Archive for wally alaniz

Eddie’s Hell of the South

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

Shortly after the tragic death of Eddie Arguelles, Wally announced that the Hell of the South would officially be re-named Eddie’s Hell of the South in remembrance of him since it was his favorite race to do. I had been looking forward to this race this year from the moment I finished it last year.

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The difference this year was that Eddie was not riding by my side. What remained the same was that Monette, his wife, and their children were.

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There is an incredibly high degree of honor and pride in being a part of this underground, not-so-talked-about, super secret squirrel race. There’s even more pride in taking first place! The bragging rights hold the utmost prestige among the riders not only because of the degree of difficulty of the course but because of the camaraderie that surpasses competitiveness… it is the ultimate example of good sportsmanship that I have ever experienced. Which makes my experience last year with Eddie, Javi, Kelly, Ramon and Wally that much more special because everyone made us feel as if we came in first even though we were the “back of the pack”.

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Finishing HOTS made us winners.

This year, as I had hoped last year, I was not the only girl. Everyone knows I adore a good love story and this year love was in full bloom! This was all my blessing because the better halves rode the course with us this year and made for some excellent company!

When you are out for hours at a time on a bike ride, you begin to pass the time with some pretty deep conversations and trusted friendships between cyclists are often formed. At least this is what I experienced this year. So hearing their stories of new love or enduring love fed into my romantic side and I looked forward to each new ride.

Ok… lets get this story started!!

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At 6:00 a.m. a huddled mass of eager cyclists circled around Wally. He gave a sweet, short talk about how Eddie loved this ride and it was enough to move several of us to tears. Clearly this was not the crowd to break down in front of so we all quickly manned up and wiped away any trace of emotional liquid escaping from our eyes and we tried to disguise our actions by adjusting our glasses and/or wiping lens. He quickly went over the rules and course description and then called for a group photo.

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I have to admit… I did get a little nervous when he did the head count. Did he think some of us wouldn’t come back? (Wally, if you’re reading this, please don’t answer that if you thought I was going to be one of the lost heads)

The girls stuck together as we all ventured off into the rolling start. Lisa was clearly the most nervous of us all. Laura was her chipper self and completely unphased of the challenge ahead of her. But at this point, what I’ve learned about Laura is that she really CAN do anything she sets out to do. This would be papitas for her. Irma, like her husband, was a quiet force. Without a word, I could see the intensity of her desire to conquer this challenge. And then Velisa… the supreme wonder woman who had finished the SB250 just days before. How she convinced her sit bones and legs to ride 250 miles from McAllen to San Antonio and then another 56 from McAllen to Sullivan City and back in the roughest toughest terrain ever imaginable is completely beyond me.

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So the rolling start was nice paced. It gave me time to catch up with Ironman Billy who updated me on his new puppy and field questions from the girls on what to expect in the next coming miles. The troops of SAGs were vigilant in keeping us safe and photographing us every split second of the ride. They were certainly the most cheerful paparazzi I’ve ever encountered!!

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The expressions on our faces should say it all!!!

And before I knew it, the pavement ended and the games began!!! The pros hit it hard and zoomed off as if the Tour de France started with them. Where’s the cloud of dust? What happened to the tree branches slapping me with thorns? What happened to all the guys who had flats in the first segment???? Ohhhhhhhhh yaaaaaaa…. nice job Border Patrol for making the trail wider and for flattening out the road and for adding more gravel and caliche to the pot holes!!!

The increase of illegal border traffic had clearly pushed our Federal system to make changes to these little dirt trails so that their jobs could be done easier. Nice! It made for a much better and easier ride than last years!!!

Well… except for THAT pot hole! Oh! and that one there!!!! Oops! Oh God! Velisa! Watch out for that one! ugh! Whew! Ok, that first part was a lot easier than I expected it to be. We had already reached the overpass by the Butterfly park and my confidence was starting to sky rocket. If the rest of this trail was taken care of like this first part… maybe this was going to be papitas after all for me, too!!! And then I remembered… Hey, didn’t I start thinking like this at this very point last year? And then I vocalized it…

“This is where I got fooled last year.”

Velisa caught on and immediately warned the rest of the girls… “Myssie just said that this was where she got fooled… that must mean there’s something coming up!!!” She deciphered my coy smile very well.

The pavement ended once again but not before Ramon forewarned us “Keep some distance between us.” Ahhh yes, the gravel!

My eyes immediately went to try to identify tire tracks of trucks that had compacted the gravel trail the most and the bike tires that followed them. All I saw were fishtailed bike tracks swerving from one to the other. Oh NO! Which ones do I follow???

Stay to your right Myssie!! Go right!!!

Oh thank God! She’s back! My sarcastic inner voice has returned and seemed to offer some helpful… demands. I go right and although I fishtailed like the rest, I was able to keep my Mimi steady enough to not fall. The additional gravel, I thought, would help with the road. I was wrong. It seemed to make the fishtailing even worse.

Don’t you let go! Don’t let go! Keep her steady. Come on! You got this. You did it last year. Don’t you dare DNF this one. That’ll surely put you at the top of XXXX’s hater stories if you mess this one up.. and this one will finally be true! Do you want that to happen?

No! No! I don’t! I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen! Nor will I let those stories and gossip limit or define me. No! No!!! I WILL FINISH THIS! And I’m going to do it to the best of my ability and I’m going to have the most fun doing it, too!!! So there!!!

Suddenly I was filled with a quest. BEST. FEELING. EVER.

I looked up. The sun was shining. It was beautiful! I looked down. My hands weren’t in their “death grip”. In fact, I had two fingers sticking out. I was loose. I was in control. I was having fun!!! Lisa yells out “I think I feel my brain rattling.”

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Hahahahaha!!! Yep! That’s the feeling!!! That’s what I like about her… she’s exactly the way I was last year with my fears and she’s gutsy enough to vocalize them genuinely to the world. Javi, her husband was right by her side. I knew he would take great care of her. There was absolutely nothing to worry about with those two. Onward I went passed the rail road tracks and the gravel ended. Then I heard the woes from the other girls… “What is that? Is that a… ”

Yes, it’s a field. A field where they grow crops like sugar cane, grain sorghum, cotton, etc. Without looking I could still see their heads wonder.. “Oh my God, are we riding through a field???”

