Archive for Rgv

Defining Moments of Life

Posted in cancer, training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2016 by runmyssierun

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I have been taking a pretty profound 8-week class for work. I’m about half way through it. Today, my instructor told us that as a young boy, his dad would tell him that if he just made all “B’s” in school that he’d be so very proud of him. So what was he conditioned to do? He made all B’s. And all was well.

As a young girl, I remember being in the car with some family members. We were driving South on Sugar road in my home town and as we passed the home of the President of the University – a massively landscaped mansion to me back in the day – I remember blurting out to them that one day I would live there. I was quickly hushed, corrected and told,”You’re too pretty to be smart.  The smartest man in town lives there. Your brother may have a chance though.” He was smart. Boys were supposed to be smart. Girls were supposed to be pretty and delicate and dumbed down so that others around can feel superior, stronger and smarter. That’s how the world was supposed to be as it was shown to me.

I was conditioned to be pretty. So what did I do? I was never exceptional in school and I entered pageants because I was supposed to be pretty… where I was eventually told I wasn’t pretty enough to continue. So I was never smart enough and never pretty enough… and grew up always thinking I was just never ENOUGH.

For whatever reason, at any given point of my life, I was always surrounded by people who seemed to be nice and friendly and care for me… but never really encouraged or pushed me to see what I was really made of and what I could really do with all that I was. All it took was a handful of people to make the needed difference in me. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still struggle daily with the whole “enough” battle in my head – but I win a few of the fights in the end.

I do not believe that my story is rare. I think a lot of us, too many of us, were told by influential others what our defining limits were presumed to be. Maybe, just maybe, you were one, too.

But what I also believe is that just as I had a defining moment in my life that forced me to push myself beyond what I thought I could accomplish, you and many others have had or will have defining moments that will do the same. And guess what… I also believe that every day of life gives us all a moment to redefine us all again, too.

Experiences like this have taught me great lessons. Some in my own self and some of those lessons have been for me to learn to recognize the type of person who still tries to define me with their own self doubt, limitations, envy or other insecurity. I see you. It’s ok. I smile and nod my head to all you tell me… but I don’t believe a thing you say to me anymore.  The beauty of rock bottom is the wisdom that comes from it when you rise.  Yes, I do better when I have an encouraging cheering section but I have learned the hard way, too, to believe in myself and become everything you were not prepared to experience… my absolute best.

Who will you allow yourself to become? Are you ready for your defining moment?

Stranger stories

Posted in cancer, training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2016 by runmyssierun

Last night a young man and his wife asked if I was “Missy B”. They shook my hand, hugged me and asked for a picture with me. “I’ve been following your Instagram and blog for years” he said.

Both he and his wife had lost loved ones to cancer. They spoke to me about their stories and how they had followed my story for hope and inspiration. They renewed my passion and sense of purpose.

Not too long ago, my family and I went bowling and a woman whom I’ve never met did the exact same thing.

I have to admit, it gets a little scary when a complete stranger comes up to you out of the blue and asks if you are you. I’m certainly not a celebrity because occurrences like this don’t happen EVERY single day.. but often enough to know that I must be on guard, observant, cautious yet caring, compassionate and true to my promise.

So many of us struggle with hardships. It’s difficult to speak about them. One of the things I have learned from this is that once you get over that first step of difficulty – you know, admitting it – letting others know that this is a tough thing you’re going through. It releases you from it. Saying it allows you to let it out, let it go. And it gives permission to others in pain to do so, too. This little blog of mine has given me that power and permission to let others let go of their pain, struggles and suffering.

Whether it is about cancer, achieving a goal that was once thought of as impossible, proving yourself to others or yourself, becoming healthy, fit, happy or just simply becoming a better, kinder person… if you have found a connection here through my silly journey, then that brings me great joy. We all go through ups and downs and although I truly believe in my heart of hearts that any one person can get through it by themselves, trust me when I say, it’s so much better when you have support of others who sincerely understand and help you and others through it. Together we are a stronger, kinder and more effective force.

There are many, many more stories out here. We all need to hear them, feel them and do something about them. TOGETHER. Tell your story. We can all help each other and sometimes when we least expect it.

