Archive for south central texas team in training

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Heart rate zone training getting better now

Posted in cancer, cycling, Running, triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by runmyssierun

This is the first week I’ve finally started to feel pain free and strong during my workouts but still dealing with the headaches of a caffeine-poor body. Unfortunately, I can also feel the additional weight I’ve put on for all these last few months I haven’t been able to do what I had done before. I share the stress and anxiety of my fellow triathlete friend and blogger LoriLynn (You can follow her blog here).

Putting aside the mental need to LOOK a certain way and WEIGH a certain amount and BE a certain size has always been a constant struggle for me. After all, I am that washed up beauty queen that let herself go… (that’s sarcasm). But in all seriousness, that time of my life really did mess with my head about my body image. I’m not going to blame pageantry for that because I think many women endure body image challenges and realizations at that age – and THIS age for that matter! It’s probably even worse at this age (I am 45 by the way). I won the swimsuit portion of the Miss Texas Scholarship pageant at the Miss Rio Grande Valley preliminaries in 1990 and I was even one of the very first Bud Girls swimsuit model. The 90’s was the decade of the waif super model. It was IN to have big Cindy Crawford Guess model hair, smoke cigarettes, never eat and do step aerobics with slouch socks and high top white Kaepas.  20 years and 20 pounds later with two children, this same era of women that endured that decade must now endure either the ridicule of “mom pants” or the embarrassment of “muffin top” with the more hip low-rise jean. Long gone are the days of “Little in the middle but she got much back”. The struggle is real but, thankfully, so is my outlook on myself now. Do I WANT to look like my twenty year old self? Oh hell ya! Will I do what I did back then to get where I was? Oh hell no.

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It’s not rocket science to understand where the weight gain has come from:

  1. A drastic decrease in intense and consistent physical activity over a period of about 6 months

  2. A drastic decrease in heart rate due to the removal of highly caffeinated beverages (i.e. coffee) over a period of 4 weeks

  3. A tremendous desire to NOT fall back into the unhealthy, restrictive eating disorders of my pageant days because now I know the cardiac dangers of being “skinny fat”.

Clearly I've collected a few tires around my belly. Unable to run like I used to and being restricted from core strengthening exercises due to the hip and herniated disk issues, it has become quite embarrassing to show off this bag of flab around town in the most unforgiving  spandex lycra known to mankind.

Clearly I’ve collected a few tires around my belly. Unable to run like I used to and being restricted from core strengthening exercises due to the hip and herniated disk issues, it has become quite embarrassing to show off this bag of flab around town in the most unforgiving spandex lycra known to mankind.

A zoomed up version of my point of view over the entire run. They quickly became colorful dots on the horizon.

A zoomed up version of my point of view over the entire run. They quickly became colorful dots on the horizon.

I’ve been gradually trying to increase my running endurance and mileage to catch up to Maritza, Ronnie, Cat and Alex. On Saturday, it was difficult to see them easily jog out a full mile and a half ahead of me while I struggled to remain in my zone 2 and cuss vile words as I was reminded of my pace by my Nike Run app voice from hell. I had purposely removed the pace from the window of my Garmin watch so that I could focus only on distance, heart rate and heart zone. I completely forgot to mute that wicked woman from my Nike App. Oh well, at least I learned what to do the next time I go on my long run and, honestly, it is good to know my pace at that zone so that I can prepare myself for time during practices and race day. It just hurts the ego because all I’ve ever heard up until this point is that you should push yourself to your max and beyond your known limits. It’s supposed to be hard to do these workouts. You should run a mile in less than 10 minutes and even better if you can do less that 8 minutes and then you can run the with VRC regulars once you hit the 6 minute mile level.

My concern now, after learning about heart rate zone training, if after completing so many half marathons and full marathons that took several hours to complete - assuming I was at levels that should have been no more than a few minutes in length, have I done permanent damage to my cardiovascular system?

My concern now, after learning about heart rate zone training, if after completing so many half marathons and full marathons that took several hours to complete – assuming I was at levels that should have been no more than a few minutes in length, have I done permanent damage to my cardiovascular system?

At my zone 2 rate, currently, my one mile times were hitting 13 minutes. *I know, laugh all you want. I wouldn’t put it out for ridicule and comparison if I wasn’t already prepared for the backlash.

So here’s the point I’m trying to make (after all this backstory)… at the end of my eight mile Zone 2 pathetic run, Coach Lori twisted her ankle and slowed down to finish my miles with me.

Coach Lori had to twist her ankle in order for her to slow down enough to keep up with my zone 2 pace.

Coach Lori had to twist her ankle in order for her to slow down enough to keep up with my zone 2 pace.

She kept me in check and had me constantly check my heart rate.  Every single time she told me to check, I was over my zone 2 level. She was in tune with her body and I still wasn’t. She could read when her heart rate was going up and could tell that if I was running alongside her, that mine was obviously up as well. I still need to hone in on that skill so that I don’t exhaust my body before the finish line. This is important and something I have never learned to do! Just as you should push to make yourself fast, you should also strive to calm your heart rate down for empowered endurance.

While on that last mile, she said something that pierced me to the core. “It’s more important for women to understand and regulate our hearts because heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. We, as women, tend to take care of everyone else but ourselves and it’s our hearts that give out. I lost my mom to heart disease because she was sedentary.” (click here for stats about heart disease that validates what Coach Lori said)

See, the thing is that I really did feel strong in my run. *Granted I did start feeling a little pain in the hip at about mile 4 but it subsided after a while. I also had the best swim in ages just days later. I didn’t feel winded. My breathing is now in control, There is more power in my stroke. My hips are rocking in the water just as I am supposed to be. I’m still slow as molasses but now, with this new little attitude… who cares? And if you care about my pace… you need to ask yourself why you care so much about MY numbers. Worry about yourself. I worry enough about myself. Ok? I had a great swim. I’m not bragging. I’m relieved!!!!

