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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New Blog Series: Runner Safety |Why I Won’t Post My Running Courses

Hi FAB Friends!  It’s been awhile – actually a LONG while since I have blogged.  Thanks for your patience during my hiatus.

 

I am returning to blogging to highlight a topic that is very important to me.  Runner Safety.  We heard of so many stories of accidents, injuries and unfortunately murders.  As a runner, I have seen in my share of scary moments and I hope that what I can offer you will give you pointers on keeping you safe.

My biggest safety tip?  While may not be popular, I believe will be a necessary step for both men and women.

Stop posting your runs on social media or any mile tracking website or app like MapMyRun. Strava, DailyMile or more.  By posting where you run is giving anyone the information of where you started and where you finished.  If you are on the road, you will usually start your watch near your home, right?  Guess what?  You have told social media where you live.  Go the same 5 mile route every Wednesday?  Guess what?  You just told a would-be weirdo where you will be each Wednesday.  Looking at the generic image below, can you see how anyone can see a pattern of where you might live and where you run? 

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You can still log your miles without giving the details of your location.  If you want to post your pace, you can manually do that.

In 2012, I removed all the courses from my logging website because I had been met up by “surprise” by a few runners who were following me.  I had never met them and never knew who they were.  Did they cause me any physical harm?  No, but they certainly freaked me out by total strangers standing on the street corner waiting for me.

Secondly, I am told that a murder took place because the murderer followed his victim on a logging website and knew her pattern.

This is not a negotiable option for me, I have turned down sponsorships & ambassadorships because they require the team posts their works-outs.  I won’t tell anyone where I am running (except my immediate family of course) and I certainly don’t put it on social media.  You have given the world that option if you do post on social media and on the logging websites like MapMyRun, Strava and DailyMile.

Note:  I think the websites are a wonderful tool!  My opinion is not a reflection of their service, but of those who take advantage of that information and could potentially cause harm to someone else. 

Be safe, FAB Friends!

Next safety blog post:  Guest post from Ladah Law Firm, PLLC  of Las Vegas.

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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RACE RECAP: Big Game – Downtown Las Vegas

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It has been a few weeks since Bro and I had participated in a race, so we were both anxious and excited to get back on the course.

Unfortunately, the week leading up to the Big Game race, I was experiencing some achilles tendon issues and by Thursday, I realized that I would not be able to race the event.  I was hopeful I could run a strong race.  Most importantly, I was excited that Bro was going to drop the hammer on the 10k. While his fitness and speed is not up to where he was pre-surgery, he certainly was doing very well.

I woke up with a headache and horrible stomach distress.  I seriously thought about DNSing the race, but I knew I could manage a 5k, somehow.  Had it been a half marathon, I knew I could not do it.  I spent a great deal of time in the bathroom in the night so I was tired and probably somewhat dehydrated.

The starting line was in Downtown Las Vegas.  After all these years of racing, I was finally able to race in DTLV.  I had participated in the Santa Run, but nothing else. 

At the race expo we were given the option of a black and white shirt, to choose a “Superbowl team”.  That just seemed odd.  Why black and white?  That concept didn’t seem to go over too well on race day.

The morning of the race, was a beautiful sunny morning.  (Originally, I planned to wear my capri’s but opted to wear my shorts after all.)

I fueled up with Glukos Energy tables and RunGum

At 8am was the 5k start and 8:30am was the 10k start.  This way, I could see my brother finish his 10k.  YAY!

5K Started and we immediately took a left on Las Vegas Blvd (not the Strip, but in the DT area).  Making our way through 1-2 hair pin turns, we turned left onto 10th and the Finish line was in sight.  I tried so hard to pick up my pace, but my ankle had other plans.  Every time I tried to speed it up, the ankle protested and I had to pull back.  While my finish was strong, I was very disappointed in my time of 26:##.  (A few weeks ago I ran a 23:59 in AZ)

The Finish Line was uneventful, to put it bluntly.   They only provided water and electrolyte drinks.  No banana’s, no food.  Major oversight and many runners were unhappy.  We are not asking for a full meal, but fruit would of been nice.

The positive is the Finish Line had cheerleaders and live bands. I love their energy! The downside, they kept crowding the course and runners had to weave around them to get to the Finisher chute.

I waited for my brother and was able to see him with a strong 42:## finish.  The best part was seeing him smile when he turned the corner and saw me standing there.  Seeing his finish was the highlight of my morning!  He will get back to his 35 or 36:## in no time!  By the time the 10k finisher cams in, the finish line was almost empty.

We made our way to the Gold Spike for the Awards Ceremony.  While it is a nice idea, it is not runner friendly. I have seen way too many races have their awards ceremony at a different location (other than the finish line) and it doesn’t work.  It didn’t work this time, as a very small percentage of the runners showed up.

At the Gold Spike we were warmly greeted by a gentleman, who we believe was the owner of the race and Martha Watson (4 time Olympian in the Long Jump).  There was a wonderful photo backdrop for the awards celebration.  Certainly, they made great effort to make this special for the runners, no doubt.

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Another big snafu was the awards. They had to wait for the awards from the RD, Tim Kelley.  They arrive 30 minutes late and they were in boxes.  Have you tried to sort through hundreds of AG and Overall medals?  It was a nightmare!!!  Bro and I jumped in to try to help and it was beyond frustrating.  Bro said the same mess happened last year.  My question would be, why aren’t these medals unpacked and sorted hours before the awards ceremony?  This was a very frustrating element for the racers.  75% of the medals were not picked up and thus, proves that runners will not walk to another location for their awards.  I hope they reconsider this idea for future years, my brother said they had the same mess in 2015.  That’s 2 years in a row with the same problem.  Easily fixed.

Brother earned 2nd in his AG and I earned 1st.  After the Awards Ceremony we headed home to watch the game and rest.  I fought off a headache for the rest of the night and went to bed shortly after the game was over. 

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The aspects I liked about this race event:

  • The course.  Fast and easy to run.
  • Course markings.  There was no way a runner could make a wrong turn.
  • Aid stations.  Even for a 5k, there was plenty of aid.
  • The Award presenter at the Gold Spike was wonderful and very inviting to the runners.
  • Results were posted immediately.  That deserves a double thumbs up!

Aspects of the race I did not like:

  • Emcee and Announcer at the Start Line, but nothing at the Finish.  Yes, the marching band was nice, but nothing beats an emcee at the Finish Line.  If you have one at the Start, please have one at the Finish. All major races, follow this pattern.
  • What was the purpose of the long tables, with black table clothes and chairs at the finish?  It was rather confusing to know what they were for.
  • Expo was outside on Friday.  I think you can have one day expo, inside. This is Vegas and the evenings get chilly.
  • The Black and White shirt concept.  In addition, the shirts should not be unisex.  Please offer unisex and women’s fit.
  • No food at the Finish Line. That’s just a no-no for a race, like this.  If someone told you otherwise, you were advised incorrectly.  It is expected by all racers.  Even bananas would of been great.
  • We expected more racers & runners.  You had well over 600 participants in 2015 and less than 500 the second year.  With as much TV coverage you had, I thought there would be more runners. A drop in your second year is not good.  Please examine the details to improve the race experience for the next year.
  • As I said previously, the organization of the Awards Ceremony (or lack thereof) was not pleasant.  It can easily be overcome by sorting the medals hours before the race starts.  Martha (the 4 time Olympian) was there all morning, she said she would of sorted through the medals, while we were racing.  I have sorted through enough medals to know this has to be done way before the race, not unpack that morning.  The medals arrive from the manufacturer in a mess, please do not expect this to be an easy sort.

While this was not a bad race, it was mediocre at best.  It can be a great race, Las Vegas has hosted several local events in the DTLV area to huge crowds.  We may or may not run this race next year, we will be waiting to see if there is another race scheduled on the same weekend.

Thank you to those who volunteered and those who the owners of the race.  It’s evident you want this to be a great race, and we believe it can be.  However, the many organizational missteps and lack of attention to details will be the tipping point for many runners if they return or not.  Wishing you nothing but success in your future events! 

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