Archive for don cardenas

10lbs, drugs, politicians, money, boots and music – it’s probably not what you think.

Posted in cancer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by runmyssierun

What a day! What a week! What a month it has been! Too much awesomeness for me to write about in full detail and you know how I abhor vague, cryptic messages!!!

So here’s the summary:

Lost 10 pounds. 10 more to go to fit and perform best in my wetsuit and run light for Ironman.

Sissy’s anniversary was miracle driven. <—ok, so that’s cryptic. Sorry. Not Sorry.

Because of a new job, traveling back and forth (insert a myriad of flamboyant excuses here including the Pope’s visit to America) I have only been able to train with the TEAM on weekends. I have good days and bad days, decreased my caffeine intake and heart rate levels, increased my distance and endurance times. pace is still pathetic and no longer publicly posting my workout paces because I feel extremely awkward when being compared amongst people I thought were my friends. I am not your competition. You are not my competition. I am MY own competition.

The halls of congress are busy with activists begging legislators to co-sponsor the CANCER DRUG COVERAGE PARITY ACT to ensure that cancer patients can afford to receive treatment. I’ll post a letter at the end so that you can copy, paste, sign and send to your representative in Congress.

The above is a result of this happening in the cancer treatment industry (I was one of the lobbyists that was part of the movement last year talked about in this article):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/09/24/why-big-pharma-hates-martin-shkreli-too/

I had a meeting this week that started out business and ended up being almost three hours long with some of the most phenomenal women in the Valley who have beat cancer and a couple of others who have dedicated much of their lives and talent to help others beat cancer. I should have taken a selfie of the group. There I was, sipping lemonade with Sylvia Fortuin, Fran Prukop, Melissa Smith, Stacy Madden and silly ol’ me. With all that these women at this table have endured and conquered, something as trivial as the enigma of world peace could be strategized, executed and pinned perfectly on pinterest by next Tuesday without a single hair out of place if given the challenge. We talked a bit about cancer but spoke mostly of God with smiles on all our faces. Interesting, huh?

And the grand highlight was being honored at the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball for the promise I made to Momma and Sissy. Every single emotion a human being can have was experienced there in that ball room but I exited with only one… GRATITUDE.

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But the really cool thing was that the opening band, COSTELLO, came back after the preview party a few months ago and DONATED themselves as a musical entertainment act for the cause after hearing my story.  Which goes to show that all of us can do something, anything for the cause because we all have value. I may not be super rich and be able to buy a cure and I may not be super smart and be able to invent a cure but I can run, albeit very slowly, and I can swim – or at least float or dog paddle any crazy long distance, and I can ride til the sun sets… and in some cases, til the sun rises. This is what I can do to make a difference. It may not be much but if you put together the little that I can do with the little that you can do and the little that everyone else can do.. together, we can change it all. For good.

So with that… I have to share with you COSTELLO‘s newest single and video that was just premiered a couple of days ago! it’s also available to download for free on their website! Thank them for their kind gesture by giving them a listen, d/l’ing their song, and requesting them on your local country music radio station like KTEX-100 and liking and following them on social media!!! @Costellotxmusic

Momma would have been over the moon! Thank you all for helping me keep my promise to her.

TO BE AN ADVOCATE FOR CANCER PATIENTS CLICK HERE TO EMAIL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

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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.

Cattle Baron’s Ball Shocking Honoree

Posted in cancer, Mom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2015 by runmyssierun

A short while ago, I got a message via facebook to meet over coffee from a good friend. While sipping coffee at Starbucks, she ever so gracefully mentioned honoring my mother and I at this year’s Cattle Baron’s Ball. I’ll admit, I was stunned and didn’t know what to say or do other than keep the coffee from spurting out of my mouth and onto her impeccably styled self and just nodding my head up and down.

Cattle Baron's Ball Trifold Yep, that's my family in there.

Cattle Baron’s Ball Trifold
Yep, that’s my family in there.

A few years ago, when Momma was first diagnosed with cancer, she was named REALTOR OF THE YEAR by her fellow Realtors and members of the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors.  I remember her hanging her head low shortly after accepting the award and shared a rare moment of doubt with me.

“They feel sorry for me because I have cancer. That’s why they voted for me,” said whispered to me.

“Momma, this wasn’t pity. We all admire you. Not everything is about cancer.”

She forced a smile on her face and gave me a hug. I knew I did an awful job of convincing her that it wasn’t pity. I wish I could go back in time and tell her something else… something eloquent, profound and full of wisdom, poetic and strong enough to have made her believe what I saw and admired in her.

Oh how hindsight is so 20/20!!! How I would do things differently if given the chance.

