Archive for rio grande valley

Defining Moments of Life

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

865da01ddc8bdcc6313bc6f4d7852f70.jpg

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 🙂

triflare-blog

 

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

Triflare Tribe Member Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

September 20 2016

http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0447/1533/files/missie2_large.jpg?v=1474397154

http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0447/1533/files/missie1_large.jpg?v=1474397103

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
IMG_7201.JPG

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.

FullSizeRender (14).jpg

sept172016strava

 

Shark Bait Who-Ha-Ha

Posted in training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2016 by runmyssierun

Promo Ad

https://slide.ly/promo/share/57b3ea93b57298b6557b23cc

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 19282014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.

 

What you focus on expands

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2016 by runmyssierun

So here’s the great thing about open water swim training… swimming with sharks doesn’t only happen in salt water. Facing my fear of swimming, in open water, with sharks, alligators, heebeegeebees, red tide, murky, dark water with no visibility and no idea of what is one inch in front of you… and worst of all… vicious seaweed has forced me to become stronger, confident and able to go toe to toe with any and all aggressors that challenge me. When times get tough, I no longer throw my hands up in the air and give up so easily. I’ve been through tough times, many of them more challenging than most others have been able to survive or even attempt to accomplish. I now know I can do more than I initially thought I could possibly do.

So with that, even though I fail… over and over again.. I rise. Each and every single time. I rise. No matter what.

Swimming with sharks doesn’t happen in just water. Sharks are everywhere. They are the challenges in life, fears you cower from, bullies at school, family or work. Everyone has sharks in their lives. I’ve just been lucky enough to learn how to train myself to continue on through them… albeit slowly but surely.

On that note, I’d like to share with you something profound and uplifting by a teammate of mine who posted this on our team board. He’s an amazing athlete with an equally astounding outlook on life and competition.

TOO MUCH TIME TO THINK ABOUT TIME.

I wanted to make a comment for you to be mindful and think about you’re best not the time.
Stop and think about your best not a deadline. You’re not going to Ironman races just to finish and you are not shooting for for a certain time. You going to show yourself your very best and leave it on the line.
We ask “what time are you shooting for?” Or we say “I’m shooting for sub 12 hours” or “I’m just looking to finish” and then we focus too much on that number.
STOP. You’re not looking to just finish. You’re looking to do what the fastest guys on the planet are looking to do and that is finish it as fast as you can. Maybe that isn’t fast maybe it does hit the deadline time but that shouldn’t be your focus. It should be to push yourself to be the best version of yourself on that day and in that moment.
Don’t train and walk into this or any race shooting for the minimum. You’re better than that and you deserve to see what you have in you. Falling short of goals is normal. There are too many variables that you are not able to factor in. You are picking times in perfect weather, perfect wind, perfect nutrition, no bike malfunctions and everything else to be perfect when making up your times. Nothing is ever gonna be perfect and it is too much stress to put on yourself.
What I say is is that I’m going to throw down the fastest time I have for that day. That is what I have always done and that is what we all do.
I lost the first 19 bike races before I won my first one. I lost many tris before I won one.
Statistically speaking I’m a much bigger looser than I am winner but that is based on numbers and as I just said… Numbers don’t matter. What You believe about yourself does.
You can all finish the race but will you throw down and dig deep to bring out the best version of yourself? That should be your goal.
I used to be the slowest guy on the course. I just knew I wasn’t meant to stay there.

~~Jason Reinhardt

At my workplace, we have a saying “What you focus on expands”

It was brought to my attention that my most recent posts over this last year has focused on my negative nemesis. My lack of strength, injuries, lack of support, and negative nancy comment after negative nancy comment…

So here goes… I’m focusing on my best. Keep me accountable. Because deep down inside me… I know I can do it. I know I can. Now I just need to prove it to myself.

Slow Ride – Take it Easy

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

40 miles in one minute

10lbs, drugs, politicians, money, boots and music – it’s probably not what you think.

Posted in cancer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by runmyssierun

What a day! What a week! What a month it has been! Too much awesomeness for me to write about in full detail and you know how I abhor vague, cryptic messages!!!

So here’s the summary:

Lost 10 pounds. 10 more to go to fit and perform best in my wetsuit and run light for Ironman.

Sissy’s anniversary was miracle driven. <—ok, so that’s cryptic. Sorry. Not Sorry.

Because of a new job, traveling back and forth (insert a myriad of flamboyant excuses here including the Pope’s visit to America) I have only been able to train with the TEAM on weekends. I have good days and bad days, decreased my caffeine intake and heart rate levels, increased my distance and endurance times. pace is still pathetic and no longer publicly posting my workout paces because I feel extremely awkward when being compared amongst people I thought were my friends. I am not your competition. You are not my competition. I am MY own competition.

