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The Next Challenge…It’s Time to Lace Up Your Shoes

Just look at all of those beautiful red faces! These are some of the dedicated, motivated runners who joined us on the first challenge.

It’s time for the next Red Faced Runners Challenge. Whether you joined us on the last challenge, or you’re someone who hasn’t run a step since junior high gym class, we want you to join us on this next challenge. This has grown to be an amazing group of people who support each other through every walk or run, celebrating our accomplishments or commiserating with each other on the difficult days.

And now we want to bring even more people into the group.
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kelley {mountain mama cooks} - September 17, 2012 - 8:30 am

I’m so in on the next one. Can’t wait to join you gals!!!

Amy @ The Nifty Foodie - September 17, 2012 - 8:39 am

I’m SO in! :-) I’m signed up for another two 5K races (one next month and one in the winter), so I’m stoked this challenge is happening again!

Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen - September 17, 2012 - 8:42 am

Let’s DO this thing!!!

Amy - September 17, 2012 - 8:47 am

Looking forward to seeing what races are in my area. AND the cooler weather too! ;)

Sarah - September 17, 2012 - 9:05 am

Very excited for another challenge and I plan on getting my mom more involved. She was recently bitten by the run bug and can never find time – Now I’m her motivation to get going!

Kristi - September 17, 2012 - 10:09 am

I’m in too! Wasn’t able to participate in the first challenge, but will be doing this one! Can’t wait to see how much I can overcome in 9 weeks!!

Karyn - September 17, 2012 - 10:36 am

I’m just getting into running… So far, so good. I’m marking this goal to shoot for! It seems so unreachable at this point, but I’m gonna push and push!

Cindy @ Once Upon a Loaf - September 17, 2012 - 10:47 am

Absolutely! I’m going to be running for max fun this November while I recover from the New York City Marathon, then start training for the Boston Marathon April 2013. Anyone want a running partner? ;) Here we go again!

Sarah - September 17, 2012 - 10:51 am

I am in! I am running my first 5k on October 14th!

Southern Gal - September 17, 2012 - 11:21 am

No races in my area then, but I’ll run my neighborhood with a friend. I’ll also be happy for cooler weather. My first 5K in August was HOT and in the afternoon. I’m a morning runner so I’m hoping my next race will be much easier. ;)

Kim - September 17, 2012 - 12:14 pm

I’m in! Will defiently need you all after I complete my first half Oct 7!

Lindsay - September 17, 2012 - 12:35 pm

Woohoo! I’m already planning on doing a Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving, but why not throw in another one the weekend before?! It’ll be a good break for my legs from the long runs I’m doing to train for my half in December. :) So excited for the new challenge & hopefully lots of new people join in!

Sylvia - September 17, 2012 - 12:55 pm

PERFECT timing! I started C25K two weeks ago (messed around last week..getting back to it) and this is just what I need to keep it moving. I’m so excited to join in.

Carolyn - September 17, 2012 - 4:12 pm

Love it. I am scheming who I can “bring” to running. Husband was already a runner, but he’s gotten better and stronger with my encouragement. Does he count?

Christina - September 17, 2012 - 11:25 pm

So awesome. I’m challenging myself to a 10k that weekend with 2 friends. anyone else uping it to a 10k?

Sarah @ Will Run for Pasta - September 17, 2012 - 11:28 pm

I’m in, I’m in!! Still looking for a race in my area but I’m doing it!

Charlotte - September 18, 2012 - 9:32 am

I’m in – I’m training to run 5K on Dec 1st (Santa Shuffle).

beth greene - September 20, 2012 - 5:34 am

I’m so in! And I can’t wait!

Christine - September 24, 2012 - 6:13 pm

I’m running in a 5k the weekend of November 10th. It’s the Old Village Harbor 5K. I’ll also be participating in 2 more in October. One being Race for the Cure. Thanks again for everyone’s encouragement and helpful information posted on this site. I’m getting so addicted to running, I practically read October’s addition of Runner’s World in two days!

Sue - October 1, 2012 - 4:01 pm

I am running my first 5K Saturday! I am very excited!

