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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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

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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. 

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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
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RACE RECAP: Avengers Half Marathon | Legacy Streak Continues

Brother and I arrived to the Superhero Avenger Half Marathon weekend on Thursday and headed straight to the expo.  Immediately, we saw some good differences.  More Marvel characters on the banners and an overall better vibe.

After the lackluster Dumbo weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Dumbo was suppose to be the crown jewel of the Disneyland races and they fell short in so many ways.  The first two years of Avengers (this being the third) were managed wonderfully but a lot of details were missing.  It was evident that Avengers has the lowest production budget but it did not hinder the experience.

We quickly got our packet and headed upstairs to the expo.  While the Disney expo’s are always well organized, the main problem is they are identical every year.  Nothing different, same old, same old.  While I love structure, it would be nice to have a different look to it or even different set up. Their expo speaker was downright annoying.  It was like fingernails on a chalkboard.  Disney may want to consider pre-recording with a voice actor and pipe in the feed in the future. When we arrived to pick up our shirts the volunteers were already going nuts with the expo announcers voice and “announcing”. That was the only real downer about the expo, that I saw.

We headed over to the merchandise area so I could buy my traditional pin and I found one of my cast member friends, Robyn!  I love that gal and real bummed I accidentally deleted our picture from my phone.  Ugh!

After all said and done, we headed to the hotel to unpack and get ready for the big weekend.  Brother was running the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (10k and Half) and I was running the Half.  I plan to keep my Avenger Legacy going as long as I am able.

Friday –

Just like Dumbo, I set out for my AM shake out run while the 5k was happening.  It’s always so much fun to see all the runners walking around Downtown Disney with their medals.  I try my best to congratulate as many as possible.  I remember when a 5k seemed like an impossible dream to me.

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After a quick shower, I headed back to the Expo for my runDisney Volunteer shift. I have never volunteered with rD before, so I was excited.  Historically, I go to the park on Friday but this year, I opted out so I could volunteer.

I volunteered at the 10k booth and met so many first-time runners!  It was so much fun and I hope to do it again.  Maybe work the actual race sometime.

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RunDisney feeds their volunteers very well! A catered meal form the Disneyland Hotel.

 

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At the expo with my first rD volunteer shirt!

 

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My volunteers buddies!

Saturday –

Up at 3am so we could be walking towards DL for my brother’s 10k.  I decided I wanted to do another shake out while they were running.  My foot and toe was not feeling so good, and I needed to see how it was feeling.  Once my brother and friends started towards the corrals, I started my run. First, through DTD and then onto the DL/DCA courtyard.  That was so surreal!  No one around but the Cast Members.  Lights were on and Superhero music was playing.  I could of run in circles all day like that.  I took a quick photo at the DL gates.  I started to feel regrets about not going into the park this weekend when I saw the gates.  #HeavySigh.  Headed back through DTD to the Finish Line and wait for Kirk and a few friends.

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At the DL gates pre sunrise. I loved this run!

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“Goofy Joe”

After the Male OV runner broke the tape, my dear friend, Joe Spatafore came through in his hand cycle.  Let me tell you about this man.  He is injured and instead of sitting on the sidelines and pouting he found a way to compete.  He is using a hand cycle.  I have never seen this man happier than when he is on the course.  I love him and his family dearly, they are family to us! (see picture below).

Not too much longer after that, bro came through.  He was 11th OV, won his AG and the Military.  Mission accomplished!  He has earned an award at every Disney race he has run in. 

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#RunningBro flying into the finish (of course)

Sunday –

Half Marathon Day!  After hearing from the runners how much they enjoyed the 10k and the improvements (vs last year and Dumbo) I was eager to see what the Half Marathon would bring.  First, I knew the course was different.  I had zero issues with the previous courses, but I know many hated the part by the River near the Anaheim Stadium. This year’s course was avoiding that area entirely.

Brother and I were dressed as Quick Silver and Scarlet Witch.  They are siblings in the Marvel comic books and movies.  I spent a long time searching out exact replicas of some of her accessories like the jewelry and arm bracers.  I was excited, but also feeling “oh geez” I felt completely out of shape and wondered what would happen.  My foot was not feeling so hot and overall, I knew I was not in the racing form I needed to be.

