Archive for Team in Training

Bigger, Stronger, Brighter, Smarter

Posted in health & fitness, triathlon, triflare, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2017 by runmyssierun

I wish I had the body of fellow Triflare Tribe athlete Alicia Kaye (my triathlon idol) but I don’t. I’m more of an Ashley Graham (my fashion idol) kind of build right now.

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A few years ago, I dropped a lot of weight but was never as lean as Alicia. And that’s ok. My body isn’t built like that. I am naturally more like Ashley. In fact, probably identical! Not a bad thing considering she was on the cover of last years Sport Illustrated Swim Suit issue!!! It’s just harder to run with the additional weight. Not impossible, just harder and that’s simply something I’m going to have to get used to or adjust moderately. 

I ADORE BOTH WOMEN AND ADMIRE THEM TREMENDOUSLY! *It’s kinda like how I have naturally straight hair and I’ve always wanted curly hair so I spent years and tons of money on perms and damaging habits… same thing. I wish I could be like both of these women and remain myself simultaneously. I know, I have big wishes. It is who I am.

That’s not a bad thing though. Mentally, getting over the years of built up perception of what an athlete is supposed to look like has been difficult to unlearn. The realization that every athlete is built differently… differently.. has been quite challenging yet equally enlightening. I have curves. I have muscle. I have saggy bat wing arms and back flab and thigh chub rub. I have boobs. I have extremely powerful legs. I have the curse of Noassatall disease and it seems it is incurable. I have struggled to accept these truths. And if you try to body shame me or anyone like me in front of my face, fair warning… I’ve also been working on my upper body strength and can punch a face right smack in the kisser pretty hard…*just saying so don’t tempt me. I am working on how to BEST utilize the way my body is built for the dreams and goals I hold dearly in my head and heart.  I am personally also struggling with considering myself an athlete. I do feel stronger. It’s an odd feeling and hard to describe. Strength is not just in the number of plates I can lift or power recorded by Garmin or Strava but the greatest measure of it… my mental and emotional state. I have learned to master my mind. And that makes me quite dangerous to all those goals I have yet to accomplish.

I no longer have the constant encouragement of Team in Training by me and have had to learn to be my own cheerleader among those who no longer find my “hobby” entertaining. In fact, I’m probably surrounded more now than ever before by those who find pleasure in discrediting any accomplishment and possibility of furthering my journey. In an environment of negativity, I have found my inner strength and that sarcastic voice that once beat me up during races began drowning out their criticisms. I feel sorry for them now. My inner voice is pretty mean, blunt and honestly, poor things… they never stood a chance against her. I pray for them now and hope they find their own journey soon.

I am brighter now. Not just a more positive attitude but also in wardrobe and in sponsorship. LifeTimeTRI confirmed last week that I will be on their sponsorship roster for the third year in a row this year and am beyond thrilled and excited to also include the brilliant designs of Triflare for the second year in a row (I”ll be wearing a custom made Junkanoo one piece made to match Neo, my Cervelo bike). In a year where I was forced to take a step back, these two ginormously awesome companies encouraged me to not give up on my word, my promise. Their support is not only financial but essential to my spirit.

If you would like to compete in any of the triathlons organized by LIFETIMETRI, I humbly ask that you simply choose my name as the person who referred you. It’s a little more complicated this year but I’ll make it simple with the image below. When registering on the website for any LifeTimeTRI event, this screen will pop up. Simply click on the pull down menu and highlight my name. That’s it! 🙂

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I am smarter. I’ve learned more about my body, training right, nutrition, life balance, goal setting and the horrors and future of cancer…the reason why I am doing all of this in the first place. My anger is rekindled and burning profusely now as I complete my first year in leadership with Keller Williams Realty and just a few weeks ago it was revealed that one of my most regal agents, commonly mistaken for Princess Diana of Wales, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

I ask – because I truly believe in the power of prayer – that you join me in prayer for Diana Weisser. She and her loved ones are in need of strength and courage and her medical team is in need of guidance, excellence of skill and wisdom. Until then, we fight and are grateful for every day given to us together!!!

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Triflare Tribe

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

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

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

Triflare Tribe Member Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

September 20 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why? Because…I won’t give up

Posted in half ironman, ironman, rgv, rio grande valley, Running, texas, training for my first half ironman, triathlon, triathlon training, triflare, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2016 by runmyssierun

Confession: While in my late teens and early twenties, I stuffed my bras, wore push up bras and mastered the art of duct tape under a swim suit in order to win the swimsuit division in the pageants that I entered.

