Race Report: RnRAZ Marathon | Many Surprises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan

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

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

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

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

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

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A picture of Ryan Hall and I post 5k

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

RnRAZ

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

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

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Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
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RnRAZ Medal Issue | Ordering From China

Hello FAB-O Friends,

I hope your 2015 has started off with a bang and you are set to achieve all your goals.  I am excited for the upcoming year and what new adventures may come my way.

If you follow me on Instagram (ladybug_runner) you have learned that I raced RnRAZ. Any long term follower of my social media pages, will know of my previous history with RnR races and how it reached a boiling point after the 2011 RnRLV disaster.

Since then, I am offered referred to “ohhh, THAT Charlene Ragsdale, the one who hates RnR so much”.  It’s a title that I have not embraced, but respect that is the image I created for myself in the aftermath.

Since that time, I have paced a RnR race in 2012 and have not raced in any of their events since 2011. That was always a struggle for me, since my running career began with them in 2010 and is still one of my favorite experiences.

I have watched their company grown, change and evolve.  New owners, new management and it appeared to be a new change of attitude.  That is all I ever wanted for them and the racing community.

Mid 2014, my brother recommended I run RnRAZ 2015 as a tune up for a BQ attempt.  At first, I was very apprehensive, but I realized that I needed a solid marathon to pull off a BQ in the Spring of 2015.  So, I bit the emotional bullet and registered.

A day or so before we were to depart from AZ, I received a message regarding their finisher medals.  The finisher medals were delayed at the US custom docks in CA and may not make it in time for the race.  Some of my friends, went into a panic and claimed it would be 2011 all over again.

Let me set the record straight about 2011.

  • The lack of medals at RnRLV 2011 was due in part to a large number of volunteers stealing the medals.
  • RnR did not communicate any shortage of medals in 2011. We found out, after the race. They were not proactive and at that time, they certainly did not appear to care.
  • 2015 is not 2011.  By the FB and email communication, RnR was being proactive and I was more than pleased to see their communication.  I for one, could care less about the medal, but I know it is very, very important to the masses.

I also saw lashing out on their FB page.

“You should be ordering American made medals”

Was the common complaint.  For those who do not know, there are ZERO US based medal manufacturers who can make colorful die cast medals.  Every RD (including myself) must order through China.   This is not new, all metal and plastic goods often come from China and has been this way for decades.  In other words – the delay is NOT the fault of RnR in any way.

Yes, there are US factories who make medals, but not DIE CAST, like you see at RnR, Disney and many of the other major races.

This is Racing Economics 101. 

Did RnR order in advance?  Of course, they did.  Do you really think they wanted another disaster on their hands?  The medals were sitting on the docks since beginning of December.  Getting the medals through US customs and out of the hands of the dock workers, was out of their control.  This has been all over the media. This is how union workers get their demands met, they go on strike.  That is also not new, it’s been this way for decades and part of our US economy and work force.

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Luckily, the medals arrived at 6am on Saturday – 2 hours before the 5k start.  I happen to see one of the shipment date on one of the boxes, it said in October 2014.  The boxes left China in October and arrived in the US in December, which is the normal cargo transit time.  I think RnR ordered their medals with plenty of time to arrive in AZ by January, don’t you?

I hope all those who are bashing them for not ordering in the US, will take some time to realize that was not the problem.  The problem was the shipping dock Union dispute, not the lack of planning for RnR.

There will be bashers of RnR and I am not one to defend them, but I will dig my heals in and defend their actions in this situation, 100%.  They were proactive instead of reactive and that is being professional.  I am very proud of them, for handling it the way they did.  I would of done the exact same thing, if it was my race.

I hope this clarifies any confusion and will put to rest the “why didn’t you order in US?” comments.

The medals were beautiful and I especially liked the Remix medals. Within the next few days, I will be posting my race recap of the weekend events.

Until then, congrats to all the RnRAZ racers – it was a pleasure to share the course with you!