Archive for leukemia lymphoma society

Heart rate zone training getting better now

Posted in cancer, cycling, Running, triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by runmyssierun

This is the first week I’ve finally started to feel pain free and strong during my workouts but still dealing with the headaches of a caffeine-poor body. Unfortunately, I can also feel the additional weight I’ve put on for all these last few months I haven’t been able to do what I had done before. I share the stress and anxiety of my fellow triathlete friend and blogger LoriLynn (You can follow her blog here).

Putting aside the mental need to LOOK a certain way and WEIGH a certain amount and BE a certain size has always been a constant struggle for me. After all, I am that washed up beauty queen that let herself go… (that’s sarcasm). But in all seriousness, that time of my life really did mess with my head about my body image. I’m not going to blame pageantry for that because I think many women endure body image challenges and realizations at that age – and THIS age for that matter! It’s probably even worse at this age (I am 45 by the way). I won the swimsuit portion of the Miss Texas Scholarship pageant at the Miss Rio Grande Valley preliminaries in 1990 and I was even one of the very first Bud Girls swimsuit model. The 90’s was the decade of the waif super model. It was IN to have big Cindy Crawford Guess model hair, smoke cigarettes, never eat and do step aerobics with slouch socks and high top white Kaepas.  20 years and 20 pounds later with two children, this same era of women that endured that decade must now endure either the ridicule of “mom pants” or the embarrassment of “muffin top” with the more hip low-rise jean. Long gone are the days of “Little in the middle but she got much back”. The struggle is real but, thankfully, so is my outlook on myself now. Do I WANT to look like my twenty year old self? Oh hell ya! Will I do what I did back then to get where I was? Oh hell no.

001 002 007

It’s not rocket science to understand where the weight gain has come from:

  1. A drastic decrease in intense and consistent physical activity over a period of about 6 months

  2. A drastic decrease in heart rate due to the removal of highly caffeinated beverages (i.e. coffee) over a period of 4 weeks

  3. A tremendous desire to NOT fall back into the unhealthy, restrictive eating disorders of my pageant days because now I know the cardiac dangers of being “skinny fat”.

Clearly I've collected a few tires around my belly. Unable to run like I used to and being restricted from core strengthening exercises due to the hip and herniated disk issues, it has become quite embarrassing to show off this bag of flab around town in the most unforgiving  spandex lycra known to mankind.

Clearly I’ve collected a few tires around my belly. Unable to run like I used to and being restricted from core strengthening exercises due to the hip and herniated disk issues, it has become quite embarrassing to show off this bag of flab around town in the most unforgiving spandex lycra known to mankind.

A zoomed up version of my point of view over the entire run. They quickly became colorful dots on the horizon.

A zoomed up version of my point of view over the entire run. They quickly became colorful dots on the horizon.

I’ve been gradually trying to increase my running endurance and mileage to catch up to Maritza, Ronnie, Cat and Alex. On Saturday, it was difficult to see them easily jog out a full mile and a half ahead of me while I struggled to remain in my zone 2 and cuss vile words as I was reminded of my pace by my Nike Run app voice from hell. I had purposely removed the pace from the window of my Garmin watch so that I could focus only on distance, heart rate and heart zone. I completely forgot to mute that wicked woman from my Nike App. Oh well, at least I learned what to do the next time I go on my long run and, honestly, it is good to know my pace at that zone so that I can prepare myself for time during practices and race day. It just hurts the ego because all I’ve ever heard up until this point is that you should push yourself to your max and beyond your known limits. It’s supposed to be hard to do these workouts. You should run a mile in less than 10 minutes and even better if you can do less that 8 minutes and then you can run the with VRC regulars once you hit the 6 minute mile level.

My concern now, after learning about heart rate zone training, if after completing so many half marathons and full marathons that took several hours to complete - assuming I was at levels that should have been no more than a few minutes in length, have I done permanent damage to my cardiovascular system?

My concern now, after learning about heart rate zone training, if after completing so many half marathons and full marathons that took several hours to complete – assuming I was at levels that should have been no more than a few minutes in length, have I done permanent damage to my cardiovascular system?

At my zone 2 rate, currently, my one mile times were hitting 13 minutes. *I know, laugh all you want. I wouldn’t put it out for ridicule and comparison if I wasn’t already prepared for the backlash.

So here’s the point I’m trying to make (after all this backstory)… at the end of my eight mile Zone 2 pathetic run, Coach Lori twisted her ankle and slowed down to finish my miles with me.

Coach Lori had to twist her ankle in order for her to slow down enough to keep up with my zone 2 pace.

Coach Lori had to twist her ankle in order for her to slow down enough to keep up with my zone 2 pace.

She kept me in check and had me constantly check my heart rate.  Every single time she told me to check, I was over my zone 2 level. She was in tune with her body and I still wasn’t. She could read when her heart rate was going up and could tell that if I was running alongside her, that mine was obviously up as well. I still need to hone in on that skill so that I don’t exhaust my body before the finish line. This is important and something I have never learned to do! Just as you should push to make yourself fast, you should also strive to calm your heart rate down for empowered endurance.

While on that last mile, she said something that pierced me to the core. “It’s more important for women to understand and regulate our hearts because heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. We, as women, tend to take care of everyone else but ourselves and it’s our hearts that give out. I lost my mom to heart disease because she was sedentary.” (click here for stats about heart disease that validates what Coach Lori said)

See, the thing is that I really did feel strong in my run. *Granted I did start feeling a little pain in the hip at about mile 4 but it subsided after a while. I also had the best swim in ages just days later. I didn’t feel winded. My breathing is now in control, There is more power in my stroke. My hips are rocking in the water just as I am supposed to be. I’m still slow as molasses but now, with this new little attitude… who cares? And if you care about my pace… you need to ask yourself why you care so much about MY numbers. Worry about yourself. I worry enough about myself. Ok? I had a great swim. I’m not bragging. I’m relieved!!!!

I started running because my Aunt Sissy asked me to run for her after she saw that I was becoming unhealthy. In my mind, I was running to fight cancer for her. In her mind, she wanted me to run to become healthier so I wouldn’t die a premature death like my baby Brother did after dealing with the stress of cancer on top of every day life stress.

But here’s the reality – I run because I don’t think I can do much of anything else to fight cancer and I still have some anger issues with cancer. After all, it stole some of my favorite people in my life. I run because while in Team in Training, Run Walk or Crawl, Running 101, Sandy Overly’s Just Tri Its and Maniacs, Erica’s Super TriLife, and all the other running groups I was/am in… I’ve found a great sense of emotional healing, confidence, camaraderie and support that I do not get in any other part of my life.  I run because my doctors have monitored me and showed me evidence of me becoming a healthier person. I run because I really like the way I was looking. Running made me feel and look younger and more vibrant. Running makes me feel like I can contribute to not just my well being but also help someone else either by inspiring them to also begin a healthy lifestyle or by raising money through Team in Training and using it for cancer research to identify the source of cancer, find a treatment for cancer and make sure that it is affordable and accessible for all those who want it. Add swimming and cycling to this and, goodness, triple all the benefits stated here.

I’ve gone through so many phases of running (and triathlon) and I do not want to change or edit any of my prior posts that document it because I think it’s important and indicative of the way I’ve learned and matured through each sport. I can go back to posts where I saw I was focused on speed, or focused on weight or focused on distance… I ‘mean really.. go walk through any gym, watch any TV commercial, scroll through Pinterest, Youtube or Tumblr running inspirations and you’re going to find so many mixed messages out there. I listened to them and got mixed up myself.

We all have different reasons to workout (or NOT “workout” per se but simply be more active in our lives) . We all have various motivations. After three years of jumping into the health and fitness world of marathons and triathlon, I’ve witnessed my reasons and motivations morph. Each season and every coach has taught me something new about myself that I wanted to improve upon. I hope that never changes. I hope I always want to improve myself. I hope I’m always learning something new about myself. I hope I’m never so pompous as to think that I know it all or better than anyone else out there struggling just like me. I hope I’m never so insecure that I feel the need to constantly compare myself to others and form a hatred stemmed solely from envy. I hope I never lose the joy I have found in this life style and in the people who surround me with encouragement and support.

At this moment, I am not looking at my pace.

At this moment, I am not looking at my scale.

At this moment, I am focusing on my heart health, endurance and form.

At this moment, I am only concerned with being better than I was before and beating one thing and one thing only… CANCER.

I didn't run to beat your timeI ran to

Why do you workout? Do you run? Zumba? Crossfit? Bike? Spartan? Roller Blade? Body Build? Surf? Skate? Walk? Swim? Dance? What do you do and why do you do it? Do you WANT to do something but too scared to start? If so, what is it that you want to do?

