Random Thoughts about a Crazy World, Crazy Love, the Mom Squad, the Miles and Track Tuesday

Thirteen years ago, I was teaching at an elementary school is a migrant community.   After the Columbine shooting, my school district put lockdown drills into place.  We practiced those drills along with fire drills and tornado drills.

Sometime after that, the lockdown drill became a reality when a person ran through our school’s soccer field wielding a gun and shots were fired. We (the teachers) had to turn off our lights and hide with our students in our classrooms. We had to be brave for our students. We had to protect them and these students came from horrible homes and probably saw this type of thing regularly. School was their safe place, but not that day.

As an educator, I can’t even imagine how the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School felt that fateful Friday last week. I can’t even imagine what went through their minds as they tried to be brave and protect their students who thought school was their safe place. As parent, I just want to hold my babies and never let go.

God bless the teachers, the survivors and the families as they deal with their loss. Hopefully, schools can be safe places again and maybe the powers that be will make common sense gun control as common place as lockdowns.

Also thirteen years ago, I married my best friend.  It’s been a crazy, mad wild ride but I wouldn’t change one day of it, especially since my husband still has a few surprises up his sleeve.  He bought me this mirror from IKEA that I’d been eyeing for the longest time and wrote a message on it that says, “Denise, Happy Anniversary. You are beautiful and I love you. xxxx ♥ ♥”

His present is…er…um….on backorder.  Yep, that’s it!

Speaking of surprises, my husband pulled a doozy on me yesterday.  He high jacked my email and contacted Joe of 10 News to ask if he would to announce our anniversary on the air during our Moms Squad segment.  Watch it here and check out my totally surprised expression at the end.

On the subject of the Mom Squad, Joe has asked Marisa, Jenny and me to be his regular team every week, so we are officially The Mom Squad, which of course means we need our own coffee mugs since we’re part talk show television.  Plus, if I was holding a coffee mug, it would keep me from speaking with my hands.  Here’s last week segment.

I’m really struggling mentally with my marathon training.  I’m just so tired lately and as a result, my training is suffering.  Then, the Holiday Half didn’t go so well, but at least I beat my time from 3 years ago which shouldn’t been hard to do since I was pregnant then.  (More about the Holiday Half tomorrow!)

I had a really tough time recovering after the half marathon.  On Sunday I woke up with this horrible Charlie horse in my thigh I know it’s a direct result from not fueling properly after the race.  Other than a few beers, I didn’t drink any of my usual recovery drinks such as chocolate milk or coconut and I didn’t eat for hours after the race. Stupid move, I know and I definitely paid for it in the middle of the night.

Since my Mondays are Mom Squad days, I’ve also had to readjust my whole marathon training schedule.  But given the whole Charlie horse episode, I also decided against speedwork last week and just went for an easy 3 mile run.

3.1 miles
Time 31:25
Ave Pace 10:08
Max Pace 8:08

And that was the last time I ran last week, except for my 20 miler on Saturday.  Again, not my proudest marathon training moment, but it happens.  Last week was a really tough week for me emotionally and my training suffered.  I honestly considered postponing my 20 miler until the following week, but my running partners talked me into it.  Sometimes peer pressure does have its benefits.

So, I ran I went into my 20 miler with only 3 miles recorded that week and I was dreading it.  I feared the worst and I warned my running partners that I would be all piss and vinegar and cussing up a storm.

After 5 miles, I had this weird pain in the top of my foot, like my shoelaces were too tight.  I tried to loosen them but things still hurt.  Overall it wasn’t my best, but we finished just under 4 hours and I could walk afterwards.  20 miles in the books!  And even with all those weird foot pains, I found the energy to do a 5-10-15-20 dance with my running partners.

20 miles
Time 3:56: 35
Ave Pace 11:50
Max Pace 8:07

Today, I decided against speedwork but elected to do a 4 mile tempo run.  I even threw some sprints in at the end.