Amy - October 26, 2012 - 9:16 am

How handy. Your next challenge is the weekend of the half marathon I’m already registered for. :) I’m in!
Route 66 Half Marathon, Tulsa, OK 11/18/12

You did it! Your RFR Challenge Running Photos

You did it! After training for weeks, nursing sore muscles and pushing yourselves beyond where you thought you could ever go (ever!), you stepped out onto that 5k course and kicked some serious booty. We are already celebrated “the stronger you” in our pep rally post, but make sure you hop over there to remind yourself just how far you’ve come.
Keep on Reading »

Cindy @ Once Upon a Loaf - September 10, 2012 - 8:14 am

Yes!! Love seeing everyone’s red faces! Makes me excited for “what’s next.” ;) Great job, everyone!!

Kristen Doyle - September 10, 2012 - 8:52 am

This makes me so happy!

bridget {bake at 350} - September 10, 2012 - 9:00 am

Yay for red-facers!!! So cool to see everyone!!!

Amy - September 10, 2012 - 9:03 am

Yay! The only thing that could have made this weekend mo bettah is if we could have all run together! So inspiring seeing so many red faces all over moving toward a goal.

Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust - September 10, 2012 - 9:03 am

I love seeing all the photos and I can’t wait to hear about the next challenge!

Carolyn - September 10, 2012 - 9:41 am

So fantastic to see all the red, happy faces!

Karyn - Pint Sized Baker - September 10, 2012 - 9:41 am

I swam this summer and loved every minute in the pool. Today, I ran day 1 of couch to 5K and almost died! Swimming does not prepare one for running. I’m planning on running the 5K at Disney World in February. It would give me tremendous motivation to know that other’s will be there. Anyone else up for a Disney World Run?

Karen - September 10, 2012 - 9:50 am

so great to see all of the red faced runners! thanks for staring all of our photos~

Sue - September 10, 2012 - 10:01 am

I didn’t have a race in my area but Saturday 8th, I did 5 miles in an hour which was an improvement on my pace! Woohoo! My first 5K is October 6th.

Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch - September 10, 2012 - 10:54 am

Love, love, love seeing all of these beautiful red faces! I missed the 5k I was scheduled to run in Destin this past weekend, but thought of all of us moving to a healthy goal as I ran yesterday morning.

Christine - September 10, 2012 - 6:21 pm

Thank you to everyone’s encouraging words over the past several weeks. This was my first 5k trail run and it certainly was an adventure. I highly recommend a trail for someone looking for a break from the normal road races.

Congratulations to all the Red Face Runners!

Melissa - September 10, 2012 - 8:13 pm

Well…I didn’t finish with a PR. That was my hopes. But, I also had taken a week off to let my knee heal from some overuse pain. I walked/ran sloooowly only twice the week before my 5K and wore a knee brace for support. So all things considered, my finish time of 30 min and change wasn’t all that bad (my PR stands at 29:43)and I was 6th in my age group ;) I don’t know the exact time because this particular race only supplied gun time, not chip time. Still, it was a fun event and I was happy to run “with” everyone here. And I am looking forward to moving on to longer races :)

5k Challenge Pep Rally: You Are Stronger!

Note: For everyone that’s participating in a 5k this weekend (or if you did so last weekend), whether it’s a route mapped out in your own neighborhood or an organized 5k race, please consider sending us a red-faced photo of yourself post-race. On Monday, we’ll put up a post-race post, featuring your photos and first names. You can send your photos to Dara at cookincanuck (at) comcast (dot) net.


The time is here. After weeks of training, puddles of sweat and many red-faced running photos later, the challenge is upon us. Tomorrow, each of us will be lacing up our shoes, pinning on our race numbers and setting our sights on our 5k races. For some, 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) races have been crossed off the bucket list several times. For others, it will be the longest distance you’ve ever run. Whichever camp you fall into, each of you is heroic in your own way.
Keep on Reading »

Kelly - September 7, 2012 - 7:41 am

Good Luck to everyone !

Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen - September 7, 2012 - 8:36 am

Dara you are the driving force behind this and you are an inspiration to so so many. I’m so proud do be on this journey with you and call you Friend. This post made me teary. There have been SO many times when I’ve wanted to quit. Countless times when I had myself convinced that I couldn’t do it even before I laced up my shoes. But I am doing it. I am a runner. We are all runners. And we are strong. ♥

bridget {bake at 350} - September 7, 2012 - 8:49 am

Dara…I love this post. That is all. ♥

Kristen - September 7, 2012 - 8:53 am

I’m with B… love this! And yes – good luck, everyone! So exciting!

