“You Don’t Look Like A Runner” | My Response to the Women Who Said This To Me

 

For years I have avoided this topic (head on). I have skirted around it, well – because I felt it was not my platform to discuss. My brand or platform as you will is about empowering others to be fearless in their lives. Not just running, but in all aspects of their lives.

Yet, this topic keeps coming up on social media, I thought I would share my thoughts and a recent experience. My thoughts and opinions are of my own, I know that many will think I am being too soft or some will think I am just in denial of the severity of the issue. If you don’t agree, please share why. If you agree, please share why (also). I certainly respect other people’s opinions, and do not feel I have the only opinion.

The topic? Body shaming. As I sit here and type, I am shaking my head – I honestly cannot believe I am writing about this political hot topic, but I think what i have to share may be unique and help others. If not your thing, that’s fine – I won’t get my panties in a bunch.

Backstory: Not too long ago, I went into the grocery store after a work-out. I was in my running gear, compression socks and backwards trucker hat. Yeah, I was the epitome of a lady. Haha! Anyways, I was standing in line to pay for my banana’s (I needed them for my post-workout smoothie) and the guy and gal in front of me started to chat with me. Obviously, they noticed my unconventional attire. I told them I just finished a run and I was sorry if I stunk. We all laughed. The man smiled yet the woman – her eyes got big and she immediately said, “wow, I never would have thought of you being a runner type, you don’t look like a runner, you look like a gym rat or something like that.”

I just chuckled and said, “yeah, more often than not – I don’t feel like a runner, but I keep plugging along to keep up my fitness.”

We both smiled and then paid for our groceries, with zero drama.

Let’s examine what just happened. I was told by a WOMAN (not a man, as some popular bloggers would make you believe that MEN are always making snide comments about a women’s body) and she made an observation and told me her thoughts.

I did NOT get upset, I didn’t assume she was insulting me.

I did NOT leave in a huff and puff determined to write several social media posts to convince everyone that this woman bullied me.

What was I thinking?

This….

The women is not a runner and probably has never seen the average runner. Her exposure to runners is what she sees on TV and those would be the Pro Elite’s. They are small in stature, they are significantly thinner and in much better shape than me. So, if that is her image of a runner – I wouldn’t look like a runner to her. Whoopee, right?

I am 5’8” and a size 6/7. I am not a larger woman, I am not plus size, but I do not fit the mold of a runner in most people’s eyes. Just because we (runners) see runners in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t mean the average public sees the same.

Was she bullying me? (are you seeing me laughing yet) I don’t see it as an insult in any way. A woman made a comment about my body. If a man had said the same thing to me, would you think he was shaming me? Maybe she was impressed or maybe she didnt’ care, but I didn’t put that much importance into what she said. I replied with an honest reply without getting my panties in a wad. Sometimes I don’t feel like a runner but I was not insulting myself and certainly not shaming myself. That is exactly how I feel and if most runners are honest, we all feel that way from time to time.

Why is the online community so hell bent on insisting that people are insulting us because they are not a part of our world?

For one minute – think of this:

When I say the word, “model” – What image comes to your mind?
When I say the word, “teacher” – What image comes to your mind?
When I say the word, “Olympic athlete” – What image comes to your mind?

We all have ideas and stereotypes in our head. You know and I know it. So, we (runners) expect non-runners to know that all runners are in all shapes and sizes? Of course, men are out to get us and we have to SHAME them for allegedly shaming us. (good grief)

To my fellow bloggers who continually LOVE to point out how much MEN shame them. I say this. Aren’t you tired of always complaining and pointing out the wrongs in other people? If you want to change the image of women, you feel you must degrade men? Where is your energy? Lifting women up or insulting men? Your actions speak very loud and the community has listened.

I am embarrassed and I am sorry that certain bloggers have taken it upon themselves to shame men or even women who are not their own size or ideal of what you think an athlete is. Yeah, you are shaming (I posted about this earlier) I firmly believe that not one gender is better than the other. Period. I don’t believe in “Women Empowerment” I believe in “Humanity Empowerment”.

My self-worth is not tied up in what others say to me (and I have heard a lot of insults over the years and I have also heard lots of praise). Of course, there are jerks in this world who don’t have a kind word to say about anyone.  Why do you care? That is their issue, not yours.  I have battled such severe depression I was in the hospital and then outpatient therapy for 16 months in the 1990’s. I learned then and know, now – my self worth is within me, not outside sources.Not everyone is out to get us (women). Not everyone is commenting on our body. Maybe you are the one who has the issues, not the people you think are insulting you. Just because you have body issues, doesn’t mean every woman has issues. As I have said before, there are aspects of my body I don’t like, but I don’t HATE my body.

Empowerment is not gender specific and until you realize that your body is not your image, only a carrier of your heart and soul, you will struggle with who you are. It took me years to realize this and now, I am fine with my body and do what I can when I can. I won’t put your worth or my worth in your body, by doing so I would be contributing to the very thing I would preach against = using my body perception to encourage women to feel better about themselves.  How about we encourage women not by what they wear or body size?  How about we encourage by leading them to be an active member of society?  How about we encourage by leading them to be a better version of themselves not dependent on their body size or what under garments they wear?

Be you.
Be bold.
Be fearless in all you do in life.