4.25 miles
Time 40:46
Ave Pace 9:36
Max Pace 6:47 (0.25 sprint – 7:33)

According to variety of plans I’m following to make up my hybrid plan, this week is a step-back week to 12.  I like the sound of that distance.

What’s you running plans for the week?  Got some sprints to share?  What other work-outs are you doing?

I am excited to announce a new Track Tuesday co-host!  Meghan of runMeganrun will be joining me on the track for weekly speedwork.  The “rules” are still the same, so link up and play along with us.

To join our Track Tuesday linky party, do your speed work (at least 4 quarter mile sprints) on Tuesday or any day you that works best for you, blog about your times and remember to add our cool Track Tuesday button to your post.  Then, link up your post at either runMeganrun or Run DMT to share Track Tuesday Speed Work Sessions.  To show support for our other virtual running partners on the Track Tuesday Team, be sure to visit the other blogs listed in the linky party.  Give them a virtual high-five and leave some comment love too.


*Also linking up at*


Denise Mestanza-Taylor+


A Serendipity-Style Date

Last Sunday, Allan and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  Twelve years, really?  Wow.

For our anniversary, I wanted to plan something different other than dinner and a movie.  So when I stumbled upon this idea from The Dating Divas on Pinterest, I knew this was the date to plan for us.

Allan and I love the movie Serendipity.  Since the way we met happened by chance or nearly met a few times before our first encounter, we love any and all romantic comedies that revolved that theme, however, Serendipity holds the number one spot.  (You can watch the trailer here.)

Basically, the two main characters meet by chance in a department store when trying to purchase the same pair of gloves and then spend the rest of day together.  At the end of the day, they try to exchange phone numbers but fate steps in so they decide to test fate by writing the numbers on a five dollar bill and in an old book.  If either item crosses their paths again, then they’re meant to be together.

When Allan and I celebrated our tenth anniversary in New York City, we tried to replicate Serendipity movie moments, like ice skating in Central Park.  Next to our wedding day and our honeymoon (and the birth of our children, of course) that weekend in NYC was the best time ever.

So for our Serendipity-style date, I recreated those special NYC moments with a Tampa flare.  I started with an invitation hidden inside the Serendipity DVD case.  With snowflakes embellishments and typewriter font, I created an invitation that cleverly outlined our date.

“The best time to ever be
Was our time spent in New York City
And how each moment
Was like a scene from Serendipity.
So let’s relive that date
With some ice and some skates
And lunch at Datz Deli.”

We began the date at Datz Deli.  The restaurant was so busy that the only available seating was at the bar.  We were all right with that.

To stick with the NYC motif, I ordered the Rockin’ Rueben, but Allan ordered a BBQ Brisket sandwich.   I couldn’t eat the whole thing, but I knew I would be hungry again after ice skating.

For the past two holiday seasons, city of Tampa has erected an ice rink at Curtis Hixon Park in the middle of Downtown Tampa, appropriately named Tampa’s Downtown on Ice.  Although the rink is small and on this particularly Sunday, very crowded, it filled the bill for the ice skating portion of our date.

Unfortunately, it was hard to hold hands as we skated as we had to swerve around small children.  I even fell on my knees at one point, which made me laugh so hard.  No matter how small the rink was, we still had huge fun and we left a Serendipity sign to let others know we were there.

Since Allan and I worked up quite a thirst ice skating, we popped over to Taps across the street from Tampa’s Downtown on Ice for a quick pint.  We drank to a fun date and toasted twelve great years.  Here’s to many more of them!

PhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogueUnknown Mami

Live, Love, TRAVEL

Simone and Matt’s Wedding

My sister and her husband celebrated their first anniversary this week.


Simone asked me to be her Matron of Honor and for my daughters to be her flower girls.  I was honored to be part of her special day, but I was truly touched that she wanted to include my girls.





Weeks before the ceremony, I had some very intimate conversations with my sister due to her cold feet. Although I never experienced cold feet before my wedding day, I tried my best to understand her anxiousness.  In a feeble attempt to comfort Simone, I reminded that her Matt was a perfect match for her.  I told her that a wedding is simply a dog-and-pony show.  It’s the people that make the marriage and from the unconditional love I saw displayed so often, I knew they could go the distance to endure all the ups and downs of marriage.