Momma was an officer for GMAR (Greater McAllen Association of Realtors) for several years and was President elect the year that she was diagnosed with cancer. No one told her to – but she removed herself from the position to tend to her treatments. She was never the type of person to not give %110 and she thought that her treatment away at MD Anderson would diminish her effectiveness as a leader for this organization that she loved so much.

She did an awesome job of teaching me by example to never half-ass something important to you. You do it %110 or don’t do it at all until you’re ready.

What Momma either forgot or didn’t realize at the time was that this group of Realtors, friends and co-workers had all admired and trusted her enough to make her their leader even before cancer was in the picture. And I failed to remind her of that fact.

Dad, Momma, me and hubby at the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors (GMAR) Realtor of the Year awards

Dad, Momma, me and hubby at the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors (GMAR) Realtor of the Year awards

She was Realtor of the year, Rotarian of the year, Woman of the year (and many others)… and in the back of her mind, I think she doubted whether she deserved all these incredible awards by merit or if they were given to her by cancer pity. And I think I did a terrible job of convincing her of her true worth and value to her community. I should have done more when I had the time to do so.

So now here we are in present day and I find myself in a similar situation and guilty of feeling undeserving of this honor.  See, I’ve never HAD cancer. I live a healthy life. I don’t suffer the effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgical removals of organs and body parts. I don’t have to miss work or family time because I’m away at hospitals being poked and prodded for experimental treatments. I don’t have to schedule Real Estate open houses and viewing appointments around the times I know I’ll be vomiting. I just have to run or swim or ride a bike. That’s all. Why does that make me so special? I’m really the under achiever of the family.

I mean… I’m not even one of those amazing athletes that qualifies for Boston. Or Kona. Or… anything worth qualifying for.

They should have picked someone else for this award. And cancer should have taken me instead.

Yes, this is how I truly feel.

BUT… these last few years really have changed my outlook and I refuse to let myself mope around in my dramatic pity parties. Regardless of how I feel on the inside, these last few years and experiences have taught me that although honors AND criticisms are directed towards me, much of them have little to do with me. I was chosen for this because of the love I have for my mother, the admiration I have for her and all that she went through and all that she did when she could. I made a promise to raise awareness and funds for a disease that I am not stricken with and being noted for it. I made a promise to do my best to take care of the health that I was blessed with and not take it for granted and I don’t do it alone, I am led, pushed and followed by countless others….

So in essence, who is really being honored here is not me but my mother, my family, my friends, my community, my teammates, my supporters, donors, sponsors and especially the victims of cancer, their families and caregivers who know all too well what it is that my Mother saw and desperately wanted to remedy.  Little actually has to do with me and so much has to do with everyone else.

I bow down to you, the deserving – the ones who have loudly and silently confided, cried, comforted and competed with me. I bow down to you, the fighters, the lovers, the haters, the cheerleaders, the sick and the healthy… for YOU are the ones that I’ve always wanted never to endure what we did. It was her wish and it is my promise. And neither of us are quitters.

I will accept this honor on my mother’s behalf and bow to you… because we are all deserving to live in a world without cancer.

For more information about the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball this year on September 19th at the Boggus Ford Event Center in Pharr, TX, would like to attend and/or sponsor it, please call the RGV ACS at (956) 682-8329. Once they update and finalize the website, I’ll post a link here.

Sometimes (1)

Things you should NOT do before a triathlon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2014 by runmyssierun

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All this week I was getting texts and facebook notes from my fellow Team in Training team mates who had never participated in a triathlon. Everything from “butter” to trisuit fittings and everything in between. Our Coach W went far and beyond her scope of duties and hosted a round table question and answer session at Starbucks on Friday to literally get everything out on the table. No subject was off limits.

I think many are a bit confused as to why I would have questions to ask at this point. Truth is, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks… what matters is what I think. And I’m not that pompous as to think that just because I’ve done a few tris that I know everything and anything about them. Clearly I am NOT the best at this sport and there is still much to learn about it and about myself.

So I was the first to ask… “I know it’s not a good thing to use something new on the day of a triathlon, but I was thinking about not using my “Mimi” and riding the Cervelo instead.”

Now, I need to preface that Coach W has known me for a year now – longer than she’s known the rest of the team and has ridden and trained with me, participated in triathlons with me and witnessed my capabilities – so this was a personal nod of approval for me as she understood that drive for me to improve. *Note that this should not be common practice for others to do in triathlons… don’t use something you aren’t used to. Practice with what you will be using on game day.

