Monday, April 7, 2014

RACE REPORT: 3rd Annual Hollywood Half Marathon | A SHOCKER!

For those who follow my blog and my FB page, you know I have been facing a horrible tragedy this past week.  My Running Mama, Laura Bowman fell during a training run and broke her neck.  After a few surgery delays, she finally had her surgery and is on the road to recovery.

During that time, my body and mind went out the door.  Doing the most mundane tasks, going to the bank, post office or anything else was far beyond my imagination.

Not ideal for prepping for a race, especially a long distance endurance race.  I had trained hard for this weekend, I was eager to regain my sub2 Half Marathon.  Surf City was my last Half (in February) and although I achieved my goal, I wanted that "1" by my name, again.

At one point, I printed off a 1:55 pace band and thought, "this is my dream.  I know I cannot get it, as I am exhausted and not sure my legs will take me there, but I will use it as my gauge"

Wearing Running Mamas shoe charm

Running Bro (Kirk Buckley) and I arrived on race morning, exhausted.  We were at the mental place, to get this over with and go home to check on Running Mama.  It was our home team race, of all the races we both wanted to do well, it was this one.  I had significant doubts I would be able to race well that day, but I also was determined to give it all I had, at that moment.

We were given the honor to be driven by limo to the start. That was nice.  We could arrive moments before the race and not have to stand around.  Neither one of us were very social (as expected).  Although it was very cold for me (pre-6am) I found myself actually dozing off (even while standing).  So many runner friends spotted us and offered us hugs and encouragement through our heartache about Running Mama.

Standing in Corral 1, I have no idea what to think. I had not been that nervous for a race in ages. I felt so my pressure to perform well, but in my head, I didn't believe my legs would carry me to 1:55.  It would take a huge mental push to get me to 1:59, let alone 1:55.

Gun goes off and it's dark, so I cannot wear my prescription sun glasses to see my Garmin.  I ran by feel.  I knew I was pushing it, but I had no idea how hard.

The race had several hairpin turn arounds and at the first 1/10, we had our first one.  Ugh.  I think by the time the race was done we had 6 or 7 (maybe even 8).

Running the first few miles - I am waiting for the sun to come up.  I want my glasses on, I want to see my time.  Was I too fast and heading to a blow up or am I horribly slow?  Finally at the Mile 3 marker, if was light enough I could put on my glasses.

I look down at my Garmin. Gasp!  I was at a 1:53 pace. My immediate thought was to pull back, but I decided to see how long I could ride this train.  If I need to slow down, I can and still protect my sub2 finish time.  

At Mile 4 I needed my first salt capsules.  Then at Mile 6, I took my first Island Boost (Chocolate flavor).  Up and down those darned hairpin turns.  This was not an easy course, it was a mental stretch.  Coming into 7 my left calf started to throb.  Just out of the blue.  Oh dear.  I have no idea why this was happening. I tried to alter my foot strike, nothing was helping.  Then, I thought of Running Mama and thinking the amount of pain she must be going through.  I thought, "this is NOTHING to compare to her pain.  This doesn't matter, I can beat this"

Within seconds, the pain was gone and never returned.  :)

At each mile I checked and I was still at the 1:53 minute finish.  The more miles I had to go, the harder I ran.  When the fleeting moments of wanting to stop and walk came upon me, I would hear someone yell "RUN FOR MAMA, Charlene!"  or "GO LADYBUG!"

I could not fail. I had to finish and I promised Running Mama a sub2.  

Mile 10 - traditionally, this is my Half Marathon gauge.  At Mile 10, I know what the outcome of my race will be.  I was shooting for 1:27 and I had 1:25, at Mile 10.  That was the moment I started to panic, surely I could not keep up this pace for another 3 miles.  Where is my boink? I decided to no longer look at my Garmin, unless I was checking the mileage.  I knew if I kept looking at my Garmin, I would mentally check out. I felt amazingly strong and I didn't want to lose it. 

