Season’s Heatings! {Holiday Halfathon Recap}

When I registered for the Holiday Halfathon earlier in the year, I had no intention to aim for a PR.  With these plantar fasciitis feet, my PR days are gone, however, I expected to beat my time from three years ago.  Since I was pregnant, I could totally redeem that time even with bad heels.

Being a stunner runner, my attire is crucial next to the training.  Chrissy, Maribel and I wanted to match, so we decided on homemade tutus with striped furry stockings and a red wicking running shirt.  I added a little sequined clip-on Santa hat to my ensemble to finish my sporty Santa Baby look.

Lots of our Strider friends were also at this race as well as many of my runner blogger friends, Katrina of Sneakers and Fingerpaints and Beth of Discom-BOB-ulated Running.  Everybody looked so festive in their holiday attire.

About 4 miles into the race, I was dying from a heat stroke.  Usually, December races are cooler, but with the warmer weather, overcast and humidity, it felt like we were running in a Santa sauna.  I haven’t exposed my post-pregnancy belly in a sports bra in public, but I didn’t care.  I stripped off that shirt faster than a Catholic school girl at a frat party and then, I rolled down my cute striped socks.

Although Chrissy had been suffering from a sinus infection, she looked like a rock star out there.  She showed those bridges that she was the boss and she smiled the whole time.

The bridges were another reason I didn’t anticipate a PR.  I didn’t even want to push myself on that course.  I just wanted to finish better than I did three years ago.

Between the bridges and the heat, I needed to walk a large portion of the course.  Another runner on the course ridiculed Chrissy and I every time we walked the course.  John teased us about our tutus and socks having superpowers, but I don’t think so.  Those furry striped socks were my kryptonite!

Eventually, Chrissy and I caught up to Marie who was struggling due to a nasty bronchial infection.  Poor thing!  You know speedy little Marie is not up to par if she’s pacing with me.

Even with all the bridges, that last mile had to be the toughest for me.  We ran for a short distance on a sidewalk and then final half mile led us along a sandy, soft uneven trail covered with pine needles.  It was difficult to judge my footing and I stumbled a few times.  I decided to walk the trail and then I ran the last stretch to the finish line.  I suppose my tutu did give me some superpowers because I saved a sprint just for John.  I finished a few seconds before him and I beat my time from three years ago by nearly 30 minutes!

13.1 miles
Gun Time 2:26:55 
Chip Time 2:26:36
Ave Pace 11:13

We lost Maribel early in the race, but after we crossed the finish line, we all ran back to meet her.  The week prior to the race, her knee had been giving her a lot of grief and now, Maribel was really hurting.  When she spotted us, her spirits lifted and she sprinted the final stretch of her first half marathon.  Once past the finish line, we all cried in a huddled, blubbering mess for Maribel and everyone’s accomplishments and then we helped poor Maribel hobble over to the picnic tables to ice her knee.

Poor sick speedy Marie could barely talk.

I just wanted JM’s cookie cake beer.

At the post-race party, I found Jina of Behold the Turtle and we posed for a quick photo.  I loved her reindeer shirt!  As you can see, I was still so hot after the race and I was looking real hot in my white, very see through sports bra.  Yep, I’m a classy act.  Thank goodness for Cliff Shots covering my ta-tas like pasties!

I am so making Santa’s naughty list this year.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Tupper Feeling Deep in My Heart for Dixie

When I received an invitation to Dixie’s Tupperware Party, I dusted off my Amy Winehouse wig just for the occasion and if I had some real Tupperware, I would have brought that too.

Photo credit: Bradford Rogne

Dixie’s Tupperware Party is not your “grandmother Tupperware Party” (NBC Today Show).  Dixie has taken the Tupperware world by storm and transformed it into something reminiscent of a Passion Party.  Hold onto tight to that corkscrew and strap on in for a wild ride because Dixie will show you a side of Tupperware you have never experienced before, one “more fun than a gaggle of lesbians at a Home Depot sidewalk sale”.

Grab your girlfriends for the ultimate girl’s night out with your favorite southern belle hostess, Dixie Longate. 

Dixie Longate, the fast-talking Tupperware Lady, has packed up her catalogues, and left her children in an Alabama trailer park to journey across the country. Join Dixie as she throws a good ol’ fashioned Tupperware Party filled with outrageously funny tales, heartfelt accounts, FREE giveaways, audience participation and the most fabulous assortment of Tupperware ever sold on a theater stage. Loaded with the most up-to-date products available for purchase, see for yourself how Ms. Longate became the #1 Tupperware seller in the U.S. and Canada, as she educates her guests on the many alternative uses she has discovered for her plastic products! WARNING: recommended for mature audiences.

