Archive for mid valley events

My third Stanley’s Triathlon

Posted in Mom, triathlon, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2015 by runmyssierun
The Real Stanley

The Real Stanley

So before I do my recap of today’s triathlon, let me tell you a little bit about WHY this event means so much to me. See, I’m a daughter who loved her mother and I do lots of crazy stuff in her memory and honor so that others don’t have to experience this pain that she went through with cancer. When children do incredible things for their parents, it tells me that those parents did something right. They showed real love to these children, the kind that garners life-long respect and admiration. Something that I thought every child received is actually a rarity now.

A little over three years ago, I met a young, kind, and generous man by chance while posing for a photo shoot by Mid-Valley Events Athlete of the Week story at his bike shop.  It didn’t take long for this guy to take me from marathons to triathlons. I was hurt anyway from the marathon that I had done and was using triathlon to continue my training while my feet were healing. I borrowed my husband’s bike and took it to him to get fitted and I guess he either felt sorry for me or he knew I was way in over my head or it was a combination of the two… but he took me under his wing for probably the same reason I admire him… we both love our mothers and do these crazy things for them in their honor.

Stanley, the namesake of this triathlon, is a seeing eye dog. He was his mother’s seeing eye dog. Stanley is no longer here but lives on through this sport of triathlon in La Joya, Texas.

Proceeds from this triathlon go towards the organization Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Because Wally supports me in all my crazy adventures, I’m going to make sure I make Stanley’s triathlon an annual event on my calendar and support him as much as I can. Because we both have extraordinary moms and that’s just what good kids do.

Want to know more about this? Here’s the link: Guidingeyes.org


And my recap…

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Ok, it’s no secret that my training has been a tad bit wacky and unconventional lately so I was a bit worried about how I would perform today. Nerves were hacking their way through me as I drove in… no coffee, tired (the last couple of days I’ve been living on just a few hours of continuously disrupted sleep) worried that I had forgotten something really important. I unloaded, asked Nesta (who had parked near me) to zip me up (told you I was tired) and made my way to body marking and bike check at transition. I was happy to see Alex eagerly waiting for me to remove my jacket so she could body mark me and then –again — purposely picked the very last bike rack to set up shop.

I carefully placed everything in the order that Coach Sandy taught me, got my earbuds, picked out my playlist and immediately began warming up with a stretch and a short, casual jog and then found a quiet place to sit and listen to my saved voicemails from Donny and Momma. This – this right here – keeps me grounded and focused on my WHY.

I’m surrounded by extremely gifted athletes that train very, very hard. There’s a few newbies, too. Scared and nervous and wondering what they got themselves into… I remember that feeling. And this is when I remind myself to do the absolute best I can do today and that, yes, I will hurt and yes, I will be out of my comfort zone for a while… but I am no quitter and I am not here to compete and I am not here to injure myself, either. I know how to listen to my body now. I know when to push my limits. And I know when to bring it down now. These are great things to know!

There’s something quite extraordinary about triathlon training. You get to know a lot about yourself – things you never really thought you needed to know. I think I’m a better person now because of this. No… correction. I KNOW I’m a better person now because of this.

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I jump into the pool and within seconds I can gather that just a few swimmers ahead of me there’s a person struggling and they’re going to back up all the other swimmers because no one wants to pass them. I scan my way over to the other side of the pool and there are families cheering their participants on and quickly pan over to the opposite side and I see German examining each swimmer, locking in on form, speed and safety.

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Number 9 GO!

I push off from the ledge like a torpedo and don’t come back up for air until I’m half way into the pool. My stroke was conservative and on point. As I entered the third lap, I felt my breathing accelerate and caught myself in time to calm myself down. This was also about the time when I caught up to the struggling swimmer. I tapped their foot and passed them. Went forward a few more and saw Maritza holding her nose at the ledge of the pool.

“Are you ok?” I asked.

“He kicked my nose!” she shrieked.

Boom! I took off, passed him and thought about doing the same to him… but didn’t. The thought was evil enough for my revenge. Eh, I’m sure he just got freaked out a bit with all the crowd in a lane and just hit her by accident.

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I exited the pool and in one graceful swoop took off my swim cap and goggles while jogging barefoot to transition in what I was hoping was a Bo Derek moment… but let’s be serious.. even I know I was moving like a walrus.

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Transition was a blur – literally. I felt like I was going to faint. I guess I just stopped too soon or something but when I leaned over to slip my shoes on… the world kinda did a little twirl around me. I grabbed onto the bike rack and got my bearings, snapped my helmet in place and took “Mimi” off her rack.

Here we go… my favorite part!

Click click click click my shoes went and I trotted through transition to the mount line. Remembering my little dizzy spell, I went to the side so that others wouldn’t rear end my clumsy butt and carefully leaned over to begin my ride. It had rained pretty hard the day and night before and it left puddles of uncertainty all over the road, especially around the first corner but let me tell you after I got out of the event area… I booked it like there was no tomorrow. Off the seat I went.

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click click

I went into the hard gears and savored that wind against my face!!! Man oh man that felt awesome! It wasn’t like the wind at the Jalapeno 100 a couple of weeks ago… this was different. It was a welcoming, friendly, how you doing kinda breeze. It’s a little deceiving, too, because you start dancing with those sneaky rolling hills on Jarachinas Road!! You don’t see them coming really but you feel them in your legs and before you know it… boom! Elevation!!! Change gears!!!