That my friends, is authentic strength.

_____

Run FAB,

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV

*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape

*Ambassador for RunGumNEWZILL and Glukos Energy


Update On My Summer Training | Never Goes As Planned

Hi Friends!

How is your Summer?  A few weeks ago, I share with you how I was going to change up my Summer Training.  In case you missed it, here is the link -> Click here

 

What I have done:

For the most part, my runs have been in the PM.  I have kept my AM’s to dog runs, cardio work and DDPyoga.

Be Happy.  This is the first summer since I started focused training (2011) that I have not dreaded the summer.  I am enjoying my time with family and friends and not stuck to the reality I have to get up at 3am to do a run, so I can beat the heat.

 

What I have not done:

No long runs yet, so I have not hit the pool. That should be coming within the next week or so

No 3am wake up calls!  (see above)

Not registered for one race.  I have looked at a few for the Fall of 2017, but nothing has been added to my schedule.  I plan to finish up my 50 Half Marathons by the end of the year.  That’s my one focus for 2017, get through to the 50th Half.

 

I have the Disneyland Half and Disneyland 10k on Labor Day Weekend.  I will kick up the training a bit for the 10k – maybe I can earn another AG award.  It will be a great way to end my DL weekend career.

 

After DL, the Fall season kicks in and I have several races on my calendar.  All are tentative, so I won’t be spilling the beans ahead of time.  With my Meniere’s Disease it is very hard to plan ahead with my races.  I never know how I will feel for training or on race day.  For DL, I am going no matter what.  At the minimum I will be doing my park time with my Disney loving husband.

 

How is your Summer going?

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV

*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape

*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


My Summer Training | No More of the Same Old – Time to Change

I am entering my 8th year of Summer running.  I began my running career in the summer of 2010 in preparation of the RnRLV 2010 (last year it was during the day). Since I started running, I had different goals:  Running the Disneyland Double Dare (formerly the Dumbo Double Dare) in September and training for marathons that would take place in September.  Last year, I was still in ‘training’ mindset for Disneyland but my Meniere’s Disease took over and I spent more time on my back and when I did run, it was torture.  Not to mention, Honeybear was in her final months – so my focus was her until the very last day.

I made the decision early this year I was not going to have a repeat of getting up at 3am to run my miles and I wouldn’t put my mind and body through the struggle.  I live in Las Vegas where it is nearly 100F at sunrise.  I have lost too much time of my life getting up at 3am (having to go to bed at 7pm to ensure I get enough sleep).

This year – it is going to be different and it’s all good!  While I am going back to Disneyland for the Challenge, it is my last year of that Challenge and I am not looking to PR or hit the podium.  I don’t have a marathon (thank goodness!) and my brother is needing help with his recent hip surgery.  I will not repeat summer training of years gone by.

Here are my changes:

  1.  Dog runs in the early morning.  I will not let them run over 2 miles due to the heat.  If I choose to run for myself, I will not run over 2 miles.
  2.  My training runs are done in the evening when the sun goes down.  I only ran in the evening during my first summer and I really enjoyed the nighttime runs.
  3.  When the heat is just too bad to bear, I will spend at least an hour indoors doing cardio with one of my home DVD’s.  As of this writing, I have spent the last 3 days indoors cranking it out.  I am dripping with sweat and I feel really good, too!
  4. My long runs will be in the pool.  I joined an aquatic center and I will spend my long run time as an aqua jogger.  This way, I get in my time and miles without the scorching sun and protecting my body from the heat drain.  I used aqua jogging as a rehab during my 2013 plateau fracture and it is the best cross-training workout you can do, injured or not.
  5. Be happy.  I cannot, I just cannot go through another summer like I have in previous years!  I cannot let the Fall race goals consume me where I put myself and my happiness in danger.

So far – the summer is doing well.  I am not starting with the typical “I am going to hate this, but I have _____ race to train for”

I am not letting running control me, in any ways.  It is my choice and I am choosing to adjust what I need to adjust to stay happy and healthy.

________________________

How are you adjusting your training this summer?  Feel free to leave your comment below.  

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV

*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape

*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


Off-Topic: What To Do About Online Bullying | You Have Rights

In 2011 I was bullied by a local runner and I had to learn very quickly how to protect myself and my family. The situation was resolved and the runner finally left me alone.  I was told later that person has moved out of state.  Was it easy?  No. Was it enjoyable?  Heck, no.  Was I scared at times?  Yes, I was!  For a year I could not show up at any race by myself, and a few races I asked a registered runner to run with me.  I did get the local authorities involved and they took action as they were viable threats against me and my family.  I am sharing some steps with you can do to help in the event you are a victim of cyber or online bullying.

 

 

Most importantly, if you are truly being bullied (which includes threats, harassment and stalking) you have several actions that you can take to ensure your privacy and peace-of-mind.  No one should feel violated or that their life is in jeopardy!  True online bullying is a crime, just read the headlines.

 

By definition, “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” Please keep this in mind as you continue to read.

What is NOT bullying:

Someone disagreeing with you.  Someone picking a social media fight with you is NOT bullying.  

Someone calling you “fat”, “ugly, “skinny”.  Picking on you because of your sexual orientation, religious beliefs and yes, even race.

Someone saying unfavorable things about you that hurts your feelings.

