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 Tuesday Thoughts about New Challenges, Sweating Purple and Track Tuesday

Stupid Halloween candy!   I was doing so well with the Unprocessed Challenge.  Somehow I survived most of the month avoiding candy corn and chocolate bars.  Then the stupid Halloween candy went on BOGO at my local supermarket and had two very large bags sitting my pantry.  Those fun size candy bars haunted me.

In a moment of weakness, I opened the bag and I ate a bar.  Then, I ate another.  And then, let’s just say I looked like Augustus Gloop falling into the chocolate river.  It wasn’t pretty.  Now, I only have one bag left of my BOGO deal which means I’ll need to buy more candy tonight, however, the new bag will remain sealed until tomorrow evening.  I swear.

Thankfully, that candy won’t be sitting around after Halloween because my kids and I will be participating in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program once again.  The day after Halloween, local dentists collect candy and pay kids for their candy per pound.  Some dentists give toothbrushes too.  The candy is then sent to troops overseas through Operation Gratitude.  Check the website to find a dentist near you participating in the program.  It’s such a wonderful way to give and it’s win-win situation for everyone: kids, the troops and it gets the candy out of my house!

Speaking of giving, my kids and I are participating in the 30-Day Giving Challenge for the fourth year.  Basically, every day in November, you have a task of giving a gift which can be something as simple as sending a card or elaborate as working in a soup kitchen.  If you need some ideas or inspiration, see the gifts we’ve given here and here.  This year, I made my own calendar 30 Day Giving Challenge calendar template.  Print it out and fill it gifts you’d like to give and join us in 30-Day Giving Challenge.

November is also Epilepsy Awareness Month and I found this really great virtual race via my SPA sisters.  On
November 1, you can register to Wear Purple Virtual 5K/Marathon to Cure Epilepsy but you have the entire month to accrue the miles.  The registration fee includes a custom medal engraved with the name of the person you run in support of and a seizure first aid wallet card. All proceeds after cost of medal will be donated to the Epilepsy Foundation.  I’ve registered for the marathon in honor of my niece, Meghan who has lived with epilepsy since infancy.

The first day of November will definitely be busy one around here.  Besides, accruing miles for a virtual epilepsy marathon, celebrating my oldest daughter’s 11th birthday and dropping off candy at the dentist, I’m also kicking off a new fitness challenge.  It’s been a while (a few months at least) since I hosted a fitness challenge and I need to do something to survive the holidays.

Starting November 1, I’m kicking the candy to the curb and focusing on the core this month with planks.  So, join me this Thursday as we kick off a fitness challenge called “Thanks for Planks!”  Stop by here on Thursday to learn all the details of the challenge.

And that’s about it.  Phew.  And I thought October was a busy month!

And now for the runs.  I ran 6 miles last Thursday then rested on Friday for the race The Living Dead Challenge the next day.  (Details tomorrow!)

6.2 miles
Time 1:01:02
Ave Pace 9:51
Max Pace 6:44

Since I ran in two races two days in a row (5K Saturday night/ half marathon Sunday morning), I rested Monday and I decided to skip the speedwork today.  I did run 4 miles though.

4 miles
Time 40:28
Ave Pace 10:07
Max Pace 7:56

What about you?  Did you speedwork today or did you skip on the sprints?  What challenges are you facing in the next coming month?

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 Ricole Runs 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+

I’m Feeling Pretty Muddy

Pretty MuddyRecently, I was approached to join Tampa’s Pretty Muddy event on November 10.  Though have to admit, mud events don’t float my boat.  I honestly had no desire to do one because of all the…well…mud.  After all, I pay good money for these running shoes!  Why would I go tromping and trailblazing through mud only to ruin my running shoes?

Then, I discovered the Pretty Muddy.  It’s the only all female pink mud run with “architectural obstacles” which I hope means there is no electric fence.  There is, however, a huge inflatable slide.  And there are bubbles.

A muddy event with bubbles?  Is there bubbly at the finish line too?  Pink champagne for a pink race would be a nice touch.  Or maybe they could serve mud slides once you cross the finish line?

