Tag Archives: inspiration

Challenge Obesity 5k – “Race” recap


Last year, I ran my first 5k race around Lake Como in St. Paul. I was so nervous and anxious the few days leading up to the event. But after I completed it, I felt so good! It started a string of 5k events through the rest of 2012! You can check out my last race in November as well as links to all the other races I completed here.

On my birthday, I made a list of things that I wanted to accomplish over the coming year. One important item on that list was to run the Challenge Obesity 5k again. It would be my one-year anniversary since my first and I could compare my progress. I wanted to encourage others to join me, too. The Challenge Obesity 5K race in St. Paul is one of the least intimidating races for beginner runners. When I was looking for a beginner runner 5k to run, this was the one recommended to me by Jen, a priorfatgirl. Many of the people running it have lost weight or are in the process of losing weight – from 20 to over 200 pounds! It’s actually very inspiring.

While my recent back surgery is forcing me to revise that list, I knew that I still wanted to participate in the Challenge Obesity event. And on Sunday, although I couldn’t run, I was reminded of this inspiration and vowed that I would be running this race every year as a re-commitment and reminder of a healthy lifestyle, while kicking off the beginning of the outdoor running season in Minnesota.

However, it wasn’t exactly ideal weather!

The results page describes last year’s weather as 45 degrees, overcast and breezy. You can check out the photos from that race recap post to see for yourself and compare to this year. I also re-read my recount of being a little warm in the lightweight jacket after I had started running. Back then, I was worried about being cold and wet that day. However, the rain held off until afternoon. This picture posted on the Challenge Obesity website depicts the beautiful spring day it actually was on Saturday, April 21st, 2012:

Weather at Lake Como on April 21, 2012 - source

Weather Conditions at Lake Como on April 21, 2012 – (Source: ChallengeCharities.org)

This year, all week, I was checking the weather forecast for race day. We’ve had some pretty unstable weather this spring including numerous SNOWstorms, one of which occurred last night:

April 22 2013 - Weather in MN, early evening.

April 22, 2013 – Weather Conditions in MN, early evening.

That was just the light dusting in the early evening! This morning, I woke up to this:

Tuesday morning, April 23, 2013

Tuesday morning, April 23, 2013 – Notice the additional snow on the trees, chairs and railings!

But I digress… Back to the race…

The week prior to race day, many forecasts showed 40 degrees and overcast with possible rain later in the morning. “Not so bad!” I thought. “Just a little cooler than last year!” …despite the fact that some snow remained on the ground.

But as the weekend drew closer, the weather predictions changed… including lower temperatures and possible rain and snow. “Okay,” I thought to myself, “I ran in 32 degree weather once and it was beautiful. I can handle this.” But on that particular day that I was remembering, the sun was out. So I just imagined it to be a little chillier and to adjust my race attire, accordingly.

And I use the term “race” loosely… Why?

Because I have not been cleared to run yet.

I would be walking this entire race.

Yeah, I was bummed when my surgeon told me that it would be six more weeks before I could slowly get back into running again. (More on that later this week.) But I also knew that since the surgery, walking on the treadmill a couple of times was the most exercise I’d done. And the furthest I’d gone is 1.5 miles. And even that took me 30 minutes. Obviously, I’m still healing.

The Night Before…

My friend Stacy came to town to join me in the race. The two of us went out to dinner with Rob to Forepaughs, a perfect suggestion on his part! The two of us girls split a small cheese plate, a piece of truffle toast and some po ping pork and even finished with some dessert. I did imbibe – two glasses of cabernet sauvignon. That’s not something I tend to do the night before a race.

Sure, I wasn’t running the thing this year, but I was still nervous. I didn’t know if I could make it the full 3.1 miles or if I’d come in last and hold up the entire working crew. So it was nice to have a night out with Stacy. {And I think it was nice for her to dine somewhere where she wouldn’t normally take her 5-year-old!} And although she and I have a tendency to chat for hours, we didn’t make it to bed too late. 😉

Race Day…

I didn’t get up immediately when the alarm went off, but I think I got ready in record time. I was debating whether to wear just a t-shirt or a fleece vest over my Cuddl Dud and under my lightweight jacket. At the advice of both my husband and Stacy, I went with the fleece vest, knowing I could remove it when I arrived.

Breakfast included the usual piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana. When my friend Jen arrived at my place at 7am, I grabbed a fleece scarf at the very last second (knowing it was one I could discard if I got hot) and we scurried out the door, stopping at Caribou Coffee on the way. I needed my race morning caffeine fix with my usual Americano!

