Evolution of Running and How It Affects Who We Are

It’s no secret, that when I began my running career in 2010/2011, I ran for finisher medal.  I would not run a race unless I knew I would receive a medal.  I wanted that feeling of self-accomplishment and that medal gave me that satisfaction.

Shortly after I began racing, I won AG and Overall awards.  The competitive nature of my youth had kicked in and I found myself competing against myself for each and every race.  Half way through that year, we lost Ladybug and running in her honor became my trademark to this day.

By the end of 2011, I was hammering out a bunch of PR’s in all distances and I had evolved from running races only with medals to any races. I ran some races with ribbons and races with absolutely nothing.  I quickly learned I could use races as gauges for my focus races.  Score!

You see, I also learned early on, that I have horrible training.  I swear I could not run a 30 minute 50k during training if my life depended on it.  Yet, I will streak by that time on any given race day.  Thus the reason I am so surprised when I finish with the times, that I do.

In my second year of racing, I had a heart to want to travel and be around more runner friends. The state of CA, because my monthly home.  At least once a month, I was on the road for the next big race.

 

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By Mid-2013, I was so done with traveling, I wanted to stay home.  I had seen enough and knew what races I wanted to repeat.  I had cultivated some incredible friendships and also sides of the running community I wish I never did.  The more you are exposed to a community, you will often see the dark side.  The running community is not immune to the thralls of life.  There are cheaters, gossips, thieves and very mean-spirited people.  Because we share the same sport, does not make us immune to human nature.  I also saw the best of humanity, total strangers helping total strangers.  The spirit of human ambition and goal setting.  It was that same year, I had my first serious runner’s injury (fractured leg).

In 2014, I no longer cared about the medals or even the awards.  After being injured and unable to run for the last part of 2013, I was grateful to be back on my legs and in the Start Corrals.  I set new PR’s that I had been chasing since 2012, I ran with more determination, freedom and peace.  I ran in memory of my best friend who died suddenly, weeks before Christmas.  I ran to celebrate the unity of my new found family.

So, where am I in 2015? Good question.  I have different running values.  I still and always will treasure all my medals, but that is not why I run.  My tastes have evolved.  I am a 53 year old Masters Runner, who is enjoying the process of being the best I can be.  I am grateful for my history, my stories and experiences since 2010, but I know that person and athlete no longer exists.  I have evolved.

The athlete I was in 2010 was not the ‘wrong’ type of athlete, that was exactly who I needed to be, at that time.  Next year, I will be a different athlete and I love the prospect of who we can become.

Running is like writing a book, chapter after chapter.  One day, I will write the ending of my current book and work on the sequel.

I look forward to seeing where the next evolution will take me!

Run Fab,

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by
RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Team Super Hero Master’s Elite 2013-15
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My Dreams Never Die | Sometimes They Need To Change

This post will be free of photos and other perks you come to find on my blog.  This is a post, that I share with you the hardest decision I have had to make in my racing career, since 2011.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my words.

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In 2011, as I sat in the Veterinaries reception area, waiting to bring Ladybug home, for her last time.  A woman walked in wearing a Boston Marathon jacket. As a new runner (I had run one half marathon and 2, 5k’s at that time) my eyes were drawn to the unicorn logo. I knew what it meant, I knew the importance of that race. I was in awe of her.

The Boston jacket woman sat next to me. I think she could pick up on my nervousness. While my family was hopeful in Ladybug’s recovery, I knew in my heart of heart, this would be her last ride home, to give us a chance to say our good-bye’s before we sent her on her eternal journey.

She said to me, I hope you are okay
I said, “not really, but thanks. By the way, I am a runner and I noticed your jacket, I am impressed”
She said, “you can run Boston. You should run in 2016, that is the 120th Anniversary!”
I said, “oh no, not me. I just started, I am not sure I could run a marathon”
She said, “I bet you can”

A few moments later, the Vet Assistant brought Ladybug to me and this other runner watched Ladybug muster all her strength to shower me with love and kisses.

She said, “what’s her name?”

I said, “Ladybug. I am afraid she doesn’t have much more time with us” (holding back tears)
She said, “I am so sorry. I bet she would like you to run Boston in 2016, you should try to qualify”

At that moment, Ladybug jumped into my face and licked me all over. As if she was saying, “yes mama! Run Boston!”

Less than a week later, we lost Ladybug and our lives has never been the same. Most of you know the story. I raced a 5k the day after her passing and thus, the birth of “The Ladybug Runner”.

