Archive for donny cardenas

I remember you

Posted in cancer, Mom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2015 by runmyssierun

It’s still very awkward for me on holidays. Especially Mother’s Day without my mom and Sissy (who helped raise me)  and the only other person in this world who would know what I feel… my baby brother.

I was watching GMA (Good Morning America) yesterday and saw Garth Brooks surprise an unsuspecting mom with a personal appearance and sang a song to her that touched my heart..

I know I question a lot of what God puts me into… and I know I shouldn’t because God sure put me into the arms of the most perfect mother ever. He knows what He’s doing. I hope I’ve become the mom that she was to me for my boys.

My son and I at the very first Little Heroes Prom held by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the Rio Grande Valley at IMAS.

My son and I at the very first Little Heroes Prom held by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the Rio Grande Valley at IMAS.

Last night, I was able to get dressed up and share an evening with my youngest son at the Little Heroes Prom held at the International Museum of Arts & Sciences. And although the event was designed for the children in the area who have or have had cancer, you couldn’t help but see the mothers of each child there beam with pride as their beautiful/handsome child danced to Pharrell’s Happy or Taylor Swift’s Shake it off.

And as I looked beside me and gazed upon the child I helped create, I couldn’t help but get a little choked up realizing that this was the first Mother’s Day that I would be without my eldest child and simply stayed quiet as the women around me at the table asked each other how they would be celebrating their weekend as moms.

I won’t be doing anything “special”. But I’ll be feeling special.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who helped mold a child to become a better person.

My Momma and I celebrating me becoming a mother.

My Momma and I celebrating me becoming a mother.

The Shape of my Heart – Valvular Heart disease and April’s Heartaches

Posted in Running with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2015 by runmyssierun

This April, like the many Aprils before this, has been notoriously and expectedly damaging to my heart. I don’t know why so many bad things happen to me in April but it does. However, because I am now aware of April’s intentions, I find myself more prepared to deal with it so that I can shelter my heart from more damage. Well… at least I’d like to think that I protect my heart. Sometimes there’s just no way to shield yourself from the pain that hurts your heart.

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April is the time of year when seasons change and Spring arrives. It is a new beginning.

April 8th was the day that we lost my mother to cancer.

April 11th was the day that we lost my brother.

April 17th was the day that Eddie Arguelles was hit and killed on his bicycle by an intoxicated driver.

April was when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. I could go on and on about death and heartache… but here’s the truth about April. It’s when bad things happen that the opportunity to make good things happen from them arise. Events like this can either make you or break you. It’s your choice.

Now, don’t get me wrong, misunderstand my words or try to turn this whole thing around. The pain of the loss from all these mentioned above is still agonizing. I don’t want you to think that it’s all ok now. Because it’s not. I doubt it ever will be ok. That pain will always be there.

However, watching the way Monette gracefully and eloquently handled the one year anniversary of the loss of her husband, Eddie Arguelles, was so inspirational and uplifting. I have so much yet to learn!!! My mother died on Easter Sunday and I haven’t been able to keep a dry eye even thinking about an Easter Egg hunt. This woman bravely goes out on a celebratory 5am morning bike ride along the route that took her husbands life. She was able to hold her head up high and celebrate his life in the way that he loved to spend his life doing… cycling. It’s times like this that make me question my strength and courage and validate to myself that I still have so much more to do, to grow, to achieve.

It was an emotional day as the UTPA family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of Eduardo “Eddie” Arguelles. This picture montage video was created in loving memory of Eddie. He will truly be missed by all whose lives he touched and everyone that had the pleasure of knowing him.

Posted by UTPA – Division of Information Technology on Friday, April 25, 2014

Considering all that was happening, it was understandable that there was a lot of emotional drama that not only I had to live with but many of my other family members and friends dealt with as well. Too many of these issues interfered with my training and state of mind. For now and until some of these personal matters become better managed, I am stepping down and out of all of the events I had prepared to do. There is no way that I can properly train for the big events I had hoped for. I’m not quitting… I just know better than to risk my body and health for the ego of the finish line. My time will come. I’ll see the sign when it’s ready.

It has been hard to train on my own. I am not the self-motivating type… in fact, I’m pretty self-defeating. I’ve written several times about the mean voice in my head… she’s actually worse in person. I’ve had to edit much of the language here in the blog that she actually says to me. and quite honestly, just between me and you… I think she really needs a life. 😉

I am very much a goal oriented person. I see a finish line and I work myself towards it. But in this case, today, there is no more finish line. The ironman I was looking forward to is no longer there. I won’t be attending CapTexTri for family reasons. And it’s just too late to sign up for other races without proper training… so I’m basically just going through the motions.