Upon arrival…

It was colder than we could have ever imagined! 

The wind was whipping across the lake and the sky was more than overcast, with rain, sleet and snow seeming to be inevitable within minutes.

I had definitely under-dressed!

I hadn’t even brought gloves! I remembered the one time I wore gloves during a race that I got so hot and regretted it. So I just didn’t bring them this time. As we stood in line to pick up our bibs and t-shirts, my hands started to get numb. I jokingly said, “Hey, guys. Do you want to just go straight to brunch instead?” Stacy gave me a look like, “Don’t tempt me! You just might talk me into that!” But instead, she offered me an extra pair of stretchy gloves she just happened to have with her. I am so grateful she had those!


Stacy, Jen & I pre-race. Believe it or not, that is a lake in the background.

Last year, I loved checking out pictures or signs on the backs of those people who had worked so hard to lose massive amounts of weight. It was so inspiring! This year, a guy was passing out signs and pins so that anyone could write in their accomplishments and display them as well!

Notice how windy it is with our ponytails blown...

Notice how windy it is with our ponytails blown to one side… as I cuddle up to Jen!

I made Stacy and Jen pat the bear's belly for good luck like I did last year. ;-)

I made Stacy & Jen pat the bear’s belly for good luck like I did last year.

The Race:

While this race wasn’t chip-timed last year, it was advertised as such this year. However, we did not receive any chip, nor did it seem like the bib was equipped with anything. And now that I think of it, I don’t remember seeing any start or finish mats either. Perhaps this had something to do with the weather?

In any case, we lined up at the back, knowing that we all planned to walk it. I’m not sure where the actual start line was, but I’m sure it took us a few minutes to cross it after the race began. So if the race wasn’t chip-timed, I’m pretty sure I can shave at least a minute or two off my final “race” time. 😉

And after we got moving, it really wasn’t half bad being out there! Of course, I didn’t become hot nor need to shed any clothing. We felt some sleet on a couple of occasions, although my hat helped with that. And the wind whipped each time we turned a particular corner, but it didn’t last long. Still, the view along the route looked a little bleak compared to last year!

I urged the girls to go on ahead of me, as I knew I’d be slow. I also knew that if I needed to, I’d stop after the first lap around the lake. When Jen finished the first lap, she called me to find out if I had intended to do the second one. I was feeling up to it, so she pressed on, too. Stacy walked with me and as we saw that the clock at the first lap was at just over 30 minutes, I told her that I wanted to finish this thing in under an hour. Not a good pace, by any means, but it was an accomplishment for me just to have walked this far. It was hard to believe that just six-months ago, I had finished running my first 5-mile race in just under 1:10. Now I was hoping to do a little over 3 miles in about that time.

However, when Stacy and I crossed the finish line, the clock was no longer showing a time. I guessed we would just have to wait to see the results later that day…

Jen, Stacy and Carrie post race with hot beverages!

Jen, Stacy and Carrie post-race with hot beverages!

But by the time we got to the car and were making our way to brunch, we each got an email on our phones titled “results”:

Congratulations Carrie on finishing the Challenge Obesity 5k! 
Your Time of 59:34 with a pace of 19:11 per mile, put you in 119 Overall! 
In your Divison of F3539 your Division Place was 17 out of 19. 
Your Gender Place was 82 out of 89. 
Full race results can be found @ www.wayzataresults.com

How cool is that?! This was the first time I’ve ever had race results emailed to me, not having to wait until later in the day when official race times were posted. And I did make that goal of completing the 5k in under an hour. Certainly nothing to be proud of normally, but having had back surgery just six weeks prior, I was just happy to be out and moving and able to complete it at all!

  • The Event: 2013 Challenge Obesity 5k
  • The Location: Lake Como – St. Paul, MN
  • The Date: Sunday, April 21, 2013
  • Night Before Dinner: Split with Stacy: Small cheese plate, truffle toast, po ping pork, dessert. Two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pre-race Breakfast: Peanut Butter toast and banana
  • My Time: 59:34
  • The Weather: Freakin’ Cold! Mid 30s (but who knows with wind chill), overcast, some sleet.
  • Attire: running pants, long sleeved Cuddl Dud shirt, fleece vest, hat, fleece scarf, magic gloves.
  • General Feeling: Sad to not be running, but happy to have walked the most I had since back surgery. Re-inspired by all the runners who’ve lost weight!
  • Uniqueness: Challenge Obesity – people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.
  • Size: Approx 125
  • The Goods: t-shirt
  • The Grub: Water, hot chocolate, hot cider, bananas, apples, cinnamon raisin rolls.