 

Triflare Tribe

Posted in training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2016 by runmyssierun

Triflare is an incredibly amazing company that designs colorful stylish workout gear that not only looks like it could take over the cat walks of Milan but can also accellerate  performance levels to place you on a podium! So when they surprised me with a feature on their blog…  I was BEYOND honored!!! Here it is 🙂

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http://triflare.com/blogs/news/triflare-tribe-member-myssie-cardenas-barajas

Triflare Tribe Member Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

September 20 2016

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Meet Myssie Cardenas-Barajas Triflare ambassador from the great state of Texas!

Myssie first got involved in athletics because of loss in her life. In 2011, Myssie lost three family members to cancer. It was during this painful time that she found comfort in running with Team in Training. She needed a way to work through her grief, while at the same time desiring to raise money for cancer organizations. She not only found comfort by surrounding herself with those who had survived, but she found her love of swimming, biking and running.

She bought her very first pair of running shoes and ran her very first block in 2011. By the end of 2012, she had run 2 full marathons, 6 half-marathons, and countless 5k and 10k’s. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), she injured herself during her second marathon. It was this injury that propelled her into the world of triathlon. Because she was limited in running, her coach recommended swimming and cycling. Of course, she needed to overcome one obstacle – she didn’t know how to swim! With the help of her son, she learned and 10 weeks later, completed her first triathlon!

One of Myssie’s favorite ways to stay motivated when training gets a bit mundane is to create powerful playlists. She loves music and finds that creating a playlist that matches the course elevation helps prepare her for race day. She knows by the songs when a hill is approaching or when she needs to pick up or slow down her pace.

Myssie’s favorite race thus far is not a well-known race. In fact, if you aren’t from Texas, you have likely never heard of it. It’s called “The Hell of the South: HOTS.” And here is why – it’s a 56-mile road bike race along the fence of Texas/Mexico border. The trail consists of asphalt, caliche gravel, sand pits and dirt! But, that’s not even the worst of it! The race is held on July 4 – the hottest time of the year in South Texas. Myssie said, “It was special to me because when I raced it, I was the only female that did this event among many other local and state elite men.”

Myssie hopes to continue inspiring people to get involved in sports. Her advice to newbies is powerful. She said, “I know you’re scared. I know you don’t think you can do it. I also know you’re wrong and you have yet to experience making the impossible possible. You are stronger than you know. Join a team, get a coach, sign up for a bucket list event and just go out an amaze yourself.” She also believes that growth happens when you are pushed out of your comfort zone so, she recommends training with people who are more experienced and better than yourself.

Before each race, Myssie jams out to the Foo Fighters and replays voice messages from her mother and brother. She credits them, Sissy and triathlon for saving her life when she was struggling with grief.

We are so thrilled to have Myssie on our team. She has been through many hard times, and yet she still finds ways to inspire those around her. She definitely inspires us!

Back in the Saddle again

Posted in cycling, health & fitness, rgv, rio grande valley, Running, texas, training for my first half ironman, triathlon, triathlon training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2016 by runmyssierun
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That moment you are forced to recon with the realization that AFTER your first ride back on the saddle, you forgot to use Butt Butter. Lesson learned 🙂

MY BUTT HURTS!!! My legs hurt! My back hurts! My shoulders hurt! My feet hurt! My tummy hurts! Even my dang earlobes hurt!!!! Can you tell I have re-entered my training program after a long, long, long, looooooonnnnngggg hiatus?

Honestly, it is so much harder to get back into training seriously after you’ve stopped the habit for so long. I will admit though… I do feel stronger. Maybe my body really did need a break to heal. Maybe, just maybe, this is a good thing.

This week, I went back to my roots. I did so because clearly the way I approached my health and fitness patterns worked the first time. Why wouldn’t they work this time, right?

I ran this week exactly like the very first time I ran. I went in the evening at sundown (so no one would be able to see and recognize me and judge me on how fat I had become or sloth-like slow) and began with a brisk walk for two blocks. After that, I jogged at a comfortable pace – withOUT my Garmin or runkeeper or Nike+ on – for as long as I could manage before I felt that my heart would beat too fast and/or my body would collapse… and then went just a bit further… you know, just to push myself and not feel too comfortable. Then I walked a good length until I balanced out my heart rate and ran to the next light pole. I ran. Not jogged comfortably. I ran. Then brisk walked to the next light pole. Then ran again and so on and so forth.  I did six miles like this. It took me longer than I expected but I did it and surprisingly… I really missed this in my life.

