Archive for wally’s bike shop

In the ZONE – Heart Rate Zone Training 101

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the basics:

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

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

See the table below and find your age

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Heart Rate During Exercise

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

Target Heart Rate

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

Additional Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has Heart Rate Zone training helped me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My third Stanley’s Triathlon

Posted in Mom, triathlon, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2015 by runmyssierun
The Real Stanley

The Real Stanley

So before I do my recap of today’s triathlon, let me tell you a little bit about WHY this event means so much to me. See, I’m a daughter who loved her mother and I do lots of crazy stuff in her memory and honor so that others don’t have to experience this pain that she went through with cancer. When children do incredible things for their parents, it tells me that those parents did something right. They showed real love to these children, the kind that garners life-long respect and admiration. Something that I thought every child received is actually a rarity now.

A little over three years ago, I met a young, kind, and generous man by chance while posing for a photo shoot by Mid-Valley Events Athlete of the Week story at his bike shop.  It didn’t take long for this guy to take me from marathons to triathlons. I was hurt anyway from the marathon that I had done and was using triathlon to continue my training while my feet were healing. I borrowed my husband’s bike and took it to him to get fitted and I guess he either felt sorry for me or he knew I was way in over my head or it was a combination of the two… but he took me under his wing for probably the same reason I admire him… we both love our mothers and do these crazy things for them in their honor.

Stanley, the namesake of this triathlon, is a seeing eye dog. He was his mother’s seeing eye dog. Stanley is no longer here but lives on through this sport of triathlon in La Joya, Texas.

Proceeds from this triathlon go towards the organization Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Because Wally supports me in all my crazy adventures, I’m going to make sure I make Stanley’s triathlon an annual event on my calendar and support him as much as I can. Because we both have extraordinary moms and that’s just what good kids do.

Want to know more about this? Here’s the link: Guidingeyes.org


And my recap…

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Ok, it’s no secret that my training has been a tad bit wacky and unconventional lately so I was a bit worried about how I would perform today. Nerves were hacking their way through me as I drove in… no coffee, tired (the last couple of days I’ve been living on just a few hours of continuously disrupted sleep) worried that I had forgotten something really important. I unloaded, asked Nesta (who had parked near me) to zip me up (told you I was tired) and made my way to body marking and bike check at transition. I was happy to see Alex eagerly waiting for me to remove my jacket so she could body mark me and then –again — purposely picked the very last bike rack to set up shop.

I carefully placed everything in the order that Coach Sandy taught me, got my earbuds, picked out my playlist and immediately began warming up with a stretch and a short, casual jog and then found a quiet place to sit and listen to my saved voicemails from Donny and Momma. This – this right here – keeps me grounded and focused on my WHY.

I’m surrounded by extremely gifted athletes that train very, very hard. There’s a few newbies, too. Scared and nervous and wondering what they got themselves into… I remember that feeling. And this is when I remind myself to do the absolute best I can do today and that, yes, I will hurt and yes, I will be out of my comfort zone for a while… but I am no quitter and I am not here to compete and I am not here to injure myself, either. I know how to listen to my body now. I know when to push my limits. And I know when to bring it down now. These are great things to know!

There’s something quite extraordinary about triathlon training. You get to know a lot about yourself – things you never really thought you needed to know. I think I’m a better person now because of this. No… correction. I KNOW I’m a better person now because of this.

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I jump into the pool and within seconds I can gather that just a few swimmers ahead of me there’s a person struggling and they’re going to back up all the other swimmers because no one wants to pass them. I scan my way over to the other side of the pool and there are families cheering their participants on and quickly pan over to the opposite side and I see German examining each swimmer, locking in on form, speed and safety.

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Number 9 GO!

I push off from the ledge like a torpedo and don’t come back up for air until I’m half way into the pool. My stroke was conservative and on point. As I entered the third lap, I felt my breathing accelerate and caught myself in time to calm myself down. This was also about the time when I caught up to the struggling swimmer. I tapped their foot and passed them. Went forward a few more and saw Maritza holding her nose at the ledge of the pool.

“Are you ok?” I asked.

