Never say never

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life225 Comments


I did it. I ran my first 5K road race.


And it happened six months and one day from the day I decided to hop back on the health and fitness wagon back in early January.

Remember that? Move more? Eat less?


I slept about three hours the night before. I was a twisty bundle of nerves. It was the same nervousness I remember from every single swimming or skating meet I ever took part in during my youth, or from every single public speaking engagement I've done as an adult in the scrapbook industry.


I registered last Thursday, just hours before the online cut-off, careful to not fully broadcast to the Internet my weekend intentions, lest I decided to say, "You know what? Not gonna happen this time."

But with my family on board to wake up early and cheer me on, there was no turning back.


The weather was a perfect 70 degrees, and I even ran into blog reader Minda who started running herself over a year ago for many of the same reasons as me.

I lined up toward the back of the pack, secured my headphones, straightened my hat and waited for the start.


My biggest fear in all of this wasn't the distance. I've been steadily increasing my running distances over the past few months, adding a few 10ths of a mile here and there on my longer run days. 3.1 miles is now my average run.

It was more the fact that I've never run in a group of people. I didn't want to be in anyone's way. I didn't want to cause a bottleneck. And most of all, I just didn't want to look like I didn't belong.


But once I took off, and the Dixie Chicks began singing "Takin' the Long Way Around" in my earphones, I was nothing but goofy smiles, white legs and hot pink shoes.


Seeing Dan, Cole and Aidan cheering me on left me jubilant.


I really couldn't stop myself from 'wooting' at them as I passed.


I mean, seriously. What? I was running a race? Get OUT!


For real.


I'd like to say after this shot I put the hammer down and never let it up, but instead, I will say this: I ran the fastest per mile pace of my short but esteemed running career, a 10:30 per mile.


I felt great, albeit a bit on the toasty side, and I knew I was pushing it just enough, based on my Nike+iPod feedback.


Then I crossed the line in 32:38. Outside. In the summer. Using my legs. And just a little bit of heart.


Yep. That's me. Former smoker. Former chubster. Former "What? I don't want to sweat, are you crazy?

In the words of the great Tommy Shaw of Styx, ne dis jamais, jamais, people, ne dis jamais, jamais.

(Thanks to Aidan, my talented photog daughter, for documenting this day!)

Cathy ZielskeNever say never

225 Comments on “Never say never”

  1. #1

    Congrats Cathy you are so inspiring!! What a fab achievement for you!!! Looking forward to the page about it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. #3

    Huge congratulations Cathy!! You must be so proud of yourself! Keep on running and enjoying it and keep on inspiring the rest of us. Hopefully one day it will be me beaming at the end of my first race ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. #9

    Awesome job Cathy!! You should be so proud of yourself and full of smiles for weeks to come. I love the pictures of you and Aidan did a terrific job of getting the pictures, they really tell the story. It’s great to see you were smiling and enjoying the race. Good for you Cathy, so what’s next???

  4. #10
    natalia dexter

    Congrats Cathy! I’ll be running my first 10km run on sunday 25/7….can’t wait..kind of…

  5. #13

    This is probably a weird thing to say to someone I don’t even knoooow (except by reading your blog, of course!) but… I am proud of you! You’re awesome! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. #16

    You are such an inspiration in so many ways. You inspire me to scrapbook more of my everyday life, eat less of the contents of my refrigerator and move my “not shrinking as fast as yours” bum. Thanks for documenting and being real with your vast fan base on your blog… Congratulations!

  7. #19

    Congratulations Cathy on a good run all for a great cause too! You are inspiring me to exercise more – thank you!

  8. #21

    it was fun talking to you and several other great ladies pre-race, you saint paulite’s are nice and friendly!

    congrats, you did amazing, and even in your first race! Remember your time was actually a little better than that because it took you awhile to get to the start line!

  9. #22

    Wonderful! This is especially cracking me up, because I just happened to read your post about the 52 Cards Dan gave at Christmas. You may remember rejecting nature in that post, and here you are… running outside, in a race, I love when I surprise myself!