Advertisements

Mimi’s miles to Ironman

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2014 by runmyssierun

im703victoria

September of 2011, Sissy lay in her bed at MD Anderson’s leukemia floor unable to feed herself while my mother was a few floors down having nine tumors removed from her brain via gamma ray surgery. She looked me over and said, “You’re gaining a lot of weight with all this pressure on you taking care of us. Why don’t you take up running?”

“Why couldn’t you have suggested zumba?” I joked back to her.

“I’m serious,” she said. “I want you to run for me.”

My baby brother had died in April, 2011. Sissy died two weeks after the above conversation. Momma died on Easter Sunday April, 2012, exactly one year after my baby brother.

Two weeks after her death, I bought my first pair of running shoes from Valley Running Company. It took a month to build up to running my very first mile… ever… EVER… in my life. One month later, December 2011, I ran my first 5k at the Fiesta Marathon.January 2012, I ran my first 10k over the Causeway at South Padre Island. February 2012, I ran my first half marathon in Austin, the LiveSTRONG Marathon. June 2012, I ran my first full marathon at the Rock N Roll San Diego in California. I went on to run a half marathon every month after that including the San Antonio RnR Marathon and the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco and that December returned to my first race, the Fiesta Marathon and ran the full 26.2 miles as my Team in Training teammates and countless other supporters all ran me in to the finish line even though I injured myself severely during the race. I blogged candidlyabout my entire journey, the good the bad and the ugly on RunMyssieRun.com.

January of 2013, I began a new challenge for Team in Training. I learned how to swim and began riding a bike. I hadn’t done that since I was 12 years old. Ten weeks after I learned to swim, I completed my first triathlon, Stanley’s Triathlon. I then joined the San Antonio TNT Team and completely my first Sprint triathlon for LLS at the Capital of Texas Triathlon in Austin, Texas. Four months after that, I earned the very first Triple Crown for the South Texas Team in Training Team by joining the National Flex TNT Team and completing the 108 mile century ride in the mountains of Nevada at Viva Bike Vegas.

January 2014, I returned to my roots to invigorate energy into the Team by helping launch the first RGV TNT Triathlon Team. I went back to CapTexTri in May of 2014 to push myself up to the Olympic distance… but failed. I was pulled out during the swim and was unable to complete it.  So I found a similar race on the same course and attempted the Olympic Distance Triathlon again knowing that I would not stop until I finished this distance. And I did.

So now what? How do I top that? How do I continue my journey?

10608525_827422000621970_7975463148433140975_o

I, the outta shape middle aged princess who had never run a mile before in her life before this, will attept to do her best to complete a Half-Ironman in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, for Sissy, Momma and everyone who questions the possibility of someone who loves her family more than the fear of limitations.

In 2011, I witnessed the pain of multiple human loss.

In 2012, I witnessed the pain of agonizing physical endurance.

In 2013, I witnessed the miracle of healing…multiple times.

In 2014, I witnessed how everything above came together.

In 2015, I hope to witness you experiencing all these miracles with me. I hope to find a cure, eliminate the cause and ensure that those currently “dancing” wth cancer have access to affordable, high quality care.

Now, the above only talks about me and the crazy challenges I’ve done in this short time. What you REALLY need to hear about are the people I’ve met along the way, the victims, the heroes, the parents, the grandparents, the doctors and nurses and pharmacists, the coaches, the teammates, the businesses, the elected leaders, the sponsors, the donors, the people who care just because it’s the right thing to do… this is where the story gets good. And that is my journey… a bunch of good people doing good things all around us in a world filled with chaos, fear and uncertainty. Travel it with me.

It takes more than one person to make up a team and that’s why I’m asking you to donate to my TNT fundraising page for TNT!

By participating as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) TNT, I am raising funds to help find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

Your donation will help fund treatments that save lives every day; like immnuotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer. You may not know it, but every single donation helps save a life with breakthrough therapies such as these.

Patients need these cures and they need your support.

Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers.

This is THE most amount of money I have ever needed to raise. I pray that although I am no professional athlete, a company will understand the seriousness of my commitment and promise to my mother and offer to sponsor me. I am honored that this journey (aka Mimi’s Miles on Facebook) has become an educational resource for the community of people I live in, a source of healing for me (via runmyssierun.com) and a source of empowerment for those seeking a healthier lifestyle.

Join me and my Team and countless people who have been touched by cancer.

RunMyssieRun.com

With all the love in my heart,

Thank you!

Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

Thank you

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2014 by runmyssierun
Sissy painting a craft at the Hospitality Apartments that she would later give to my son. A few days later, she lost the use of her fingers due to neuropathy.

Sissy painting a craft at the Hospitality Apartments that she would later give to my son. A few days later, she lost the use of her fingers due to neuropathy.

It was September 3, 2011, when I had the “talk” with Sissy in her hospital room at MD Anderson. My brother had passed away April 11, just five months before, and my mother was a few floors down having Gamma ray surgery for tumors in her brain. Sissy’s neuropathy in her fingers had limited her hand functions so I was her hands that day feeding her tacos. (She didn’t like the hospital food and demanded breakfast tacos from the corner store)

“You should take up running” she said.

She saw my health deteriorating and I was the only one who didn’t have cancer and had absolutely no excuse to be as unhealthy as I was. She knew I would have to deal with the stress of losing three of my family members in a very short period of time. And it didn’t look like I was on my way towards handling it very well. For that, she worried.

A few weeks after she passed away, I started running.

She was right.

Running, combined with all the other great positive factors of my life, became the perfect therapy that was necessary to not go down the depression rabbit hole that consumes so many.

After a year of running marathons, I took up the sport of triathlon. The world of marathons and triathlons both became lifesaving tools for my physical and mental health. But even more important, let me be clear about WHY I DID THIS: 

Sissy wanted me to do this so that I could save myself. I agreed to do this so that I could help save others. The reality of it is that both occurred and continue to do so.

When I ran, I struggled tremendously. I was the heaviest I had been in my life (aside from being pregnant with my first born) and I was never an athlete in high school or college. Running with the extra weight on my body was really really difficult. It was a constant self defeating battle when I felt myself jiggle up and down and every which way and I wondered if everyone around me could see my boobs, belly and back fat try to do the macarena. I wondered if the world could hear me heaving up the trail gasping for breath. Could they hear the water slosh around in my stomach? Am I chaffing? My thighs would NOT let go of each other!!! My shorts would crumple up between my legs and it was sooooo embarrassing!!!

After a while, the vanity diminished. Every photograph of me had been posted for public scrutiny on social media. My sports bra had smushed my boobs into flat blobby pancakes that looked like they were trying to greet my belly button with a big bear hug. My lonja and cellulite made every effort to let the world know it was there all around me. And trust me… the community I live in is still small enough for everything to come back around to me. I won’t lie. All the hazing hurt and knowing who it came from hurt even more. But rather than focus on what I looked like or who was saying what, I focused on my accomplishment. THE FINISH LINE!!! THE MONEY I RAISED!!! THE AWARENESS I BROUGHT!!!

The life I may have helped save. 🙂

The level of local cancer awareness skyrocketed over the last few years. I would love to think my actions were a part of it. As a result, I think that this was the first part of the promise that was fulfilled. Awareness, prevention, detection and fundraising conversations were buzzing all around me. I was invited to attend this function and that fundraiser and begged to promote this organization and that event… and I did all that I could to attend and promote each and every one. It’s impossible to measure the level of success or how big of an impact these strides were. In my heart, this is what I am most proud of… especially when I was in Washington DC for LLS. If I could, I would love to do this full time for the rest of my life.

So when someone snickered about how I should be so much skinnier and so much faster with all the marathons that I did, I smiled and turned the other cheek.  Of course it hurt. That was their intention. But I realized that it was also their problem. My intention was different.

After an injury in my last marathon, I took up triathlon and learned how to swim and ride a bike. I also learned to look even more ridiculous than a middle aged chubby marathoner. Here’s a term that gives shivers down the spine of other women like me: TRI SUIT

ya… it’s like a horror story in seven letters.

Can it get worse? Absolutely! Try THIS term:  WET SUIT!!!

So why did I continue? Because, honestly, that was just about it for all the bad stuff. My cause was much bigger than the vanity of the above mentioned horrors.

Running 26.2 miles was physically one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Why? Because it was painful on my legs? No. Because I was forced to deal with the doubt in my head for 5 hours. I learned more about myself in the last four miles than I did my whole life.

The woman who starts the race is NOT the same woman who finishes the race.

The woman who starts the race is NOT the same woman who finishes the race.

Cycling 108 miles up the mountains of Nevada was the most thrilling and sobering experience of my life. Climbing up that mountain on two wheels in the blistering desert heat in the dead of summer was physically taxing but the three sisters… wow… what a rush!!!

