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monica select desat

-photo courtesy of Andrew Patterson, Neptune 9 Photography, 2013

The photo above and many more great photos of the event are available for viewing here:

2013-10-26 10.05.13

Bear with me for a few moments, I am about to get a little bit …sappy.

I feel particularly blessed today, as I do on most days…but today is special: My oldest daughter and I ran together in a 5k, and I paced her to 2nd place in her age group; I got to spend some time with a truly inspirational athlete and one of my personal heroes, Monica Caban; I met and hung out with some other barefoot runners… I didn’t even have to use my AK…. I’d say it was a good day…

If you are interested in donating towards Monica’s recovery, you can:

  • donate in person @ Broadway Bank specifying it to be for the Monica Caban Benefit Run
  • Email donation amounts and a CC# to seemonicanow@gmail.com or Tri.monica@aol.com
  • send a check to 3814 Sausalito Fern, San Antonio TX,  78261

I first encountered Monica Caban and heard  her tragic yet inspirational tale back at the Greater Gator Olympic Tri. I say tragic, because of her easily avoided accident and injury, and inspirational because, well, she’s one hell of a tough lady and I hope that I could find the strength she has if put in her place.

Here’s a recap of what I wrote then, because after reading it over, I don’t think I can write it better any differently:

“Why is she so inspiring?, visit this link to her Road to Recovery Facebook page,  and then read the following excerpt from her website, www.iseeyounow.org

Monica’s Story

Monica Caban became an Ironman on Nov. 5, 2011 after completing the Panama City, FL, course in 14:02:48. Her two kids were the biggest fans as she crossed the finish. Her legs were a bit tight, but her body felt great and she was ready to do it again.

Soon her sights were on 2012 Ironman Arizona.

But four weeks before the event, on the routine Boerne Loop training ride with a fellow cyclist, an 82-year-old woman driving a pick-up truck hit her from behind. Monica suffered a severe spinal cord injury and lost use of her legs.

Since that tragic incident in October, Monica has focused on getting healthy, with physical therapy as her new training regimen.

And every time, she gets a little better.

But she was out of work when the accident happened, and with no income since, the medical bills are adding up. To help, friends from the swimming, cycling, and now running, communities are raising funds to offset some of her rehabilitation expenses.

Monica also plans to start the Now You See Me Foundation that will help children who suffer spinal cord injuries, and athletes injured during training. In the meantime, she wants to remind drivers that cyclists are sharing the road, and she wants all athletes to “be as bright as you can be out there!”

Thank you for your participation and support.

Her friend, Veronica Thaxton,  was quoted as saying, “I heard this crash, and then I saw Monica flying through the air. She flew more than 30 feet and then landed in the grass on the side of the road. I ran over to her. It was hard for her to breathe, and she was in a lot of pain. She asked me if she was dying, and I told her no. I thought I was lying to her.”

I honestly don’t know that I would have the inner strength to come back from an injury like that…but here was Monica, telling us now all about her upcoming October 26th event..FROM THE WATER…where she was sitting, because she would be returning to the competition life by rocking the 1500m swim leg of the race as part of a relay team.

So, simply put for those keeping score: An Ironman Triathlete with a severed spine was gracefully and warmly extending an erect middle finger to fate and naysayers… and was back to competing in an Olympic Distance Triathlon Relay.”

Ok, so, if you didn’t know, now you know, or at least you are re-familiarized with her story…

Since I heard her story and met her the first time, I have had the opportunity to chat with her a few times, and she was happy to allow me to promote her race on this site. (I have also been throwing little digs to all my local readers asking what their excuse was)

Enough pre-amble though, time to get on with the review:

I had initially intended to run the 10k length solo, but Mrs MuddyJ pointed out to me that the Thing’s Three have been asking to run a race with me … for a really long time! Being that Monica is such an inspirational woman, and this would likely be a smaller event, it seemed selfish not to let them run with me. Thing #1 and Thing #2 jumped at the chance to run with me, but Thing #3 decided she preferred to hang out with Mrs MuddyJ for the morning… (who can blame her… alone time with the best mommy EVER!) …so I purchased entry to the 5k for myself and Things #1 & #2.

Sadly, come race morning, Thing #2 had a tummy ache and a slight fever. Though it was nothing serious, it just didn’t seem a good idea to take him to the race, making it a solo Dad & Daughter Date/Run for the morning!

The venue was simple to find, and the parking instructions were clear. An army of volunteers was present for this event, and we were guided to the parking area quickly and efficiently. We walked over to the starting area, pausing to snap a few photos, and of course say hello to Monica, who was bright and cheery as ever, showing none of the fear I would be feeling knowing I was about to attempt my first 1 mile walk after such an accident…

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that? The Ironman triathlete who suffered a severed spinal cord is not only extending her middle finger to fate by swimming in relays, but she is walking again with the aid of braces and a walker! The next time I am feeling sorry for myself in a race, training run, whatever… I am totally going to think W.W.M.D.? (What Would Monica Do?)

I recognized a lot of the local athletes, having met them at various tri’s throughout the past year and made my rounds to say hello to familiar faces with Thing #1 in tow. She, of course, was in her glory, being the center of attention in every new conversation. We also walked over to the timing trailer to say hello to the team of Redemption Race Productions, who were generously donating their time, and timing, to this event.