 

What bullying and harassment IS:

Someone threatening you with bodily harm, to kidnap or even murder you

Someone stalking you at your place of work or at your home

Someone emailing or contacting you obsessively (like every day or every hour)

Someone sending you postal mail obsessively

 

As much as we want to believe that a verbal disagreement of differences of opinion on social media is bullying, it is not.  It is just an exchange of words and they are nothing more than verbal fights – UNLESS someone is threatening another person or persons.

DO’s

Take screenshots of all communication you receive from the person you believe is bullying you (look at definition).  Most importantly, do not respond to their messages either privately or on social media.

Remain as calm as possible, you have protection and rights!

Do get the legal authorities involved. If your local police department is unwilling to help, contact the FBI.

Contact your internet service provider for assistance.

If you are harassed on Instagram, you can report that account via the app.

If you are harassed on Facebook, you can report that account via the app or online.

If you are harassed on Twitter, you can report that account via the app or online.

 

DON’T’s

Do not, and I repeat DO NOT, start talking about how many harassing messages you have received by your bullies!   Misery loves company and the more you acknowledge it in a public way the more you feed their need for attention (unless you feel you need the attention to brag about the number of bullies you have and that is a different topic).  It amazes me how many times I see tweets or posts stating they have X number of bullies!   Who wants to talk about that?!?!  That is not empowering at all. You are giving the harasser the attention they want. Stop it and don’t talk about it on social media.

Don’t share your harassers name, address, employer or any other identifying information on your social media or blogs.  This is stalking (you) which is against the law and despite you being harassed, you cannot take the law into your own hands.  My skin CRAWLS when I see a person outing their harasser online, for some reason they think that is empowering or might stop the harasser.  No it is not, you have just created a legal drama for yourself! The law will decide if this person is harassing you and by revealing their personal information (how did you get their personal information, anyways?) you have now switched your role from victim to the criminal.  I don’t think you want that, now do you?  Do you want a stalking charge against you?

Here is a prime example of a popular blogger changing their role as the victim to the potential criminal.  Please read this link to a FB post by Derek Murphy of MarathonInvestigation.com from 6/17/2017 exposing a popular blogger in her disclosing personal information about her alleged bully.  The popular blogger has set herself up to be sued and charged with a crime and most importantly, for a woman who claims to be anti-bullying, she openly bullied this person.   Shameful. Click here for the link from MI.

 

In conclusion, Folks, please use your head.  Recognize what is bullying, protect yourself, don’t take the law into your own hands, and know that everyone disagreeing with you is not bullying you.  *Remember the definition, “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.”  If you need further clarification, I recommend you speak with your local authorities.

 

 

Stay safe out there – 

 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV

*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape

*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


Pffft on the PF

If you have been a runner for longer than…a month, you have had some aches and pains and hopefully not a serious injury.  I have experienced the full circle from minor to 4 months of rehab.

2011:  Blown out hip

2012:  Start of achilles issues that did not let up until 2013

2013:  Plateau fracture on my tibia (leg)

2014:  Severe ankle sprain

2015:  Diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease (daily battle)

2016:  Still dealing with Meniere’s Disease + this nagging heel problem

 

Many heel problems are mistakenly diagnosed as PF.  My primary pain is in that middle place where it could or could not be PF.  So, what do you do about it?  There are a plethora of remedies.  Here is how I am dealing with it:

 

  1.  See a chiropractor or Physical Therapist for ART treatment
  2.  Do Trigger Point Massage at home
  3.  Taking a few days off from running as it came back with a vigor this week
  4.  Wearing KT Tape for healing, freedom of movement and pain relief.  Never tried KT Tape?  Here is a link

Today, the foot feels good!  I might be able to do a slow dog-jog with my pup, Daisy tonight.

 

How do you handle PF?  Feel free to comment below (by request, I have re-opened the comment section below.  All comments are moderated to halt spamming)

 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV

*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape

*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


CHAR SHARES: When A Blogger or Athlete Lets You Down

In 2011 I was given an introductory course into the what I call the “Dark Side” of running.  Someone who I admired, trusted and even called a close friend began a career to hurt me and my family.  Why?  She found out I knew of her (illegal) personal activities and I think she was scared I would reveal the truth to her followers.  That time was the launching pad of many things in my life but most importantly learning that runners are people and people will hurt us and disappoint us.  Lord knows, I am sure I have disappointed people in my own life!

We follow bloggers, we follow pro elites and more.  When they fall, we hurt!  We hurt bad.   We hurt because the image of them is shattered.  Do we have the right to be angry?  You betcha!  The persona they have created has vanished and we are left wondering who and what to believe.

We forgive, and hopefully move on but we don’t forget.  Apologies can be accepted but trust is violated. 

If anything, we should learn not to put someone up on a pedestal and be mindful that what we see of their persona on line is never who they are at home or at work.  Is is fake?  Yes and no.  You don’t see my medical struggles, and I don’t want to share visual pictures of my vertigo attacks or worse.  You see pictures of me smiling with my husband, friends or brother.  You don’t see the crying photos.  The photos that look like I got run over by a truck.  I create the “persona” on IG because that is what social media is for you and me – you know it and so do I.

