Monday, August 6, 2012

RACE REPORT: ET Full Marathon | No Pain, No Gain

Since I am waiting for so many to post their pictures - I am going to do a second race report - with all the pictures.  Right now...I want to clear the air about some speculations of what happened at ET.  

A little over 24 hours ago I was on my way home from Rachel, NV after completing my 2nd Full Marathon.

Ask any experienced Marathon and they will tell you the story of their most "painful" event.  I can't imagine anything being more painful than what I experienced at the ET Full.

"There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder, Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going." -Steve Jobs

The weekend before I had traveled (by car over 1300 miles) + running a 5K + running the San Fran Half + sightseeing.  I had not run since San Fran (by choice) to give my body enough time to rest.

I ran the ET HALF last year - and used the same fueling and sleep strategy for this year.  I got up at 2:30am and I volunteered at a local race.  That was my first mistake. The Heat and energy needed at that race, was obviously too much. Came home and went back to sleep until 4pm. I worked up feeling "eh".  Not overly tired, but not rested either.  Ate a great meal of a pinole waffle and protein powder.

Arrived at Hard Rock Cafe and met up with the Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics.  Took some individual photos (posted on Race Report #2)

Looking back, I realize my legs were already TIRED and I was just not "feeling it". 

I rallied the MM/HF's onto their bus and we were off.  We were met with rain at one point on the highway and I started to consider wearing my jacket.  Luckily, the rain stopped.

About an hour and half in - The lead bus (we were the 2nd bus) - suddendly pulled over and stopped along side of the road. Since I was in charge of my bus and I assumed the first bus was the RD's bus, I asked the bus driver to pull over.  Something didn't seem right and I better go check on it.  Well, no way to stop a bus QUICKLY - I swear he parked at least a half mile down the road. I go flying out of the bus and make a sprint to the lead bus.  I felt something was horribly wrong and at this time I wish I had the speed of a sub20 5K'er.

As I was coming up on the bus I saw something very odd with the windshield, but I thought it was the reflection of my head lamp.  As the driver opened up the door for me, my first sight was blood on her arms.

I then saw the windshield...Completely blown and shattered.  It looked like a BOWLING BALL had hit that windshield.  A complete circular implosion with the windshield shattered.  Glass was everywhere and then other passengers were telling me glass is throughout the bus and people were cut.  The Leader of that bus was stunned (to say the least) and we were trying to figure out how to get all these people off the bus.  I took a quick survey of the bus and a few had very minor cuts but no one required medical aid.  The bus driver was holding her cool while trying to track down the other buses.  I have to give her a lot of props - can you imagine driving a bus and something exploding onto the bus and still hold your cool to get it off the side of the road. 

What hit the windshield is still a mystery. 

Then I realized that the RD was not on that bus - and how in the world would we let her know what was going on?  By the time, I came off the bus and was flagging down the other buses - the RD's bus came by and we went into "get them off the bus" mode.  I am RUNNING up and down from bus to bus to find room for the other passengers.

Through the RD's professionalism - all passengers were put on other buses and all was well!  There was NO way anyone could of prepared for this incident and Joyce Forier (the RD) took control and did an excellent job at ensuring everyone's safety.  At one point, the RD looked at me and said, "GO SIT DOWN - you have a FULL Marathon to run!"  (that's our Joyce, always thinking about others)

Once we got everyone on different buses - we headed to the Start Line.  My legs were aching from running up and down the rocky trail along the highway (running from bus to bus), like I had just run a 10K, but I just said to the person sitting next to me "well, I just got my warm up!" 

My bus took a wrong turn, so instead of being the lead bus, we were not the last bus to arrive at the Start for the Full and Ultra. 

I found my running partner, Mike Sortito and his fiance, my running buddy, Martha Corazzini. 

I wasn't feeling "it" at the Start, but I felt I could get into my groove within the first few miles.  I had 13 miles of a serious incline ahead of me.  This would be the test of the legs.  SPOILER ALERT:  My legs failed this test.

Take a look at this Elevation Chart - yes, it's 13 miles straight up hill....

We set out and at Mile 1 1/2 - Mike starts to vomit.  I stopped and waited for him, despite his insistence I keep going.  Then he started to get sick again at Mile 2+.  Once again he insisted I go.  I kept going, but I didn't like it. I told him to get help at the next aid station.  At every aid station, I would ask any of the Fanatics or Maniacs if they saw him.  No one saw him.  When I saw an Ambulance Drive by - my heart sunk (horrible memories of Vegas Half) - I thought he might be in the Ambulance.  So, I kept going up that dang MOUNTAIN (hill is NOT the correct word). At Mile 10, I was fading very, very quickly, so I decided to walk to the Summit.  I knew a PR was out of the question and all I could think about was Mike.

At every aid station - I was seeing a lot of runners sick and out of breath.  I am thinking, "altitude sickness", I was SO grateful I was not getting sick. 

At Aid Station 13, I asked some more Maniacs if they had seen Mike and FINALLY someone said, "yep - he is right behind me!"

So...there he was - running by me and I ran out and said, 'HEY!  It's me!" 

He said, "what in the world! What are you doing?"

I said, "I waited for you!  I promised you I would get you to the Finish here I am! We are going to do this together!  I don't care about my time, but my #1 rule is to never leave a stranded runner"

At Mile 14 - My legs were feeling BEYOND fatigued, I already felt like I had run 26 miles, but since I knew it was going to be a decline the rest of the way, so I thought I could just jog it to the Finish.