That’s been the farthest I’ve been able to do since my “episode” earlier this Spring.

My legs were so sore that night. When I cuddled under the covers in bed that evening to sleep, I couldn’t bare the pain. I took an ibuprofen in the middle of the night. Felt better and secretly wondered if some of that pain was actually cellulite being destroyed. He he he… I’ll take it if that’s what it means. 🙂

I wore flats the next day to work. Humbled and a bit ashamed of how out of shape I quickly became over the last few months. I have so much work to do on myself!!! But I know I can do it.

Following day: Stretch, yoga, plyometrics, the realization that I should never, ever, ever, ever stop being physically active. Ok, THAT was tough!

Today: I joined up with the Bicycle World Saturday morning ride. It is a casual 30-mile ride designed to be ridden for enjoyment at a comfortable pace. Ha! It may have been everyone else’s “recovery ride” for the week but this chick was putting everything she had into it trying to keep up with the gang. Shortly after the halfway marker, I bonked. I know I was dragging the whole group down with me. And I was super embarrassed about it.

I noticed goosebumps on my leg. I had been drinking water but now that I’m more attuned to  the way my body communicates with me, I knew it was signaling a request for electrolytes and hydration. I asked the group to pull into the next closest convenience store to pick up some cool Gatorade. They graciously stopped the ride to tend to my goosebumps. Seriously, cyclists are the nicest people ever.

Have you ever tried to interrupt someone during a crossfit workout? You’d get your lights punched out for that if you took seconds away from their time. But a cyclist, nu-uh. They understand the importance of the pack and what each individual needs because ultimately on rides like these in this area, we are better together. All I needed was some Gatorade.

And coffee

Ok, so it is what it is. I’ve never ridden with this group before for a few reasons… probably the most important reason was that there wasn’t a coffee shop along the ride course nor was there a coffee shop at the end of the ride.

The riders in the new group – whom I’ve never met before today – also obliged me with a cup of coffee at Moonbeans and some great conversation after the ride. Have I mentioned how friendly cyclists are???? I have? Ok, just making sure.

All in all… it’s been a great comeback week. I’ve tried to come back before and I think I pushed myself the wrong way, had the wrong motivation and/or didn’t have enough motivation or support or accountability. I had been seduced by old bad habits and excuses up the wazoo. I was mentally weak, spiritually lost and physically exhausted. I now feel stronger in all these aspects. I think it shows, too.

Eh. Maybe it was all good. Maybe my body needed the rest. Maybe I needed to really miss this part of my life so much that it took something like this week to bring it all back to me the right way.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad it happened. It feels great to be back! The soreness will eventually give way to smile in my heart.

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Slow Ride – Take it Easy

Posted in cycling with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2015 by runmyssierun

40 miles in one minute

When Women TRI Harder

Posted in triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2015 by runmyssierun

This weekend was the first opportunity I had to participate in an event since my injury in March earlier this year. Honestly, I was super excited to test my body. I’ve been in a state of mind that I hope I can continue and I was more than ready – mentally that is. Earlier in the week, Coach Lori pulled me from the Time Trial. The rest of the team did awesome and I had to swallow my pride as they zoomed off past me…. no, you don’t understand… like WAY past me… FAST. I did a slow zone 2 4 mile jog as they huffed and puffed. But she had a point and I understood. Why risk re-injurying myself this close to Longhorn Ironman just to see how fast I can go? I understood but sulked a bit like a whiney baby. I probably would have been upset with my time anyway and it would have brought me down emotionally. And one big thing I’ve learned in triathlon is that 90% of all this training is all in your head. If you think you can do it, you’re right. If you think you can’t do it, you’re right, too.