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Normally, triathletes and marathoners have a tapering period the week (or at least a few days) before their big event. You should take it down a few notches so that your body is fully recovered from the multiple weeks of tough training. But oh no…. not me and my teammates…

We actually sucker punched ourselves and did the normally assigned Saturday morning brick the day before Stanley’s Triathlon!!! We each swam 1000m and ran a two mile brick. And we – for the most part – did it balls out! I have been doing about a 1:40 100m swim pace but took it down to 2:40 that day. And for the run, I kept thinking there was something wrong with my Garmin because I kept seeing a 9:50 pace! *Take notes about these times – it shows something interesting to me on game day.

Part of our TNT practice is something called “Mission Moment”. That Saturday morning, Janie – my Mentor, spoke. We normally speak about why we are there and/or what brought us to volunteer ourselves to Team in Training. But she went a bit further… in fact, a whole lot further! I’m not going to quote her or say everything she did that morning… but what I will say is that everything she said punched us all in the gut. This season was TNT2.0 and there was no room for complaining or giving up.

And with that… we did ALL that was demanded of us and gathered together at the end for a gazillion silly pictures!!! No one complained. We all had smiles. We all knew this was not for us but for someone else who probably wasn’t smiling and having to deal with something else much more painful and exhausting.

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A day or two before a triathlon (or marathon) most athletes indulge in a carb0loading feast. Not me… I’ll admit I fell off the wagon a few weeks ago and ate all those things I shouldn’t have eaten. I celebrated my birthday too many times and drank the “demon fluid” on more than just an occasion (granted I never finished a bottle of beer but attempted more times over these last few weeks than I’ve had over the last year!). The day before the tri, I had a half of a nutella sandwich and an apple/chicken salad. Not exactly the ideal nutrition for a triathlete the day before her event.

I did get some good rest later that day. Thank goodness I’ve been supported by WINdetergent because my TNT trisuit reeked from that morning!!! I did my laundry, attached my bib number to my race belt, pinned Sissy’s medalion right next to my bib, laced my new Sauconys with the Yankz that were still in the box from weeks before and set up my morning “zombie” transition area in the kitchen close to the coffee maker.

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I stayed up way too late (midnight) and woke up at 4:00a.m.

STANLEY’S IS HERE!

I’m not gonna lie… I hit snooze.

But I got up, went to the kitchen and began my zombie makeover. Made myself a slice of bread with some peanut butter and folded it up like a taco – Mexican style. 🙂

Everything was set out the night before. So I grabbed it all and chunked it into the backseat of my car. I felt like a two-timing cheater when I grabbed “Neo” and strapped him onto my car’s bike rack. “Mimi” saw the whole thing. I know she felt betrayed. It was all sorts of wrong. A few of you understand what I’m saying.

So I hit the highway to La Joya. I’m not sure what it was… but something made me look at the rearview mirror…. something was wrong and I couldn’t place it. Something was wrong.

I pulled into the entry of Stanley’s course and was met by Joey Williams – my RPM instructor at Gold’s Gym. He wished me well as he oogled my new bike and led me to the parking area. Duran Duran was booming on my speakers… not my normal race day jam but I was adamant about keeping this day a fun, learning experience so it seemed like an appropriately fun jam to open with. As I removed Neo from the bike rack, I leaned him up against the side of my car and it hit me… my saddle sack is GONE!!! It must have fallen off on the drive over! Oh crap! What do I do? Isn’t having a tire repair kit mandatory? I’m not going to be allowed to compete today! Oh God! Oh God! What do I do?

I felt cardiac arrest coming on!

And then all of a sudden I remembered my big box of goodies. I had extras of EVERYTHING in my box…. except a saddle sack. So I grabbed my old marathon fuel belt and stuffed an extra tire tube, inflator and cartridge into it and hoped that this would be sufficient. I took a deep breath and calmed myself down and made my way to get checked in and body marked.

There’s always drama in La Joya for me.

While in line, I checked with the head honchos on whether or not it was allowed to compete without a saddle sack and told them that I would wear my fuel belt with the tire changing kit inside of it. Whew! They were decaffeinated enough to allow me through.

And that’s how my day began.

George, Wally’s master mechanic took one look at Neo’s front tire and snatched him away from me. Attached his tire pump and worked his magic and filled it up with his new and improved super fast tire air.

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I made my way to the edge of the VERY LAST bike rack. (When I’m ready to podium, I’ll get the edge of the first rack closest to the entry – but this one isn’t my race) I set up my transition area carefully. I remembered everything I learned from Coach Sandy and before I knew it, the rookies around me all came by to take note. That’s when it hit me.. I wasn’t nervous.

Yet.