Now in present day, I struggle trying to keep the girls squished down enough so I can fit into my wet suit! Super duper powerful sports bras laugh in my face when shown the challenge I must endure. I have now accepted the doomed fate of side boobage for the time being. The Big Guy upstairs has a wicked sense of humor. I know… I know… that’s what I get.

We always want what we can’t have.

Exactly four weekends from this one, I will be at the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 in Galveston, Texas. I am, once again, out of my league at this race. So why do it?

Because I said I would.

Because I know if I convince myself that if I wait until I get better, faster, leaner, etc… I can still continue to tell myself that I can get better, faster, leaner, etc… and I’ll be waiting forever. Honestly, that’s called procrastination.

Because I know that if I surround myself with people who do things better than I do, I’ll learn from them how to do things better and I’ll become a better person for it.

Because I no longer care what the nay-sayers say. This is MY goal. This is MY promise. Not theirs.

Because I don’t care how fast or slow I go or what I look like.

Because I know that if I go out there and do the best that I possibly can do, I will know I did my best regardless of whether or not I finished first or finished last or anywhere in between or DNF’d… I wasn’t that spectator wondering if I could do it, or do it better than that other person or do it better than the last time I did this… I would know because I went and did it. And if I end up DNFing, I’ll just get up and do it again until I get where I want to be.

Because I won’t give up that easily.

What I DO know is that IF I finish, I will do so with very little time to spare. One month away, I will admit that my endurance and my time is not near what I would like myself to be at. Work, family, stress and duties of life have all taken priority over my workouts. Life still hasn’t given me a break and I need to realize that it never will. My schedule is so erratic that 90% of my workouts are by myself and I’m not exactly my own best motivator. Because I’ve been trying to lose weight, I’ve found that my nutrition hasn’t been at it’s optimum and have found myself questioning whether my choice to be a natural, organic athlete is the best choice at this point. I can now see why so many top athletes eat nothing but powered, “all natural” chemicals for breakfast, lunch and supper.

I knew this would be difficult. I knew it. And I made the choice to do it anyway. I CANNOT GIVE UP.

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I’m down almost twenty pounds. I’m also down almost a full minute on my swim pace from this time last year. I received a new long sleeved Team in Training wet suit and tried it out for the first time last weekend with some very experienced Ironman finishers out in the waters of South Padre Island. I struggled even with the first 500 meters. I’m not very gifted with upper body strength so pulling through the choppy waves with long sleeves got to me quickly. Just to be safe and not have to worry about this additional pressure, I believe I’m going to revert back to my old wetsuit that is sleeveless… just in case.

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My long runs have been inconsistent with equal parts great runs and horrible attempts. My cycling is still a mystery. I had planned on joining Team McAllen’s “Stations of the Cross” ride today at the San Juan Basilica and take my long ride with them along Military Highway and then jump off to do another few loops but storms rolled in and I was reduced back to my trainer. Fortunately, a new, extremely challenging course was introduced on Zwift (my virtual cycling training program) and it kicked my patootie!!! I swear I was pushing 2 mph up the mountain for about 45 minutes!!! Longest miles ever!!! But cycling down the mountain at my top speed of 60 mph was electrifying!!

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I did notice on my ride today that I need to be refitted. I bought a replacement saddle a while back ago and tried to install it myself. I don’t think I did a good job. My knees are bent too much through the entire rotation and I can’t seem to feel balanced in any other position other than aero. And even in aero position, I feel like I’m too far away from my bars to be completely in proper aero position.

To prepare for my run, I went back to Valley Running Company to see if I could entertain going back to Saucony since they have this season’s kicks in orange! To no avail, my run stance still has not been corrected and I immediately felt my hip trigger just during the sampling of the shoes. The pains that I feel now during my run are scary and heartbreaking. I feel like a drug addict desperately trying to get the feeling back from that first awesome run a few years ago. I don’t mind the pain of exhaustion. But I am now quite frightful of the pain of permanent injury. I pray I never lose control of my pride and ego long enough to endanger the ability to be active for the rest of my life.

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Tomorrow, I will not be participating in Stanley’s triathlon. This is the first sprint tri of the season here in South Texas. This is the event that started me off in the sport of triathlon. Stanley’s triathlon was created by my bike guru who also cherishes his mother and honors a charity near to both of their hearts, Guiding Eyes For The Blind. Part of what is raised at this event goes to fund seeing eye dogs for people who have lost their eyesight. I think this is something that isn’t talked about or recognized enough…the REASON why we TRI are many times for people other than ourselves. This is what makes triathletes so awesome. To have the dedication to endure so much pain during training and events must mean that the passion that fuels this is from the adoration of another.

