Archive for one team one goal

Send off Mission Moment

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2014 by runmyssierun

So it’s send off time. This is when the team gets all the instructions for hotel stay, meetings, check ins, and everything else for game day…. CapTexTri.

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We all meet at Cordon’s. It’s a beautiful day and we’re all outside.. and it’s mission moment. This is the third time I’ve been asked to do a mission moment in my history of Team in Training. The following is what I said:

 

March 21, 2012

quit (verb) – to stop trying, struggling, or the like; accept or acknowledge defeat.

These past two weeks were emotionally difficult for me. I saw my usually vivacious, super-power infused mother weak, frail and suffering. Whatever was in this last treatment knocked everything out of her. I could get my thumb and touch it with my index finger and her leg could fit right through it. Her hair has now fallen off and her normally wrinkle free olive skin has an odd grayish/yellow tint to it.

I was worried – really worried – for the first time ever. So I spent the weekend with her and then called her main doctor at MD Anderson. After questioning me about her symptoms, we agreed that it was best for her to return to Houston for a week so he could monitor her better under medical staff care. I was not comforted by his concern.

She grabbed my hand and squeezed it with all her might and looked me straight in the eyes and said “I’m worried about Myssie. She has so much on her plate right now. Can you keep an eye on her and help out?”

We had been warned that her memory functions may be lost as a result of her last radiation treatment. I don’t know who she thought I was at the time but I was glad that I had the strength and courage not to have the shock and sadness show in my reaction to her as I replied with “I will Momma, I will. Don’t you worry. I’ll take good care of her.”

That was Sunday about noon time. They drove to MD Anderson on Sunday afternoon and met with her doctor on Monday morning.

I was sitting at my desk working on a proposal for a client of mine just shortly before lunch. I had a ton of meetings scheduled and needed tons more to make my quota. The stress was insane. That’s when I got the phone call from Dad.

“Myssie, can you talk?”

“Yes Daddy. What did the doctor say?”

“It’s not good. There’s nothing more that they can do. We’re coming home…. right now. They’ve released her to hospice. We’ll be home about 6:30.”

There must have been at least a year of silence after that. I was crushed.

Why?

I was asked just days ago by my Team in Training coach why I was running. Why I was putting my body through this? What was I doing this for?

As silly as it may sound, part of me was hoping that God would see how hard I was trying. That He would see that I was willing to take the pain away from her and volunteer it onto me in order to not have her suffer any more. I wanted that pain and suffering to quit. I wanted cancer to quit. Because I wasn’t going to allow myself to quit. I would never quit.

Well, that was until I heard those words from my dad.

I did want to quit. I wanted so badly to throw in the towel and give up. Why should I run? Really, why should I? It’s not like running a marathon will produce a cure for my mom as I cross the finish line. What am I doing? I should just quit.

I thought long and hard about how to tell friends and family about the news. I wanted to be angry and blame everything from preservatives to toxic land for her suffering. But I am so glad I didn’t. I took a deep breath and took a step back and told myself now is how I must example the way she brought me up.

The following is what I posted to friends and family on my facebook wall:

Science and medicine has done all that it possibly can. Momma has shown incredible strength and faith through these tough 6-plus years. The choice to discontinue treatment does not mean that she has quit. It means that she is strong enough to accept God’s will and live the remainder of her life with her family and friends at home instead of hotel rooms and hospitals. I am so very proud of her bravery, so very thankful to her miraculous team of doctors and so very grateful for everyone’s prayers, kind gestures and help. Keep them coming.

See, my mother is not a quitter. Cancer will likely beat her body. But it won’t beat her. She’ll never quit. Her legacy will live on and continue to teach us, to love us and to give unto others. She never quit. And neither will I.

 

 

The last two and a half years I’ve spent running, swimming and biking alongside the most courageous, selfless and kind athletes in the world. Many of them were going through cancer treatment, had recently successfully beat cancer or were friends and/or family members of those who had lost their battle to cancer. Many of them. Too many of them. Way too many of them.