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Go back another weekend and the team did an open water swim and bike ride out at South Padre Island. I’ve been swimming a lot – probably the most I’ve ever swam (because of my injury) – so I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the water. However, since getting hurt, I haven’t been able to run the way I used to or ride with the groups like before and when your body is used to doing a certain amount of exercise on a regular basis and you suddenly stop… you blow up.  I gained a lot of weight back. And it was evident when I attempted to squeeze into my wetsuit. Wetsuits are supposed to compress your body some… but they aren’t supposed to crush you like a boa constrictor.

I got it zipped up but just like so many Walmart customer memes state: just because you can zip it up doesn’t mean it fits you right!!! I seriously had no business in that wet suit. I swam out about 100 meters and my boobs must have imploded into my lungs. I seriously could not breathe. Not wanting to panic, I flipped up and floated aimlessly staring into the sky until I could bring down my heart rate and try my swim again. After a few minutes, I flipped over again, swam a few 100 and then freaked out when I could breathe and again, floated until I got my heart rate down. This scene repeats itself a few times. Pathetic, I know. The awful part of this is that the water was so beautiful and still! It looked like sparkling glass!! chances to practice in situations like this are so rare… and my weight gain blew it for me! I was pissed, humiliated and out of breath. So I called it in.

Angel, who also ran his first marathon when I ran my first in San Diego, just a year ago had talked about wanting to be part of the triathlon team but didn’t know how to swim, was dangling his legs off the dock. He was staring out into the water in a way that was similar to gang members staring each other down before the big rumble. After a few minutes, he jumped in and did a good 800 meters out there. See, whether you think you can do it or can’t do it, you’re right.

After everyone finished our swim, the team got together on the dock to take our team selfie. After all, if it’s not posted on facebook, it didn’t happen, right?

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I was so upset with myself that I purposely chose a filter that exaggerated my belly bulge and posted it for all the world to see, laugh scrutinize and ridicule me with.  The thing is that the world didn’t say a thing about my belly or my weight gain. I did. If my friends and family actually did notice my weight gain and the tire around my belly, they never made me feel uncomfortable about it. I was the one that made it a big deal to me. This is MY issue. (I’ve lost some weight but that’s for another post later – I know, right? I was actually bigger than this just a few weeks ago!)

So, if any of you women (and men, too) feel like you’re too embarrassed to go out in public in spandex, lycra or wetsuits because you’re too this or too that. Stop it. Suck it up. It’s no big deal. The only one making a big deal about it is probably just you.  We all have our little issues. Let’s empower ourselves to get over them together.

Ok, so next was the bike ride… and boy was it HOT and WINDY!!! Now, I love the bike part of triathlon. I’ve made it very clear that this is my favorite of all three sports but that day… that day was tough. I hadn’t been on my bike on the road consistently. Being on my trainer, in my bedroom office, in the air conditioning with the playlist blasting and fans blowing, not having to worry about drivers who text or drink or drug or and just plain old bad drivers or pot holes or beer bottles or soiled diapers, gravel, sand, rabid loose dogs, etc. has spoiled me. My confidence on my indoor trainer, using Zwift, has helped me tremendously BUT if I cannot transfer that confidence and experience and replace the anxiety and fear I have to losing my life on the road while riding… it’s all useless. My time on the road compared to my time on the trainer is like night and day now. I need to work on that. And I don’t know how other than just getting out there and being thrown to the lions.

I was, again, the last one in.

Hey, it is what it is. I got hurt. I went through therapy. I’m healing as fast as I possibly can. I’m training as much as my body can safely do without reinjury. I’ve gained weight. I’m slow. So I went into the Tri Girls triathlon this weekend without any blinders and accepting of the facts of my situation. At this point, there really wasn’t anything more I could do. So just enjoy the event and do my best, right?

So I did.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus. This is NOT your race Myssie. This is just a practice run to see how my body reacts to the workout. Do your best but don't push it.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus. This is NOT your race Myssie. This is just a practice run to see how my body reacts to the workout. Do your best but don’t push it.

