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+

Random Thoughts about a Dirty Girl, Feeling like Alice, a New Challenge and Track Tuesday

It seems people like reading about me being dirty my mud run recaps.  After reading my Pretty Muddy recap, Dirty Girl Mud Run approached me and a few other Tampa Bay Bloggers to race and review how Dirty Girl does a mud run.

Of course, I jumped on the chance to do it and the TBB girls and I already picked our team name: Mud Bloggin’.  But, I have to admit. I’m a little nervous about this one.  I know.  I know.  I said that about the last one, however, I’m not scared of the mud, you see.  That ain’t nothing.  (Spoken like a Dirty Girl gone pro-mud runner.)  I’m nervous about my heels and my reoccurring plantar fasciitis flare-ups.

Dirty Girl Mud Run happens in Tampa on February 9th.  That’s less than a month after the Disney Marathon and a week after the Best Damn Race 10K.  It also happens to be two weeks before my second marathon in Ft. Lauderdale.

Now you see why I’m nervous.  That’s a heavy race load in one month.  The upside: The money I saved on registering for this race can be used to buy a new pair of shoes just for mud runs (because the girlie mud runs seem to be my thing).

And there’s another bonus to choosing to do a Dirty Girl Mud Run.  Much like Pretty Muddy, I can choose not to do certain obstacles.  I can give my plantar fasciitis feet a pass.  And that my friends, is how Run DMT plans to be a Dirty Girl.

If you want to join me in the Dirty Girl Mud Run, all Run DMT readers that register will receive 20% off with the code FLBLOGGUESTThis code also works for the Jacksonville and Miami events too.

Anyone who registers for the Miami, Jacksonville or Tampa Dirty Girl Mud Run between Dec. 5th and Dec. 24th 11:59pm will automatically be entered to win a gym membership of her choice valued up to $500.

Speaking of obstacles, my running partners, Chrissy and Daffodil, prepared a good one for me this weekend.  During our 18 mile run, we took a shortcut to the trail, a worn path parted through shrubs with a slight incline.  I felt like Alice following the White Rabbit as we slipped through the rabbit hole trying not to break an ankle.  It’s all part of my mud run training.

RabbitHoleCollage

For this week’s 18, we ran through Chrissy’s neighborhood and on the trail and it was a welcomed change.  After we finished Chrissy, had a fabulous runner’s tailgate for us.  Apparently, I’ve set the standard.

These 18 miles were much better than the last and I shaved 9 minutes off my last 18 miler.  Plus, I felt great!  We kept a nice steady pace around 10:15-10:30, walked occasionally and my heels didn’t bother me one bit. Isn’t that awesome?!

Sun, 12/2
18.1 miles
Time 3:21: 22
Ave Pace 11:07
Max Pace 8:30

Last week was a perfect running week for me and I believe there are two reasons for the lack of pain.  Every time I ran, I wore the Feetures! PF sleeves which I still LOVE.  Last week, I also ran A LOT.  I ran all the miles necessary to meet hit a comfortable, no strain 18 miles.  For me, the key is to run 4-5 times a week and my mid-week should be half the distance of my long run.

My feet are all better and now my Garmin is giving me grief.  Some is wrong with the charging base and it doesn’t always charge properly.  I swear I did ten miles on Wednesday, but my Garmin died around 5.2 miles.  I just doubled the total.

Wed, 11/28
10 miles
Time 1:39:18
(Garmin died at 5.2 – 54:59)
Ave Pace 10:34
Max Pace 8:41

Thurs, 11/29
5 miles
Time 49:51
Ave Pace 9:58
Max Pace 8:20

On my rest days (Friday and Saturday), I finished off the #Thanks4Planks challenge and on December 1, we unwrapped a new challenge: #fitgift.  Basically, you do something every day during December.  You can read more about it and join the December fitness challenge here.

Today is Track Tuesday which means speedwork.  Here’s how my sprints unfolded today.

1 mile
9:55

Lap 1 – 0.25
Time 1:48

Ave Pace 7:15

Lap 2 – 0.25
Time 1:54.48
Ave Pace 7:39

Lap 3 – 0.25
Time 1:54.15
Ave Pace 7:34

Lap 4 – 0.25
Time 1:56.95
Ave Pace 7:46

1.1 mile
Time 10:34
Ave Pace 9:37

The rest of the week will be light running week as I have the Holiday Half on Sunday.  Friday and Saturday will be rest days, but I’ll do something to keep up with #fitgift challenge.