Have you ever under-dressed for a race or other event before?

Have you done repeat races to check your progress?


Think You Can’t Run? Watch This and Tell Me You Can’t.


I recently saw this video of a Disabled Veteran who was told he would never walk, unassisted, again.

He surprised everyone that by doing yoga, he did learn to walk again… And in the process, lost 140 pounds in under a year.

Check out this inspirational transformation.

Then, tell me that you can’t run.

If you are all inspired by this man, consider joining me to Challenge Obesity on Sunday, April 21st in St. Paul, MN. It’s a walk-run event, so don’t even think you have to be “ready” to run it. But there’s no reason not to start the Couch to 5k program now…

What sorts of things have inspired you in your life?


Challenge Obesity


I have some goals I’ve set for myself this year. One of them is to run the Challenge Obesity 5k in St. Paul, MN for a second time. It was the first 5k race I’ve ever run.

However, the most important part of this goal is that I want to get as many people as possible to run the race with me!

If you’ve never done a 5k race before {walk or run}, this is the one for you!

When I set out to run my first 5k and wanted to find a race that was not intimidating, I was recommended the Challenge Obesity 5k by Jen, a priorfatgirl.

She was right. There were people of all shape, sizes, ages and abilities. The staff was very helpful. In addition, I felt inspired. Many of the people participating were people who had lost significant amounts of weight. They had photos of themselves or the numbers of pounds they’d lost written on their backs. I honestly can’t recall seeing this at any other races I’ve done recently. Those people inspired  me. I want to give back by inspiring you!

I’m asking you to Challenge Obesity with me this year.

Whether you want to give a 5k a shot for the first time, used to run or tried to at one point and want to get back into it or are a seasoned runner who just wants to support newbies, I encourage you to join me.

And by joining me, I mean any of the following:

  • Join me and we can decide to have t-shirts made for our group and/or a place to go to breakfast or brunch to celebrate post-race.
  • If that isn’t your style, just sign up for the 5k and stop by to say “hi” before the race!
  • Or sign up for the race {or any other race near you} on your own. If you want to remain anonymous, but are inspired by this post, by all means, just do it! Although I’d love to know about it, my true intent is to encourage and inspire as many people as possible.

If you are afraid to run a race, please know that this one is a run/walk. Also, you’ve got some time. The race date:

April 21st, 2013

I’d love to know if you are going to participate! Just email me at UncommonWine at yahoo dot com today letting me know your commitment. Then, send me another email once you’ve registered.

Still not sure?

Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you how I used the Couch to 5k program to start running. Or just look how cute this dog is running:

Isn’t (s)he cute?

In the meantime, what inspires you?



Why not a 10k?


I ran another 5k race this weekend.

Actually, it was a 5k and 10k race. Why didn’t I give the 10k a try?

I’ve completed four 5k races prior to this one. I’ve run two 5-mile runs on my own. A 10k isn’t much further than that. So why did I run the 5k?

I actually had {secretly} considered running a 10k before my trip to Ireland this fall. I had researched and came up with a training plan. I found a few 10k races around the Twin Cities.

Then I did something I probably shouldn’t have…

I calculated my approximate finishing time and checked the race results for the previous year… I would have come in last.

Obviously, that’s a fear of mine. The races were just too small to have a bunch of slow people like me. So I backed away. I lost of my confidence. Sure, that may sound like I’ve given up, but I haven’t. I didn’t back away completely! I signed up for a few more 5k races so that I would keep running all summer long.

I’ve been struggling with taking off the same five pounds this summer. And while I’d like to be further along in my weight loss, I’m actually proud that I haven’t thrown in the towel just because it’s summer. I could have said, “Screw it. I’ve messed up already, I’ll just start again in the fall.”

That may have been what I used to say; but this time, I’m not on a diet. This is my life. I’m learning healthy habits that I want to stick. I don’t want to wait until after vacation. I don’t want to wait until X event has happened in my life to “start over”. Sure, I may have overindulged more this summer than not. I may have not worked out five to six days per week like I used to when I was losing more weight. However, these 5k races have still held me accountable.

I kept running. No matter what, I always ran three days per week.

Before I began running, I would have never had this attitude.