“He kicked my nose!” she shrieked.

Boom! I took off, passed him and thought about doing the same to him… but didn’t. The thought was evil enough for my revenge. Eh, I’m sure he just got freaked out a bit with all the crowd in a lane and just hit her by accident.

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I exited the pool and in one graceful swoop took off my swim cap and goggles while jogging barefoot to transition in what I was hoping was a Bo Derek moment… but let’s be serious.. even I know I was moving like a walrus.

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Transition was a blur – literally. I felt like I was going to faint. I guess I just stopped too soon or something but when I leaned over to slip my shoes on… the world kinda did a little twirl around me. I grabbed onto the bike rack and got my bearings, snapped my helmet in place and took “Mimi” off her rack.

Here we go… my favorite part!

Click click click click my shoes went and I trotted through transition to the mount line. Remembering my little dizzy spell, I went to the side so that others wouldn’t rear end my clumsy butt and carefully leaned over to begin my ride. It had rained pretty hard the day and night before and it left puddles of uncertainty all over the road, especially around the first corner but let me tell you after I got out of the event area… I booked it like there was no tomorrow. Off the seat I went.

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click click

I went into the hard gears and savored that wind against my face!!! Man oh man that felt awesome! It wasn’t like the wind at the Jalapeno 100 a couple of weeks ago… this was different. It was a welcoming, friendly, how you doing kinda breeze. It’s a little deceiving, too, because you start dancing with those sneaky rolling hills on Jarachinas Road!! You don’t see them coming really but you feel them in your legs and before you know it… boom! Elevation!!! Change gears!!!

The sun was up, fellow triathletes are all cheering me on and delicate periwinkle colored flowers were blooming along the fenceline… it was so so so very pretty!!! Oh my gosh! Wait… where’s the drama? Every single time I am in La Joya… something really crazy happens.

The first time I did Stanley’s, an SUV filled with illegal aliens almost clipped me as they tried to escape into the brush nearby and then I fell off my bike at the dismount line going into T2. The second time I did Stanley’s, my saddle sack with the required flat repair kit fell off on the drive over to the race that morning! I ended up riding my bike with my running fuel belt on and an extra tire kit packed inside!

I should have known something crazy was going to happen.

Just when I thought I was going to have a drama free event, Maritza passes me and seconds later she wails out in agony and plop goes her bike into the grass. From my point of view, it looked like her leg popped out and was only still by her side because her shoe was clipped in to her bike!! Screaming from a patch of grass and her bike on top of her, I jumped off my bike to help. Two other cyclists did the same. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head as she exclaimed,”Your times!! I’m ruining your times!” Silly girl thought that being on a podium was more important than her. Thank goodness it was just a cramp. She got back up after a few minutes, stretched her leg out and finished the race.

I know the rules. I’m not supposed to help other racers. I risked disqualification but there’s a point where the real Myssie pops out and punches the pseudo competitor facade and takes over. This is Maritza. She is a friend. You cannot leave her. No race is worth that. I’m sorry. It’s just not how Momma raised me. I really though she had broken her leg and if I had left her like that, she would have been in serious agony for God only knows how long. I thought I had it all on my gopro… but I hit the wrong button… again. 😦 Bummer.

I saw Sandy about a quarter mile ahead of me. Nah, I’m not going to speed up and take it away from her. This was her first triathlon. That was third place right there in my age group and I was letting it go. And I smiled and felt absolutely wonderful knowing that she was going to feel on top of the world in just about an hour. I rode the rest of way back about three bike lengths away from Maritza just to make sure she was ok and wouldn’t cramp up again. I’m glad I did that. I would have felt awful if it did happen again and no one was there to help her.

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T2 zoomed by and off I went a-running.. er a-jogging… er I was moving in the direction of the course. My feet felt like concrete. They were so heavy and I was honestly very disappointed because I had had a fabulous run earlier this week. But to be fair, I hadn’t had a good solid “brick” training and I was angry at myself. I deserved this. Regardless, I trotted on. It was a short two mile stretch and although I was slow, I was on a consistent pace with no signs of stopping. Good!