00831-05-4972

And the biggest lesson I learned was in failure.. not being able to swim CapTexTri. It is through failure that you learn the most. I do think that my ego got involved and I should have dropped out of the race because of my health (I really did know better) so that this wouldn’t have happened. I became wrapped up in other people’s goals and lost sight of why I was doing what I was doing. I am grateful now for the feeling of defeat I experienced. It will make my triumph much sweeter at my next tri. For me.

bd122736771415a84d19fa953983a7cf

This may not be something that others experience but I am grateful I did. I had a spiritual awakening from within me while doing all of this. I connected to a silent and vital part of me that impacted my emotional well being.

Once you conquer the fear, see past the vanity, tame the ego and allow yourself the opportunity to experience genuine happiness at the same time helping someone else without expectation of that person doing anything in return for you or even knowing who you are… that right there is living life to it’s fullestat least it is for me.

The above was all about the cause (cancer) and the physical sports (marathon and triathlon). But let’s be honest… most everyone out here is still most interested in WEIGHT LOSS and “thinspiration”…. you know.. looking like a Victoria Secret Angel. How much weight can I lose? What’s the secret to losing weight overnight?

There is no secret. It is consistent hard work with an awesome playlist and great friends by your side.

ME Before and After

ME
Before and After

So it’s pictures like THIS that garner more attention than anything else. I understand. Believe me I do. I was never obese when I was young nor was I an athletic jock. I was a regular kid that, because of the times, was out the door at sunrise and was expected to be home at the dinner table at 5:30pm every day. I walked the senderos at the ranch, played on the beach, rode around for hours on my “Miss Daisy” banana seat bike around our hood, I was in ballet and girl scouts and in high school I joined the dance team… I did stuff. I was active. And that kept me healthy enough to be …. average.

My family didn’t have a lot of money and never really went to lavish vacations or gave each other grand gifts. We celebrated each other and holidays with feasts of food. Over time, I guess it made an impact on my mental state and I associated food with happiness and family.

So when I learned that my baby brother was depressed and miles away from me, my mother was battling cancer and miles away from me getting treatment and Sissy was with her doing the same thing, and I was having terrible issues with a woman at work and my husband was either working over time or was in another State for work… Worried, sad and lonely, I turned to food to fill the void of happiness with family.

I gained an incredible amount of weight. I hid from society and feared it’s rejection. I promise you, you’ve never seen more elastic waistbands in your life than what was in my closet. It was velour yoga track suit heaven that never saw the inside of a gym.

All this changed quickly while on my quest to fulfill Sissy’s promise. I didn’t lose 45 pounds over night but in three months of consecutive walk/jog workouts, a visible difference was blatantly obvious. And not just in the way my clothes fit. The smile came back on my face as well. My attitude became more positive. Everything about me was… nicer. My confidence in myself was restored. But caution: there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. And unless you conquer the demons that control your desire to look a certain way, be a certain size, weigh a certain number… and you achieve it… what then? When you step back and take a look at what unhealed insecurities, greed and jealousy do to a mind, you see poison. Be careful of the wolf that you feed. We all have both within us.

One year and a half after running and triathlon training allowed me to mix things up in my workouts. My body got used to doing the same thing over and over again and began to plateau easily. I got used to the incredible shrinking Myssie and the compliments that came with it. Intensifying the workout by increasing speed or distance was a quick fix for that plateau.. but it also took the fun out of all that I was doing and began to feed the green monster of competition that lives inside me and those I was close to at the time. My green monster is a powerful creature. It took my focus away from my goal, away from my promise… and for this, I am so very very sorry Sissy.

This is not what she wanted for me.

Certainly, this was not what Momma wanted for me either.

I came to a time in my life where I was able to see all my mistakes, all that I could have been, all that I could be.. and the cost associated with each. I am now at a very sobering moment where I can accept that I cannot change my past but I can still mold my future and the future of my priorities.

I watched a movie recently about a man who was able to travel back in time. He used that gift not to make him rich but to go back and spend more time with his dad who died of cancer. Even though in present time, his father had passed away, he could go back and ask him for guidance and advice or just play a game of ping pong or walk the beach with him.

So there I was, laying down sprawled across the couch with “About Time” playing on the big screen TV above me, blubbering like a fool as memories raced across my head trying desperately to figure out which point to go back to. Would it be the time we were coloring Easter eggs around the kitchen table? Would it be hearing her sing “The Girl from Ipanema” while Daddy played the song on the piano? Would it be the time when she was driving me home at midnight from Fiesta’s night parade in San Antonio and we were talking, laughing and singing all the way home until I threw up because of all the lollipops I ate that day? Would it be the afternoon of my wedding day, getting dressed in her bedroom? Would it be making s’mores with the girl scouts while camping at Bentsen Park? Or just cuddling up with her on the bed while she read her book night after night? Would it be the time we went to watch Eric Clapton in concert and she reached over to hold my hand when he sang this song?

And whatever moment I chose to go back to, what would she have advised me to do when asking her about how to deal with those people who were always so mean, vindictive, jealous, etc? Am I a good mom? Am I giving people good advice? Is what I’m doing making the difference I intended? Do I keep the job I love or take the one that pays more? I’m worried about Dad. What can I do? How do I know if I’m doing the right thing?

“Oh baby, all I can tell you is that when I had those questions and my mother wasn’t there anymore, I prayed and gave it to God” she said.

I’m really trying.
I’m really trying.
Get down low.
Total defeat.
I’m tired.
Thanks, Dad.
So I’m almost
up-to-date with my story.
As all families do,
we got used to life after death.
And it was still fine.
And things settled back into their
traditional rhythms season after season,
and are much as they have always been.
And we’ve got used to
Kit Kat being happy again.
And then we got used to her being a mum.
Albeit not a very good or even safe one.
And in the end,
I think I’ve learned the final
lesson from my travels in time.
And I’ve even gone one step
further than my father did.
Okay, I’ll do the kids.
No, don’t worry. I’ll do them.
Yeah, you do them, you lazy bum.
The truth is, I now don’t
travel back at all.
Not even for the day.
I just try to live every day as if
I’ve deliberately come back to this one day
to enjoy it as if it was the full final day
of my extraordinary, ordinary life.
Hello, you’re down already. That’s great.
Thank you so much for that.
And in we go.
Posy? Posy!
That’s fine.
We’re all travelling through time together
every day of our lives.
All we can do is do our best
to relish this remarkable ride.
Yes, yes, yes…
Okay, I’ll see you then.
Bye-bye.
See you later. (quoted from the script of About Time – 2013)

Thank you Momma and Sissy.

Thank you Donny via Foo Fighters. Thank you Xavie for more reasons than you’ll ever know. Thank you to my sons for cheering me on and teaching me to swim and joining me in so many local 5ks. Thank you sponsors, your funds went to help someone struggling to make a co-payment, get gas money to drive to MD Anderson, catch a flight for emergency treatment, hide a bald spot and best of all, give hope. Thank you to my team members, fellow athletes and all my coaches for the time pounding the pavement, donated gear, words of advice and free tire changing services. I am forever grateful.

Thank you.

Capital of Texas Triathlon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2014 by runmyssierun

Been there. Done that. It’s no biggie.

WRONG

So here’s the brutal truth. In essence, I have been training for the Capital of Texas Triathlon for a year and a half. I did the Sprint distance last year. I had trained with THE best triathlon team coach in the area for 10 weeks. I trained with Coach Sandy Overly and the Multi-Sport Maniacs all year until the South Padre Island Triathlon in October. I trained with virtual coaches all over the great State of Texas. I trained with some of the most incredible Ironmen in the area. Over the course of this last year, my run pace went down but my swim improved a bunch and my unexpected love for cycling jumped me up tremendously on the bike. My determination to do well at CapTexTri this year was unwavering and my training was consistent and challenging me to the next level.

And then I got sick one month before game day. And never really got the chance to heal 100%. I don’t want you to think that this is an excuse but understand that I KNEW what my body could do and I KNEW that my body was not healthy and I KNEW that I could make a decision to pull out, go back to the Sprint level or continue on and do the best that I could at the toughest level that I had never done before. Ultimately, I chose to do my best. Today, hindsight is 20/20.

I was told never to write when I am angry so I purposely didn’t update the blog immediately after the triathlon. I’ve calmed down a bit and wanted to do this while the memories are still fresh in my mind.

FRIDAY

Things were hectic in the homefront. The decision to leave Friday morning officially came Thursday evening. I’m scatter brained to begin with so I expected myself to forget SOMETHING… like all the whites in the dryer, including ALL my Balega socks and my white triple crown baseball cap that I washed the night before. Lucky for me, I usually have an extra of everything in the trunk of my car.

I wanted to join the 5AM group for a last bike ride and also wanted to join a few of the girls at 5AM for some laps at Municipal Pool… but my eyes had other plans. I was woken up by Jeanice via telephone shortly after 7am. Clearly snoozing was a priority for my body.

Hindsight: My body was in dire need of rest. I ignored the signs.