My son taught me how to swim a mere 10 weeks before the event and Coach Sandy Overly continued to steer me in all the right directions for the entire year afterwards. I’ve competed in this annual event every year since 2012… except this one. I will be volunteering though. I will be at the finish line awarding the medals to all the phenomenal local triathletes, new and experienced.

And I can’t wait to see the smiles on their faces after their grand accomplishment!!

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The TRIFLARE Tribe announcement!!! 

Posted in cancer, half ironman, ironman, rio grande valley, team in training, training for my first half ironman, triathlon, triathlon training, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by runmyssierun

Seriously, one of the coolest things ever to be a part of the TriFlare Tribe!!! Pro triathlete Alicia Kaye shares my story! I’m on the seventh wave!!! triflare-alicia-kaye_1024x1024-thumb-580x447-5168

SPI Tri – when purple beats red tide

Posted in team in training, triathlon with tags , , , , , , , on October 5, 2015 by runmyssierun

And then sometimes I really do what people tell me to do without question and without them knowing. Thank you Janie for the thoughtful encouragement and spot on advice. Thank you Jo Lynn for finding and sharing that moment captured with me in your sweet message. Thank you Chris for being there at the perfect moment and freezing it not just for me but for everyone who’s ever shared a moment of advice with me. And thank you to the Dos Guys because you voluntarily choose to not sleep for days to coordinate an opportunity for me and my fellow cancer fighters to swim, bike and run alongside some phenomenal athletes as we try to do what we can to fight cancer for someone we love.

I get a text at 6:27 a.m. on a Sunday morning from a breast cancer survivor filled with encouragement and advice. And I think to myself, "Shouldn't this be the other way around? How awesome is she???" So I take her advice to heart and do it. And while this moment captured may seem like a comical rendition of a Sad Keanu Meme, it is the moment I cherish before every event I do. Meditation, prayer, my conversation with Momma... Thank you JoLynn for sending this to me :)

I get a text at 6:27 a.m. on a Sunday morning from a breast cancer survivor filled with encouragement and advice. And I think to myself, “Shouldn’t this be the other way around? How awesome is she???” So I take her advice to heart and do it. And while this moment captured may seem like a comical rendition of a Sad Keanu Meme, it is the moment I cherish before every event I do. Meditation, prayer, my conversation with Momma… Thank you JoLynn for sending this to me 🙂

We all have our different reasons for doing what we do. Always remember your WHY, respect it and respect why others are doing theirs.

I knew at that moment what I needed to do and I did it as best I could. This was not my race. It never was. And I’m so glad that I did what I did that day. And I’m so grateful for the obstacles that day presented me because now I know more than ever before of what I can do, what I need to do, how I can become a better person and why I need to. Weird how just a silly swim in red tide can burn your throat, make you cough and fill your head with decisions of a lifetime.

I will not be doing the Longhorn Ironman I had trained so hard to do in 4 weeks. God has a weird sense of humor and I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan but after this event and the rest of the signs came in, I understand now. I will be doing my Ironman in April 2016 in Galveston, Texas.

Exactly five years later and exactly four years later…. yep, exactly. And now you know.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s my sign.

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And for those of you who follow me but don’t really care about my WHY or cancer and just want the low down on the triathlon this weekend… Here goes:

I purposely made myself the last swimmer out. I knew this wasn’t my race so I wasn’t going to go balls out in an event that had Red Tide. My throat was burning. I was coughing uncontrollably. My eyes were on fire and tearing up and my nostrils were acting as if they were auditioning for the Exorcist. From the get-go I kept a slow steady stroke with little to no kick so that my hips stayed in place. I never once lost my cool. I kept my heart rate down, calmed and steady. *That training that Coach Lori had me on was on full blast!

As I looked over my right shoulder when spotting every other breath, I saw a swimmer struggling so I stopped. “Myssie, I swallowed some water and I think I need to throw up!” She was frantic. What else was I to do… “So throw up. Who’s gonna know? Throw up and then take your time on the swim. You can make it up on the bike. Come on. Let’s go.”

She looked at me like I was a purple polka-dotted alien from Mars. So I slowly continued forward and looked over my shoulder for her every second breath. There she was. We collided several times because we stuck together so closely after that. I looked up again and saw the kayak.

