My Yearly Memorial Run To Honor Ladybug | Benefiting Heaven Can Wait

Every year at the St Patrick’s Day Run (formerly owned by Mountain Man Events, now owned by BBSC) I run to honor Ladybug.  You may recall, this is the event I ran the day after she died and was nicknamed “The Ladybug Runner”.

This year, I wanted to do something extra special, since it was the 5th anniversary of her death.  I contacted Heaven Can Wait Animal Society of Las Vegas to see if I could do a fund raiser for them. They provide no-cost to low-cost spay and neuters to pets in need.  As you know, that is my animal advocacy platform = spay and neuter!

From their website, “Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) animal humane organization, was formed in 2000 by a group of 5 concerned citizens with the idea of building a beautiful 20 acre sanctuary to house all of the unwanted animals in our community.  In the meantime, though, animals were and still are dying at rate of around “30,000 per year in our local shelters with even more just dying in the streets.  Therefore, we decided to refocus our efforts slightly away from rescue and more toward promoting spay/neuter as the solution to the tragic pet overpopulation problem here in Las Vegas.”

About 2 weeks before race day, we launched the fund raiser with their social media following and I held my breathe.  I wanted this to be a success for them, I hoped for $500!

Days leading up to the race, we went over $500 and then, something happened.  The night before the race, we reached $1,397!!!  It took my breathe away because I saw the irony in that number

Ladybug died when she was 13 and she was born in ’97

I woke up on race morning so excited and so proud of the race community.  I had one job to do and that was run a strong 5k in her honor and for all my animal loving friends.  For the first time, I was wearing a Ladybug Runner shirt.  A design from my brother.  Okay, I know – 5 years later I finally get a shirt.  Don’t laugh too much!

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My brother and my son drove to the race day. I asked my son to come with us because he started the yellow tennis ball tradition and I felt he needed to see this special moment.

After a warm-up, Renna and Alex from HCWS met us there and brought poster boards to cheer me on!  How sweet. They said they had 2 more, and I had to wait to see them.

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The weather was perfect and we were ready.  My brother was running the 12k and I, of course was doing the 5k.

The race was set at 6 Tunnels and I couldn’t wait to get started!  Unfortunately, some inconsiderate runners hindered the start for me and many others.  They decided as soon as they crossed the finish line to STOP and take selfies.  Really, people?  In front of all the runners.  Despite being told to move they stood there, GIGGLED and took their dang pictures.

Once I got around the inconsiderate runners (I hope they have some wonderful pictures of people getting angry with them and tell them to move, seriously) I started moving.  I wasn’t looking to PR, but I did want a good time.

Right away, I could feel my feel not grabbing the dirt trail. That was very unusual for this course, it’s not hard, it’s loose gravel and dirt.  But, I felt slippery.

That never changed, but I was having a blast and I kept going!After the turn around, tried to push but my feet couldn’t get underneath me.  Good grief.

As I turned the corner into the finish, I could hear tons of people screaming and of course, I saw the poster boards from HCWS, well kinda. (I saw the posters, but I didn’t actually see what they said.)

After I retrieved my medal, Alex (from HCWS started walking towards me with a big poster board).  On the board was a big red heart and Ladybug’s picture!  OH….I cried!  What a sweet gift!

Here is my post race photo with their sweet signs.

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We waited around for the awards.  My brother was first in his AG and I was the traditional 2nd in my AG.  The day was perfect and I couldn’t imagine having it any other way.

 

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BUT WAIT!  By the time the fund raiser ended, we had raised close to $1,500 in less than 2 weeks!

Thank you HCWS for allowing me to race to benefit your charity.  I look forward to doing this again and again.  If you are an animal lover, please consider making a donation to this great organization at www.hcws.org

For a great race experience, every time – please check out BBSCRun.com!  You will be glad you did.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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#RunningSiblings Interview with Mark Jensen – Owner & Formulator of Glukos Energy

My brother and I had the opportunity to sample the Glukos Energy at the RnRAZ.  When we arrived at the expo, we had never heard of their brand but I had heard about a new “liquid” gel entering the market.

At that time, I wasn’t looking for a different fueling, I was doing okay with the one I had been using. I had some issues with it from time to time but I was accepting it as a status quo for my overly sensitive body.  My brother, on the other hand was in desperate need to find another fueling. Everything was too sweet for this overly sensitive stomach and nothing gave him the long term energy he needed for marathons.

We read how Glukos boasted of no gluten, sugar or the junk.  Frankly, I thought “here we go again” another new-fangled gel.  When we introduced ourselves to the CEO, Mich McCormick he offered us samples.  Immediately I sensed a difference, the sample looked like water.  I said, “no, I want to try your gels not a drink”.  He said, “this is our gel”. Go figure.

I wasn’t kidding when I said it was like water and it went down as easy!  After speaking with Mick, we met up with Mark (the founder & formulator) and he was kind, informative and showed such great interest in every athlete who came by their booth space.

Glukos

After many runs using Glukos Energy my brother and I are 100% sold on this product and Mark agreed to give us an interview.  If you are the type to want to listen to an interview, you can do so at this link:  CLICK HERE

For those who want to read the interview – here are the highlights and fun facts of Glukos Energy.