I had so much fun watching so many women complete their first triathlon.  Yelling out cheers to them as we all crossed paths on the bike course was exhilarating, empowering and a great indication of how far we as a community have come since being labeled "Fattest MSA in the Nation"

I had so much fun watching so many women complete their first triathlon. Yelling out cheers to them as we all crossed paths on the bike course was exhilarating, empowering and a great indication of how far we as a community have come since being labeled “Fattest MSA in the Nation”

My run is my biggest hurdle but this old lady did ok considering I have a bulging disk at L4-L5, a herniated disk at L5-S1, a popped IT band with excessive scar tissue and piriformis syndrome that plagued my hip at mile 2. Begging the volunteers to trade places and joking with everyone else along the way to jump in as my stunt double or relay partner kept my attitude light and everyone laughing.

My run is my biggest hurdle but this old lady did ok considering I have a bulging disk at L4-L5, a herniated disk at L5-S1, a popped IT band with excessive scar tissue and piriformis syndrome that plagued my hip at mile 2. Begging the volunteers to trade places and joking with everyone else along the way to jump in as my stunt double or relay partner kept my attitude light and everyone laughing.

I did this event last year as a relay with my JTI Three Amigos, Alex and Maritza, and we won 1st place.

This year, I was solo. I have to admit, I’ve done almost every triathlon either with both or one of them or they were in attendance cheering me on. It wasn’t the same without them there.

BUT it was also phenomenal to see over a hundred women, mostly aged 30 and older, finish a triathlon!!! Maybe this isn’t a big deal to you – but to this community… IT’S HUGE! BIG! GARGANTUAN!!! This may get me in trouble for stereotyping but just so that the rest of the world understands how we do things down here, it usually goes something like this:

Girl grows up. Minimal education – just enough to get by living paycheck to paycheck. Marries young. Starts family young. Has more children than the national average. Puts children first since divorce rate is also extremely high and women have learned not to depend on husbands or baby daddies. Holds down multiple temporary jobs and sells at least three MLM products in any given year to be able to buy her children what all the other kids have and pay rent. Drives them to school, soccer practice, dance class, football practice, first holy communion classes and studies in the car while waiting for one online college class because that’s all she can afford to do. Her health deteriorates because she doesn’t exercise sitting in her car or stadium seats all this time. Her family meals consist of Little Caesar’s $5 pizza, Mickey Dee’s happy meals, ramen or other highly processed just add water boxed meal.

This is how we live. This is our way of life. This is why we have such high rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Women here put ourselves last in the totem pole of priorities.

And this… plus or minus a few details… is exactly what happened to me.

However, a few years ago, a wave of health and fitness caught me and I am so very grateful for it. My brother died at the age of 38. I may also still have a chance of dying young. But in my heart of hearts, I think I really was well on my way there. It might not be much but I do believe I’ve added three years to my life because of swimming, biking and running. I may not be here tomorrow but had I not done what I did, there’s a really good chance that I could have never made it to today.

It isn’t easy to devote time in this day in age to train for a triathlon or a marathon or a 5k or just one class of zumba or crossfit. And unfortunately, in this historically macho driven community, it’s harder for women who have children to take time for themselves to take care of themselves. This is a luxury that we are thought to believe is too good for us to have. And it’s wrong and needs to stop.

So with that, I applaud all the champions of life this weekend who took their health and fitness matters into their own hands and did something about it. Get up. Get active. Find something that you like to do and go do it. Who cares what you look like or if you’re good at it. Who knows what can become of it. Maybe, if you give yourself the chance, you’re actually really good at whatever you choose to do. Just go out and be. Do you get that? Just BE. Be alive and well and happy for you, your family and everyone that loves you and everyone that hates you. Go out and be. Live life.

Want to see all the photos from the TRI-Girls Sprint Triathlon this weekend? Click here.

That's me with a big old smile on my face after I did the absolute worst triathlon time in my history and I loved it because I didn't give up. That's how I started my day. How was YOUR day?

That’s me with a big old smile on my face after I did the absolute worst triathlon time in my history and I loved it because I didn’t give up. That’s how I started my day. How was YOUR day?

Thank you world!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2015 by runmyssierun

Every day I try to take a few moments to keep myself centered. Meditation, prayer or solitude, how ever it is you choose to label it, I make sure that my moment to do this is filled with gratitude and keep my special requests to a bare minimum. (My requests are usually always simply Health & Happiness, Serenity, Courage and Wisdom)  

I wanted to take a look back over all the people who stood by me, those who encouraged, those who said it couldn’t be done, those who benefitted, those who joined with me, those who mocked me, those who gave, those who took, those who I lost… and those precious, dear new friends I gained.