“Did you throw up?” I asked.

“No” she said.

“Go hang on the kayak and do it,” again she looked at me like I was insane. But seriously. No really, seriously.

And we paddled on. There was another swimmer setting off into the direction of Port Isabel. I yelled out for her but her swim cap was over her ears and she was doing a phenomenal job of skimming her head with the level of the water. I yelled out to her three times before she heard me and made her way back. “I’m not a good at spotting in the water” she giggled.

And then we collected the last of the few who took the scenic route. The kayaks rounded us up to make sure we wouldn’t veer further off course but there I was… slow, steady, spotting, watching the others calmly, keeping everyone nearby as if the kayaks couldn’t do it better. As we passed the buoys and made our way into the channel, I realized that I must have lost one. I stopped and turned around. There he was. Hanging off a kayak. He’s ok if a kayaker has his back so I keep on going since there isn’t much more I can do – as if I can do anything really. As I got out of the water, I looked back for him again.

“He’s going to make it.” I said to myself and smiled.

“Is that a friend of yours?” Coach Carrie from San Antonio asked me as I made my way up the ramp.

“Yes, he’s TEAM” – and to this family, that’s really all I had to say.

I didn’t rush through transition. I made sure I got it all right.. and I did except for one part… the part I ALWAYS miss. Pushing the right Garmin button while on auto sport. You’d think I’d never done a triathlon before nor worn a Garmin! I still can’t get that darn thing right.

I admit, I struggled with the bike mount – but that was expected. After I wobbled on, it was pure bliss…My Mimi was perfect and I knew she couldn’t wait to show her stuff on the road. Poor baby has been handcuffed to a trainer for an eternity!!! I stood up on her to gain momentum and boom she took off!!! And then a block later I coughed… and coughed… and coughed… and loogied… and coughed. So here’s the thing, if you can’t breathe deeply while on your bike or on a run, your body becomes inefficient. There’s a rhythm to my training which is probably why I do so well with my music playlists. They keep me on beat. So when I get interrupted with coughing, that rhythm goes off beat and so do I. This is something that I really need to work on myself with for improvement.

Just when I’m down in the dumps about my lack of speed and breath control, a cyclist yells out “On your left” and I scoot over to let him pass when just a few seconds later, he slows down and levels out with me.

“Don’t let them catch you!” I told him.

“I’m not drafting if I’m beside you.” He smarted. “You do this for your mom, right?”

“Yes,” I said.

“I’ll be thinking about her and you now.” click click… and he zoomed off.

Wow. Just wow.

And I’m not going to talk about the run. I said some cuss words in my head that you probably don’t need to know about. But I loved that Cat took my hand and smiled and in that small little gesture of kindness, she said all that I needed.

This is the third year for me to do SPI Tri. Each year I do more and better than the year before.

And isn’t that how life should be? Triathlon is a combination of different sports slapped together to challenge how well you can balance all of them. It’s not about mastering one sport or one challenge. Because life isn’t really like that. You can be really really good at one thing… but the other things in life fall behind. My life is like a triathlon. I’m not really really good at any one thing but I do my best at every challenge that is thrown at me and I’m ok. In fact, my finisher medals in many times represent my struggles in real life to me. So far, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at conquering my challenges.

I love what the sport of triathlon has taught me. You can choose to have balance and make it to the finish line. Or you can achieve the supreme position by placing all your energy on one thing and doing it well and sacrificing a supreme position in other parts. Some people may accuse you of being obsessed if you choose the latter. Some people may accuse you of being lazy if you choose the other. And what took me forever to learn was what some people say doesn’t really matter at all. Just tri. Which ever you choose to do, do it for you.

Click here to see all the photos from SPI Tri

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Slow Ride – Take it Easy

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

40 miles in one minute

“When I grow up, I want to have cancer,” said no one ever.

Posted in cancer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2015 by runmyssierun

“When I grow up, I want to have cancer,” said no one ever.

I walked into Starbucks this morning and was greeted with a hug by an old friend, Dave Martinez. He sat with me for a short while to chit chat about cancer, what I do and what he does and how to reach those who need help.

No one ever thinks this will happen to them. We don’t prepare properly and maybe we do this as part of wishful thinking. Truth is that every person that I’ve ever talked to who is currently battling cancer or has successfully fought cancer has told me the same horror stories as they dealt with medical costs. In fact, I can honestly say that I have never met a single person touched by cancer who has told me that medical bills have never posed a problem and they are doing just fine and dandy.