Never show up to a party empty handed in Austin!!!

Never show up to a party empty handed in Austin!!!

The bestest and most quietest back seat driver ever :)

The bestest and most quietest back seat driver ever 🙂

Jeanice and "Cowboy" escorted me on the drive up.

Jeanice and “Cowboy” escorted me on the drive up.

I am so lucky to have such great true friends by my side throughout this journey. No hidden agenda. Just genuine honest selfless support. What a ride this has been!!! I'm the luckiest girl ever!!!

I am so lucky to have such great true friends by my side throughout this journey. No hidden agenda. Just genuine honest selfless support. What a ride this has been!!! I’m the luckiest girl ever!!!

Donny let me know he was with me every single day of this event!!! I miss him so much!

Donny let me know he was with me every single day of this event!!! I miss him so much!

I packed up and picked up some goodies for my Austin hostess with the mostess and caravaned with Jeanice to our destination. Spending a couple of days with my life-long best friend is the BEST way to de-compress… no, wait… spending a couple of days with the my best friends 6-month old twins who are both drop dead gorgeous Gerber babies that immediately stole my heart and wrapped me around their little fingers was the BEST way to de-compress!!! While I was there with them, I managed to sneak in a short little run, ride and swim of about 20-minutes each. I was feeling pretty good.

Double Love!!! Fiona and Jake have my heart forever!!!

Double Love!!! Fiona and Jake have my heart forever!!!

IMG_9567

I’ll skip to SUNDAY. Packet Pick Up and Bike Check in.

I arrived at packet pick up at about 10:30am on Sunday. Yes, I am certainly an eager beaver! It opened just 30 minutes before I arrived. So I figured I would take the chance to first walk the course and get acquainted with the changes that were being buzzed about. Seems the organizers decided to flip the swim route and go counter clockwise instead of jumping off and going left first.

I walked over and searched for the transition area… uh oh. It’s not where it was last year. BUT I see fences and white tents nearby so that must be where the action is at… but first.. the swim. Where’s the dock that we jump off from? I don’t see it. Panic sets in.

Oh. My. God.

Are we supposed to walk in from the Dog Park entry???? Sarcastic voice in my head is freaking out now. Surely this can’t be!

IMG_9587 IMG_9590 IMG_9593

I continue to walk… a little faster now… and I see an artificial green grass turf ramp leading up from the lake to the running trail. I peer out and see two men swimming. LAW BREAKERS!!! yes!!! I love when I get to meet people like this!!! Not that I want to break the law but I know people like this are SERIOUS about training and they want to get as comfortable as possible with the race course before the actual race. Which is really what I was doing, too, but I knew it was illegal to swim in the lake.

Hindsight: They knew it was illegal to swim in it, too.

So I stick around and watch them for a while. They were amazing swimmers. As they finish their swim, they come up from the water and walk onto the ramp. The shorter one seemed a bit startled with my questions.

“Is this where the swim exit really is?” I ask.

“Ummmm I’m not sure. It was here like this but I’m sure it could move.” He began to dry off a bit while continuing to answer my questions.

“So, does that mean that there isn’t a dock for us to jump off of this year? I don’t see a dock!! Only the dog steps.” I begin to ramble as I realize this guy really really looks like Justin Timberlake drying off!!!

This is the REAL Justin Timberlake getting out of a lake. Bad quality photo but it should help your imagination get to what I'm talking about.

This is the REAL Justin Timberlake getting out of a lake. Bad quality photo but it should help your imagination get to what I’m talking about.

He smirked and clearly realized he was speaking to a super nervous freaked out rookie way out of her league and calmly looked over in the direction of the dog park stone steps nearby and said that the swim entry would likely be there. I snapped a picture of it and zoomed in frantically searching for dog poo. I knew they were secretly giggling inside about me but I didn’t care. Outwardly, the Justin Timberlake guy was a true gentleman and wished me luck as I did him and went on my way to measure the distance from swim exit to transition.

0.31 of a mile!!!

Holy cow!!! Are they serious?!?!?!

I look to the left and look to the right. Which transition exit goes to bike and which one goes to run? It’s better to get the facts than to waste time here guessing. Frustrated, I decided to just go to packet pickup and get my answers.

I was still there early enough to not have to mess with crowds. No lines at all! I just walked in like I owned the joint. Nice!!!!!

Remembering the drama I endured last year with the registration mix up, I was delighted to quickly speed through without any problems whatsoever!!! The cool volunteer even did a “selfie” with me!

IMG_9603

After running into a few fellow Maniac teammates and numerous “Wally” clad fans and chit chatting with them for a while, I browsed the isles of the expo.  I saw Wally and Laura at the Jack and Adams booth. I walked up just as the owner was asking Wally how they met and we all giggled.

IMG_9619

Something pulled me away though… I gravitated towards the “Please be Kind to Cyclists” booth. I think the same power that pulled me there was the same power that made Al Bastidas practically jump over the table to hug me. You know when you meet someone and you get that feeling that this person is going to be a big part of your life from this point forward? That was the feeling I had. Over the course of the next few minutes as I continued to walk the isles of the expo in the convention center, Al would end up hunting me down three more times with ideas and questions and suggestions and letting me know he’d be in the area the following week.

The quest to continue Eddie’s dream may just have made an ally. This is Al’s story. He is a lucky one. 

I also got to meet face to face with the staff of LifeTime Triathlon that day. They showered me with gifts and goodies. A tri suit, a race belt, some gift cards and yes… a selfie!!! 🙂 I know… I’m a dork.

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon chose me to be one of this year's Ambassadors. I am very grateful for their support and hope to continue our journey together!

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon chose me to be one of this year’s Ambassadors. I am very grateful for their support and hope to continue our journey together!

After all this, I was able to meet up with the TEAM and get my bike, Mimi, checked in and racked up. I get so nervous leaving her on a rack like that, alone, in a park… without me. She’s like my baby. An expensive baby!!! But thems the rules… and she was being guarded. I took one last look over her. Checked her brakes, her gears and spun her tires… and that’s when I saw it. Oh no!!! Her rear tire is punctured!!! All the way through!!! It was small but big enough to do some major damage. And too late to and too expensive to find a replacement. Could I chance it? I have no choice.

IMG_9607 IMG_9609 IMG_9610

Hindsight: I did have a choice. I should have called Wally to look at it and see if he could find me another tire at Jack and Adams to safely replace that afternoon.

Then I heard it again…. Hero by Foo Fighters. And my team was right there with me to witness. I can’t describe the feeling I have to know that those around me, those who truly have my back, can feel what I feel and share the joy of it with me.

Hero blasted from the speakers and my girls all huddled around me insisting that the moment be captured. I really really love these girls!!!

Hero blasted from the speakers and my girls all huddled around me insisting that the moment be captured. I really really love these girls!!!

I left my bike at transition and walked with the TEAM to Chuy’s, an Austin foodie favorite, to grab some lunch. I was starving!! We ate and went over some details like athlete tracking aps for our friends and family and carbed up. We all returned back to the hotel together in Rolando’s massive Mercedes Benz party bus!!! Woo Whooo!!!! Guess who rode in the back seat?!?!?!

Welcoming my teammates to Inspiration Dinner. Clearly I was having a bad hair day ;)

Welcoming my teammates to Inspiration Dinner. Clearly I was having a bad hair day 😉

We got all dressed up for the occasion.

We got all dressed up for the occasion.

I think the ERICAS stole my Soul Glo!!!

I think the ERICAS stole my Soul Glo!!!

Christa Emig taking the podium... and our hearts. I finally got to witness her Key Note Speech.

Christa Emig taking the podium… and our hearts. I finally got to witness her Key Note Speech.

My TNT Super Heros!!! Christa Emig and Eric Cooper (*I tweeted this pic to MK who I later sneaked up on the next day)

My TNT Super Heros!!! Christa Emig and Eric Cooper (*I tweeted this pic to MK who I later sneaked up on the next day)

After some shenanigans and lost key drama, I eagerly dressed up for the Inspiration Dinner. My regret from last year was not attending the dinner and listening to my roommates speech that night. When I heard that my roommate from last year was going to be keynote speaker once again this year, I made sure I wasn’t going to miss out.

Good thing, too. SHE WAS AWESOME!!! I wish now that I had recorded her so that YOU could witness her incredible positive attitude and outlook on life. There is clearly an innate indicative trait that all the successful people I admire have and that is a positive attitude bursting with a great sense of humor. She, Christa Emig, rocks that trait.

I sat there at the table with Coach W two seats down from me. It was the first time I had ever seen her really choked up. Inspiration Dinner really is that… inspirational. It was Coach’s first dinner with us as a TEAM. Being a cancer survivor herself, I knew she had more connection to what was being said a million times more than I ever could imagine.

After dinner, we all met once again to go over last minute course changes, tips and rules. And of course… pictures!!!