Glukos Energy came about around 2003-04 by Mark Jennings an accomplished runner and triathlete who was tired of the same old stuck in your gut, snotty feeling gels.  After working on his MBA in Oregon, he developed a glucose base fueling.

Why glucose?

Glukos Energy

According to Mark, it was a simple solution. When you go to the hospital and need an IV – what is the IV?  Glucose.  Glucose is what your body needs for energy and promote healing.

Glukos Energy was born with their gel’s about a year ago with their tablets and chews.

The tablets are my favorite!  (CLICK HERE to learn more about the product) A runner can put one in between their cheek and teeth and suck on it(something like a large Sweet Tart candy).  According to Mark, it is the most concentrated form of glucose they have.  (I believe it, it is my favorite product, thus far). Or if you prefer to drink your glucose, you can put one tablet in your water (one tablet for every 8 ounces of water).  They are non-effervescent (no bubbles) and very easy to suck on during a run.  You can carry the tablets in the tube or in your fueling belt.

The chews are just as popular. (CLICK HERE to learn more about the product) I like the chews and will consume them before a run. The texture and consistency is different than any other chew I have tried.

The gels, the flagship product of Glukos Energy. (CLICK HERE to learn more about the product) Easy to drink and no additional water needed.  Mark says that is how it was designed.  Haven’t we all been stuck in a race and need to take fueling but an aid station is 2 miles out?  (pointing finger myself). This way, no water is needed.

Glukos Energy is growing in popularity, too.  If you have not heard or noticed they are the official course fueling for Rock n Roll marathon series.  At the end of 2015, they were in about 1,000 retail stores.  By the end of 2016 Mark projects they will be in 8-10,000 stores.  That’s tremendous growth for a company that is a year old.

The bulk of our interview was discussing the Olympic Trials.  Did you notice who came in third place? That was Glukos Energy Athlete, Jared Ward.  Recently, Jared discussed his pre race and during race fueling plan using Glukos Energy.  Considering the heat of that day and he looked incredibly strong at the finish, I would say that Glukos was a big part of his success.

Jared

To read Jared’s interview – CLICK HERE 

We cannot thank Mark Jennings enough for his time and also creating such an incredible product.  After all these years, we might of found the product we can stick with for a long time to come!

If you have not checked out Glukos Energy – please do,  I know you will be glad you did!

Please check out my brothers blog and read his opinion of Glukos Energy.  CLICK HERE

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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My Fight with Meniere’s Disease

It’s never easy to allow yourself to be vulnerable and let others know about a personal secret, but I feel the timing is right and I hope it can help someone else in the same situation.

What many of my followers do not know is I am legally hard of hearing (almost deaf) in my left year.  As a child I suffered horrible ear infections and in 1983 I suffered a strike to my head from my then boyfriend, which resulted in further inner ear damage.  My habit I will always turn my right ear to someone when they are speaking to me.  If you are on my left, I might heard sounds, but I cannot understand a word you are saying.

Through my life I have also suffered from ringing of the ears and fluid in my ears.  At times, it caused some dizziness and disorientation but no Dr gave me any reason to believe it was a great problem as it was “normal” with what happened in my youth.

Then on the fateful morning of Big Cottonwood Marathon, my life took a dramatic turn. It’s no secret I suffered the most heart breaking marathon of my career.  No matter what I said to anyone, very few people could understand nor accept what I had gone through that morning.  Finishing the race was not success to me, I failed at my goal.

The bigger problem was what happened in that race.  I was dizzy, I hyper ventilated, I even had moments I don’t remember.  I felt like my body was under attack.  Many said I suffered elevation sickness but it was so much more than that!  I had felt the same way when I ran a few other races, including a marathon in 2014.

A week after BCW, my ears and head were hurting so bad I had to get to the Dr.  I could feel the pressure in my ears like never before. The ringing was so loud, I couldn’t hear myself think.  This was not elevation sickness.  One week after BCW, I couldn’t run 1 mile without my knees buckling from underneath me from a dilly spell.  Something was horribly wrong and I had no clue.

After consulting with a Dr and ruling out some other factors it was clear what was going on, I had Meniere’s Disease.  (Click here for the Mayo Clinic page) For those who do not know what is it, it is an auto-immune disease unknown cause affecting the membranous labyrinth of the ear, causing progressive deafness and attacks of tinnitus and vertigo.  Auto-immune symptoms can also include excessive water retention (which I had been suffering and why you will see pictures of me with a puffy face), altered vision (which came and went), ear pain (all the time), fatigue (yep!) and muscle soreness (yep, and it wasn’t from running).

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Looking at my treatment options I knew I could not take the prescribed Xantax for vertigo. The side affects and long term damage would cause my life to turn upside down.  I researched other treatments and found several.  The bad news is I would have to tough it out for many months if not years, with my chosen treatment.

From September to November, I struggled to run.  I mean, REALLY struggled to run.  My longest run was 8.5 before a dizzy attack the week before Avengers Half.  Luckily, I suffered a very small dizzy spell at Mile 9 but had a great race (and even ran the RnRLV 10k that night).

The holistic treatments were working and I was seeing my physician at least once a month to chart my progress.  I wasn’t as bloated as before and I could feel my energy coming back.  From Nov-Feb I was dizzy spell free.  Until the later part of February when I had small dizzy spell in my kitchen.  A week or so later, I suffered 2 dizziness spells during the Hot Chocolate 15k.