No one has ever told me that they felt they were prepared enough to handle the financial burden of cancer treatment.

No one has ever told me that their employer or their business was completely ok with taking a few years off to heal.

Do YOU know of anyone who has it all together and ready to beat cancer if and when it comes knocking at their door?

I don’t. Even with as much as I have witnessed, I still don’t feel secure enough to know I have a fighting chance.

So what stops us? Do we feel invincible to cancer? Do we feel like cancer is something that hurts other people and not us? Do we just want to avoid the whole idea of it all? Is ignorance really bliss?

By the time I get the inbox full of questions that looks something like… My sister brother aunt uncle family friend has cancer. what can I do to help?

Every cancer patient’s situation is different. How I chose to help as many as I could is by speaking openly and candidly about cancer to as many as will listen, participate in fundraising activities that help in identifying both the CAUSE and the CURE of cancer world wide and for the treatments, co-pays, colonoscopies for early detection, transportation and housing of current cancer patients. How YOU choose to help may be something completely different but if we all do one thing, something, a little bit… together we can do so much!

I still have a few hundred dollars to raise and ask for your help. This half Ironman that I have scheduled in less than three months is the last big event I’m doing with Team in Training. Please find it in your heart to give just a bit if you haven’t ever before. $10, $20 any amount helps. My mother counted on this very same organization to help our family and I am very very grateful to have had the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society help our family. I was gifted six years after Momma’s diagnosis and almost three years after Sissy’s to live precious, sacred memories with them. A $20 donation can help another family with the opportunity to make one more special memory. Please grant that to them.

Donate online here on this link:  http://pages.teamintraining.org/sctx/yourway16/mcardenasb

or here:  DONATION LINK

Invest in Finding Cures

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the largest voluntary cancer research agency specifically focused on finding cures and better treatments for blood cancer patients. With the scope and scale to fund many projects at the same time, LLS supports hundreds of cancer scientists around the world.

Research Depends on You

Unlike commercial enterprises that consider blood cancers as “orphan diseases” with small markets and limited profit potential, LLS funds research based on medical need without regard to commercial return or market size. Every dollar invested comes from charitable support from concerned donors.

Extend Your Reach

LLS funds hundreds of promising researchers at leading cancer centers and universities worldwide. And since LLS has no campus or laboratories to maintain, your investment funds more research and less overhead than a donation made elsewhere.

Why Invest Now?

Many scientists, clinicians and clinical trial participants have developed and improved current standards of care over time. It takes about eight years to develop a successful new drug. The time to invest in new therapies is now.

What Will My Donation Do?

  • Encourage scientists to pursue blood cancer research. Grants to young scientists help grow research talent even as federal research funding becomes increasingly limited.
  • Develop “targeted therapies” that kill cancer cells selectively. By hitting specific molecular targets, these treatments don’t harm patients’ healthy cells, resulting in fewer dangerous side effects.
  • Test immunotherapies. Immunotherapies strengthen a patient’s own immune system so it can better fight infections and attack cancer cells, reducing the need for damaging chemotherapy.
  • Improve the safety of today’s cures. LLS funds research to predict, manage and prevent complications in patients most at risk for long-term and late effects of treatment.
  • Help patients and their families make informed decisions. LLS supplies information and counseling to help guide patients through their cancer journey and access current treatment and clinical trial options.
  • Provide financial aid and co-pay assistance. A cancer diagnosis is hard enough without having to deal with its financial burden. We provide programs to help relieve the economic strain of a blood cancer diagnosis.
  • Offer community services. Among the wide array of programs LLS provides are those that link newly diagnosed patients with trained volunteers and that help young cancer patients return to school after an absence resulting from treatment.
  • Encourage our state and federal legislators to support blood cancer issues. With your help, LLS brings to the attention of lawmakers the urgent need for increased government funding and support of research and patient access to affordable treatment and quality care.

Make a Difference!

Donate online here on this link:  http://pages.teamintraining.org/sctx/yourway16/mcardenasb

or here:  DONATION LINK

Thank you world!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now to “those”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you world.
I see what I must do.

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?

Listen to your heart… rate

Posted in triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2015 by runmyssierun

Be the weed that grows between the cracks of the concrete. The weed grows because it does not know it isn’t supposed to be there among the strong concrete. It struggles but survives and looks for the sunshine every single day. The weed never really belonged where it was and even when others tried to pluck it out, it knows it must continue or it will die.