But the best part is that participants can choose not to do the obstacles“Every obstacle will have a sign showing you around it. Only do the ones you feel comfortable doing and don’t feel bad going around a few – this is your day, do what you want to do.” Pretty Muddy

I know. I know. That’s lame and I’m o.k. with that, because at the Pretty Muddy (and only the Pretty Muddy), if I don’t want to crawl through mud, I don’t have to do it.  It’s my day, my race and I can do what want.  See, now that’s my kind of mud run.

But who knows, I may have a change of heart.  After all, “the obstacles were built with “fun” being the number one objective. Some will challenge you a little, some might challenge you a lot – but we’ll be there every step of the way to help you through it.”

So, I’m all signed up.  Now all I need is the outfit.  I’m thinking pink camouflage.  What do you think?

If you want to be part of the Pretty Muddy action here in Tampa, there is an exclusive $10 off coupon code for Run DMT readers: deniseisrundmt.  Sign up quick!  This code expires after October 27.

Let’s get Pretty Muddy together…or not.  But either way, we will definitely have fun!

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+

Racing for the Cure and a Superwoman

Once again this October, I will Race for the Cure. Earlier this year, when Susan G. Komen was catapulted into the controversial battleground of the “War on Women”, I worried about my involvement with the race.  Would I be able to put politics aside and participate in Race for the Cure which has provided countless mammograms to women?

Thankfully my worries were put to rest when the members of the executive board resigned and funding was reinstated to Planned Parenthood.  I could proudly wear Komen pink ribbons once again although others may feel differently.

Whatever your religious or political beliefs, the fact remains that this race is more than politics and pink ribbons as “one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime”. (Statics borrowed from

One of those eight women is our own Miss Sharon, a true superwoman that has been battling breast cancer for nearly a year now.

This year I run for Miss Sharon.

Please support me and my Race for the Cure teammates in this important project and cause by contributing to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Florida Suncoast Affiliate.    Your tax-deductible contribution will fund breast cancer education, screening, and research programs.

Whether you choose to walk or run in the race or make a monetary donation, together we can fight for a cure against a disease that takes our hair, our breasts, our lives and the lives of our loved ones…

…because Miss Sharon and each of us are more than hair, breasts, pink ribbons, politics and a war on women. Together we can love each other through it all and stand side by side in a sea of pink as we battle against the real enemy, breast cancer.

By doing so, we educate women about the importance of regular self-breast examinations, yearly mammograms and early detection for prevention and together, we all Race for the Cure.

To make a donation, click here.

Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Run to Remember (9-11 Memorial 5K)

When I heard about a free 5K held on 9-11, I immediately signed up for the race.  Although the event was held early Tuesday morning in Spring Hill and would interfere with my family’s morning routine, I really wanted to be part of the memorial race.

The event page announced a start time of 6:30, but that’s when the race formalities and memorial service started.  The ROTC presented the flags accompanied by the national anthem sung by the YMCA children’s program director.  Then, local figures, the YMCA CEO and the Hernando County Sherriff, offered a few words followed a prayer led by a local minister.

The race director also mentioned the Twin Towers artwork on display had won national recognition for its design.

Around 7:00 a.m. we were told to move the start line and instructed to follow the fast runner with the flag.  With a crowd of a few hundred participants, I wanted to be as close to the start as possible and I found a spot behind some young male high school students.

Surprisingly, not many participants wore red, white and blue although many people wore the race shirt from the event.  However, I was the only one wearing a tutu and Obama tube socks and since I made such a spectacle of myself, I had to prove I was a real runner.

At the gun, I started my Garmin and followed the flag through the streets of Seven Hills.  That is not just a charming neighborhood name.  There are actually hills in Seven Hills.  Those steep inclines were pretty intense, but I stayed strong.  At one point, I even passed the young high school boys.

At the 1.5 mile water station, I took a very brief walking break to drink some water and then I quickly returned to pushing it up those hills.  One last large hill before the finish line and I sprinted the last quarter mile.  (After all, it was Track Tuesday.)  Even with all the hills, this was my fastest 5K post-baby.

