Sunday, November 6, 2011

RACE REPORT: Snow Canyon Half Marathon | Another PR in the Books!

Snow Canyon Half Marathon. This was one of those races that have been on my wish list since last year. I would have run it last year, pre RnRLV as many of my church friends were running it too. I chose not to run it last year, because I had NO IDEA how my body would react after a race or even during, so I didn’t want to run the risk of hurting myself and not be able to run my focus race of RnRLV 2010.

Snow Canyon Half Marathon course is in the hills/canyons of St George, UT (about 2 hours north of Las Vegas). My family (including the dogs, of course) hit the road on Friday afternoon. We just beat the rain.

One of the reasons I wanted to take my family is so they could go to Cracker Barrel. It was a family favorite while living in Tennessee/Kentucky. We have two Cracker Barrel’s – both 2 hours away from our house. This is one of them.

After we checked into our hotel and got the dog settled. I headed to the Packet Pickup/Expo and the guys headed off to Cracker Barrel. I soon discovered the Expo was right across the street from Cracker Barrel.

At packet pickup we were given a really nice long sleeved technical t-shirt. Our chip was the same as Calico Racing. I was a little nervous about that chip – no race bib numbers, so I couldn’t help but wonder if anything got messed up and do I have the right chip?

The Expo was smaller – mostly booths with chiropractors or other race event. I walked across the street to join my family for dinner.

Carefully looking at the menu, I chose a higher carb grilled chicken salad. It had about 20 grams of carbs. Which is what I typically eat for dinner the night before (I carb load for 2-3 days, not just one meal).  The family enjoyed their meals.

From there we strolled around St George, UT for a bit and then back to Cracker Barrel into the gift store. We purchased some Christmas ornaments.

Back at the hotel – I nibbled on some pasta (we brought our own) and got ready for the next AM. Around 7am, my stomach started to hurt and my back was acting “twingy”. I just pushed it aside; it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Went to bed around 9pm with a wakeup call set for 5am.

At 3am I abruptly woke up with horrible stomach cramps, pains and everything else in between. And my back was killing me from a too hard of mattress.

Back and forth to the bathroom until about 5:30am. I used ”The Stick” on my back to help loosen my back muscles. I was pumping down the sports drink to ensure I had enough fluids in me. I finally got dressed and decided to run around the parking lot to see how I felt. Here is my outfit (plus at jacket, not pictured)

After shivering the ENTIRE run around the hotel – stomach was feeling worse, but just cramps, not going back and forth to the bathroom. I applied some additional tiger balm on my back to keep my muscles warm.

I told you I hate cold (thus the reason we moved to Vegas)

We headed to St. George High School around 6:30am. Hubby and kids dropped me off and I immediately ran into my dear friend, Brianna Johnson. This was her first Half Marathon. She attended one of my running clinics awhile back and I have been in contact with her during her prep for her big day. Understandably so, she was nervous.

We loaded the buses and soon we were on the road. Still dark outside!

By the time we got to the Start Line – daylight was coming and there was SNOW ON THE GROUND. I thought I was going to die!

I pulled out my trash bag and put it on over my body to keep warm until gun time. Worked great! Since I was wearing compression socks, the bag covered all parts of my body.

Before Gun Time – Brianna offered up a prayer and thanking our Heavenly Father for this amazing opportunity to run in His Glory.

GUN TIME! With 1400+ other runners

Brianna and I started together and I quickly got into my pace, so I pulled ahead. At this time, my stomach was not bothering me at all. YAY!

Here is a picture (courtesy of Brianna) of the beginning of the course, isn’t it amazing?

The miler markers came up on me very fast. That was an odd feeling, I was thinking to myself “already?!!!”

Came into the first aid station at Mile 4 and it was such a delight to see Brianna’s husband and kids standing there. I was quite surprised too – I didn’t know the road were open?

Then the declines started. I went into downhill mode and just kept talking to myself to relax my quads, calves and keeping the hip swing light and consistent. Arms dropped a little to save energy. All felt fine….just kept moving down and down. BTW, if you run Red Rock – these declines are not nearly as bad as Red Rock.

Around 6 ½ the stomach JUMPED and the cramps came back with a vengeance. At this time, we were on a paved trail and then I heard “hey there!” I look to my left and it was my former neighbor, Neelie Easton! (see previous blog). FINALLY, we found each other!