But then I hear Laura say “What’s that sound?”

Every couple of seconds I’d hear a squish. Was it a bird? There were a lot of chachalacas. Is that what a chachalaca sounds like?

“Wait, it sounds like it’s coming from my bike,” I say.

“Do you have a flat?” Laura asks.

I look down. “Yes… oh no!!!”

The whole back of the pack stops and I dismount Mimi. Ugh! I have to change my tire. Last time I tried to change a tire, I ended up ripping the tube apart. And just like that… it was almost like the heavens parted and the angels sang… and Fernando walked up as if he was the love child of Chuck Norris and McGyver.

“Ill take care of that for you.”

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And faster than you can say Speedy Gonzalez… it was all over with. Done. Papitas! Flat fixed.

Lisa counted this as a blessing for her to catch up with the group and Laura took this time to go potty behind the SAG truck.

Zoom zoom… we’re off. Brrrrriing brrrrrriiinnggggg….

“It’s Wally,” says Laura. “He’s probably calling to see where we are.”

Guilt overwhelms me. Because of my flat, we broke off from the rest of the group and he was worried about the love of his life. Awwwwww!!! 🙂

“I’m sorry Wally,”  I cried out as we rolled past him now at this point since he stopped during his freak out session. “I had a flat and they stayed behind with me.”

I could tell he was a little upset. Ok, a lot upset. I felt bad.

But that feeling didn’t last long because just ahead of us was the steepest caliche hill of the course. This is the one where my sarcastic voice let me have it when I got off.

Ok Myssie. This is a tough hill girl. You know what to expect. You know you can do it. You conquered Nevada. You can do this. *See, last year, I didn’t make this hill. I had to unclip and walk up.

I saw the rest of the gang slowly climb the hill. Lisa was right in front of me. Yay!!! She did it!!! Oh you should have heard her voice when she got to the top!!!

Argh!!! But I didn’t!!! Again. I lost hope in myself and got off. I walked it just like last year. My sarcastic voice had it with me. She gave me the silent treatment and I think that was probably the harshest thing to do to me at that point.

I hopped back onto Mimi and mashed it hard. We were riding along the Border Fence. The feeling was surreal again. The pot holes were deeper and scattered all over the place but that didn’t seem to phase us one bit. My Garmin marked us at 23 mph on that caliche.

I knew what I was feeling was exactly the same thrill that the others had in their hearts. We were all concentrating so hard on not falling victim to the caliche pot holes that all our problems were nonexistent. The hot humid wind was blowing in our faces and as we kept fighting the circumstances, the border wall kept getting higher. Yes!!! We’re doing it! We’re doing it!!!

But first… lets take a selfie.

The back of the pack took formation. I walked over to the Border Patrolman sitting in his SUV and simply said – I did not ask – I said…

“Excuse me, this day last year, we took a picture like this with Eddie Arguelles”

As soon as I said that he responded “I understand. It’s my pleasure to do so.”

Wow! Wow! Wow! He took my phone and took the photo. No questions asked.

Can you imagine??? That is respect! All I had to do was say his name. That was awesome! That was the sign. He was right there with us.

“Andale Myssie! Take the selfie!!!” I heard his voice in my head…. and my heart.

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And we all rode off once again. It didn’t seem to take as long as I had remembered it from last year so when the descent of the caliche hill approached, I warned Velisa, “Hold on!”

The downhill ended in polka dots of three foot deep potholes. At the speed we were doing, it was extremely difficult to maneuver our steeds. But we all did it!!! Yay!!! We all did it and didn’t fall!!!

Ohhhhhhhh except for Laura who didn’t unclip in time. Sassss

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I swear to you, she had THE most graceful fall I’ve ever seen in my life!!! It was like animated blue birds and rainbows exploded around her. Her hand shot straight up in jazz hand formation – spirit fingers for you 90’s kids – as if she was going to pop up and yell out “Ta-daaaaa!!!”

A scrawny little stray mutt that looked a little like my Woo-Woo but taller and skinnier came over to check us out. I remembered that a couple of girls were afraid of dogs so I did my best dog whisperer act. It worked. His tail wagged as he circled us. He was harmless. Thank goodness because I wouldn’t want this experience to go sour on them with a pack of rabid pit bulls!!!

Another short part of pavement came up. Ahhhh yes, I remember this part very well. This was the peaceful pavement by Walker Lake. The pavement is fresh and solid – except for the part right by the rail road tracks and that wicked sharp turn. It’s lined with tons and tons of sunflowers and scenic farms. Along the fenceline I saw a birdhouse with a boot hanging below it. Birds were singing the most melodious tunes. Two rabbits with poufy white cotton tails ran across us. One scared Velisa thinking she was close to running over it!!! A coyote crossed as well. It was the best of Mother Nature coming out to greet us and cheer us on!

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And this part zoomed by quickly, too! Way too quickly… for the next part was the dreaded sand pits. This was the part that I feared the most. Thankfully the rains had blessed us for a few days before packing down some of that loose sand. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard to manage but certainly not as hard as last year. The sand was way more compact than last year and I was way more grateful, too! My conversations with Velisa, who was by my side almost the entire time, was light and colorful… and then just like that I was reminded of the real dangers that surrounded us. I red laser beam held it’s grasp on her and then me for a couple of seconds each. We stayed quiet until we got to the half way point where we saw Mike, Wally and Kelly waiting for us.

You know, it’s a great feeling to be a tough independent woman who can conquer a physically challenging endurance race… but it’s another thing to be a defenseless woman with another defenseless woman when a red laser beam shines on you. It was really really really awesome to see the three tough guys there.

I took the opportunity to wait for the rest of the girl gang to come in..YAY!!!! Laura, Lisa and Javi roll in. Wally jokingly says “It looks like a kid and her parents riding” poking fun at Laura’s petiteness…. and she falls a second time and even more gracefully than the first!!!

“You know there are expectations to being Wally’s girlfriend,” The guys teased. “This IS THE Wally after all.”