In 2012, I began my marathon quest and it has not gone well, not at all. Race after race has been met with some type of disaster or failure. Some catastrophic (2 falls in one race) some were getting sick on the course. Not until RnRAZ 2015 did I have a marathon distance race that went well. By the time I reached AZ, my hopes to BQ were fading, but AZ gave me hope as I was minutes away from a BQ and I knew if I kept training I could qualify, very soon.

Shortly after AZ, I was hit with an awful stomach flu and then my family was hit. 2-3 weeks of a stomach virus that invaded our household. That was set back number 1, it took me weeks to regain my strength.

A few weeks ago, I had a freak accident that gave me a Grade 2 sprain in my ankle. I thought I broke my foot, so I am so grateful I am not in a cast. But, that was setback number 2. I continue to struggle with the pain in my heel and outer foot.

Reality hit last week, there was no way I would be ready to run my scheduled May marathon for a BQ. I could finish and I could finish strong, but that was not my goal – my goal was to BQ. I don’t need another medal or marathon in my calendar. If I was not going to have a viable shot at BQing, there was absolutely no reason to run the marathon distance.

I came to the decision to withdraw from my last and final BQ attempt for 2016.

I know many are saying, “you have the Summer and Fall to BQ”

No, I don’t. I live in Vegas and I am not training (again) in the late Spring/all Summer for a race. It took the life out of me last year for Big Cottonwood to train in the summer and I just cannot do it again to myself. Not this year. Waking up at 3am every morning to run in 90 or ever 95F temps and plunking down 16 miles is more than my body can maintain. I have been there and I am not going to subject myself to those conditions again, any time soon.

In a blink, my goals, my dreams of BQing for 2016 were gone. While I was relieved to remove the pressure, I felt I had failed. I had failed in the one thing that Ladybug would have wanted from me. It doesn’t bring her back, whether I do or do not run Boston 2016, but that goal has been a part of me for 4 years.

On that decision day, I spent most of it in tears. How could a racer do so well on a 5k, 10k and Half Marathon and just suck on a marathon? How is that possible? I am not missing anything in my training nor how I approach the race. After all, RnRAZ proved I could pull it off and I wasn’t even trying to race it, yet I PR’d by 19 minutes.

In the end, the decision to stop the journey to BQ for 2016 was tougher than my injury of 2013. For those who say, I can BQ another time. I sure can, but that was not my goal. My goal was Boston 2016, I thought of no other year, but 2016.

We can train, we can eat properly and sometimes, it does not go as planned. Actually, quite often it never goes as planned. Is Boston the ultimate in racing? Of course not, there are many other races to pursue and challenge myself, but there will be only one Boston 2016.

What have I learned in this BQ quest since 2011? I think my body is not a fan of that distance and I will find my acceptance of that. I do enjoy other distances and that will never change. During my 2013 injury time, I gave up 8 races. 2 of those races were key races, with one being the 2-time defending champion. No one had ever won that race 3 years in a row. This decision to pull out of my BQ race stings (a lot!), but I know there are many roads to race and adventures to discover.

Somehow, some way I know God will take all my marathon training and use it for the greater good. Training never goes to waste, even if a racer cannot achieve a specific goal. Until then, I run and train for what I know my body thrives on doing – Half Marathons as The Ladybug Runner.

I share this with you, in the hopes to encourage others who may be discouraged and feel they have given up so much to pursue a goal. Your training and sacrifice will always be worth it, even if we do not reach our first destination.

As a matter of fact, I have a Half Marathon race this weekend.  Life carries on and the road will always be there, for us. Thank you to all who have cheered me on, supported me and even carried me in this 4 year mission. I will never forget what you did for me, ever.

 
Onward to new adventures!

 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by
RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
*Team Super Hero Master’s Elite 2013-15
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Race Report: RnRAZ Marathon | Many Surprises

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As I sit here to develop my race report, my mind is in different directions.  First and foremost, I ran a RnR race.  My first involvement with RnR since 2012 pacing gig at RnRLV and of course, my first RnR “race” since the RnRLV 2011 disaster.

In the aftermath of that fateful night in 2011, I never thought I would be sitting down to write a RnR race report.  Ever.  And as the ole saying goes, “never say, never“.

The decision to race in RnRAZ was out of need.  I needed a January Marathon to match my training plans for my BQ quest. I needed a marathon to start off my 2015 and RnRAZ was the closest in vicinity and most viable option.  I kept my plans very low-key and most runner friends had no idea I was not going to be at the Disney Star Wars and racing elsewhere.  I needed a low profile and I got it.  I needed to focus on the job at hand, and I am glad I handled it the way I did.