Two weeks ago, I walked 9.7 miles in and around our Nation’s Capitol pleading with our political leaders to help make cancer treatment more accessible and more affordable for cancer patients, MS patients, Alzheimer’s patients, Parkinson’s patients … and more. I was not alone there either. I begged alongside a TV celebrity, Ethan Zohn, the winner of the TV reality show Survivor, who really was a cancer survivor. But after he won the show, he found out that cancer stuck once again. He shared with me his completely candid and genuine emotions.

The whole world thought he was this tough guy, strong enough to beat cancer, strong enough to win in the brutal jungles of Survivor. He was a pillar of hope for those who were currently battling cancer. And suddenly he was scared again like a little boy. What was his fear? If he went public with his disease and DIDN’T win, what would that do to their hope?

Thankfully, he did go public and he did beat cancer a second time and he is still scared he’ll have to fight it again a third time. That fear looms over the head of cancer survivors all the time.  Until we find a cure, that fear will always be there… for every single one of us. None of us are immune.

As he spoke to us, everyone began to weep. Oncology doctors, nurses and social workers, LLS volunteers, family members and loved ones of those lost and survivors, like Ethan, all connected.

And that’s when I was asked “Are YOU a survivor?” and the woman next to me put her arm around me and replied “She lost all of her family except for her father to cancer in one year. She is a survivor. She is all that is left.”

Truth is, we are all survivors right now. We are all living with cancer. Because cancer doesn’t affect just the patient. It affects us all.  And until we find a cure for cancer, we have no choice but to keep living, keep fighting, keep running… keep TRIing.

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You’re not good enough

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2014 by runmyssierun

Sooooo I had an interesting conversation the other day with an extremely experienced super athlete. Honest to God, I truly tried to hold my temper and sarcasm but I know it didn’t take long for my squeaky high pitched voice to mimic that of Karen Walker’s.

“Face it Myssie, you aren’t getting any younger. Your times are not going to get better. If my …. times can’t get better, then yours won’t either.” – I’ll leave their name out of it.

Ok… so maybe I am old. OK… so maybe I’m not a naturally gifted athlete. OK… so maybe my times will never get better.

What in the world makes someone think that it’s ok to squish the hope of someone else just because THEY can’t do it themselves? Their light will not shine any brighter by trying to dim someone else’s. I would NEVER tell someone that they can’t climb a mountain just because I haven’t climbed a mountain.

People like this drive me nuts! Now, I’d like to think that I’m a pretty positive and strong person but if people like this go about their day ranting to anyone gullible enough to believe just one ounce of this shhhhiii….tttuuuffffff, well then no wonder we have so many emotionally damaged people around us!!! Seriously, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! I really don’t care if it’s true or not. I love the Rotary 4-way test:

1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Taste your words before they leave your lips.

Whether you believe it’s coincidence or another sign from my guardian angels around me.. this was the very first article that was on my Klout (p.s. have you added me as your “influencer” on the subject of triathlon and/or cancer on Klout? – please do) feed this morning when I logged in:

http://games.crossfit.com/article/keeping-fit-69-mirlene-oconnell

She’s older than I am. However, just like me… she signed up for a triathlon before even knowing how to swim! AND SHE DID IT! And so did I! And we’re OLD! She finished last in her age group last year and hopes to improve. I finished 3rd to the last in my age group and I hope to improve.

I’m going to be real… I know I will not podium this Sunday at Stanley’s Triathlon. The age group that I am in have some incredibly seasoned triathletes with surreal times. In fact, the woman who won the entire women’s category was in my age group. I believe in my heart of hearts that my time WILL improve but still will likely not be enough to medal. And, trust me, I’m ok with that. Here’s why…

For the first time in my Team in Training history, I will not be using my “Mimi” – my custom Felt bike. I rode “Neo” – the Cervelo that was donated to me recently – for the first time a few days ago and felt very fast. I rode the course on both bikes and actually felt better in Neo. I will practice mounting and dismounting the bike tomorrow afternoon but even with the practice, let’s be honest… every athlete knows better than to use ANYTHING new right before a race. This is a gamble for me. But I’m also in the mindset that I am using Stanley’s Triathlon as a practice tri for CapTexTri in May. If ever there was an opportunity to see if I can handle Neo under fire, it’s on Sunday.

