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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my post race photo with their sweet signs.

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

 

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

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

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

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
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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
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