The sun was up, fellow triathletes are all cheering me on and delicate periwinkle colored flowers were blooming along the fenceline… it was so so so very pretty!!! Oh my gosh! Wait… where’s the drama? Every single time I am in La Joya… something really crazy happens.

The first time I did Stanley’s, an SUV filled with illegal aliens almost clipped me as they tried to escape into the brush nearby and then I fell off my bike at the dismount line going into T2. The second time I did Stanley’s, my saddle sack with the required flat repair kit fell off on the drive over to the race that morning! I ended up riding my bike with my running fuel belt on and an extra tire kit packed inside!

I should have known something crazy was going to happen.

Just when I thought I was going to have a drama free event, Maritza passes me and seconds later she wails out in agony and plop goes her bike into the grass. From my point of view, it looked like her leg popped out and was only still by her side because her shoe was clipped in to her bike!! Screaming from a patch of grass and her bike on top of her, I jumped off my bike to help. Two other cyclists did the same. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head as she exclaimed,”Your times!! I’m ruining your times!” Silly girl thought that being on a podium was more important than her. Thank goodness it was just a cramp. She got back up after a few minutes, stretched her leg out and finished the race.

I know the rules. I’m not supposed to help other racers. I risked disqualification but there’s a point where the real Myssie pops out and punches the pseudo competitor facade and takes over. This is Maritza. She is a friend. You cannot leave her. No race is worth that. I’m sorry. It’s just not how Momma raised me. I really though she had broken her leg and if I had left her like that, she would have been in serious agony for God only knows how long. I thought I had it all on my gopro… but I hit the wrong button… again. 😦 Bummer.

I saw Sandy about a quarter mile ahead of me. Nah, I’m not going to speed up and take it away from her. This was her first triathlon. That was third place right there in my age group and I was letting it go. And I smiled and felt absolutely wonderful knowing that she was going to feel on top of the world in just about an hour. I rode the rest of way back about three bike lengths away from Maritza just to make sure she was ok and wouldn’t cramp up again. I’m glad I did that. I would have felt awful if it did happen again and no one was there to help her.

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T2 zoomed by and off I went a-running.. er a-jogging… er I was moving in the direction of the course. My feet felt like concrete. They were so heavy and I was honestly very disappointed because I had had a fabulous run earlier this week. But to be fair, I hadn’t had a good solid “brick” training and I was angry at myself. I deserved this. Regardless, I trotted on. It was a short two mile stretch and although I was slow, I was on a consistent pace with no signs of stopping. Good!

As I reach a little over half way, I see Coach Chavez beginning her run and I notice the struggle in her face. I haven’t known her for very long but I can pick up on body language and knew her enough to note that she needed some pushing. So I cross the street and decide to do the run portion over again so I can make sure she’s not struggling alone. I think she panicked for a while and didn’t understand what I was doing at first and when it sunk in, she said, “You don’t have to go this slow. You can go ten steps for…”

I stopped her there. “Don’t you worry about me. I’m fine.” I said curtly so that I wouldn’t get any other arguments. Plus it was probably my only chance to not get an argument from her since she was out of breath. I had the advantage in this conversation hehehehe

She said a few curse words… mostly the “F” word but that’s her style and it’s what works for her and I pushed her as best I could with encouragement. Between the vulgar language, she blurted,”I just wanted to finish this… (this part was inaudible) to be last.”

“You’re going to finish. You’re not going to be last. I’ll be last.” I said very matter-of-factly.

So as we were about a half block away from the finish line, she said,”Don’t be last. Finish this with me.”

And that was the smile I carried into the finish line.

The best Last Place finish to date. It is in journeys like these that you finally figure out what really matters in life. Kindness, encouragement and finishing what you started are just some of the lessons I've learned.  I've crossed many finish lines but I'm far from finished. :)

The best Last Place finish to date. It is in journeys like these that you finally figure out what really matters in life. Kindness, encouragement and finishing what you started are just some of the lessons I’ve learned. I’ve crossed many finish lines but I’m far from finished. 🙂

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Thank you to those Dos Guys, all the sponsors and volunteers for yet another extremely well organized and produced event.

Two Nineteen was my sign

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

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

Tears for Donny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*sigh*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sooooooo guess what begins playing in my ears?

That’s right… it’s a sign.

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

Yep, a SIGN.

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

sooooooooo what do I do?

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

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

I went BACK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How do you feel?” I asked.

“Good!” she responded cheerfully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s her side of the story:

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

And today in pictures…

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What does a DATE mean?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2013 by runmyssierun

What does a date mean? I could go back to my pageant days and remember that famous on stage question:

“Describe your perfect date.”

“Hmm. That’s a tough one. I’d have to say April 25 because it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold.  All you need is a light jacket.”

We all thought this was funny because of the way that the word “date” was used. And she was actually right. April 25 really is a very nice day.

It has meaning.

Dates to me have meaning. I see signs in everything. I choose to see them.

In late September of 2011, Sissy lost her life to cancer. But not before she was able to push me into a healthy lifestyle and start running.

In late September of 2012, MidValley Events chose me to be their Athlete of the Week. They sent me to a little bike shop for a photo shoot because the shop had an orange wall that could be used as a back drop. I had come a long way in one year from Sissy’s challenge to the athlete of the week. That day changed my life once again. I went from running to cycling (and triathlon) when I was introduced to Wally’s Bike Shop.

In late September of 2013, I will have completed the Triple Crown. A challenge instigated by Sissy, supported by my community, guided by Wally… all exactly one year apart.

What does a date mean? If that date is September 21, it means a lot.

 

 

 

 

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