You see, I have spent the last 3 years running a disaster of a marathon, again and again.  Not once, did I have a finish, I was content nor proud of.  This was my last chance to see if I was going to keep pursuing my BQ dreams.  I came to AZ with no expectations and but I had hopes I would be upright, strong and not headed to the nearest ER.  As my people says, “you race well in all other distances, but you do awful, awful in the marathon.”  No amount of training seems to get me through the physical and emotional meltdown that has plagued me for the last 3 years.  I had reached the do or give-up point.

#RunningMama, #RunningBro and I set out on our travels on Friday AM. That AM I woke up with a really bad ingrown toe nail, so I immediately texted Bro to tell him I might back out of the marathon, but considering the Half.  In my previous experiences with ingrown toenails, it typically takes several days for me to recover.  As I went to the nearest pedicure place, I realized my toenail was not as bad as I thought, but glad I had it taken care of.

As we reached the expo, I realized my foot felt wonderful. Wow!  Both Mom and Bro wanted me to do the 5k, as a shake out run and I felt it would do me some good to do so.  I registered for the 5k and had the chance to have some nice conversations with RnR people during the expo.  I noticed how cordial the staff was to everyone, not only to me.  I had not seen that in previous years and this made me very happy.

After checking into our hotel we had a quick bit to eat in the hotel room.  We packed all our meals, so we were able to save a ton of money and not have to deal with restaurant crowds.

We woke the next morning to a very brisk cool air and ready to shake out on a 5k.  Met up with Dan Cruz, PR for Competitor Group and of course, he snapped a selfie of us.  One would find it hard to believe we would be in the same picture, huh?  Well, history is history and we are on good terms, now.

Dan

The 3 of us went into our corrals and I purposefully left my watch in the hotel room. I knew if I had my watch on, I would race, not shake out.  Our pacers were pro Elites, including Olympians Ryan Hall and Amy Hasting.  I had no idea where I wanted to be so I tucked myself behind the 8min pacer and just hung out there.

Here is a picture of Bro running with Pro Elite, Ryan Hall

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The course continued along the river and I really enjoyed it.  Coming into the last 100 yards I could see I could be a sub25, so I plunked it down.  A few feet would not kill me to push, it.  I finished in 24:47 and good enough for 4th in my Division, only missing 3rd place by a few seconds.  Oh well!

I can tell you, it has been a LONG time that I felt that happy crossing a finish line at a 5k.  The race energy was fun and yet, competitive.  I met up with a fellow Seattle-ite (there were MANY) and I had to get a picture with his 12th Man flag.  He lived in Auburn, WA and I grew up in Redmond, WA.

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Here is our family picture.  Great morning, I couldn’t of asked for a better feeling 5k.  I am glad I registered.

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A picture of Ryan Hall and I post 5k

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We headed back to the hotel for relaxing and eating.  Boy, it sure makes a difference to get away from all the crowds and just chill out for a day.

After a solid night sleep, we were headed out the next morning for our marathon.  Mom was scheduled to volunteer at the finish line, handing out medals (see picture below).  Big morning for all of us.

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Bro and I headed to the start via the Tram and it was a breeze to get there.  I had heard it was a pain in the butt to ride the tram to the start, but I didn’t see any problems. Straight shot for us.  We huddled in the nearest Starbucks to keep warm and use the toilets (of course).

We separated into our Corrals, he was in 1 and I was in 3.  I was about 2-3 minutes behind the gun.  As I stood there, all I could do was ask God to honor Kirk’s commitment to his training.  He deserved to reach his goals and I would give up my race, if it meant it would be successful.  I wanted his success more than I wanted mine.

As I started the race, I felt good.  No pressure, no stress and I was going along for the ride.  A very long ride!  As I passed Mile 1, I noticed something was funky with my Garmin.  As I entered into Mile 2, I realized it was on Lap setting and resetting the accumulated time and mile, at every mile.  Groovy.  Oh well, I had a ballpark idea of my pace and I needed to just run by feel.  Finish strong, finish upright. Don’t go to the ER.  That was my goal.

It was an absolutely stunning AM, truly a racers dream.  I made only one pit stop at Mile 14.  So…those who want to know if I had any poopy problems at an RnR race.  None.

At each aid station I sipped on water or drank Gatorade.  Check.  The water was fine, folks!

I did not fuel until Mile 12ish, as I didn’t feel the drag until then.  I continued to take my electrolye capsules every few miles and drink Gatorade.

At Mile 13, I had an idea I was at a sub2 pace, but I was not sure.  I missed seeing the clock, so I could not gauge, 100%.