At Mile 15, I started to feel beyond light-headed and even stopped a few times, telling Mike, "the mountain is spinning"  lol

My breathing was fine, no issues, but with every step - the pain in my glutes, hamstring and quads was getting worse.  I was popping my electrolyte capsules and fueling like it was candy.

At Mile 18, I was done.  My legs was shot.  I knew at Mile 20, would be one of my friends, Casey Cherneski.  I thought, if I could get to Mile 20 - she might be able to convince me to quit. (yes, I was seriously considering DNFing - I was in PAIN).

The only place in my body what was not hurting?  My knees and back. Ironically, they were the places on my body that were KT Taped.

As I reached the Mile 20 Aid Station - we were greeted by Casey, Dave Mari and Ernie Rambo.  I was shaking and holding back the tears.  I was suffering from complete exhaustion and I knew it was due to the altitude and with the gusty winds - the altitude changes were worse.  

I don't think at that point, neither Mike nor I were willing to be the first to say "I quit" - so we decided to just walk the rest of the 6.  Up 3 and then back down for another 3.

At Mile 21, we found Martha and she was also sick.  Discovered the reason that both of them were sick - they ate dinner at 6pm on race evening.  Oops. Plus, poor Martha was fighting off a horrible head cold.

As we reached Mile 23, I was getting very cold.  My mind started to fall back to the Vegas Half and I was TOO cold and walking to the Finish.

Got to the last porta potty and when I came out I decided I would NOT be walking into this Finish Line. I couldn't.  I didn't care how much I hurt..I had to at least JOG.

Well, I didn't jog, I shuffled.  That new Nike commerical?  That was me, I was shuffling and I was crying.  I have a dangerously high threshold of pain (per my Doctor) and I have never been so tired in my life.  I walked again started at Mile 24.  And met up with a few others - who insisted on taking my pictures.  At Mile 25, I started the jog again and knew I would not make it before 6 hours.  I crossed the finish line at 6 hours and 15 seconds.  I am an official member of the 6 hours Marathon club!  WOOHOO!

My feet were beyond swollen, luckily I brought a pair of flip flops with me.  I sat in a chair by the bags and just cried.  I wondered why in the world did I think I would run a Full Marathon after all that traveling and racing from the week before.  I thought about running back and forth to the bus...I thought about volunteering that morning...and what could I have done wrong?  Then, I realized...despite those choices, I finished.  Knowing what I knew at the Finish, I would of made the same choices, again.  

I immediately took my OGF capsules to start the recovery process and although I was barely walking, I managed to get the traditional photo at the Little A'Le' Inn

I think this was a Perfect Storm for many racers - I think the altitude was a huge FACTOR for many.  I know many very experienced racers who were getting sick.  Last year, at the Half - I didn't feel the altitude at all, but I was feeling it very early in the race.  Go figure. 

The one big plus: I never experience ANY, ANY stomach discomfort. YAY!!!!  My fueling was spot on - but there was nothing I could of done to offset the altitude changes.  Never have I been affected by altitude in any high altitude race, so I guess this was my time.  

When I finally did meet up with Joyce (RD) - as she is always, she was looking after ALL the racers.  

I hope all of you who have heard about what happened at ET - please take it in perspective and although there were some scary moments, we all took care of each other and Calico Racing did an OUTSTANDING job with it all.  A lesser RD would of not known how to handle it all and I have NO complaints about the organization of this race. None.  

1.  Midnight race
2.  Cooler Temps
3.  Windy conditions/Altitude change
4.  Unfortunate & freaky bus incident

None of this - could anyone train nor plan for.

Will I run ET again?  Of course!  Despite the pain and the agony - I loved running under the stars and running with all my Maniac/Fanatic buddies.

Monday:  I am the typical sore, but thank you my recovery is doing well and I will be back on the pavement either today or tomorrow.

One of my favorite pictures - the sunrise at the Finish Line.

After going home and a 6 hour nap and a much needed shower - met up with running buddies, Louie, Mitch, Steven and Violeta for dinner at Wicked Spoon.  

Onward to another Full (September) and I continue my Marathon Maniac quest.

Congrats to Joyce of Calico Racing for another outstanding event and to ALL the Finishers of ET!  We did it and we will do it again!!!!

My reward - spending time with so many racer friends and the awesome bling!

Race Report #2 - more pictures....

(c) C. Ragsdale 2011-12
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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  1. Wow. Way to selflessly take care of your fellow runners until the RD wisely told you to rest. And way to gut it out to the finish!

    1. Dan - you know I am obsessed with safety, so that always is foremost on my mind. Luckily the bus driver and the leader on that bus had the brain power to keep all those on the bus quiet and calm.

  2. Joyce continues to amaze me. Wow is all I can think of after reading this. Glad you had a bus driver who could deal with things. I wish I could have been there to volunteer. I didn't enjoy the experience with the half last year, but still encourage everyone to experience it, and would do it again if asked to join someone. Glad you are already feeling better.

    1. I still love ET and will do the race again next year. Hopefully, I will be more prepared. :)

    2. Glad to know it wasn't the only one suffering out there. That mountain knocked kicked my A**. I usually eat 12 hours before the race, so I just counted back 12 hours from race start (as best we could with the 2 hour bus ride). Seemed to work well for me....other than a grumbling stomach at race start.

    3. I didn't have any stomach issues (which is rare) - the muscle fatigue was my issue. That mountain is tough. Wow, but we did it

  3. Charlene, a video (with race pics) about the race has been posted on facebook at:


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