Archive for Penguin Chronicles

Still waddling on… the last chronicle

Posted in cancer, Running with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2015 by runmyssierun

Continuing with the stories of inspiration

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.

Yesterday was the San Diego Rock -N- Roll Marathon. Three years ago yesterday, this was the very first marathon I ever completed. It holds a very special place in my heart and a lifetime bucket list achievement that I will forever treasure. And now it seems that many, many others will, too… including the man who inspired me, John “The Penguin” Bingham.

As the media and the world continues to retweet the amazing record finish of 92-year old Harriet Thompson, I can’t help to dream about the possibilities of my life at that age and all that I can do in between.

http://fox5sandiego.com/2015/05/31/92-year-old-woman-finishes-san-diego-marathon/

The Penguin posted his last chronicle…

http://johnbingham.wpengine.com/goodbye-farewell-and-amen/

The man, who the evening before my first marathon, saw the doubt in my face and said “YOU are a long distance endurance athlete”. That evening, I was no longer the prissy princess I was told to be but became what I was destined to be. And he made me feel ok about not being the fastest or faster than anyone else but made me feel confident in myself and about what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong.. there IS a competitive side of me… but this was for someone other than me. I was competing for my life and the lives of so many others.

John Bingham looks forward to what lies ahead as his career as a columnist comes to a close.

All good things must come to an end, or so they say. The truth I’ve learned is that all things, good and bad, come to an end. In life, as in marathons, there are good patches and bad patches—and neither last forever.

And so it is that this is my last official column. Beginning in May 1996 with the first “Penguin Chronicles” in Runner’s World Magazine, through various title changes and magazine placements, I have been writing for, and writing to, a running community that has been the greatest collective of people I have ever known.

As word of my impending retirement has made its way around the running community, the most common question to me has been “What’s next?” My answer is simple and honest: I have no idea.

It’s important to remember that I had no plan for the past 20 years. Truth be told, I really didn’t have a plan for the past 40 years. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work in the three fields in which I have passion—music, motorcycles and running—my entire professional life. It’s hard for me to believe that there is some undiscovered passion that will overtake me.

But I could be wrong. Sitting with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, it never would have occurred to me that running would become a passion. But it did.

And if there’s a message that I want to close a writing career with, it’s just this: be open to new passions.

I was absolutely certain that I wanted to be a high school band director. I was a music education major. I took piano lessons, learned how to play all the band instruments and bought a conductor’s baton. I’ve never been employed for one day as a high school band director.

Not having a plan is different than not having a passion. A plan will often limit you because it defines success before you get started. I’ve often said that no plan I could have ever had could have been as good as what’s happened.

In my case, the passion wasn’t really about running. It may have seemed that way, but the truth is that running was never easy for me, was never especially satisfying and I never had the kind of success as a runner that others have enjoyed. My inherent lack of talent always put me on the outside of the real running community.

My passion was, and is, people. It’s you, the reader. It’s the person sitting on the sofa miserable like I was, who has no idea that the secret to happiness is their own two feet. My passion is sharing the extraordinary transformation of body, mind and spirit that happens when you start working on your body.

The battle was, and still is, convincing the pathologically speedy that running or walking can produce the peak experience at any pace. Nearly 20 years after the first Penguin Chronicle appeared, the industry magazines and books are still focused on speed as the sole criterion of success.

Whether through my writing, speaking or owning and producing events, my goal was to show people that they were, each of them, capable of much more than they thought they were and that they were, capable of defining success in their own terms.

And so as this chapter of my life comes to a close, I want to leave you with the words that have changed thousands of lives and that ring as true to me today as when they were first written over 20 years ago.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

Waddle on, friends …

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Come With Me Now

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

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And so it begins… the decision to do this last big event was one that took much contemplation, ensuring that proper time would be allocated to train and fundraise, my head and spirit were centered and I was around the right support network to keep me focused, grounded and as successful as possible.