“Did I embarrass you babe?” Laura looked up to Wally.

We all knew that answer. He is soooooo in love.

Of course, we took a group picture! yay!!! 50%!!! Yan Yan is seriously the coolest photographer in the world!!

A random cyclist rode by us.

“Suuuup?” she yelled out to him.

Instant smiles on all of us!!!

Monette and the kids all get down from the truck. Cheese!!! *I’m going to take my time photoshopping that picture. COOLEST PICTURE EVER… ok, well in a long time!

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And then we return the same way we came.

Half way through the sand pits, a man in a white truck with a Hidalgo County logo on the door driving head on to us locks eyes with me. I see his smile. It wasn’t a nice smile. It was an evil grimace kind of smile. Fear filled me. I knew exactly what he was going to do and so did everyone else. Immediately, Velisa swerved to try to avoid him but the sand was too thick to move that fast. She fishtailed and lost control and fell. She landed perpendicular to me causing me to run over her back wheel and in my fear I lost control and fell. It was a chain reaction and another rider who was behind me did the same thing just missing me by inches.

The driver stopped and opened his door laughing at us.

“Don’t you laugh at us!!!” I screamed at him. “Velisa, are you ok? Are you ok Velisa?” She didn’t answer at first so I repeated until she did.

The driver’s face then turned white. He realized quickly that in all his bravado… he took down two GIRLS!!! How cool is that?!?!? What a man!!! (that is sarcasm)

“Just leave man! Just leave!” Wally snapped at him. By this time, all the surrounding cyclists had seen what had happened and gathered around in support. Still on the ground propped up on one elbow, I glared at driver. They unclipped me and warned me to take control of my temper.

I do not understand how people can be so mean. He really thought he was doing something funny. He could have hit us! All three of us have families. We have children. We could have died! What was so funny about that? Does that not enter their head???

I dusted myself off and charged back. I felt really really bad about running over Velisa’s bike. At my speed and my weight, I could only imagine the impact that put on her body and bike as I rolled over. I looked up and the others were gaining speed. They must have been just as angry as well.

Wait, no… They’re just fast naturally.

By the time we got to the short paved portion, I had calmed down a bit. I had asked Irma where the big huge tree was. She said it was at the first Levy entrance. Maybe it was the result of my brain jiggling around during the ride but I seemed to have asked her “Is this where? Is this where?” at every single levy entrance and hill. Poor thing was so intense in her concentration, I am sure my questions got on her nerves.

Kelly and I hadn’t ridden together in ages so we took this chance to catch up on everything. He gushed and gushed about his new found love. Let me paint this mental picture for you. Kelly is probably the palest human being in the Rio Grande Valley. So the combination of flushed red cheeks due to this wicked bike ride and his love blush during the conversation turned him completely tomato red!!! He was absolutely adorable!! Clearly his heartbeat was working overtime after bragging about his girlfriend’s love of running and fine food that he said “You go on ahead.” He needed a break from the speed.

Not to worry. Just a few minutes later, the oasis appeared. Mr. Alaniz, Wally’s dad, had parked his truck by the side of the road with tons of ice cold bottled water and endless boxes of honey buns!!! His dogs, Pee-Wee and Herman, herded us all like lost sheep and stood guard over us and we hydrated our worn, limp bodies. Mel passed out Sport Beans and a few laughs later… we were good as new.

Onward!!!

As Laura and I gained on Wally (who was obviously slowing down for a reason), he grabbed his leg and yelled out to Laura “Want some of this?” She giggled back to him in a flirtatious way. I was literally the third wheel. I zoomed off so they could continue their love games in private but not before I yelled out to them “Oh go get a room! This is a family show!”

I caught up to Ramon who was also slowing down. He said “I’m waiting for my beloved.”

Awwwww.

I looked back and Javi was by Lisa’s side the entire time. The examples of love they showed here are reflections of how they live their lives everyday, not just in cycling. They truly truly adore each other. And it wasn’t just the men who openly displayed their affection. The posts afterwards that Cheryl had of Mike was evidence that the adoration matched equally.

These are really great people.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to be that lucky and share this experience with my hubby. Maybe, one day.

Ok…. you don’t wanna hear about all that mushy gushy stuff, eh?

So, here we go. It was getting close to noon time. We had been on this trail for almost four hours and the sun was beating down on us hard. I found myself entering the “bite me zone”. *For running marathoners, this is the mile 23 mark for 26.2. So close yet so far away.

I climbed up the caliche hill and didn’t get off. I made it. Yes!!! The SAGs called out to me if I needed anything. I gave them the thumbs up. From this point forward, the SAG cars were not allowed to come up to the Border Wall. I was on my own for a while. I was up a good distance from all the love birds behind me and I kept Mike at about a block ahead of me. I felt comfortable but also needed some distraction from the heat and jiggle brain syndrome.

Time to SING!

What do I sing?

I don’t know why this song entered my head… maybe it was my love of pizza… maybe it was because this song was sung by Ramon last year on a similar hot ride. All I know is that this song got stuck in my head and it wasn’t going out… so I sang.

I probably scared the heebeegeebees out of all the creatures that Mother Nature had surrounded me with earlier. But I had fun.

As I recognized the part of the fence that matched last years photo with Eddie, I slowed down. All the memories flashed at once. I’m going to keep this part sacred but I will tell you that it was more powerful than expected. Yes, he was certainly there with us.

"Was it here that we took the picture?" The heat and fatigue had eaten up all our senses.

“Was it here that we took the picture?”
The heat and fatigue had eaten up all our senses.

There we were. The 5am Riders at the top of the levy.

“Andale Myssie. Take the selfie.” he told me.

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Invigorated with his memory… we all blasted off. Probably faster than we expected. Mike shrieked like a little girl as he zoomed down the last caliche hill.

I wanted to get out of the heat as soon as possible. I was beat. Those last few miles on Military Highway were the absolute hardest. The rider in front of me yelled out “Gravel!!” and did his hand sign… I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Are you serious? After what we just rode through, you’re gonna call ‘gravel’ on THAT?!?!?”

We both burst out laughing.

