Archive for David Mendez

Good bye David

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 21, 2014 by runmyssierun

“Don’t confuse what you have not done with what you cannot do.” Adolfo Chavez, Dezma’s grandfather

Just because you’ve never done something doesn’t necessarily mean that it cannot be done.  I think too many of us get boxed into thinking that our past experiences control our current limitations. For example, let’s play fill in the blank.

I will never be able to (a.)_______ because I have never (b.)_______. 

Wrong. It’s because you never made the decision to make it important enough to make (b.) an opportunity for you to experience. It’s never too late. 

For this blog, I can use: (a.) run a marathon (b.) been good at running/being a good runner

But you can substitute any situation  you are dealing with here.

A. get a college education B. finished high school

A. travel the world B. left my hometown to travel/traveled

A. afford (insert any expensive material item) B. learned to save

A. beat cancer B. tried

It’s amazing how far the human limits get pushed when consistent effort is made.

I have witnessed so much transformation in myself and in those around me these last couple of years. I would never have guessed that I could do so much, that we could go so far and that together… there is no end to what we can do even after we live our lives.

The hardest part about this promise that I’ve given my mother and Sissy is that as I continue run in this journey to beat cancer, I’ve met and befriended some phenomenal people who have been touched by cancer and struggle tremendously with it. Just recently, the most awful thought crossed my mind.

“Why haven’t I met a complete JERK that has cancer?”

Everyone I have met that has been affected by cancer has been someone of sincere heart, humble foundations, generous unconditional love and resounding courage. Which is why it continues to open my wounds when cancer steals the lives of these new friends I have made.

Last night my heart broke when I  heard the news of David Mendez’s passing. He was my honored Hero last season with Team in Training and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I’ve spoken of him several times in this blog and honestly could not catch my breath as the thought sunk into my head of him no longer being with us. I ran the Nike Women’s Marathon last year in San Francisco with his girlfriend, Vero. And that’s when I just lost it… the thought of what she was going through, what his daughters were going through… it’s not right. It’s just not right.

David’s obituary spoke of his extraordinary life and impact on the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and his love of fishing along the Arroyo and the bay of the Gulf of Mexico. It also had a request from his family. They asked that everyone who attends David’s services wear something yellow because it was his favorite color.

All day I saw posts from fellow TNT teammates talk about the miles of running that they put in today in David’s memory. I did something a little bit different. I swam an hour and a half with a yellow swim cap, yellow hand paddles, yellow fins in the water that he so loved. Because I know personally how my mother lit up with her favorite color orange, I can imagine that David had the same feeling with his favorite color. When we know there is little that we can do, we search for the things that make our loved ones who are hurting happy with all that could possibly fill them with joy. Sometimes just a color is enough. So that’s what I did.

I won’t be able to attend his funeral because that is the same time I’ll be the keynote speaker at the 3rd Annual Metamorphosis: Female Student Empowerment Week. 

Its very frustrating for me to know there is still so little that I can do. I wish I could more. I wish there was no more cancer. I wish cancer picked jerks instead these wonderful people.

David is telling Lil Sarah, "You're going to be okay." They are both fighting cancer. I heard every word and snapped the picture. What a blessing to capture. Love it!!

David is telling Lil Sarah, “You’re going to be okay.” They are both fighting cancer. I heard every word and snapped the picture. What a blessing to capture. Love it!!