I downloaded all three of the courses for Ironman Victoria already and googled photos to see the lake, get a glimpse of the average water temp, a sneak peek at what the running trail looks like and the bike elevation. I was told that because it is a sea side town, it’s a flat sea level area and that there is little chance of snow and that water temperatures are “relatively warm but wetsuit legal” and the running trails are the “greenest of all Ironman courses because they are all trail and not pavement or asphalt”. My concern is the use of the words “relatively warm”. See, my “relative” area is tropical South Texas and when we use the term warm, it’s about 100 degrees. I predict some temperature shock on my part. I also see some elevation, too. Lots of elevations… like multiple heights and colors. Oh boy.

ironman victoria bike elevation 2015

Whoa.. wait. Does that sign say "frozen"?

Whoa.. wait. Does that sign say “frozen”?

My first official week of my iron training didn’t come easy. Every day came with only a maximum of four hours of sleep. I pushed through my first few days of workouts and dragged the rest. Not good. If I continue this way, I’m pretty much begging for injuries to happen. Proper rest is just as important as proper nutrition and hydration. Before I go any further, a huge change must happen.

How did I prepare for my first triathlon this way? Oh yeah… I was living with my dad at his house who went to bed by 10:00p.m. (remember that my mom had recently passed away)

How have I done it since then? Oh yeah… struggled and lots of coffee. Not exactly a great plan for any triathlete. Especially one who has just had the realization AGAIN that life is fragile and a gift that is not guaranteed to be here tomorrow.

The weather hasn’t cooperated completely either… however, that could be just an excuse as I see my fellow run junkees post photos of their daily runs like these…

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So I have no real excuse when it’s drizzling and 45 degrees in tropical South Texas. These guys here would kill for conditions like mine. So bottom line is that I’m quite spoiled here… and used to it. I hit the gym and incorporated some weight training alongside my dreadmill run, RPM cycling and stairclimber workouts. I have yet to hit to pool but hope to do so tomorrow. I’ll suck it up and do only outdoor pool and OWS workouts to get used to colder temps as to acclimate my body to the Canadian waters of Victoria. *lets see how brave I am when it really gets cold!!!

Just as my workouts are planned, so is my fundraising and PR. This will likely anger some people as the community I live in is “humble”. We have been taught NOT to speak up, to turn the other cheek, don’t stir the pot, don’t cause waves, keep your head down, speak only when spoken to, don’t bring attention to yourself… yada yada yada. We have been taught to do what we can with what we have and never to ask for help… certainly never to beg or try to tell/inform others of better ways to do something. What this taught me was that if you are obscure enough… no one will see you, no one will hear you, no one will know about the things you care about and certainly no one will care and nothing will change… period. What good does that do?

This week, my emails will go out. My letters requesting help and donations – any kind of donations – money, sponsorships, materials, time and effort (including just sharing and reposting my crazy facebook and twitter and instagram posts to your friends) .. go out, too. It all happens this week. You’ve seen me on billboards

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You’ve seen me on the front page

TTB cover

You’ve seen me on TV

You’ve seen me on street corners

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You’ve seen me speak at events, schools and any place where I can tell my story

I just spoke to the most amazing group of young women and my heart melted when a swarm of them caught me as I was leaving. They each asked me to take individual photos with them and spoke to me about their own experiences with cancer and their own "impossible goals" that they want to achieve. Honored and humbled and a smile from ear to ear!!!

I just spoke to the most amazing group of young women and my heart melted when a swarm of them caught me as I was leaving. They each asked me to take individual photos with them and spoke to me about their own experiences with cancer and their own “impossible goals” that they want to achieve. Honored and humbled and a smile from ear to ear!!!

You’ve seen me with celebrities who also share similar struggles with cancer and other “impossible” struggles

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Austin Mahone

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Suzy Favor Hamilton

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

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

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

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And you’ve seen me go to to the top to try to make a difference when it comes to treating and curing cancer and similar diseases

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You’ve seen me coordinate other walk/run races to bring awareness and fund colonoscopies for people in my community who cannot afford them so that they have a fighting chance to beat cancer at an early stage

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Some of you have shown your own support by wearing a little bit of the love around your neck or wrist or even continuing to show your own love at race events… spreading joy, love and showing everyone that we can all do what we can to be healthier and fitter

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You’ve probably had a little “magic in a cup” a time or two (and yes this local favorite shake really is the best you’ll ever have)

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You’ve seen me as an advocate for health and fitness by exposing my own personal health factors and how I involved my team of medical doctors to follow me along in my journey through marathons, triathlons, century rides and now my half-ironman to ensure that everything I’m doing is good for me and within my body’s limits.