I started running because my Aunt Sissy asked me to run for her after she saw that I was becoming unhealthy. In my mind, I was running to fight cancer for her. In her mind, she wanted me to run to become healthier so I wouldn’t die a premature death like my baby Brother did after dealing with the stress of cancer on top of every day life stress.

But here’s the reality – I run because I don’t think I can do much of anything else to fight cancer and I still have some anger issues with cancer. After all, it stole some of my favorite people in my life. I run because while in Team in Training, Run Walk or Crawl, Running 101, Sandy Overly’s Just Tri Its and Maniacs, Erica’s Super TriLife, and all the other running groups I was/am in… I’ve found a great sense of emotional healing, confidence, camaraderie and support that I do not get in any other part of my life.  I run because my doctors have monitored me and showed me evidence of me becoming a healthier person. I run because I really like the way I was looking. Running made me feel and look younger and more vibrant. Running makes me feel like I can contribute to not just my well being but also help someone else either by inspiring them to also begin a healthy lifestyle or by raising money through Team in Training and using it for cancer research to identify the source of cancer, find a treatment for cancer and make sure that it is affordable and accessible for all those who want it. Add swimming and cycling to this and, goodness, triple all the benefits stated here.

I’ve gone through so many phases of running (and triathlon) and I do not want to change or edit any of my prior posts that document it because I think it’s important and indicative of the way I’ve learned and matured through each sport. I can go back to posts where I saw I was focused on speed, or focused on weight or focused on distance… I ‘mean really.. go walk through any gym, watch any TV commercial, scroll through Pinterest, Youtube or Tumblr running inspirations and you’re going to find so many mixed messages out there. I listened to them and got mixed up myself.

We all have different reasons to workout (or NOT “workout” per se but simply be more active in our lives) . We all have various motivations. After three years of jumping into the health and fitness world of marathons and triathlon, I’ve witnessed my reasons and motivations morph. Each season and every coach has taught me something new about myself that I wanted to improve upon. I hope that never changes. I hope I always want to improve myself. I hope I’m always learning something new about myself. I hope I’m never so pompous as to think that I know it all or better than anyone else out there struggling just like me. I hope I’m never so insecure that I feel the need to constantly compare myself to others and form a hatred stemmed solely from envy. I hope I never lose the joy I have found in this life style and in the people who surround me with encouragement and support.

At this moment, I am not looking at my pace.

At this moment, I am not looking at my scale.

At this moment, I am focusing on my heart health, endurance and form.

At this moment, I am only concerned with being better than I was before and beating one thing and one thing only… CANCER.

I didn't run to beat your timeI ran to

Why do you workout? Do you run? Zumba? Crossfit? Bike? Spartan? Roller Blade? Body Build? Surf? Skate? Walk? Swim? Dance? What do you do and why do you do it? Do you WANT to do something but too scared to start? If so, what is it that you want to do?

Capital of Texas Triathlon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2014 by runmyssierun

Been there. Done that. It’s no biggie.

WRONG

So here’s the brutal truth. In essence, I have been training for the Capital of Texas Triathlon for a year and a half. I did the Sprint distance last year. I had trained with THE best triathlon team coach in the area for 10 weeks. I trained with Coach Sandy Overly and the Multi-Sport Maniacs all year until the South Padre Island Triathlon in October. I trained with virtual coaches all over the great State of Texas. I trained with some of the most incredible Ironmen in the area. Over the course of this last year, my run pace went down but my swim improved a bunch and my unexpected love for cycling jumped me up tremendously on the bike. My determination to do well at CapTexTri this year was unwavering and my training was consistent and challenging me to the next level.

And then I got sick one month before game day. And never really got the chance to heal 100%. I don’t want you to think that this is an excuse but understand that I KNEW what my body could do and I KNEW that my body was not healthy and I KNEW that I could make a decision to pull out, go back to the Sprint level or continue on and do the best that I could at the toughest level that I had never done before. Ultimately, I chose to do my best. Today, hindsight is 20/20.

I was told never to write when I am angry so I purposely didn’t update the blog immediately after the triathlon. I’ve calmed down a bit and wanted to do this while the memories are still fresh in my mind.

FRIDAY

Things were hectic in the homefront. The decision to leave Friday morning officially came Thursday evening. I’m scatter brained to begin with so I expected myself to forget SOMETHING… like all the whites in the dryer, including ALL my Balega socks and my white triple crown baseball cap that I washed the night before. Lucky for me, I usually have an extra of everything in the trunk of my car.

I wanted to join the 5AM group for a last bike ride and also wanted to join a few of the girls at 5AM for some laps at Municipal Pool… but my eyes had other plans. I was woken up by Jeanice via telephone shortly after 7am. Clearly snoozing was a priority for my body.

Hindsight: My body was in dire need of rest. I ignored the signs.

Never show up to a party empty handed in Austin!!!

Never show up to a party empty handed in Austin!!!

The bestest and most quietest back seat driver ever :)

The bestest and most quietest back seat driver ever 🙂

Jeanice and "Cowboy" escorted me on the drive up.

Jeanice and “Cowboy” escorted me on the drive up.

I am so lucky to have such great true friends by my side throughout this journey. No hidden agenda. Just genuine honest selfless support. What a ride this has been!!! I'm the luckiest girl ever!!!

I am so lucky to have such great true friends by my side throughout this journey. No hidden agenda. Just genuine honest selfless support. What a ride this has been!!! I’m the luckiest girl ever!!!

Donny let me know he was with me every single day of this event!!! I miss him so much!

Donny let me know he was with me every single day of this event!!! I miss him so much!