10320522_10154164574495181_8511226070513512959_n 1466022_848499470127_4622761940165211564_n

IMG_9647

Up to my room I went with my trusted and familiar roommate, Jeanice. Jeanice and I had been roommates for almost all of my TNT marathon events. I love rooming with her because after all the chaos, worry, and anxiety passes and we sit on our beds waiting those last five minutes before we go downstairs to leave to the race, she says the most amazing prayer with me. We bow our heads, hold hands and sanctified poetry spills from her lips every single time.

IMG_9650 IMG_9649

And she didn’t fail me this time either. Her prayer brought tears to my eyes. It was powerful. Powerful.

We both grabbed our bags and made our way to the elevators to go down to the lobby and met up with the rest of the TEAM. Just when the elevator door opens, I see Justin Timberlake again… but this time with his bike. OMG! His BIKE!!!!

10300896_669466166436630_4978845623764713963_n

See, take note… if I were like any other normal girl and saw Justin Timberlake in an elevator, I would jump in and hug and kiss him and get autographs and selfies, etc… but noooooooo, not me. I salivate over his BIKE!!!!! *Note: this is NOT Justin Timberlake but a guy who looks just like him.

Justin gives me a familiar smirk and a nod as Jeanice and I enter the elevator. Its just the three of us in there. So I say oh so matter of factly “When my bike grows up, I hope it’s just like that one. Clearly I need to feed it the right stuff.” There… he laughed, wished me well and exited.

Oh noooooo!!!! It’s raining!!! No… It’s STORMING!!! It’s raining cats and dogs and I have no jacket and it’s freezing!!! Please Momma make it stop. Please make it stop.

And it did. 🙂

10387134_10154203441020068_9184444404589888657_o

The Team took more pictures and poof! We’re off! Like a magnet, I was drawn straight towards Mimi. There she was. Sparkling with rain drops waiting patiently for me on the rack. #920 under the big shady umbrella of a tree. Dang! She’s beautiful! Three thousand people there and all around me are triathletes from the Valley. It was awesome! The sun was peeking over the horizon and transition area was humming with excitement. What a surreal sight! I mentally went over my transition area and double, triple, quadruple checked everything…. everything… ohhhhhh… Wally!!! Wally! Look at my tire!!!

I showed him the hole that I had discovered the day before. I saw the look on his face. It wasn’t good. He knew I saw and said “You want me to get you a new tire?”

How does he do that???? There’s no way he can do that… oh wait… this is Wally. He can do anything. Knowing him, he probably had an extra special orange tire in his back pocket as we were speaking. But no. We had 15 minutes left before transition closes and there’s no way I could do that to him. I’ll just have to take my chances.

With that, I made my way to the lake, wet suit draped over my shoulder, goggles around my neck and coffee with a straw in my hand and swim cap stuffed in my back pocket. Blur. Blur. Blur… How I got from transition to the lake (approximately 1/3 of a mile) I have no idea. The next thing I remember was Coach Luis looking at me and asking me “You done with that?” and grabs my coffee and throws it away.  What???? Zombie mode turned off. I’m awake! I’m awake! Seriously! Does he not realize how dangerous it is for someone to grab my coffee??? And live to tell the tale????

Ok, lets get serious. The pros and parolympians are in the water swimming. They’re awesome! I’m awestruck. Each one of them are gliding through the water effortlessly. And then, just like that… just like last year… out of the water and zooming right past me is Aaron Scheidies!!!! I was starstruck!!! And in that moment… the excitement got me. WOW!!!

97788-801-015f

Time flew by much faster than last year. I have NO idea how that went so fast. Over the loud speaker, the announcer says that it’s time for the time trial start and things should be moving along much faster. Just as I begin to squeeze into my wet suit, the inevitable happens. Crap! I gotta go.

The porta-potty line was a gazillion people long. sigh. No choice. I had to wait but made it just in time for me to do my business and make it over in time. I zipped up my wet suit, pulled and tugged a bit more… a bit more… and just a bit more again… and there… like clock work… HERO by FOO FIGHTERS is blasting on the speakers. Tears well up in my eyes as I see Laura in the distance. I point to my ears and she recognizes the song and comes over to hug me and then she begins to cry with me.

Every single race I’ve done with TNT and LiveSTRONG has had the FOO in it somewhere somehow. That’s how I know Donny is still with me. He surprises me like that.

And so Laura is off to walk the plank. And there goes Alex and Roy and Ben and Ronnie and Vero and… the whole team went by. Suddenly it clicks… wait! I need to go too!!! I jump into line. Old school cut in the cafeteria line way, too!!!

10363365_758007934219808_1759619486654253114_n 10380038_758007904219811_1910561998545395758_o 10246421_758007854219816_3101831641051289549_n

“Ok, if it’s cold, it’ll be cold for just a few seconds. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be hard. Just don’t give up. You can do this. It’ll be 3… 3 1/2 hours tops before you can finish. You can do this. Just don’t give up. Don’t give up,” the voice in my head says to me.

“Grab your goggles. Don’t let them fly off when you jump in the water,” she continues.

“Must you always lecture me???”

“Focus!!!! Its your turn to jump!” she yells

I remembered to jump closest to the land so that Anita (Sarah’s mom) could get a photo of me going into the water but the girl in front of me panicked and was struggling. “Just go! Just go! Jump!” my inner voice yells at me. And I jump.

Argh! Water rushed up my nose and down my throat. My eyes opened and there’s that same yellow brownish murky water I remember from last year. It’s not cold. The water is perfect. But I feel the burn the back of my nose and throat. It’s stinging bad.

No complaining! Go Go Go!!! Swim! I hear the man on the dock yell out “You’re on the clock!” I knew he was talking to the girls that were struggling by me but I took heed and shot out like an Austin Bat. Wow! Ok, this feels good. Water isn’t cold. My heart rate is good. I’m taking a good pace… all is well. All is well. First yellow buoy gone by. Second buoy gone by. Stroke stroke sight. Stroke stroke sight. Ugh! That sting in my throat! It’s burning.

SHUT UP WILL YA??? No complaining! You can do this. Your swim has become your biggest asset lately. Use this time! Focus!

10384472_747931591896773_4627566348257336364_n 10348865_748453111844621_3483667914150370286_o 10397192_748452938511305_7061019297477724224_o

Ya, ok. You’re right. Nice pace. Ok, lets keep my mind busy while I swim. What do I think about… what do I think about… hmmm this water stinks. No really. It smells like dog poo. Really really bad dog poo. I’m so thirsty. Don’t drink the dog poo Myssie. Would ya stop complaining??? Geez! Do I have to be so negative throughout this whole swim??? Good lord!

10353288_748452945177971_2362359174793136991_o

This was the beginning of my demise. The cough begins. And this is like no other cough before. This is foamy green thick mucus littered kind of coughs coming out. It echoed over the lake it was so loud and ugly. Embarrassed and scared it wouldn’t stop, I searched for a kayak to hold on to. It was a matter of seconds for the rescue kayak to come save the lake from my lung toxins and the loogies I was ready to purge.

“Are you ok?” the kayaker asked me.

“Yes, I just breathed in some water and need to cough it out is all. Let me have just a few minutes and I’ll get back to the line.” I calmly responded. I was at the first orange buoy. Ok, the first hard part int he water is over with. Just a bit more and I get to swim WITH the current. The swim will be easier then. I coughed up a lung, gathered my breath, settled my heart rate down, said “Thanks!” to the kayaker and went on my way. Okay, Okay. Okay, Okay. Stroke, Stroke, sight. Stroke, Stroke, sight, COUGH COUGH COUGH.

No way!!! Okay. Let’s float. Catch your breath, cough out all that crap from your lungs and do this again. It’s ok. It’s ok. Get it together Myssie! Just don’t give up! Don’t give up.

No! It’s not okay! I can’t afford to stop and mess up on this time. I have too many people counting on me. Hundreds of people have given thousands of dollars to me because they believed in me. Even more have convinced themselves that if I can do it, they can too! And what’s worse, there’s frenemies tracking me right now chomping at the bit waiting for me to be slower than they are so they can rub it in my face. They’ll publicly wish me luck but secretly hope I never make it. I have to do this! I HAVE TO DO THIS!!! I PROMISED THAT I WOULD NEVER GIVE UP!!!

Okay, fine. Don’t give up. But just take your time!!!! Go on and cough it all out so you can get the rest of this swim in!!!

A second kayaker comes up to me. I grabbed onto the kayak. “We’re taking you in. Are you ok? You’re coughing and wheezing. Do you have asthma?”

“No, I just breathed in water is all and I have a cough. I’ll be fine.” COUGH COUGH COUGH

And that’s when I saw it. The red flag went up. My head went down. Tears gushed from my eyes and filled my goggles. I stopped my Garmin. “I’m not supposed to give up.” I said. “I’m not supposed to give up.”