This is the animal of Meniere’s disease.  It can happen anywhere and at any time.  Eventually it will go away but the risk of complete deafness is very high.  My main concern is dizzy spells and when it will happen next.  There are many theories what will bring it on, but I am beginning to learn to catch the warning signs before the world starts spinning.

This is not a death sentence but certainly it has altered the course of my life and my running.  I interact with many with MD and I am so fortunate I am not totally disabled.  Yet, I also have learned that nutrition and exercise are a vital part of the treatment plan.  While I can get dizzy during a run, the health effects of not keeping healthy will take it’s toll on me.

I share this story with you because March is National Auto-Immune Disease Awareness Month.  This is not who I am, but it is part of my life.  There are those who think I have gained weight (up and down).  Untrue, that is the water retention happening in my body.  There are times people have noticed I am a lot more tired than before. That is true.  I have my good days and bad days, but I approach each day with anticipation it will be a good day!  As of this writing – 2 days ago I suffered two vertigo attacks.  Today, I ran 4 miles and felt wonderful, but I am suffering with water retention again.

I hope this helps someone who is struggling with MD.  You do NOT have to sit at home and suffer, in fact – get out and move.  It might be hard at first, but your body will thank you!

Wishing you all good health!

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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RACE RECAP: Big Game – Downtown Las Vegas

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It has been a few weeks since Bro and I had participated in a race, so we were both anxious and excited to get back on the course.

Unfortunately, the week leading up to the Big Game race, I was experiencing some achilles tendon issues and by Thursday, I realized that I would not be able to race the event.  I was hopeful I could run a strong race.  Most importantly, I was excited that Bro was going to drop the hammer on the 10k. While his fitness and speed is not up to where he was pre-surgery, he certainly was doing very well.

I woke up with a headache and horrible stomach distress.  I seriously thought about DNSing the race, but I knew I could manage a 5k, somehow.  Had it been a half marathon, I knew I could not do it.  I spent a great deal of time in the bathroom in the night so I was tired and probably somewhat dehydrated.

The starting line was in Downtown Las Vegas.  After all these years of racing, I was finally able to race in DTLV.  I had participated in the Santa Run, but nothing else. 

At the race expo we were given the option of a black and white shirt, to choose a “Superbowl team”.  That just seemed odd.  Why black and white?  That concept didn’t seem to go over too well on race day.

The morning of the race, was a beautiful sunny morning.  (Originally, I planned to wear my capri’s but opted to wear my shorts after all.)

I fueled up with Glukos Energy tables and RunGum

At 8am was the 5k start and 8:30am was the 10k start.  This way, I could see my brother finish his 10k.  YAY!

5K Started and we immediately took a left on Las Vegas Blvd (not the Strip, but in the DT area).  Making our way through 1-2 hair pin turns, we turned left onto 10th and the Finish line was in sight.  I tried so hard to pick up my pace, but my ankle had other plans.  Every time I tried to speed it up, the ankle protested and I had to pull back.  While my finish was strong, I was very disappointed in my time of 26:##.  (A few weeks ago I ran a 23:59 in AZ)

The Finish Line was uneventful, to put it bluntly.   They only provided water and electrolyte drinks.  No banana’s, no food.  Major oversight and many runners were unhappy.  We are not asking for a full meal, but fruit would of been nice.

The positive is the Finish Line had cheerleaders and live bands. I love their energy! The downside, they kept crowding the course and runners had to weave around them to get to the Finisher chute.

I waited for my brother and was able to see him with a strong 42:## finish.  The best part was seeing him smile when he turned the corner and saw me standing there.  Seeing his finish was the highlight of my morning!  He will get back to his 35 or 36:## in no time!  By the time the 10k finisher cams in, the finish line was almost empty.

We made our way to the Gold Spike for the Awards Ceremony.  While it is a nice idea, it is not runner friendly. I have seen way too many races have their awards ceremony at a different location (other than the finish line) and it doesn’t work.  It didn’t work this time, as a very small percentage of the runners showed up.

At the Gold Spike we were warmly greeted by a gentleman, who we believe was the owner of the race and Martha Watson (4 time Olympian in the Long Jump).  There was a wonderful photo backdrop for the awards celebration.  Certainly, they made great effort to make this special for the runners, no doubt.

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Another big snafu was the awards. They had to wait for the awards from the RD, Tim Kelley.  They arrive 30 minutes late and they were in boxes.  Have you tried to sort through hundreds of AG and Overall medals?  It was a nightmare!!!  Bro and I jumped in to try to help and it was beyond frustrating.  Bro said the same mess happened last year.  My question would be, why aren’t these medals unpacked and sorted hours before the awards ceremony?  This was a very frustrating element for the racers.  75% of the medals were not picked up and thus, proves that runners will not walk to another location for their awards.  I hope they reconsider this idea for future years, my brother said they had the same mess in 2015.  That’s 2 years in a row with the same problem.  Easily fixed.

Brother earned 2nd in his AG and I earned 1st.  After the Awards Ceremony we headed home to watch the game and rest.  I fought off a headache for the rest of the night and went to bed shortly after the game was over. 

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The aspects I liked about this race event:

  • The course.  Fast and easy to run.
  • Course markings.  There was no way a runner could make a wrong turn.
  • Aid stations.  Even for a 5k, there was plenty of aid.
  • The Award presenter at the Gold Spike was wonderful and very inviting to the runners.
  • Results were posted immediately.  That deserves a double thumbs up!