I packed up and picked up some goodies for my Austin hostess with the mostess and caravaned with Jeanice to our destination. Spending a couple of days with my life-long best friend is the BEST way to de-compress… no, wait… spending a couple of days with the my best friends 6-month old twins who are both drop dead gorgeous Gerber babies that immediately stole my heart and wrapped me around their little fingers was the BEST way to de-compress!!! While I was there with them, I managed to sneak in a short little run, ride and swim of about 20-minutes each. I was feeling pretty good.

Double Love!!! Fiona and Jake have my heart forever!!!

Double Love!!! Fiona and Jake have my heart forever!!!

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I’ll skip to SUNDAY. Packet Pick Up and Bike Check in.

I arrived at packet pick up at about 10:30am on Sunday. Yes, I am certainly an eager beaver! It opened just 30 minutes before I arrived. So I figured I would take the chance to first walk the course and get acquainted with the changes that were being buzzed about. Seems the organizers decided to flip the swim route and go counter clockwise instead of jumping off and going left first.

I walked over and searched for the transition area… uh oh. It’s not where it was last year. BUT I see fences and white tents nearby so that must be where the action is at… but first.. the swim. Where’s the dock that we jump off from? I don’t see it. Panic sets in.

Oh. My. God.

Are we supposed to walk in from the Dog Park entry???? Sarcastic voice in my head is freaking out now. Surely this can’t be!

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I continue to walk… a little faster now… and I see an artificial green grass turf ramp leading up from the lake to the running trail. I peer out and see two men swimming. LAW BREAKERS!!! yes!!! I love when I get to meet people like this!!! Not that I want to break the law but I know people like this are SERIOUS about training and they want to get as comfortable as possible with the race course before the actual race. Which is really what I was doing, too, but I knew it was illegal to swim in the lake.

Hindsight: They knew it was illegal to swim in it, too.

So I stick around and watch them for a while. They were amazing swimmers. As they finish their swim, they come up from the water and walk onto the ramp. The shorter one seemed a bit startled with my questions.

“Is this where the swim exit really is?” I ask.

“Ummmm I’m not sure. It was here like this but I’m sure it could move.” He began to dry off a bit while continuing to answer my questions.

“So, does that mean that there isn’t a dock for us to jump off of this year? I don’t see a dock!! Only the dog steps.” I begin to ramble as I realize this guy really really looks like Justin Timberlake drying off!!!

This is the REAL Justin Timberlake getting out of a lake. Bad quality photo but it should help your imagination get to what I'm talking about.

This is the REAL Justin Timberlake getting out of a lake. Bad quality photo but it should help your imagination get to what I’m talking about.

He smirked and clearly realized he was speaking to a super nervous freaked out rookie way out of her league and calmly looked over in the direction of the dog park stone steps nearby and said that the swim entry would likely be there. I snapped a picture of it and zoomed in frantically searching for dog poo. I knew they were secretly giggling inside about me but I didn’t care. Outwardly, the Justin Timberlake guy was a true gentleman and wished me luck as I did him and went on my way to measure the distance from swim exit to transition.

0.31 of a mile!!!

Holy cow!!! Are they serious?!?!?!

I look to the left and look to the right. Which transition exit goes to bike and which one goes to run? It’s better to get the facts than to waste time here guessing. Frustrated, I decided to just go to packet pickup and get my answers.

I was still there early enough to not have to mess with crowds. No lines at all! I just walked in like I owned the joint. Nice!!!!!

Remembering the drama I endured last year with the registration mix up, I was delighted to quickly speed through without any problems whatsoever!!! The cool volunteer even did a “selfie” with me!

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After running into a few fellow Maniac teammates and numerous “Wally” clad fans and chit chatting with them for a while, I browsed the isles of the expo.  I saw Wally and Laura at the Jack and Adams booth. I walked up just as the owner was asking Wally how they met and we all giggled.

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Something pulled me away though… I gravitated towards the “Please be Kind to Cyclists” booth. I think the same power that pulled me there was the same power that made Al Bastidas practically jump over the table to hug me. You know when you meet someone and you get that feeling that this person is going to be a big part of your life from this point forward? That was the feeling I had. Over the course of the next few minutes as I continued to walk the isles of the expo in the convention center, Al would end up hunting me down three more times with ideas and questions and suggestions and letting me know he’d be in the area the following week.

The quest to continue Eddie’s dream may just have made an ally. This is Al’s story. He is a lucky one. 

I also got to meet face to face with the staff of LifeTime Triathlon that day. They showered me with gifts and goodies. A tri suit, a race belt, some gift cards and yes… a selfie!!! 🙂 I know… I’m a dork.

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon chose me to be one of this year's Ambassadors. I am very grateful for their support and hope to continue our journey together!

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon chose me to be one of this year’s Ambassadors. I am very grateful for their support and hope to continue our journey together!

After all this, I was able to meet up with the TEAM and get my bike, Mimi, checked in and racked up. I get so nervous leaving her on a rack like that, alone, in a park… without me. She’s like my baby. An expensive baby!!! But thems the rules… and she was being guarded. I took one last look over her. Checked her brakes, her gears and spun her tires… and that’s when I saw it. Oh no!!! Her rear tire is punctured!!! All the way through!!! It was small but big enough to do some major damage. And too late to and too expensive to find a replacement. Could I chance it? I have no choice.

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Hindsight: I did have a choice. I should have called Wally to look at it and see if he could find me another tire at Jack and Adams to safely replace that afternoon.

Then I heard it again…. Hero by Foo Fighters. And my team was right there with me to witness. I can’t describe the feeling I have to know that those around me, those who truly have my back, can feel what I feel and share the joy of it with me.