You see, for me, running became a workout plan that I had to follow. In order to complete my goal of running my first 5k race, I couldn’t skip a scheduled run! With any other workout, I used the old, “Ugh. I just don’t feel like it today.” But I knew that when you miss a stepping stone in your race training, you throw everything off-kilter. There really wasn’t room to make up for it.

This is why it kept me going.

So, naturally, my next step would be to try to complete a 10k race, right? And although scared, I had considered it. But in the back of my mind, I remembered what I’d heard about marathoners not losing {much} weight while training for endurance races.

Then I read this post by Ann at Twelve in Twelve. She’s run several races {twelve of them in twelve months, in fact} and expressed her struggle with losing weight. Her trainer makes a great point about waiting to run a marathon until she’s lost the weight so that she can run as fast as she can! It’s worth a read.

Later, I read more about high-intensity interval training and building muscle in the book The Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous Project by Esther Blum.

A lot of what I read just reminded me of what I should be doing if I really want to lose weight. However, the following line really struck a chord with me:

“Still not convinced HIIT will be effective? Look at the physique of a marathoner versus that of a sprinter and tell me who has more muscle!”

Wow! After having watched those Olympic sprinters just a few weeks prior, this visual really drove home the point.

That’s not to say that I think marathon running is a bad thing. I have the utmost respect for marathon runners! Endurance training absolutely has its place. In fact, for the first time ever, I actually know someone personally who will be running a marathon here in the Twin Cities. And I’m completely bummed that it’ll take place while I’m across the pond. I would have totally gone to cheer her on! Angie is an inspiration!

My goals right now? In order to continue my weight loss, this fall and winter I’ll be running intervals and lifting weights.

Don’t worry, I’ll run a 10k this spring.

{See I’m putting it out there in writing!}

I have already downloaded the 5k to 10k app. I have already run five miles at time and a 10k is not much more. In fact, I do have a 5-mile race planned when I get back from my trip abroad. So that’s really not that big of a deal, right?

Still, you know what? My 5k run this weekend was a very hard one. I couldn’t even have imagined running a 10k that day when I was struggling so much with the 5. They are still a challenge for me. However, my goal now needs to be to continue to lose the weight and get faster at my 5ks.

There’s plenty of time to work on endurance when I get to my goal weight.

Come back tomorrow for my Race Day recap to see who I met!

What are your current fitness goals?


The First One is Tomorrow!


My first 5k is tomorrow morning!

I’m excited.

I’m nervous.

I’m ready… I think.

I want to thank all of you who offered advice whether I spoke with you personally or if you commented on what I should expect. I had a bit of anxiety over the little things and you all made me feel more prepared with your answers. In addition, you brought up a few more things I hadn’t thought of at all!

Thank you for offering advice to a newbie, especially if you are an experienced runner who does a 5k as a warm-up. 😉 We all have to start somewhere! When I first decided I was going to do this, all I wanted to do was be able to finish it running non-stop. Now I know that I can do that. But it’s still hard.

Many people run their first 5k after they have lost all their weight. I’m doing it before I’m half-way there. I am officially down 29 lbs now and have recently had a lot of people asking what I’m doing to achieve that. It’s simple… and it’s not. So expect a post on that probably next week!

I have been reading a few running blogs and articles that I have found have offering advice and insight to new runners. I can’t tell you how invaluable this information is! So if you are new to running, be sure to read these. I found them helpful!

Nine Race-Day Tips for Your First 5k (Active.com)

How to Fuel for a 5k (Active.com) – Thanks, Bukie! 😉

New Runner Tips (Twelve-in-Twelve by MN Ann)

Running Tips (by Fit This, Girl!)

Are you Ready and Well-Prepared for Your Race Day? (Special thanks to my cuz, Kim for sending this!)

I know there are more out there and I should have organized them all in one nice spreadsheet or something to have for future reference or to share all in one post for you. I’ll get better at that. I promise.

Now my only concern?

A cold and rainy race.

I wasn’t exactly expecting that. And it was probably my biggest fear {fear used loosely here}. I haven’t run in a downpour yet. I think that was my concern for clothing. Oh well. I guess we’ll see how that goes and how cold and wet I get! Thanks to all of you out there for your advice and support! I will update you on Monday.

If you run, do you remember your first race?

…how it felt?

…if you were nervous?

I’m a Runner?


People often ask me what inspired me to run. “I can never do that!” they say.

I used to say the same thing.