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*

Stacy

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

December Fitness Challenge: The Gift of Fitness

GiftofFitness_DecChallengeI racked my brain trying to come up with a reasonable and decent, worthwhile fitness challenge for December.

With a marathon next month, I didn’t want the challenge to be anything to strenuous.  I couldn’t take the chance of hurting myself, but I also needed to keep focused and something to prevent me from eating stacks of Christmas cookies.

I didn’t want to do something we’ve already done, such as burpees, planks, push-ups, yoga or  ab exercises even though I could use a push for a six-pack again.  Besides, even after all those burpees, some people still hate burpees, but oddly people love planks.

Then, it dawned on me.  Why not offer a fitness challenge that incorporates a little of everything?  Let my readers decide what they want to do, but keep encouraging them to do it.

So, my loyal Run DMT readers, I give to you “The Gift of Fitness”.  The December fitness challenge is simply a reminder to do something, anything every day.  By doing something every day, we’ll help battle the holiday bulge and kick those extra Christmas calories to the curb.

Anything goes!  Run, walk, plank, core exercises, swim, run, bike or burpee your way through December!  Pick whatever fitness keeps you on track with your fitness goals and do it.

I’m really excited about this fitness challenge and doubly excited because I’m co-hosting it with a truly inspirational and fitness junkie, Jenny of MetamorFit.  Her transformation into a fitness junkie is an incredible story and journey and she’s the perfect co-host because she already does some kind of fitness every day.

If you’re ready to give yourself the Gift of Fitness this December, join us by adding your blog title and url and/or your Twitter handle and url to the linky party below.  Then, follow @denisermt and @JennyMetamorfit on Twitter.  Use the hashtag #fitgift.

Spread the word by regifting our fitness challenge.  Share #fitgift with your readers and followers.  Blog about it and add the button to your sidebar.  Tweet it too.  “I’m giving myself the Gift of Fitness this December with @denisermt and @JennyMetamorFit. #fitgift”

Thanks for playing along and good luck!  Happy holidays!

GiftofFitness_DecChallenge


Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Random Thoughts about a Tossed Salad, Being a Local Celebrity and Un-Track Tuesday

FitFluential Is Fitness FoundThings are starting to get real exciting around here!  I’m officially a FitFluential Ambassador!  I am honored to join the ranks of some of the most inspirational and enthusiastic fitness bloggers.

Speaking of fitness blogger, last Saturday I joined a few other local bloggers for a commercial shoot for the Best Damn Race.  I loved hanging with Beth of Discom-BOB-ulated Running and Nicole of Healthy Girl Adventures.

We had one line, “I’m running to blog about it”, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t keep it straight.  I guess I was having too much fun being silly with Beth and Nicole.  Yep, I’m blaming them on my bloopers.  I have no idea when the Best Damn bloopers commercial airs, but when it does, I’ll share it with you all.

*Thanks to Nicole for the blooper photo!*

On Monday, I joined supermom Marisa of Fit Kids Playground for another edition of the Mom Squad.  This week, we talked ugly babies and turkey.

Joe wanted to know how we handle the Thanksgiving chores.  Since Iron Chef Allan handles most of the Thanksgiving cooking, there’s not much left for me do.  I believe I said, “I’ll toss the salad.”  Yep, that’s what I said.

My husband gasped when he watched the recorded segment.  “You didn’t just say that?  You know what that means, right?”  Once he explained the not-so-pleasant meaning behind “tossing the salad”, I burst out laughing.  Oh. My. GOD!  I can’t believe I said that on television!

Trust me I had no idea about the urban dictionary definition, but once I shared it as a Facebook status, my friends were happy to enlighten me.

I will never be able to look at salad the same way again.  And after that remark, I don’t think anyone will look at moms the same way again.  Well, it was nice being on the Mom Squad while it lasted.

After the segment, Ginger, the morning show anchor, asked if we had been spotted in the supermarket as local celebrities.  “Not yet”, I replied with a toss of my hair.  “But I’ve got my pen ready just in case.”

Although I suppose I’ll be signing bottles of salad dressing instead of supermarket receipts.

However, my dad was more concerned with my appearance rather than what I said.  “What was with your hair?”

“My hair looked like that because I ran to the studio, Dad.”  Whatever.