Hero blasted from the speakers and my girls all huddled around me insisting that the moment be captured. I really really love these girls!!!

Hero blasted from the speakers and my girls all huddled around me insisting that the moment be captured. I really really love these girls!!!

I left my bike at transition and walked with the TEAM to Chuy’s, an Austin foodie favorite, to grab some lunch. I was starving!! We ate and went over some details like athlete tracking aps for our friends and family and carbed up. We all returned back to the hotel together in Rolando’s massive Mercedes Benz party bus!!! Woo Whooo!!!! Guess who rode in the back seat?!?!?!

Welcoming my teammates to Inspiration Dinner. Clearly I was having a bad hair day ;)

Welcoming my teammates to Inspiration Dinner. Clearly I was having a bad hair day 😉

We got all dressed up for the occasion.

We got all dressed up for the occasion.

I think the ERICAS stole my Soul Glo!!!

I think the ERICAS stole my Soul Glo!!!

Christa Emig taking the podium... and our hearts. I finally got to witness her Key Note Speech.

Christa Emig taking the podium… and our hearts. I finally got to witness her Key Note Speech.

My TNT Super Heros!!! Christa Emig and Eric Cooper (*I tweeted this pic to MK who I later sneaked up on the next day)

My TNT Super Heros!!! Christa Emig and Eric Cooper (*I tweeted this pic to MK who I later sneaked up on the next day)

After some shenanigans and lost key drama, I eagerly dressed up for the Inspiration Dinner. My regret from last year was not attending the dinner and listening to my roommates speech that night. When I heard that my roommate from last year was going to be keynote speaker once again this year, I made sure I wasn’t going to miss out.

Good thing, too. SHE WAS AWESOME!!! I wish now that I had recorded her so that YOU could witness her incredible positive attitude and outlook on life. There is clearly an innate indicative trait that all the successful people I admire have and that is a positive attitude bursting with a great sense of humor. She, Christa Emig, rocks that trait.

I sat there at the table with Coach W two seats down from me. It was the first time I had ever seen her really choked up. Inspiration Dinner really is that… inspirational. It was Coach’s first dinner with us as a TEAM. Being a cancer survivor herself, I knew she had more connection to what was being said a million times more than I ever could imagine.

After dinner, we all met once again to go over last minute course changes, tips and rules. And of course… pictures!!!

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Up to my room I went with my trusted and familiar roommate, Jeanice. Jeanice and I had been roommates for almost all of my TNT marathon events. I love rooming with her because after all the chaos, worry, and anxiety passes and we sit on our beds waiting those last five minutes before we go downstairs to leave to the race, she says the most amazing prayer with me. We bow our heads, hold hands and sanctified poetry spills from her lips every single time.

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And she didn’t fail me this time either. Her prayer brought tears to my eyes. It was powerful. Powerful.

We both grabbed our bags and made our way to the elevators to go down to the lobby and met up with the rest of the TEAM. Just when the elevator door opens, I see Justin Timberlake again… but this time with his bike. OMG! His BIKE!!!!

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See, take note… if I were like any other normal girl and saw Justin Timberlake in an elevator, I would jump in and hug and kiss him and get autographs and selfies, etc… but noooooooo, not me. I salivate over his BIKE!!!!! *Note: this is NOT Justin Timberlake but a guy who looks just like him.

Justin gives me a familiar smirk and a nod as Jeanice and I enter the elevator. Its just the three of us in there. So I say oh so matter of factly “When my bike grows up, I hope it’s just like that one. Clearly I need to feed it the right stuff.” There… he laughed, wished me well and exited.

Oh noooooo!!!! It’s raining!!! No… It’s STORMING!!! It’s raining cats and dogs and I have no jacket and it’s freezing!!! Please Momma make it stop. Please make it stop.

And it did. 🙂

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The Team took more pictures and poof! We’re off! Like a magnet, I was drawn straight towards Mimi. There she was. Sparkling with rain drops waiting patiently for me on the rack. #920 under the big shady umbrella of a tree. Dang! She’s beautiful! Three thousand people there and all around me are triathletes from the Valley. It was awesome! The sun was peeking over the horizon and transition area was humming with excitement. What a surreal sight! I mentally went over my transition area and double, triple, quadruple checked everything…. everything… ohhhhhh… Wally!!! Wally! Look at my tire!!!

I showed him the hole that I had discovered the day before. I saw the look on his face. It wasn’t good. He knew I saw and said “You want me to get you a new tire?”

How does he do that???? There’s no way he can do that… oh wait… this is Wally. He can do anything. Knowing him, he probably had an extra special orange tire in his back pocket as we were speaking. But no. We had 15 minutes left before transition closes and there’s no way I could do that to him. I’ll just have to take my chances.

With that, I made my way to the lake, wet suit draped over my shoulder, goggles around my neck and coffee with a straw in my hand and swim cap stuffed in my back pocket. Blur. Blur. Blur… How I got from transition to the lake (approximately 1/3 of a mile) I have no idea. The next thing I remember was Coach Luis looking at me and asking me “You done with that?” and grabs my coffee and throws it away.  What???? Zombie mode turned off. I’m awake! I’m awake! Seriously! Does he not realize how dangerous it is for someone to grab my coffee??? And live to tell the tale????

Ok, lets get serious. The pros and parolympians are in the water swimming. They’re awesome! I’m awestruck. Each one of them are gliding through the water effortlessly. And then, just like that… just like last year… out of the water and zooming right past me is Aaron Scheidies!!!! I was starstruck!!! And in that moment… the excitement got me. WOW!!!

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Time flew by much faster than last year. I have NO idea how that went so fast. Over the loud speaker, the announcer says that it’s time for the time trial start and things should be moving along much faster. Just as I begin to squeeze into my wet suit, the inevitable happens. Crap! I gotta go.