Aspects of the race I did not like:

  • Emcee and Announcer at the Start Line, but nothing at the Finish.  Yes, the marching band was nice, but nothing beats an emcee at the Finish Line.  If you have one at the Start, please have one at the Finish. All major races, follow this pattern.
  • What was the purpose of the long tables, with black table clothes and chairs at the finish?  It was rather confusing to know what they were for.
  • Expo was outside on Friday.  I think you can have one day expo, inside. This is Vegas and the evenings get chilly.
  • The Black and White shirt concept.  In addition, the shirts should not be unisex.  Please offer unisex and women’s fit.
  • No food at the Finish Line. That’s just a no-no for a race, like this.  If someone told you otherwise, you were advised incorrectly.  It is expected by all racers.  Even bananas would of been great.
  • We expected more racers & runners.  You had well over 600 participants in 2015 and less than 500 the second year.  With as much TV coverage you had, I thought there would be more runners. A drop in your second year is not good.  Please examine the details to improve the race experience for the next year.
  • As I said previously, the organization of the Awards Ceremony (or lack thereof) was not pleasant.  It can easily be overcome by sorting the medals hours before the race starts.  Martha (the 4 time Olympian) was there all morning, she said she would of sorted through the medals, while we were racing.  I have sorted through enough medals to know this has to be done way before the race, not unpack that morning.  The medals arrive from the manufacturer in a mess, please do not expect this to be an easy sort.

While this was not a bad race, it was mediocre at best.  It can be a great race, Las Vegas has hosted several local events in the DTLV area to huge crowds.  We may or may not run this race next year, we will be waiting to see if there is another race scheduled on the same weekend.

Thank you to those who volunteered and those who the owners of the race.  It’s evident you want this to be a great race, and we believe it can be.  However, the many organizational missteps and lack of attention to details will be the tipping point for many runners if they return or not.  Wishing you nothing but success in your future events! 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com & KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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Race Recap: RnRAZ 3 of 3: Half Marathon Time!

It’s here!  RnRAZ Half Marathon time.  Long before my brother had surgery and his painful recovery, I decided I would run the half marathon, glad I made that choice.

We started our morning by being at the VIP Experience.  It is my understanding that each RnR race has a pre and post race section. These tickets are available for purchase in addition to your race registration. The RnRAZ VIP Experience was at a local eatery, not too far from the Start Line.  I have been to other VIP in other races and I think the best part is being able to stay out of the weather and easy access to the bathrooms!  At RnR, we even had our own UPS truck for gear check. They know how to take care of their VIP’ers!

Here is Kevin Gonzalez!

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After mingling and saying hello to a few runner friends, we made our way to the Start Line.  It was critical that we find a spot for our warm up.  Kirk got his warm up in the Corrals. We started in Corral 3, where he should be Corral 1.  Starting at Arizona State University and heading up and back into Tempe.  Let’s do this! This was Kirk’s longest mileage since surgery (the previous week he did 6 miles).  We had a plan and we were sticking to it.  A strong run/walk and get us there in a sub2.

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It was nice to be able to wear shorts again.  It’s been so cold in Vegas, I have been running in capris or shorts for awhile.

We set out in an easy pace and we had to pull back a few times to ensure we were not over doing it. I know exactly how to run a sub2, but my body sure wanted to plunk it down.  Not today, this was Kirk’s time.

As always, I struggled through some of the middle miles (7-9 miles).  But, within a few moments of taking my fueling I was back into the swing.  Unfortunately, my stomach went into over-drive and I had to take a porta potty stop at Mile 11.  Ugh.

Come to think of it, this bad tummy feeling has been bothering me the last few half marathons.  I need to investigate this and find out why, all of a sudden. 

->The RnRAZ course is a great course.  No excessive up or decline. There is a nice incline at Mile 9 but nothing major for anyone who has spent any time on hills.  The course support was outstanding and of course, the volunteers were great.

After my poopie stop, I just didn’t feel good and I knew if we held our pace, we had an easy sub2.  As we turned the corner to the finish line, Kirk wanted to push so we could beat the gun time before it turned to 2:00. We were 3-4 minutes behind the gun. So…off we sprinted!  We got in as a sub2 gun and chip.

He did it.  We did it and best part – he felt great!  No aches, no pains.  Nothing.

Another “Welcome Back to Racing, Bro!” moment. 

We made our way to the post-race VIP for relaxation, food, beverages and Kirk needed a massage.  Not only did they provide MT’s but we had our own porta potties and foam rollers!  Here is some of the food.  Great spread, huh?

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While eating the 2nd place Men’s Marathon Overall, Roosevelt Cooper came into the VIP Experience area.  I interviewed him for my next Periscope broadcast.

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After we ate and drank enough fluids, we went back to the hotel to pack up and travel home.

On our way home, we stopped by a rest stop for our medal pictures, which we forgot to do after the race.  (sorry, RnR)

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This was another wonderful weekend with RnRAZ.  I cannot thank RnR and staff enough for the enthusiastic welcome and giving us the opportunity to be a part of this experience!  See you soon!

The medals?  Oh yea, you want to see the medals!