Find your inspiration in others is okay, but be mindful that nothing and no one is as they appear to be on social media.  Our food isn’t always that pretty, our hair isn’t always perfect.  If you want real life – look within your own family and neighborhoods.  Real life in real time.

 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV

*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape

*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here

 

 


Skinny Shaming | Are You Listening To Yourself?

Last night, I posted this on my IG account @charlene_ragsdale:  

 

Attn:  Shinny Shamers.  You know who you are – those who are self-proclaimed “body image” experts who are a size 10, 12, 22 or whatever and decide that anyone who is a size 0, 2, 4 or 6 are unhealthy and have body issues.  Ummm, no.
I am a size 7 / 8 and while I have aspects of my body I don’t like, I do not *hate* my body and I certainly don’t have body issues! How dare you think that skinny is not strong or more importantly how dare you tie strong with body size, any size. You claim you are against body shaming but you fail to see you are contributing to the problem. I don’t have body issues, I have hypocrite issues.
Let me tell you what strong is!  A man or woman who has a chronic disease that makes them wonder if they are going to be able to take a step or get out of bed.  A man or woman who battle a deadly disease who do not know if today is their last day on earth.  A man or woman who goes to work every day to provide for their family and has no idea how they are going to pay for this week’s grocery bill.  A man or woman who have overcome all the odds to be successful in their career.  Strength is not defined by our appearance or our body size.  Strength is running a race honestly, not demanding comps from any RD.  Strength is showing class act and being an Ambassador to our sport.  Are you even listening to yourself?  Probably not.  You are too busy deleting your social media comments and forging your social media following to look like the world worships the ground you walk on because you have decided that those who do not look like you, must have body image issues.
I am about being strong in life.  Everyone has a different journey and finds their own sense of strength.  Please step back and take a good hard look at what you are saying.  You are influencing others and don’t fool yourself to believe it is a positive influence.  How will you speak to your daughter or son when they are “skinny”? Would you speak to them how you are speaking to the masses on your social media pages?  I would hope not.  Truly.

#YouAreNot #KnowWhatStrengthIs

______________________________________________________________________________

You are a plus-size woman or man, you are not a size 2 (but, neither am I) and you are on a mission to help women and men improve their body image.  Good for you, I am all for helping others feel better about themselves!  

Within your public mission, you are shaming those who do not look like YOU.  Yes you are, don’t even try to deny it.  You are  size 10, 12 or even a 22 and you are insulted that the media or others are posting pictures of someone who is skinnier than you and proclaim that others do not need to look that way.  Are you listening to yourself?

You lash out at the media for their representation of healthy.  Have you EVER considered that the model(s) in those pictures are seeing your rants and hissy fits?  Don’t their feelings matter to you?  Are the images photoshopped?  Most likely they are, but they are representing people.  How would YOU feel if someone slammed your body size?  Ohhhh, I see – it is important to never shame a person who larger than yourself, but it is okay to insult those who are skinnier than you?

 

I have said it before and I will say it again – I am very comfortable of my size 7/8 body.  

 

Stop assuming because I am thin, I am unhappy or hating my body.

 

I know I have the beefiest thighs you can imagine – have you seen my running pictures? (Thank you to my German DNA – it’s not going to change.)  I have a flat chest that makes me look like a 12 year old boy.  Take a look at the pro-elites like Desi Linden and many of the Kenyan runners, they don’t run in sports bra’s either.  You wear what you want and I will wear what i want, okay? There are (stupid) stats that 70%+ of women dislike their bodies.  Read that again, dislike their bodies.  It does not mean we are in hiding or ashamed of our bodies!  I am not a fan of my beefy legs and flat chest but I am not beating myself over it.  Just because we don’t like something, doesn’t mean we are ashamed.  Don’t put words into my mouth or into my head because you are not me or representative of our gender.  You don’t speak for me as I don’t speak for you. The very thing you are preaching against, you are contributing to.  By telling others what they SHOULD wear or HOW they should look to be strong, you have become a body shammer.  Yes, you are a body shammer.

 

Please continue to empower others about accepting themselves but back off the shaming, would ya?  Who are you to say that a woman who is a size 2 or 4 isn’t happy? Would you like it if someone told you that your size 10 is disgusting and you are not believing in yourself?  I don’t think so.

Back of, mind your own business and empower others not shame.  Deal?  I will never tell someone what they should be wearing, it’s their choice.  I suggest you do the same and stop telling skinny gals or guys to eat a burger, that is not the problem nor solution.  There is NOTHING wrong with skinny.  Skinny is healthy, stop making it out like it is not.  

 

Empower, not shame.  If you wish to comment or defend your shaming ways, please feel free to do so – I would be interested to hear how will justify your shaming all in the name of influencing others to accept themselves.  

 

 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV

*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape

*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy

~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here

 


Making Running Personal and My Own | Doing What is Right For Me

Thanks to all of those who patiently waited for me to return from hiatus.  After 6+ years of blogging, I felt i needed a break and regroup.

 

For the last 3 years, I have struggled with the concept of running.  Somewhere in 2014, I began to not want to run and not even race.  Yet, I continued on, as I was focused on my goal of getting a BQ so I could run Boston 2016.  My last attempt and last marathon was September 2015 and that began a horrible journey of discovery. It was at that time i was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease of Meniere’s Disease (not contagious in any way).  By the time I was closing in on the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend, I was ready to walk away from it all.  2 weeks prior to the event, I couldn’t even run/walk 10 miles.  I sent messages to friends telling them my predicted outcome and I was nearing my end of my running career.  It was wearing me down both physically and emotionally.  I no longer felt running was fun.  Time to move on, right?