The porta-potty line was a gazillion people long. sigh. No choice. I had to wait but made it just in time for me to do my business and make it over in time. I zipped up my wet suit, pulled and tugged a bit more… a bit more… and just a bit more again… and there… like clock work… HERO by FOO FIGHTERS is blasting on the speakers. Tears well up in my eyes as I see Laura in the distance. I point to my ears and she recognizes the song and comes over to hug me and then she begins to cry with me.

Every single race I’ve done with TNT and LiveSTRONG has had the FOO in it somewhere somehow. That’s how I know Donny is still with me. He surprises me like that.

And so Laura is off to walk the plank. And there goes Alex and Roy and Ben and Ronnie and Vero and… the whole team went by. Suddenly it clicks… wait! I need to go too!!! I jump into line. Old school cut in the cafeteria line way, too!!!

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“Ok, if it’s cold, it’ll be cold for just a few seconds. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be hard. Just don’t give up. You can do this. It’ll be 3… 3 1/2 hours tops before you can finish. You can do this. Just don’t give up. Don’t give up,” the voice in my head says to me.

“Grab your goggles. Don’t let them fly off when you jump in the water,” she continues.

“Must you always lecture me???”

“Focus!!!! Its your turn to jump!” she yells

I remembered to jump closest to the land so that Anita (Sarah’s mom) could get a photo of me going into the water but the girl in front of me panicked and was struggling. “Just go! Just go! Jump!” my inner voice yells at me. And I jump.

Argh! Water rushed up my nose and down my throat. My eyes opened and there’s that same yellow brownish murky water I remember from last year. It’s not cold. The water is perfect. But I feel the burn the back of my nose and throat. It’s stinging bad.

No complaining! Go Go Go!!! Swim! I hear the man on the dock yell out “You’re on the clock!” I knew he was talking to the girls that were struggling by me but I took heed and shot out like an Austin Bat. Wow! Ok, this feels good. Water isn’t cold. My heart rate is good. I’m taking a good pace… all is well. All is well. First yellow buoy gone by. Second buoy gone by. Stroke stroke sight. Stroke stroke sight. Ugh! That sting in my throat! It’s burning.

SHUT UP WILL YA??? No complaining! You can do this. Your swim has become your biggest asset lately. Use this time! Focus!

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Ya, ok. You’re right. Nice pace. Ok, lets keep my mind busy while I swim. What do I think about… what do I think about… hmmm this water stinks. No really. It smells like dog poo. Really really bad dog poo. I’m so thirsty. Don’t drink the dog poo Myssie. Would ya stop complaining??? Geez! Do I have to be so negative throughout this whole swim??? Good lord!

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This was the beginning of my demise. The cough begins. And this is like no other cough before. This is foamy green thick mucus littered kind of coughs coming out. It echoed over the lake it was so loud and ugly. Embarrassed and scared it wouldn’t stop, I searched for a kayak to hold on to. It was a matter of seconds for the rescue kayak to come save the lake from my lung toxins and the loogies I was ready to purge.

“Are you ok?” the kayaker asked me.

“Yes, I just breathed in some water and need to cough it out is all. Let me have just a few minutes and I’ll get back to the line.” I calmly responded. I was at the first orange buoy. Ok, the first hard part int he water is over with. Just a bit more and I get to swim WITH the current. The swim will be easier then. I coughed up a lung, gathered my breath, settled my heart rate down, said “Thanks!” to the kayaker and went on my way. Okay, Okay. Okay, Okay. Stroke, Stroke, sight. Stroke, Stroke, sight, COUGH COUGH COUGH.

No way!!! Okay. Let’s float. Catch your breath, cough out all that crap from your lungs and do this again. It’s ok. It’s ok. Get it together Myssie! Just don’t give up! Don’t give up.

No! It’s not okay! I can’t afford to stop and mess up on this time. I have too many people counting on me. Hundreds of people have given thousands of dollars to me because they believed in me. Even more have convinced themselves that if I can do it, they can too! And what’s worse, there’s frenemies tracking me right now chomping at the bit waiting for me to be slower than they are so they can rub it in my face. They’ll publicly wish me luck but secretly hope I never make it. I have to do this! I HAVE TO DO THIS!!! I PROMISED THAT I WOULD NEVER GIVE UP!!!

Okay, fine. Don’t give up. But just take your time!!!! Go on and cough it all out so you can get the rest of this swim in!!!

A second kayaker comes up to me. I grabbed onto the kayak. “We’re taking you in. Are you ok? You’re coughing and wheezing. Do you have asthma?”

“No, I just breathed in water is all and I have a cough. I’ll be fine.” COUGH COUGH COUGH

And that’s when I saw it. The red flag went up. My head went down. Tears gushed from my eyes and filled my goggles. I stopped my Garmin. “I’m not supposed to give up.” I said. “I’m not supposed to give up.”

I heard the jet ski zoom over and someone told me to hold on tight to the stretcher.

A stretcher??? Oh you gotta be kidding me!!! I’m so embarrassed. They’re going to think I’m hurt! The’re going to think I’m weak! They think I can’t do this!!!! Humiliated, my head goes down and the sobbing is now uncontrollable.

YOU GAVE UP!!! YOU GAVE UP AND YOU SAID YOU’D NEVER GIVE UP!!! YOU GAVE UP MYSSIE! YOU GAVE UP!

I gave it my all and my all wasn’t good enough.

I’m not going to go into my personal war in my head. I beat myself up pretty bad. So bad that I feel it is detrimental to post here publicly. The scars I gave myself will likely last a lifetime. Will I ever be able to forgive myself? Knowing me, forgiveness will likely come only after redemption and that, to me, isn’t really true forgiveness. 

