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
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RACE REPORT: LVTC Holiday Half | Memorial Race for My Friend Sheri

Hello FAB-O friends, I am so sorry about my absence during most of the month of December!

This blog post will explain a great deal to you.

Life throws us curve balls in personal, business and more.  This month, I have been hit with some whammies.  Some of the curve balls are deeply private and one was not.  I share my public grief with you, today.

On December 11th at approximately 5pm, I received a horrific phone call from my husband, “Sheri is dead”.

Sheri was and still is one of my dearest friends. She was the wife of my husband’s best friend, Brian, she is “Aunt Sheri” to my kids.  We have known them for almost as long as we have lived in Las Vegas.

Sheri was younger than me and so, my first thought was to want to know what happened, she was not ill.  I rushed to pick up my husband from work, so he could go to Brian’s house.  We later found out details, that she had a cardiac arrest and died in her home.

Minutes, hours and days became a blur.  How do you prepare to live without someone who has been a staple in your life?  How would I fulfill my promise to her (I made years ago) to take care of her son, in the event of her death.   I still have zero answers.

I had registered for the LVTC Holiday Half on 12/20, before Sheri passed away.  I wanted it to be my last half marathon of the year and it was local.  Within a day of her passing, I knew I had to dedicate my race to her.  Racing became my final gift when Ladybug passed, I could do it again.  I had to do it, again.  I opened the invitation to her husband, son, mother, adult daughter to come and spectate.  No pressure, but I wanted them to be there, if they could.

At Sheri’s memorial, Brian asked me to wear one of Sheri’s favorite cross necklaces.  Of course, I would.  I spent the next few days designing a shirt for Sheri.  Yes, it was a Holiday Half, but this was my time to give her and her family, one last gift.  The shirt was designed and printed at a local t shirt place in our mall.

Sheri loved crosses and skulls, so I had them printed on the back, along with her husband and two children’s names. The skull was too detailed to print on the front, I opted for the ribbon and a cross.  Both sides with her name, year of birth and year of death.  In addition to the shirt, I added a skull charm to my left shoe, it sits next to my ladybug charm. 

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Front

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Back side

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Shoe charms. The skull is for Sheri

 

Husband was able to take the day off from work so he could come to the race.  I was thrilled we all could be together at a race.  He took a picture of me at the start and I was ready to run my heart out of Sheri!  Waiting at the start, I met up with another racer and she described the course as a “real bitch”.  I gulped, if she said that, it was tough.  Little did I know how tough this course was going to be on me.

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Waiting for the start!

The race began and finished at the Equestrian Park in Henderson.  The gun goes off (and it was COLD – so much so, I am wearing capri’s & gloves).  The first 2 miles were a good incline and then rolling hills for the next few miles.  I kept a 7:30 pace all through the rolling hills.  Then….I see the first HILL.  I run up the hill and it goes on a sharp decline.  I am thinking, “I am going to have to run back up this decline, oh crap!”.

It happened 2 more times, 2 more hills.  In fact, these hills were so steep, one of the front runners (top 3) was WALKING on the way back.  We reached the turn around at the half way and I have a mountain staring in my face.  2 more hills, again.  By the time I reached Mile 9, my back was throbbing and cramping up.  I had to stop.  Not walk, but STOP.  I grabbed my left side and the thought occurred to me, “well, this is weird.  Sheri always had back pain”.

So, I pushed, I really tried.  I had to walk a portion of the last hill, I had nothing left to go up.  At the crest, I was sweating. It’s 40F degrees and I am sweating. I am looking at my Garmin and I am barely, barely on target for a sub2.  I wanted to give that family a good race, but this course was beating me up, badly.  That was when I dug deep – said, “okay, Ladybug – come on, it’s show time!”

I made it through the rolling hills and still on a sub2. I knew if I could get to Mile 11 the rest was downhill.  Mile 11, the legs relaxed and took off.  My last 2 miles splits were in the low 7:00’s.  I was still holding onto my sub2, but knowing the course could be long and measured incorrectly (not uncommon), I had to step on it to be that “1” by my name.

I chatted with Sheri along the way.  She had never seen me race, so I could imagine her saying to me “THIS is what you have been doing for the last 4 years – are you nuts?!?!?” 

I came through at 1:58:55 with my arms and eyes pointing to the heavens.  When I finished, I was told that typically, this course will add 10-15 minutes of the usual time. Considering my last half was at Avengers and 1:54 – I will gladly take the 1:58 on this monster and beast of a course.

A tribute to Sheri

I was greeted by my family and then, I saw Brian.  I walked over to him and said, “I think this belongs to you”.  I gave him my finisher medal as a surprise.  This race was fro Sheri and the family, it wasn’t my medal, it was his.  In my 4 years, I have never given up a medal and I cannot think of a better person to give one to.  I love Brian, he is our friend and our brother (although, not my legal brother).

After a few stretching moves, water, bananas and more.  Awards were handed out and I earned 1st in my AG.  I was glad that Brian’s family could be there, and yea, I kept my AG medal.

That was our morning to smile.  We smiled and laughed for Sheri.  Below is a picture of Brian with his and Sheri’s son, Jordan (our Godson) and Sheri’s adult daughter, Angela (who is also a runner).

 

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I think my Finisher Medal looks great on Brian!

Picture of me with Ladybug’s ball (post race) – why don’t I look as exhausted as I feel?

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Once again, running proved to be my therapy.  In the days after her death, I pounded the pavement.  In the days, post her memorial, it became my moments to be with her.  At this race, it was a chance to give her the only gift I could give her, at this time.

Thank you Brian, Jordan, Angela, Pat (Sheri’s mom) for allowing me to give this race to Sheri.  I love you all!

I love you Sheri, I miss you so much.  RIP, my friend.

 

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Sheri 1963-2014