David Mendez, 52, beloved son, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend entered into eternal rest on Sunday, January 19, 2014, at his residence in Arroyo City, Texas, surrounded by his loving family after a valiant battle against lymphoma.  A native and lifetime resident of Brownsville, David was well-known not only in Brownsville but across the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas due to his talents as an architect. David was a partner with Gomez, Mendez, and Saenz, a distinguished architectural firm known throughout the Valley and State. David’s name can be found all across the Valley and State on the countless schools and buildings that he worked on. David was proud to have served as the President of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. David’s accomplishments and community involvement are too numerous to mention as he was quite active not only in Brownsville but throughout Cameron County serving on different boards. In his spare time, David was an avid outdoorsman whose passion was fishing, which is why he drove in from Arroyo City where he lived every day. That passion for fishing, led him to establish the Hooked for Life Kids Gone Fishing Foundation several years ago. David strongly believed in the proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  David was deeply loved and will be profoundly missed not only by his family and friends but by all those who were fortunate to have known him. David was preceded in death by his loving mother, Esperanza Hinojosa Mendez; a brother, Roberto Mendez, Jr.; and a nephew, Nicolas “Nico” Benavides. Left behind to eternally treasure their memories of him is his father, Roberto C. Mendez; the daughters that were his pride and joy, Erica (Jamie Figueroa) Mendez and Ashley (Andres Guerrero) Mendez; the granddaughter that was the apple of his eye, Natalie Hope Guerrero; his sisters and brother, Margie (Felipe) Beltran, Yvette (Juan) Rey, Monica (Rudy) Buitureira, Cesar (Nancy) Mendez, and Yolanda (Rafael) Leal. David will also be missed by his nieces and nephews, Bobby Beltran, Miguel Rey, Rico (Amy) Benavidez, Vanessa Beltran, Monique Rey, Alejandra Mendez, Brianna Buitureira, Carolina Mendez, Bianca Buitureira, and Cesar Daniel Mendez; two great-nephews, Brandon Rico and Bradley Benavidez; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family members.  Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m. today, Wednesday, January 22, 2014, and continue through 4:00 p.m. Visitation will resume at 5:00 p.m. and continue through 9:00 p.m. with the recitation of the holy rosary scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 555 West St. Francis St., Brownsville. The Funeral Mass will be at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at St. Joseph’s. All services will conclude after the Mass and in accordance with David’s wishes, cremation will follow. David’s favorite color was yellow. The family respectfully requests that you wear something in any shade of yellow to the services.  Rene Capistran, Rudy Gomez, Joey Lopez, Dr. Ruben M. Torres Jr., M.D., Joe Touchet, and Manny Vasquez are honored to be serving as David’s pallbearers. David’s brother, Cesar; his brothers-in-law, Felipe, Juan, and Rudy along with Roan Gomez, Isaac Ochoa, Rolando Borrayo, Johnny Rodriguez, Dr. Nolan Perez, Manny Vela, and the Hooked for Life Executive and Advisory Boards will serve as honorary pallbearers.  In lieu of flowers and in keeping with David’s passion for fishing, memorial gifts in David’s name may be made to the foundation he started: Hooked for Life, 1800 E. Van Buren Street, Brownsville, Texas 78520.

David Mendez, 52, beloved son, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend entered into eternal rest on Sunday, January 19, 2014, at his residence in Arroyo City, Texas, surrounded by his loving family after a valiant battle against lymphoma.
A native and lifetime resident of Brownsville, David was well-known not only in Brownsville but across the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas due to his talents as an architect. David was a partner with Gomez, Mendez, and Saenz, a distinguished architectural firm known throughout the Valley and State. David’s name can be found all across the Valley and State on the countless schools and buildings that he worked on. David was proud to have served as the President of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
David’s accomplishments and community involvement are too numerous to mention as he was quite active not only in Brownsville but throughout Cameron County serving on different boards. In his spare time, David was an avid outdoorsman whose passion was fishing, which is why he drove in from Arroyo City where he lived every day. That passion for fishing, led him to establish the Hooked for Life Kids Gone Fishing Foundation several years ago. David strongly believed in the proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
David was deeply loved and will be profoundly missed not only by his family and friends but by all those who were fortunate to have known him.
David was preceded in death by his loving mother, Esperanza Hinojosa Mendez; a brother, Roberto Mendez, Jr.; and a nephew, Nicolas “Nico” Benavides.
Left behind to eternally treasure their memories of him is his father, Roberto C. Mendez; the daughters that were his pride and joy, Erica (Jamie Figueroa) Mendez and Ashley (Andres Guerrero) Mendez; the granddaughter that was the apple of his eye, Natalie Hope Guerrero; his sisters and brother, Margie (Felipe) Beltran, Yvette (Juan) Rey, Monica (Rudy) Buitureira, Cesar (Nancy) Mendez, and Yolanda (Rafael) Leal. David will also be missed by his nieces and nephews, Bobby Beltran, Miguel Rey, Rico (Amy) Benavidez, Vanessa Beltran, Monique Rey, Alejandra Mendez, Brianna Buitureira, Carolina Mendez, Bianca Buitureira, and Cesar Daniel Mendez; two great-nephews, Brandon Rico and Bradley Benavidez; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family members.
Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m. today, Wednesday, January 22, 2014, and continue through 4:00 p.m. Visitation will resume at 5:00 p.m. and continue through 9:00 p.m. with the recitation of the holy rosary scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 555 West St. Francis St., Brownsville. The Funeral Mass will be at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at St. Joseph’s. All services will conclude after the Mass and in accordance with David’s wishes, cremation will follow. David’s favorite color was yellow. The family respectfully requests that you wear something in any shade of yellow to the services.
Rene Capistran, Rudy Gomez, Joey Lopez, Dr. Ruben M. Torres Jr., M.D., Joe Touchet, and Manny Vasquez are honored to be serving as David’s pallbearers. David’s brother, Cesar; his brothers-in-law, Felipe, Juan, and Rudy along with Roan Gomez, Isaac Ochoa, Rolando Borrayo, Johnny Rodriguez, Dr. Nolan Perez, Manny Vela, and the Hooked for Life Executive and Advisory Boards will serve as honorary pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers and in keeping with David’s passion for fishing, memorial gifts in David’s name may be made to the foundation he started: Hooked for Life, 1800 E. Van Buren Street, Brownsville, Texas 78520.

