Name: Denise Mestanza-Taylor
Family Stats: (how many kids, age, etc) Three kids – 13, 10, 5
When did running start for you?
I began running in 2007. A good friend of mine wanted to run the St. Pete Times Turkey Trot 5K and she wanted me (a non-runner) to run it with her. At first the idea was laughable, but she taught me how to run by finding my own pace, setting weekly goals and slowly adding on distances each week. In the beginning I could barely run a half mile and I spent many weeks walk-running to hit my distance goals. Eventually, I could run three miles without stopping and I successfully finished the Turkey Trot under 35 minutes. Then, I caught the runner bug. Three miles became six, then a half marathon and less than two years later, I ran my first marathon.
What inspires you to lace up?
I love that I became a runner late in life and I love that I proved you are never too old to start running. This non-runner, who could barely run around the block can now run multiple marathons. For that, I find the inspiration within myself to move through the miles. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I cross the finish line is overwhelming. I DID IT AND I CAN DO IT AGAIN! Even when the runs are miserable, I shake it off and go for it again, because I find that strength within myself. It’s just like the saying goes, “Running is 80% mental and 20% physical.” It’s all in your head so believe you can do it and you will.
Best running advice you ever received?
Don’t sweat it.
Every runner has good days and bad days but any day you get out and run will always be a great day no matter the pace. Let go of PRs (personal records) and just enjoy the run. You have to remember WHY you started running in the first place. For me, it was a way to improve my overall fitness and health. So if you’re like me, simply running to burn calories and be your healthiest you, then just focus on that and let go of speed. Often time runners get caught up in shaving off time and pushing themselves harder and harder. That’s when injuries happen. Sometimes you just have to pull the breaks of yourself, force yourself to slow down and re-evaulate what the ultimate goal is. That’s where I am now in my running life after dealing with injury and over-training. It’s less about getting faster, but getting healthier. I truly believe when I focus more on staying healthy and not overdoing it, everything else will fall into place.
Do you have any other fitness obsessions?
I enjoy mixing in some cross-training with my running. Although I have no sprint triathlons planned for this year, I really enjoy training for them because I love cycling and swimming in the warmer months to escape the heat. I tend to shy away from HIIT workouts but I love spin class. I also enjoy weight training and seeing the results of it.
What has been your favorite race?
The Chicago Marathon has been my favorite race and most rewarding race to date. I learned a lot about myself through the intense summer training and fundraising for charity, The Danny Did Foundation, a non-profit organization that educates and advocates for epilepsy awareness. Danny Did provides EMFIT monitors to families in order prevent SUDEP (Sudden and Unexplained Death of Epilepsy). This incredible organization helped my niece and I would wanted to give back and support their efforts.
As for the Chicago Marathon, it was a non-stop 26.2 mile long block party. Crowds of people four rows deep stood along the marathon course and cheered for every runner. I’ve never seen anything like it in the ten marathons I’ve run. The energy of the people carried me through that race. Plus, the course winds through every district of Chicago and you experience this amazing tour of the city on foot. I honestly can’t wait to run Chi Town again!
Read about more about my incredible Chicago Marathon experience by clicking here.
Any advice for a running mom?
Busy moms often have a small window of time to fit in fitness. If you really want to start running, find a time of day that works for you and stick with it. Find a friend to start running with you to keep you accountable and hold you to your running dates. Run with a stroller if you need to or join a gym with babysitting services to help you get those runs in, if a gym membership is in the budget. Or, maybe try to arrange a babysitting swap with another mommy friend to give yourself a break and fit in a run. If you really want to be a mother runner, you have to find a way to make it work. But most importantly, don’t feel guilty for the “me time” that you so desperately need and forgive yourself for the days you miss out on running. There is nothing worse than mommy guilt and runner guilt to break your stride. Do what you need to do to survive your days and try your best to make it work. Otherwise, tomorrow is another great day for a run.
What’s next on your running calendar?
Due to my busy blogging and traveling schedule this year, my racing calendar is a bit light compared to previous years. My kids and I will be running the Independence Day 5K Lutz Run on July 4th. My next race isn’t until November when I run the Rock ‘N Roll Savannah Half Marathon. Then in 2016, I kick off my racing calendar with the Celebration Half Marathon and the Gasparilla Distance Classic Mic Ultra Challenge, four races in two days (15K, 5K, Half Marathon and 8K.