Complete with catalogues and order forms, guests welcomed into Dixie’s living room can find gifts for everyone on their Christmas list and the “Unchristmas, Chaka Khan Jewish holiday” too.  Much like Tupperware’s lifetime guarantee for its “great crap”, Dixie delivers a presentation full of laughs complete with one-liners and innuendoes that popup faster than a FlatOut!® bowl.

Raffi and her friend, Jennifer, were invited to sit on Dixie’s sofa.

The classics are still Tupperware’s top sellers, but Dixie offers her guests new ideas for the classic products.  I will never look at a Shape-O Toy® the same way.  Dixie also proudly declares Tupperware products to be BPA-free as well as provides helpful tips to keep those beautiful colorful plastic bowls stain-free.

After Dixie’s Tupperware Party, my blogger friends and I had the pleasure to meet Dixie in the lobby where she processed Tupperware orders, signed autographs and posed for photos.  Her loving, adorable presence glows on and off stage.

“Denise, I love you more than an Asian girl loves counting. xo Dixie Longate”

Dixie’s Tupperware Party premieres December 4 through December 9 in the Jaeb Theater at The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.  Tickets may be purchased by visiting

*I received tickets to Dixie Tupperware Party in exchange for my honest review.*
Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Purple Run to Cure Epilepsy

On a dark, cold early Thursday morning last week, my fellow Suncoast Striders and I officially kicked off our Wear Purple Virtual Run to Cure Epilepsy Marathon.  I was truly touched by the turn-out and the number of people that wore purple to show their support for this cause.  I am blessed to know so many caring, kind people and fortunate enough to call them “my Strider family”.

To show my appreciation to the Striders and their support, I provided a purple tailgate complete with very purple cupcakes and grape Gatorade for our post-run social hour.  Of course, I also brought the typical less purple and sugary runner supplies, such as water and bananas.

Chrissy, Maribel, Jen H and I took an easy pace through the streets of Longleaf.  Although the temperature was cooler than normal, we quickly warmed up and the layers came off revealing our more purple attire underneath.

5.8 miles
Time 58:41
Ave Pace 10:07
Max Pace 8:29

After two loops through Longleaf, we joined the rest of the Strider gang for our purple run post party.  In the daylight, it dawned on me (Ha! Ha! bad pun) I realized just how many people wore purple. It was a truly an amazing sight!

A sincere THANK YOU to David and the Suncoast Striders for making this fun purple run such a success!

If you would like to join the Virtual Run/Walk to Cure Epilepsy, there’s still plenty of time.  Register for a 5K or a marathon and then complete the distance on your own time, but be sure to finish it before November 30.  There’s even a purple bib to print out to wear when you cross that virtual finish line.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Halloween Treat

Despite being shattered from a long week and camping with the Girl Scouts the night before, I conjured enough strength for our annual adult Halloween party and I’m so glad I did.  As usual, the party was a real scream treat.

It seems we weren’t the only ones with crazy a schedule this year, because our party was a lighter than normal, but that didn’t stop it from being a truly bewitching time.

Like previous years, most of the costumes were creative and fun, although Marcia needed a little help with hers.  During the party, Marcia confessed to not liking Halloween or dressing up even though her husband Patrick loves it.  I told Marcia, “You have to find an angle to make Patrick’s costume work for you.  You work around his costume.   For example, you could be his hostage.  You just have to think outside of the costume box.”

Speaking of thinking out of the box, no one knew what I was supposed to be until I explained it to them, which only made my costume more comical.

My iCarly inspired sushi costume was so cheap and simple to throw together starting with a white cami and skirt for the rice.  The maroon throw pillow, which was meant to resemble raw tuna, was wrapped and pinned to dark green ribbon and finished with a pair of Chinese restaurant chop sticks.  The ginger and wasabi were rolled scraps of material hot-glued to a dollar store headband. See, so simple and cheap!  Allan’s psycho sushi chef costume ordered from amazon was the costly costume!

Plus, my sushi costume was almost as comfortable as last year’s Amy Winehouse ( minus the wig, of course).  It’s funny how my costumes get more and more casual each Halloween.  This sushi costume was so comfy that I’m totally weating it trick-or-treating with the kids.  I wonder if anyone will know what I supposed be then?