http://darlingmouser.com/services.asp?page=odetail&id=32256&locid=31

Slow dancing over the Gulf of Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2014 by runmyssierun

photo (21)

I’m asked quite often now what events are on my 2014 calendar. Of course, if you’ve followed along, you know my response 😉

Today was one of the events. I really do want to re-race each event I’ve done so far to measure any decrease in pace, if any. The Port Isabel Longest Causeway race was my first 10k, almost exactly one month after my first 5k. I had been running for just about three months. Still very green, awkward and overcome with nerves.

But today was different. Not that I’m all Olympian or Kenyan by any means, but I really did feel at home at this race today.  Practice, training and experience has all helped me overcome the nerves and focus on just doing my best and enjoying everything around me.

This may sound weird to you non-runners but as a flat valley runner with little to no experience with hills or elevated grades, running up the Causeway is a serious challenge that takes great physical effort and stamina. The challenge plays mind games with you… or at least it does with me. I did a pretty good pace going up and stopped three times to take photos of a few fellow Cyclepaths that I saw along the way. Coach Hector marked my time trial at 10:45 with a 13:15 goal pace. *My run pace has slowed tremendously so I’m building it back up by returning to Running 101 class and tons of run drills that coach has designed just for me. I think it’s working.

I held an 11:40 pace (even with all the stopping for photos and chit chats with friends) which puts me at 2 minutes faster than Coach’s goal pace for me. I finished at 1:14… nothing to be ecstatic about right? Wrong.

Wanna see why this is so exciting for me? Look at my time from the last Causeway race.

My first 10k - The Longest Causeway run

 

To me, any improvement is worthy of celebration!!! Especially after doing so much with so little experience.

I would love to say that by CapTex I can get back to my 8 min paces but truth is that these last couple of months I’ve focused solely on running pace. Once I begin to incorporate swimming and biking into the weekly routines, I’m sure that my 8 dreams will likely fizzle. So I won’t get upset if I don’t reach 8 but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try and it doesn’t mean that I’m gonna kill myself trying to get there. Ya, re-read that last line. Do it again. Understand?

Oh! My review of the race today you ask?

Honestly, today was a bit of a blurr. What stood out the most were three parts.

1. Going uphill on the Causeway was a bit surreal. It wasn’t like last time – sunny and calm with the smell of the salt water filling your lungs. Today had a thick brownish sticky fog that smothered the view and your body with an icky feeling. It took me back to my younger days in dance clubs where the dance floor would poof up with thick smoke and that lovey dovey slow song would play for the traditional “it’s 2:00a.m. bar is closing hook up” song. I remember smiling big as ever as I found myself slow dancing over the Gulf of Mexico. Its hard to describe the feelings I get when I run. I remember getting a few boys upset when I was younger dancing with them at clubs because once I closed my eyes and my hands went up into the sky, I was in my own little world and they knew I was no longer with them. It was how I escaped. I never needed drugs or alcohol. I just needed a good beat to dance to. Well, the same kinda goes for running.

It’s a sensual exhilarating exhausting feeling that isn’t sexual. Does that make sense? People kept telling me how addictive running was and to watch out for the “runner’s high” and I’d laugh. Maybe this is what they were talking about. Maybe I do get high. Maybe running is my drug. Wow. I hope coffee doesn’t get jealous!!!