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Race began and we quickly ran into the park.  During that hour it is PITCH BLACK. Disney really needed more lightening, a few of us almost tripped and fell.

First, we were in the DCA area and the regret of not going into the park was sinking in.  Then, we ran into DL.  I looked up to see Walt’s apartment and then it hit me as we turned the corner on Main Street.  The castle.  Yep, I had officially regretted not going to the park.  I loved volunteering but no park time did throw me out of my zone.  I couldn’t stay focused while running in the park, not at all. The worst?  Seeing It’s a Small World with the Christmas lights.  I could of easily just stopped the race at that moment and sat there for hours.

Made our way outside of the park and I did my best to regroup, but never quite got there.  Foot was aching, but not hindering me.  As we climbed the freeway overpass to get into the Stadium area, I felt the toe “pop”.  That did not feel good at all.  I didn’t tell my brother as I know he would of made me stop.  Until I was limping, I felt there was no reason to stop.  This was around Mile 7.  I wanted to finish and get as many pictures as I could with my brother on the course.

Coming out of the Stadium, we were met with a long line of performers in Marvel outfits.  I saw the comic book version of Scarlet Witch, but not the movie version (what I was wearing).  I did get a few shout outs, too. That was fun. 

The last few miles is identical to the Disneyland Half Marathon and I was ready to get back into the park (Mile 12) and be done.  My foot was hurting and I couldn’t get the vision of the park out of my head.

We finished in 2:08:02.  (Last year, I finished in 1:53 and an AG award)  Funny, the course was the same distance and my race time was much longer but this year’s course went by much quicker.  If I had to choose, I would say this year’s course was the best of the 3.  I hope they keep this one!

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We immediately headed to the medic area so we could ice.  My brother is having ongoing achilles issues and of course my foot needed ice.  It was there, when I told him about my foot.  Yeah, he wasn’t happy I hid that from him, but oh well.  I think having compression socks on was a godsend to me.  Kept my foot stabilized until I could get off it.

After icing and a few quick photos we needed to get on the road so my brother could run the RnRLV Half marathon that night.

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Overall, this event was the best of the 3 years (and I enjoyed them all) and MUCH better managed than Dumbo.  What a relief!  I knew RunDisney could pull it off for us.

GRADES:

Medal:  B – I love Disney medals but they do need to change them every year.  Unfortunately, they took away our spinner medal from the previous years.

Shirt:   A – Always love their shirts.  They are the only shirts I keep.  Long sleeve, to!

Course: A – Loved this course layout. Please keep it!  I heard many other runners rave about it too. It’s a winner, folks!

Mile Markers:  C – way off.  Some were off as much as 1/10th of a mile.  Not good.

RunDisney Cast Members:  A – Kind, smiling and always helpful.

Characters on the course:  A – (At Dumbo, they put the Characters behind fences, railing and completely out of reach.  huh?)  At Avengers, they had the Characters with great backdrops.  BTW, bring Black Widow a bit closer to the course not stuck back in a nook.  She was easily missed at DCA.

Post race food:  A – bravo!  (Dumbo post race food boxes were AWFUL.  Greasy cheese, recycled boxes from Princess and Tinkerbell.)  Avengers – much better (see photo)

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Post race photos:  A – (Another Dumbo fail.) We had generic RunDisney backdrops, nothing race specific.  Avengers – love the backdrops! Bonus – they created a special photo area with the Disney photographers were you could bring your family for photos.  What a fantastic idea!

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Announcers:  B – (That was a BIG Dumbo fail.  It was like watching a WWE (wrestling) match on that stage.)  Avengers, they had the ladies (Carissa and Andrea) on the stage and Quami “on the Street”.  Quami was on point and found his place vs being on the stage.  Carissa and Andrea on the main stage are okay. Andrea stepped up her game and seemed more confident.  Carissa did fine on the 5k and 10k (as I am told) but once she got to the Finish Line for both races and during the Half Marathon pre-race she was her typical screaming in the mic person.  She really needs to take a chill pill and let the mic do the work.  I still think a male/female combo is best for this venue, not a fan of the two female announcing team (even though Andrea is one of my good friends).  Surely, RunDisney can find a male to compliment a female (and yes, my vote is on Andrea because she did a great job, not because she is my friend).  Keep Quami on the street, it was a lot of fun to watch him! BTW, grateful beyond words that RunDisney did not have the announcers dance on the small stage.  That was a total embarrassment at Dumbo.  Let them announce, don’t make them dance.  Please.

