Wednesday, February 19, 2014

RACE REPORT: Surf City Half Marathon | First Half Post Injury

It's been awhile since I wrote a race report.  Wow, this is like starting a new habit.  Several have asked me why I have refrained from blogging (much) during my injury and post injury.

I did that on purpose.  My story of my injury, how I healed and my recovery is still on-going.  Surf City marked the passing onto another phase of my healing. Time to get back into the groove of blogging!

For now...let's talk about Surf City Half Marathon.

44 days after my first run, post injury.  44 days prior I struggled to run 3 miles at a 13 min/mile pace.  I remember that night and how I thought, "how in the world will I be ready to run Surf City Half in February?"  Surf City was the object of my obsession for the past 6 weeks.  I had to run it. It was not a race for my legs, but in my mind.

Until you have had a severe injury that has sidelined you for a significant period of time, you will never understand that type of despair.  Every time I rode a bike, swam, aqua jogging or other - it was a reminder of what I could not do.  Run.

I knew going into Surf City, my fitness level had not returned.  My legs felt wonderful, I was surprised I was able to run so well, but my lungs and cardio were taking longer, as expected.

Angela and I are on our way to Surf City! This is our 2nd year taking this trip together.  Girl time!

We arrived at Surf City and went to work in the Island Boost booth.  I am one of their Sponsored Athletes and their Ambassador Team Leader, I could not wait to share the new chocolate flavor, VALOR with everyone!

Here are were so visitors, I wish I had the time to take more pictures - many wonderful people came by the booth.  

Our first Chocolate flavor, VALOR sale!  (yep, that's Angela with the Island Boost owner, Laura Mildon)

What a treat! Vegas friends were some of the first to come by.  Mark and Tara (too funny, my belt is poking through my shirt)

My buddy, my pal - THE VOICE, Rudy Novotny.  I always feel like it is going to be a great race when he is at the Start & Finish.

My Vegas Buffet Buddy, Emil!
Had to get a pictures with owner and dear friend, Laura Mildon!

Kelly sharing the Island Boost message at our booth

Love this girl!

What a BIG surprise to see Abbi from KY!  She made my day!

My forever faithful friend, Julia!

Julia & Andrea

After my time working at the Island Boost booth, Angela and I went to the hotel, had some dinner and off we went to our traditional walk along the beach, the night before the race.

Water was a little cold, but I didn't mind! 

I drew a ladybug in the sand

Beach girl time!

After a chilly walk and some fun people watching, we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for the race.  It was very exciting for me to be able to run Surf City, as this was my 3rd year, but it was also another stepping stone I needed to gauge my level of recovery.  I toyed around the idea of trying to push myself for a sub2 or go for a 2:15-2:30, to ensure I could finish, without injury.

I decided to let my body decide on the course. 

Ready for a race!

RACE DAY:  We arrived to a rather chilly and cloudy morning. Glad I brought my arm sleeves.  We stayed inside the Expo Tent to stay warm until we headed into the corrals.

As we walked into the corrals, Ange and I did our customary high five + hug + good lucks.  I made my way to Corral 3.  Boy, did I feel out of place!  As I walked into the corral, I heard Rudy Novotny announce my name. What a sweet friend.  He knows how important this race was to me.  Thank you for making me feel at home. 

As I stood there, I took out my phone and listened to the "Welcome to the Grind" video on YouTube. If you have not listened to it, do.  It will get you fired up and ready for any race. 

Clipped on my iPod.  Yea, you read that right, I had my iPod.  I knew I was going to battle this entire race in my head, not my legs, I decided to bring my iPod.  Not just any music, either - I had hard rock and heavy metal.  This gal was going to listen to some serious music, when it got tough.  :)

As with any race, I feel like I am a slug.  I kept a solid pace of 8:50-9:00.  My first point was Mile 3, before we took the right up Seapointe, I was looking for Julia.  She had the camera, and most importantly she was sending texts to my husband, letting him know my status.

At Mile 3 - I was feeling pretty good.  Not 100%, but pretty good.  No music, yet. I was saving it for when was getting rough.  This is me, yelling at Julia to tell my husband that all is fine.

Mile 3 - Photo:  Julia Beavers

Made our way through the residential area and up the little hill.  It's still a pain to climb.  At the top, we take a sharp left and that is where I took my first walk break.  I was not 100% confident in my legs, so I gave them a rest for a minute.