As I reach a little over half way, I see Coach Chavez beginning her run and I notice the struggle in her face. I haven’t known her for very long but I can pick up on body language and knew her enough to note that she needed some pushing. So I cross the street and decide to do the run portion over again so I can make sure she’s not struggling alone. I think she panicked for a while and didn’t understand what I was doing at first and when it sunk in, she said, “You don’t have to go this slow. You can go ten steps for…”

I stopped her there. “Don’t you worry about me. I’m fine.” I said curtly so that I wouldn’t get any other arguments. Plus it was probably my only chance to not get an argument from her since she was out of breath. I had the advantage in this conversation hehehehe

She said a few curse words… mostly the “F” word but that’s her style and it’s what works for her and I pushed her as best I could with encouragement. Between the vulgar language, she blurted,”I just wanted to finish this… (this part was inaudible) to be last.”

“You’re going to finish. You’re not going to be last. I’ll be last.” I said very matter-of-factly.

So as we were about a half block away from the finish line, she said,”Don’t be last. Finish this with me.”

And that was the smile I carried into the finish line.

The best Last Place finish to date. It is in journeys like these that you finally figure out what really matters in life. Kindness, encouragement and finishing what you started are just some of the lessons I've learned.  I've crossed many finish lines but I'm far from finished. :)

The best Last Place finish to date. It is in journeys like these that you finally figure out what really matters in life. Kindness, encouragement and finishing what you started are just some of the lessons I’ve learned. I’ve crossed many finish lines but I’m far from finished. 🙂

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Thank you to those Dos Guys, all the sponsors and volunteers for yet another extremely well organized and produced event.

Don’t Stop Believing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2014 by runmyssierun

So remember that busy week I was telling you about a few posts ago??? Yep, it happened!

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Fabulous fixie with orange wheels donated by Wally's Bike Shop for our auction!!!

Fabulous fixie with orange wheels donated by Wally’s Bike Shop for our auction!!!

We hosted a fabulous mixer at Cimarron Country Club last Thursday. Auctioned off a wicked awesome fixie donated by my trusty and generous bicycle guru, Wally’s Bike Shop, and some ticket concerts to a great show coming up and honored a great local gastro doctor who jumped on board to help with the cause.  RGV CAP board members even jumped in on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!!!

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Friday was packet pick up.

And Saturday was our RGV CAP 10k race!!!

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Monies generated from these events go to Rio Grande Valley residents who are at high risk of colon cancer and are unable to afford a colonoscopy. Since colon cancer is one of the MOST curable cancers if found in it’s early stages, many understand and empathize with the passion we have to this cause and supported it with all that they could. I’m so grateful for the amount of support we have received!!!!

Oh how I wish Momma would have found her cancer in an earlier stage.

But I know.. I know..

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This was peak week for my training and I’m pretty pleased. I’ve swam more than I ever have and feel very comfortable at the pace that I’m at and my form seems to be improving each time I practice – thanks to Coach W’s drills every Wednesday.  I still wish I didn’t have my crazy reactions in the ocean water but am reassured that Town Lake in Austin won’t make me swell up like that with the ictchies or wheezies. My running was probably the sport that I needed the MOST improvement in. It sure is humbling to see me go from where I was to where I am now. But again, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. So long as I am moving forward, I know I’ll get there. I’m feeling healthy and strong and mentally… I’ve put that sarcastic, doubting voice in my head securely in place… with some duct tape 😉

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I sure miss riding my bike as often as I did. But I had to work on my weaknesses. Cycling to me is FUN so I know that on game day, I won’t be riding with my legs, I’ll be riding with my heart. As I should be.

Getting over my personal disappointment on my swim at CapTexTri will be an adventure. But I’m confident I’ll beat my demons. Lets watch and see!!! My story is yet unwritten and only me and my coach have my goals.

Self improvement has lessons every day and on various subjects.

I am a forever student.

I am still quite a distance from my finish line.

 

 

 

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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You’re not good enough

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2014 by runmyssierun

Sooooo I had an interesting conversation the other day with an extremely experienced super athlete. Honest to God, I truly tried to hold my temper and sarcasm but I know it didn’t take long for my squeaky high pitched voice to mimic that of Karen Walker’s.