From the crowd, a gentleman dressed as a Barefoot Ninja (complete with mask) approached and asked if he could take pics of my feet… “my partner thinks I am crazy and doesn’t believe that anyone else runs barefoot” 2013-10-26 07.50.50

Soon, it was start time, and Mat Garcia, of KENS5 News gave a stirring intro, recapping Monica’s tale and his station’s involvement and coverage of her progress. Monica took the mic, and thanked us all for attending, drawing a tear from many an eye of those in attendance by wearing her heart on her sleeve and letting us all know how much us coming out to show our support meant to her, as well as impressing us all by wiggling her legs like a can-can dancer! Brian, of Redemption Race Productions, gave a pre-race logistical briefing, as well as his standard pre-race prayer as Monica was helped into her braces and stood up…

And then we were off…

The Salado Creek Greenway is a beautiful venue, and a perfect place to walk/jog/run/cycle as a family… I know this because I am lucky enough to live near one of the sections of it. The wide trails made for ample passing room, and there were few, if any bottlenecks and problems. The only issue I encountered in fact, was a jerk on a mountain bike (sans helmet) riding down the center of the path, refusing to yield,pull over or give way, and shouting “there’s traffic going the other way too PEOPLE!” I yanked Thing #1 back by her shirt-tails just in time to prevent her from getting caught under his wheel, and that was that. (ok, I considered running after him and tackling him off his bike…what a dick he was! -rant complete-)

Thing #1 wanted to take off like a bat out of hell from the get-go, but I reeled her in, telling her I would let her know when she could cut loose and let her legs fly. She got discouraged when she was passed by a large group of children, which seemed to contain every other child her age who was running the race, but she grudgingly listened to me…

Mrs MuddyJ and I are locked in a pretty constant disagreement over our children’s feet; She prescribes to the school of thought that children’s feet need support and protection, whereas I….well, y’all certainly know I am a barefoot believer by now, right?

As a compromise, we have settled on a pair of children’s New Balance Minimus… they have a wide toe box and a minimal drop…but in my opinion, the sole is far too stiff and hard to allow her foot to function. The result of these soles was a horrifyingly loud ‘clop clop clop’ noise as each heel strike occurred and her toes slammed down. I corrected her often, and she would fix her form, running faster and with less effort for a while before reverting back to ‘clop clop clopping’ down the path. When we reached the water station/turnaround, she was still feeling good and asked me if she could take off her shoes…

How could I possibly say no to that?

She took a cup of water and slammed it back, then sat off to the side and pulled off her shoes and socks, handing them to me to carry. The difference was instaneous and we immediately picked up a faster pace, headed into negative splits. Slowly at first, we began picking off the kids who had passed us earlier as they ran out of gas. Thing #1 was feeling great as we hit mile 2’s end and started into the final leg. Every time she wanted to slow down and walk, I simply pointed to the boys running in front of her and she would reel them in slowly and pass them, never breaking pace to sprint, but being satisified that she was catching them…

…then there weren’t any more boys, or girls in front of us, and we could hear the finish line….

Spurred onward by the proximity of the finish line, she took me by surprise and shot off as if she’d been fired from a gun. I recovered quickly and caught up just as we crossed the line together…

We walked over to the timing trailer and keyed in our numbers… she had taken 2nd in her age group!!!! (I took 5th in mine, as she tells everyone, but then again, I was pacing a 7 year-old)

We headed off in the direction that Monica would be travelling her mile, and took a turn walking with her for a bit, offering encouragement. Call me a greedy parent, but mostly I just wanted my little girl to see what an inspirational woman Monica is, and how she was overcoming her problems. I had explained Monica’s accident and condition to The Thing’s Three, and my daughter stood in awe as Monica took each trying step towards her finish line.

After her finish, Thing #1 and I headed off in search of the promised breakfast….and we found it! I threw my diet to the wind in the presence of delicious bean & cheese and Sausage & Egg tacos and coffee…Thing #1 had some too, having worked up a slight appetite by mildly exerting herself earlier that morning…but she did opt for orange juice over tacos….

We chatted with Andy, (aka the barefoot ninja) and got to meet barefoot runner Robert, of the website iranwithrobert.com , as well as fellow Wet Willie and Triathlete Dagmar as we waited for the awards ceremony to begin….

So my little girl ran her first 5k, and managed a place on the podium…hell yeah I am a proud poppa!

Now to get down to some serious training though: I have a double header coming up in a few weeks:

The 3rd San Antonio Gladiator Rock n Run on Sat, November 9th:


Redemption Racing’s Enchanted Rock 25k Trail race in Fredricksburg on November 10th…


…and that’s just an appetizer before December when I have the Illuminations 1/2 Marathon:IlluminationsHalf

…The night before I run the Natural Bridge Caverns Duathlon:


Then…The Windcrest City of Lights 5k:


The night before I tackle The SPARTAN BEAST:header21

Well, that’s all for now folks…

Keep my friend Monica in your Prayers,

and of course, Stay Muddy My Friends!