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

How I Sweat Pink, Think Pink and Act Pink

Yesterday, I underwent a second mammogram performed once again by Linda.  As I discovered last year, mammograms are nothing to fear.  Forget the horror stories of tortured ta-tas and boobs being squished.  It doesn’t hurt and for only few moments of being manhandled, you are preventing breast cancer.

Being over the age of…eh…hem…*cough*… forty, I’m the prime pink ribbon candidate.  Last year, I received my baseline mammogram (a series of four x-rays or four squishings) in order for my doctor to view the structure and composition of my breasts.  That baseline will be compared to yesterday’s mammogram and each of my future mammograms.

Linda informed me this year that even if you have no history of breast cancer in your family, you’re not out of the woods, though you’re risk is less than a woman with a family history.

According to the American Cancer Society,

“Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease.

Having one first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk about 3-fold.

The exact risk is not known, but women with a family history of breast cancer in a father or brother also have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Altogether, less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease. This means that most (over 85%) women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease.

Some other risk factors include: (source

  • being a woman
  • getting older — the older you get, the greater your
  • risk of breast cancer
  • having an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or
  • BRCA2 breast cancer genes
  • a personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • a family history of breast cancer
  • having high breast density on a mammogram
  • having a previous biopsy showing hyperplasia
  • lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
  • being exposed to large amounts of radiation at a young age
  • never having children
  • having your first child after age 35
  • high levels of blood androgrens or estrogens
  • postmenopausal hormone use (current or recent use) of estrogen or estrogen plus progestin
  • being overweight after menopause or gaining weight as an adult
  • high bone density
  • having more than one drink of alcohol per day
  • starting menopause after age 55
  • being younger than 12 at the time of your first period
  • current or recent use of birth control pills

The bottom line is if you are a woman, you are at risk. Period.

So promise me you will go get squished.  Together, we are the cure.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Race for the Cure 2012 {recap}

Last Saturday, “sweat pink” was more than a clever catch phrase from my SPA sisters.  With temperatures in the 90s and stifling humidity, I took sweating pink to a whole new level at the Race for the Cure.  All 664 10K participants have officially sweated pink for a good cause.

Normally, the weather is cooler for this event but it’s so hard to predict if fall will arrive in Florida in time for the race.  Maybe moving the start time up an half an hour would eliminate some of that heat?  Either way, we would still get to enjoy a gorgeous golden pink sunrise over St. Pete Pier.

Though year after the heat may be unpredictable, we can always count on a beautiful backdrop for this pink cause. It’s like the race officials roll in the sunrise with the balloons before the start of the race.

As we lined up for the start, we were oddly nervous about this race.  Chrissy and I wanted to finish under an hour.  Faith just wanted to finish for Miss Sharon, which is all we really wanted to do.

Chrissy and I paced together for the first couple of miles but I was really struggling with the heat and I had to walk the water stations.  Since I wanted to finish under an hour, I decided against snapping photos while running, a decision I now regret.  I was walking anyway and capturing the race in photos makes me happy.  I definitely was not running happy and snappy for this race.

The tutu I wore may have had something to do with the heat I felt.  Normally, I make my own tutus, but this kid’s petticoat costume from Target was so much cheaper than making one.  However, instead of hand-knotted tulle like my other tutus, this one had a nylon skirt underneath.  Let it be known, nylon does not wick away the sweat or the water I kept dumping on myself at every water station.

The little girls manning the 5 mile water station put a smile on my face and pep in my step with all the compliments they showered on me while handing me water.  “I LOVE your tutu!”  “I love that headband!”  I felt like the belle of the ball at the 5 mile water station.

Thankfully, my knees and heels held up for the duration of the race.  When I would feel a twinge of pain here and there, I looked for level ground to avoid running at an angle.  I also walked the “uphill” portion of the course through downtown St. Pete.

I tried to push it a little harder for the last mile, but I didn’t have a sprint in me.  With only 0.20 of mile to go, I went for the sprint, but then the race didn’t end.  The course ran longer than 6.2 miles!  I felt deflated.  Then, I heard the Suncoast Striders cheering for me and my attitude perked up.  My Strider family helped turn that frown upside down and I finished the last 0.15 of mile with a smile.  It wasn’t my best time but at least I beat my time from last year by 3 minutes.