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Those of you who follow my facebook, twitter, instagram and other sm accounts know that I rarely use names in my posts. I have nick names for family members and simply don’t talk about people I don’t like. I learned that from Bambi http://youtu.be/I71cY9Ysy5U

The ones that deserve more recognition than I have given… I’m going to continue on with my kudos and their nicknames:

Bones and that crazy awesome red head – They open their home to me every time there’s a race in town. They make me homemade pasta, crab legs and moonshine (for post race celebrations). They blast my ears with AC/DC’s  Thunderstruck just before the race. This crazy red head has been through it all with me, knows me better than anyone else and best of all knows what it takes to get me where I want to go. She doesn’t need pompoms or cowbell in her hands to cheer me on. Her hands are currently filled with twins right now anyway 🙂

Dolly Gas – I was 18 years old when I first met her. Even back then I -and everyone else- knew this woman was soon to be the pulse of the Valley. She has a gift unlike any other, that of kindness and generosity unmatched. It is always when I least expect her to be by me to lift me up that she is there. She has been one of my biggest supporters, largest donors, most encouraging fan and dearest friend. For over two decades, this woman has shown me by her example all that I hope to be.

Butterfly Angel – This woman is so incredible! When I first met her, she didn’t know who I was and started talking about me to me. When I got to know her story, it was so similar to my own, I felt from the get go that we were true sisters. We both knew the torment that cancer causes and the torment of running a marathon… together. She has also been one of my biggest supporters, largest donors, most encouraging fan and has quickly become a dear friend. From bike jerseys that have turtles to orange bike gloves to hiring an artist to paint my first running shoe… this woman thinks of everything!!!

Les is More – This woman was one of my baby brothers dearest friends. She was accused of untruths and blamed for things that she did not do. She still had the grace to keep her head high, crush the lies and still do the right thing by killing the accusers with kindness. When those things happen to me, I look to her for guidance as her example has led me through way too many situations that flooded my eyes with tears and brought me to my knees… from those same people who tried to take her down. She has not only donated to EVERY Leukemia & Lymphoma event I’ve been in but she has also been a fabulous mastermind to several fundraisers for me as well.

My Breakfast Roll Club, PNO, and the “Family” – If laughter, love and encouragement had a dollar value… with all that they have given me, I’d be a gazillionaire. Honestly, I did the math.

Because the above have given so much, I keep their identities sacred so that others do not attack them for donations. Unfortunately, our world revolves around money and the people above have worked very hard for the money that they have and are always being hit up. People see their deep pockets and not their overflowing hearts. I’ve been the lucky one to be a recipient of their overflowing hearts.

Coach – I know… I call so many people “coach” because I have so many (running, triathlon, tnt, flex, vrc, etc). I often boast that the world is my coach because of all the lessons I’ve learned these past couple of years. But my close circle of friends/fellow athletes know who my “coach” is. While she has not made a donation, it is the skill, motivation and experience that she has shared with me that trumps any dollar amount. How can you put a monetary value on self-esteem?

Xman, Skittles and Little Skittles – I could not do my long runs on Saturdays, open water swims on Sundays or 80-mile bike rides in the hill country without these boys “taking up the slack” at home. They’ve waited for hours for me to finish marathons with cowbell and posters. They ran 5ks with me for training. They shaved their heads in solidarity. They gave me swimming lessons, took the dogs out, folded laundry, swept fur off the floor, quietly watched TV in the other room while I recovered and even followed me around on one marathon with ice chests full of ice, water, gatorade and fuel for me and all the other runners around. How can you put a monetary value on sanity? There’s no way I could train the way I do without this kind of support at home.

And now to “those”

To the mothers (especially) and families of Sarah, Ben, Baby E and Dezma… thank you for allowing me to befriend the grandest treasure of your life. Thank you for having the courage to tell the world of your struggles and your triumphs. Through your grace I have found my resolve. Thank you.

