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March 19, 2015

I’m passing you! And you! We were shooting stars zipping past regular souls who strolled by. We were on a mission to conquer. We were at Glowbash. Glowbash had a glowstick theme, was part 5K race/part scavenger hunt and all around a beautiful evening in Downtown St. Petersburg—of course we were in!

Photo of us

Okay– we’re not as costume-d up as we typically are for races…

Well… kind of. It was like dragging my BF Shoes into a living nightmare. He whined how this race would end our relationship especially after last year’s bicycle scavenger hunt race where all the dreary elements really tested us. Hence our team name—Team Breakup. On race day, Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill was a zoomanity of excited participants. One staffer mentioned 1200 registrants although it only seemed half that. Luckily Team Breakup had picked up our race packets the evening prior (providing us with a race shirt, bib, and a few glow gear) allowing us to just wait around for the festivities. Even Friend Ace decided to stop by and hang out even though she wasn’t racing.

Crowd waiting

The crowd behind Ferg’s just waiting for everything to begin.

Finally all team captains were called towards the stage to hear the rules. We’d have two hours to complete any 10 out of the 11 missions. Then pandemonium hit. A stampede occurred as the captains ran over me in a brutal attempt to grab the paper of clues being handed out. I was a confused pinball until I too shoved forward, parted the sea of bonking, glowing head pieces, and grabbed my paper. Between me, Friend Ace, BF Shoes, and our smart phones, we mapped out an attack. Let’s go! We hugged Friend Ace good bye and AWAY WE GLOWED. From Central Avenue we went deeper into Downtown. We immediately grabbed a sticker from a Glowbash member at the 635 Central address (the first mission straight out listed the address). Along the way we saw groups of racers mobbing the State Theatre but since we couldn’t figure out which mission that referred to we pressed on.

American State Theater

In front of the American State Theater acting out a Musical pose

We thought the Princess Martha Hotel was the ‘renovated, events building built in 1924’ but no one greeted us there with a stamp. We were wrong! Oh wait—a quick search told us the 1924 building’ was the State Theatre. Ah- that explained all the racers there. We’ll just get it on the way back. Another mission had us photograph ourselves acting out a scene in front of the theater showing Gutenburg the Musical! (American Stage Theatre). BF Shoes and I found an image of the musical on Google images and imitated it. Meanwhile we knew the nearby Sundial center would be the perfect place to find someone with an out-of-state driver’s license. Bingo—the first couple we spoke to were from New Jersey and happily took their pictures with us.

The next missions were easy because they all referred to St. Pete landmarks. We grabbed a stamp from the place ‘housing artifacts from civilizations 4,500 years ago’ (The Museum of Fine Arts) and another one from ‘SPMOH’ (the St. Pete Museum of History). And sometimes you ‘just need to walk off the ___’… the Pier– easily St. Pete’s most recognizable building. While waiting for a Pier photo, I noticed one team laughing into their camera as they all leaned into a huge plant. “This is a Bird of Paradise but it’s kinda dead right now,” they yelled. Bird of Paradise? I glanced at the clues again. Yes! The ‘Bird of Paradise’ mission was the one we planned on skipping since we didn’t know it was a flower (we thought it was a sculpture). Thank you other team! We took our photo there as soon as they left.

Run.. run... run...

Run.. run… run…

Now that we found the Bird of Paradise, we decided to instead skip the Dali Museum mission because of the distance. We had 7 out of 11 missions completed and all remaining items could be found on the return trip.

Then disaster struck! We arrived at the State Theatre only to have two bouncers tell us “No… we have no stamps for you… we’re not part of this race… You have no idea how many people like you we’ve had to tell…” OH NO! BF Shoes and I retreated to our phones. The clues—built in 1924; many renovations; held many events. What was it? We wasted too much time researching before deciding the worst… skip that mission and instead go to the Dali Museum after all.

ARGH! Complete opposite direction! We passed many glow-stick bedazzled racers yelling encouragement as they reached the State Theatre—I wanted to tell them they were wrong but instead I jogged past them. Eventually we reached the Dali Museum and took our photo in front. We also had to recreate a pyramid pose photo so we completed that as well.