Tinkerbell weekend was my final turning point.  My body did not fail me, in fact it surprised me.  I am grateful I finished upright and with a solid time, so very grateful.

Yet, I was still emotionally not wanting to run nor race.  I had grown tired of the same old, same old.  I could not wait to get out of Anaheim and go home.

 

  1. Training
  2. Going to the race
  3. Run the race
  4. Finish the race
  5. Grab a medal and food
  6. Meet up with friends to discuss:  1.  The course  2.  What went wrong and why we didn’t PR  3.  Ate food  4.  Took pictures with our medals  5.  Talk some more 6.  Left the race.
  7. Posted pictures on social media with our medals

And so on.

 

Sound familiar?  I had lost my zeal and zest for running, it was no longer fun for me.

 

 

Yet, I knew I needed to keep running to keep up my health.  I don’t like to swim nor bike, so my options are very limited.  I had to find ways to make running fun again. These are the things I am changing, effective immediately.  Of course, they are subject to change.

 

      1. This will be my last year to run the Disneyland Double Dare (formerly known as the Dumbo Double Dare).  I am a legacy of this Challenge, but this is my final year.  After too many poorly managed Disneyland runDisney races and cutbacks, I no longer feel the races are worth the extra money.  I will be spending my time and monies where it should be – at the Disney parks with my family & friends. Disneyland Park is sacred to me, I am not going to allow the changes and cutbacks to get in the way of me enjoying my special place.
      2. Unless I earn an Overall or Age Division award at an event, I will not be posting my picture with the finisher medal.  In my first year of running, I was obsessed with medals.  Even to this day, my medals displayed in my home office.   Let’s face it, running is a Narcissist sport.  We train, we post about the details.  We are sick, we go into great detail how sick we are and we will triumph over the disease on race day.  We take pictures, before (and sometimes during) the race.  At the end of the race, we start a parade of medal pictures.  This is where I get uncomfortable.  I do not believe in Participation Trophy mentality, I don’t believe we should over praise every step we take on a race course or while in training.  Is running a 5k a big deal?  Of course it is, but I don’t believe we need a medal for every distance.  An event is about the clock (that is why they are timed).  If I don’t meet my goals, that’s on me.  I don’t need a medal to tell me “good job”, I know when I have done a good job and I have not.  Going forward, I may post pictures of me post race, but not with my finisher medal.  I might even post on Instagram #NoMedalMonday.  I need to find my confidence for me, not because of a medal.  Of course, there may be exception to my new self-imposed rules, but for the most part, my posts will be medal-less.  Will I join in group photos post-race?  Of course, I will but I won’t be wearing my medal.  This is for me and what makes me comfortable.  For the time being, I will be medal-less.
      3. Virtual runs are out.  If I want to support the charity, will send them a check.  I don’t need a medal to run for a charity.   I have participated in several virtuals and even planned a few.  They have never felt right to me, they seem like nothing more than a training run that I get a medal.  I can do a training run for free and like I said, if I want to support the charity – I will send them money.

This is a long time coming and it has taken me 3 years to figure out what I wanted or felt I needed in my running career.  I am at peace with this and grateful I can focus on what I enjoy about running (if that is even possible anymore) and not be bogged down with all the other stuff.

I support all of you in your own running journey, as long as it is your own journey.  Don’t fall into the trap that I fell into – running because of what everyone else was doing.  If something is uncomfortable to you, change it.  You don’t have to race every weekend or every month!  Your worth is not in how many medals you hang on the wall.  Your worth is based on you as a human being.  I encourage you to find your niche with running, who cares what others are doing.  Make it your own.  If medals are your thing – go for it!  If medals aren’t your thing – box ’em up or toss them or donate them.  Find your place in this sport.  I said it before, make it your own.

 

That is what I am doing.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here

 


Interview with Derek Murphy of MarathonInvestigation.com | Finding the Marathon Cheaters

Welcome back FAB-O friends!  2017 has whizzed right by, hasn’t it?  I am writing this on the first week of Spring (hello!  Wasn’t it just Christmas?)  I am very excited about this blog interview.  About a year ago, I heard about Derek Murphy of MarathonInvestigation.com – he was leading the charge to expose marathon cheaters and to keep them out of Boston.  My ears perked up!  I couldn’t believe there was someone out there who actually cared if someone cheated.  I was thrilled, to say the least and through a mutual friend, we “met up” on Facebook.

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Since that time, I have observed Derek diligently prove cheating and also prove innocence.  A unassuming man who has been thrust into the limelight with huge stories.  His blog received national acclaim with a NBC TODAY show segment.  I asked Derek to be interviewed as I wanted to share more of the man beyond his revealing blog posts.  One can assume that a person who goes after such negativity in this sport would be a negative person.  That is not Derek, he genuinely cares about this sport and the runners. He wants to see runners succeed and certainly will stop at nothing to expose the cheaters.  

Hope you enjoy the interview!

