Few things we love more than a run-formation: a transformation from a non-runner into a runner. That’s what’s happened with Denise Mestanza-Taylor in the last five years. Now this mother of three in Land O’ Lakes, Florida, just wrapped up a racing tour that included two half-marathons, a 15K, and a 10K(oh, yeah, and a marathon last November), snapping photos along the way. She also morphed into the family chef, with a weekly food feature on her blog. Find out more about her:
Best recent run: My best runs typically happen on cool, humidity-free mornings. Running at sunrise is like a daily celebration of life. I love to embrace the beginning of a beautiful new day: It’s an affirmation that offers opportunity and a fresh start.
It all started when: Before 2007, I was never a runner, and if someone told I would be running marathon, I would have laughed. A good friend taught me how to pace myself and introduced me to the Couch to 5K program. I honestly never thought I would ever be able to finish three miles, but I started with a ha-f mile and slowly built up my endurance and distance. After my first 5K, I became addicted to running and now I can’t imagine my life without it.
13.1; 13.1; 15K; 10K: It’s really tough doing races back to back like that and I worry more about getting sick than injured. With races so close together, rest is important and I take it seriously. Plus, race season is in full swing from October to May in my area of Florida and there are so many great races during those months. It’s too hot otherwise. I try to do more cross-training in the summer months, like kickboxing, swimming, and cycling. As for races, typically my goal is at least one a month. This August, I will attempt a sprint triathlon again. Next month (April), I will found out if I’m selected for the New York City marathon. Fingers crossed!
Say, “cheese”: My running friends always tease me about the photos and tell me how I would shave minutes off my time if I didn’t take as many photos.But it’s what I do and I love it. Sometimes races are tough and taking photos helps me enjoy the moment and the scenery of the course. Taking photos also allows me to take a walking break when I need one. Run happy and snappy (as in fast photography) is my motto. I usually hold my camera in my hand while I run but I also wear running clothes with built-in pockets to store my camera if I get tired of holding it. I used to take photos a little Cannon Elph but it died on me. Lately, I’ve been using my Droid, but when my fingers became wet with sweat, I couldn’t swipe the screen. For my last 5K, I borrowed my daughter’s Sony Cybershot, which I believe will be my new race camera.
#pushingit: I love challenges and pushing myself. On Twitter, there is a group of runners that constantly come up with new ways to motivate and push each other. The #pushingit challenge (Pushing Our Luck) follows the One Hundred Push-ups Program. It’s a fantastic strength-building program; this my second time following it with much success. If you follow me on Twitter or search #pushingit, you can follow everyone’s progress and see how they are all killing the push-ups. It’s so inspiring to watch everyone’s fitness achievements. I’m planning something for next month, possibly burpees.
Food, glorious food: I’m constantly reinventing myself. The cooking thing is quite comical. Much like running, I was never a cook. I hated cooking and thought of it as a chore much like laundry. Therefore, my husband did most of the cooking for years, and he’s a fantastic cook. Then his schedule changed,and he wouldn’t be home in time to make dinner. I had to start planning meals and if I was going to cook, it had to be simple and healthy while pleasing my kids. Once I began preparing meals and cooking for our family, I realized I was quite good at it. I have a flair for flavors and I constantly impress my friends and family who knew me for years as not the cook in the house. I love Italian dishes, Tex Mex, Asian, Indian, and anything ethic. I like to bake, but I still have a lot to learn. For my Friday Food Fight, I share recipes that are a hit with my family.
Can’t run without: Music! I love anything that has a good beat and easy to dance or run to. And of course, I always run with my Garmin. If I forget to charge either, I am not a happy runner.