As I turned over my shoulder, I see my fellow team mates hook up their bikes to the rack next to mine. Jeanice gathers us all into a close little circle and leads us in prayer… and ends with “Today we run for Mimi”… and the waterworks begin.

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We go as a group to the pool to check out the scene and the temperature of the water. I was quite surprised to feel that the water was actually very warm! Like almost hot tub warm! Cha-ching! I watched Billy skim through the water as if he was teasing Michael Phelps. It was that easy for him. I didn’t want to ruin my lack of nervousness by jumping in for my warm up and finding something else to worry about so I didn’t do my warm up swim. *Big mistake for anyone else – ALWAYS do a warm up swim if the opportunity is granted.

I escaped into solitary and sat on a bench in the adjacent park. I remembered WHY I was there. Over the last few months, I was taken aback by some people who had shown me their true colors and had accused me of lying about my distances, times and workouts and had further gone so far as to say that my involvement with Team in Training was nothing more than an ego filing journey and was full of myself. So when someone out of the blue told me that he didn’t believe what they were saying and almost apologized for their actions, it was enough for me to know that those who matter know the truth about me and about them and I was right in not wasting my time defending myself. Those people will always talk about others behind their backs. I won’t ever be able to change that about them. I need to worry about what I CAN change. Myself. 🙂

I listened to Donny’s voicemail. I listened to Momma’s. I shed my tears and wiped them away, took a deep breath and did what I needed to do.

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We all got up and gathered around the pool for last minute announcements from Casey (one of the event organizers) and a blessing from Big John. And then we all lined up to begin our swim!!!

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Our swim was based on an honor system of our swim pace but most people just starting out had never timed themselves on a 100m swim so many of them guessed. The problem with that is those who guess themselves to be too slow and are actually faster than what they gave themselves credit for end up slowing themselves down because it expends so much energy to pass a slow swimmer in front of you. Same thing goes for the slow swimmers that go to the front of the line thinking that they’re just that much closer to the finish line. They end up hurting the faster swimmers who have to pass them and they hurt themselves because it hurts their spirit each time another swimmer passes them.

The tough thing for me was that the day before, I swam 1000m at a 2:40 pace. So I lined myself up at a 2:40 pace. I ended up swimming about a 1:40 pace… 20 seconds slower than the woman who won my AG. DOH! Had I placed myself closer to the beginning of the line and not spent so much energy passing other swimmers, I may have had a better time.

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Flashing back to the year before, I remembered and mastered the run from the pool to the transition area. I flipped off my swim cap and goggles like a pro but stumbled TWICE trying to get my flip flops on!!! I’ll never use flip flops again! I spent about 10-15 additional seconds fumbling over my right foot flip flop. The additional comfort along the few feet of asphalt on my feet was NOT worth it especially when you analyze the timings at the end of the race.

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My transition time was already hurt with the flip flop incident so I purposely zoomed through to my bike and with lightening speed got all my gear on for my bike (remember I had to put my running fuel belt on, too, because of the tire changing kit in it!) and slipped my wet feet into my cycling clips and ran to the mount line.

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“Hmmm funny. Last few times I did this, I remember having to make sure I slowed down so I wouldn’t fall because of my clips,” I thought to myself. I passed the mount line and because it was a new bike to me, went off to the side and carefully mounted Neo but couldn’t get my feet clipped in.

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“Oh crap!” and the crowd giggles… they knew it before I did!!! I left my clip covers on my shoes!!!! No wonder!!!

Mr. Wallace comes to my rescue and quickly takes them off and as I shove the covers into my jersey pocket I hear Wally scream out to me “Don’t worry Myssie!!! I won’t tell anyone!!!” I could tell he was dying of laughter. Pinche Wally!

“It’s always an adventure!” I yell back at him and zoom off.

Okay. Okay. I make that first left turn and here we go… wow! It’s like “Neo” (my Cervelo) has a mind of his own and he’ll have nothing to do with that sarcastic voice in my head. We rode this exact same course just a few days prior for the first time ever and he knew exactly what to do and when to do it. It was as if I was just an accessory to him. Going North against the wind was papitas. Going South on Jarachinas with the wind against my back seemed almost like cheating. There was one point where we were on the toughest gear and he wanted to go even faster… but there were no more gears to go to!!! I got so scared of him that I stopped pedaling for a few seconds!!! We were going too fast for me!!!

All of a sudden I remembered the man who was riding a Cervelo at CapTexTri alongside me and cut the corner too fast and never got up again. My freak out session was officially in full blast and just as I arrived on the peak of the last hill I saw it… a crowd of ambulances, police cars and a white van against the fence that kept the wild brush away from the street.

Oh my God! A car must have hit one of the cyclists!

