Friday, April 12, 2013

RACE REPORT: Hollywood Half Marathon | What a Great Weekend!

I am a Hollywood Half Marathon Legacy Runner and I am proud to say that.  While some complained last year, I returned for 2013.  I knew the RD's were making drastic changes to ensure everyone had a great experience.

Drove into CA with traveling buddy & Running BFF, Angela ( We immediately headed to the Expo at the Hilton Universal.  Change number 1.  Instead of 1 day Expo, they had 2 day's.  Less crowded and a bigger space.

Grabbed our swag and bumped into friend, Rudy Novotny.  You may not know his face, but you know his voice!  He is the voice at all Disney races many major races.  There is nothing sweeter than hearing his voice bring you into the Finish.

I made a quick sweep around the vendors and bumped into fellow Trooper, Wil

By this time - Angela and I were famished.  Considering I have to eat GF...that's always a challenge and a risk to eat out.  Luckily, we went into Hard Rock and I had a Turkey burger, bunless and rice.  No problems! Then, onto YogurtLand for dessert. I was thrilled to see they had lots of GF flavors.

While eating our yogurt, my other running buddy (Terri Perez) and her son (Anthony) stopped by. She gave me another Ladybug patch. 

Angela and I headed to the hotel and went to bed before 9pm - we were getting up around 3am (aka "Stupid O'Clock")

The next morning - we arrived at the Start without any major issue.  Luckily, I was able to see Terri and her husband Louie - so, I could see what they are wearing, so I could spot them on the course.

It was nippy, so I put on a rain poncho to keep my body heat in.  I am sure I looked like a fool, but I was cold!  This desert dweller doesn't do well in cooler temps.

Gun time was at 6am.  I was in Wave 3, so I started about 2-3 minutes from the Gun Time.

First, was our Running Troops photo -

BANG!  We were off - the course was advertised as mostly flat.  I kept thinking, "what is mostly?"

I soon found out.   I am feeling good. I am holding back at a 8:45 pace, sometimes I went to 8:30.  Feeling good.  No nerves, no tummy issues. As long as I kept it at a 9 or sub9 pace, I wasn't pushing for anything more.

We turned the corner at Mile 4.5 and went on a steep decline, my first thought "oh crap, we gotta climb that on the way back" - that would be the least of my worries...

Then, we had a hill (not an incline, but a HILL) at Mile 5 and then another sharp hill at the turn around.  I was not a happy camper, but I plowed through them the best I could and kept my pace at 9:30-9:45 during those hills.

The decline hills were a little dangerous due to very bad pavement, so I tiped-toed through a few spots.  All I could think of, was warning Terri and Angela. None of us knew about these hills.

Then, another incline to get back onto Hollywood Blvd. I was able to see Terri on the course and warn her, but once again - I didn't see Angela.  We NEVER seen each other on the course - and we look for each other, too.  Go figure.

We turned left and then we had our homestretch turn around at 9.  From 9 until the Finish it was a straight shot.  Course was relatively flat and on the decline.

Saw several fellow troopers and gave a salute. That was fun!

At Mile 10 - I was at 1:31 - my goal is to always be at 1:30 at Mile 10 - so ensure I could get a sub2.  I knew I still had it at 1:31, but I picked it up, just a bit.

At Mile 13, there is a turn and the last .10 is after the turn.  I heard Rudy in the I came up on the Finish Line I saluted him and he says, "It's Charlene Ragsdale...I didn't know you were this fast!"

Coming into the Finish

I laughed. 

Crossing the Finish Line, I knew I had hit the 1:57-1:58 range.  Thrilled!  My best time in over a year.  I felt strong the entire race and felt I had something left when I finished (which I was going to need).

My fueling was Island Boost.

I did a different fueling schedule, this time

  • Mile 3 - Island Boost fueling
  • Mile 8 - Electrolyte Capsules
  • Mile 10-Island boost fueling

In addition, I did not wear my compression sleeves on my calves.  My legs felt great the entire time and I think I will do that, again. I have been wearing compression sleeves or socks during races for a long time, it appears I no longer need it for my Half's.

I got the text that Terri Perez was at Mile 9. That was my cue to head back to Mile 11 to run her in. She had a goal and I was going to push her to get there.