Ashamed, coughing and crying, I ran straight to Anita. I wrapped my arms around her, dug my head into her shoulder and cried out “I didn’t make it. I didn’t make it” and then did the same thing to Kat and Coach Luis and Jackie Swanson. It was when I was crying to Jackie that I saw Alex run by.

“Get it together Myssie! Alex is doing this because you coaxed her into this! Look at her! She’s doing it! Pull up your big girl panties and cheer her and everyone else on like a good sport!” Damn! My inner voice was yelling at me again and was right. AGAIN.

I jogged into transition like a ruined girl’s Sunday morning walk of shame. I went straight to Mimi and sat in front of her saddened that she wouldn’t ride that morning with me. I grabbed my phone out of the ziplock sandwich bag tucked under the towel and called the first person I thought of. Xavie.

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After a few rings he answered. “I didn’t make it. I got pulled from the swim.” The speakers were blasting music so loudly that I couldn’t hear anything he was saying and again in shame and frustration, I began to sob.

“There. Pity party is over. You let it all out. Now go do the right thing. Go cheer everyone on,” my inner voice sternly commanded.

I dried off and put on some dry clothes over my sopping wet tri suit, grabbed my orange towel and a fig newton and perched myself on a stone wall by the beginning of the run course. Two fellow TNT running mates from a prior marathon that I had run with two years ago came over and sat with me. They gave me a few minutes of silence to console my soul, asked if I was ok and then just like old times… we began shouting “GO TEAM” to all the purple people that passed by. The faces of agony quickly turned into ear to ear smiles when they heard us and gave us waves and hugs. It felt soooooo good to see everyone do what they never thought they could. It felt sooooo good to be a part of this chapter in THEIR journey. It felt sooooo good… even after my own personal disappointment.

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After the majority of the team had made their way by us, we decided to make our way to the finish line to welcome them all in and also get a chance to find a porta-potty. FAIL!!! Over the loud speaker we hear “THIS IS NOT A JOKE. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER NOW!!!” The entire crowd quickly squeezes into the covered porch area of the convention center as barricades, tents and signs fly around as if they were auditioning for the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz!!!

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The fresh smell of rain was overpowered by the overwhelming strength of body odor and lake stench. The sudden drop in temperature made all of us that were still wet from the swim or sweaty from cheering and biking and running begin to shake uncontrollably and pop out into goosebumps. That’s when it hits me… I DNF’d because I was coughing and the safety crew thought I was having an anxiety attack (It wasn’t an anxiety attack. It was a cough attack.) but the rest of these people were pulled from the course because of weather!!! I have never ever seen this happen!!! Over three thousand people entered this race and less than a quarter of them got to experience the thrill of crossing the finish line which is in my opinion the absolute biggest rush of emotion you can ever experience in a race. Rain, hail and tornado force winds stole this feeling from all my teammates and most of my RGV triathlete friends!!!

Now the feeling that I had a few minutes earlier was the feeling that most everyone there had as well. The difference was that every single one of them knew they weren’t going to be allowed to finish this race so we all immediately began talking about how to get closure and redemption at our NEXT race!!!

THESE ATHLETES ARE SOMETHING ELSE!!! How lucky am I to be around so many positive, humble, selfless, unstoppable cancer crushers?!?!?!?

So after collecting my bags in my room later that afternoon, and quite honestly in a sour mood about my personal defeat, I get into the elevator and guess who’s there??? Yep, Mr. Justin Timberlake look a like!!!! But he’s all cleaned up and dressed nicely and it’s just us two in the elevator this time. With his back up against the glass of the elevator, he coyly looks up with his little smirk and asks “How’d you do?”

I sighed and responded “I didn’t make it,” sighed and shrugged. I then asked him “How’d YOU do? Are you happy with your results?”

“Ya, I’m happy. I did well. See ya next year?” He asked.

“You betcha.”

As I drove by myself on the long way home, I got a much needed phone call from my old friend and spiritual coach, Dr. Derek DelaPena (You can buy his book here on this link http://www.amazon.com/Scripture-Sport-Psychology-Mental-Game-Techniques/dp/0595328334). Few people that I know knows what it feels like to DNF. He is one. In fact, that feeling is very real and recent for him since he was unable to finish the Texas Ironman last weekend. We had a good long talk. I loved his perspective on our experience and as bitter as the feeling was, I am glad that it happened and look forward to getting back up on that horse again with him.

As the sun was setting, I correctly predicted the haters who would gloat and write FB postings that were intended to add salt to my wound. I also correctly predicted those who would give me genuine words of wisdom, encouragement and the strength to overcome my personal defeat. What I don’t know yet is if this admission of defeat will affect those who looked to me for hope in their own personal challenges. All I can do is hope that they continue to seek within themselves, just as I seek in myself, the ability to overcome, endure and get up again until I can, until they can… until WE can. Because what I think people have forgotten is that I look to so many others for my own inspiration.

Derek was right. DNF means Did Not Fail. Don’t get me wrong… this feeling hurts like nothing else. But it’s NOT “devastating”. Success is what happens after you get up from falling down. All I’ve done is fallen down.

I’ve fallen down a lot. This isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. Well, I hope it won’t be the last!!! Because THIS is where the lessons are learned 🙂

Oh! By the way… Justin Timberlake’s twin… he got second place overall. He’s a pro. Check out his time!!!

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Play by play of BISD’s Everyone Can TRI

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2014 by runmyssierun

You don’t just wake up one morning and tell yourself… “ehhhh I think I’m going to do a triathlon today.” You are either inspired to do one by watching the phenomenal results of someone you admire, are injured from another sport and through cross-training have decided to do one, are coerced, double dog dared or bullied into doing one, used to be an athlete at one time and have challenged yourself into becoming that person again, never have been an athlete and are now working on your bucket list, thought that this would be an interesting way to lose weight and get in shape or realized that this is connected to a cause that you are personally passionate about.