I heard the jet ski zoom over and someone told me to hold on tight to the stretcher.

A stretcher??? Oh you gotta be kidding me!!! I’m so embarrassed. They’re going to think I’m hurt! The’re going to think I’m weak! They think I can’t do this!!!! Humiliated, my head goes down and the sobbing is now uncontrollable.

YOU GAVE UP!!! YOU GAVE UP AND YOU SAID YOU’D NEVER GIVE UP!!! YOU GAVE UP MYSSIE! YOU GAVE UP!

I gave it my all and my all wasn’t good enough.

I’m not going to go into my personal war in my head. I beat myself up pretty bad. So bad that I feel it is detrimental to post here publicly. The scars I gave myself will likely last a lifetime. Will I ever be able to forgive myself? Knowing me, forgiveness will likely come only after redemption and that, to me, isn’t really true forgiveness. 

Ashamed, coughing and crying, I ran straight to Anita. I wrapped my arms around her, dug my head into her shoulder and cried out “I didn’t make it. I didn’t make it” and then did the same thing to Kat and Coach Luis and Jackie Swanson. It was when I was crying to Jackie that I saw Alex run by.

“Get it together Myssie! Alex is doing this because you coaxed her into this! Look at her! She’s doing it! Pull up your big girl panties and cheer her and everyone else on like a good sport!” Damn! My inner voice was yelling at me again and was right. AGAIN.

I jogged into transition like a ruined girl’s Sunday morning walk of shame. I went straight to Mimi and sat in front of her saddened that she wouldn’t ride that morning with me. I grabbed my phone out of the ziplock sandwich bag tucked under the towel and called the first person I thought of. Xavie.

IMG_9669

After a few rings he answered. “I didn’t make it. I got pulled from the swim.” The speakers were blasting music so loudly that I couldn’t hear anything he was saying and again in shame and frustration, I began to sob.

“There. Pity party is over. You let it all out. Now go do the right thing. Go cheer everyone on,” my inner voice sternly commanded.

I dried off and put on some dry clothes over my sopping wet tri suit, grabbed my orange towel and a fig newton and perched myself on a stone wall by the beginning of the run course. Two fellow TNT running mates from a prior marathon that I had run with two years ago came over and sat with me. They gave me a few minutes of silence to console my soul, asked if I was ok and then just like old times… we began shouting “GO TEAM” to all the purple people that passed by. The faces of agony quickly turned into ear to ear smiles when they heard us and gave us waves and hugs. It felt soooooo good to see everyone do what they never thought they could. It felt sooooo good to be a part of this chapter in THEIR journey. It felt sooooo good… even after my own personal disappointment.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154213753230068.1073741842.512615067&type=1&l=c058c071f8

After the majority of the team had made their way by us, we decided to make our way to the finish line to welcome them all in and also get a chance to find a porta-potty. FAIL!!! Over the loud speaker we hear “THIS IS NOT A JOKE. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER NOW!!!” The entire crowd quickly squeezes into the covered porch area of the convention center as barricades, tents and signs fly around as if they were auditioning for the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz!!!

10390395_10154204266050068_1025255985567850201_n (1)

The fresh smell of rain was overpowered by the overwhelming strength of body odor and lake stench. The sudden drop in temperature made all of us that were still wet from the swim or sweaty from cheering and biking and running begin to shake uncontrollably and pop out into goosebumps. That’s when it hits me… I DNF’d because I was coughing and the safety crew thought I was having an anxiety attack (It wasn’t an anxiety attack. It was a cough attack.) but the rest of these people were pulled from the course because of weather!!! I have never ever seen this happen!!! Over three thousand people entered this race and less than a quarter of them got to experience the thrill of crossing the finish line which is in my opinion the absolute biggest rush of emotion you can ever experience in a race. Rain, hail and tornado force winds stole this feeling from all my teammates and most of my RGV triathlete friends!!!

Now the feeling that I had a few minutes earlier was the feeling that most everyone there had as well. The difference was that every single one of them knew they weren’t going to be allowed to finish this race so we all immediately began talking about how to get closure and redemption at our NEXT race!!!

THESE ATHLETES ARE SOMETHING ELSE!!! How lucky am I to be around so many positive, humble, selfless, unstoppable cancer crushers?!?!?!?

So after collecting my bags in my room later that afternoon, and quite honestly in a sour mood about my personal defeat, I get into the elevator and guess who’s there??? Yep, Mr. Justin Timberlake look a like!!!! But he’s all cleaned up and dressed nicely and it’s just us two in the elevator this time. With his back up against the glass of the elevator, he coyly looks up with his little smirk and asks “How’d you do?”

I sighed and responded “I didn’t make it,” sighed and shrugged. I then asked him “How’d YOU do? Are you happy with your results?”

“Ya, I’m happy. I did well. See ya next year?” He asked.

“You betcha.”

As I drove by myself on the long way home, I got a much needed phone call from my old friend and spiritual coach, Dr. Derek DelaPena (You can buy his book here on this link http://www.amazon.com/Scripture-Sport-Psychology-Mental-Game-Techniques/dp/0595328334). Few people that I know knows what it feels like to DNF. He is one. In fact, that feeling is very real and recent for him since he was unable to finish the Texas Ironman last weekend. We had a good long talk. I loved his perspective on our experience and as bitter as the feeling was, I am glad that it happened and look forward to getting back up on that horse again with him.

As the sun was setting, I correctly predicted the haters who would gloat and write FB postings that were intended to add salt to my wound. I also correctly predicted those who would give me genuine words of wisdom, encouragement and the strength to overcome my personal defeat. What I don’t know yet is if this admission of defeat will affect those who looked to me for hope in their own personal challenges. All I can do is hope that they continue to seek within themselves, just as I seek in myself, the ability to overcome, endure and get up again until I can, until they can… until WE can. Because what I think people have forgotten is that I look to so many others for my own inspiration.

Derek was right. DNF means Did Not Fail. Don’t get me wrong… this feeling hurts like nothing else. But it’s NOT “devastating”. Success is what happens after you get up from falling down. All I’ve done is fallen down.

I’ve fallen down a lot. This isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. Well, I hope it won’t be the last!!! Because THIS is where the lessons are learned 🙂

Oh! By the way… Justin Timberlake’s twin… he got second place overall. He’s a pro. Check out his time!!!

Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your limit?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2014 by runmyssierun

For two years I’ve busted my butt pushing my body’s limit and taking it places I’ve never thought possible. I’ve caught myself saying several times that there are no more limits anymore. Nothing is impossible.

Getting healthy —- no limits! I can do this!

Losing weight — no limits! I can do this!

Curing cancer — no limits! I can do this!!

Running 7 marathons — no limits! I can do this!!

Cycling 108 miles up a 5,000 foot mountain — no limits! I can do this!

5 triathlons…wait, but I don’t know how to swim… Who cares! Learn! No limits!!! I can do this!!!!

Ride my bike a couple of miles with Eddie through the streets of my hometown…. Uh yeah… See… I can’t do that. I’m limited. I’m not limited by legal limits because I’m legally allowed to ride my bike in the street but the ignorance, lack of respect and inexperience of automobile drivers limits my ability and now my life longevity.

Seems I got a big wake up call this week.

See, for a while I lived my life without limits. And IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!

But sitting in a courtroom this week gave me all new insights on limits… Legal limits.

All this time I’ve busted through perceived limits and countless finish lines but I see now that there are lines that no human being SHOULD cross. When a child of God, a fellow human being, crosses that line with complete disregard to all moral, ethical and legal limits, it makes me wonder if there is still another path to run (or ride) in front of me.

As I enter for the first time the Capitol of our great nation attempting to convince our elected leaders of necessary change that must take place in order for cancer treatments and possible cure for cancer to be both affordable and accessible, I am reminded of legal limits once again.

I find myself racing along a path with lines that can be pushed one way and limits that restrain in another way and lives at stake all around us.

I sat with women from all over Texas today sharing our stories of cancer. How we’ve all lost children and how we’ve lost jobs and how time had been stolen from our lives because of cancer. Each story was profound and each struggle prolific and each woman still had a smile on her face after sharing it with me… Just like Momma used to do.

And then I met Ethan.. A reality TV star. You would think his celebrity status would diminish the harshness of his struggle, or his professional soccer talent would hinder the brutality of his disease or even think… Nah, he’s too handsome to go through such pain and suffering. But cancer is not prejudice. It picks whoever it wants and it usually picks the good people. It picked his dad. He lost him to cancer when he was just a boy. And cancer picked on him, too… Twice.

Ethan was well known for his long hair but insisted on being in control of his cancer and shaved himself bald. He was still very striking. And then he shared a video diary of himself while on treatment.