We earned the 5k, Half Marathon and the Remix Challenge (for running the 5k and any distance on Sunday)

The second picture is the medal from last year and this year.  It is a puzzle and after 4 years, it will look like the shape of Arizona. Isn’t it a beauty?

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*Disclaimer:   I was an invited guest to the RnRAZ, the views, reviews and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the organizers nor sponsors or any other company/individual affiliated with the event.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Ambassador for RunGum
~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


Race Recap: RnRAZ Part 2 of 3 | Bring on the 5k!

*Day 2 of the RnRAZ weekend!  You can read my Day 1 here.

Last year, I fell in love with this course.  (I hoped I would still love it)

Bro and I arrived early to do a Channel 14 TV interview about the race weekend.  Well, it was all Kirk not me. When the reporter put the mic in his face, I just slowly shuffled away to give him the spotlight. I will do interviews, if I must but I surely don’t feel the need to be in that realm.  It was good for Kirk, too. He so often gets to be the person on the sidelines and now he was in the limelight. He deserved it!

Afterwards, we wandered around the race area to see what it was like.  The location is perfect.  A local park area by the river, off the Rio Saldo Parkway.  We made our way to Corral 1 and listened to the excitement of the announcer.

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Soon enough, we were OFF!  Kirk agreed to push himself a bit to test out the legs.  I stayed behind him for as long as I could to keep an eye on his form to ensure he would not have any knee or hammie issues, again.

As I was running this course, I remember how much I liked it and this time, I loved it even more.  Running through a tunnel with a band playing, “Eye of the Tiger” was fun!  Then, next to the river, around the bend and down to the finish.  I felt so ill-prepared for this race (back problems at Christmas) and an unknown top of foot pain a week before 5k.  I had not had a solid speedwork session in weeks (I know, I know) so, I ran and raced the best I could.

I came flying in at 24:39:59 (yeah, that close) but they round up to the nearest second, so the results state I am tied for 3rd with another gal in my AG.  I was thrilled as this was a course PR for me.  Not bad for someone who was not trained to run this distance at any speed.

A grew view of the runners heading into u-shaped turn:

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As customary, Kirk was waiting for me.  He ran a solid race and earned a 3rd AG.  I am telling ya, it is starting to feel like normal racing again.  Kirk waiting for me at the end of a race, not as a spectator but as a racer.  We wandered to the river area and I did my next Periscope broadcast of the weekend.

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We wanted to stay but Kirk needed to ice and I needed…coffee.  We walked to downtown Tempe and had our sit down time of ice and coffee (plus a few bananas).

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Afterwards, it was back to the hotel to rest up for the next day’s half marathon!

Next up:  RnR Half Marathon

*Disclaimer:   I was an invited guest to the RnRAZ, the views, reviews and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the organizers nor sponsors or any other company/individual affiliated with the event.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Ambassador for RunGum
~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


Race Recap: RnRAZ Part 1 of 3 | Expo Time!

Has it been a year, already?  Last year, I crushed my marathon PR by 19 minutes at this race.  After 4 years of training for a marathon, I finally had a time I was proud of.  Last year, my brother earned his first sub3 marathon finish and first RnR AG award.

So much has changed in that past year.  Oh geez.

When New Year’s eve turned to 2016, my thoughts were about returning to AZ. With my brother’s recent setback, post surgery, there were moments we wondered if he could even walk a half marathon.

Bro and I left on Friday AM and made our way to Arizona.  We were both excited for a host of reasons. First and foremost, we KNEW that he would be able to run/walk the half marathon.  I decided a few weeks prior that I was going to run with him to ensure his safety and to have another fun run, together.

We drove straight to the expo.  It was game time!  Well, not a game, all business.  You see, my brother and I were invited by RnR as guests to blog, Periscope and report on the weekend events.  I was ready – including a selfie stick for my Periscope broadcasts.

RnRAZ Expo

I began my Periscope broadcast the moment we walked into the doors, I wanted the viewers to get a good sense of what a RnR bib pickup and expo was like. Nothing was scripted or pre-planned.  I liked that!

After picking up our bibs for the 5k and Half Marathon, we bumped into (literally) a man who was a legacy Half Marathoner.  He was so nice (I should of taken his picture, darn it).  After the bib pick up we made our way to the merchandising were I picked up a shot glass for our family collection and a headband for colder temps. (I was thinking ahead to RnRLV).

Our next objective was to stroll around and see what exhibitors were in attendance. After the strolling, we headed to the heavy medals. That is where RnR displays their Heavy Medals and Challenge medals like the California and Texas medals.  Okay, you know I don’t run for bling but I couldn’t keep my eyes off these medals!  If you run 15 or more RnR (Half’s or Full’s) in a calendar year you will receive the Hall of Fame medal.  There are a few dozen who achieve this status, every year.  Holy Moly, check out these photos.  I loved the 8 track medal – so I need to win the lottery to get to all the races, right?

Heavy Medals

Medals

After the heavy medal drool session, we stopped at a few sponsor booths.  First, was Glukos Energy, they are the official energy source for RnR.  Their expo space was a hot spot!  Everyone was tasting their gels (actually, a liquid), bars, tablets and chews.  My brother was looking for new fueling so this had our attention.  They were gracious and sent us home with samples to try out and write a review at a later date. 