As we rolled into the finish line, we saw no one was there. It took all of two seconds to decide to ride back to Wally’s shop as fast as we could so we could eat some burgers!!! Again, my legs had other plans. I struggled going up the 2nd street turn. I saw him look back and I had to apologize. “I’m sorry. My legs are burning!!!”

“We’re almost there. We’re almost there,” he said trying to comfort me.

As we crossed Old 83 and entered the parking lot, the cheers exploded.

YES!!! YES!!! I MADE IT! I did not give up. I did not fail. My inner sarcastic voice softly said “I knew you would.”

Best feeling ever: a few minutes later the back of the pack shows up. Lisa wobbled up and gave me a huge hug. The smile on her face was priceless. “I am so proud of myself! I feel like I can do anything now!”

And you know what? I think she can, too.

Eddie convinced me of that of myself and of those around us.

Thank you Wally from the bottom of my heart.

It’s been a tradition that every 4th of July I wait at this very spot to cheer on our superhero!! Today was no different!!! I know you were there today and will be there every year!!! Congratulations to all who finished ‘Eddie’s Hell of the South’!!Much love to you all!!!! You made my day!!! ~Monette Escaname-Arguelles

 

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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.

click click

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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Things you should NOT do before a triathlon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2014 by runmyssierun

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All this week I was getting texts and facebook notes from my fellow Team in Training team mates who had never participated in a triathlon. Everything from “butter” to trisuit fittings and everything in between. Our Coach W went far and beyond her scope of duties and hosted a round table question and answer session at Starbucks on Friday to literally get everything out on the table. No subject was off limits.

I think many are a bit confused as to why I would have questions to ask at this point. Truth is, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks… what matters is what I think. And I’m not that pompous as to think that just because I’ve done a few tris that I know everything and anything about them. Clearly I am NOT the best at this sport and there is still much to learn about it and about myself.

So I was the first to ask… “I know it’s not a good thing to use something new on the day of a triathlon, but I was thinking about not using my “Mimi” and riding the Cervelo instead.”

Now, I need to preface that Coach W has known me for a year now – longer than she’s known the rest of the team and has ridden and trained with me, participated in triathlons with me and witnessed my capabilities – so this was a personal nod of approval for me as she understood that drive for me to improve. *Note that this should not be common practice for others to do in triathlons… don’t use something you aren’t used to. Practice with what you will be using on game day.

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Normally, triathletes and marathoners have a tapering period the week (or at least a few days) before their big event. You should take it down a few notches so that your body is fully recovered from the multiple weeks of tough training. But oh no…. not me and my teammates…

We actually sucker punched ourselves and did the normally assigned Saturday morning brick the day before Stanley’s Triathlon!!! We each swam 1000m and ran a two mile brick. And we – for the most part – did it balls out! I have been doing about a 1:40 100m swim pace but took it down to 2:40 that day. And for the run, I kept thinking there was something wrong with my Garmin because I kept seeing a 9:50 pace! *Take notes about these times – it shows something interesting to me on game day.

Part of our TNT practice is something called “Mission Moment”. That Saturday morning, Janie – my Mentor, spoke. We normally speak about why we are there and/or what brought us to volunteer ourselves to Team in Training. But she went a bit further… in fact, a whole lot further! I’m not going to quote her or say everything she did that morning… but what I will say is that everything she said punched us all in the gut. This season was TNT2.0 and there was no room for complaining or giving up.

And with that… we did ALL that was demanded of us and gathered together at the end for a gazillion silly pictures!!! No one complained. We all had smiles. We all knew this was not for us but for someone else who probably wasn’t smiling and having to deal with something else much more painful and exhausting.

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A day or two before a triathlon (or marathon) most athletes indulge in a carb0loading feast. Not me… I’ll admit I fell off the wagon a few weeks ago and ate all those things I shouldn’t have eaten. I celebrated my birthday too many times and drank the “demon fluid” on more than just an occasion (granted I never finished a bottle of beer but attempted more times over these last few weeks than I’ve had over the last year!). The day before the tri, I had a half of a nutella sandwich and an apple/chicken salad. Not exactly the ideal nutrition for a triathlete the day before her event.

I did get some good rest later that day. Thank goodness I’ve been supported by WINdetergent because my TNT trisuit reeked from that morning!!! I did my laundry, attached my bib number to my race belt, pinned Sissy’s medalion right next to my bib, laced my new Sauconys with the Yankz that were still in the box from weeks before and set up my morning “zombie” transition area in the kitchen close to the coffee maker.

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I stayed up way too late (midnight) and woke up at 4:00a.m.

STANLEY’S IS HERE!

I’m not gonna lie… I hit snooze.

But I got up, went to the kitchen and began my zombie makeover. Made myself a slice of bread with some peanut butter and folded it up like a taco – Mexican style. 🙂

Everything was set out the night before. So I grabbed it all and chunked it into the backseat of my car. I felt like a two-timing cheater when I grabbed “Neo” and strapped him onto my car’s bike rack. “Mimi” saw the whole thing. I know she felt betrayed. It was all sorts of wrong. A few of you understand what I’m saying.

So I hit the highway to La Joya. I’m not sure what it was… but something made me look at the rearview mirror…. something was wrong and I couldn’t place it. Something was wrong.

I pulled into the entry of Stanley’s course and was met by Joey Williams – my RPM instructor at Gold’s Gym. He wished me well as he oogled my new bike and led me to the parking area. Duran Duran was booming on my speakers… not my normal race day jam but I was adamant about keeping this day a fun, learning experience so it seemed like an appropriately fun jam to open with. As I removed Neo from the bike rack, I leaned him up against the side of my car and it hit me… my saddle sack is GONE!!! It must have fallen off on the drive over! Oh crap! What do I do? Isn’t having a tire repair kit mandatory? I’m not going to be allowed to compete today! Oh God! Oh God! What do I do?

I felt cardiac arrest coming on!

And then all of a sudden I remembered my big box of goodies. I had extras of EVERYTHING in my box…. except a saddle sack. So I grabbed my old marathon fuel belt and stuffed an extra tire tube, inflator and cartridge into it and hoped that this would be sufficient. I took a deep breath and calmed myself down and made my way to get checked in and body marked.