The halls of congress are busy with activists begging legislators to co-sponsor the CANCER DRUG COVERAGE PARITY ACT to ensure that cancer patients can afford to receive treatment. I’ll post a letter at the end so that you can copy, paste, sign and send to your representative in Congress.

The above is a result of this happening in the cancer treatment industry (I was one of the lobbyists that was part of the movement last year talked about in this article):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/09/24/why-big-pharma-hates-martin-shkreli-too/

I had a meeting this week that started out business and ended up being almost three hours long with some of the most phenomenal women in the Valley who have beat cancer and a couple of others who have dedicated much of their lives and talent to help others beat cancer. I should have taken a selfie of the group. There I was, sipping lemonade with Sylvia Fortuin, Fran Prukop, Melissa Smith, Stacy Madden and silly ol’ me. With all that these women at this table have endured and conquered, something as trivial as the enigma of world peace could be strategized, executed and pinned perfectly on pinterest by next Tuesday without a single hair out of place if given the challenge. We talked a bit about cancer but spoke mostly of God with smiles on all our faces. Interesting, huh?

And the grand highlight was being honored at the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball for the promise I made to Momma and Sissy. Every single emotion a human being can have was experienced there in that ball room but I exited with only one… GRATITUDE.

12046576_10156080025295068_1851483702462994452_n 12046728_10156079951105068_7336421181821570752_n 12032128_10156082704215068_1657191437351344747_n 12000883_10156083266985068_7395840216704870703_o 12046967_1000654256621335_6966144666301231412_n

But the really cool thing was that the opening band, COSTELLO, came back after the preview party a few months ago and DONATED themselves as a musical entertainment act for the cause after hearing my story.  Which goes to show that all of us can do something, anything for the cause because we all have value. I may not be super rich and be able to buy a cure and I may not be super smart and be able to invent a cure but I can run, albeit very slowly, and I can swim – or at least float or dog paddle any crazy long distance, and I can ride til the sun sets… and in some cases, til the sun rises. This is what I can do to make a difference. It may not be much but if you put together the little that I can do with the little that you can do and the little that everyone else can do.. together, we can change it all. For good.

So with that… I have to share with you COSTELLO‘s newest single and video that was just premiered a couple of days ago! it’s also available to download for free on their website! Thank them for their kind gesture by giving them a listen, d/l’ing their song, and requesting them on your local country music radio station like KTEX-100 and liking and following them on social media!!! @Costellotxmusic

Momma would have been over the moon! Thank you all for helping me keep my promise to her.

TO BE AN ADVOCATE FOR CANCER PATIENTS CLICK HERE TO EMAIL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

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.

11952757_10153192651394141_3258903129921423044_o

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?

11889590_10155991435405068_5817188379783316665_n 11885175_10155991435610068_8558946044752198663_n

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?

In the ZONE – Heart Rate Zone Training 101

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2015 by runmyssierun

I’ve been asked a lot lately about Heart Rate Zone training since posting a bit about it on some of my social media accounts. Now let me be clear about this because there is a group of cynics out there who are quick to bash this way of training and/or quick to simply bash me and all that I do – I am no pro at this. Heart Rate Zone training has honestly become the most rigid, difficult, brutal and merciless type of training that I have ever done. But I’ve learned so much about myself, my body and my level of health and fitness in the process. I highly recommend you give it a try because knowledge really is power.

HRZ training is NOT about how fast you go or how far you go.

I’ve spent these last few years focused in on how fast my marathon time was, counting my strokes while swimming laps, adding and subtracting and adding again on the weight scale, or calculating how many miles I ran or rode. While all of these things I did are important, I completely missed the boat on what should have been the foundation to this whole journey.

HRZ training is all the above while measuring how effective and efficient your body is becoming while doing all these crazy workouts.

2b5104488ca4369e4665f492d394514c

Here’s the basics:

Get a heart rate monitor and strap it on as per the instructions. Find your resting heart rate by laying down, relax in a quiet peaceful setting for at least 20 minutes (preferably when you first wake up in the morning before any coffee, caffeine or ANY heart rate inducing/reducing medications or foods have been ingested). Note the number on your heart rate monitor. If it bounces around for a bit, that’s ok. Take the average. This should be your baseline to work with. Check your resting heart rate once a month and note any changes… hopefully you’ll see a reduction in that number as time goes by and workouts increase.