Glukos

My initial thoughts?  I loved the concept and the taste.  Mark, the company founder and formulator was a great person to speak with and certainly made you feel like our concerns mattered and he sincerely wanted us to try the products.  We both left the booth excited to try this new product!

Next, we stopped off at Maui Jim sunglasses. They are a high-end sport glasses.  You probably have seen Meb wear them.  Kirk found a pair he wanted, I told him to put it on his Christmas Wish List.

Maui Jim

Next up was the Toyota booth.  Neither of us were in the market for a new vehicle, but we wanted to see the pacer cars and more.  Upon arrival, we were invited to participate in their carnival games and photo booth (in a car).  This was goofy fun for the both of us!

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We enjoyed ourselves at the expo and meeting some of the new RnR staff.  Of course, seeing the old friends was a treat.

It’s good to be home!

On the floor

Next up:  RnRAZ 5k! 

*Disclaimer:   I was an invited guest to the RnRAZ, the views, reviews and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the organizers nor sponsors or any other company/individual affiliated with the event.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Ambassador for RunGum
~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


What is Past is Truly Past | Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series

Time to put this subject to rest, once and for all.

Since the now infamous RnRLV event of 2011, I have been met with a lot of push back from the running community, in recent months.

There are 2 opinions:
1. Those who loathe RnR races
2. Those who love RnR races

In 2010, I began my running career at RnR’s last daytime race in Vegas. It is where my running career began and my experience at that race are still on the top of my race list.

Fast forward to 2011, and I experienced my worst race experience. Again, with RnR.

It’s no secret I was the poster child of anything and everything that went wrong that horrible night. Sickness, getting pushed down on the course, turned away by the medical staff, being turned away by local police when I asked for help, transported to the hospital and the worst, RnR management (at that time) pointed their fingers at me for being ill prepared to run a half marathon (in my own city).

The purpose of this post is to discredit the rumors and constant badgering I have received since that fateful night. I realize that no matter what I say may never please some people, that is fine. But, I know the truth. I know my heart and I know what happened that night and since that time.

________

MYTH:

I pursued the media to get as many interviews as possible, as a form of self-promotion.

FALSE.

Self-promotion for what purpose?  The media came to me for their purpose, not mine. I have a friend in Las Vegas Public Relations who knew what happened that night, and she contacted me to let me know one of our local TV stations wanted to interview me. From there it snowballed. One report, turned into more. There were 2 times I pursued the media but NOT to be interviewed. I pursued them to correct their ill-reporting. 1) Runner’s World Editor was mocking the runners who became extremely sick on the course. 2) The Las Vegas Review Journal wrote a glowing report of the “success” of that night.

Both stories were rewritten and additional investigations continued.

At NO TIME did I ever ask any media outlet to interview me. If you took the time to know me, you would know how much I dislike the media and it is not something I pursue for myself.

__________

MYTH:
I was the only one who was had issues with that race.
FALSE.
Not until the next morning, after I was released from the hospital did I hear of the carnage of what happened in my community. There were thousands of us who suffered, I could not turn a blind eye. My anger was on behalf of the community, not because I was the person who was wronged. During my time at the hospital, I thought I just had a “bad race”. Little did I know what happened in my city, as you can imagine I was outraged.

____________

MYTH:
I sold out and I am being a hypocrite. I was only looking for attention and freebies from RnR. 

FALSE.

This one makes me laugh the most! Immediately after RnRLV I was offered several perks at RnR races including a refund. I declined. A year later (2012), I had 3 choices. Stay away from the race or support the crowds from the sidelines or put myself back in the race as a pacer. Of course, the safest route was to stay away or cheer on racers from the sidewalk, but I couldn’t do that. I had to do what I felt was the right action for the running community. The risk was huge! I had little to no faith that RnR would comply with what they promised, but they far exceeded my expectations that night (and I blogged about it). I opted to pace the 2:15 half marathon to support my community (and to keep an eye on RnRLV), not to support RnR. I did not return to any RnR races until 2015, 4 years after the disaster of 2011. Exactly where or when was I a sell out or being a hypocrite?
>>>When word got out I would be running the RnRLV 2015 and doing an ESPN Run video for RnR – the tweets, DM’s, posts started. I knew it would. I knew I would be called a sell-out and hypocrite (again). You have a right to your opinion, but allow me to tell you why that is completely false.
2011 – everything I said and did to ensure the safety of future RnRLV races was from the heart and I meant every word I said. I do not take back nor apologize for expressing my anger of that horrible night. The amount of hours I invested to fight local officials, permitting and RnR was worth EVERY SECOND when I saw the success of 2012 and every year after wards. RnR LISTENED to the complaints and took action.

Why the change of my attitude for RnR?

>>>>Very simple, I believe they are a new and better company.

Haven’t you had a friend who has made a mistake but worked very hard to regain your trust and make it right?

That is how I see RnR (I respect your right to disagree).

They screwed up, they know it and admit it. Yet, they have worked VERY hard to regain the communities trust.

1. New leadership and management since 2011 (thank goodness!)
2. Safer courses and events. They have put runner’s safety as a priority. Look at the reports of 2015 Nashville and Savannah, for example. They handled the horrible weather conditions of 2015 at RnRLV with professionalism and compassion.
3. Their communication is top notch. Look how they handled the delayed delivery of the Arizona medals of 2015.
Are they a perfect race management company? Nope, but who is! The way I see it, I see their events as the event I loved in 2010.