  10. #23

    Okay, I have goosebumps on my arms reading this! So happy for you. So so soooooo happy!
    Oh, and tell Adian she did a great job taking photos. She really captured the feel of the event and your emotional journey.

  11. #25

    Congrats Cathy ! You are such an inspiring woman for all of us. You nearly made me cry reading your post. I’ll do it one day, surely ! Thanks for the pics, you look great !

  12. #27

    Congratulations Cathy!!! I am thrilled for you, and inspired too, started my own fitness thing a few months back and am just venturing back into the idea of running again. Looks like you had a great time too ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. #28
    Barb M.

    Woot, Woot to you!! You don’t just look like a runner, you ARE a runner. I am so proud of you! I found your blog about the time you started your journey in Jan. What a great ride! Congratulations!

  14. #29
    Emily Turkalj

    Wow Cathy, It’s been said by many before me, but I will say it again.


  15. #31

    Congrats on your first run. I am working my way to where you are. Thanks for being a inspiration and sharing your story. Keep up the great job.

  16. #34
    judy in huntsville [al]

    PS – I’ve sent Stacy J [on FB] a little info about a 24 / project [similar to what some guys are trying to do on You-TUbe that day – thought it would be fun to post a photo every hour of the day on our blogs. [ANd a little two page digi template would be fun to slip in small photos of each hour too – hint, hint]

  17. #37

    All I can say is you rock and I truely mean that!! I have fallen off the exercise / change our lifestyle ways and you inspire me to get back on!!

  18. #38

    I could not wait to log on and get my inspiration for the day. You are simpy wonderful. You again emulate all the good of setting a goal and then achieving it by little steps and a giant heart. Thanks for todays inspiration. Jill B

  19. #46

    Goodness, CZ. You actually brought a tear to my eye this morning. This is incredibley inspiring. Isn’t it great to have a whole cyber cheering section behind you?

  20. #52

    Thank you for being an inspiration. I read you blog daily and have followed along….YOU R DA’ BOMB! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. #54

    HUGE congratulations! I started running in January and did my first 5K in mid February then another in April. Looking forward to the next one!

    I like your hat ~~ just got a similar one for my birthday and haven’t even worn it yet.

    Love the pictures your fan club took of you. You were definately running like a mother!! Blessings, Jill

  22. #57
    Annette C.

    Way to go! When I’m running I’m going to have to think “If Cathy can do it, so can I!”

  23. #59

    YOU GO GIRL! You absolutely look like a runner – you look great! Congratulations to you!

    And Aiden did indeed document well!

  24. #61
    Dorothy F

    Congrats – I knew you would do it! You are such an inspiration and you sure looked like a “real” runner to me.

  25. #65

    So proud from a former smoker former non-runner, and former chubster myself!
    Congrats to you!

  26. #67
    Bridget in Minnesota

    I am so happy for you and so inspired to keep up my own eat-less-move-more plan.

    Way to go!!!!!

  27. #68

    You are awesome Cathy ๐Ÿ™‚ I did this once, and due to an accident and subsequent health reasons am unlikely to ever be able to do to it again, so it seriously warms my heart seeing mums like me, women like me, doing this ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. #71
    Karen (kphike)

    Seriously??!! You are a rock star….:) Great, Great job and accomplishment….you’ve inspired me :)….now all I need is the guts you had to broadcast it! Labor day 5k – here I come – or not hee hee…thanks for the inspiration, and the scrappin’ and the Styx quote….

  29. #75
    Stรฉphanie B.

    Well, like everyone else has already said: Congratulations! Very nice time for a first one too. Is that not the biggest reward you could have given to yourslef after all those months of sweating? Just looking at the pic, it reminds me of my first one as well….and the feeling right after (ok, not the exhaution one, but the “pride” and happy smile I was hanging arorund all day long). Good for you! so, what’s next?