“Face it Myssie, you aren’t getting any younger. Your times are not going to get better. If my …. times can’t get better, then yours won’t either.” – I’ll leave their name out of it.

Ok… so maybe I am old. OK… so maybe I’m not a naturally gifted athlete. OK… so maybe my times will never get better.

What in the world makes someone think that it’s ok to squish the hope of someone else just because THEY can’t do it themselves? Their light will not shine any brighter by trying to dim someone else’s. I would NEVER tell someone that they can’t climb a mountain just because I haven’t climbed a mountain.

People like this drive me nuts! Now, I’d like to think that I’m a pretty positive and strong person but if people like this go about their day ranting to anyone gullible enough to believe just one ounce of this shhhhiii….tttuuuffffff, well then no wonder we have so many emotionally damaged people around us!!! Seriously, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! I really don’t care if it’s true or not. I love the Rotary 4-way test:

1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Taste your words before they leave your lips.

Whether you believe it’s coincidence or another sign from my guardian angels around me.. this was the very first article that was on my Klout (p.s. have you added me as your “influencer” on the subject of triathlon and/or cancer on Klout? – please do) feed this morning when I logged in:

http://games.crossfit.com/article/keeping-fit-69-mirlene-oconnell

She’s older than I am. However, just like me… she signed up for a triathlon before even knowing how to swim! AND SHE DID IT! And so did I! And we’re OLD! She finished last in her age group last year and hopes to improve. I finished 3rd to the last in my age group and I hope to improve.

I’m going to be real… I know I will not podium this Sunday at Stanley’s Triathlon. The age group that I am in have some incredibly seasoned triathletes with surreal times. In fact, the woman who won the entire women’s category was in my age group. I believe in my heart of hearts that my time WILL improve but still will likely not be enough to medal. And, trust me, I’m ok with that. Here’s why…

For the first time in my Team in Training history, I will not be using my “Mimi” – my custom Felt bike. I rode “Neo” – the Cervelo that was donated to me recently – for the first time a few days ago and felt very fast. I rode the course on both bikes and actually felt better in Neo. I will practice mounting and dismounting the bike tomorrow afternoon but even with the practice, let’s be honest… every athlete knows better than to use ANYTHING new right before a race. This is a gamble for me. But I’m also in the mindset that I am using Stanley’s Triathlon as a practice tri for CapTexTri in May. If ever there was an opportunity to see if I can handle Neo under fire, it’s on Sunday.

I am officially one of the "gang" now, eh?  Honored but I'll always prefer the BRC. ;)

I am officially one of the “gang” now, eh? Honored but I’ll always prefer the BRC. 😉

IF I do well, I can guarantee it will be because of the time made up on the bike, the experience and training all this year, and the amazing positive encouragement from my fellow peers who will likely be cheering me on along the streets of the course. IF I don’t do well… it’s because the jerk was right. I’m too old and my time won’t ever get better. I’m not getting any younger afterall.

Ahhhhh but here’s the reality of it all… regardless of the outcome, I will continue to TRY to make myself better. Because what TRULY matters is NOT whether or not I make it onto that podium and it is NOT even about my time getting better, or keeping cadence king or having proper swim form or running chi… it’s about someone who is scared to death right this moment because they just received the news that they have cancer.

I don’t give a damn how old I am… I’m gonna fight for them.

Sarah doesn't care how old I am. She just wants to live a cancer-free life.

Sarah doesn’t care how old I am. She just wants to live a cancer-free life.

These are the Cyclepaths exactly one year ago at our very first triathlon. Only 2 of us in that photo did not participate in that triathlon because we did our first triathlon the very next day. One year later, all but 3 of us pictured there have completed at least a Half-Ironman. We are all one year older... and all their times got better.

These are the Cyclepaths exactly one year ago at our very first triathlon. Only 2 of us in that photo did not participate in that triathlon because we did our first triathlon the very next day. One year later, all but 3 of us pictured here have completed at least a Half-Ironman. We are all one year older… and all their times got better.

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