Gun Time 28:01

Garmin Time 28:01

Ave Pace 8:58

Max Pace 6:01

Afterwards, we were rewarded with juice and doughnuts for our efforts.  Actually, the free continental breakfast after the race was an unbelievable spread of juice, coffee, pastries, bagels, granola bars and fruit.  Thank you to the Hernando YMCA, all the volunteers and sponsors who made this wonderful free event possible.

PhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogueUnknown Mami

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Chaotic Coteeman 2012

On the morning of the tri, I was nervous and anxious, but it didn’t consume me. I felt the same level of nervousness I experience before any race.  I trained as much as I could, although I wish I had ridden my bike more.

When we arrived at transition, I racked my bike and laid out all my belongings to make my transitions between legs a smooth operation. I set my Garmin for bike mode and then we posed for photos, of course.  My friends Chrissy and Maribel as well as several Suncoast Striders were competing in the tri sprint.

After a quick potty break, we lined up for the swim and the start of the tri.  I felt really confident about the swim. I knew this was a strong area for me.  Once in the pool, I passed several others who started before me.

The run back to transition was a few yards through grass but thankfully, I hid my Spenco flip-flops outside the pool area for the run to protect my plantar fasciitis feet.  If I ran barefoot, I would pay for it later.

My transition from swim to bike went smooth, but it could have been better and faster, which is always an area I struggle with.  Someday I’ll train just my transition.

I hopped on my bike with no issues.  I honestly felt good on the bike, but that feeling was short lived as people passed me.  It broke my spirit to see bicycles flying past me, but I just kept on pedaling.  That’s all I could do.  Just keep pedaling… Just pedaling…Just keep pedaling, pedaling, pedaling…What do we do?  We pedal, pedal…

Then, Maribel and Chrissy passed me.  I could see Chrissy’s blue top in the distance but I just couldn’t catch her.  Not before long, she was gone from my sight completely.

For the bike, we circled nine miles through the streets of downtown New Port Richey, past my old middle school and other haunts from my childhood.  There were some really decent “hills” through the course, which always shocks me because I don’t remember New Port Richey being a hilly terrain.  Although, whenever I’m participating in a race in New Port Richey I remember the hills and how much I hate them from previous races and how my current home of Land O’Lakes is so flat.  With every struggling push to get up the hills, I reminded myself once again why I need to train for hills.

The streets were not blocked off from traffic, but I was mentally prepared for that. Though there were police officers and sheriffs halting traffic for the cyclists passing through, I entered each intersection cautiously because I still don’t trust drivers and my instincts were right.   I saw one officer yell at a driver for not stopping.  So, at each intersection, I slowed down just to be sure it was clear which may have affected my time, but I’m ok with that.

The second time around the loop, I worried about missing the road back to transition.  I thought I had passed it and began to panic.  I started calling out, “Where’s the turn?!”  And volunteers assured me it was two blocks ahead.  I took a deep breath to come my nerves and turned to head back to transition.  Only the run was left but not before my dismount, which I executed beautifully.

Once back into transition, I grabbed my hat and set my Garmin to the run setting, but I forgot to hit start which I remembered to do about a quarter mile into the run.  At that moment, I thought about eating a Cliff shot, but I decided to wait for a water station.

And then, the hills hit me again.  I really need to train for hills desperately.

Eventually, I caught up with the people who passed me on the bike, but I couldn’t catch Chrissy.  She appeared to be at least a couple minutes ahead of me.  I paced with quite a few people which I needed since I didn’t have any music to push me along.  That helped me tremendously until we reached a water station and I took a brief break from the heat and hills.  So, I walked for just a bit while gulping down water.

In time, I caught up to Maribel and then we were almost to the finish with just one more hill to do.  I forced myself to pick up the pace and finish strong. I even had some sprint left in me.

Man, that felt good.

Div 9/17   
Swim  3:14   
Transition 1 – 3:06  
Bike 35:47   
Transition 2 – 1:19   
Run   29:12
Overall 90/165
Time 1:12:36   

It felt good to finish.

It felt really good to not fall off my bike. (Hopefully I’m passed that stage.)

But it really felt good to prove to myself that I can do this again.

But it felt really, really good to beat my time from four years ago by 23 minutes.

As for Chrissy and Maribel, they did an incredible job and finished first and second in their division.

So, when’s the next one, ladies?

Unknown Mami

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+