At Hollywood and Vine we passed the Finish Line onward to Mile 12 and our last turn around.  I was convinced I was slowing down.

That last turn and I knew I had 3-4 street lights to get to Vine.  My eyes were up and all I saw was the flash red lights ahead of me.  I knew I had my sub2, I couldn't ask for more.  1:53 was out of the question (my regular course PR set in 2012).  My heart was pounding, I was going to get my sub2, once again.  

There was Vine Street and I turned to make a right turn...

I look at the Gun Time clock (I was in Wave 1, so the gun time was my chip time) and I saw 1:51:##

I said "oh holy, S#%T!" and couldn't believe what I was seeing! I had not slowed down, I had sped up and I was going to get a PR, that has been 2 years in the making.  The course photos have a very confused look on my face (you can even see it with my sunglasses on).

I crossed the Finish Line with arms raised and was met by Kirk at the Finish Line. I about collapsed, not from physical exhaustion but emotions.  2 years worth of emotions, finally coming out.  A PR and running for Mama.  I was shocked, I was puzzled, I couldn't understand how this happened.  I had spent the last 2 years running a 1:55-1:59 at every half.  I had not done any speed intervals since June.  How in the world did this happen? My legs felt amazingly strong, despite the lack of interval training.

Then....Kirk tells me he PR'd by 2 minutes!  What a wonderful celebration we had!  We both started this race in dismay and two Running Siblings were celebrating the victory.

My official time?  1:51:55

I still cannot believe this happened.   This should not be happening, right now.  At least not in my opinion. Doctor said to expect to be 100% by May - this was April. 

We got our pictures taken and I convinced Kirk we needed to wait to see if he won an award.  Surely, he had some type of AG award.  I was right, he earned 2nd AG.   I earned 7th place in my AG (same as 2013), even though my time was 7 minutes faster than last year.  This year, was highly competitive and I loved it.  I think that energy pushed me, even a little harder.

Post race, with Ladybugs Ball

Post Race

Kirk receiving his 2nd Place AG award

So, many have asked me since Saturday, how did I achieve this PR and increase my Half Marathon time by 15+ minutes since February.   I have two words: Runners Challenge.  Through Mark Jones's direction and fitness expertise, he designed a runner specific-leg workout that I have been using since March. 

You have heard me speak of Runners Challenge in the past, now I have proof.  There is no doubt in my mind that through his nutrition and fitness plans, I was able to approach and achieve what I did at HHM.

Remember, I have not had any speed interval workouts since June.  I have worked hard on my tempo and long runs, but that isn't enough to get my legs in top form for speed.

Thank you Runners Challenge for giving me a great leg workout.  I now have a new PR because of you! 

(Check out Runner Challenge ->

My additional thanks to....

My Husband.  Without fail, every race morning you send me a wonderful text and remind me how much I am loved.  How I wish you could be with me, during these races - but I am so proud of you for achieving your career dreams.  (even if it does give you a crazy schedule haha).

My Running Bro, Kirk Buckley.   You held me up during my injury and have been with me almost every step of the way, since then.  Thank you for sharing in my pains & joys. 

Team Super Hero - I am so honored to be a part of your Masters Division Elite Team.  Thank you for honoring me and believing in me.

My Sponsors:, Island Boost and KT Tape.  You hold me together, you give me energy and ensure I am healthy. Without you, I do not have a racing career. 

My Running Mama -  you give me strength, every day.  You gave me a reason to get up on race morning and give it all I have.  Heaven isn't ready for you, yet. 

Running Troops - Your dedication to serve others never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for allowing me to lead you and also be inspired by you. 

And to the others who made this day extra special  -

Running Troops Leadership - Kirk, Jacqueline & Daniel (missing:  Julia & Jeff)
P.S. I will be MIA on my blog for about a week.  We are relocating to a new home and getting Running Mama situated, after her hospital discharge.   Until next time - RUN FAB-O!

(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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