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2. The last mile just as I turned the corner, I flashed back to the year prior when I witnessed a fellow Run Walk or Crawl runner fall to the street with a broken hip. I said a quick prayer of thanks for the ability to run without injury. So many people are not able to. This is a gift that I and all those around me at the time were given. And that’s when my mind went to David Mendez. I had asked a fellow Team in Training team mate about him two days ago. He’s struggling now and has spent the last two weeks at MD Anderson.  And that’s when I jumped into high gear…

3. It was the thought of David that pushed me to my last sprint across the finish. Normally, I gracefully prance across the finish with my hands held high showing my momma in Heaven my hand signs and smiling big for the cameras. Today was different. I don’t know what came over me but I was just so filled with emotion. How could I waste this gift that has been given to me? And my inner voice loudly commanded me to go… go as fast as I possibly could. Sprint. Race. David can’t. You can. Go! I didn’t look at anyone around me. I focused on that finish line and went for it like a crazy mad woman. I scared even myself!!! But it was a great feeling. That was for David because I still don’t know what to say to him to make it all better. So I run.

With all that I’ve been though, I should know what to say by now to people who have been hurt by cancer. Shouldn’t I?

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I am the Walrus

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

John Bingham shared some wise words last year over dinner right before my first marathon. He said “You are a long distance endurance athlete.”

John Bingham "The Penguin" and Myssie Cardenas Barajas. Read his blog - The Penguin Chronicles

John Bingham “The Penguin” and Myssie Cardenas Barajas. Read his blog – The Penguin Chronicles

He told us how he earned his nickname “The Penguin”. I could relate. He described himself as waddling like a penguin all throughout the race… but he finished. He’s never been first but he always finished. I could relate.

Maybe I’m a penguin, too.

I remember my mother giving me a poem on the first day of college. It was about a turtle. She told me to take my time and observe as much as I could to take it all in. She told me to stick my neck out for what I believed in and that no matter what, the shell of love that she built around me would protect me. She raised me to be a turtle like her.

Maybe I’m a turtle, too.

When first going out for my swims in the pool, I was taught by my son to not splash… at all. I took everyone’s advice to heart and tried with all my might to do it all as perfectly as I could. I was called “the little mermaid” because of it. I thought it was cute at first but now I see myself differently.

I’m really really still very very slow. I had my swim evaluation done earlier this week. My form was good for the amount of time I had been swimming. In six short months, I kept my elbows high, my breathing was good, I was skimming the water, my kicks needed some work and I need more power in my stroke but all in all… I was doing well.

One thing for sure… I am NOT a mermaid. After reviewing the video of myself swimming, I looked like I was swimming in molasses. I know… I know… it wasn’t about speed on that day. It was about form. Regardless, I couldn’t help but think about the Beetles song…

I am the Walrus. Cuu Cuu Cuchoo

The song makes as much sense as my life right now. It’s confusing, entertaining and much like a scene right out of Alice in Wonderland, I’ve found myself going down some crazy rabbit hole swimming through my own tears and off to a race that never seems to end and hoping that when I wake, it’ll all make sense to me.

The wonderful solid part of this week was getting the news that Kristina was well on her way to become a permanent list member of the cancer beaters club. You can read about her journey on her blog here. The day before Kristina made her news public, Taylor made her announcement as well!

Taylor ringing the cancer free bell

Unfortunately, David (our honored hero for this season’s Team in Training) is back at MD Anderson for the second time fighting stage 2 lymphoma. The good thing is that great things happen in threes 🙂

David Mendez and Sarah Morales - TNT's honored heros

David Mendez and Sarah Morales – TNT’s honored heros

So off I go again… slow but determined, for something much much bigger than just me. I am a penguin. I am a turtle. I am the walrus. I am relentless.

I wake up at 3:45a.m. to ride at 5:00a.m. to put in more miles on my bike before the sun rises than most people drive in their car all day long. All this, just to beat cancer and to show my love for my family members that cancer took away from me.

I wake up at 3:45a.m. to ride at 5:00a.m. to put in more miles on my bike before the sun rises than most people drive in their car all day long. All this, just to beat cancer and to show my love for my family members that cancer took away from me.

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