Around Mile 17-18, I felt a rush of heat.  The sun came blaring down and I had layers.  I was wearing a singlet underneath Sheri’s memorial shirt for shirt. I knew I needed to shred the layers, but I was not tossing Sheri’s shirt and my bib was on the outer layer.  So, I stopped.  I had to take off my bib, take off my memorial shirt and put the bib on my singlet.  I lost at least 6 minutes doing this, I was not going to stress about it.  I was at Mile 18 and I was feeling pretty good, which is more than I have ever felt at Mile 18.

I also took some time to stretch out my hips, as a preventive measure.

Back on the course…I was still holding my own and my mind was still in place.  I continually told myself to stay mentally focused and know this is what I have trained my body to do.  Trust my training.

At Mile 22, my knees started to get overly stiff, so I stopped at a lightpole to stretch out.  I quickly texted the Bro and my hubby to let them know where I was and I was doing fine.  I vaguely remember looking at the clock on my phone, but nothing registered to me how I was doing.

Back on the course and I knew I was going to finish and finish feeling good.  Yes!

Coming up on Mile 24, I saw someone sitting in the middle of the course.  My heart skipped a beat.  It was a down runner.  I saw runners running by her and no one stopped, I had to stop.  If it had not been for the kind runners at BCW, I would of never been able to get up.

The downed runner (female) was complaining she had a calf cramp. I asked her if she needed help to get up and she declined.  So, I gave her a mustard pack and told her to swallow it with water, it will help out tremendously.  She assured me she was okay to get up and I was free to go.  I hope she made it, I should of gotten her bib number to check on her. Darn.

Coming over the last bridge, the emotions started to creep up my chest

“Keep your head, keep your head.  You have trained for this moment, for the last 3 years.  Don’t lose your head”

As I turned the corner, I took Sheri’s shirt from my belt and held it behind me like a flag.  I wanted everyone to see that shirt, especially Sheri.  As I drew closer, I saw the clock.  I saw that I had a huge PR and that was far more than I every expected of myself that day.

The moment I crossed the finish line, my mom put the medal on my neck and I needed medical attention, badly.  My knees and upper back were killing me.  My finish time?  4:13:02, which gave me a 19 minute PR and I am staring at a BQ.   A runner friend stated if I had not stopped to take off my layers, reposition my bib and stop to help the downed runner, I would of had my BQ.  While that is true, I have no regrets running the race the way I did.  I achieved my goal and then some!

A kind Medic got me immediate attention and I received medical care.  Bro found me and we both received a much needed massage.  Bro was pretty quiet, so I had no idea if he made his goal and when he finally told me what his Garmin said, I couldn’t contain my excitement.  When he finally checked his results…I cried.  He achieved his sub3 marathon!  My bro is a sub3 marathoner!  I sit here, with a big grin on my face, just thinking about his success.  He has gone from a Couch-to-5k’er to becoming a sub3 marathoner in less than 3 years.

After Medical, I was able to meet Kevin Gonzalez.  A true RnR Superstar and glad we finally met face to face.  What a nice man! 

Kevin

Bro and I picked up our Remix (running the 5k + Half or Full) and our Marathon Finisher jackets.  Beginning in 2015, RnR is giving away jackets to all Marathon finisher.  Yes, giving away.  What a perk, huh?

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As we headed back to the car, we passed the Finish Line and I looked back at the entire event and thought to myself, “this is how it should be, always”

RnR made some horrible mistakes in 2011 and they know it.  They now, have a new company owner, new management and new focus.  I began my running career with them in 2010 and I am thrilled beyond words that they are working hard to be the race company they should be.

So, never say never, folks.  Companies evolve and change.  I am proud to say I ran the RnRAZ 2015 and you betcha I am looking forward to coming back and even running another RnR, in the future. They have regained my trust.

  • Thank you RnR for welcoming me back with open hearts and honest words!  I see you are trying and I would be a fool to not acknowledge it.  Thank you for listening to me and countless others and providing a race experience we deserve.  Please keep going in the direction you are going!

 

  • Thank you to my Bro and Mom.  I could not of imagined that weekend without you.

 

  • Thank you to my husband.  I know you didn’t want me to run another RnR, but now you see why I needed to.

 

  • Thank you to Teri Mahaney of Train Your Brain for Runners.  You have given me the mental training & cleansing I needed to keep my head clear, when the legs were rather achey.

RnRAZ

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My race shoes:  Altra One2’s (purple) – both races

My fueling:  Gummy Bears, Hammer Electrolyte Capsules, Honey Stinger Strawberry Kiwi and course sports drink/water

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Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by
RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Team Super Hero Master’s Elite 2013-15
*Founder, Running Troops
Running Coach & Public Speaker
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