I quickly went over all the competitors that meant so much to me in my head. It seemed like the cars and crowd had already been there for a few minutes… could it have been Billy? He’s so fast and I had seen him go neck to neck with another cyclist (which was an odd occurrence because of his surreal speed). Could the competition have been so tough and their speed have been so fast that they couldn’t slow down in time for that van to avoid them??? Oh God! Please no!!! I immediately slowed down and looped over to see if I could find evidence of a wrecked bike. I recognize people’s bikes faster than I can recognize them in bike gear! Alas, there was no sign of his bike. After a few minutes of rubbernecking and the police shewing me away from the scene I rode on and asked the cross guard at the next corner if someone was hit.

“No, it was a van full of illegals,” he said. (Here’s the story that KRGV did on it. If you watch the video, you can see the cyclists riding in the background http://www.krgv.com/news/2-women-recovering-in-hospital-after-border-patrol-chase/)

“OH THANK GOD!!!” I yelled out.

Last year at Stanley’s Tri, I was almost clipped by a white SUV that picked up about a dozen illegals but there were no cops that interfered with the transport. It was the drama that seemed to always follow me around my adventures in La Joya!

With that, I looked over my shoulder for safe clearance to make the left turn to the high school. Bah! Nothing there.. I took the turn and gathered a little bit of composure again. All that time I spent rubbernecking messed up my time. I have no idea how much time I lost. My head hung as the realization came over me. I saw Javi Cavazos at one of the last corners yelling me on and snapping a pic. I usually smile for my pics… but I was already down and felt it.

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“Ok, what’s done is done. Speed it up Myssie and lets get ready for your run,” my inner voice was in rare form. She was actually a bit nice that day!

Just then Eric zooms by on his bike. Wha???? Where did he come from? There was NO ONE behind me!!!! “It was a lot easier coming back!” he exclaims. And off he went. Just like that.

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George was planted at the last corner waving me down, “Slow down! Slow down!” he yelled. Crap! I forgot to note where the dismount line was… last year, this was the point where I fell! That was my ONE big goal – not to fall especially in front of the crowd there at the finish line!! So I slowed down.. probably too much too soon but I wanted to be careful. I was already unclipped yards before it was necessary. But I didn’t fall. Whew! I made it!!!

And I was super thirsty!!!

I chunked my clips on my transition mat that was autographed by all my TNT teammates in San Antonio/Austin. And in frustration, through away my socks and jammed my bare wet feet again into my Sauconys, ripped off my running fuel belt and snapped my race belt and bib on and took off. Wait! Retreat!!! I need water!!! I’m so so so thirsty!!!

I took a swig from my water bottle on my bike, swished it around my mouth, swallowed a bit and spit out the rest… and off I go!!! Here we go!!!! Run! Run! Run!… ahem… run now. Come on. Run. Not jog. Let’s go.

My legs felt like cement going through three feet of mud. I had spent all my energy on the swim, passing other swimmers, going faster than I had planned and zooming on my bike (until I saw the police) and completely forgot to get water and Gu…  I was spent. I believe the term is BONKED.

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I knew what was going on. I tried my best to keep going but felt my body slowing quickly. I immediately began to pray the rosary for strength. I heard the whole crowd begin to yell my name out to me cheering me on and then it happened… the song that was missing in the morning on the drive over was blaring now… THUNDER… THUNDER… ACDC’s Thunderstruck hit it right as I passed by!!! This is the song that pumps me up more than any other song out there.

So there I went. I turned the corner and my legs were like bricks.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The winds picked up… tremendously. I kept going. I was at a turtle’s pace. It was humiliating!!! I looked at my Garmin. 11:00 minute mile pace!!! Oh you have GOT to be kidding me!!! I was doing 9:50 yesterday without trying!!! Just then the rain came. Seriously!!! Can this get any worse???

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Yes, it could.  The rain was stinging my bare skin. Wait… that was not just rain! That was tiny HAIL!!! I threw my arms out in disbelief and just had to laugh. There was no way I could recover from this torture!!! I think my reaction caused the volunteers to worry about me so one of them ran up to me with a cup full of water. I giggled and thanked them and decided that I simply needed to get it done.  God wanted me to have fun with this and had placed comic relief throughout the entire course for me to be reminded that no matter how hard you plan, no matter how hard you train… always expect the unexpected and never give up.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

I said a full rosary before I hit the finish line.

In need of more comedy? My race bib number was 10. Let me tell you.. I was NO BO DEREK running gracefully on the beach sand that morning!!! I am no perfect TEN. I still have a long ways to go.

But I can guarantee you that those people who cheered me on and waited for me at the finish line won’t leave my side until I’m at least an 8!!!