Don’t have a heart rate monitor and want to know your heart rate right this very moment so when you continue reading, you’ll know what to do and what to expect during your next workout? No problem. Heart rate is measured in beats per minute. It can be measured at your carotid (neck) or radial (wrist) pulse. Be careful not to place too much pressure on your carotid artery as you can compress it and block blood flow. Once you find your pulse, count the heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by four to find your current heart rate.

See the table below and find your age

234d34b718f64f0c78bf19494de88c25

Heart Rate During Exercise

Measuring your heart rate during exercise gives you an indicator of how hard you are working. As your workload increases, your heart rate will increase. Heart rate is also an indicator of fitness. The more aerobically fit you are, the lower your heart rate will be for a comparable workout than someone less physically fit. This also means that you will have to increase your workload to achieve the same fitness benefits as you become more physically fit.

Target Heart Rate

To maximize performance and get the most benefit from your workout, you need to find and stay within your target heart rate zone throughout your workout. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. A 30-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute. Depending on your level of fitness, the American Heart Association recommends a target heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your target heart rate, take your maximum heart rate and multiply by 0.5 and 0.85. For a 30-year-old woman, the ideal training window is a heart rate between 95 and 162 beats per minute. If you are just starting to exercise, keep your heart rate closer to the 50 percent target. Those who have been regularly participating in aerobic activities should aim for the 85 percent range. When measuring your heart rate during your workout, do it as you are exercising or stop briefly and take it immediately as it will decrease rapidly with rest.

Additional Tips

You should be working out at a level that feels challenging. If it feels easy, pick up the pace a little. If your breathing is labored, you are extremely fatigued or your form is suffering, ease up. If you are exercising in water, your heart rate is an average of 17 beats less per minute, so decrease your target heart rate accordingly for an aquatic workout. Also check your medications. If any of them have a blunted heart rate response as a possible side effect, the use of target heart rates can be dangerous for you as heart rate is not a good indicator of how hard your body is working.

The following is taken from Runners World magazine (click here for the full article) 

Once you figure out your zones, the rest is like following the speed limit signs on the roadway. Since they are based on your redline, or lactate threshold, that becomes the point from which all the other zones are based—anything below the threshold heart rate zone (zone 4) is more aerobic in nature and easy in intensity, and anything at or above it is more anaerobic and high intensity.

The key to optimizing this knowledge is to train purposefully based on these zones. In a typical training schedule you’ll follow the flow of easy and hard workouts. You might have a tempo workout on day 1, and follow with an easy effort workout (or two) on day 2 and 3. By alternating hard and easy workouts, your body is able to recover efficiently, adapt to the demands of the workouts, and get stronger.

Many make the mistake of training solely by pace and end up training too hard most of the time (la la pace). It’s an effort that is too hard to be easy, and too easy to be hard. Somewhere in between purpose and the point of no return.

This doesn’t happen when you tune in and run by your body (effort) because pace becomes the outcome of every run rather than the purpose.

There are many variations of the zone percentages so don’t let that confuse you. The idea is to make friends with what they mean and then create a training plan based on the purpose of the run rather than the pace.

Here is a percentage chart by authors Foster and Edwards and how to use each zone in your training.

Zone 1: 60-70% of threshold heart rate: A very, very light intensity effort level marked by easy breathing and complete conversation. For many runners, this zone comes in the form of a walking pace as it is a very low intensity. Use it: for warm up and cool down, easy recovery workouts.

Zone 2: 70-80% of threshold heart rate: A light intensity effort level where you can still hold a conversation. Use it: for easy/recovery runs, warm up and cool down.

Zone 3: 80-90% of threshold heart rate: A moderate intensity effort level where you begin to hear your breathing, but you can still talk in sentences. Use it: long runs, training runs.

Zone 4: 90-100% of threshold heart rate: A comfortably hard intensity effort that is just outside your comfort zone where you can talk in one-word responses. Use it: for tempo runs and mile repeats to raise the lactate threshold (redline) and be able to run faster at easier effort levels

Zone 5: 100-110% of threshold heart rate: A hard intensity effort well outside your comfort zone where you can’t talk. Use it: for interval workouts and the final finish of your race.

The aim is to match your training workouts to one of these zones to maximize every run and its benefits. When you do, you’ll notice your recovery dramatically improves, your performance improves, and you’ll have fewer aches and pains from pushing too hard.

How has Heart Rate Zone training helped me?

My family’s history of heart problems go deeper and further than cancer so I do take this VERY seriously. I understand and am taking measures to reduce my caffeine addiction that clearly affects how hard my heart works, especially during tough workouts. Learning about my own personal heart rate efficiency and effectiveness is has been a huge wake up call to me.