I am officially one of the "gang" now, eh?  Honored but I'll always prefer the BRC. ;)

I am officially one of the “gang” now, eh? Honored but I’ll always prefer the BRC. 😉

IF I do well, I can guarantee it will be because of the time made up on the bike, the experience and training all this year, and the amazing positive encouragement from my fellow peers who will likely be cheering me on along the streets of the course. IF I don’t do well… it’s because the jerk was right. I’m too old and my time won’t ever get better. I’m not getting any younger afterall.

Ahhhhh but here’s the reality of it all… regardless of the outcome, I will continue to TRY to make myself better. Because what TRULY matters is NOT whether or not I make it onto that podium and it is NOT even about my time getting better, or keeping cadence king or having proper swim form or running chi… it’s about someone who is scared to death right this moment because they just received the news that they have cancer.

I don’t give a damn how old I am… I’m gonna fight for them.

Sarah doesn't care how old I am. She just wants to live a cancer-free life.

Sarah doesn’t care how old I am. She just wants to live a cancer-free life.

These are the Cyclepaths exactly one year ago at our very first triathlon. Only 2 of us in that photo did not participate in that triathlon because we did our first triathlon the very next day. One year later, all but 3 of us pictured there have completed at least a Half-Ironman. We are all one year older... and all their times got better.

These are the Cyclepaths exactly one year ago at our very first triathlon. Only 2 of us in that photo did not participate in that triathlon because we did our first triathlon the very next day. One year later, all but 3 of us pictured here have completed at least a Half-Ironman. We are all one year older… and all their times got better.

Viva Bike Vegas – the Triple Crown

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2013 by runmyssierun

You have to be brave with your life
So that others can be brave with theirs

The moment was here. I boarded the plane knowing that quitting was NOT an option.

“Fasten your seatbelts. The captain just said he was going to try something new.” – Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant and part-time comedian. He kept my nerves at bay with his comedy act over the loud speaker.

After a few delayed hours of flight, I went straight to Las Vegas Cyclery to pick up my “Mimi”. To the person who has never ridden an awesome road bike before, the relationship between me and my custom built Felt bike is probably perceived as a bit coo-coo. And to those people I have to say “so what?”. “Mimi” was beautifully reassembled and rolled out to me with unanimous comments from the bike store staff gasping “Your bike is wicked!” – yes, I know 🙂

Las Vegas Cyclery and my Felt bike

I was able to meet up with Rodney’s family for dinner. (Rodney was one of my best friends in High School that lost his battle to cancer just a few months before he was to stand up with me at my wedding – He was beyond phenomenal.) Dinner was fabulous. I had the best seared ahi tuna salad ever! Yes, I was starving and am a nervous emotional eater. I scarfed the whole thing down.

The Perez family at VBV dinner

Rhonda, Rodney’s sister, took me to the local convenience store to pick up some zip ties and crazy glue. I have a feeling that the store clerk thought I was a serial killer. My bike’s water bottle holder had snapped in half during the flight over. I had to find some way to jimmy it back. Nevada is way too hot to have just one bottle of water for 104 miles.

My McGyver skills are pretty impressive. (I watched a lot of TV as a kid)

crazy glue

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I drank a full bottle of pedialyte, lots of bed rest the day before and nibbles of fresh fruit all day long, steamed veggies and a pasta dinner, one choco chip cookie and nonstop water all week long (with of course my coffee in the morning – I know I know but that’s my vice).