Considering her pace, I didn't feel I was going to need to SPRINT to get to Mile 11.  I was wrong. I was at a deadlock at the Finish, I couldn't get back to Hollywood Blvd as quickly as I wanted to.  Once I was on the Blvd, I realized I had to sprint to get to her by Mile 11.  And I meant my 5k sprint.  I am so grateful I saved some of my energy, I could not let her down.  She trusted me to be there at Mile 11.

I tucked in the medal into my singlet and ran on the sidewalk, heading the wrong way. It was fun - I saw a lot of Troopers and got lots of cheers from runners, "GO, GO, GO GET TERRI!"

Geez, how many runners knew I was going to get her? :)

I made up a lot of time and was able to walk fast to catch my breathe and get to the aid station, just as she came up on it.

She had a horrible look of despair on her face.  I knew at that moment, the hills had killed her.  I took her Garmin from her and she was only 4 minutes off pace. She could make this up.

My poor, sweet Terri - she broke down in tears when we started to move forward.  I went into Coach mode.  She was tired, she was hurting (but not injured) and she kept sobbing.  I told her to breathe OUT and then breathe IN to relax. That worked like a champ.  She was hunched over and I put my hand on her back to straighten her up.  Just as I put my hand on her back - I saw it.  The Ladybug patch.  Just like the one she gave me.  I knew all would be fine.  Ladybug was with us.

She wanted to give up (we have all been there) and I started YELLING (not be mean) and others around us started cheering her on.  She looked at me, "why are these people cheering me on?!?"

Get use to it, Terri - people believe in you!


Most of our course dialogue - went like this

Terri, "I AM DONE!"


Terri, "I AM TIRED!"


We held hands and ran together.  I was never more proud to run a course, than to be next to this Warrior, My Friend.

Mile 12.99.  She only had .11 to go!

She cried, she balled, she probably wanted to hit me.  But, I was not going to let her give up.  People on the sidelines saw her despair and they cheered her on.  When we came up on the Mile 13 sign, I saw the tears coming down her face and I let go of her hand and say, "IT'S YOUR TIME, BABYDOLL - IT'S ALL YOU!"

I ran to the side of the course and let her run in by herself. It was her moment, and her's alone.  What a joy to hear Rudy call her name!

I saw Troopers at the Finish Line saluting her as we Finished.  I wish I had a camera!

I met her on the other side of the Finish and she was huddled over the railing. We cried.  She did it!  She dug so deep, she was in China and she did it.  She dug so deep...she was in China!

Terri immediately went to her husband, Terri - and this picture sums it up

This is Terri and I.  I am beaming with pride. She was a Rock Star, out there a true Rock Star.  Other's have doubted her - I didn't.  I knew she had it in her and she proved others wrong!

Found Angela.  BACKSTORY:  A few days prior to the race, she said her final good-bye to her best friend, and love of her life - her Grandfather (Pappy).   She needed this run and she used this run to honor him.  Until I saw her face, I wasn't going to be happy. I needed to know she got through it, okay.  It was also a great race experience for her.  Thus, it made it a great race experience for me.  When my friends are happy, I am happy! 

Today - Angela & I ran to honor our loved ones.  Ladybug and Pappy (see shoe charms)

Angela & Terri:  They are my inspiration and my buddies.  This is the first time, the 3 of us have been at the same race together.  I am happy!

When I think back on this weekend, it won't be my finish time or that I finished 7th in my AG or in the top 1/4 of the race field.  It will be Terri and Angela's experiences that make me smile.  When I see the boost of confidence they both received that day, it's a good race.  When I know that Terri SMASHED her PR by almost 2 minutes, that's a good day. When I know that Angela finish strong and in true Trooper form.  That's a good day.

With my Running BFF, Angela - on the red carpet - oh yea, Hollywood Style!

The medal was the same as last year, except it was white sparkly, like diamonds.

I am still absorbing so many of the emotions of that weekend.  But, I guess the smile on my face says it all

Later that night, Terri, Louie Angela and I went to the After-Party at Drai's.

I cannot wait to return to Hollywood Half 2014 -

(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-13
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
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*San Francisco Marathon Ambassador 2012-13
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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