In front of Dali Museum

[Left] That’s the window panes of the Dali Museum behind us. [Right] It doesn’t look like a pyramid… but the Glowbash staff knew what we were doing

One more mission to go—Tropicana Field—and it bordered Ferg’s and the finish line. By then my legs refused to jog longer than 30 seconds. We arrived at Tropicana Field’s border just as the race time ran out. Any staff member stationed at Tropicana with a stamp had already left. Defeated, we returned to Ferg’s where I showed the Glowbash members proof of our missions via the photos, stamps, and stickers Team Breakup had collected. By the time they handed me my finisher’s medal and water I was feeling better and started to move among the crowd of glowing people. Glowbash - Medals

Boooo. Because of that ‘1924’ mistake we ended up completing 5.44 miles. Other racers insist it was the State Theatre—maybe they thought you just needed a team selfie (Read the clue—you need a stamp). I’ll never know what building ‘1924‘ was. There’s no telling where we placed because only the first three teams mattered. We didn’t even win the raffle prizes. But we didn’t break up! BF Shoes took our glow sticks and celebrated with Burgers just a walk away.

Glowbash – St. Pete edition
March 14, 2015
Ferg’s Sports Bar
St. Petersburg, FL


March 6, 2015

Why do I have eczema?

I’m not shaking my fist at the heavens screaming “Whyyyyy?” I know there’s something up with my skin’s inability to get drunk on moisture because it doesn’t want to wake up mysteriously next to random strangers… or something like that. While I can’t control my body’s components I’m sure I can control the reactions. Much like a Kardashian acting out for attention, my skin is causing problems because it wants to be treated in a way I haven’t provided. So instead of just slapping on more steroid cream as a temporary solution, I wanted to get to the source of these issues.

Allergy sign

Ever taken an allergy test? It’s not scary at all. I totally recommend getting one because it’ll give some insight into what crazy items your body decided to hate instead of guessing. Why don’t they have something like this for relationships? For one week I was poked, scratched, and marked by an allergist. Using three different methods I was tested for food, environmental, and contact allergies.


Nobody was clear on whether I needed to fast for ten hours prior. As a precaution I scheduled my testing as early as possible so I could just skip breakfast and go straight to the labs. All I had to do was give the staff two small vials of blood for them to test. Since the blood couldn’t be tested right there it took more than a week for me to receive results… and my last blog post mourns the results.


My mind ran wild imagining my arm looking like some nightmare pin cushion. This was made worse when the nurse entered my room with a cart stuffed with tiny bottles—it seemed like 100 bottles– each representing a food to test.

My fear was absolutely silly. After marking my arm to create reference points, one drop from each bottle was placed on my arm. Once my arm looked like human Candy Dots, the nurse took a short needle and very shallowly pricked my skin through each liquid dot. Ten minutes later I could see the skin under some dots begin to swell. Using a guide the nurse could pinpoint which food caused the reaction as well as measure the severity of my allergy.

[left] Getting the dots placed [Right] Wow-- after the liquid is wiped you can see some strong reactions there.

[left] Getting the dots placed [Right] Wow– after the liquid is wiped you can see some strong reactions there.


This test was performed in the same way as the food allergies test. Thank goodness this was done on the 2nd day of testing and not at the same time as the food test because my arms needed a rest from getting pricked. This scratch test was to see my sensitivity to things I breathe in such as dust mites, various pollen, critters and building materials.


Components of… like… the stuff my skin touches. The Patch Test took three days to complete and became a real test of self-control. A large thin, paper-like material was taped to my back where I was ordered not to wet or disturb it for a couple days… and no scratching it!

Patches on my back

Patches on my back

After a couple nights of the most frugal showers in shower history, the allergist removed the paper which somehow magically told him what materials my skin didn’t like. I couldn’t see—it was on my back. The Patch Test took the longest to complete out of all the tests because a third day is needed to read the results in case there’s any delayed reactions.

Paper showing my food allergy results

Paper showing my food allergy results


So that’s how I became a human testing project. Tests can vary between doctors; my sister’s food allergy tests relied completely on blood work alone.

I’m glad I had these tests done instead of blindly attempting cures without knowing whether they were helping or hurting. Several results surprised me. For months I had substituted all dairy products with Soy or Coconut… and my tests revealed I wasn’t allergic to dairy BUT I had mild allergies to Soy and Coconut. (Side note: you can still be INTOLERANT to dairy but not allergic)

Soy… gluten… Adieu for now. I’m going as cold turkey as possible on foods I’m allergic to and making changes to my studio home to ease my environmental allergies. These changes aren’t easy and definitely cost a bit of money, but to take care of my skin (and therefore my sanity) I’ll work on it. Keep me in your prayers as I try to throw some deuces up to eczema.