But isn’t that the goal?

Tada!!! Helllloooooooo!!!

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sigh So, I’m having a hard time dealing with not going for that gold star on my head, not having accomplished something and putting a check mark by it to note that it’s done. What I’m working at is never ending… and I’m having a hard time adjusting my thought process around it for proper motivation. This is my struggle today.

I need to find it in my heart. Last thing I want to do is quit on myself after all this hard work has been done, with or without the support I’ve had thus far.

So in my search for motivation, I figured I needed to start with my heart. If I can’t find motivation in my heart.. then were else would it be??? Coincidentally, a symposium was being held by my running guru and a group of cardiologists that are experienced marathon runners. There it is!!! Answers to my heart 🙂

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I attended the meeting, late of course, and stood in the back of the room listening in awe to those doctors who ran the courses all over the world that filled my bucket list. They gave advice that, for the most part, I had already been following.

Dr. Paul Manoharan and me as he gave me my  cardiology exam results. Yes, that IS his happy face :)

Dr. Paul Manoharan and me as he gave me my cardiology exam results. Yes, that IS his happy face 🙂

Prior to taking my initial first steps towards my marathon journey, I went to Dr. Manoharan – my cardiologist who also worked with my baby brother, Donny Cardenas, and knew better than most other doctors about my family history and my personality when it came to accomplishing a goal. After several exams, stress tests and even went so far as to offer me the option to choose the dye that my brother sold to him (my brother was his pharma rep for this product), he discovered that my heart had a malformed valve.

My grandmother and grandfather on my father’s side both died of heart disease. My grandmother had this same heart defect. My father and my brother have/had heart disease. My brother died of it. My father is living with it.

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Dr. Manoharan carefully went over all the pros and cons of this genetic oddity with me and after all the discussion, we decided that I would continue cautiously while he monitored me closely and often. After the first year of running, he removed the cholesterol medication I was on. After the second year, he was sarcastic (his normal self – whew! – that’s a good sign) and I think pretty stunned that I stuck with it and kept improving. Now into my third year, I’m curious as to what his numbers show.

So… long story longer… and getting to my point: Your body doesn’t have to be perfect to do amazing things. You can have things wrong with your body and still do some pretty neat things you thought you never could. I did. However, you do have to be brave enough to ask the right questions and do all the right tests to know all the right answers about your body. You have to communicate correctly with your doctor, not just once in your life or once a year – because your body isn’t what it was 10 years ago, 10 months ago, 10 days ago. You aren’t supposed to be the same. You change and change often. It’s knowing if you are changing for the better or for the worse that’s important.

Know what’s in your heart. And know what’s in your heart.

Now, go run and set up that appointment with your docs.

Late night prayers on the Jogging trail

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2015 by runmyssierun

I’ve talked before about dog runners and cat runners… (dog runners run in packs and cat runners run solo and independently) Since, leaving the Team in Training triathlon team in February, I haven’t had any organized group workouts. Finding the motivation to go out there and do the scheduled workout has been a personal struggle. I don’t get those encouraging, motivating texts to get my butt out of my warm spot I’ve snuggled into at 3:45 a.m. anymore. Its so much harder doing this solo.

And now it seems that my morning workouts will change to evening workouts because of hubby’s crossfit class at 5:30am.  The struggle to be consistent is always challenged by the struggle to be adaptable to any and all situations.  In March, I had noted all the morning classes around and group runs/rides that I could join. I even got super excited because there’s a new SURFING class at 5:30 that would help me focus on my core and upper body so that I can empower my weak swim stroke.

My first #surfset class  at Contempo Fitness Studio - LOVED IT

My first #surfset class at Contempo Fitness Studio – LOVED IT

I found myself quickly scrambling to adjust my calendar of workouts to see who was doing what in the evenings… checking open pool times, costs, memberships, group rides, distances, speeds, sags, etc…. and then it happened. My freak out session came. I cracked. That thought again…

WHY AM I DOING THIS???? It’s too much. Just quit it all. Do something that doesn’t take so much time. Do something that’s not so hard. There’s tons of other stuff you can do to help. Besides, you need to be here for (son) when he does his homework and to do laundry, sweep up the dog fur, take the dogs out, (insert a million other excuses that will clearly make the world come to a screeching halt because I didn’t do this or that… and that lasts for about three hours of conversation in my head while I desperately try to convince myself that it was ok to quit)

uh oh…

You read that last word in parenthesis, right? Yep, that’s all it took to wake up that mean voice in my head.