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DEREK MURPHY – MarathonInvestigation.com

 

C: We all know you love number crunching.  Can you give us a little bit about your work and education background? Family?  Hobbies?

D:  My work is mostly number crunching as well…but beyond that I like creating reports and getting behind the number’s to present them in a way that tell a story. I graduated from University of Cincinnati in 1993, and always planned to get my Masters – but that never happened. I was accepted to Law School but chose a different path. My family is everything, been married for almost 23 years, and I have a 5 year old son and 7 year old daughter.

 

C: What are your hobbies, (besides catching cheaters)?

D: Watching Nick Jr with my kids, helping with First Grade Math (harder than you’d think!), building and playing with Legos with my preschooler, going to soccer games and Tae Kwon Do. We love going to the Museum and the Zoo with the kids. So basically, my family.

 

C: You say you were once a runner, when was that and what races?  Of course, I have to ask, did you suspect anyone was cheating or see anyone cheating?

D: I was too far back, and to concerned about myself. I never noticed anyone cutting the course in front of me
derekrunning

 

C: The story of Mike Rossi got you interested in looking at race results but the post on Gia Alvarez is what got the public’s attention. What was your first thought when you saw a lot of attention coming to you and your blog?

D: Really it was Kip Litton. I came to that story late – and most everything was dug up. I read through the blog that the guy put together on Kip and remember how detailed it was. I thought the guy was kind of crazy for putting it together. Looking back, I see he was ahead of his time.

I always enjoyed looking at the traffic after making a post. The post on Gia Alvarez immediately was generating more traffic than I ever had.  I didn’t think that my article on her would ever get that attention. That was the first time I ever received any media requests—besides the Runner’s World profile. The Gia article came out a couple weeks before the initial Runner’s World story.  Those two events are really what made the blog take off. Those events also forced me to take a look at the articles I would write and be more careful about naming runners – because by that point I became aware that I wasn’t really just writing to myself and a few friends.

 

C: You probably realize that runners are a very passionate group of people.  Has that worked in your favor or do you think people get too emotional about finding cheaters?  

D: It’s definitely worked in my favor as it relates to Boston qualifiers. Of course there is a group that says that it shouldn’t matter to me and that I am shaming runners by posting my articles. Some say I should just notify the RD’s. However, just notifying the RD’s does not have the deterrent effect that writing articles about cheating does. Also writing articles raises awareness and results in more tips, which means less runners will get away with it.

On the flip side, I think some people always take it too far. I always cringe when I hear of people contacting the runners directly or making inappropriate comments to them. Unfortunately, I cannot control or predict the reactions of everyone.  I am more cautious about the articles I chose to write and how much identifying information I put out there on the average cheater.

 

C: You have reported on many cheaters.  Any that particularly frustrate you?  

D: Marlon Bascombe – the running coach. I was unable to get him disqualified despite overwhelming evidence. The main reason I failed with that is that the NJ marathon changed management, and the new management was not in charge when Marlon ran there. His followers take the fact that he was not DQ’d as vindication.

Also, I have to mention I am frustrated by the Parvaneh Moayedi and Larry Macon situation with Guinness World Record. I have provided as much evidence as possible that their records were ‘embellished’. Unless they have time machines, it is impossible that they have achieved what they claim. For some reason Guinness ignores this.

 ->  Parvaneh & Larry blog post 

 

C: I was asked awhile back how you could have job satisfaction from a job like this, that dives into the negative of this sport.  How do you keep yourself from getting jaded about others?  

D: Yes, I spend the time looking at the negative side – but it is so those that earn it, can experience the positive side. I’ve heard from a runner that thanked me for what I do – she firmly believes that without my work she would have lost out on her Boston spot. For the most part I am able to distance myself from the emotional side of it. When I am analyzing results, they are just bib #s and times on a spreadsheet. When I write an article, I try to look at the human side of it.  

 

C: How do you look at the human side when all you see is numbers on a spreadsheet?

D: I take a step back after doing all the spreadsheet work. If I am writing about a specific individual, I make every effort to reach out to speak or email with them. There are times where I backed off on publicly naming someone after I learned more about them personally.

 

C: Do you have any funny stories to share?

D: For a few days after Boston, I received quite a few tips. Most of the time the tipsters were correct in spotting runners that cheated.  I received 5 tips on a single runner. All of the runners said that there was no way the guy they saw could have earned the bib # he was wearing. He was in one of the early corrals with a bib # in the 1000’s. It turns out, he just put on some weight since he qualified about 1-1/2 years prior.  

I also received tips that someone was wearing the police commissioner’s old 2013 bib. I almost put an article up. It turns out it was for the filming of the movie ‘Patriot Day’.

 

C: With all the scrutiny, do you think you will ever want to return to running and face your peers?  You know everyone is going to be watching your results?  Lol

D: Yes. I have decided to run The Columbus Marathon this year. That was my first marathon, and I think it would be fitting to give it another go. I never fully prepared properly for a marathon. I enjoyed running them..but I could have performed better. I have no idea what kind of time I will run. But it is a goal of mine to break my PR – 8 years after running my last marathon (My PR is over 5 hours).

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C: That’s great.  Are you following a specific training program?  What do you enjoy about running?  What keeps you going when the miles are tough?