To answer the last question that everyone asks. Do I trust them? I sure do. Would I train, travel and more to their races if I don’t? Sure they will make mistakes; it happens – but I sincerely doubt history will repeat itself under the current management.

I have many countless hours chatting with many staff at RnR. I have a great professional relationship with many at RnR and they are very candid and even gone as far to apologize for what happened in 2011.

Will I ever forget about 2011? Of course, not. But I forgave them a long time ago and in 2015 I decided to race their races again and I am grateful we have a positive relationship and I look forward to seeing my RnR friends in AZ in a few days.

Thank you for giving me the chance to clear the air and put this issue to rest. As the old saying goes, “never say, never”. 

I feel like I am home and it is a great feeling!

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Ambassador for RunGum
~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


RACE RECAP: Last Race of 2015 & First Race of 2016

A few weeks ago, my friend Ruth told me about the “double 5k” on NYE.  My first thought, “okay, that’s a 10k, not 2 5k’s”.

I soon learned what a double 5k would be.

A 5k before midnight + watch the fireworks + a 5k after midnight.

That makes sense and sure sounded like fun!

My brother and I signed up, immediately.  The more opportunities he can race, the better.  And it’s a 5k!  You know how I love my 5k’s.

Cadence0

The race was sponsored and managed by Cadence Nevada Master Planned Community in Henderson, NV.  I had no clue where it was, but it promised to have a spectacular view and course.

Doesn’t everyone color-coordinate their race fueling with their outfits?!?!?

Cadence4

Ruth met at my house around 9pm and the 3 of us were off to Cadence.  My vehicle was packed with warm clothes and blankets.  In typical NYE Las Vegas fashion it would be cold.  I wasn’t worried about the races, but the time in between the races, concerned me.  I was overly concerned with my brother’s leg muscles tightening up in the cold.  The temperatures were to dip into the high 20’s at midnight.

We were met with this spectacular view upon our arrival.  Yep, we were going to have a great view of the fireworks!

 

Cadence3

The Las Vegas Valley with The Strip, in the horizon.

Waiting for the race #1 to begin (I didn’t wear the puffy coat during the race)

Cadence1

Ruth, Kirk and myself

The first 5k started at 10:30pm.  Bro and I decided to run together.  This was the first time my brother would attempt to run a mile without any walk breaks.  A big test.  Unfortunately, the day before, I started to have stomach problems, so I wasn’t feeling my best.

We started off at a moderate 9min pace and picked up the pace to 8:15 rather quickly.  At the mile 1.25, I had to take a walk break as my stomach was revolting again.  My brother and I celebrated he ran a full mile without having to walk.  Yay for Bro!  After a few minutes we started back up and came flying into the finish. The course was great.  All residential streets were closed to vehicular traffic and we had the beautiful calm of the winter night as our back drop.

In between the two races, I walked around with my puffy coat and blanket around my legs.  Cadence did an outstanding job at making us feel welcomed!  Tables, chairs, heaters, hot beverages, water and more.  In addition, we had our awards ceremony.  I earned 1st place in the Masters Division and Bro earned a 1st in his AG. 

At midnight, we were able to see the fireworks throughout the valley, not only on the Strip.  It was time for another leg warm up and then we were off on the 2nd 5k, but in the opposite direction.  My stomach was still acting up, so I brought down the pace to 8:30ishy.  Bro decided to kick it up a notch to see what he could do.  He and my friend, Ryan were in the front of the pack for the race.  It was so good to see him way out in front of me, again.

Temps took a big drop and I was running with my neck gaiter covering the lower part of my face.  I almost wished I had a second layer of a headband to cover my eyes.  I cannot remember the last time I was this cold during a race.

Around Mile 1ish, the lovely lady who earned 2nd in the Masters was coming up on my shoulders.  I could see she was really hustling (I love it!).  Sadly, she couldn’t pass me but she was an excellent competitor and I am proud to have shared the course with her!

At Mile 2, on a short out and back part of the course, my brother comes from BEHIND me and passes me.  WHOOOOOAAAA!  How is he behind me?  Well, he took a wrong turn, so he was in catch up mode.    A few more feet and my friend Ryan passes me, I almost freaked out!  Both ended up taking the wrong turn.  (The course was not very well marked and very difficult to see the cones, so I am not surprised a few took wrong turns.)

I passed a few more ladies on the last mile, so I knew I was near the front.  My guess I was 4th Overall.  As I was coming into the finish, my brother was standing there screaming “2016! 2016! 2016!”  It felt so great to be in a new year and moving onward to a better year!

It seemed like the Awards Ceremony took forever and I was honored to have earned the 1st place in Masters, again but BEST part is my brother earned 3rd Overall!  Welcome back to running, Bro. Ryan earned 1st in his AG. Both averaged a 7 minute pace.  Sweet!

Cadence5

Cadence2

Kirk, myself, Ryan and Ruth (sadly, the Finisher Medals did not arrive in time. How many times I have heard that excuse and Ruth was empty handed.)

This was a great event for their first time, despite the cold, several race management glitches and my stomach acting up. There are some things that need to be changed for future years, but I am sure we will be back.

Thank you, Cadence!

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Ambassador for RunGum
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My Decision to Retire from Racing | A New Year & New Focus

Happy New Year’s, FAB friends!