Have you ever felt someone roll their eyes at you? Have you ever felt someone snicker and sneer at you even they knew you knew they were doing it? Has that other person ever been your inner you? I swear the Inner Myssie is so sick and tired of me now. Her patience is wearing thin.

Anyways… long story longer…

I had it out with myself – again – as always – and got out there to do anything… anything… just to get out and move and get clarity back where it needed to be the first chance that life gave me…. later that night. Much later.

I love how a simple little jog takes my mind to where my heart is. I had a pretty messed up month and as each week passed, things seemed to be getting worse. It was as if this big dark cloud was following me around CONSTANTLY!!!

It was late. 9:30p.m. I usually don’t run in the dark at night here in this border town that has been infiltrated with illegal activity for a while now (and some pretty scary stuff happening on the running trails to women on this trail). This evening, though, I was determined – almost in a rebellious driven determination – to get a run in. No head lamp. No reflective or light vest. No mace. No gun. No taser. No garmin. No runkeeper. No NikeRun. Nothing but me and my iPhone with none of my playlists that took years to build (in my bad luck, my iPhone died… taking all my running playlists with it – my songs got backed up but not the playlists).

*DO NOT EVER DO THIS!!! NEVER EVER EVER RUN LIKE I DID. I LUCKED OUT BECAUSE I HAVE AWESOME GUARDIAN ANGELS…. ok, proceed onto the rest of the story…

So there I was in the dim shadows of the Bicentennial Street Running Trail right smack in the middle of my pity party about about a mile and a half into my run when I see him…. the first split second is a freak-out session… He’s sitting down about 200 yards ahead of me on a bench by one of the metal planet informational sculptures along the trail, his head in this hands, elbows propped on his knees and looking down and I’m running towards him… but this wasn’t what I first focused in on… the first thing I focused on from the distance were his shoes. They were brand spanking new blinged out Clorox white leather court shoes… like for tennis.

*Runners don’t wear court shoes on a running trail.

Clearly this young man – approximately mid-20’s – was not a runner. Immediately the runner snob in me takes a mental note: this man does not belong here. And then the Myssie that I like about me pops out…

“He’s here for clarity. The same clarity you are seeking.” I said to myself.

“Look at him. Can’t you see? He’s praying. He’s asking for guidance, seeking answers, wanting help.”

I ran to the northernmost trail and looped my way back South again. I’ll bet a good 20-30 minutes had passed. There he was still. On the bench, hands clasped holding his head against his knees… praying.

Yes, yes, I could see that now. This trail is not just for people running marathons. This trail is the path that all people take to seek clarity, answers and the way to their own happiness. Some of us run this trail. Some of us walk this trail. Some of us ride this trail.

But we all are here in search of that thing that makes us happy, whole, productive, appreciated and loved.

We all have our reasons. They may all be different but none more important than any other. We all have our reasons.

I prayed for him that night for the rest of my run.

This month is tough for a lot of us. It marks the anniversary of the death of my Mother, my baby brother and the one year hit-and-run death of Eddie Arguelles.  Friends and family organized a petition to establish an alert system similar to the current Amber Alert but designed for hit and run drivers. The news media has promoted it and we need just a few more signatures to make this possible. Please help us with your signature and share amongst your friends so that they can share and be more aware and unafraid of calling in any suspicious cars with fresh dents or witness a hit and run.

Sign this petition: https://www.change.org/p/sergio-munoz-juan-hinojosa-texas-hit-and-run-alert-system?recruiter=268720761&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=mob-xs-share_petition-reason_msg&fb_ref=Default

Come With Me Now

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

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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

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You’ve seen me on the front page

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You’ve seen me on TV

You’ve seen me on street corners

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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

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Austin Mahone

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Suzy Favor Hamilton

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

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

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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

ME
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.

Your Crap Sandwich

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2014 by runmyssierun

A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING MISSION MOMENT… please read, and remember that there is still work to do. ‪#‎TNTSCTX‬

Thanksgiving by Kristie Escoe

“Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. Something I’ve found pretty easy to do most years, and took for granted pretty much every year up until now. Sure, I know a little bit about worrying about the health of family members. So I thought I was a veteran at worrying, but always managed to give thanks irregardless. WRONG. Nothing prepares you for the fear and worry when your child is ill. More than ill. Ill with a disease that, even in this day and age, still claims innocent victims. And now you want me to give thanks?????