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ME Before and After

ME
Before and After

My point being is that this shy girl has used all the PR and marketing skills she has to promote the cause closest to her heart and is exhausted. I don’t want to hide in obscurity (where I actually feel most comfortable) because I’m afraid that the quest for affordable and accessible cancer treatments and the ability to find the causes and cures for cancer will become pushed aside when hot topics of news, entertainment, etc. come around.

Facing the biggest physical challenge, knowing I’m WAY out of my league, at a time when a handful of the haters are most vocal and most people have spent beyond their means on holiday gifts and knowing that the majority of the people who have given already have no more to give and those who have listened/read/followed/joined along have made health and fitness a permanent part of their lives… why in the world would I still be doing this? Why would I continue to put myself through all this pain, ridicule, sacrifice?

Because my Momma cannot run. Because Sissy cannot ride her bike. Because Donny cannot swim. Because Rodney cannot laugh. Because Jana cannot smile. Because Dezma is no longer here.  None of them are. And I am. And I made a promise.

This is not about me. This is not about them. This is about us. All of us. TOGETHER.

So you’re going to see me again…. asking for your help and for you to join with me. Come with me now.

I am the Walrus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2013 by runmyssierun

John Bingham shared some wise words last year over dinner right before my first marathon. He said “You are a long distance endurance athlete.”

John Bingham "The Penguin" and Myssie Cardenas Barajas. Read his blog - The Penguin Chronicles

John Bingham “The Penguin” and Myssie Cardenas Barajas. Read his blog – The Penguin Chronicles

He told us how he earned his nickname “The Penguin”. I could relate. He described himself as waddling like a penguin all throughout the race… but he finished. He’s never been first but he always finished. I could relate.

Maybe I’m a penguin, too.

I remember my mother giving me a poem on the first day of college. It was about a turtle. She told me to take my time and observe as much as I could to take it all in. She told me to stick my neck out for what I believed in and that no matter what, the shell of love that she built around me would protect me. She raised me to be a turtle like her.

Maybe I’m a turtle, too.

When first going out for my swims in the pool, I was taught by my son to not splash… at all. I took everyone’s advice to heart and tried with all my might to do it all as perfectly as I could. I was called “the little mermaid” because of it. I thought it was cute at first but now I see myself differently.

I’m really really still very very slow. I had my swim evaluation done earlier this week. My form was good for the amount of time I had been swimming. In six short months, I kept my elbows high, my breathing was good, I was skimming the water, my kicks needed some work and I need more power in my stroke but all in all… I was doing well.

One thing for sure… I am NOT a mermaid. After reviewing the video of myself swimming, I looked like I was swimming in molasses. I know… I know… it wasn’t about speed on that day. It was about form. Regardless, I couldn’t help but think about the Beetles song…

I am the Walrus. Cuu Cuu Cuchoo

The song makes as much sense as my life right now. It’s confusing, entertaining and much like a scene right out of Alice in Wonderland, I’ve found myself going down some crazy rabbit hole swimming through my own tears and off to a race that never seems to end and hoping that when I wake, it’ll all make sense to me.

The wonderful solid part of this week was getting the news that Kristina was well on her way to become a permanent list member of the cancer beaters club. You can read about her journey on her blog here. The day before Kristina made her news public, Taylor made her announcement as well!

Taylor ringing the cancer free bell

Unfortunately, David (our honored hero for this season’s Team in Training) is back at MD Anderson for the second time fighting stage 2 lymphoma. The good thing is that great things happen in threes 🙂

David Mendez and Sarah Morales - TNT's honored heros

David Mendez and Sarah Morales – TNT’s honored heros

So off I go again… slow but determined, for something much much bigger than just me. I am a penguin. I am a turtle. I am the walrus. I am relentless.

I wake up at 3:45a.m. to ride at 5:00a.m. to put in more miles on my bike before the sun rises than most people drive in their car all day long. All this, just to beat cancer and to show my love for my family members that cancer took away from me.

I wake up at 3:45a.m. to ride at 5:00a.m. to put in more miles on my bike before the sun rises than most people drive in their car all day long. All this, just to beat cancer and to show my love for my family members that cancer took away from me.

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