D: Way too early to start training for Fall 😉  I am starting to run a little bit now. In the past I’ve been able to get where I can slowly run a decent distance fairly quickly. So, over the next month or 2,  I am going to build my base to where I can comfortably run 10k at about 10- 11 min pace, and then I will fall into one of the Hal Higdon plans. I should probably go with the novice plan at this point. Still evaluating my plans – may take a trip out to Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Marathon in November, instead.

 

C: We know runners cheat, but what about the RD’s that look the other way or enable the cheating. What do you have to say to them?

D: It’s disappointing when the occasional RD looks the other way. There is a difference between not having the time or resources to dig through for every cheater. But I do get annoyed when RD’s look the other way. There was one case where I reported a cheater with a BQ time, that cheated in a race multiple years – and the RD told me to report him again if he cheats next year (He did cheat, and I reported him again). 

 

C: Walk me through the scenario.  You find a cheater, you contact the suspect and what happens if they admit they did cheat.  Do you still make the report public or contact Boston privately to ensure they do not run Boston?  

D: If someone cheated one time and admits it, I would make sure they get DQ’d and removed from Boston if applicable and leave it at that. In most cases they don’t respond until after I write an article. If they admit it at that point, I will note that in the article.

 

C: Have you considered going to a race expo to see if people recognize you and you can get more tips?  You know you are quite the rock star!  

D: Not really. I don’t think anyone would recognize me by site. If I wore a sign that said I ran the website marathoninvestigation.com, that might get some attention. I have thought that speaking at expos might be a potential next step – but I haven’t pursued that.

 

C: Has there been a report that left you feeling satisfied you caught the cheater?  One that made you feel “oh yes” at the end of the day?  

D: A few. When Runners World was writing the article on my process to catch Boston qualifiers that cheated, they vetted all the cases where I determined that someone cheated. There was one case where I identified a course cutter. RW didn’t feel the evidence was compelling enough to include this runner in the published totals of the # of cheaters identified. Looking at the course, it was difficult to see how he would have pulled it off.  Early this year I received a tip about this guy – he obviously cut the course in Nashville. He was DQ’d and denied another Boston entry. That validated my initial finding.

On the flip side – the story I worked the hardest on was where I helped to vindicate Ryan Lee. He was disqualified from The London Marathon. I was able to take a snapshot of him on the course – and used Google street view to determine his exact location. I was able to identify other runners to determine the time the photo was taken. That information proved that his start time as recorded by the marathon was inaccurate – if he started when they said he did, he could not have been in that photo.

 

C: I remember that story about Ryan.  Based on your posts, I could tell you were working so hard for that young man.  What a sweet victory to have him vindicated.  Have you heard from him or his mom?

D: Yes, I reached out a few weeks ago. He is training for London. I look forward to seeing how he does.  ->  

Ryan Lee’s Story

 

C: What’s in the future for you?  Still writing?  Do you think this will ever get so big you will have a team of investigators?

D: Good question. This has definitely grown beyond what I ever envisioned. If I had the time, I could write multiple articles a day – and catch more cheaters. There are volunteers and others that feed me tips, and do work on their own, or help me gather data.  I have begun to ask others to write guest articles.

I have expanded the scope of my articles – but my main mission will always be to catch the cheaters. I am always thinking about the best way to catch and prevent cheaters.  One way may be to partner up with races in a more formal manner. If I were to do that I would need to do so in such a way that I am still viewed as independent.

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Thank you, Derek for taking the time to allow my readers to get to know you.  On behalf of the running community, I would like to thank you for being so diligent to expose the cheaters and prove the innocence of those wrongfully DQ’d.  

 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here


LVTC 2016 Championship Series | Waited 6 Years For This Moment

After my first ever long distance race in 2010 (RnRLV 2010, the last year the event was during the daytime) I ventured into the unknown world of racing and collecting bling.  My first year, I did not travel to any races, I ran only local races.  A great deal of those races were LVTC events. They were great practices for me and I could work on my jitters of being at a start line.

Quickly, I learned about the LVTC Championship Series.  It was a collection of 10-12 races each year that a racer could receive points for participating and placement (Overall and Age Division).  I didn’t take much interest in the series as all of this was new to me and I was focusing on chasing bling and PR’s.  That all changed during the LVTC Christmas party where I saw the Top 5 winners of the Champions Series (CS) receive a beautiful silver bowl trophy.  Those who placed in 6-10 received a ceramic mug.  At that moment, I wanted to earn a silver bowl!

I had four major goals in my running career:

  1. Qualify and run the Boston Marathon in 2016 (the 20th anniversary of the race). Well, we know how that went.  Ugh!
  2. Earn the Gold Phidippides Award every year. Accomplished every year since 2011.
  3. Earn a spot on the USATF All-American team.  Accomplished every year since 2011.
  4. Earn a LVTC Championship Series silver bowl trophy.  My best place was 8th in 2015.

Every year, I have set out to achieve #4.  Like #1, I became frustrated how close I got but never right there. So often, I plan to run the designated races but something interferes with the schedule or I am injured.  I was close in 2015 with 8th place and I believe I would of earned the 5th spot if I had not missed so many events.  BTW, I loved my mug 🙂

At the beginning of the year, my brother and I set out to run every CS event.  However, since they added the Revel Marathon to the schedule, I knew I would miss that one for sure.  I had to work hard and get good placement throughout the year to get my silver bowl.  My eyes were on 5th place.  Anything higher was certainly gravy to the year.