About Pyra-Danny
I currently have eczema covering about 80% of my skin. Despite having it for all my 29 years of life it wasn’t until last year (October 2014) I decided to really make changes to overcome it. I want to share my ongoing experience with eczema in hopes that I will learn more as well inspire others.


February 23, 2015

ARGGHH the itchiness. It feels soooo good to scratch but Make it stop! Make it stop!

I’m currently one week into my two-week, no-steroid-cream period and my skin has already declared a mutiny. With every brush I can see tiny deserters flaking off in dry waves.

Banh Mi

Banished from Banh Mi… isn’t this the most yummy looking thing ever? Boohoo. No substitutes.

I’m uncomfortable and gloomy. To sadden matters the first of my allergy test results have revealed… I’M ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN! Noooo… while I was prepared for this outcome I’m still unhappy at thinking of my future involving gluten-free substitutes, limiting my options eating out, and bringing my own food to parties. Why didn’t I eat all the Banh Mi in the world while I still could? I understand my limitations—I had to go gluten, dairy, and nut-free for a few months last year.

It’s been five months since I began this steroid cream on-and-off cycle. I believe Topical Steroid dependence and Withdrawal (TSW) is real so my goal is to wean myself off its use. But DARN it’s uncomfortable during my ‘off’ cycle… but it’s getting better with these cheap, homemade, eczema remedies. I’m not a medical expert and I don’t know the reasons behind the following list, but I’ve held some comfort from them. Some of these are suggestions from my allergist while others come from online communities and still others are just my own discovery.

Grip gloves

These grip gloves are tight enough to let me type easily yet still dull my nails enough to prevent some scratching.

  • Don’t laugh—I’m typing all this while wearing hardware store Grip Gloves. The cloth dulls my nails and help deter some scratching. Compared to mittens, these gloves cling tight around my fingers allowing me to still type at work. It looks silly, but I wear them everywhere including shopping at the store or driving.
    [Top] Ingredients for my mint Sugar Bath Scrub [Bottom] Ingredients for my oil-based Lotion at left

    [Top] Ingredients for my mint Sugar Bath Scrub [Bottom] Ingredients for my oil-based Lotion at left

  • Twice a week I exfoliate my dry skin away in the shower. Instead of paying $8 for some store creation (robbery!) I make a homemade scrub using the formula of one part oil to two parts particles (normally sugar). My skin feels so good afterwards.
  • Speaking of showers, I spend as little time in the water as possible and keep the temperature at lukewarm or cold. Aiiiii—this one’s difficult because I used to enjoy creating a scalding Danny-Pyra soup during showers.
  • You can’t ever have enough lotion! I have a creamy Aveeno or Vaseline lotion bottle at home, work, and car. I try to apply lotion over all parts of my body every four hours or whenever needed. I’m hoping to eventually move to a more natural, well-priced cream soon. At night I use a homemade oil-based lotion to seal in the moisture overnight. (created from Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Shea Butter, Almond Oil, and Jojoba Oil) Editor’s Note: I just found out I’m allergic to Coconuts so now I have to remake my lotion formula. Just replace the Coconut Oil with something else.
  • Once a week I take a bath (lukewarm of course) where I soak in Oatmeal or Chamomile Tea or Oils for about 20 minutes. If you grind the Oatmeal yourself make sure it’s ‘old-fashioned’ (not instant) and grind to a fine sand or else it’ll quickly absorb the water and sink to the bottom in an unappealing mess.
  • I ingest a tablespoon of straight Olive Oil every night. Soon I’ll be adding a dose of Fish Oil to that as well to begin moisturizing from within. But build up to those doses or else you’ll get to know your bathroom décor very well.
  • Loose clothing! Sleeveless shirts and skirts are my uniform now because sometimes my skin begins to get itchy when rubbed by the fabrics. Unfortunately I sometimes use the fabrics to further rub my itchy skin resulting in deeper scratching.

And all this in addition to my ongoing quest to eat less-processed foods, using more natural versions of detergent, soap and shampoos, and no fragrances. I only started doing all the above a month ago so it’s too early to determine results and I’m wondering whether the Steroid Cream could also be botching up results.

Whew—I’m still chugging on and trying to remain positive. My self-confidence in my appearance has taken a bit of a dive too. I feel like I look older and more tired. While BF Shoes is saddened about my inability to share certain foods with his glutton self, he’s still keeping things cheerful through compliments—I’m thankful for that. My equally eczema-ed sister has been a great support buddy to share discoveries, triumphs, and trials with.