Clearly I have chosen the latter and least used… well, up until now.

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Yesterday, 15 members and even our coach of the Team in Training RGV TriTeam competed in the BISD’s Everyone Can Tri as a practice event to better ready us for the Capital of Texas Triathlon the last weekend in May. This would be my 5th triathlon in 13 months but for my teammates, it would for many of them be their first or second.

We all showed up early and set up our transition areas as close to each other as possible. A few of the girls had asked me to french braid their long hair like mine so that we can go from event to event without having to worry about ponytails whipping around or buns falling. Lucky for me and my cupid nature, I had fixed up my bike guru with my fellow Nike Women’s marathoner and CAP5k founder and convinced one to enter so the other followed. While I was inside the aquatic center french braiding her hair, he examined my bike and found that it had a flat back tire!!! Honestly, I don’t know how that could have happened. It was fine in the morning in the garage when I loaded it onto my car. It was fine when I arrived in Brownsville when I unloaded it from the car and into transition area. Again, lucky for me he was there because I would have never known and DNF’d at the first transition! Superstar triathlete Casey donated his tire tube to “Mimi’s” rescue. Together, those two boys were like my own personal NASCAR pit crew!!!

Lesson learned: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR GEAR and bring extra of everything and keep it in your car nearby. And make sure you pick your transition area near the nice experienced triathletes incase something like this happens again.

* Transition area – hang bike on rack, lay transition mat or towel under wheel of tire, place bike helmet with sunglasses nearest you with clips nearby (or already attached to bike), place running shoes behind them and on top of race belt with bib attached to it so that it doesn’t blow away in the wind. All other necessities should be in your transition bag placed furthest away from you on the mat just in case.

Knowing that each event for me is done to keep a promise to my mom, I become quite emotional at the start. So, I went for my private time and sat along the resaca’s edge to pray, remember and talk to Momma, Sissy and Donny. This week is afterall Momma’s and Donny’s death anniversary so it meant a lot to me. After I wiped away the tears, I rejoined the TNT group and found Jeanice. We gathered around in a circle as she led us in prayer and finished with an “Amen” and a loud “Go Team!”

After a few silly “before” team pictures, we all ventured into the aquatic center. We were sorted by sex, age group and swim pace and sat in the bleachers until it was our turn to enter the water. When my number was called out, I got really nervous. I was the ONLY female in that group.

“There must be something wrong. I’m the only girl here,” I said aloud unintentionally. The man by me looked me over in agreement and asked me “Do you swim every day?” I could tell what he meant by that and my inner voice (ya, you remember her) came out “No, not every day” and began to do my stretching exercises by the pools edge. But then Karen walked up and filled the space right before me… and that’s when it hit me… oh ya… something is definitely wrong if they’ve place my swim just under Karen “Ironman” Watt!!!! She nonchalantly giggled over her shoulder to me, “Sorry, I had to go to the ladies room.”

I am officially freaking out now. I am NOT this fast!!! I am placed in the wrong line up. I just know it! Please God! Please don’t let me look like a fool and hinder others from doing their best!!!

I tell the next person behind me “I think I’ve been placed in the wrong pace bracket so if you need to pass me, just tap my feet and I’ll move over so you don’t have to waste energy. I’ll let you pass.”

They must have thought I was the biggest goober ever!!!!

So there I was, heart racing a million miles a minute and jumping into the first lane with Karen right next to me. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?!?

“Don’t you dare chicken out Myssie!” sarcastic inner voice is back and after me big time! “You’ve done this before a gazillion times in practice!”

“Ready and go!” the timer exclaims with her stop watch.

Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!… and I swim and swim and swim…breathe… swim swim swim breathe… touch the edge… dunk under the lane line… WOW! That’s deep!… come up.. deep breath… sight myself… swim swim swim breathe… pass one guy… oh he’s struggling bad… poor fella… swim swim swim breathe… swim swim.. pass another.. sight. WHOA! this is shallow! Can I touch the bottom of the pool??? Focus you dingbat!!! Touch the edge of the pool and go under the lane line again, deep breath and swim… I end up passing about five swimmers total and passed only once. Yes!!!!! That’s what I’m talking about!!!!

I exit the pool up the ladder and know there is no way I’m looking like Pheobe Cates!!! I whip off my swim cap and favorite orange goggles, feeling confident and run to transition. I hear Vero yell out “GO MYSSIE GO!!!” and I know I’ve got a huge smile on my face. Just behind me is Wally, my bike guru. How did he do that??? He was like three swim groups after me!!! Phenomenal! I slam my helmet on my head with my sunglasses and slip my clips onto my still wet feet. I try my best to get out of transition as fast as possible and I’m right behind Wally. He mounts his bike at the line with ease and grace… I on the other hand have to stop, get my balance, carefully lift my leg… whoa.. whoooaaaa… ok, got it… and place it on the pedal, clip in and now go… ya, Wallito is long gone now. I yell out to my bike “Come on Momma, lets go!!!” and mash it hard. I barely see Wally on the horizon. BUT I can see him and so long as I can keep him in view that means I’m making really good time! So I give it all I got!!!

It feels great to be able to pass up cyclists now! My confidence in myself and my training is growing and is certainly reflected on my time. I don’t even want to lift up my hand to check what Garmin is recording. I mash it harder and harder. The course is a simple circle with all right hand turns so there’s little interaction with traffic however there still ARE a few idiot drivers that take the bike lane and use it as a right hand turning lane. I catch my breath as I see a car almost clip the cyclist before me. Thank goodness nothing happened!!! Wait… where’s Wally???? I don’t see him anymo….