On the way to the church, I snapped a photo of Simone in the limo.  She threatened begged me not to post it on Facebook and I had to promise to only post it after the ceremony.  I upheld my end of the deal.  I love this picture because it shows her death threat look how nervous and anxious she felt before the “I Do’s”.



Simone has always been beautiful inside and out and her wedding was no exception.  From the feathers in hair to the retro art deco style of the wedding to the stunning bridesmaids’ dresses to the accessories she chose for each of us, her flare for fashion was evident in every little detail.





Since I remember crying like a faucet on my wedding day, I wanted to prevent our beautiful bride from looking like Tammy Faye Baker.  With a stroke of genius, her bridesmaids and I decided to pack some tissues in our handbags, but then it dawned on us that we wouldn’t be carrying our handbags down the aisle.  Thinking quick on our feet, we began stuffing tissues down our tops.  This would be one day were we would be proud to stuff our bras!  Of course during the ceremony, the tears began flowing but thankfully, I had my tissue to save my damsel in distress a bride’s dress.


I believe Simone’s cold feet were simply a case of performance anxiety or more likely a fear of the unknown.  Once the formality of the ceremony was behind her, she could really let her hair down, so to speak.



The wedding party entered the hall to Bittersweet Symphony.  At this point, my feet were killing me.  Simone may have always had a flare for fashion, but not for comfort and like an idiot a serious fashion faux pas, I bought shoes the wrong size.  Since my feet were so sore, the best man and I sprinted into the hall.  You can take the runner out the running shoes, but you can’t take the running out of the runner.  I also cleverly stashed a pair of flip-flops under the banquet table for later.


The newly wedded couple first danced to Lay, Lady, Lay, which was followed by a father-daughter dance  to  Landslide .  Then, Matt danced with his mother.  Unfortunately, no one remembers the song a year later.





After all the dances, the Best Man and I played Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine who would give their toast first.  I lost and had to do the deed first, but then he regretted following me.  At least I warmed up the crowd for him.


The wedding reception was a blast and a non-stop party thanks to a fun bunch of friends and family, an open bar and a fantastic local band, Stick Martin.



And Simone’s marital fears slipped away once she slipped into a more comfortable dress.



Even the old folks parents couldn’t stay off the dance floor…




…but watching my dad rap and dance to Ludacris’ Move Bitch had me in stitches.



The party continued until late into the night.



And a year later, we are still celebrating this fun, beautiful, loving couple.


Happy First Anniversary, Simone and Matt!




PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily



Our Anniversary Getaway in NYC

To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, Allan and I planned a romantic weekend getaway in New York City.



Although we wanted to ice skate at Rockefeller Center, it was far too crowded and way too expensive.  So, we settled for ice skating at Central Park after a horse-drawn carriage ride.




On Friday, we scored stand-by tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and after waiting just under an hour in line, we were soon slapping high-fives with Jimmy after the taping.  As you can imagine, we immensely enjoyed a live taping of his show.  Maybe it’s just me, but Jimmy is even cuter everything seems funnier live and in person.


His guests that night included Jude Law, Abby Elliot and Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes, which is available to view on-line.  You’ll want to watch the show, because I make an appearance in the audience during the “Twelve Sweaters of Christmas” sketch.  Look for the chick in the hot pink sweater waving at the camera.


For the majority of the weekend, Allan and I walked through mid-town stopping to snack and nosh at some of the most amazing and surprisingly affordable restaurants.  Our favorite food had to be the $6 Ruebens we found on W. 56 St.  Across the street, we stumbled upon an Indian restaurant called Bay Leaf and had dinner later that same day.


Saturday evening, we visited the Manhattan Theatre Source in Washington Square to catch a showing of the Off-Broadway play entitled Meg’s New Friend.  This small converted brownstone holds approximately 50 seats, however, once in this tiny theater, the energy from the actors fills the audience better than any concession ever could.