To the fellow runner who accused me behind my back of lying about my mile times. Thank you for getting me angry enough to run even faster than what I had stated and was smart enough to have proof the next time on my Garmin. YOU made me faster. Thank you. Now can you just keep me angry all the time so that my times consistently keep getting better please?

To the jealous gym bunnies, false friends and former co-workers who made my life miserable with gossip, flirting, accusations and making fun of the hand sign that my mother and I treasured so deeply… I hope one day you’ll be able to experience the self esteem and confidence that I gained through a personal journey like this. You probably need it more than I ever did.

To those hundreds of people who wrote to me with questions on how to get started on your own journey, please know that you ARE worthy enough to make yourself the same promise I made to myself. DO NOT GIVE UP. Not on yourself. Value yourself more. Trust me, I struggle with the same issues you do. Many of us do. NEGU

To that stranger who ran a marathon for my mother and my aunt Sissy without ever knowing who they were… THANK YOU. Thank you for giving us six more treasured years together. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication and training and fundraising and sacrifice and anonymous grace. I will probably never know who you are but I hope that I honor you for what you have done by doing the same for someone else in the same circumstance.

To my sponsors… WOW! It is honestly overwhelming to attempt to even try to name them all here (some are at the top right corner of the screen if you’re on a computer or at the very bottom if you scroll down on your phone screen). To think that a business owner saw enough potential in me to give a portion of their hard earned money and donate it to some crazy person doing an extreme physical event so that someone they or she would never know could get their cancer treatment, transportation, housing or possibly a cure just fills my heart with hope for our world. God really does work through us all. In all our deeds and thoughts, He is in us. How else can you explain this?

To my donors… Each one gave as much as they possibly could in honor or in memory of a loved one touched with cancer. So many gave me names, photos and stories of those they gave for. Each one touched me to the core. I knew many and felt like I knew the rest after hearing the stories. From $5 to $2000, the donations kept coming in. I did my best to tell their stories to any who would listen. I did even better remembering them when I wanted to quit running, swimming or cycling. Because what I was going through couldn’t be nearly as hard or as painful as what they went through. Thank you donors. Your money is going to someone as special as my mom was to me.

To my Team in Training teammates, fellow Maniacs, Cyclepaths, VRC running class, RWC girls, 5am wake up riders and RPM classmates, thank you for pushing me and encouraging me. I always felt guilty as I was the last to come in (always) and knowing that each of you sat and waited for me to finish each practice and event. You did so with cheers and smiles and no complaints. I am honored to have had each of you by my side. YOU WOULD NOT LET ME QUIT. Thank you for that.

To my family – Thank you for sitting in the hot sun and the bottom of heartbreak hill with posters and cheers before I even knew what heartbreak hill was! Thank you for homemade banana nut bread for recovery… yes, bananas ARE supposed to be eaten to help with lost potassium. We’ve gone through so much together, I am so thankful that the silver lining for us is a much closer, loving family than ever before.

To my friends – Homemade pasta carb-loading dinners pre-race night, custom wet-suits by design, dinners in San Diego, floor seats to the Spurs before race day… the extravagance of their generosity is amazeballs!!! I am one of those lucky people who has lifelong friendships that count. They never EVER forget me and the bonds are unbreakable. Clearly. They know that what I am doing is completely different from what I have done all my life… I’m a professional princess 😉 And they still treat me as the legend in my own mind. I really do have the best friends ever.

To my brother – I know you are still with me. EVERY SINGLE EVENT I have done has had a Foo Fighters song blaring out at me at one point or another. I know you are still with me. Now stop laughing at how slow I still am!!! You weren’t fast either!

To my Sissy – Thank you for pushing me into this journey. Thank you for knowing that this would be the perfect opportunity to meet your biological family. Thank you for planning my journey back to self-esteem and health. Thank you for NOT picking zumba (as I first joked to you about).

To my Momma – Thank you for the courage and strength you showed all your life but especially while you were being attacked by cancer. Thank you for being the roll model I still struggle trying to portray. THANK YOU FOR EVERY SINGLE CHOICE YOU MADE. Thank you for telling me every chance you got that I could do anything I set my mind to. You were always right.

Thank you world.
I see what I must do.

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