He cried while watching himself as if the suffering all came back to him that very instant. He never said it but insinuated that there were moments that he didn’t think he could make it… And moment that he didn’t want to. And then he looked up with years in his eyes as he admitted the reality … “And it can come back again.”

The second time cancer hit him, he said “It hit me in the gut.” He said he had to do something …. SOMETHING. It was his “do something moment”. I know that feeling all too well.

My whole family had been effected by cancer. It will never ever be the same again. I am hit in the gut in a way that you may not understand but I promised y’all is be candid. And just as Ethan was incredible candid with me tonight, I’ll share this tonight with y’all….

I feel guilty. I feel guilty for not being chosen. I feel guilty for being healthy, for taking my health for granted all these years, and for NOT going anything until it was too late to enjoy it with those who are now gone.

There will be lines that can never be crossed. There will be finish lines that I hope will never end for me. Countless I hope! There will be limits that I hope to break and limits that I hope will never ever be touched.

Do you know what your limits are?

Oh Sissy… What a journey you’ve chosen for me!

*ps — I dreamt Donny last night. He was his six year old self sitting with me in front of the tv in the living room in the house on Samano watching Saturday morning cartoons together… As we always did. Can you guess what was on the tv? Can you guess what we were singing? #schoolhouserock #imjustabill

20140506-225146.jpg

Together – because it’s too hard to do this by yourself

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2014 by runmyssierun

Being sick this last week has been a blessing. Laryngitis restricted me from mouthing off with emotion when ignorance was blaring and a lesson I learned a long time ago was you can never make sense to those who are senseless. Being stuck in bed gave me the needed rest to far exceed what I thought my body was capable of doing and this will be tested late this month. And best yet… I am convinced now more than ever that not hundreds but THOUSANDS of people around me see that change needs to happen and we are now all willing and able to do this TOGETHER.

Eddie Arguelles helped me become a cancer awareness advocate. Because of that, he helped me keep my promise to my mother and my Aunt Sissy who both lost their lives to cancer. Eddie had a cause of his own. He wanted to ride his bike with his family safely through the streets of the Valley. He was one of the biggest bicycle safety advocates I knew.

It was beyond tragically ironic how his life ended.

Now, his fellow cyclist friends and communities have come together to finish what he was not allowed to.

After all that I witnessed this week, there are no words in the English language that can capture the energy, the unity and the willingness to make the changes needed to run, ride and drive together here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Many of my local cities invited me to and my fellow cyclists to unify efforts to make running, riding and driving safer together. Incredibly progressive strides are being made in record time by multiple municipalities. Never before have I witnessed such a desire for needed change!

Many of my local cities invited me to and my fellow cyclists to unify efforts to make running, riding and driving safer together. Incredibly progressive strides are being made in record time by multiple municipalities. Never before have I witnessed such a desire for needed change!

 

______

I had my cardiology exam today. I have a real good close relationship with all my doctors and their staff. They keep abreast of all my shenanigans and call me in before my big events to check up on me and make sure my body is running well.

As my nurse asked me to lift my shirt and place the stickies on my chest for the EKG, she mentioned how well my blog was coming along and how proud the staff was of all that I was doing and how far I had come. I couldn’t help but think how much better this scenario was as opposed to the mammogram and colonoscopy a few months ago.

Dr. Manohoran came in shortly afterwards and had told me it was time to do another stress test because of the irregularity that was found that first time around. *I was born with a genetic heart defect that he monitors quite often. He also noted that I was completely off my cholesterol medication and doing quite well.

He asked me about my trip to Washington DC and wished me well, scheduled my stress test to happen after my trip but before my triathlon. AND he didn’t leave the room without a “selfie” and his big bright smile.

10171090_10154118604405068_7608468154466904065_n

Doc Manohoran is ECSTATIC with my cardiac results!!! Can’t you tell???? That IS his #happy face!!! Seriously!!

If any of you all have made the decision to begin your own fitness journey, I hope you do it the right way with doctors who understand and encourage you the way mine have with me.

____________

 

And I’m not posting the latest media stories about Eddie today because my fellow cyclist friend who sat by me in court today said it better than I or any other journalist could. I am reposting his words:

I had a surreal experience earlier today at the bond reduction hearing for the man who killed my cycling buddy Eddie Arguelles. The judge opened the proceedings by asking: “Why are there so many people in my courtroom?” We then got about to the business at hand, which was the defense’s contention that the bail violated the defendant’s Eighth Amendment rights. The judge said something I found curious, namely that he was sure most of the cyclists and Eddie’s family members wanted to see instant punishment in this case. The judge argued that this, very human sentiment, violates our constitutional liberties.

I agree. The defendant deserves the chance to explain his actions which, given the circumstances, may in and of themselves represent a second level of punishment for the crime he purportedly committed. The defense argued that, lacking a toxicology report, there is no way to support the idea that the defendant was impaired at the time of the incident. The judge retorted that if he was not impaired, then the defendant’s actions (in trying to dispose of the remains of my friend) are inexplicable.

I looked at the defendant for some time today. He seemed almost pitiable. The proceedings seemed to be far above his ability to understand. He had a dull-witted, almost animalistic look to him. He seemed to represent humanity at its most basic level, a product of a self-indulgent and degenerate individualism that values sensual gratification at all costs. I saw nothing evil in the defendant, but I did discern something that is foisted on us all through popular culture, a bombastic braggadocio, an amoral dislocation based upon a fin-de-siècle mindset that unfortunately has at its end no promise of the brighter and more ethical future essential to creating a happy society. He is a symptom of a fundamental disrespect for the other that is spreading like a cancer in our society today.

None of this brings my friend back to life. None of this eases the immense sorrow the defendant has unleashed on the world. I wonder what can be done to change this, to save people such as the defendant before he becomes the terrestrial equivalent of an asteroid, lacking a moral sensibility and vaulting through space and time with little recognition of his impact on others.

 

Play by play of BISD’s Everyone Can TRI

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2014 by runmyssierun

You don’t just wake up one morning and tell yourself… “ehhhh I think I’m going to do a triathlon today.” You are either inspired to do one by watching the phenomenal results of someone you admire, are injured from another sport and through cross-training have decided to do one, are coerced, double dog dared or bullied into doing one, used to be an athlete at one time and have challenged yourself into becoming that person again, never have been an athlete and are now working on your bucket list, thought that this would be an interesting way to lose weight and get in shape or realized that this is connected to a cause that you are personally passionate about.

Clearly I have chosen the latter and least used… well, up until now.

894485_10154018333040068_6211662276794539709_o

Yesterday, 15 members and even our coach of the Team in Training RGV TriTeam competed in the BISD’s Everyone Can Tri as a practice event to better ready us for the Capital of Texas Triathlon the last weekend in May. This would be my 5th triathlon in 13 months but for my teammates, it would for many of them be their first or second.

We all showed up early and set up our transition areas as close to each other as possible. A few of the girls had asked me to french braid their long hair like mine so that we can go from event to event without having to worry about ponytails whipping around or buns falling. Lucky for me and my cupid nature, I had fixed up my bike guru with my fellow Nike Women’s marathoner and CAP5k founder and convinced one to enter so the other followed. While I was inside the aquatic center french braiding her hair, he examined my bike and found that it had a flat back tire!!! Honestly, I don’t know how that could have happened. It was fine in the morning in the garage when I loaded it onto my car. It was fine when I arrived in Brownsville when I unloaded it from the car and into transition area. Again, lucky for me he was there because I would have never known and DNF’d at the first transition! Superstar triathlete Casey donated his tire tube to “Mimi’s” rescue. Together, those two boys were like my own personal NASCAR pit crew!!!

Lesson learned: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR GEAR and bring extra of everything and keep it in your car nearby. And make sure you pick your transition area near the nice experienced triathletes incase something like this happens again.

* Transition area – hang bike on rack, lay transition mat or towel under wheel of tire, place bike helmet with sunglasses nearest you with clips nearby (or already attached to bike), place running shoes behind them and on top of race belt with bib attached to it so that it doesn’t blow away in the wind. All other necessities should be in your transition bag placed furthest away from you on the mat just in case.

Knowing that each event for me is done to keep a promise to my mom, I become quite emotional at the start. So, I went for my private time and sat along the resaca’s edge to pray, remember and talk to Momma, Sissy and Donny. This week is afterall Momma’s and Donny’s death anniversary so it meant a lot to me. After I wiped away the tears, I rejoined the TNT group and found Jeanice. We gathered around in a circle as she led us in prayer and finished with an “Amen” and a loud “Go Team!”

After a few silly “before” team pictures, we all ventured into the aquatic center. We were sorted by sex, age group and swim pace and sat in the bleachers until it was our turn to enter the water. When my number was called out, I got really nervous. I was the ONLY female in that group.