Imagine every year for Thanksgiving that you and your family go to a wonderful all-you-can-eat buffet. The food is always great and you look forward to getting the same delicious meal, year after year. So this year, you give your standard order to the waitress: an appetizer of “love”, a “caring” salad, the side dishes, “thoughtfulness” “compassion” and “laughter” and a big, juicy entrée of “good health and happiness for everyone”. The waitress brings you everything you asked for but the entrée. Instead, in front of you on the table, she places a big, fat crap sandwich. And the conversation goes a little something like this:

poo-sandwich
YOU: “Excuse me, I didn’t order this crap sandwich”
WAITRESS: “House special. You got it without asking”
YOU: “But I don’t want a crap sandwich. I want good health and happiness for everyone.”
WAITRESS: “Well, you got a crap sandwich.”
YOU (getting upset): “Well take it back and give me what I asked for instead!”
WAITRESS points to a sign that says “Absolutely NO substitutions”
YOU say adamantly: “There is positively no way I am going to be able to choke down this crap sandwich and I think it’s really unfair for you to expect me to”
And the waitress replies “Hey, look. You’ve still got love, caring, thoughtfulness, compassion and laughter, so try to appreciate those. Oh, I almost forgot, here’s your condiment tray for the crap sandwich. You also get big overflowing bowls of fear, worry, anger, guilt and resentment. Bon Appetit!”

And so you’re looking around the restaurant, feeling really grumpy about your crap sandwich, and you realize that there are a lot more people with crap sandwiches than you ever thought possible. And from the looks on their faces, none of them ordered them, either. Then you see a couple of tables with really, really big, Dagwood-sized crap sandwiches and you summon the waitress again. “Excuse me, why are their crap sandwiches so big?” And she explains that those people are facing situations even worse than yours. Their kids haven’t responded well to treatment, have had cancer relapses, or worse yet, died. And you start to think maybe your crap sandwich isn’t so bad after all. Maybe you should keep your big mouth shut, choke it down, and be glad when it’s all gone and everyone is well again. And then, right then, your waitress reminds you of one last thing: “Management reserves the right to serve you another, bigger crap sandwich, anytime they want”
We are nearing the END of treatment, not just starting out. The crap sandwich we have left on our plate is crumb-sized… we’ll be choking down the last few bites in the upcoming year and then OUR. PLATE. WILL. BE. EMPTY!!!
But, we’ll be required to hang out in the bar of the restaurant for the next five years or so. We won’t order off a menu, or make eye-contact with any employee on purpose, heaven forbid. For the next five years we will sit in the bar and keep a low profile and hope and pray the waitress doesn’t come back to our table. I’m not sure when we can ever pay our check and leave… and as long as we’re here, we’ll continue to see crap sandwiches being slung out of the kitchen on a regular basis. You don’t want one yourself, and you hate to see anyone else getting one, either. But you know they’re coming. So you just duck and pray you don’t get hit.”

The above was posted on the Team in Training Central South Texas facebook page. Now, I know I’ve been guilty a few gazillion times of complaining over things that ultimately in the big scheme of things don’t really matter and take for granted so many things that so many others would give anything for.

I’m trying. I really am trying to slow down, breathe life in, smell the roses, see the silver lining and enjoy my itty bitty little crap sandwich. You know… it really isn’t all that bad. How’s yours? It really isn’t as bad as some of the others around, huh?

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving and hope that you all have the opportunities like I do to enjoy a feast of great bounty with friends, family and dear loved ones above and acknowledge the endless beautiful blessings around us. May we all seek betterment for mankind, find contentment and gratitude for our current possessions and situations, live peacefully amongst all peoples with encouragement, kindness, tolerance and compassion for all. And in doing so, may we find inner peace, health and happiness.

P.S. As a rule of mine when I first started this blog, I said I wouldn’t write about my personal relationships with my children and husband and other close family members where it didn’t pertain to my health and fitness journey and the road to a cancer-free world. Today, that rule will be broken. These last three years could have easily been a downward spiral to a rock bottom of epic proportions. But they weren’t. I’m not saying they weren’t difficult – because they surely were! But had it not been for the love and support of my family, I’m not really sure I’d be here today smiling like I am. Soooooo no details buuuutttt I find myself in a similar situation in that I’ve lost so many of my close family members over the last few years and in the next few days, I am about to lose another. And while this loss is not one resulting from death or cancer, the distance will sting my heart with excruciating pain. For this reason, I have been quite silent over the last few months and will likely continue to keep the posts rare until I find the strength and time to journal the thoughts of a fluffy-middle-aged marathoner/triathlete/centurion and future Ironman’s journey to a cancer-free world.