10K (actual distance 6.35)
Chip Time 1:01:19
Garmin Time 1:10:19
Ave Pace (chip) 9:54
Ave Pace (Garmin) 9:40
Max Pace 6;35
Div Place 19/74
Gender Place 142/476
Overall Place 244/664

But the race did put things in perspective for me.  No matter how hot or tired or the pain I felt for the duration of the race, there are women who are suffering for more than a mere hour. Every minute of every day they are feeling pain, sick and nauseous.  Along with losing their hair and their breasts, they’re losing hope. They can’t see the finish line and they are feeling deflated.

I want those women to know that we are here for you!  We’re cheering for you in the homestretch!  Be strong!  You, the survivors who fought the battle against breast cancer and even the women who lost their lives in the battle are our inspiration.  You are our heroes.

That’s why even in the heat and humidity, I will always sweat pink and Race for the Cure.

A shout out to David and Aaron for capturing these pink moments and many other fantastic photos for the Suncoast Striders! xox

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Dine Out for No Kid Hungry

I fed starving children today.  What did you do?

No, I didn’t breastfeed them.  My inappropriately placed sticker is more than a pastie.  It represents several restaurants across the country participating in the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry program.

“Every September, Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ brings together thousands of restaurants and their customers to raise funds for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. This year, more than 6,500 restaurants are extending their participation through the end of September.”

While staying in Anna Maria Island, my girlfriends and I happened upon the Sandbar and learned about its involvement with the program.  With every grouper or hamburger purchase, the Sandbar will donate $1 to Dine Out For No Kid Hungry.

Even one dollar can go a long way as one in five children in the U.S. struggles with hunger.  That equals 16 million children.  Therefore, “every gift helps us connect hungry kids to the food they need”. – No Kid Hungry

There is still plenty of time to participate.  The Dine Out For No Kid Hungry program runs through to the end of September.  So dine out and do some good in your ‘hood today.

Find a restaurant near you here.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Guess Who?

Guess who stepped up to lead story time at our local Barnes & Nobles once she learned it was canceled?

The parents and preschoolers were so disappointed and this supermom simply had to save the day. As I wandered around the children’s section looking for good book to read, I scrolled through the children’s music playlist in my head.  With in minutes, I had an impromptu literary lesson ready to go.  We sang a welcome song and monster songs, like Monster Boogie, to go along with the book, Tickle Monster.  Well, we had to put that stage to good use!  The moms, kids and I had so much fun that I plan to make it a regular event on our moms group calendar.

But that’s not all.  No, Barnes & Nobles didn’t hire me on the spot.  But guess who finally figured out the front-facing camera on her Incredible in an attempt to capture her heroic story time moment?

I’ll give you a hint.  She can pull a story time lesson out of her ass loves reading stories, singing and dancing with kids almost as much as her new cell phone.

“Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Ambassador program and have been provided with a wireless device and three months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.”


Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Tarpon Springs Triathlon

Sometimes races make good learning experiences.  Such was the case with the Tarpon Springs Triathlon.  Although it my fifth sprint triathlon, the event was full of first time experiences.

For one, it was my first gulf swim.  That had me a little nervous, but I thought I could handle it.  That was until a storm rolled through.  As I drove into Fred Howard Beach beach that morning, lightning illuminated the pitch black sky over the Gulf.  That should have been my first sign to turn around and go home, but I saw others unloading and entering transition, so I decided to ride out the storm.

Since I missed early packet pick-up, I still had to receive my bib numbers and goodie bay.  Already looking like a pack mule, I now had another racing backpack to carry.  I tried to enter transition to just unload everything, but since I didn’t have my number on my bike or my body marked, I wasn’t allowed to enter transition.  So I stood outside of transition and unloaded everything to make my numbers and papers visible.

Once finally in transition, I found my rack, but it was full and there was no place to even set my belongings.  Apparently, someone racked their bike in the wrong place, but even after she moved her bike and belongings, there was still barely any room for me.  With two backpacks, a towel and running shoes, I made do with the little space available.

Now, that I was all set up, I could take a breather and snap some photos.  I watched the sun rise in the east as lightning still lit up the sky over the Gulf to the west of us.

“Excuse me,” spoke the girl to my right. “You know you have a flat tire, right?”

“What?  Are you kidding me?”

I checked my tires last night, but I forgot to check them again this morning.  With the race starting in ten minutes, I quickly dismounted my bike and carried it over the Chainwheel Drive tent.  I must have looked like a deer in headlights, because my friend, Scott from Suncoast Running, reassured me that the Chainwheel Drive guy could fix it in minutes.  Like a sleight of hand magic trick, he literally fixed my bike in minutes.  My hero!  At that moment, I realized I need to pack an inner tube emergency repair kit in my car.