Terri A. - September 7, 2012 - 9:10 am

Good luck to all the runners!

Cindy @Once Upon a Loaf - September 7, 2012 - 10:15 am

Thank you, Dara, for making us all STRONGER. Stronger for tomorrow and every day thereafter. Let’s go!

Carolyn - September 7, 2012 - 12:10 pm

You rock, Dara. I’m so glad to be a part of this group. You’ve given me your love and support in more ways than one and it means the world to me. WE are all stronger together.

Janine ( - September 7, 2012 - 1:32 pm

Yay! So excited! Thank you for the continual support and encouragement!! Good luck to everyone running this weekend!

Amy - September 7, 2012 - 2:31 pm

I wish we could just have a big conference call during our runs cheering each other on — or at least a little heavy bredathing with a “woot! woot!” interspersed between grunts.

Keep on truckin’ y’all!

Aggie - September 7, 2012 - 11:06 pm

I love this Dara!! (sniff sniff…)
I will be thinking of all of you tomorrow morning! Big hugs!!! (I benched myself last couple weeks, but will walk a 5k on the treadmill Monday morning!)

Jamie - September 8, 2012 - 9:39 am

good luck to everyone! and after you’ve all had a few days to recover… when is the next race? I’d like to join in :)

Kristen Doyle - September 8, 2012 - 2:08 pm

We’ll announce the details of the next challenge very soon! :)

Terri A. - September 9, 2012 - 4:00 pm

Congratulations to all the Red Faced Runners who accomplished their goals this weekend! I wasn’t able to participate in this challenge, but I’m looking forward to the next one!

[...] course and kicked some serious booty. We are already celebrated “the stronger you” in our pep rally post, but make sure you hop over there to remind yourself just how far you’ve come. Of course, [...]

Race morning: it’s in the bag.

Happy hump day!

Well, that was somewhat anticlamactic of me. This is not just any hump day. It’s THE Wednesday before we brave RFRs take to the roads and test our wills – some for the first time, some to return to glory, some as a stop on the training journey to other races coming up this fall.

So, let’s get ready. Game face? Check. Race plan? Yes. Mantras to keep you motivated and clicking off the miles? Got ‘em. Road-tested race outfit picked out, assembled in a corner of your closet or bedroom and ready to roll? Done.

Looking good so far, but now it’s time for my number one tip for race-day prep: getting yourself proactively organized so that you can focus on the most important part of this whole shebang – gettin’ after it and making your running dreams come true.

To run your best (and most stress-free) this weekend, you need to pack a bag. Right now.

A well thought-out and carefully packed raceday bag you take is your best friend. Everything about this bag needs the most careful consideration and planning – from the form and function of the bag, itself, to every item it contains – it’s as valuable to you as you head to the starting line as every mile you’ve put in in training.

Case in point: I’m not new to racing, and have in fact dealt with a myriad of different race-morning-hurry-up-let’s-get-to-the-start logistics. I’ve taken tote bags, gym bags, what my son refers to as “spike bags” (the cute, little drawstring backpacks devoid of pockets) and the like, and I’ve never been entirely satisfied with features or convenience of any.

This year and next, I’m training for some pretty big races (the New York City Marathon this fall, and the Boston marathon next spring, to name two), races I’ve never run, and a few I have. So I decided it was time for a new raceday sherpa, one that has everything I need organizationally and has room to spare, but looks killer-sleek, is absolutely indescructible, and, oh, morphs into a work-to-workout bag for when I’m  traveling or have a full day of meetings and coaching sessions.

After waiting months for what I thought might be my dream bag line to launch itself into the fitness consumer world, I pounced on Fitmark™ and begged them to send me a bag whose pictures and description I’d been salivating over, the Formula One backpack in RED-hot, satiny velocity nylon, so that I could put it through my own set of running and racing tests. What could be more appropriate? And I was not disappointed. In fact, this bag is, indeed, my dream training and raceday gear bag.