There’s always drama in La Joya for me.

While in line, I checked with the head honchos on whether or not it was allowed to compete without a saddle sack and told them that I would wear my fuel belt with the tire changing kit inside of it. Whew! They were decaffeinated enough to allow me through.

And that’s how my day began.

George, Wally’s master mechanic took one look at Neo’s front tire and snatched him away from me. Attached his tire pump and worked his magic and filled it up with his new and improved super fast tire air.

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I made my way to the edge of the VERY LAST bike rack. (When I’m ready to podium, I’ll get the edge of the first rack closest to the entry – but this one isn’t my race) I set up my transition area carefully. I remembered everything I learned from Coach Sandy and before I knew it, the rookies around me all came by to take note. That’s when it hit me.. I wasn’t nervous.

Yet.

As I turned over my shoulder, I see my fellow team mates hook up their bikes to the rack next to mine. Jeanice gathers us all into a close little circle and leads us in prayer… and ends with “Today we run for Mimi”… and the waterworks begin.

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We go as a group to the pool to check out the scene and the temperature of the water. I was quite surprised to feel that the water was actually very warm! Like almost hot tub warm! Cha-ching! I watched Billy skim through the water as if he was teasing Michael Phelps. It was that easy for him. I didn’t want to ruin my lack of nervousness by jumping in for my warm up and finding something else to worry about so I didn’t do my warm up swim. *Big mistake for anyone else – ALWAYS do a warm up swim if the opportunity is granted.

I escaped into solitary and sat on a bench in the adjacent park. I remembered WHY I was there. Over the last few months, I was taken aback by some people who had shown me their true colors and had accused me of lying about my distances, times and workouts and had further gone so far as to say that my involvement with Team in Training was nothing more than an ego filing journey and was full of myself. So when someone out of the blue told me that he didn’t believe what they were saying and almost apologized for their actions, it was enough for me to know that those who matter know the truth about me and about them and I was right in not wasting my time defending myself. Those people will always talk about others behind their backs. I won’t ever be able to change that about them. I need to worry about what I CAN change. Myself. 🙂

I listened to Donny’s voicemail. I listened to Momma’s. I shed my tears and wiped them away, took a deep breath and did what I needed to do.

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We all got up and gathered around the pool for last minute announcements from Casey (one of the event organizers) and a blessing from Big John. And then we all lined up to begin our swim!!!

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Our swim was based on an honor system of our swim pace but most people just starting out had never timed themselves on a 100m swim so many of them guessed. The problem with that is those who guess themselves to be too slow and are actually faster than what they gave themselves credit for end up slowing themselves down because it expends so much energy to pass a slow swimmer in front of you. Same thing goes for the slow swimmers that go to the front of the line thinking that they’re just that much closer to the finish line. They end up hurting the faster swimmers who have to pass them and they hurt themselves because it hurts their spirit each time another swimmer passes them.

The tough thing for me was that the day before, I swam 1000m at a 2:40 pace. So I lined myself up at a 2:40 pace. I ended up swimming about a 1:40 pace… 20 seconds slower than the woman who won my AG. DOH! Had I placed myself closer to the beginning of the line and not spent so much energy passing other swimmers, I may have had a better time.

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Flashing back to the year before, I remembered and mastered the run from the pool to the transition area. I flipped off my swim cap and goggles like a pro but stumbled TWICE trying to get my flip flops on!!! I’ll never use flip flops again! I spent about 10-15 additional seconds fumbling over my right foot flip flop. The additional comfort along the few feet of asphalt on my feet was NOT worth it especially when you analyze the timings at the end of the race.

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My transition time was already hurt with the flip flop incident so I purposely zoomed through to my bike and with lightening speed got all my gear on for my bike (remember I had to put my running fuel belt on, too, because of the tire changing kit in it!) and slipped my wet feet into my cycling clips and ran to the mount line.

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“Hmmm funny. Last few times I did this, I remember having to make sure I slowed down so I wouldn’t fall because of my clips,” I thought to myself. I passed the mount line and because it was a new bike to me, went off to the side and carefully mounted Neo but couldn’t get my feet clipped in.

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“Oh crap!” and the crowd giggles… they knew it before I did!!! I left my clip covers on my shoes!!!! No wonder!!!

Mr. Wallace comes to my rescue and quickly takes them off and as I shove the covers into my jersey pocket I hear Wally scream out to me “Don’t worry Myssie!!! I won’t tell anyone!!!” I could tell he was dying of laughter. Pinche Wally!

“It’s always an adventure!” I yell back at him and zoom off.

Okay. Okay. I make that first left turn and here we go… wow! It’s like “Neo” (my Cervelo) has a mind of his own and he’ll have nothing to do with that sarcastic voice in my head. We rode this exact same course just a few days prior for the first time ever and he knew exactly what to do and when to do it. It was as if I was just an accessory to him. Going North against the wind was papitas. Going South on Jarachinas with the wind against my back seemed almost like cheating. There was one point where we were on the toughest gear and he wanted to go even faster… but there were no more gears to go to!!! I got so scared of him that I stopped pedaling for a few seconds!!! We were going too fast for me!!!

All of a sudden I remembered the man who was riding a Cervelo at CapTexTri alongside me and cut the corner too fast and never got up again. My freak out session was officially in full blast and just as I arrived on the peak of the last hill I saw it… a crowd of ambulances, police cars and a white van against the fence that kept the wild brush away from the street.

Oh my God! A car must have hit one of the cyclists!

I quickly went over all the competitors that meant so much to me in my head. It seemed like the cars and crowd had already been there for a few minutes… could it have been Billy? He’s so fast and I had seen him go neck to neck with another cyclist (which was an odd occurrence because of his surreal speed). Could the competition have been so tough and their speed have been so fast that they couldn’t slow down in time for that van to avoid them??? Oh God! Please no!!! I immediately slowed down and looped over to see if I could find evidence of a wrecked bike. I recognize people’s bikes faster than I can recognize them in bike gear! Alas, there was no sign of his bike. After a few minutes of rubbernecking and the police shewing me away from the scene I rode on and asked the cross guard at the next corner if someone was hit.