Race Vibe: A – I give it an A because I saw so many happy and smiling faces during the weekend. (Unlike Dumbo where everyone was walking around disappointed and unmotivated).

OVERALL grade: B+/A-:  Fix the announcing team line-up, the mile markers and repetitive medal design, they will have an A race.  I hope that rD realizes the importance of the Start & Finish Line announcers.  It’s not just a bunch of people on mic’s, they set the tone for our event.

Despite my lackluster race performance and I didn’t go into the park, I love this race weekend.  Why? It’s a different demographic.  Not about Princesses or sparkles.  It’s about Superhero’s.  It was a lot of fun to watch all the CosPlay and see runners become their favorite Superhero.  I will be keeping my Half Marathon Legacy going for sure.

Dear RunDisney:  if you happen to read this.  Request for Dumbo weekend: Be sure to recognize the 5 year Legacy runners of the Dumbo Challenge.  Even a special bib would be great, but please do something.

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  • My thanks to RunDisney for upping their game and making the necessary improvements since the Dumbo weekend.  It was wonderful to walk away from a Disney race with good feelings vs “what just happened?”. See you at Tinkerbell!

 

  • My utmost thanks to my husband, kids and dogs who continually see me out the door and welcome me home with hugs, smiles and licks (the dogs, not the husband and kids).

 

  • My brother who convinced me to wear Scarlet Witch and run along side of me despite your weird jokes.  I am now emotionally attached to this character.

 

  • To Joe and MJ – seeing you was a highlight and I am so glad we can share our Disney experiences

 

  • To Emil – Dude!  You wore a cotton shirt.  J/k – I always love seeing you at races.

 

  • To Andrea – thank you for your enthusiasm and lunch!  It was great to see you again!

My Race Day Essentials

Fueling:  Glukos Energy Tablets – Fruit Punch

Extra Kick:  RunGum – Cinnamon

Support:  KT Tape – Pro Extreme

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum

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Is Your Race Day Bag a Black Hole? | Simple Solution

Since we are on the topic of traveling to a race day event, we cannot forget the importance of packing.  How many times have you forgotten your fueling, race clothes or even shoes? (me, raising hand).

I love organizational tips of any kind.  Work, home, racing, etc.  Some call them tips, some call them “hacks”.

After the Disneyland Dumbo Double weekend and having a big toiletry bag full of make-up, toiletries and more.  Every morning, I was digging through this blackhole of a bag looking for what I needed.  I had enough of that!  Countless traveling run-cations, I had to find an answer.

On my hotel nightstand was my roll-up for my charger cords.  It was very similar to a jewelry roll.  I thought, that’s what I need, but much better and more elastic bands.  My first thought was to ask a friend to create one for me, but I went to Amazon and found a nice sized one.  Elastic straps on one side and pockets on the other.  Only $19.99 (shipping is free with Prime).

The organizer arrived and I immediately fell in love!  I was able to find places for all my makeup and daily toiletries.  I labeled each spot so when I travel I won’t forget to bring my mascara or what not. Well, I thought it was for traveling, I was so wrong.  I am using it daily!  It keeps everything organized, I zip it up and put it away under my sink. Very tidy!

Fast forward to today…I am looking through my gear bag and I have a mess of little compartments, other little bags and who knows what else.  Another light bulb moment!  I ordered the same cord organizer bag I did for my makeup and toiletries (but a tad smaller to fit into my race day backpack and any other clear bag the race company requires us to use).

This was the before:

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This is the after:

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Poof!  All I need pre and post race is in one place and no wondering, “where is my BioFreeze?

 

Another organizational problem solved.  In addition, let’s say you are too tired or injured to dig into your bag and someone needs to get someone you need.  It’s easy – it’s all in one place, right?

How do you organize your gear or race day bag?  I would love to see your ideas.

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