  30. #77
    Tracy B

    Right on, sister! And look at all the very cool things that have opened up to you…
    My sister just finished her first mini-triathalon at 50. Her inspiration? The 75 year old lady that finished it next to her…

  31. #81

    Oh my, SUPER CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU! Wow! You rock! And you are inspiring us all. I have never run before. Over the weekend, a friend asked me about training for a triatholon. I found myself saying not that, but maybe a 5k. Your inspiration might be just what I need.

    Congrats again!

  32. #85

    Such a privilege to get to read and share in this journey of yours. You will never know how much you’ve inspired me and others!

  33. #86

    Congratulations Cathy! I love seeing people set a goal and achieve it. :)Keep up the awesome work!!

  34. #88

    Sensational! Love the joy that is pouring out of you! Congrats on your new lifestyle and gorgeous new body. ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. #89

    huge congrats to you!!!!! way to go.
    i love that you are smiling during your race! love that.
    can’t wait to see the layout you’ll make out of it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    thanks for sharing with us, and again, way to go in your progress!!!!

  36. #92

    GO CATH!!! You are so stinkin’ awesome. And you’re inspiring so, so, so many people in this new way. I love you so much for that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. #94

    I ran my first 5K last Thanksgiving and it felt good! I’m a former “What? Me sweat? No thanks!”

    I always liked ya, but I like former-smoker, former-chubster a lot. Thanks for the inspiration!

  38. #95
    Erin Summers

    I know you know this already because I am sure it is seeping from your very pores but, “YOU ROCK!!” So inspiring and amazing. I am getting so much strength from you. Thank you for sharing this journey.

  39. #99

    Wow, congratulations! Is it weird that people you don’t know are proud of you! You have worked so hard, what a great achievment, and think of the message you are sending your kids!

    Aidan, you did an awesome job taking the photos!

  40. #100

    Way to go Cathy! I am so proud and inspired by you. I am not a runner, but thanks to you, I plan on being one so I can run my first 5k in October. Thanks for sharing your story and thanks to Aidan for the wonderful pics. You looked awesome and I love how you’re smiling throughout it all. YOU ROCK!

  41. #101

    Awesome Job, Cathy! That is a really respectable time, too. Welcome to your new obsession! ๐Ÿ™‚ Next up: 10K. If you are doing 5 milers, you could do a 10K, no problem!

  42. #122

    Amy, I’ve got my eye on a 10K. It always seems like the first few miles are like, “What? WHAT?” and then everything settles down, and it’s like, “Oh, okay.”

    : )

  43. #124

    Iโ€™m such a sap. I totally welled up reading that story and looking at those pictures. Way to go, Cathy! What an awesome You, you are.

  44. #126

    Way to go! I ran my first 5K in May of 2009, almost a year after I started running. Trust me, the races are addicting! I predict it won’t be long before you’re signed up for another one.

  45. #130
    Jennifer Carreiro

    You are so inspiring! My daughter joined cross country last year and can run (we are not a family of runners) She wants me to run with her this summer. I’ve agreed to walk and jog – I’m overweight and out of shape. Thanks for showing that it’s o.k. to be nervous and afraid. I realize now that I’m afraid of looking like I don’t belong. Her’s keeping my fingers crossed.

    Jen C. soon to be exercising in Massachusetts…in the heat…

  46. #131

    Truely inspiring…you’re really making this chubster want to get off of her buns!!! Congrats— you rock, girl!!!!

  47. #134
    kim smart

    sending a big congratulations your way cathy! i too have been on the “eat less, move more” bandwagon. so far, since april, i have lost 25 lbs. and am walking at least 4 days a week. i feel so much better! thanks for the inspiration and for documenting your journey!!

  48. #137

    I have never commented on anything of yours, but have lurked on here for years and I followed you when you were with Simple Scrapbooks. I too, started running back in March. And I also ran my first 5K in June…it’s exhilirating, and you feel like a TRUE athlete. I smiled the whole time I read your post and the pictures were amazing. Because of you, I bought the ‘Run Like a Mother’ Book and am contemplating the Nike Plus. Don’t think that you aren’t not making a difference in people’s lives just because you are bloggin’ it…I am changed because I’ve read your posts. Congratulations to a healthy new YOU!