I was a little nervous because I had mentally prepared for a practice ride on Friday morning with the national Team in Training and it was cancelled last minute. However, I did get to meet the North Texas TNT bike team who seemed VERY nice and willing to adopt me on Saturday to make sure I was comfortable and around people I knew – just in case.

Inspiration dinner was tear-filled and amazing. Ryan (my national Flex team director) had surprised us with photos of our loved ones that we were all cycling for. It was quite touching. I had a hard time finishing my dinner. They had me stand for applause and couldn’t look up at all. I have a hard time letting people see me cry. Momma wouldn’t allow any of us to see her cry when she was in treatment. I try really hard to be as strong as she was. I still have yet to be able to be that strong. They did get me to laugh as they “crowned” me later that night with paper burger king crowns all stacked one on top of the other. But we all know who really deserves the real crown. I will always bow down to her.

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Saturday morning came and I was well prepared. My time trial landed me in the first wave however the North Texas team was in the 4th wave start and the National team was in the 3rd. My virtual coach said I could go down a few waves and placed me in the 3rd wave start with the other national team members and closer to the Texas team. I had a start time of 7:40 a.m. Later than I expected. Hotter than I predicted.

A wind advisory was issued that day and prior to leaving the start, advised everyone to change their aero tires if possible.

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I got a bit more nervous at that point.

Ok, now that you have the back ground, here’s the nitty gritty.

I made my way to the start line with a few thousand of my new friends. The sun was itching to come out and play over the horizon. It shined just enough to illuminate the taunting of the start line.

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From mile 7 to mile 30-some it was an uphill battle. It was tough. THE toughest thing I’ve EVER done! No words can describe the brutality. The winds varied 18-40 mph against me and never once were at my back!!! I stayed on my saddle the entire time and knew the exact moment I entered the Red Rock Canyon because the wind and the heat sucked out all the moisture from my mouth, skin and eyeballs.

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The incline grade here obviously increased. I mashed much more than expected and my heart broke when I looked down four times at my Garmin to see 7mph, 6mph, 5mph and yes, 4mph. But I made it to the top. It took me almost FOUR hours to climb that mountain!!! Four hours for just thirty miles. Ok, so I did take my time being a winter texan and took a ton of scenic tourist pictures (see above). But four freakin hours was way longer than I planned. But I wasn’t sagged!!! I saw one after another go down. Exhaustion and heat took some of the best. It was quite intimidating. I caught myself yelling out “Chemo is harder! Chemo is harder!”.  It helped me put things into perspective quickly.

I went deep into the dangerous hidden parts of my memory. All those days I was a hallway away from where I knew Momma was being fed poison, throwing up, wanting to cry and double up from the pain she was going through… but didn’t because she knew she had to endure in order to survive. We were a hallway away from each other and she knew I was scared. I knew she was scared. So she’d text me photos of her smiling trying to convince me that she was doing fine. It was that memory that fueled me. As I spotted the photographers along the course, I smiled for her the same way she smiled for me…. even while in pain.

Remember my attitude coming in? So, I figured, ok, the hard part is over. It’s literally all down hill from here. My legs are feeling the pain but I’m not injured and I’m not super sore and heck ya I can do this! (p.s. I was sooooo wrong for thinking it was that easy… the hard part was much further away)

Then I see a sign. Albeit a misspelled sign but I got the message. “Be safe fast decent”

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I had worried so much about climbing that I hadn’t ever really gone over how to handle declining a mountain nor had I had the opportunity to practice it at such a pitch!!! I was scared and basically rode the brakes almost the entire 30 miles down the mountain. This hurt my make up time I had figured into my total. I barely made the cut off time at the bottom of the mountain. You had to make it or else they’d re-direct you to the metric century course. The race director smiled at me and said “Texas, there’s a wind advisory going on just as you turn the corner here. Are you ok with that?” (They nick named me Texas) “Yes, sir, Wind and heat are the only things I was able to train for properly in Texas” I replied.