We started at the year at the traditional LVTC Championship 10k at Kellogg-Zaher park, that is also the location they hand out the CS awards.  Gosh I hate this course, not sure what the appeal is for any race to be in the direction they choose to go. There are many other options.  I was in the top 10 after that race.  Most runners show up for the first race, so I wasn’t too worried about where my standings would be at this point.  I had 11 months to ago, after all.

1-january

February – we had the metric mile race at the UNLV track.  I finished in a strong Overall place.  That boosted my standings to put me in first place. Now, that was a hoot!

2-february

lvtcchampionshipstandings-feb2016

March – Celebrate Education back at Kellogg-Zaher.  Here we go again. What an awful course layout and a strange distance of 8k.  The wind was beyond blistery and I could not breathe.  My dizzy spells kicked in and I muddled through it to get another AG spot.  More points.

3-celebrate-ed

lvtcchampionshipstandings-mar2016

April – my friend, Ryan and I pushed a lovely person in a wheelchair for the Summerlin Half.  I knew the best I could get was the participation points. An AG placement was out of the question.  Points are points.  By this time, I was already getting irritated with my running and why was I doing this CS once again?  I had committed to one more year to try to get the bowl, and whatever happens – I was done.  No more trying next year.

4-summerlin-half

lvtcchampionshipstandings-apr2016

May – opted out of the Revel Marathon.  Remember, I am retired from that distance.  Not even the CS silver bowl award could bring me out of marathon retirement.

June – Summer Series. Back on the track at UNLV. Another awful race performance, but I earned some good points and keeping myself in a good CS placement.

6-summer-series

lvtcchampionshipstandings-june

 

 

July – no race

 

August – Legends 5k.  The person who heads up the CS series is Coach Phil Lawton.  A beloved coach who have coached many of our area superstars.  Legends is his baby and he takes a lot of pride in managing this race.  This was my race to honor Honeybear, as she had passed away not too long before that.  It was a struggled, I had to walk a bit of the 5k.  The heat tore me down and kept me there.

8-legends

lvtcchampionshipstandings-aug2016

 

September – Forrest Challenge.  I hate this race. Never ran it before and I will not to do it again. 8k elevation at Bristolecone area at Mt Charleston.  I would of never finished if it had not been for my friend, Ryan (same person who I ran with at the Summerlin Half).

9-september

lvtcchampionshipstandings-sept2016

October – Danny Gans.  Brother and I were so ready to be done with the CS series.  We both placed in our AG.

10-danny-gans

lvtcchampionshipstandings-oct2016

 

November – Turkey Trot with Jus Run 5k.  I was very happy at this race, I knew it was my last CS race.

11-tt

lvtcchampionshipstandings-nov2016

 

December – after running the Holiday Half the last two years and loathed this course as much as I hated Forrest Challenge I was not looking forward to this event.  I opted out of the Holiday Half and ran a 5k fun run with my son instead.  Best choice, don’t you think?

Going into that race, I was in 2nd place and I had the silver bowl locked in.  I knew our local elite Erica Schramm would take 2nd if she won 1st place OV at the Holiday Half.  I was shocked to hear she earned 2nd OV behind her female teammate of RRRC.  That put us in a tie for 2nd and since I ran more races than her, I was the 2nd place winner and she was 3rd.  Erica was far more deserving of 2nd place as she is a much speedier runner than I. 

finalstandings

2nd place.  That is far more than I could of ever imagined I would be at the end of the year.  All I needed was 5th place for that silver bowl.  Better yet, my brother earned 2nd place for his CS efforts. The irony – 3rd place male is named Eric and the 3rd place female is Erica.

On January 7th, I finally held the silver bowl trophy in my hands.  I was able to stand next to my brother and know we accomplished our goal, together. We can retire from our Championship Series efforts…finally.

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2016 LVTC Championship Series Awards

 

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The moment I received my silver bowl, finally. Yeah, that’s a pretty cheesy smile!

 

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I waited six years to do this!

 

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Both 2nd place finishers. I am grateful to share this past year with my brother.

 

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Our Celebration Lunch. Well, we had more – but this was the fun part.

 

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“Is this really happening?”

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No words an ever convey the gratitude I have for Coach Phil

 

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Finally, the picture that Coach Phil and I have waited for.

 

My thanks to:

My brother (pictured) who accepted my invitation to join me in the Championship Series challenge.  We had some crazy adventures along the way, but I am grateful he tagged along and earned a beautiful silver bowl for his athletic accomplishment and his patience.

To Coach Phil Lawton (pictured in the center). The man with the vision and never once let me forget about my Championship Series dream.  He encouraged me and reminded me every month why I set goals.  Thank you for being the man you are and keeping the running dreams alive for all of us.

My husband, kids and furkids.  You send me out the door, month after month to chase down my goals.  Cheered me on, even when I didn’t have the strength to get out the door for a training run.

Ryan Launder – you ran 2 of these races with me.  I appreciate your friendship and the ability to keep my head in the game to finish the miles.  Donuts on me, any time!

 

…thus, ends my LVTC Championship Series quest 

________________________________

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum and Glukos Energy
~Blog Disclaimer – Click Here