This is not the blog post that I had planned for my first post of 2016. In October I wrote out my final blog post. I had decided at that time, I was going to retire from racing. After 5 years, I felt I no longer enjoyed the sport and I wanted to hang up my running shoes.

I cried over the decision, but in my heart of hearts I knew it was time. I knew that I no longer had the health nor strength to keep racing. My desire to race had dwindled over the past year or so and I no longer looked forward to training or going to races.

I sat down at my laptop in October to prepare for my final send off. I told no one. Not even my brother nor my husband. It was my secret and I wasn’t going to let anyone change my mind.

I felt a sense of relief knowing that I could end my running career with a bang. My final race would be the Avengers Half Marathon. What better way to finish a career than with a Disney race, huh?

The week I wrote that blog post, I was preparing for the Pumpkinman 5k in Boulder City. The RD’s are friends of mine, so I wanted to show up and support their race. Expectations were zero. I was struggling the past few months to even run a few miles. A LOT had changed in my health since the disaster of marathon in September. I felt reality was setting in my glory days of racing were far behind me.

In that time, my brother was still walking his races. Since his injury and surgery, the energy was zapped right out of me. He has been suffering since February and there was a sense of guilt that I could run and he could not. I knew he was making progress, but to see a once vibrant man walking a race, just killed me.

The race at Pumpkinman 5k went well. I placed 3rd Overall, but it wasn’t enough for me to say, “Let’s keep racing!” My plan stayed intact and I was retiring from racing at Avengers. As the weeks carried on and my dizzy spells were harder to control during my training runs, I felt I was receiving all the confirmation I needed to retire very soon. I could no longer risk my health (falling, etc.) on a race. I prayed that I would have the strength to at least finish the Avengers with a solid time. Let me go out with my head held up high, God.

In the height of my frustration, I was ready to back out of Avengers. Less than 2 months prior I was able to plunk down 26.2 miles, but I could barely run 5 miles without the world spinning around me. I doubted everything I could about my abilities. Did my racing even matter anymore? Why bother? What’s the point?

I would stand in my office and stare at my medals and my Overall/AG awards. I would relive each and every race and the memories. I felt so empty, I felt like I was giving up a piece of my life. Running has never been my life focus, but it sure has been a major player in my life since 2010.

I felt my body had failed me, despite my attention to take good care of what it needed. Good nutrition, good medical care and more. Emotionally, I was letting go. Letting go to my best friend, since 2010.

By the first week in November, I was packing up the emotional baggage and wondering how I was going to break the news to my brother. He still had no idea and even as I type this blog, he had no idea my plans were to retire after Avengers.

Then, the phone call from Rock ‘n Roll marathon series came in about the ESPN Run spot. I am not sure what drove me to accept the offer, knowing I would was going to retire. I knew with that change of plans my career would end at RnRLV. Ironically, where it all began in 2010. It seemed perfect.

As my brother and I packed up for the epic week of Avengers and then back to RnRLV, I still had not told him of my retirement plans. I wasn’t sure I could. After all, this was all the weekend of his first run, post-surgery. How could I take that moment away from him? I couldn’t. So, I kept my mouth shut.

Our first day in CA, I was off to Disneyland for the day, solo. I needed to relive the moments of my younger years again, when I use to go to the park by myself. I was petrified of my half marathon. I couldn’t run 13.1 miles without a dizzy spell. Not only did I have a 13.1 to run on Sunday morning, but I had to drive back to Las Vegas and run a 10k.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

(Obviously, I was not thinking)

One of my Disneyland traditions is to go to the Snow White wishing well and throw a coin into the well. As I walked up, there was a brunette little girl, in her Snow White outfit trying to throw a coin into the well. I stopped and watched her. Something about her, caught my attention. I then realized why. She reminded me of me, when I was younger. She had such awe and wonderment of the world. At that moment, the only thing that mattered to her was throwing that penny into the wishing well. The Age of Innocence.

After a quiet and reflective time at the Well. I felt amazingly peaceful. I knew my body was ready for the 13.1, I just had to let go and let God. Run until I felt dizzy. If I felt dizzy, I would walk. If I didn’t feel dizzy, I would run.

I felt a complete release of all stresses, including my racing. Running is supposed to be my relief, not a cause of stress and over the years (with people’s constant drama, bickering and more) the stress was mounting and I found it difficult to enjoy the community I once loved.

However, I left Disneyland ready to conquer Avengers and see what happens.

I couldn’t tell you where or when it happened during the Avengers Half, but it happened. My love of racing came back. I just remember thinking, “this is why I race! This is the feeling I love!”

When a slight dizzy spell came to me about 9+ miles, I walked for a bit and when I headed into the park, I didn’t feel I was finishing my last race, ever – I felt like I was beginning anew. I didn’t feel 100% when I crossed the finish line, but it was good enough for an AG award!

The final chapter was the finish line at the RnRLV 10k. Running alongside my brother healed a hole that had been wide open for so long. Running life seemed to be normal, again. I crossed a finish line of a race not wondering why I was there and my brother was running, again.

The next morning, I walked over to my laptop and deleted my retirement announcement.

I had found my joy in racing, again. Someday, I will retire but it won’t be any time soon.

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Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Ambassador for RunGum
~Why My Blog Comments Are Closed – Click Here
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here