I informed her to go ahead and run ahead of me I would see her at the finish line, my stomach is doing a number and I may need to slow down. We ran for about a mile together and it was great. All the while, I am glancing down at my Garmin and the time isn’t really registering with me. Not until Mile 12 did I realize what pace I was running. I was concentrating so hard on keeping upright and not have to stop – I was in a brain fog.

A few times I thought for sure I was going to make a pit stop – but I didn’t.

The sun came out and I discarded my gloves and wrapped my jacket around my waist. I thought about discarding it, but I am glad I didn’t! Around Mile 10 it got BITTERLY cold and windy again – that jacket got me through that mile, for sure.

I used the pretty much same strategy I used at Hoover Dam. Gel pre-race then Gel at Mile 5 & Mile 10. Swedish Fish at Mile 12. Stopping at each Aid Station to drink or wish water in my mouth. Those few steps to stop and drink water are essential and only added 5-10 seconds on my time. Time I can easily make up on the run.

I came up on Mile 12 (which I thought was Mile 11) and made another small decline and we were on the home stretch. I finally got a REALLY good look at my Garmin and realized I was at a monstrous pace and feeling pretty lousy at that time, I slowed it down to about 8:50 pace. I had nothing to prove at this point, I was going to sub 2, no problems. I even thought “I can walk and still make it!” but I didn’t walk.

Running into the High School Track – the crowds were large, I wondered how many had finished ahead of me. Afterall, it’s large and fast race crowd.

As I made that final turn on the track (flash backs to my school days) I see the GUN time clock at 1:45 ish. I smiled, as that was all the energy I had. When I crossed – all I wanted was a garbage can, I was ready to puke. But, I caught my breath and picked up my medal.

I couldn’t find my husband and he eventually found me. He left the boys and dogs in the car – it was just waaaaay too cold for the dogs.

He snapped a few pictures and we walked over to the results to see my official time:

At the Finish Line with Ladybug's Ball
7:57 pace
13th out of 69 (Age Group)
113th out of 1404 Runners Overall

I was so cold and stomach & back was hurting, I barely had the strength to smile and celebrate a new PR. All I could think about is getting in that car and getting something warm in my body = soup.

Husband said, “so how does it feel to be a 1:44 Half Marathoner?” I said, “cold

Still in a brain fog and hungry – we went back to Cracker Barrel and I ate Potato Soup in the car (I didn’t want to leave the dogs in the car by themselves).

Then, the texts and phone calls started coming in. That’s when it hit me. I just ran a 1:44 Half Marathon. Last week, I ran a sub2, for the first time. I have shaved off 25 minutes from my RnRLV 2010 time.

While this PR will be very hard to break – I know how it feels and I know how my body reacts to it. Most importantly, I know my body can run that speed at that distance. Good test for me, for sure.

Not sure what caused my stomach issues as I sit here and type this – I am still cramping up. Must be a bug.

Will I run Snow Canyon Half again? Oh yes! It’s a must do course! I would have enjoyed it more, if I wasn’t feeling so lousy. I look forward to taking a bus load of runner friends with me, next year.

How do my legs feel? A little tight and sore, but nothing major. I will be going to the chiropractor this week for my back and to readjust my hips, too.  I am happy to report, I am not injured - just stiff and sore.  I will be babying my stomach for a few days.

How did my friends do?

Brianna finished her first half marathon in 2:15
Neelie finished in 1:33
I am so proud of the both of them!

This is the last Half Marathon while I am 49 yrs old. My next half will be RnRLV and I will be 50!  In between now and then, I have several 5K’s, a 11K and a 10K. Speedwork time!

Watch out RnRLV - here I come!

(c) C. Ragsdale 2011
Celebrate Your Finish,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Certified Sports Nutritionist, Running Coach & Public Speaker
~My Facebook Fan Page ~Follow Me on Twitter


  1. Wow! Way to go and push through your stomach issues. Lesser souls would have packed it in and called it a bad day but you owned this race.

  2. Consensus in our house "char is a beast"

  3. Dan - You're kind. I have seen many push through worse situations. It's the second race (ironically, RnRLV 2010) had stomach issues beginning at Mile 5. Somehow the body just kept running, trust me - the mind wanted to stop many times. I think I was just in automatic and numb from the cold, too.


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