“No, it was a van full of illegals,” he said. (Here’s the story that KRGV did on it. If you watch the video, you can see the cyclists riding in the background http://www.krgv.com/news/2-women-recovering-in-hospital-after-border-patrol-chase/)

“OH THANK GOD!!!” I yelled out.

Last year at Stanley’s Tri, I was almost clipped by a white SUV that picked up about a dozen illegals but there were no cops that interfered with the transport. It was the drama that seemed to always follow me around my adventures in La Joya!

With that, I looked over my shoulder for safe clearance to make the left turn to the high school. Bah! Nothing there.. I took the turn and gathered a little bit of composure again. All that time I spent rubbernecking messed up my time. I have no idea how much time I lost. My head hung as the realization came over me. I saw Javi Cavazos at one of the last corners yelling me on and snapping a pic. I usually smile for my pics… but I was already down and felt it.

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“Ok, what’s done is done. Speed it up Myssie and lets get ready for your run,” my inner voice was in rare form. She was actually a bit nice that day!

Just then Eric zooms by on his bike. Wha???? Where did he come from? There was NO ONE behind me!!!! “It was a lot easier coming back!” he exclaims. And off he went. Just like that.

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George was planted at the last corner waving me down, “Slow down! Slow down!” he yelled. Crap! I forgot to note where the dismount line was… last year, this was the point where I fell! That was my ONE big goal – not to fall especially in front of the crowd there at the finish line!! So I slowed down.. probably too much too soon but I wanted to be careful. I was already unclipped yards before it was necessary. But I didn’t fall. Whew! I made it!!!

And I was super thirsty!!!

I chunked my clips on my transition mat that was autographed by all my TNT teammates in San Antonio/Austin. And in frustration, through away my socks and jammed my bare wet feet again into my Sauconys, ripped off my running fuel belt and snapped my race belt and bib on and took off. Wait! Retreat!!! I need water!!! I’m so so so thirsty!!!

I took a swig from my water bottle on my bike, swished it around my mouth, swallowed a bit and spit out the rest… and off I go!!! Here we go!!!! Run! Run! Run!… ahem… run now. Come on. Run. Not jog. Let’s go.

My legs felt like cement going through three feet of mud. I had spent all my energy on the swim, passing other swimmers, going faster than I had planned and zooming on my bike (until I saw the police) and completely forgot to get water and Gu…  I was spent. I believe the term is BONKED.

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I knew what was going on. I tried my best to keep going but felt my body slowing quickly. I immediately began to pray the rosary for strength. I heard the whole crowd begin to yell my name out to me cheering me on and then it happened… the song that was missing in the morning on the drive over was blaring now… THUNDER… THUNDER… ACDC’s Thunderstruck hit it right as I passed by!!! This is the song that pumps me up more than any other song out there.

So there I went. I turned the corner and my legs were like bricks.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The winds picked up… tremendously. I kept going. I was at a turtle’s pace. It was humiliating!!! I looked at my Garmin. 11:00 minute mile pace!!! Oh you have GOT to be kidding me!!! I was doing 9:50 yesterday without trying!!! Just then the rain came. Seriously!!! Can this get any worse???

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Yes, it could.  The rain was stinging my bare skin. Wait… that was not just rain! That was tiny HAIL!!! I threw my arms out in disbelief and just had to laugh. There was no way I could recover from this torture!!! I think my reaction caused the volunteers to worry about me so one of them ran up to me with a cup full of water. I giggled and thanked them and decided that I simply needed to get it done.  God wanted me to have fun with this and had placed comic relief throughout the entire course for me to be reminded that no matter how hard you plan, no matter how hard you train… always expect the unexpected and never give up.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

I said a full rosary before I hit the finish line.

In need of more comedy? My race bib number was 10. Let me tell you.. I was NO BO DEREK running gracefully on the beach sand that morning!!! I am no perfect TEN. I still have a long ways to go.

But I can guarantee you that those people who cheered me on and waited for me at the finish line won’t leave my side until I’m at least an 8!!!

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And I won’t stop until there is a cure that is affordable and accessible to everyone who has cancer.

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Oh!!! How did I do compared to how I did at last year’s Stanley’s Triathlon?

Here’s what I posted on Facebook shortly afterwards:

Feeling great about Stanley’s! Shaved one full minute and one second from my swim. Shaved ten full minutes from my bike! Added FIVE seconds to my run… wah wah wahhhhh All in all, I went from 1:36:03 last year to 1:25:52 this year. Eleven minutes!!!! Pretty dang proud! Big high fives to all my Team in Training teammates, Maniacs, Cyclepaths and RWC girls that participated in their first TRI, the triathletes who challenged themselves again and all who volunteered and cheered!!! This is what it’s all about.  Today was a great day! And it’s just the beginning!!!

http://youtu.be/-oYYO_nULRY

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My favorite mistake

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

Last night Jean Gearhart, the woman who pushed me further than I ever expected someone other than my own mother could, broke down into tears and she surprised me in front of my fellow Team in Training alumni marathoners, survivors and current triathletes. However, she mentioned something in error.

She said between sobs “She did it all by herself…. and it shows her dedication to the cause.”

But truth be told.. I was never by myself. I had more people push me, support me, run with me, swim with me, bike with me, donate to me, advocate for me, spread the word, encourage me, give of themselves so that I could move forward to that very first crown. Oh! And add a few stubborn and over protective angels to the mix, too!!!

If you are reading this on a computer screen, look at the links at the top right side of the screen. Those people never once left my side. NEVER.

Triathlon is a very individual sport.. true. But I was an exception. I was never ever alone. This triple crown is not mine.

This triple crown is OURS.

Dezma, today is yours baby. One year. My heart breaks for her friends and family. I know that pain all too well. You’d think by now I would know what to say. Still at a loss.

Click to access LLS_BCAM_infographic.pdf

My cancer results came in

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2014 by runmyssierun

RRRRRRRrrrrrrrrring RRRRRRRrrrrrrring RRRRRRRrrrrrrring

I pick up the phone and see on the caller ID that it’s my doctor’s office. Oh God! They have my results from the mammogram and my cancer screening blood counts. If I let it ring and they’re forced to leave a message, then I’ll know, right? I’ll just listen to the message… 

No. I have to know NOW. I pick up the phone just in time.

