Sunday, March 16, 2014

RACE REPORT: 6 Tunnels 5k | 3 Years Later

In 2011, I sat at my laptop to write the most difficult race report I have ever written.  My race report to honor Ladybug, the day after she died.  To this day, it is the one race that makes my heart skip a beat and eyes well up with tears.

Please take a moment to read my original post, so you understand the backstory of my 2014 race report.  Click Here.

6 days prior to this 5k, I participated in the LA Marathon.  With less than a month to train for the marathon, I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn't realize how difficult until I reached the half way mark of LAM.  While it was a major triumph to finish the marathon, I have had a difficult week of recovery.  More than your average aches and pains.  

There were moments I thought I should walk the 6 Tunnel 5k.  I was not missing this event, I have not been able to run this race, since Ladybug died.  This race typically falls on the same weekend as LAM, but this year it was the weekend afterwards.

While I was thinking of running this 5k, I wanted to wear something that would honor her.  Many suggested I wear my Ladybug costume (the one I wore at Costume Party Run in July).  No.   I thought about wearing the red top with black dots (without the wings and antenna), but that looked silly on me.

I was able to find the perfect top to honor her.  A rainbow colored singlet with celestial stars.  Why was this perfect?  There is a beautiful poem that talks about our beloved pets go over the Rainbow Bridge to wait for us.

Days leading up to the race, I was getting more and more excited.  I felt in my heart it would be a time to celebrate her life with us and to just spend some time with her in spirit.  Running out at Lake Mead/Hoover Dam is always a good thing for me.

Race morning was clear but windy.  My traditional visor was going to stay home.  If it was windy at my house, it would be REALLY windy at the Lake.  I woke up so excited for the race.  Something about being able to finally run at 6 Tunnels again made me happy. I had to miss the Turkey Trot and Hoover Dam Half due to my injury.  The last time I ran a race on this course, was Turkey Trot 2012. That's too long. 

As in 2011, the first thing I saw/heard was the bag pipes.  In 2011, it was a soothing comfort as I held back the emotions, today - it was just as soothing, but for a different reason.

The back of my singlet with my Memorial Bib

 Met up with running pals, Emil Cheng and Casey Chernesky.   Kirk Buckley was also served as my Backpack Patrol.   All of us were still in recovery from LAM.  Emil was bravely running the Half.  Casey and I were running the 5k (we were the smart ones)

The course is 99.9% gravely trail.  It is not an easy course.  The only paved part is the last .01% of the course.  At the start, I couldn't help but reflect how I felt back in 2011 at the start.  In my mind, I was expecting tears this year.  It didn't happen.  When I thought about Ladybug on this morning, I was happy.  I was happy and blessed that I could run this race and not on the injury list.  I was blessed that over the past 3 years, her memory has lead to many great things in my life.  Met new people and of course, being nicknamed, "The Ladybug Runner".

Off we go! 

A good view of how gravely this course is

Within 1/4 mile the wind came SHOOSHING in.  I laughed and said, "okay, Ladybug - stop breathing so hard!"  

My legs felt pretty good, actually - but I wasn't racing. I was running.  This was a chance for me to run and enjoy my time in amazing scenery.  I looked at my Garmin one time during the entire run.

Casey was a little bit ahead of me (of course) but at the turn around we gave each other a big thumbs up and a big smile.  We both were having a great time out there.

After the turn around, I had a few issues with two runners, they kept going in front of me, not letting me pass them.  One person kept moving from side to side, and it was obvious she was trying to block me.  I finally got around and did a few spurts so I can get away from them.  After the finish - Casey said she had the same issue with another runner. I don't get that.  If someone is trying to pass you, move over.  This isn't the Olympics folks, it's a great fun run.  

As I was coming in, I thought about 2011 - I had my hand over my heart as I crossed the finish line and I was crying from grief.

This year, I was smiling and SO happy to be there!

Last turn into the Finish and the only portion of the course that is paved

This run felt so good!

I did the "I Love You" in sign language for her, as I crossed the Finish Line.  I felt her every step of the way with me. My time was 26:XX.  Around the same time I finished in 2011, but this was a trail and I was along for the ride, not a PR.

Met up with Casey and Kirk.   We wanted to wait for Emil to finish (who was doing the Half) so we had plenty of time to hang around, wait for awards and take some pictures.

Always so great to see my running pal, Casey
All I knew is I was 12th female Overall.  In my mind, I thought - "I have a good shot in placing in my AG"

In 2011, I had won 2nd place in AG and it was one of the most emotional race moments for me.  The day after Ladybug died, I had a plaque in my hand.  Very therapeutic for my entire family.

Awards were announced -

3rd - not me
2nd - not me (at that moment, I thought - I didn't make it, there is no way I won)
1st - it was me!  
I gasped, and that was the only time that morning, I had tears in my eyes.  
Receiving my award from the Race Director
Happy, but in disbelief

Waited on Casey's results and she earned 3rd in her AG (7th Female Overall)!   It was an great morning for the both of us.

3rd AG - Casey & 1st AG - Me

Moments later, Emil came flying into the finish in a strong sub2 finish.   Going sub2 on this course is not easy. I know this, I have done it several times and it is the hardest sub2 I have ever done. 

Emil coming into the Finish Line, strong as ever

Emil, Casey and I

3 years ago, I said I would take along Ladybugs yellow tennis ball with me for the next year.  3 years later, her ball is still with me at every race and I have no intentions of changing that tradition.  

*6 days ago, I ran LAM and now I held a 1st place AG in my hands.  This one is for my Ladybug.  (I put the ladybug sticker on the plaque)

This race was triumphant in so many ways.  The months of injury, recovery, going through LAM and to come out with a strong 5k and a plaque to bring home to my family, this was the best race experience I have had in a long, long time.  Thank you to Casey & Kirk for taking such great pictures!

I feel like my 2014 racing season has finally begun!  
(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-13
Run F.A.B. & Boston Strong,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
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