  49. #139
    Suzanne E

    Way to go Cathy!!!! But can I just say; girl you need to get out in the sun a little more…LOL. I thought I had some pasty white skin going on.

  50. #140
    Shelly in the NW

    woo you! and for the ADA – it could have only been better had Bret Michaels greeted you at the finish line – as he is doing some work with them now:)

    Congratulations! and great photography Aidan!

  51. #143

    This is so very inspiring! All this progress in 6 months! Go you! And those shoes are to die for.

  52. #147

    Congratulations Cathy! You inspire me soooo much! I am a former smoker that wants to run. Never did a lick of exercise – rather smoke with my buddies, KWIM? But now, I want to be a ex-smoking runner. Thank you for sharing your journey! ~Lisa

  53. #153
    Donna Tullis

    hot diggity dog…way to go! You looked so happy and I swear you got the longest dang legs! And guess what? You really did look like you belonged with all them other runners…but you looked cooler because of your totally rockin pink shoes!!

  54. #164

    Well done you! It must be so rewarding, knowing that all the time and effort you’re putting in to this is paying off – and you look great!

  55. #167

    So proud of you, well done. I am going to start exercising. i have gained weight since my daughter was born so i think this is the best time.

    once again well done

  56. #170
    Cathy Weber

    The looks on your face are priceless. I, someone you probably will never meet in person, am so proud of you. You are an inspiration in so many ways. Congratulations, well done.

  57. #171
    Amy L

    This really made my day to read! You have inspired me to run a little bit too. Maybe I can do this one day.

  58. #174

    I’m so proud of you! You REALLY look like a runner, so don’t ever say that you don’t!

  59. #175

    Congratulations on a fantastic accomplishment. You’ve earned every right to be proud and call yourself a runner.

  60. #178

    Wow, awesome job.

    O.K., do you remember a time before
    all of this fitness. What was your
    motivator? I need motivation, to get
    up and just do any excercise!!!

    Keep up the great work


  61. #180

    Awesome Job!!

    Do you remember a time before you started
    with the fitness? What was your motivator.
    I need a bunch of motivation to start to
    excercise too?

    Keep up the great work!!!!

  62. #181

    Can we say it often enough…you definitely rock and are a definite inspiration! Running is not likely to become my thing, but 6 weeks ago I followed your fitness example and joined a local gym. I never expected to love (not like, but LOVE) spinning classes and personal training sessions, but I do. Weekly goals to work out 4x each week have been met and I only hope to keep this up as successfully as you have. Thank you!

  63. #185
    kerri Macdonald

    Congratulations! You are a rock star! Now not only are you my scrap design hero but also my fitness hero! THanks for just being you and being so inspirational for all of us!

  64. #187

    Wow you go girl! So proud of you! Oh and I can’t believe you did it in new shoes too! Or did you break them in a bit first?

  65. #189
    Alison Shearer

    Well done Cathy. Isn’t it just the best feeling when you complete your first event. I bet it won’t be the last. You looked great – what about those runners legs!

  66. #191
    Val from Down Under

    Congratulations Cathy, you’re such an inspiration! Thank you so very much for sharing this personal milestone.

  67. #192
    Kim B

    That is absolutely great Cathy!! You are such an inspiration to me. Tell Aidan she did a fantastic job with the photo’s.

  68. #194
    Lorraine Reynolds

    I kept thinking all Aussie weekend, I wonder what time here Cathy will be doing her thing. I wonder how she’ll go!!! Was it a 5K race she said – hang on don’t they do it in miles over there? Really in my busy but mundane weekend I’ve been thinking of you, and hoping it would be just the best experience for you.

    Looking at those pictures it was, as you are, awesome. Be so very proud of what you’ve achieved.

    I’ve been waiting for this post with the biggest anticipation. You go girl.

  69. #195
    Stรฉphanie B.