It’s the nurse. Whew! The moment I heard her voice and didn’t hear her say I needed to come in to see Doc ASAP… I had a feeling.

“Your results came in. You’re normal,” she said. 

I think I may have screamed a little and that may have been what caused her to laugh a bit. 

I admit, I am one of the lucky chosen few who did not receive the phone call with dreaded news, news that would make you drop to your knees, news that would suck out all your tears, news that would empty your soul of all your dreams and leave you empty of dreams and afraid of time.

My good news was kept to myself and ignited a fire within me to continue my path for those who got that other phone call. 

Because the truth is that from the moment you clicked open this blog to read what happened in my day… someone else just got that awful phone call. In fact, every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. 

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Today was our Triathlon team’s first bike practice. We held a bike rodeo at the Convention Center parking lot and was taught how to change a flat tire, clean and degrease our chains, what tools to have handy, etc. by my bike guru, Wally. He had set up a little tent to shield us from the freezing mist. Poor thing had to speak up because it was hard to hear above the chattering teeth and shivering bodies of my team mates. It was then that even in that dreaded dreary cold weather that I saw the faces of my fellow teammates and how eager they were to learn about how to take care of their bikes (or borrowed bikes) so that they could do well at their first triathlon for TnT. They truly wanted to do well….

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Why?

Gosh, I’m really learning to love that question… why.. why?

Just before we got started, Cindy gave us her mission moment. Her honored hero had just lost his battle with leukemia a few days ago. She was quite choked up about it but tried with all her might to be strong and upbeat and positive. 

Katherine posted this on our facebook page: 

So, today was cold. Today was miserable. If we asked ourselves, deep down, did we want to be at practice today or snugly warm in bed? But we got up and showed up, this is what makes us TNT…. We are like postal workers: neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, etc…. we deliver! Cause Cynthia gave us all a sobering reminder as why we have to keep fighting. Why this dreadful disease needs to be stopped…..

We all have our own reasons for being a part of Team. No one reason is greater than the other. Bottom line, we’re all in this together. I feel Cynthia’s pain. It is still very fresh in my heart. 

My prayers go to the Rodriguez family and especially his wife and two very young children.

It is this very instance that breaks my heart as I remember my two nephews. I haven’t seen them in over a year. Sadly, since the death of my baby brother, it will likely be years before I am ever able to see them again.

Cancer and death does horrific things to a family.

If you’re the praying type, keep families like the Rodriguez’s and mine in your heart as you pray. I’d appreciate it.

Thanks. 

Oh! And don’t forget… I’m fundraising again. Please give what you can. Top right corner icon if you’re reading this on a PC. Scroll just below if you’re reading this on a phone.

~much love

Viva Bike Vegas – the Triple Crown

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2013 by runmyssierun

You have to be brave with your life
So that others can be brave with theirs

The moment was here. I boarded the plane knowing that quitting was NOT an option.

“Fasten your seatbelts. The captain just said he was going to try something new.” – Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant and part-time comedian. He kept my nerves at bay with his comedy act over the loud speaker.

After a few delayed hours of flight, I went straight to Las Vegas Cyclery to pick up my “Mimi”. To the person who has never ridden an awesome road bike before, the relationship between me and my custom built Felt bike is probably perceived as a bit coo-coo. And to those people I have to say “so what?”. “Mimi” was beautifully reassembled and rolled out to me with unanimous comments from the bike store staff gasping “Your bike is wicked!” – yes, I know 🙂

Las Vegas Cyclery and my Felt bike

I was able to meet up with Rodney’s family for dinner. (Rodney was one of my best friends in High School that lost his battle to cancer just a few months before he was to stand up with me at my wedding – He was beyond phenomenal.) Dinner was fabulous. I had the best seared ahi tuna salad ever! Yes, I was starving and am a nervous emotional eater. I scarfed the whole thing down.

The Perez family at VBV dinner

Rhonda, Rodney’s sister, took me to the local convenience store to pick up some zip ties and crazy glue. I have a feeling that the store clerk thought I was a serial killer. My bike’s water bottle holder had snapped in half during the flight over. I had to find some way to jimmy it back. Nevada is way too hot to have just one bottle of water for 104 miles.

My McGyver skills are pretty impressive. (I watched a lot of TV as a kid)

crazy glue

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I drank a full bottle of pedialyte, lots of bed rest the day before and nibbles of fresh fruit all day long, steamed veggies and a pasta dinner, one choco chip cookie and nonstop water all week long (with of course my coffee in the morning – I know I know but that’s my vice).

I was a little nervous because I had mentally prepared for a practice ride on Friday morning with the national Team in Training and it was cancelled last minute. However, I did get to meet the North Texas TNT bike team who seemed VERY nice and willing to adopt me on Saturday to make sure I was comfortable and around people I knew – just in case.

Inspiration dinner was tear-filled and amazing. Ryan (my national Flex team director) had surprised us with photos of our loved ones that we were all cycling for. It was quite touching. I had a hard time finishing my dinner. They had me stand for applause and couldn’t look up at all. I have a hard time letting people see me cry. Momma wouldn’t allow any of us to see her cry when she was in treatment. I try really hard to be as strong as she was. I still have yet to be able to be that strong. They did get me to laugh as they “crowned” me later that night with paper burger king crowns all stacked one on top of the other. But we all know who really deserves the real crown. I will always bow down to her.

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Saturday morning came and I was well prepared. My time trial landed me in the first wave however the North Texas team was in the 4th wave start and the National team was in the 3rd. My virtual coach said I could go down a few waves and placed me in the 3rd wave start with the other national team members and closer to the Texas team. I had a start time of 7:40 a.m. Later than I expected. Hotter than I predicted.

A wind advisory was issued that day and prior to leaving the start, advised everyone to change their aero tires if possible.

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I got a bit more nervous at that point.

Ok, now that you have the back ground, here’s the nitty gritty.