Here’s why: storage galore – and intelligent storage, at that: a dedicated, soft-lined pocket up top for sunglasses or your phone, a side-zip pocket that’s actually insulated to keep your water bottle cool (how cool is that?) with matching accessory pocket on the opposite side. It’s also got room for an entire change of clothes, and racing flats (or street kicks) on the bottom (score!). It’s even got a separate zip pocket, running the top length of the bag, that perfectly holds my iPad, and get this – it holds up to a 17″ laptop in its long, cushioned back zip pocket. I AM serious. How they did this while designing this pack completely without bulk, making it functional as both a backpack and carry bag, plus, frankly, making it sleek and powerful to behold, is beyond me. It’s an investment purchase, for sure, but well worth it for the quality of the zippers, alone – and that’s just the beginning.

Once you have your preferred ultimate workhorse bag in hand, it’s time to think through everything you need on race morning. I prefer to “prevent the preventable” and not make assumptions about what’s going to be there for me at the race – from food to hydration to clothing, I pack thoroughly but efficiently. Doing so eases my mind 100%, not an easy task on race morning. I pack my bag on – you guessed it – the Wednesday before a weekend race, that way, I can add/remove as the forecast or travel plan changes.

Different races will have different requirements, of course, depending on distance, location and climate, but here’s a basic go-to list that will get you thoroughly ready for this weekend with as little left to chance as possible.

Shoes: either carry your racing shoes in your bag and warm up in another pair of trainers, or bring along a supportive pair to change into post-race.

Water: don’t assume that all the water you’ll need pre-and post-race will be waiting for you at the start/finish line. It’s just good planning. Slip a bottle or two into your bag just in case.

Anti-chafe product: Do I really need to say it? Better safe than sorry. Feet, too – even if you’ve never experienced chafing, a race can definitely become your initiation. Two I like are BodyGlide and Asics Chafe-Free Endurance.

Lip balm: Wind and concentration while working hard are not kind to your lips. Take care of them, too.

Sunscreeen: If temps call for short sleeves or tanks, lather up with a waterproof sports-specific sunscreen. I personally avoid my forehead in shorter races in warmer temps to lessen the chance of it stinging my eyes, but use your best judgement.

Safety pins: Chances are, there will be pins a-flying on the registration tables at the race, but just in case, invest in a pack and always take four with you to your race. Even if you’re covered and have your race bib securely fastened to your top already,  you might be the saving grace for someone who’s pinless and stressing over it.

Shades: If the sun is shining, you can count on it bouncing off the pavement and into your eyes. Don’t miss a turn or misjudge  the distance between you and another runner because you’re squinting.

Ziploc bag(s): Sweat equity is sweet and a fact of racing – but don’t let it ruin the post-race party. Ziplocs can keep your sweaty stuff contained after you’ve changed into your…

Post-race change of clothes: drier is better. Grab your bag and head to the rest room (or creatively change in your car!) and you’re ready to hang comfortably with fellow runners and bask in your achievement. I always have a shirt, warm-up pants and a jacket (that I usually have on pre-race) in my bag. Socks, too.

Snack: not every race has miles of chocolate chip bagels and bananas handy, and even if they do, sometimes food can disappear fast. You have to be able to refuel, so stash your fave portable post-run snack.

Race packet: your bib (race number), directions to the race and a course map should all be in your bag (note: you may not get your race number until race morning, but other items can be printed off ahead of time).

Camera: get pics of yourself with family and friends. If using your phone, don’t leave it behind! You’re going to want these memories, even if upon crossing the finish line you swear you’ll never do this again! (Trust me, that feeling will last 10 minutes, tops.)



What will you be stashing in your raceday bag for the big day? Whatever your place in this red-faced running world we’ve created, it’s time to get after it, then reward yourself for all your hard work. Race strong, finish even stronger, then celebrate




(FTC: Fitmark™ provided me with the Formula-One Velocity bag for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated for this review, and as always, all opinions are my own.)


Cindy is a magazine journalist, marathoner and RRCA-certified running coach. She can be found in a carbohydrate haze expounding on all things bread baking at
Cookin' Canuck - September 5, 2012 - 10:38 am

Awesome post, Cindy! You thought of everything to stash in that race bag. I’ll be referring back to this post as I put my race bag together. And now I need to get my hands on one of those Fitmark bags…what a great piece of gear!

Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen - September 5, 2012 - 10:41 am

I can feel the excitement building!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark - September 5, 2012 - 12:11 pm

Very nice!

Kristen Doyle - September 5, 2012 - 12:14 pm

Woo-hoo! I totally need one of these bags (and ummm… everything in it, please ;) ) So helpful! Thanks Cindy!

Shanna Coady ~ My Favorite Everything - September 5, 2012 - 3:10 pm

Great tips and amazing bag!! I’ve got 3 weeks to go until my first 5K. This week is my first 22min continuous run (stressing a bit). Love this site and all the encouragement and tips! Thanks!!

Sarah @ Will Run for Pasta - September 5, 2012 - 3:25 pm

As a newbie runner this post is amazing, so many things I wouldn’t have even known to consider! That bag is stylish too, I’d want one just for every day use. I’m going to have to get a second job to support my new running habit and all the cool gear that comes with it :D

Christine - September 6, 2012 - 6:41 pm

Now that’s a bag! Good information. Bye, I’m off to start packing.

What To Eat Before The Big Race

With just a handful of days left before Race Day, you might be wondering you should eat the morning of your event.

Well, I am no expert, but I have competed in several races, and what I eat before each and every race is simple.

I always start off the morning of race day with a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich and a banana.

I know that might sound weird, but there is logic behind my madness. Let me explain…

You are not wanting something heavy to sit in your stomach, otherwise you’ll feel like you have a giant rock sloshing around in your belly while you run. You don’t want to eat something too light either, otherwise you’ll run out of energy and feel extremely fatigued. A sandwich is light enough, yet filling at the same time. Every part to the sandwich has a key role in helping you to power through your race.

The Peanut Butter: packed with protein will give you sustained energy for your run.

The Jelly: it’s sweet and has the sugar you need to get you going, but not too much to drag you down.

The Bread: full of carbohydrates, which will produce energy when your body needs it the most. (Choose a hearty whole wheat bread if you can)

The Banana: a great source of potassium, which will help reduce the risk of cramping in your legs.

Eat at least 30 minutes before your run so your body has enough time to start digesting your fuel. Drink lots of water the night before, and a big glass the morning of your race.

Be prepared to have to go pee…. a lot.

If this is your first race, also be prepared for those giant butterflies in your stomach. {heck, I have raced several times and still get butterflies} It’s ok, just turn the nerves into excitement and let it power your race.

The night before the big race, I like to carb-load for dinner. I make a big bowl of pasta with bread sticks. Those extra carbohydrates will again help your body to produce energy the day of the run.

{Carolyn also did a great post about how to fuel your race which is full of awesome tips as well.}

Good luck out there ladies {and gentlemen}!

bridget {bake at 350} - August 28, 2012 - 7:24 am

This is so helpful…I’ve only run one race and was stumped as to what I should be eating. PB&J plus a banana I can do! Perfect!

Amy - August 28, 2012 - 7:36 am

Ditto what Bridget said! I was so nervous, I was scared to eat. But PB&J sounds pretty logical. And safe as far as nerves go. ; )

Kristen Doyle - August 28, 2012 - 9:01 am

I always hate eating before I run because my stomach just doesn’t handle it well. I usually drink half of a Muscle Milk before and half after. I know that’s probably not good enough or right, but next time I’ll try a PB&J for sure!

Janine ( - August 28, 2012 - 9:20 am

Great post! I’ve been wondering about this as race day quickly approaches… so excited!

Christine - August 28, 2012 - 6:15 pm

I don’t think you can go wrong with Peanut Butter and Jelly. Yum, Yum. Thanks for post.

Cookin' Canuck - August 29, 2012 - 7:37 am

This is definitely a great way to fuel! Before shorter runs, I eat part of a banana. Before longer runs, it’s a piece of toast with peanut butter & some banana. Good old-fashioned carbs & protein work the best for me.

Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen - August 29, 2012 - 10:53 am

Sounds great to me! A perfect post for getting ready on the 8th!! Woot!

Lori @ RecipeGirl - August 29, 2012 - 4:35 pm

Oh my goodness, I’ve definitely never considered PB&J! How fun! For my half marathon, I did oatmeal and banana… long before I ran. But for 5K’s I usually just eat either a banana + PB or Greek yogurt + fruit. Next time… it’s PB&J!

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