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+


A Black and White Sunday in My City

Since I had forgotten to stick the memory card in my camera, I decided to snap a few photos with my Droid while waiting in line for the trolley at Iron Girl.  When I snapped this photo, I didn’t realize this would be the line we would wait in for over an hour. 


In the background you can see the Clearwater Memorial Causeway, the first bridge of three we ran over during the race.  Although it’s difficult to judge the height of the causeway, it’s high enough for large boats to pass under it.  Years ago, the Clearwater Memorial Causeway was once a draw bridge.



I also didn’t realize my camera was set to “black and white” until someone offered to take this photo of my friends and me.



While trying to find the “normal” setting, I learned my camera has all sorts of cool effects, such as sepia and negative, and settings as well like, landscape and sport.  See, you really do learn something new every day.


Unknown Mamithe long road

Random Thoughts About Iron Girl and Half Marathon Recap

Iron Girl was a huge disappointment beginning with my race shirt.  I requested a size small, but it fit more like a youth large, which should have been my first clue that this race would have its challenges.


Our race packet instructed us to arrive at the Iron Girl remote parking lots where a shuttle service would bring us to the start line with the last trolley running at 6:15.  The morning of the race, my friends (Chrissy, Kathleen and I) arrived at the parking lot at 5:45 but we waited over an hour for a trolley. While waiting in line, we snapped a few photos to kill the time and that’s when I realized I had forgotten the memory card for my camera.  Although I was sad about my dilemma, I knew Jackie would be pleased that I would actually be running and not stopping for Kodak moments. (Just for the record, Jackie…I take photos while I run.  So there!)


When my friends and I finally arrived at the beach, we were told, “Two minutes until the start”.  Upon hearing that, Kathleen and I sprinted to the start line.  Although I desperately needed to pee, I just wanted to get to the race.  By the time we reached the start line, it was nearly 5 minutes into the race and I never got the chance to take my potty break.


When we reached the start line, the 5K runners were already lining up at the start.  Kathleen and I shoved our way through the 5K ladies to get to the chipped start.  Once we reached the start, an Iron Girl volunteer tried to stop us, but I yelled “We’re half runners!”  We didn’t wait for his approval and kept going.  Kathleen and I quickly caught up with the half marathon walkers and dodged our way through that frustrating obstacle course.  With all our weaving in and out, I eventually lost sight of Kathleen but I spotted the 3:00 pace group.


“Aw hell-to-the-no!”  I grunted to myself.  “I am NOT getting stuck behind the three hour pace group!”  I kept darting through the crowd and soon I reached the Clearwater Memorial Causeway.  Although I knew I should have slowed my pace to climb the steep hill, I just wanted to get past the walkers and get ahead of the crowd.


A gorgeous sunrise glowed as I came over the Clearwater Memorial Causeway and I wished I hadn’t forgotten my memory stick.  Once over the bridge, I spotted the 2:30 pace group and let out a sigh of relief.  I had caught up with peers close to my pace.  Feeling like I had finally made up for lost time, I now attempted to keep ahead of the2:30 pace group but I still needed to pee.


The night before, I studied the race course and knew there were water stations approximately every two miles with port-o-potties through the course.  What I didn’t take into account that this was a woman’s race and how there’s always a line to the ladies restroom except now I couldn’t sneak a squat in the men’s room.  There were plenty of trees along the race route but I have performance anxiety when it comes to peeing in public.  Prior to the race, I had joked with Chrissy about relieving myself while running and cleansing myself in the Gulf after the race, but that seemed less of a joke now.  So, I held it mile after mile until mile 7 when I couldn’t hold it any more.  At this particular potty, there were only two women waiting in line for a pair of port-o-lets and it was now or never.  When I exited the port-o-let, I saw the 2:30 pace group pass by.  I quickly gulped down two cups of water and chased after the pace group.


Again, I made up for lost time but it wasn’t easy for all the “hills” along the race route.  I had hoped for a more flat scenic view along the beach.  Instead we ran through a residential area with lots of hills and huge beautiful homes with waterfront views.  With each incline, I cussed myself out for not being more prepared and I should have anticipated “hills” from previous races through Clearwater, like the Turkey Trot.


Soon after mile 7, the Belleair Causeway came into sight and I called out, “Make it burn, ladies!”  No one was amused.  I decided to walk this hill out and have a Cliff Shot snack break when the 2:30 pace group passed me again.  Between the pace group passing and the sight of the enormous causeway, I felt defeated.  Once over the hill, I tried to get my groove back and catch up with the 2:30 pace group, but they only appeared further and further away with each step, like I was moving in slow motion or even backwards.  For the remainder of the race, the pace group sign became a mirage.


When we reached Gulf Blvd, I was exhausted and overheated and it was difficult to appreciate the flat course portion of the race.  However, as in any race, I did appreciate the volunteers (like the Girl Scouts) who handed us water and the spectators who cheered for us (like the blonde girls in yellow, the gentleman on a bike, the Coast Guard and the Firefighters).  One nice volunteer even offered to pour water on me to cool me down.  I really must have been a sad sight.


Around mile 10, I had one more hill to conquer: the Sand Key Bridge into Clearwater Beach.  I didn’t even try to run it and my legs and glutes showed their gratitude by not giving out before reaching the finish line.


When I reached the bottom of the bridge, I only had two miles remaining.  In a race, I typically conserve my energy for the end so I can pick up the pace to cross the finish line.  But this time, I didn’t have it in me and I just tried to finish with a smile.