Last week was a light week for running, but not by choice.  My kids were home sick on Wednesday which meant no mid-week run with the school’s running club.  I was really sad to miss it because we had planned a race for the kids for the last session.

On Saturday, Larisa, Maribel and Chrissy and I ran 18, which was Maribel and Chrissy’s longest ever.  They did GREAT, though I didn’t do as well.  My heels had been bothering and I think my left knee over compensated for the pain because around mile 13 my knee buckled.  Not fun!  I had to slow way down and stretch more often.  I finished the miles, but I was really hurting. Lesson learned: A light running week is never a good idea on a big mile week.

18.1 miles
Time 3:23:23
Ave Pace 11:14
Max Pace 7:57

Between volunteering at the Women’s Half Marathon and the Mom Squad, I had two forced rest days.  Thank goodness!

Raffi and I volunteered at the Suncoast Running water station at the Women’s Half Marathon, however, more of the Suncoast Striders and Brian of Digital Running (Raffi’s hubby) joined us this year.

Rather than handing out water, I cheered, danced and rang a cowbell because I need more cowbell.  I loved calling out the ladies’ names and watching their face light up when they noticed me cheering for them.

Since I didn’t wear my glasses, I struggled reading everyone’s race bibs and I apologized for pronouncing a few names wrong.  “Go Joyce!  Er…I mean… Go Lois!”  But mispronounced names may have had more to do mimosas rather than my lack of specs.

Several of my running friends (Daffodil, Marie, Jen H, Marcia and Katrina) participated in the race this year and though I was supposed to be cheering for them, many of the ladies hollered to me as they ran past.  Katrina hollered and waved as she ran by.  Then, Jina of Behold the Turtle gave me shout out too and I ran a bit with her so I could snap a photo of her and her friends.

Since I was still nursing my heels, I skipped on Track Tuesday and ran an easy 4 miles.

4 miles
Time 39:47
Ave Pace 9:57
Max Pace 8:01

On Thursday, I plan to run a local Thanksgiving Day fun run with my friends.  How about you?  Will you be trotting for turkey on Thanksgiving morning?

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*

Stacy

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

peerFit Makes Fitness Hit New Heights

Thanks to my friends at peerFit, I can scratch partying on a rooftop off my bucket list now. Last Sunday, peerFit and Fitz Koehler hosted a rooftop fitness party in Hyde Park Village.  After running 12 miles earlier that day, I should skipped out I was primed and ready to go.

A sizable crowd arrived on the roof to get down and funky with fitness, but we had plenty of room on the roof to spread out to shake our moneymakers and spontaneous jazz hands.

To offer a taste of a variety of fitness programs, different instructors took turns leading the crowd.  The instructors’ high energy and enthusiasm about their classes encouraged us to keep moving.

Since I’m mostly a mother runner, I loved sampling a taste of the different types of group fitness classes that area vailable, but CXWORX totally kicked my butt.  My sad attempt at a few planks every day didn’t even come close to prepare me for the beating the CXWORX core work-out delivered.  I was sore for days.  And I loved it.

Admittedly, I’m a runner because it’s easy.  I can just get up and go.  I don’t have to constantly watch an instructor to see where to place my feet and follow along.  Although in more ways than one, there’s strength in numbers in a group fitness class.  The instructors push you.  They stretch you out of your comfort zone.  Their enthusiasm is contagious and every participant succumbs to it.  Plus, if you don’t keep moving, someone will grapevine right over you.

After an intense cardio work-out, we cooled down with some yoga and the long stretches were a welcomed sight.

Word on the street says peerFit plans to host monthly rooftop fitness parties and I hope that’s true.  But next time, how about some butler-served smoothies and protein bars at the party?

Want to make fitness fit your life?  Find a fitness class near you with the peerFit app now available for iPhone.

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+

Pretty Muddy, Pretty Dirrty and Pretty Fun

Pretty MuddyAh, dirrty (dirrty)
Filthy (filthy)
Nasty, you nasty (yeah)
Too dirrty to clean my act up
If you ain’t dirrty
You ain’t here to party (woo!)

What better way to recap the Pretty Muddy race than with a help from Christina Aguilera!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, a mud run was never something I thought of trying.  Fear of over-the-top tests of endurance, electric fences and well…mud mostly steered me away from ever participating.  I had heard horror stories from friends who found mud in the nether regions for days after their mud run.

But when Courtney of Journey of a Dreamer challenged her fellow Sweat Pink Sisters to take on the Pretty Muddy, I simply had to go for it.  Who can resist a good challenge?