I see no shame any more from being a weed anymore in a world where I never really quite belonged. I find strength in it now.  

What a week!!! I’ve made a major effort to minimize my caffeine intake down to normal human being levels… and no one has been murdered yet by my hands. (Whew! That’s a good sign.)

I can walk into or go to drive thru at my local Starbucks and they have my “regular” (Venti hot caramel macchiato skinny and upside down with a straw) ready for me AND call me Angelina Jolie to make my day. Yes, I know.. they spoil me! And I love it!

“Hello Angelina Jolie! Would you like your regular today? Or your Venti caramel skinny latte with two splendas?” asks Starbucks barista Alex in the morning 🙂

So when I made the move to decaf after ten years of the same drink order… I think a memo may have gone out to all the Starbucks employees – and our local PD may be on high alert to watch out for me. I dunno… what do you think?

Can you read the label? I think they're afraid it may the first sign of the apocalypse.

Can you read the label? I think they’re afraid it may the first sign of the apocalypse.

It seems that my coffee addiction is wreaking havoc on my heart rate training. In an effort to do my best to continue this crazy promise, I need to put a curb to my addiction to Joe and begin my affair with Zone 2. I find it odd that it’s difficult for me to train in this manner.  These last few years, all I’ve ever heard from people who I train with is “you can push harder”, “No pain – No gain”, “train insane or remain the same” so I’ve become used to pushing my limits and going hard – as hard as I possibly can – during my trainings.

I have an incredible new coach this season with Team in Training. I’ve known her for a while and admired her drive and accomplishments so when she agreed to coach the team this season, I was thrilled!!!

THIS IS COACH LORI

THAT'S MY COACH! LORI TIJERINA... and yes, that's her finishing time!!!

THAT’S MY COACH! LORI TIJERINA… and yes, that’s her finishing time!!!

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She’s a beast and she knows what she’s doing, how to do it and how I need to adjust to do it, too. Keeping my workout routines but instead of focusing on speed and distance, she has me focusing on my heart rate zones.

Do you know what your zone are??? Here, try it out yourself.

http://www.digifit.com/heartratezones/training-zones.asp

Did you plug in your digits? Did you see where you are supposed to be at Zone 2? Ok, good. Now get that heart rate monitor and go run some intervals and try to keep it at Zone 2 and your regular run pace consistent. Or try doing a long run, say 8 miles and see how long it takes you to complete if you never go over your Zone 2 max number.

NOT SO EASY EH????

I don’t take pre-workouts. I don’t take any of that Advocare, Zeal, Plexus, IDlife, Herbalife, etc. or any other medication that messes with your heart rate and blood pressure. But I do drink an average of two pots of coffee a day. I know… I know.

So now, I’m on week three of extremely limited caffeine intake – not gonna tell you how much because I still have issues and I may go postal from admitting how bad I am and it’s none of your beeswax anyway. And there haven’t been any fatalities… yet. (Heavy emphasis on the YET) Can you feel my pain???

To date, so far I’ve gone from 135/89 in May to 128/78 in June to 120/73 this past Thursday. Baby steps in the right direction.

I’ve been consistent in my workouts and finally felt a difference yesterday in my swim. My breathing was very controlled. I get myself really worked up I guess because I see so many awesome athletes by me doing phenomenal things and I want to do them, too, forgetting that I don’t have the athletic experience and foundation that they have. These things take time and I have to constantly remind myself of that. sigh

I have also taken advantage of the network of doctors that I work around closely with. Adding Dr. Joel Solis and Dr. Joey Cadena has been reassuring to me this week as well. I should get some results from their findings later next week.

While some of my trainings have been under the radar, I’ve had some fun posting my anxiety filled musings on social media. Here’s some of them…

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Oh! By the way… it’s that time again to begin looking for sponsors this season. Would you like to sponsor me and/or the Team? See that donation box? No??? Oh… ok.. I’ll just post it here for your convenience. Feel free to drop in $20 or $200 or $2000. However, if you would like recognition – and I’m all about sponsor recognition – contact me to see how we can partner up to beat cancer.

And the link is here, too: https://donate.lls.org/tnt/donate?programGroupName=TNT&fundraiserPageID=2068254&participantFirstName=Myssie&participantLastName=Cardenas-Barajas&displayName=Myssie%20Cardenas-Barajas&fundraiserPageURL=http://pages.teamintraining.org/sctx/yourway16/mcardenasb

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