Once I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer shout, “Welcome home, Denise!”  Even though I didn’t make it under 2:30, it felt good to be home and to finish 39.3 miles before my 40th birthday.


Gun Time 2:34:57

Chip Time 2:31:27

Ave Pace 11:27

Max Pace

Div Place 206/331

Overall 933/1634


As for my friends, Jackie placed second in her division for the 5K (22:41 – a new PR for her) and received an Iron Girl pendant for her achievement.  Kathleen finished the half in 1:56:16 and Chrissy finished the 5K in 34:09.  All great accomplishments!



Three days later after Iron Girl, I’m still sore.  Climbing the stairs hurts.  My pelvic muscles are killing me and my ass…well some things are just better off not said.  Let’s just say that I’ve become good pals with a tube of Preparation H and Preparation wipes and I’ve been popping ibuprofen to reduce some of the pain.  After almost four years of running, this the first time I’ve ever had to take pain reliever after any race or had to deal with any ass issues.   I’m not sure if it had something to do with the “hills” or my postpartum out of shape body.  But then, I guess they don’t call it Iron Girl for nothing!


Proudly submitted to Stacy Uncorked, because when I blog about my races, it’s usually pretty random.

Musical Monday: The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Saturday night, my family and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Bahama Breeze and then drove over to Clearwater Beach to catch a glimpse of one our beautiful Florida sunsets.



Watching my children play in the sugar white sands of Clearwater Beach with a gorgeous sunset as a backdrop was truly the best gift ever and the amazing songs that played on XM’s The Coffee House captured the mood of the evening superbly.



But the smiles on everyone’s faces that night was the ribbon that tied the whole package together for the perfect Mother’s Day gift.


Music Monday button

Not-So-Jolly Holiday Halfathon

Since Tiffany and I haven’t been training as much as we would like to be these days (with her new job and me feeling like a slug), we decided to “take it easy” at Sunday’s Holiday Halfathon and boy, was that ever an understatement!


After about two miles, I needed to walk.  Seriously, it was that bad.  Thankfully, Tiffany felt the same and my former running partner was now a running/walking partner.  We joked about how at least we looked like serious runners with our cute little running skirts, sports bras and nifty Garmin gadgets.


The course stretched 13 miles north along Gulf Blvd from Madeira Beach to Indian shores.  Then, it turned east for a few miles until we reached the Pinellas trail and ended at Taylor Park, which was a gorgeous finish line!


Despite the thick fog, we still really enjoyed the view and the relatively flat course.  Occasionally, we conquered some Florida “hills” or steep bridges as the trail bridged over busy roads.  A sign at the bottom of the steep ramp advised us to “proceed slowly” and we took its warning about the incline a little too literal.


Tiffany and I knew several runners in the race from the ‘hood and of course, several Striders were there.  It felt obligated to show moral support to all our running friends rather than actually running.


Several police officers and deputies patrolled the intersections and directed the traffic around the race.  One deputy even commented on how we were supposed to be running and Tiffany made me pose for a picture with him as punishment.


Around mile 10, a race official seemed to be tallying straggling athletes.  I believe I heard him say there were a few behind us.  “Well, at least we’re not last,” I giggled to Tiffany.  “Maybe we should try running again?”


For the last few miles, we finally kept a good pace and finished just under 3 hours.  Not our best performance at all, but at least we can only improve from here! LOL

Time 2:57:42

Ave Pace 13:34

Overall Place 824/882

Division 99/100


***Above picture borrowed from David Griner of the Striders.  Tiffany took lots of pics.  I will add them to this post as soon as she sends them to me.***

Beachy Keen

Just as to be expected, my family and I had an absolutely fabulous time with our Moms on the Go friends at the South Beach Resort in Treasure Island.  Moms, dads and the kids look forward to our anniversary beach weekend each summer. 



For another summer, the South Beach Resort graciously accommodated our large group by allowing us to take over their yard for our potluck breakfasts and dinners.  Without fail, this family-friendly resort helped make our beach weekend truly enjoyable.



This year, Allan and I choose to stay an extra night on the beach to soak an extra day of fun in the sun and relaxation.  Since every condo unit at the resort overlooks the Gulf, beautiful sunsets are included at no extra cost.  How’s that for relaxing? 



Although storm clouds threatened our beach days, the cloud cover provided cooler weather.  With the clouds, we managed to avoid sunburns but fortunately, escaped any thunderstorms.  As another bonus, the storm front stirred up some waves for fun on boogie boards.  Riding the waves was quite a work-out!  My triceps muscles hurt!

 Boogie Boards


On Friday evening, we walked to Sloppy Joes on the Beach for a sunset dinner.  A duo of female musicians played rock classics as the kids bopped around the dance floor.  Of course, Emmalynn and I jumped in and didn’t miss a beat. 



At dinner, Allan and I passed on the Sloppy Joe’s infamous tower of 100 ounces of beer and opted for the margarita bowls.  Unfortunately, I slurped down one too many of these bowls, which meant no sunrise run for me on Saturday morning.



For the last evening on the beach, we hosted our annual luau dinner.  Sweet and Sassy Nicole baked delicious and adorable Hawaiian themed cupcakes. 




After dinner, we posed for group photos and walked down to the beach for one last sunset stroll along the beach. 



Such a great weekend!  I’m ready to return for our fourth anniversary.