“There must be something wrong. I’m the only girl here,” I said aloud unintentionally. The man by me looked me over in agreement and asked me “Do you swim every day?” I could tell what he meant by that and my inner voice (ya, you remember her) came out “No, not every day” and began to do my stretching exercises by the pools edge. But then Karen walked up and filled the space right before me… and that’s when it hit me… oh ya… something is definitely wrong if they’ve place my swim just under Karen “Ironman” Watt!!!! She nonchalantly giggled over her shoulder to me, “Sorry, I had to go to the ladies room.”

I am officially freaking out now. I am NOT this fast!!! I am placed in the wrong line up. I just know it! Please God! Please don’t let me look like a fool and hinder others from doing their best!!!

I tell the next person behind me “I think I’ve been placed in the wrong pace bracket so if you need to pass me, just tap my feet and I’ll move over so you don’t have to waste energy. I’ll let you pass.”

They must have thought I was the biggest goober ever!!!!

So there I was, heart racing a million miles a minute and jumping into the first lane with Karen right next to me. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?!?

“Don’t you dare chicken out Myssie!” sarcastic inner voice is back and after me big time! “You’ve done this before a gazillion times in practice!”

“Ready and go!” the timer exclaims with her stop watch.

Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!… and I swim and swim and swim…breathe… swim swim swim breathe… touch the edge… dunk under the lane line… WOW! That’s deep!… come up.. deep breath… sight myself… swim swim swim breathe… pass one guy… oh he’s struggling bad… poor fella… swim swim swim breathe… swim swim.. pass another.. sight. WHOA! this is shallow! Can I touch the bottom of the pool??? Focus you dingbat!!! Touch the edge of the pool and go under the lane line again, deep breath and swim… I end up passing about five swimmers total and passed only once. Yes!!!!! That’s what I’m talking about!!!!

I exit the pool up the ladder and know there is no way I’m looking like Pheobe Cates!!! I whip off my swim cap and favorite orange goggles, feeling confident and run to transition. I hear Vero yell out “GO MYSSIE GO!!!” and I know I’ve got a huge smile on my face. Just behind me is Wally, my bike guru. How did he do that??? He was like three swim groups after me!!! Phenomenal! I slam my helmet on my head with my sunglasses and slip my clips onto my still wet feet. I try my best to get out of transition as fast as possible and I’m right behind Wally. He mounts his bike at the line with ease and grace… I on the other hand have to stop, get my balance, carefully lift my leg… whoa.. whoooaaaa… ok, got it… and place it on the pedal, clip in and now go… ya, Wallito is long gone now. I yell out to my bike “Come on Momma, lets go!!!” and mash it hard. I barely see Wally on the horizon. BUT I can see him and so long as I can keep him in view that means I’m making really good time! So I give it all I got!!!

It feels great to be able to pass up cyclists now! My confidence in myself and my training is growing and is certainly reflected on my time. I don’t even want to lift up my hand to check what Garmin is recording. I mash it harder and harder. The course is a simple circle with all right hand turns so there’s little interaction with traffic however there still ARE a few idiot drivers that take the bike lane and use it as a right hand turning lane. I catch my breath as I see a car almost clip the cyclist before me. Thank goodness nothing happened!!! Wait… where’s Wally???? I don’t see him anymo….

Slumped over on the side of the road with his head bowing in defeat, I see him and his bike laying next to him. “What happened?” I yell out.

“I got a flat,” he responds.

Poor guy… he fixed my flat and then got one himself. I have the feeling someone gave me “ojo” and then went to him for fixing it. My pace goes down. But don’t worry… sarcastic inner voice takes good care of that and my pace comes right back up again. I pass a few more cyclists but one stood out. “Careful! I’m on your right!” I scream out to her. As I pass, she says “That’s a really cool bike you have! I love the orange! My husband’s bomb truck is that same color of orange.”

“Thank you!” I reply as best I can without sounding out of breath. “I race in orange in memory of my mother. It was her favorite color.” The look on her face was identical in respect as mine was when she told me of her husband’s truck.

click click

This. Is. Awesome.

The bike is my favorite part of the triathlon. There is something so exhilarating about it. The wind, the speed, the control, the freeness of it all… becoming one with a machine that cannot run without you being the engine that runs it… and I am finally comfortably speedy in it. I’m not as fast as I hope to be but I’m getting there and pushing myself more and more each chance I get.

And it’s over way too soon! Off I go and dismount at the line. I’m off to T2 now and I hear the cheers galore!!! The crowd calls my name out and without looking at anyone I hear Wally’s voice scream out “Go Myssie!!!” Seriously??? Again??? How does he do that? He shows up ahead of me at every single part of this race as if he’s been there for hours already and I never once see him pass me!!! He had a freakin flat!!! He must have a space/time continuum transfunctioner in his pocket!!

My feet are still wet and my tri suit is still dripping from the swim but because of time, I choose to slosh my wet feet once again into my Sauconys without socks knowing full well that I will get blisters by the time I enter mile three of the run. I carefully and slowly exit T2 to begin my run with brick legs. I remembered Stanley’s Tri just a month ago and how my legs just wouldn’t move so I was careful to get my bearing straight and do this one right.

Ok, ok… my legs are doing ok. My thighs are hurting a bit but not to the point where they’d stop me because of too much pain. I convince myself that I can push through this. And I do… but something happens in the first tunnel… it’s dark… I can’t see. Where am I going? Am I going to step in a hole and twist my ankle? Am I going to fall? Am I going to run into someone? Is someone going to run into me? Oh look! LIGHT!!! Whew! I’m through the tunnel now! And just as I exit the tunnel I see Ben as he yells out to me “Go Myssie!” and then tries desperately to yell out to Penny who is right behind me “Go Pe…. ” but that’s all the comes out of his mouth. Laura is just behind Ben and I hear her yell out a cheer to me as well. Unfortunately, I’m not as composed as they are and cannot return the cheer…

I. am. out. of. breath…. gotta stop. stop now.

seriously myss… just stop. walk. please. walk..

Now, in hindsight… as I type this out.. I can honestly tell myself that I was not in pain. My body could have continued to run. It was not hurt. I was simply out of energy. I lost my WILL. I lost my ganas in that tunnel. I stopped. I gave up.

Penny passed me. Cat passed me. I gave up on myself and I had no good reason to do so.

I could feel the blisters forming on both my feet but even then, the pain of the blisters weren’t enough to stop me. It was me… my core self that stopped me. I allowed my negative self to defeat all my hard work.

I knew Karen was ahead of me because she’s super fast and was ahead of me in line up. I knew Laura had passed me in the swim and was the only one that had passed me. No one in my age group passed me on the bike. I was in third place up to this point and I gave up. How could I do this to myself?

This is what I need to conquer quickly before CapTex. I need to find out why I let myself down and never allow that to happen again.

It was at the water stop that I gathered my senses again but by then it was too late. I grabbed two paper cups. I drank one and poured the other over me. BOOM! There! That’s what I needed. A wake up call!!!

In the anger of my self defeat, my feet challenged my head and heart and took matters into their own toes.  They led the way and never stopped after that moment. Once I passed under the bridge and heard the crowd, my feet would NOT allow me to stop no matter what. In fact, they went faster and faster and faster. I turned the last corner and hear Vero yell out one last time “Go Myssie Go!!!” and soon after that the crowd ensued with deafening cheers. You have nooooo idea how much I needed this and it pumped me up just the way I needed it. I finished but knew I had let myself and my training down.

Coach W came over and put her arms around me and asked “How’d you do?”

“I did well. I felt strong in my swim and in my bike but I’m disappointed in my run.” Without any elaboration, the look on her face showed me she understood. My face has a way of showing all my emotion behind it in every wrinkle. She must have known I was beating myself up about it already and she wasn’t going to add fuel to the fire. She gave me a hug.

It was right about then that Alex, my triathlon buddy all this last year had come over to me with the most enormous glow of pride on her face. She reflected on how just a year ago she and I had finished OUR first triathlon (Stanley’s Tri) and this entire group around us that had been cheering us on then had today successfully finished their first triathlon. The both of us stood there with huge smiles on our faces and so proud of the newbie triathletes we inspired.

Some didn’t know how to swim. Some hadn’t ever ridden a bike. But NOTHING stopped them. Not even their fear. 10 weeks later… they are now TRIATHLETES!!!

And then I stood there as the awards were handed out and I knew I missed out on the closest opportunity I had to finally podium… and looked at my teammates of new triathletes and it hit me… courage. They all had courage.

Somewhere along the way… I lost my courage. I must find it.

Tuesday is Momma’s death anniversary. Friday is Donny’s. If any time was the right time to find courage to continue… it’s now and for them.

I was asked a good question yesterday.

“Do you want to do this for cancer and just finish or do you want to do better?”

My response is: Why should it be one or the other? Why can’t I aspire to do both? Do this for cancer AND do better!!!

 

1781876_10154018960590068_3520846992538786483_n

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: