

Obviously my angels were protecting me and my hard earned money as I probably would have given her all I had if I had my purse with me. Funny how God works to protect us and teach each of us lessons.

Please pray for her. She needs help…. and it’s thankfully not help to fight cancer.

8 year old Jessica Garcia that only has six months to live because of cancer… simply doesn’t exist. Nor do we believe her grandmother, Diana Garcia, exists. At least not in the way as it was presented to us last night.

Send off Mission Moment

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

So it’s send off time. This is when the team gets all the instructions for hotel stay, meetings, check ins, and everything else for game day…. CapTexTri.


We all meet at Cordon’s. It’s a beautiful day and we’re all outside.. and it’s mission moment. This is the third time I’ve been asked to do a mission moment in my history of Team in Training. The following is what I said:


March 21, 2012

quit (verb) – to stop trying, struggling, or the like; accept or acknowledge defeat.

These past two weeks were emotionally difficult for me. I saw my usually vivacious, super-power infused mother weak, frail and suffering. Whatever was in this last treatment knocked everything out of her. I could get my thumb and touch it with my index finger and her leg could fit right through it. Her hair has now fallen off and her normally wrinkle free olive skin has an odd grayish/yellow tint to it.

I was worried – really worried – for the first time ever. So I spent the weekend with her and then called her main doctor at MD Anderson. After questioning me about her symptoms, we agreed that it was best for her to return to Houston for a week so he could monitor her better under medical staff care. I was not comforted by his concern.

She grabbed my hand and squeezed it with all her might and looked me straight in the eyes and said “I’m worried about Myssie. She has so much on her plate right now. Can you keep an eye on her and help out?”

We had been warned that her memory functions may be lost as a result of her last radiation treatment. I don’t know who she thought I was at the time but I was glad that I had the strength and courage not to have the shock and sadness show in my reaction to her as I replied with “I will Momma, I will. Don’t you worry. I’ll take good care of her.”

That was Sunday about noon time. They drove to MD Anderson on Sunday afternoon and met with her doctor on Monday morning.

I was sitting at my desk working on a proposal for a client of mine just shortly before lunch. I had a ton of meetings scheduled and needed tons more to make my quota. The stress was insane. That’s when I got the phone call from Dad.

“Myssie, can you talk?”

“Yes Daddy. What did the doctor say?”

“It’s not good. There’s nothing more that they can do. We’re coming home…. right now. They’ve released her to hospice. We’ll be home about 6:30.”

There must have been at least a year of silence after that. I was crushed.


I was asked just days ago by my Team in Training coach why I was running. Why I was putting my body through this? What was I doing this for?

As silly as it may sound, part of me was hoping that God would see how hard I was trying. That He would see that I was willing to take the pain away from her and volunteer it onto me in order to not have her suffer any more. I wanted that pain and suffering to quit. I wanted cancer to quit. Because I wasn’t going to allow myself to quit. I would never quit.

Well, that was until I heard those words from my dad.

I did want to quit. I wanted so badly to throw in the towel and give up. Why should I run? Really, why should I? It’s not like running a marathon will produce a cure for my mom as I cross the finish line. What am I doing? I should just quit.

I thought long and hard about how to tell friends and family about the news. I wanted to be angry and blame everything from preservatives to toxic land for her suffering. But I am so glad I didn’t. I took a deep breath and took a step back and told myself now is how I must example the way she brought me up.

The following is what I posted to friends and family on my facebook wall:

Science and medicine has done all that it possibly can. Momma has shown incredible strength and faith through these tough 6-plus years. The choice to discontinue treatment does not mean that she has quit. It means that she is strong enough to accept God’s will and live the remainder of her life with her family and friends at home instead of hotel rooms and hospitals. I am so very proud of her bravery, so very thankful to her miraculous team of doctors and so very grateful for everyone’s prayers, kind gestures and help. Keep them coming.

See, my mother is not a quitter. Cancer will likely beat her body. But it won’t beat her. She’ll never quit. Her legacy will live on and continue to teach us, to love us and to give unto others. She never quit. And neither will I.



The last two and a half years I’ve spent running, swimming and biking alongside the most courageous, selfless and kind athletes in the world. Many of them were going through cancer treatment, had recently successfully beat cancer or were friends and/or family members of those who had lost their battle to cancer. Many of them. Too many of them. Way too many of them.

Two weeks ago, I walked 9.7 miles in and around our Nation’s Capitol pleading with our political leaders to help make cancer treatment more accessible and more affordable for cancer patients, MS patients, Alzheimer’s patients, Parkinson’s patients … and more. I was not alone there either. I begged alongside a TV celebrity, Ethan Zohn, the winner of the TV reality show Survivor, who really was a cancer survivor. But after he won the show, he found out that cancer stuck once again. He shared with me his completely candid and genuine emotions.

The whole world thought he was this tough guy, strong enough to beat cancer, strong enough to win in the brutal jungles of Survivor. He was a pillar of hope for those who were currently battling cancer. And suddenly he was scared again like a little boy. What was his fear? If he went public with his disease and DIDN’T win, what would that do to their hope?

Thankfully, he did go public and he did beat cancer a second time and he is still scared he’ll have to fight it again a third time. That fear looms over the head of cancer survivors all the time.  Until we find a cure, that fear will always be there… for every single one of us. None of us are immune.

As he spoke to us, everyone began to weep. Oncology doctors, nurses and social workers, LLS volunteers, family members and loved ones of those lost and survivors, like Ethan, all connected.

And that’s when I was asked “Are YOU a survivor?” and the woman next to me put her arm around me and replied “She lost all of her family except for her father to cancer in one year. She is a survivor. She is all that is left.”

Truth is, we are all survivors right now. We are all living with cancer. Because cancer doesn’t affect just the patient. It affects us all.  And until we find a cure for cancer, we have no choice but to keep living, keep fighting, keep running… keep TRIing.

Two years without Mimi

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by runmyssierun

It was two years ago today, right this very moment, that I crawled into bed with my Momma, held her hand, smoothed her hair back and whispered into her ear that it was ok to let go of us and stop the pain she was in. I remember hearing what the hospice nurses called the “death rattle”. I was the only one in the room with her in the end.

A few nights before, she had become quite antsy and restless. It was difficult for her to walk but she was adamant about going from her bed to the living room to watch TV on the couch. I lifted her up and walked her over, carefully holding her under her shoulders just incase she fell along the way. It was about 3:00 a.m. This would be the last time that she would have a conversation with me.

“I’m so sorry you have to see me go through this,” she said.

After I gathered my will and a bit of silence passed, I responded “I’m so glad it’s me you allowed to see you go through this.” I laid my head down on her frail bony shoulder as we sat on the couch together and she held me in her arms for the last time that night.

April 8, 2012, Easter Sunday, two years ago today… If you believe in the biblical story of Jesus Christ and know about the time when he began his journey of suffering, of crucifixion and death…it matches exactly the same time frame that Momma followed that day. I truly believe in the deepest part of my heart that she chose that day and that time to join her Lord and Mother Mary for that reason. I wish with all my might I could have faith and strength like hers.

I held her hand as she took her last breath.

No other honor in my life time can ever surpass that honor. I now live my life trying to smile like her no matter how hard it gets. I now live my life reflecting all that she taught me no matter what anyone else tells me. I now live my life like hers so that my children can feel the love that I felt for her.

I love you Momma.

The miles I run for you will always be Mimi’s Miles. Cancer picked the wrong woman.


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