~Much love & Happy Thanksgiving!

My good days

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2014 by runmyssierun

“I don’t want them to pity me.” Sissy

She didn’t want people to pity her because of all she had been going through. She wanted to give them HOPE. And she’s probably going to be really upset that I’m including this in my blog for every Joe Blow in the whole wide world to read… but what very few people knew was that even after agreeing to go through experimental chemo cocktails with no success, shortly before she passed away, Sissy donated her body to science with hope that she would somehow still be able to help the world find a cure for cancer.

Somewhere out here in our world, right this very minute, there is a scientist out here closer to a cure because his or her medical journal has the results of a test that told the world that her body responded either negatively or positively to and gave that staff more insight because of her selfless choice. To me, that’s a real hero. Somewhere out here in this world, there’s a little bit of Sissy that still looks out for us.

Somewhere out here in our world, there are two precious boys (Nico and Sammy)who are likely going through those awkward growing up phases that boys go through – the time that I remember Donny the most (his awkward stage).  Donny loved those two boys so much, more than anything in the world! Life just dealt Donny too much at one time and he had a bad habit of locking up all his worries inside his head and he never coped with those pressures in a healthy way. With Momma and Sissy at MD Anderson with cancer, losing his pharmaceutical sales job, going through a divorce and dealing with debt growing at an exponential rate because of excessive shopping habits and worst of all… the emotional stress that all this did to him, I’m very happy that he prepared to take care of his boys after his death. To me, with all that he had to endure and still come out with his legacies taken care of, that’s a real hero.

And here… right here, I am challenged to push my body and mind to exceed limits I never knew existed. I am constantly questioning myself with “Is this how Momma would have done this?” It is now my responsibility to make sure I live out the rest of my life the way Momma taught me to. I hear her voice echo in my head over and over “el flojo trabaja doble”, “the early bird gets the worm” and “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. You see, when I was young, I was quiet and shy and very insecure with just a handful of close friends. I was a quirky introvert… just like my dad. But I wanted soooo much to be more like my Momma. She was awesome! She was cool! She was beautiful! She was talented! She was smart! She was popular! She could do anything! Anything!!!

She loved her family. She worked hard. She played harder. And she was involved in EVERYTHING that was cool in this little community! Ok, let me correct that… she MADE everything that she was involved in super cool!!! Because of this, everyone wanted to be around her because she was just so much fun to be around so all the events and organizations she volunteered for were always successful.

So this week as Daddy and I remembered Momma and Donny and Sissy, I was predictably given more signs… and of course… I had to follow. From the flower arrangements I placed at their gravesites, to the Beatles songs that played randomly on the radio, to the movies that popped up on TV, to my two little lovebirds that made it “official” this week, to the contracts that fell through (likely Sissy’s doings since she hated gossip and drama and knew that it would probably blow up in my face later on with them), to the return of peace and love and happiness back into what remains of our little family, to being asked by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to lobby for cancer research funding and easier access to affordable treatment for cancer patients in Washington DC in a few weeks, to the odd number of elephant sightings in just one week (Momma collected elephants)… I knew Momma was here… right here by my side still pushing me and triggering that voice in my head guiding every move I made.

It was right after our TEAM’s open water swim practice, after I successfully did the group’s Mission Moment without crying (even talking about the anniversary of Momma’s and Donny’s death), when Sarah’s mom, Anita, posted countless photos and videos of the ABSOLUTELY STUNNING LAKE and our group doing a phenomenal job at swimming from dock to dock and then called us all “Super heroes”. To her, I am a hero.

Do you have any idea how special that is? To have a little girl who is fighting cancer call you a hero?!?!?!

I don’t have words for this feeling.

If you knew Sarah and Anita… If you were lucky enough to get one of Sarah’s hugs… and she called you a hero… You’d be speechless, too.

I had refrained from posting a lot this week because I didn’t want my blog to have an air of sadness or instigate pity as a result of Momma and Donny’s anniversaries. But the joke’s on me…

These were all pretty good days.

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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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