I was still on a sub2 pace.  That had me worried I was going too fast for my legs and fitness level.  Coming back down the other side and seeing the ocean, that is always such a treat.

Came back down on PCH and headed right to the turn around.  At this point, I am thinking of my friend, Diana Kitching who was running despite food poisoning.  Crazy woman!  Within minutes, I spotted her in front of me (she was running the marathon).  I hopped into the road medium and sprinted all the way to her.  I had to see how she was doing.  She seemed to be doing okay and had a mutual friend and fellow Running Trooper, Michael Hanson with her.  I felt SO much better having the chance to see her!

Making my way to the Turn Around, I felt my energy start to fade.  First, I turned on the tunes.  Then, I took a Chocolate Island Boost.  Around 9.5, everything kicked in and I feel pretty good again.  However, at that point, I felt my legs feel tight (not pain) and I made the choice to walk more and slow it down.  I looked at my watch and realized I COULD sub2, but I felt I needed to protect my health., more than anything. The return to sub2 Half's will be soon enough.

Made my way to the difficult Mile 10 hill and saw Julia for the last time.  She could see I was tired (but who isn't) and I was able to tell her that I will make it no problems.  I was now shooting for a 2:15.

Top of Mile 10 hill. Real scary face, but legs look good!

I didn't look at my pace, ran 11-13.1 miles at a pace that felt comfortable but strong at the same time.This is my least favorite part of this course, the least 2.1 miles.  Not sure why, but I don't like it. 

I crossed 2:06 and some change.  9 minutes faster than my goal time.  I was greeted by runner friend, Joe Burwell and I immediately broke down and cried happy tears.  I had survived.  I had achieved what I often wondered if I could ever do again, run a half marathon.

Many may think that is rather dramatic.  It isn't.  In the months of an injury, you often wonder if you will ever run again and if you do, will it be the same? While I have a long way to go to achieve my pre-injury fitness, I am on my way back!

As I walked over to pick up my medal, I saw my good friend Michael Alygin.  I have never allowed anyone to put a medal around my neck (personal space issue), but this time - I asked Michael if he would honor me by medaling me.  I felt it was symbolic, since Michael walked this injury journey with me.   I cried, of course.

Michael & I.  Thank you for medaling me!

Next stop.  Find Andrea Kooiman.  As I walked towards the tents, I am so glad I had sunglasses on, I was crying.   Andrea saw me coming from the distance and she jogged to me.  She could tell by the look on my face, something was up.  I cried into her shoulders and told her out I did.  In customary Andrea fashion, I got a high give.

Kissing the medals with Julia and Andrea
I couldn't stop looking at this medal.  It felt like a dream. 

Then...waiting on Angela.  She wouldn't be that far behind me. I went back into the Expo tent to keep warm.  It was getting very chilly. Angela finally arrived and she had a great race!  It was wonderful to see her smile so big and proud of her accomplishments. 

I also ran into Ward and Georgette -

My 2012, 2013 and 2014 Surf City Medal.  I had achieved Legacy Status with 2014 (note the small square sticker on my finisher medal)

2014 with the San Francisco Marathon "California Dreaming" Medal. 

And finally, my customary Finisher Medal with Ladybugs ball.  Thank you Babygirl, for running with me.  It feels so good to race with you, again.  

My special thanks to my travel buddy, Angela Wozniak.  I love our girl trips and looking forward to many more to come. 

Additional thank you's - 

  • To my running buddy, my running bro and constant training protector, Kirk Buckley.  Although we didn't run this race together, I know you were with me every step of the way.  It was great to see you post race, even for only a few moments.  

  • To Julia Beavers and Andrea Kooiman.  You both are my rocks, my pitbulls and the whack on my head when I need it.  Thank you, thank you!

  • To the Running Troops.  No other group of people rallied around me like you have done these past few months.  I am honored to lead you, but most importantly I am humbled to call you my friends.  

  • My sponsors:  Island Boost, KT Tape, and Team Super Hero.  You keep me healthy, strong and motivated.  My eternal thank you for selecting me to represent you. 

  • And finally, my family.  My husband and my best friend, Billy Ragsdale and our two sons.  You saw my agony.  You held me when I had meltdowns and cried with me.  You saw the bruises, you hoisted me when I could not walk.  Every step I take is because of you.  Every one.  I love you.

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

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by, KT Tape and Island Boost
*Team Super Hero Master's Elite 2013-14
*Founder, Running Troops
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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