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He assigned a mentor alumni from Kansas to stick by me but I have say it was a great feeling to drop them once that wind came in. They couldn’t handle it. I went back up to my normal 15-18mph speed against the wind. It was just like home. But that’s when my battery went dead on my phone. The iOs7 update sucked up all my battery life faster than predicted. If something should happen to me, there was no way I could contact a sag vehicle, coach, teammate, friend, husband or dad. At the next rest stop I ran into a huge Kansas team that adopted me. After that, I saw the Texas team and they insisted that I join them for safety reasons. I agreed under the circumstances. The time was about 2:00 and the winds really picked up. I saw three cyclists go down with the wind as we made turns. Bikes shattered and shoulders and wrists broke. Fear consumed us all but it overwhelmed three of the Texas team members and they were made up of mostly Marine families and held the motto firmly… they would not leave a team member, they would do this together. Their speed went down to 6mph against the wind. I began to regret my decision to join the Texas team. It was actually HARDER to ride slowly than it was at the 15-18mph that I was used to. BUT if something should happen to me, they were right. It was safer for me to stick with a group and they were all I had. It killed me to go this slow. The heat sizzled my legs. I had gargantuan salt crystals forming around my nose and eyes. Each time I wiped them off, more would grow back bigger than the last. My mouth was so dry and I could feel my lips crisp up. I didn’t have sun block but I did have spf chap stick. I used my pockets for fuel and not sun block. Big mistake.

Because elevations were my initial fear, I remember the 30-mile mark being the biggest and longest obstacle, another peak would be around mile 70 and the last kick in the shin would be around the 90 mile mark with the steepest incline of the entire course. I was at the 90 mile mark and all of a sudden the course went off road. THIS WAS NOT EXPECTED!!! Have to admit that a smile overtook my face when I realized that Wally’s Hell of the South race really was the perfect training. THIS was the steepest incline and decline of the day. Google the three sisters of River Mountain Trail. I felt like an unpaid stunt man!!!


this is a link to a video of the three sisters

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IT WAS THE BIGGEST RUSH OF MY LIFE! The video does it no justice!!! I hit 37 mph (some of my teammates argue that it was close to 45 that we hit but I never had the guts to look at the Garmin on my wrist). After this, it was flat windy hot and boring. I went from “That was AWWWWEEEESOME! I’m gonna do this again!” to “I can’t wait for this to be over! How far away are we from the finish line? Are we there yet? I’m never doing this again.” I was hot, exhausted, thirsty, crispy, cranky and wanted to go faster!!!! One of the Texas members fell over and began throwing up. The team stayed behind with him. I HAD to go forward. This slow pace was driving me bonkers and we were so close to the finish. I was already 2 1/2 hours behind my predicted schedule and wanted to get off my saddle now!!! My feet were sore from mashing so hard up hill and my fingers were numb from gripping the brakes down those sisters. I finished strong and eager to just get it over with and surprised to see 400 team members and the Medinas at the finish line waiting for me with cheers and a crown!!!!

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In summary, I am injury free. The only real sore part I’m dealing with is my neck and shoulders. My nutrition and hydration was perfect. My training was spot on. Had I mastered the confidence to conquer the uphill and downhill, I would have made much better time. Had I decided to stick with the Kansas team, my time would have been much more like my training time. (Texas would NOT go over 8 mph) Had I remembered to stick sun block in my back pockets I would not have snake skin on my legs and nose right now.

I had dinner that night with some of the race volunteers. The Sag driver told me “I sagged one of the contributors of Bicycle magazine!! Take that to the bank!” another bike coach told me “I’ve done over 30 century rides in my life and never once have I seen one this difficult.”
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Fighting Fire with Fire

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2013 by runmyssierun

The following video was shared with me today on my facebook wall. It is posts like this one, scientists like the ones featured here and patients that are living life as it should be that push me further and further. I know we are close to a cure now. I feel it!!!

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