With the bulk of my allergy tests next week let me raise my water bottle (which I’m sure is also moisturizing me inside) to changes… and hopefully changes for the better.

About Pyra-Danny
I currently have eczema covering about 80% of my skin. Despite having it for all my 29 years of life it wasn’t until last year (October 2014) I decided to really make changes to overcome it. I want to share my ongoing experience with eczema in hopes that I will learn more as well inspire others.


February 17, 2015


Below is my blog racing through my Spartan Race experience. To learn more about the background preparation, what to expect, and post race clean up just wait on my future entry.


Courtesy of the Spartan Race committee

Courtesy of the Spartan Race committee

“I am Spartan!” roared the group seconds before we were released into a race course where every muscle would be challenge and fears conquered. It was Spartan Race time!

02 Sparta - Start signWhen two of my girlfriends announced they were attempting the Spartan Race in Tampa I had to join. Sure it was Valentine’s Day, but with BF Shoes working I had no plans and no excuse. Even with a Groupon this race cost over $60 so I didn’t want to waste my money by being unprepared. I wanted to tackle everything! Mind you—I’m not a sporty, barely go to the gym, and don’t juice—but the challenge of doing a “3.1 miles with 20-25 obstacles” was too tempting. (Ahem—lies—it ended up being 4.2 miles with 24 obstacles)

That’s how my Harley Quinn-costumed self came to stand next to a couple Ninja Turtles and a friend to form team ‘Happy Feet’– because even if we performed horribly at least we’d have some awesome photos. Under the Raymond James Stadium’s shadow, we were pressed against 50 others as part of the 2:15 pm wave.

“I am Spartan” we roared and suddenly we were climbing up the arena’s ramps and through the walkways.

03 Sparta - List of obstacles

List of obstacles during the race


From there about every 1500 feet revealed an obstacle. Some obstacles involved a static mechanism (using a pulley to lift a 50-pound bag) while others tasks involved you carrying a heavy object for part of the track. Refusing or failing to complete an obstacle required you to do 30 burpees under the watchful eyes of the volunteers at each station. Seriously—you paid a lot of money for this race—at least attempt every obstacle or live haunted in a “what if…” stasis. I didn’t know what I was capable of until I did it; with my poor upper body strength a Climbing Wall (it seemed like it was 20 feet high but it was probably only 10) surely would scare me into burpees… but I climbed over it!

04 Sparta - Obstacles

Saving grace came in the form of team work especially if you’re a bunch of short, petite ladies. Half the obstacles can be accomplished using team mates. We were able to climb those tall walls because total strangers were offering to boost us up (guys AND ladies helped us). Even with the abundance of willing strangers, try and have your own team. Not just because it’s fun but some team work can get pretty personal; to accomplish a couple Monkey Bar-type obstacles I had to straddle the shoulders of my friend who later told me I was squeezing her head with my thighs. Oops.

05 Sparta - Stairs Stadium

Making use of the stadium’s layout. [Left] If you look carefully you can see lines of runners coursing through the stadium seats on various levels

The Race worked with the Stadium’s layout. I swear the first two miles involved going up and down stairs, in between seat aisles, and more stairs (my team mates complained these were the most difficult parts) with the final two miles leading us to the grounds surrounding the Stadium for muddier challenges. Although the course was longer than expected, I barely felt the distance. I felt more exhausted from previous straight-5K races. The obstacles provided mini breaks from running. That plus waiting for my stairs-exhausted team mates.

In the end, I surprised myself by only failing at two obstacles. In climbing the Rope Climb over the mud pit, I got within five feet of the bell at the top before falling. At the Spear Throw I managed to throw my spear straight, but fell short of the target.

06 Sparta - Fire jump

I just really like this photo of me (^_^)

The final obstacle was almost ritualistic—jumping over a line of fire. The line is relatively thin, and more smoky than fiery but made for a great photo and finale… and just like that we were done! Despite having water-logged sneakers and suddenly shivering from the cold air, team Happy Feet was too pumped and excited to notice.

No matter where you are in your fitness level, I totally recommend doing an obstacle race. The only real challenge is yourself. It’s a great way to see what you or a group of friends can accomplish.

Forget Go-Pros- I recorded segments of the Race through a good ol’ point-and-shoot, waterproof Panasonic. Unfortunately it kept hissing ‘low battery’ at me (therefore making me get stingy and frantic in recording) before finally dying during the final mile.

Stay tuned for another post to help all you first-timers (like I was) prepare and what to expect during and after your race.

Spartan Race

February 14, 2015
Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, FL

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