Actually, I’m not really sure where it started. Maybe it was when my friend Stacy left her treadmill behind at my place when she moved out of town. I had no excuse not to workout with the equipment right there in my basement. (Thanks, Stacy! You will never know how grateful I am!)

But I didn’t start with the intention to run. I used the treadmill to do walk-run intervals. I was losing weight for my wedding.

Something may have clicked while I was watching an episode of the Biggest Loser a few seasons ago. There was a shot of contestants finishing a run on treadmills. One of the gals said, “Hey guys! We just ran 5 minutes straight!”

Now that might not seem like a lot to you, but it was to me. I couldn’t remember the last time I did or even if I had ever done that. In fact, I was the girl in grade school and junior high who couldn’t run the mile in gym class. I was the one who ended up walking and came in with the last group. It was embarrassing.

I tried again to run a mile with friends in college, but I could barely keep up and came back red-faced and barely breathing. I turned to other methods of working out: aerobics classes, biking, kickboxing, walking. There is no way I would ever become a runner. I had my idea of who a runner was – one of those people who was lean, athletic, and ran with ease. They did it for fun and because it was easy for them. That was not me!

So what changed? After that episode of the Biggest Loser (which we usually watched with breakfast and coffee on Saturday mornings to motivate our workouts), I thought to myself:

If some of these 300 lb people can run for five minutes non-stop, so can I!

So I put on my shoes determined to run five minutes non-stop during my treadmill workout that day. If I thought it was getting hard, I thought again about those BL contestants. There was no way I was coming off that treadmill saying that I couldn’t do it.

Then, one day, I ran my first mile.

I did it!

About a year after my wedding, I started on a new mission to shed the pounds. I started following weight loss blogs for inspiration and motivation. Everyone seemed to be running! A first milestone for newbie runners was to run a 5k. I want to run a 5k! I thought. I started the Couch to 5k program. I loved that my iPhone App told me when to run and walk, increasing the amount of time between walk breaks with each workout:

Still, I started and stopped the program so many times.

I think that the turning point was when I advanced from a 10-minute run to a 20-minute run. I still remember that first 20-minute run. I couldn’t believe the Couch to 5k program was making me make that big of a jump! I had to ask friends for accountability.

By the time I hit the 30-minute run, I still was nowhere close to running a 5k. I don’t know how the program really expected me to run one in just eight to ten weeks. It was still very hard. In addition, I hadn’t even run this long outside yet. (Running in public is still a sort of phobia). And I am not about to run outside on snow and ice in the middle of winter. (Falling on ice – another phobia.)

I was sooooooo slooooowwww… Could I even call what I was doing running? Or even jogging? In fact, my calorie-counting app only records my pace as “walking”. I had to remind myself that I was not on the couch, I was increasing my heart rate, I was sweating profusely, and it was still difficult. I had to tell myself:

I bought a heart rate monitor, too, to make sure I wasn’t being too easy on myself. Even with how slow I’m going, I’m still working out in a Zone 4 most of the time.

I decided to increase my runs slowly. Starting at 30 minutes, I increased each new run by just one minute. In this way, it wouldn’t feel like I was doing something that wasn’t impossible. I mean, I’d be running just one more minute than the time before. I did this all the way up to 60 minutes.

That’s right – I’ve run 60 minutes.

(I can’t believe I just typed that.)

But here is what I’ve learned: Running is 80% mental. When I have a long run, I have to psych myself up all day so as not to talk myself out of it. Then, I have to keep a positive attitude during the entire run. If not, I fight with myself. I have to consciously change my thoughts, practice positive self-talk:

You can do this!

You’ve done it before!

Just five more minutes!

Remember when you couldn’t run five minutes?

Anybody can do anything for five minutes!

What are you doing this for?

Do you really want to say that you’ve quit?

You’re on the treadmill now, so just finish it already!

Sometimes I just want to stop, but usually, I just need to change my mental – not physical – state in order to keep going.

So now what? I’ve signed up for my first 5k in April. In the meantime, I need a training schedule so I won’t get out of practice. Because I know I can run several minutes without a break, I’m not going to repeat the Couch to 5k program. So I’m doing the “Advanced Beginner” 5k Training.

Does this make me a runner?

I’m not so sure yet. I don’t love it. But I love how I feel afterward – the endorphins, how easy it is to breathe, the sense of accomplishment. And if I decide to sit on the couch afterward, I don’t feel guilty one bit.

In fact, I’m getting ready to run right now…