Obviously there were mass quantities of mud, but Pretty Muddy lacked an electrical fence which was a bonus for me.  Plus, there was a promise of beach balls and bubbles instead of bales of hay.  So with that, I would give it a go and I decided to make “Keep Calm and Get Pretty Muddy” my mantra.

The Friday before the event, a few fitness bloggers and I had the opportunity to preview the course.  I even tested out a few of the obstacles to see if I could even scale them.

Each obstacle offered a “pretty please pass”, however, for me to truly understand the whole mud run experience, I felt I had to at least attempt the obstacles even if it meant falling face down in the mud.  Either way, it would all make for a great blog post and interesting race recap.  Given my race number, I was doomed destined to have a hell of a time.

On race day, Jenny of Metamorfit and I started at the first wave at 8:00 a.m., which I now know was great strategy in itself.  Later I learned that some mud runs have long lines for each obstacle, but since not many people want to start at the first wave, there were no lines and no waiting for us.

I also learned that Pretty Muddy offers a lot more running than obstacles, which was perfect for a mother runner like me.  I loved running through the gorgeous grounds of the Little Everglades Ranch and I managed the soft terrain of the farm quite nicely.

At the start of the race, we ran through bubbles and I lost Jenny somewhere in the foam.  Very soon after the bubbles, we plunged into a pond and my soggy pond-soaked shoes felt 10 pounds apiece.  Once back on the trail, I wrung out my shoes with every squishy step.

Soon enough, my shoes were all wrung out just in time for the first mud pit positioned in front of a barn.  With my first step into the mud pit, I learned there is a strategy for stepping into mud pits.  Per my mistake, I stepped in too close to the edge and I couldn’t move my feet.  I had to pull my foot out and start over with a giant step forward. Giant step right! Giant step left!  Grab hold of the opposite edge and PULL yourself out! 

Just after the barn was an obstacle I like to call, “What Wood Jesus Do?”  Since I didn’t know the best way to attack this 2×4 wood carrying obstacle, I chose to carry my plank crucifixion style (over the back of my neck and across my shoulders) while I ran.

Past the planks, we found a huge inflatable slide with a pool of mud at the base rather than water.  Just after the slide and close to the 1.5 mile mark, I could hear the M.C. calling for the 8:15 wave to start and I knew I was making good time.

Around the bend just after the slide, there stood a cargo net to climb. Then, after another short run, I crawled through two tunnels full of mud, which made me feel a little claustrophobic.  Thankfully, I was off running again.

After a short distance, I had to scale the over and out obstacle.  I climbed over one, crawled under one into a pit of mud, back over another and under once again in yet another pit of mud.  Then, I was back on my way, but in the wrong direction.  I ran about a quarter mile off the trail when a sheriff on ATV cashed me down and told me and a few other ladies to go back the other way.

Once back on the right path, I bounced through beach balls and then shortly after that, I had to maneuver through the rope netting of the “get a leg up” obstacle, which included more mud of course.

The last mile led us back toward the start where only two more obstacles remained.  With only a little distance left to go, I had a few more wooden walls to climb.  Once over the walls, I ran as fast as I could up a slight incline to the finish line.   But first, there was one more mud pit to crawl through, which is where most of my mud damage happened.

Even with all the obstacles, I finished somewhere around 35:00, which I think is pretty excellent for someone with no previous crossfit experience.  Besides running, the only training I did to prepare for this race is climbing a playground apparatus at the park with my two year old son.  Honestly, I thought I lacked the upperbody strength for such an event, but I am in better shape than I thought.

So would I do it again?  Abso-pretty-lutley!

I am so on board for Pretty Muddy again next year!  I loved the endurance race adventure run without all the competitive pressure of a clock or all-star athletes.  Pretty Muddy was good wholesome, down and dirty fun.

Next year, I would love for my runner mother girlfriends to join me because I could have used a hand in that barn dance mud pit.  Plus, it would be fun to be part of a team with matching shirts and a team motto.   Of course, I’ve already got a ton of team ideas floating around in that Pretty Muddy brain of mine.

So who’s with me?

Ladies, please don’t fear the mud because it washes off better than you’ve heard!  Think of it more of a mud bath spa experience minus the sliced cucumbers on your eyes and a bit more climbing.

*A special thanks to Courtney for roping me into Pretty Muddy and for sharing her photos with me!*