    See, I knew it…you are hooked now!!! That’s all you need , a new goal to keep you moving forward. I hope you prepare to sweat even more, because 10k is not only 2x5k, like people would think, (ok, yes it is but …), you’ll have to train your body progressively to longer distances. I know you already have ran 5 miles (ish 8k) but those last 2k extra are the ones you’ll run with your head more than with your body when the time comes. I’m looking forward to that new challenge for you, but do’nt forget, one step at a time or you’ll burn out your desire to get out and run. Go Cathy, go !!!

  70. #196

    Go jen! it IS okay and normal to feel out of place, but as someone told me: HEY, don’t worry about what others think because it’s not their butts out there exercising. It’s YOURS! : )

  71. #198

    Lori, DO the NikePlus. I don’t know what it is, but it’s super motivating. It’s like a little training buddy in your ear.

    Thanks for coming out of lurkdom! : ) and congrats to YOU for running as well!

    p.s. You will LOVE RLAM!

  72. #199

    Suzanne, I would. I really would, but i’m like a poster child for skin cancer. I have to be really careful! I put 70 sunscreen on when i head out for runs. Too many suspicious moles!

  73. #201

    Lisa, I KWIM more than you know. Or, EXACTLY as you know.

    Believe me, there is still a part of me that remembers not having to move a muscle and just smoking instead of overeating. Sigh.

    You can do it. You really, really can!

  74. #203

    Gentle jog? Lora, your time ROCKED. That was SO fun to read. And you had to deal with ELEMENTS woman. Good for you! Thanks for sharing!

    And you look AMAZING.

  75. #204
    Renee Mattei Myers

    U r awesome ! Congrats on getting that first race out of the way and under your belt. It’s a great feeling. I bet u r still grinning about it. And a perfect day too for a run! Can’t wait to hear about the next one.

  76. #205

    Good for you!!! I knew you could do it (Even though I don’t really know you.. how weird is that). Congratulations!!!

  77. #206
    Rachel B.

    Way to go, Cathy! I am super proud of you! I hate to sweat too and now you are motivating me. Yes you are!!!

  78. #207
    Di Hickman

    Congrats Cathy!!!! It’s such a great feeling huh? I ran 10k Sunday and beat my ‘training’ time also! It was a “wow” moment finishing and getting my result. Now you have a “personal best” time, something to beat = yourself! Go girl, go!

    I signed up for a 1/2 marathon! Beware, this shiz is addictive!

  79. #208

    My motivator was being unhappy with how I felt and looked. Plain and simple. And realizing that I had two choices: whine about it, or do something about it. I was REALLY good at whining about it. Not so good at doing.

    That is slowly changing!

  80. #213
    Lori H

    Way to go Cathy- you look like you so belong on that race path. I just wish I could get the momentum to keep going- I have great intensions but then dive into the snacks and TV instead- any suggestions?

  81. #214

    Melissa, i was pretty comfy in the shoes. I’d been running in Newton’s already, and they really feel like air, actually. Very light shoe.

  82. #215
    Wendy Merrill

    I just sat here grinning the whole time I read this post. I’m so happy for you and seriously inspired. Congrats and Thanks!

  83. #216

    Cathy, I’m all teary reading this. Way to go. I want to do it, too. I just got “Run Like a Mother” at your suggestion and I hope to be able to do what you just did. So glad you shared it.

  84. #217

    Cathy – I’ve loved reading about your progress! I starting doing run/walk intervals at the gym last night, which meant pushing past giant fears of not “looking like a runner” and all around awkwardness. I heard myself say in my head, “I’m going to do it because Cathy Zielske can do it.” You know what that means? You’ve reached Oprah status. OPRAH! And I’m hitting the gym for more intervals tonight, whilst envisioning myself in a 5k. Thanks for sharing your story – reading your blog has made a huge impact on my physical fitness. ๐Ÿ™‚

  85. #220

    Congrats, Cathy. My husband I decided to start training for a 5K last year … however my health prevented it last year and I am currently working and going to school full time this year. I will be done by April of next year and I will be back on the training schedule. I still run some to keep my body in shape but not as much as I would like to. It is also a goal of mine to run in a 5k. I am proud of you for making this change in your life.

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