I made my way to the start line with a few thousand of my new friends. The sun was itching to come out and play over the horizon. It shined just enough to illuminate the taunting of the start line.

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From mile 7 to mile 30-some it was an uphill battle. It was tough. THE toughest thing I’ve EVER done! No words can describe the brutality. The winds varied 18-40 mph against me and never once were at my back!!! I stayed on my saddle the entire time and knew the exact moment I entered the Red Rock Canyon because the wind and the heat sucked out all the moisture from my mouth, skin and eyeballs.

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The incline grade here obviously increased. I mashed much more than expected and my heart broke when I looked down four times at my Garmin to see 7mph, 6mph, 5mph and yes, 4mph. But I made it to the top. It took me almost FOUR hours to climb that mountain!!! Four hours for just thirty miles. Ok, so I did take my time being a winter texan and took a ton of scenic tourist pictures (see above). But four freakin hours was way longer than I planned. But I wasn’t sagged!!! I saw one after another go down. Exhaustion and heat took some of the best. It was quite intimidating. I caught myself yelling out “Chemo is harder! Chemo is harder!”.  It helped me put things into perspective quickly.

I went deep into the dangerous hidden parts of my memory. All those days I was a hallway away from where I knew Momma was being fed poison, throwing up, wanting to cry and double up from the pain she was going through… but didn’t because she knew she had to endure in order to survive. We were a hallway away from each other and she knew I was scared. I knew she was scared. So she’d text me photos of her smiling trying to convince me that she was doing fine. It was that memory that fueled me. As I spotted the photographers along the course, I smiled for her the same way she smiled for me…. even while in pain.

Remember my attitude coming in? So, I figured, ok, the hard part is over. It’s literally all down hill from here. My legs are feeling the pain but I’m not injured and I’m not super sore and heck ya I can do this! (p.s. I was sooooo wrong for thinking it was that easy… the hard part was much further away)

Then I see a sign. Albeit a misspelled sign but I got the message. “Be safe fast decent”

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I had worried so much about climbing that I hadn’t ever really gone over how to handle declining a mountain nor had I had the opportunity to practice it at such a pitch!!! I was scared and basically rode the brakes almost the entire 30 miles down the mountain. This hurt my make up time I had figured into my total. I barely made the cut off time at the bottom of the mountain. You had to make it or else they’d re-direct you to the metric century course. The race director smiled at me and said “Texas, there’s a wind advisory going on just as you turn the corner here. Are you ok with that?” (They nick named me Texas) “Yes, sir, Wind and heat are the only things I was able to train for properly in Texas” I replied.

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He assigned a mentor alumni from Kansas to stick by me but I have say it was a great feeling to drop them once that wind came in. They couldn’t handle it. I went back up to my normal 15-18mph speed against the wind. It was just like home. But that’s when my battery went dead on my phone. The iOs7 update sucked up all my battery life faster than predicted. If something should happen to me, there was no way I could contact a sag vehicle, coach, teammate, friend, husband or dad. At the next rest stop I ran into a huge Kansas team that adopted me. After that, I saw the Texas team and they insisted that I join them for safety reasons. I agreed under the circumstances. The time was about 2:00 and the winds really picked up. I saw three cyclists go down with the wind as we made turns. Bikes shattered and shoulders and wrists broke. Fear consumed us all but it overwhelmed three of the Texas team members and they were made up of mostly Marine families and held the motto firmly… they would not leave a team member, they would do this together. Their speed went down to 6mph against the wind. I began to regret my decision to join the Texas team. It was actually HARDER to ride slowly than it was at the 15-18mph that I was used to. BUT if something should happen to me, they were right. It was safer for me to stick with a group and they were all I had. It killed me to go this slow. The heat sizzled my legs. I had gargantuan salt crystals forming around my nose and eyes. Each time I wiped them off, more would grow back bigger than the last. My mouth was so dry and I could feel my lips crisp up. I didn’t have sun block but I did have spf chap stick. I used my pockets for fuel and not sun block. Big mistake.

Because elevations were my initial fear, I remember the 30-mile mark being the biggest and longest obstacle, another peak would be around mile 70 and the last kick in the shin would be around the 90 mile mark with the steepest incline of the entire course. I was at the 90 mile mark and all of a sudden the course went off road. THIS WAS NOT EXPECTED!!! Have to admit that a smile overtook my face when I realized that Wally’s Hell of the South race really was the perfect training. THIS was the steepest incline and decline of the day. Google the three sisters of River Mountain Trail. I felt like an unpaid stunt man!!!


this is a link to a video of the three sisters

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IT WAS THE BIGGEST RUSH OF MY LIFE! The video does it no justice!!! I hit 37 mph (some of my teammates argue that it was close to 45 that we hit but I never had the guts to look at the Garmin on my wrist). After this, it was flat windy hot and boring. I went from “That was AWWWWEEEESOME! I’m gonna do this again!” to “I can’t wait for this to be over! How far away are we from the finish line? Are we there yet? I’m never doing this again.” I was hot, exhausted, thirsty, crispy, cranky and wanted to go faster!!!! One of the Texas members fell over and began throwing up. The team stayed behind with him. I HAD to go forward. This slow pace was driving me bonkers and we were so close to the finish. I was already 2 1/2 hours behind my predicted schedule and wanted to get off my saddle now!!! My feet were sore from mashing so hard up hill and my fingers were numb from gripping the brakes down those sisters. I finished strong and eager to just get it over with and surprised to see 400 team members and the Medinas at the finish line waiting for me with cheers and a crown!!!!

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In summary, I am injury free. The only real sore part I’m dealing with is my neck and shoulders. My nutrition and hydration was perfect. My training was spot on. Had I mastered the confidence to conquer the uphill and downhill, I would have made much better time. Had I decided to stick with the Kansas team, my time would have been much more like my training time. (Texas would NOT go over 8 mph) Had I remembered to stick sun block in my back pockets I would not have snake skin on my legs and nose right now.

I had dinner that night with some of the race volunteers. The Sag driver told me “I sagged one of the contributors of Bicycle magazine!! Take that to the bank!” another bike coach told me “I’ve done over 30 century rides in my life and never once have I seen one this difficult.”
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