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And I won’t stop until there is a cure that is affordable and accessible to everyone who has cancer.

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Oh!!! How did I do compared to how I did at last year’s Stanley’s Triathlon?

Here’s what I posted on Facebook shortly afterwards:

Feeling great about Stanley’s! Shaved one full minute and one second from my swim. Shaved ten full minutes from my bike! Added FIVE seconds to my run… wah wah wahhhhh All in all, I went from 1:36:03 last year to 1:25:52 this year. Eleven minutes!!!! Pretty dang proud! Big high fives to all my Team in Training teammates, Maniacs, Cyclepaths and RWC girls that participated in their first TRI, the triathletes who challenged themselves again and all who volunteered and cheered!!! This is what it’s all about.  Today was a great day! And it’s just the beginning!!!

http://youtu.be/-oYYO_nULRY

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Two Nineteen was my sign

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by runmyssierun

If you follow any of my social media accounts, you can probably agree that one of my most iconic photos was the one of me crying as I crossed the finish line at the LiveSTRONG half marathon (my very first half marathon) on my baby brother’s birthday a few months after his death while listening to his voicemail on my iPhone.

Tears for Donny

That was on February 19th. Donny’s birthday. Two Nineteen.

I have since turned this number into a goal, a race goal. And the thing about me is that once I set my mind to something, I make a plan, practice, practice, practice, and then I go get it.

Oddly enough… when I tried to achieve this goal at the McAllen Half Marathon, I cramped up twice and missed my time. I failed.

I went back to basics. I went to Hector Gandara, my run coach and instructor for Valley Running Company’s Running 101 class, and told him that I wanted to sign back up for his class so that I could go back to LiveSTRONG this year and finish at 2:19 for Donny. He put me on a plan.

However, life happens… and I ended up missing a TON of classes. Doing his workouts on your own is very difficult. You don’t really know if you are doing them correctly, if your form is slouching and what hurts the most… the encouragement from your fellow runners. I felt like a foreign exchange student – part of the class but not really.

On that note, I questioned my ability to have progressed like how I was expected to or felt I should have.

After the Port Isabel Longest Causeway 10k run, I was extremely pleased with my time and knew that Coach Hector’s plan was working!!! But that was almost a month ago already. Had I been able to keep the momentum? Enough to finally reach my goal of 2:19? That was the question lingering in my head these last couple of weeks.

Well, as my life goes, everything I plan for ends up changing. Not having a “normal” 9-5 job with a regular income kinda hurt when it was time to pay property taxes so as I crunched the numbers in the family budget… seems that a weekend in Austin running a race was no longer an option. I should have known, too. The signs were everywhere.

I started a new business venture and am super stoked about it. *I’ll talk about it later I’m sure. But the work and the weather conspired against me and cut my workouts to a bare minimum making me really question whether I was able to reach 2:19 at the next available race, the “Get Up And Train” half marathon in Pharr, Tx. This race is now abbreviated to #GUAT.

Race packet pick up for GUAT was yesterday from 9a.m. – 6p.m. I drove up at about 5:30p.m. to late register. I must have sat in the parking lot for another ten minutes thinking to myself “How can I just show up like this so late?” I know most of the race event producers and they’ve become good friends of mine. I can just imagine the headaches I’ll cause being so late. After all they have done for me, this is how I treat them???? Good Lord Myssie!!! Just pass on the race. Suck it up and wait for another one to do when you get your act together.

*sigh*

I walked in trying desperately not be to noticed but the gymnasium was already clearing out and, honestly, I stood out like a sore thumb. I walked up to the registration table and asked to sign up expecting to be immediately turned down because it was too late or too full or too… something. But there she was… beautiful Amanda and her big smile multitasking while turning out some fires that always happen at registration events. With a nod of her head, her eyes pointing in the direction of a registration form… my registration was handled seamlessly.

I returned home to do everything you should NOT do the night before a marathon. I didn’t eat dinner. I stayed up way too late. I didn’t even shower much less shave. TMI? sorry… at least you weren’t running next to me today eh?

Before the race even started, I had already tied my orange jacket around my waist because I was already stoked and warmed up. I wrote “Donny” on my hand so that when I looked down at my Garmin, I would be reminded to go for my goal… Donny’s birthday. 

The first mile was difficult. It always is but I found my rhythm by mile 2 and kept with it. There were actually times where I was going too fast and had to slow down a bit.  How about them apples? Again, the high fives and hugs and cheers were awesome! Overwhelming at some times, too! But very welcomed 🙂

Once I got to Nolana, I closed my eyes and welcomed the mist as it cooled my face. I remembered the moment I reached the top of the Causeway and felt the same feeling… a euphoric dreamlike state of ecstasy. The playlist helped a bit with that, too.