I’ve learned that you can be a 30 year old size 2 and jacked up on pre-workout, diet pills and in greater risk of cardiac arrest during a half marathon that she attempts to finish in 1:20 pushing herself at a Zone 5 than a 40 year old size 20 pacing herself at a manageable Zone 3 pace and finishing that same half marathon in 2 and a half hours.

Currently, I am building my body up at a Zone 2 with longer workouts so that when I do my tempo and interval trainings as Zone 4, I actually increase my pace and endurance. By controlling my heart rate at a Zone 2, my body becomes more efficient with it’s power and effectiveness.

How is this different from what I’ve done before? I love pinterest. Before I go to bed, I try to unwind, zone-out and get “inspired” by asking pinterest for workout motivation. What comes back to me almost every single time are posts that have “no pain no gain”, “train insane or remain the same” and other such motivators that tell me push harder and not give up no matter what. To me, this means I need to go further, harder and faster. How heart rate zone training has changed my workouts is that it has worked on my patience. It has made me understand that while at Zone 2, it is still training my body for endurance. I can spend 4 hours on a tiny, uncomfortable bicycle saddle – which is a tough feat for any human – but not have the fear of going into cardiac arrest or muscle strain and injury because I’ve built up the stamina and an easy zone. I can jog for 9 miles, smile and sing and two days later sprint a couple of miles at half the pace of my long run.  It’s the toughest thing for me to be riding or running at Zone 2 and get dropped or passed up by fellow riders and runners because I want to be with them, push with them, be a recipient of their encouragement… and I can’t do that when they’re a mile ahead of me.

Yesterday, a group of riders passed me up and as I yelled out to them “Y’all are dropping me like a bad habit!!!” I remember the wise words of Ramon Hermida:

One thing I learned a while back was: ride your own ride, at your own pace. I know what my goals with cycling and exercise are. I don’t let others dictate what I should be doing, and don’t even bother attempting to explain to others my rationale for doing the rides that I do. What matters is: there is a reason and I know what that reason is. Another thing that I learned is not to pay attention how others want to define me: whether it be by my spirituality, by my race or ethnicity, by my looks, by my weight, by my career, or by my material possessions. That is their problem, not mine. I am in charge of my own story. I can sincerely tell you that each year that passes has been the best one in my life. If not, then each day I have the opportunity to change it and make it so.

11831787_10155892979935068_896231954384627924_n

So I smiled as they all zoomed by me and I rode my own ride at the pace my coach designated for me to ride. And while I am explaining to you all why I’m doing what I’m doing, it is done in the hopes that it educates those who WANT to learn how to become a healthier, more fit version of themselves… and not for comparison sake or to compete against anyone. I am not looking for validation or acceptance from anyone but welcome everyone’s cheers and advice. I encourage the whole world to join me in this adventure but HIGHLY encourage you to join TEAM if you have a connection to cancer. Doing this is MY choice and I’m doing it the way I want to for my own reasons and I love that I am still learning something new about all that I do and all that I am every single day.

I hope that I have the patience to go slow when I need to go slow. I hope I have the power to go fast when I need to go fast. I hope I have the energy to go the distance when I need to go far. I hope I can do all of this so that I can make this the foundation of WHY I started this whole crazy journey in the first place. I am building my foundation.

I am in my now, investing in my future so that I honor my past and help make a positive impact on someone else’s future.  

I watched a movie last night that I got a great kick out of. It’s called Hector’s Search for Happiness and it chronicled this man’s journey around the world in search of happiness. During this movie, I was taken back to a time when I was sitting at the little bistro table with my bike guru at the front of his shop. He asked me how things were going and I responded with something like “what I would do to have just a normal average week with nothing super monumental or super devastating” implying that there were always ups and downs in my life.  The movie had one particular scene where Hector was in Tibet and a group of Tibetan monks were happily celebrating “all of it”. Hector couldn’t see it and didn’t understand. I think that was me. I couldn’t see it nor could understand it. At the end of the movie, the powerful flood of all the emotions is what clicked finally. It was all of it, the good the bad the ugly… it is all of it that has been my happiness. So I get it now.

In my own pursuit of happiness, I have found happiness in the pursuit and it is all of it and I celebrate it. (Confused? Watch the clip in the video link below) My wish today is that we all become as enlightened into the mystery of happiness. My journey has made me happy and I know my destination is still so very far away. Taking the difficult (higher) road has been hard but in the good, the bad and the ugly… I have found happiness. I hope you do, too. Cheers. May this journey continue on for a long time.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: