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.


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!



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.



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.



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.





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.




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).



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




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




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. 


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.


2016 LVTC Championship Series Awards



The moment I received my silver bowl, finally. Yeah, that’s a pretty cheesy smile!



I waited six years to do this!



Both 2nd place finishers. I am grateful to share this past year with my brother.



Our Celebration Lunch. Well, we had more – but this was the fun part.



“Is this really happening?”


No words an ever convey the gratitude I have for Coach Phil



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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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:



This is the after:

gear2 gear3


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 and KT Tape
*Ambassador for RunGum
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RACE RECAP: Disneyland Avengers Half Marathon | And A Special Run For my Brother


It’s no secret I love Disneyland.  I have ran the Disneyland Half every year, since 2012.  When RunDisney offered a race in November 2014 (my birthday month), I jumped at the chance to become a Disney legacy.   After my successful Avengers Half in 2014, I had to return to in 2015.

As usual, my brother and I set out on Thursday.  We had one important stop before we hit the road.  His final post-op appointment and to find out if he can start running, again.  After a quick visit with his Doctor, he was cleared to run and we were on the road!

We arrived in Anaheim shortly after dinner and settled into the hotel.  We bring our own food, so it was easy to grab a bite to eat after a long drive.   I was excited, as I knew the next day I was going to be in Disneyland, spending the day in the park.  I have not done a solo park day in decades, so this was a special time.

I decided to dress in Chip & Dale “nutty” theme. Complete with an acorn Mickey Ears, that I crafted myself.

ChipNDaleNut outfit

I arrived at the park just before rope drop and the moment I turned onto Main Street, there was Dale!  (Not sure where Chip was).  So, I had my first ever Disney character selfie!  Of course, Dale loved my outfit and we hugged.  What a great way to start my park day! 


I was in the park until dinner time and decided to go back to the hotel to spend time with my brother.  Arriving at the hotel, I learned of the horrible Paris attacks, my mind went back to 9/11.  A place I never want to go, again.

The next morning, my brother and I walked a few miles to a local park for….his first run, post surgery!!!  I grin from ear to ear, just typing that.  He has been suffering since February and with his surgery in August, it’s been a LONG time since I have seen him in runner stride.

I had to take a selfie of him, while he was warming up.

Stretching out


Kirk Running

His goal was to run/walk a 1:1, on grass.  Eventually, running on pavement.  I had my phone ready to catch the moments!  A few times I ran along side of him to check up on him but most of the time, I watched.  I felt like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders to see him in his runner stride, again.  After his run, we walked back to ice up and rest my legs for the next days half marathon.

Sunday – RunDisney asked all athletes to arrive at the race start by 4am. Which meant, I had to get up at 2:30am to allow myself enough time to eat and walk up to the start area.

The alarm sounded and I was up and rocking.  I prefer to eat my meal about 3 hours before the gun, so eating breakfast as soon as possible was my focus.  Dressed and ready to go for my #epicday.  (After Avengers, we were driving back to run #StripatNight in Vegas).

Avengers outfit

Getting through the security check points was easy and you could sense an uneasiness in the crowds, since the Paris attacks.  Very present were bomb-sniffing dogs and more security than before.  I welcome it all.

Heading into the corrals was a breeze and I started in Corral A.  I made my way to the front of the corral and I decided to retie my shoes, they felt lose.  My right lashes got tangled up and there was with one shoe!  I had to ask another runner to help me untie my shoes.  Thank you kind stranger!

Soon, we were off and running!  With my continual dizzy spell episodes, I had hoped I could run at least 8 miles before I needed to start walking.  I had made up my mind, that I would run hard until until I had to walk.  Give it all I had until I had to slow down.  Fueled up with my Honey Stingers and ready with my RunGum for the later miles. Let’s do this!

I settled into a solid pace, I should of taken it slower actually – but I was not over doing it.  Always in the back of my mind, wondering when the next dizzy episode would appear.  Once we were out of the parks, I could see the difference in the course vs 2014.  We did not run near the Crystal Cathedral, at all.  Of course, most noticeable – no winds and the temps were absolutely perfect.

We ran along the long stretch of the river, as last year and we had more inclines, also.  Overall, I was liking the course, much better than last year.  I took my Honey Stinger gel at Mile 6 which was way earlier than I usually do, but I felt I needed the kick and couldn’t wait.  As we made our way out of the Stadium and went up the sharp incline, that is when I had to walk a bit.  I felt the head spin for a few seconds and I wasn’t going to push it.  Looking at my Garmin I was on track for a solid finish time.  I walked for what seemed like a minute or two.  At the top of the incline, I started chewing on my RunGum and back to running.  At mile 11, I made the horrible mistake of drinking some Powerade (while chewing my RunGum) and my stomach let me know at Mile 12.  I remember thinking, “I hope they had barf buckets at the finish, as I was sure I was going to hurl all over the place, very soon.”  I should of not drank that Powerade.

I finished in a solid time of 1:53:32, which was faster than my last year’s time and earned me a 4th place AG.  Last year I earned 3rd, so I am thrilled I was able to get in the Top 5 and receive another award (RunDisney honors the top 5 in Half Marathoners).

With Medal

As soon as I finished, I had to be helped by the medical to walk around.  The world was spinning, by the time I reached the medals, I was doing better.  Met up with my brother, ate a banana, stretched out, took a picture and we were in the car by 8:15am to head back to Vegas.

Part 2 of the #epicweekend:  Driving back to Vegas and #StripAtNight with my Brother –

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by, KT Tape and HoneyStinger
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