With minutes to spare, I mounted my bike again and headed down to the swim.  Over the beach, a rainbow appeared through the large dark gray clouds that blanketed the pink morning sky.  Once down at the shore, I realized I forgot to take my Garmin off, but I couldn’t reenter transition because it had closed.  I attempted to stash it under the water table but a volunteer offered to hold it for me and I was grateful for his chivalry.

The first swim wave entered the water with waves crashing down on them.  The large inflated buoys looked like sails.  As my wave lined up to enter the water, I decided to stay to the right of the pack. When the horn blew, we all charged into the water. Once I started swimming, I realized being on the outer right of the pack was not the best decision because the waves carried me farther out, which meant I had to swim back to the buoys.

As the waves rolled over me, I tried to swim my best.  Unfortunately, my stroke just wasn’t cutting it.  I struggled with each stroke.  At that moment, I realized I should learn to backstroke for this type of situation.  The lifeguards kept watch over the competitors from their canoes and I could feel their gaze on me, so I know I looked pathetic out there.  Once around the buoys, swimming back to shore was easy as the waves pushed me along.

As I ran back up the beach, my noble volunteer held out my Garmin for me, just as he promised.  In transition, I threw on my shoes and rolled on my way.  My Suncoast Striders friends cheered for me as I set on the course along the causeway, but riding through an ugly storm left me feeling less than cheery.

*Shout out to Aaron for the photo of me on my bike.*

We followed the road out of Fred Howard Park and rode through a residential area of Tarpon Springs, which had its share of hills.  The combination of hills and wind from the approaching storm was yet another struggle for me.  Once the storm hit, cold hard rain pelted me.   The wind picked up and my speed slowed down to 6 mph.  I felt like I was peddling backwards.  I contemplated hopping off my bike and running with it but I didn’t know if I would be penalized.  So, I continued slowly pedaling forward.

Finally back in transition, I racked my bike and ran off in the rain.  I was ready to be finished.  For the run, the course took us back along the causeway and through Fred Howard Park.  The path through the park was almost a trail run and on a better day, I would have loved it.  Large puddles covered much of the trail and I tried to find higher ground to avoid most of them; not that it would matter because my feet were already drenched.

As much as I hate rain, this leg of the triathlon felt good.  It may have been because I was nearly finished, but more likely, I knew this was my strongest suit.  I could redeem myself after nearly drowning and pedaling backwards.  Even with harsh wind and cold rain pouring down on me, my stride was strong. I even had a sprint left in me which I saved for the last stretch to the finish line.

Division Place 21/28

Overall Place 363/426   

Overall Time 1:22:55  

Swim 6:58   

1 Transition 2:38  

Bike 43:21   

2 Transition 1:20  

3 mile Run 28:40

I see everything is a learning experience and this triathlon was no exception.    I now know I need to pack a fix-a-flat kit and learn how to change a tire.  Even though I’ve been saying it for years, I fully understand the importance of taking a master swim class so I can learn other swim styles and stroke techniques.

Although the weather and hills were horrendous, I would participate in this well-organized, small sprint triathlon again.  Next year, I hope to be better prepared and back with a vengeance to improve my overall time.


9/11 Memorial

This morning, I realized that I never shared my photos from NYC.  Since next Tuesday is the anniversary of the attacks on September 11, I thought it fitting to share photos of our visit to the 9/11 Memorial.

When visiting the memorial, visitors must request tickets from the preview site, which are free and only require reserving a day and time.

Before entering the site, everyone undergoes airport-like security.  Allan and I utilized the time to remind our girls to be respectful and on their best behavior as this place was hallowed ground like that of a cemetery.

Thousands of people died here.  Many heroes, firefighters and police officers, risked their lives to save others.  Some loved ones were never found and some remains are still buried here.

We told the girls that they might see people making rubbings of their loved ones’ names.

We also explained that this is a very sad place and they should expect to see people crying and mourning for their loss.

But I don’t think my children expected to see their own mom cry.  It was such a somber experience and I became overwhelmed with emotion.  I found myself tearing up quite a few times as images of that horrific day eleven years ago flashed in my mind.

Through it all, one tree survived.

Ghostly names chiseled into granite cascade into an abyss of where the north and south towers once stood.

Though much of the memorial site still needs to be completed, I applaud the city of New York for the magnificent memorial they built to honor those lost as a result of the attacks on 9/11 and the lives lost during the bombing in 1993.


Never forget.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+