Surprisingly, the entire run went really smoothly. Just like at the McAllen Marathon, my legs cramped up. I felt the ball of my foot and my toes go numb. While I was running, the thought came through my head… “When was the last time I cut my toe nails? Ouch! I think that’s what I feel. Well, there’s nothing I can do about it now. It’ll probably cause a blister or cut into my skin and bleed. I don’t have my trusty fuel belt with my little band-aid kit so… oh well… run through the pain. Deal with it.” I was pretty strong today. I had to do it. Foo Fighters were screaming in my ear. I had to do it for Donny. I’m not gonna fail again. No sirree!!!

Alright!!! My time is good! My time is really good! Not like Gandara or Kenyan good… but good for being me!!! Just before I hit mile 12, I sneak a peek at my Garmin. I’m way ahead of schedule. I’m going to finish before 2:19.

sooooooo guess what begins playing in my ears?

That’s right… it’s a sign.

2:19 was not a goal. My goal has and always will be to help those who have cancer and find a cure for cancer. THAT’s a goal. 2:19 was a sign.

Yep, a SIGN.

Just knowing I COULD finish in that time was good enough for me. Simple as that.

sooooooooo what do I do?

I took my phone out of it’s case. Went onto Facebook and sent Javi a message. I asked him what Lisa, his wife, was wearing. He responded two minutes later: “pink, long sleeve” The time was exactly 9:23 a.m.

HINDSIGHT: That is not a time. That is a sign. Sissy passed away on September 23, 2011. Nine Twentythree.

I went BACK.

See, I’m a woman of my word. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I’m going to do all I can to make sure I fulfill that promise.

Someone I run with in my all women’s run club (Run Walk or Crawl) had posted a while back about being upset that she may have to cross the finish line by herself and without her family. I could tell it was tearing her apart. There were countless posts that followed hers that stated so much support and understanding from our other sister runners. It was really heartwarming how this group uplifts and encourages each other. My response was something like “I’ll be there with you” or something of the sort. All I remember was that it was the shortest response of the entire string.

So I went back for her so that she wouldn’t have to deal with these last few miles by herself and cross alone. If you’re a runner, a beginner runner especially, it really does help when you have someone by you to push and encourage and drown out that doubter voice in your head. I know.. my inner voice is very loud… and rude.

I began to run the opposite way. I have to admit.. the faces of the runners that saw what I was doing were priceless. “Hey, you’re running the wrong way!” was said over and over and over again. But I kept running – at a good pace, too! – until I saw the familiar face in her long sleeved pink running sweater.

It was exactly 2:19 into my run according to my Garmin.

Lisa looked physically exhausted but still super cute. You know those running shoe advertisements you see in magazines with the sweat beads perfectly placed on their noses??? Ya, she had that.

“How do you feel?” I asked.

“Good!” she responded cheerfully.

“You’re a really good liar. These last few miles are the toughest of this race. I told you I would be there for you when you crossed. I’m here,” and onward we went!

I could feel her pace dropping and she was getting frustrated. I didn’t want her to stop and I could tell she wanted to quit and walk the rest. “We’ll keep running until the sign and then we’ll speed walk. You see the sign? Can you make it to the sign?”

“Yes, ok.” She replied with heavy breath. “Wait.. the first sign or the second one?”

“The second one,” I giggled. She knew now I was there to push her. I wasn’t going to let her give up on herself.

This pattern continued until we turned the corner and saw the finish line. Have you ever heard a smile? I have! And it came from her.

“Look Myssie! There’s the finish line!” she eagerly proclaimed.

“Smile real big now for the cameras. Make it look like this was easy. Papitas!” I told her. And then I cramped. Not just any cramp… it felt like a bolt of electricity was stuck on my calves. “Ayyyyyyy!” I screamed out (while smiling of course). “I’m cramping!”

“Don’t give up Myssie! You can do it. The finish is right there!!!” and the student becomes the teacher.

“Why does it seem like the finish line is moving further away???” she said. We laughed and we crossed and we hugged and we cried and we hugged again.