Slumped over on the side of the road with his head bowing in defeat, I see him and his bike laying next to him. “What happened?” I yell out.

“I got a flat,” he responds.

Poor guy… he fixed my flat and then got one himself. I have the feeling someone gave me “ojo” and then went to him for fixing it. My pace goes down. But don’t worry… sarcastic inner voice takes good care of that and my pace comes right back up again. I pass a few more cyclists but one stood out. “Careful! I’m on your right!” I scream out to her. As I pass, she says “That’s a really cool bike you have! I love the orange! My husband’s bomb truck is that same color of orange.”

“Thank you!” I reply as best I can without sounding out of breath. “I race in orange in memory of my mother. It was her favorite color.” The look on her face was identical in respect as mine was when she told me of her husband’s truck.

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This. Is. Awesome.

The bike is my favorite part of the triathlon. There is something so exhilarating about it. The wind, the speed, the control, the freeness of it all… becoming one with a machine that cannot run without you being the engine that runs it… and I am finally comfortably speedy in it. I’m not as fast as I hope to be but I’m getting there and pushing myself more and more each chance I get.

And it’s over way too soon! Off I go and dismount at the line. I’m off to T2 now and I hear the cheers galore!!! The crowd calls my name out and without looking at anyone I hear Wally’s voice scream out “Go Myssie!!!” Seriously??? Again??? How does he do that? He shows up ahead of me at every single part of this race as if he’s been there for hours already and I never once see him pass me!!! He had a freakin flat!!! He must have a space/time continuum transfunctioner in his pocket!!

My feet are still wet and my tri suit is still dripping from the swim but because of time, I choose to slosh my wet feet once again into my Sauconys without socks knowing full well that I will get blisters by the time I enter mile three of the run. I carefully and slowly exit T2 to begin my run with brick legs. I remembered Stanley’s Tri just a month ago and how my legs just wouldn’t move so I was careful to get my bearing straight and do this one right.

Ok, ok… my legs are doing ok. My thighs are hurting a bit but not to the point where they’d stop me because of too much pain. I convince myself that I can push through this. And I do… but something happens in the first tunnel… it’s dark… I can’t see. Where am I going? Am I going to step in a hole and twist my ankle? Am I going to fall? Am I going to run into someone? Is someone going to run into me? Oh look! LIGHT!!! Whew! I’m through the tunnel now! And just as I exit the tunnel I see Ben as he yells out to me “Go Myssie!” and then tries desperately to yell out to Penny who is right behind me “Go Pe…. ” but that’s all the comes out of his mouth. Laura is just behind Ben and I hear her yell out a cheer to me as well. Unfortunately, I’m not as composed as they are and cannot return the cheer…

I. am. out. of. breath…. gotta stop. stop now.

seriously myss… just stop. walk. please. walk..

Now, in hindsight… as I type this out.. I can honestly tell myself that I was not in pain. My body could have continued to run. It was not hurt. I was simply out of energy. I lost my WILL. I lost my ganas in that tunnel. I stopped. I gave up.

Penny passed me. Cat passed me. I gave up on myself and I had no good reason to do so.

I could feel the blisters forming on both my feet but even then, the pain of the blisters weren’t enough to stop me. It was me… my core self that stopped me. I allowed my negative self to defeat all my hard work.

I knew Karen was ahead of me because she’s super fast and was ahead of me in line up. I knew Laura had passed me in the swim and was the only one that had passed me. No one in my age group passed me on the bike. I was in third place up to this point and I gave up. How could I do this to myself?

This is what I need to conquer quickly before CapTex. I need to find out why I let myself down and never allow that to happen again.

It was at the water stop that I gathered my senses again but by then it was too late. I grabbed two paper cups. I drank one and poured the other over me. BOOM! There! That’s what I needed. A wake up call!!!

In the anger of my self defeat, my feet challenged my head and heart and took matters into their own toes.  They led the way and never stopped after that moment. Once I passed under the bridge and heard the crowd, my feet would NOT allow me to stop no matter what. In fact, they went faster and faster and faster. I turned the last corner and hear Vero yell out one last time “Go Myssie Go!!!” and soon after that the crowd ensued with deafening cheers. You have nooooo idea how much I needed this and it pumped me up just the way I needed it. I finished but knew I had let myself and my training down.

Coach W came over and put her arms around me and asked “How’d you do?”

“I did well. I felt strong in my swim and in my bike but I’m disappointed in my run.” Without any elaboration, the look on her face showed me she understood. My face has a way of showing all my emotion behind it in every wrinkle. She must have known I was beating myself up about it already and she wasn’t going to add fuel to the fire. She gave me a hug.

It was right about then that Alex, my triathlon buddy all this last year had come over to me with the most enormous glow of pride on her face. She reflected on how just a year ago she and I had finished OUR first triathlon (Stanley’s Tri) and this entire group around us that had been cheering us on then had today successfully finished their first triathlon. The both of us stood there with huge smiles on our faces and so proud of the newbie triathletes we inspired.

Some didn’t know how to swim. Some hadn’t ever ridden a bike. But NOTHING stopped them. Not even their fear. 10 weeks later… they are now TRIATHLETES!!!

And then I stood there as the awards were handed out and I knew I missed out on the closest opportunity I had to finally podium… and looked at my teammates of new triathletes and it hit me… courage. They all had courage.

Somewhere along the way… I lost my courage. I must find it.

Tuesday is Momma’s death anniversary. Friday is Donny’s. If any time was the right time to find courage to continue… it’s now and for them.

I was asked a good question yesterday.

“Do you want to do this for cancer and just finish or do you want to do better?”

My response is: Why should it be one or the other? Why can’t I aspire to do both? Do this for cancer AND do better!!!

 

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