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Lodi's 'Biggest Loser' Christy Richesin runs 5K Halloween race

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Posted: Monday, November 2, 2009 12:00 am

Editor's note: This is the third in an occasional series.

By Jennifer Bonnett

News-Sentinel Staff Writer

Lodi's "Biggest Loser" shaved eight minutes off her 5K run of a year ago.

It must have been the cape.

Or the fact that she's lost more than 40 pounds since the last time she ran a race.

A year ago, Christy Richesin could only jog for three minutes straight. On Saturday, appropriately decked out in a Superwoman costume from head to toe, she participated in Lodi Physical Therapy's 5K run at Lodi Lake.

Despite blisters she received a day earlier, the mother of two flew across the finish line in 40 minutes and 29 seconds.

Richesin is on a personal challenge to lose 70 pounds in the next year after nearly becoming a contestant on this fall's season of the hit TV show "The Biggest Loser."

Since the end of May, when the News-Sentinel started chronicling her venture, she has lost 41 pounds and inches everywhere, but gained confidence in herself. She has also learned to eat healthier and work out regularly.

In June, as yet another challenge, Richesin added to her exercise repertoire an Iron Grip weight-lifting class and made plans to run at least one three-mile race.

For Saturday's race, the Lodi woman opted for a Superwoman costume, primarily because it was the only appropriate one she could wear her sports bra with.

"Other costumes I tried would've been very cumbersome or inappropriate for me to run in," she said, adding that the fun costume reminded her of the Wonder Woman underoos she wore as a child.

"And I'm hoping that the cape makes me run a little faster," she said. The glittery red cape sparkled around the lake as dozens of racers of all shapes, sizes and costumes participated. The event was a fundraiser for Lodi Unified School District's four high schools. At race time, it was a chilly 45 degrees.

Before it started, Richesin admitted she didn't feel ready. A two-week sinus infection forced her to carry Kleenex, and wearing the wrong shoes with her costume for her son's Halloween party the day before had created blisters on her feet. "But I didn't want it to be a bunch of excuses," she said.

She proudly wore No. 223 on her chest, proclaiming that she was once that weight.

In her last six months of working harder to lose weight, Richesin finds setting small or short-term goals more motivating than large or long-term goals.

"I'm also in the process of switching gyms, as the classes I've been trying to take don't fit my (kids') schedule, and I've been having a hard time trying to adjust my life according to the gym's class schedule," she said.

"I think that's part of why my progress has been slow. I'm just trying to figure out and adjust my workouts for my life, not someone else's idea of what time of day or classes they think works for me."

Saturday's race was not the first mini-marathon Richesin has tackled — and it won't be the last.

Last November, she overcame doubts in herself that she is not the body type meant to run, and finished that 5K with a time of 47 minutes, 52 seconds.

"God thunked me on the head one day (and said), 'I gave you two perfectly functioning legs. Why don't you put them to good use?'" she wrote in her personal blog this time last year.

"I was really intimidated to start running," Richesin added before Saturday's race. "Being a curvaceous woman, I felt that I was not built to run. But I had encouragement from some friends who are seasoned runners.

"So I invested in a good pair of running shoes and a heavy duty sports bra and went for it."

She found a training schedule online at www.coolrunning.com called "From Couch to 5K," and recommended that anyone should find a local race and go for it.

"When you get discouraged or lazy, think of people who don't have the ability to walk or run and how you can," she said.

Richesin plans to once again participate in this year's San Joaquin County Run Against Hunger Thanksgiving run, using Saturday's race as training. That race, to celebrate National Physical Therapy Month, also had personal meaning to Richesin since both her boys have been in physical therapy for years.

"I'm very thankful for the work of the boys' physical therapist, Kathy. She has not only helped me help my boys, but she is also a runner and has encouraged me in my efforts to have a healthier and more active life," Richesin said.

Richesin found that she did great over the summer, but once school, fall church programs and sports for her children began, she's had a hard time keeping up with it all, let alone fitting exercise in.

"I've also started working on the weekends … it tends to be another element of distraction when it comes to my weight loss goals," she said.

She still feels like a success, although the weight loss is not happening as quickly as she'd hoped. "I haven't gained, so that alone is success to me," she added.

"I am struggling with keeping my priorities in check. … There are weeks that I get distracted by things going on in my life, and I don't feel as successful. I've had a few too many of those kinds of weeks lately. And I am thankful that I haven't gained weight during those times," she said.

In the end, Richesin said that challenging herself to lose weight at home as opposed to on a TV show before millions of viewers is a lot harder than she thought it would be.

"This is a very solitary battle, because I'm finding that most people battling weight or who enjoy exercise have very individual needs, specific preferences, or scheduling conflicts. It's hard to find someone who can stick with me on this journey. And that's OK," she said, turning her attention to the one thing that has kept her going: religion.

"I just really need to draw strength from my faith in knowing God will help me do this. But like most things, slow and steady wins the race. And I always want things done now," she said.

"If this is going to be a true lifestyle change it will be a process of finding out how to lose the weight and maintain my health as my life ebbs and flows. That is a very individual thing."

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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