And here’s her side of the story:

13.1 miles. The Get Up and Train Half Marathon this morning… I started out with the best intentions, vowing to train and PR right around the time that Javi was rounding mile 18 at the McAllen Marathon a few months ago. I was doing pretty well; the most consistent I had been in a while, then the bipolar weather go the best of my training schedule — I showed up this morning having run only once in the last two weeks with a hand full of bike rides sprinkled in there. I was nervous, a little scared… but determined. I knew I would finish… it wasn’t the first one I’d done, but for whatever reason it felt different… probably because I was running this one solo… Javi taking the sideline for me this time. The first 8 miles felt like 3… and I was on track for a 2:30 finish… right around mile 10, my ankle started to ache… and right before 11, I had made the decision to just walk the rest of it…. I had seen Javi a couple of times by now… with water, peanut butter (my drug of choice), and all the encouragement a girl could ask for… but I was feeling pretty defeated… oh well… walk, walk, walk… then, I see this crazy woman running the wrong way… she got closer, and closer, and finally stopped… it was Myssie Cardenas-Barajas… it took me till the end of the race to realize what happened… she had said she would run it in with me… the story behind how this all unfolded is one that only she can tell… but she did… and together, we finished the last couple of miles — approaching to the finish line, the first face I saw was my mom’s… then dad… then Javi… then the babies… then my little brothers… they were all smiling and cheering… something that I had never had at a finish line…that meant the world to me… when Myssie and I crossed the finish line… I hadn’t hit 2:30; but I had PRd… and all I could do was hug her and cry…. I realized she had not only kept her word to me… but, she was kept me going… even reminding me to smile like nothing hurt for the cameras  This life is full of obstacles… trials….accomplishments… running is a metaphor for all of it… life is also full of blessings… angels…. and wonderful signs… and today, I experienced all of those…. thank you Myssie… I don’t know how I will be able to repay you for the kindness you’ve shown me. I love you, friend… to my family… it meant everything to me to have you there for me! and for Javi… ay mi amor… there are no words for you

And today in pictures…

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My cancer results came in

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

RRRRRRRrrrrrrrrring RRRRRRRrrrrrrring RRRRRRRrrrrrrring

I pick up the phone and see on the caller ID that it’s my doctor’s office. Oh God! They have my results from the mammogram and my cancer screening blood counts. If I let it ring and they’re forced to leave a message, then I’ll know, right? I’ll just listen to the message… 

No. I have to know NOW. I pick up the phone just in time.

It’s the nurse. Whew! The moment I heard her voice and didn’t hear her say I needed to come in to see Doc ASAP… I had a feeling.

“Your results came in. You’re normal,” she said. 

I think I may have screamed a little and that may have been what caused her to laugh a bit. 

I admit, I am one of the lucky chosen few who did not receive the phone call with dreaded news, news that would make you drop to your knees, news that would suck out all your tears, news that would empty your soul of all your dreams and leave you empty of dreams and afraid of time.

My good news was kept to myself and ignited a fire within me to continue my path for those who got that other phone call. 

Because the truth is that from the moment you clicked open this blog to read what happened in my day… someone else just got that awful phone call. In fact, every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. 

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Today was our Triathlon team’s first bike practice. We held a bike rodeo at the Convention Center parking lot and was taught how to change a flat tire, clean and degrease our chains, what tools to have handy, etc. by my bike guru, Wally. He had set up a little tent to shield us from the freezing mist. Poor thing had to speak up because it was hard to hear above the chattering teeth and shivering bodies of my team mates. It was then that even in that dreaded dreary cold weather that I saw the faces of my fellow teammates and how eager they were to learn about how to take care of their bikes (or borrowed bikes) so that they could do well at their first triathlon for TnT. They truly wanted to do well….

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Why?

Gosh, I’m really learning to love that question… why.. why?

Just before we got started, Cindy gave us her mission moment. Her honored hero had just lost his battle with leukemia a few days ago. She was quite choked up about it but tried with all her might to be strong and upbeat and positive. 

Katherine posted this on our facebook page: 

So, today was cold. Today was miserable. If we asked ourselves, deep down, did we want to be at practice today or snugly warm in bed? But we got up and showed up, this is what makes us TNT…. We are like postal workers: neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, etc…. we deliver! Cause Cynthia gave us all a sobering reminder as why we have to keep fighting. Why this dreadful disease needs to be stopped…..

We all have our own reasons for being a part of Team. No one reason is greater than the other. Bottom line, we’re all in this together. I feel Cynthia’s pain. It is still very fresh in my heart. 

My prayers go to the Rodriguez family and especially his wife and two very young children.

It is this very instance that breaks my heart as I remember my two nephews. I haven’t seen them in over a year. Sadly, since the death of my baby brother, it will likely be years before I am ever able to see them again.

Cancer and death does horrific things to a family.

If you’re the praying type, keep families like the Rodriguez’s and mine in your heart as you pray. I’d appreciate it.

Thanks. 

Oh! And don’t forget… I’m fundraising again. Please give what you can. Top right corner icon if you’re reading this on a PC. Scroll just below if you’re reading this on a phone.

~much love

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