In short, this play offered all the quick wit of Will and Grace and the racial taboos of Jungle Fever.   As Meg pursues a friendship with her best friend’s boyfriend, she learns more about herself and her relationships in the process.  To say that we loved the play, would be an understatement and in all fairness, such a wonderful production should receive a proper review rather than a brief mention in this post.


Upon leaving the theater, we faced the arrival of the “Blizzard of 2009”.  As we trudged through nearly a foot of snow, we stumbled upon another NYC staple, Gray’s Papaya and of course, we had to stop for yet another quick bite before heading back to Rockefeller Plaza to queue for Saturday Night Live stand-by.


At this point in the evening, I was disappointed two-folds.  Firstly, I honestly prefer any random hot dog vendor over Gray’s Papaya.  Secondly, although we were very close to getting into the 11:30 taping, we didn’t score any seats in the studio.  So, we battled the Blizzard of 2009 and headed back to my parents vacation home in Queens.


As the Blizzard of 2009 blanketed the Northeast, it contributed to nearly a foot of snow falling over Queens.  Between the three major airports that serve NYC, close to 500 flights were canceled Sunday morning.  Thankfully our Jet Blue flight from JFK to Tampa was only delayed an hour.


Witnessing a White Christmas in the Big Apple was truly an amazing sight for this Florida gal, but I was happy to leave the blizzard behind and return home with a couple of snow globes for our girls and memories of a truly wonderful anniversary getaway in NYC.


New York Christmas

My husband and I are leaving for the Big Apple this Thursday to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.  Top on our “To Do” list in the city is to tour Top of the Rock and ice skate at Rockefeller Plaza.  I’ve also requested a horse-drawn buggy ride around Central Park and then more ice skating in the park.


However, we’re pretty much going to hang out at 30 Rock this weekend.  I’ve been dying to see a taping of Saturday Night Live for years.  We don’t have tickets, but we’re prepared to wait in the stand-by line in freezing temperatures very early Saturday morning.  I’ve already warned promised Allan lots of coffee and other favors for being a good sport.


We’re also hoping to catch a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  Then, we’re bound for Broadway of course, but we haven’t picked a show yet.


Lots of fun in store for a chilly, Christmas Anniversary in NYC!  I can’t wait!


And because I’m so excited about our New York Christmas, I’ve selected New York Christmas by Rob Thomas for this week’s Christmas Musical Monday.



How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You

Last Thursday, Allan and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary at Bern’s Steakhouse.  Although I have lived in the Tampa Bay area most of my life, I have never dined there, but have always wanted to experience it.  Celebrating our anniversary seemed like the perfect opportunity to give Bern’s a try and I am so thrilled we did.


Bern’s unique décor resembles a brothel on Borboun Street, but don’t let its gaudy ornate French Renaissance décor fool you.  Upon entering the dining rooms, the décor changes to a more humble, tavern feel. 


Our server explained the menu and the wine book.  To call it a list would be an understatement!  Housing nearly 7,000 varieties of wines, Bern’s is home to one of the largest wine cellars in the world.


Once considered an overpriced meal, Bern’s seems to be fairly reasonable priced these days.  Your meal is priced according to the type of entrée you choose and every entrée includes Bern’s renowned French Onion Soup, salad, baked potato, Bern’s famous onion rings and the vegetable of the day, which are all organically grown on their privately owned local farm.


For dinner, Allan and I shared the Chateaubriand for two, which was cooked perfectly to our specifications and melted in my mouth.  All of Bern’s beef is dark aged to offer a more tender cut of meat rich in taste and color. 


After dinner, we enjoyed a tour of the restaurant on our way to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room, which are both equally enjoyable experiences in their own right.


In the Dessert Room, we sipped on some tawny and shared a slice of peppermint bark chocolate cake topped with vanilla ice cream.  It was a slice of Christmas heaven. 


After dinner, we enjoyed a pint at the new International Beer Garten near our house.  After thirteen years together, we deserve a drink or two or more.