In 2008, I was new to the sport of distance running. I ran Dam to Dam in May, but that was a 20K at the time. The IMT Des Moines Half Marathon was my first official 13.1 race. The course was beautiful, the crowd support was amazing, and I finished in 2:05...and my husband and three kids were there at the finish line to celebrate with me. And I was hooked.
|Approaching the finish line in 2008|
|in 2011, I captured my first sub-2 hour finish!|
|In 2012, I bested my sub-2 hour with a brand new PR!|
|In 2013, brrrrr.....there was some major wind!|
|In 2014, I upped the ante and ran the full marathon!|
The 5K went well (you can read all about it HERE). I was happy to have none of my usual first mile aches or pains. I was really excited with my finish time of 24:33 (even though the course actually was 2.8 miles...a tad bit short of the 5K distance). That would have been a major PR for me, but I know I'm not THAT fast (and I probably would have compromised my performance for the next day). So that was Saturday.
The next morning started with a 5:15AM wake-up and a 6:00AM departure. We (myself and my friend, Barb) arrived just before 7:00 and had plenty of time to find an indoor restroom (thank you Embassy Suites!), and meetup with a few peeps. I was especially hoping to find Sheryl (a gal who was embarking on her first 26.2 race), I wanted to give her a good luck hug and wish her well.
|A quick pic with Barb, Amy, and Sheryl (in the light green) before the start of her first 26.2!|
|With Andrew and Linda|
|Ready to go!|
Mischief managed, I wove my way through the crowd and caught back up to Barb. We hung together for the first couple miles, then she gradually pulled ahead. I ran the first few miles in an approximate 8-minute pace (according to the elapsed time showing as I crossed the mile markers). Again, UGH. Although it didn't feel that difficult, that is a fast pace for me. Not good. There was no way I'd be able to maintain that for another 10 miles, so I slowly eased back and was able to keep a solid 9-minute pace for the next several miles.
|This little itty bitty piece of PlowOn gum would help me get to the finish line|
Overall, I was feeling pretty good. The usual stiffness was there (glutes & hamstrings), but not unbearable. The weather was absolutely beautiful!
The first few miles took us through the streets of downtown Des Moines, before working our way towards Water Works Park. This part of the course, though very scenic, is probably my least favorite segment of the race. We run a large loop through the park, and every year this loop seems to take longer and longer. It is exciting, though, seeing the fast racers coming out (as they approach their 8-mile mark) as you're going in (approaching mile 4).
I'm not quite certain when it started, but it was around mile 5 when I felt the beginning stages of something not feeling "right." I'm still kind of a newbie using Tailwind (powder that is mixed with water) for my fuel. It tastes great, but I am not a fan of carrying my own water, in a handheld or on a waist pack. Although the waistpack/fuel belt worked alright a few weeks prior (at the Quad Cities Marathon), I was in a tank and shorts than day, and I didn't have a waist-tied jacket competing for the limited available space around my torso.
|It felt like I had everything but my bathtub tied around my waist|
|And the pop-top is...missing #frustration|
I made it out of Water Works Park, and was SO happy to cross that 8-mile mark! Next up was Grays Lake Park, and the five remaining miles to the finish line.
Although, my pace had stayed pretty steady, I could tell things were slowing down. I tried sipping the Tailwind water, but I felt like my last ounce of mojo had disappeared. My energy felt good, but my legs just did not want to move. I kept glancing at my watch, and by the time I made it to the 9-mile mark, I knew the PR was not going to happen. The watch showed 1:25....there still was a chance of knocking out a sub-2 hour finish, but with my failing leg power it would be tough. I pulled over and walked for a few quick seconds. Usually a quick walk is all I need to rally and get back in the race with renewed energy. I tried to resume running, but felt like I was moving in slow motion.
Even more disheartening, I noticed the 2-hour pace group. For a split second, I felt a twinge of elation...and knew if they could do this, I could too. Then, reality hit. I realized I was not catching up with the pace group, but instead, they were passing me. I tried to shake the negativity out of my head, and continued running. If I kept with the group, I'd be alright. Right?
A short while later, I could tell the pace group was inching away from me....and despite my sheer will to stay with them, I just could not do it. My legs were shot. And my spirits took a nose dive.
As I approached the 10-mile mark, I accepted the fact that the sub-2 wasn't going to happen either. There was a short incline, which would take us out of the park, and I decided to let myself walk. There were no tears, but plenty of frustration in those 2-3 minutes of walking.
As much as I was hoping to smash my PR (or at the very least, finally claim a 2015 sub-2), the reality is that I am more of a runner than a racer. I really truly LOVE to run races, but I detest the competitive aspect of said races. I admire the runners who can focus on their pace, and not hold anything back until the finish line....but I am just not one of them. I like chatting with others, and high-5'ing the kids. I enjoy the scenery and making eye contact with the crowd. I want to laugh and smile. That's who I am, and trying to be Competitive Susie Racer is not being true to myself (and it's oh-so-frustrating). I sacrificed the better part of this beautiful race course by worrying about my finish time instead of actually enjoying the race itself.
With that revelation, I broke back into a comfortable pace, and made it to the finish line with a smile. My finish time was 2:04:21.....still a decent finish time, especially for a klutz like me who can barely walk without tripping. I know I can run 13.1 miles faster than that, and it's OK if I don't do it every time I pin on a race bib. After all, there was a time when I couldn't run a 5K race without walking.
An Army soldier smiled at me as he put the medal around my neck, and I thanked him for his service (as well as the other Army soldier helping him). I found Barb immediately afterwards. Also my cousin, Jessica, was there. We chatted for awhile and all took turns stretching. It turns out all of us were exhausted, and somewhat sore. The wind had picked up, and since we were no longer running, we all felt cold.
|Another 13.1 race completed with my buddy|
|We were so proud of Dave!|
A very cool feature of doing the Half Marathon/5K Combo was how the medals from each race came as a set. The medals had magnets, so you can either keep them separate or you can attach them together.
|Aren't they pretty?|
I think I started out too fast (when will I ever learn?), and the fuel became an issue with the broken water bottle. By the end of the race, the back of my shirt was a saturated mess, so I have no way of knowing how much Tailwind water I actually drank (I'm guessing not enough). There were Gu gels available along the course, but I didn't want to take any of that and mix it with the Tailwind I'd already consumed. I never felt thirsty while running, but I was a puffy, bloated mess for several days afterwards (which usually indicates dehydration). I have another half marathon in a few weeks....I'm not sure if I'll be able to find a replacement bottle (or a new pop-top lid) for my belt or if I will have to resort to a handheld bottle. I have had good luck using Tailwind, I just need to figure out an efficient way (for me) to carry it. And I love the PlowOn gum!
So, there you have it. The 2015 IMT Des Moines Marathon experience.....care to join me next year?
Have you ever done an event that involved two consecutive days of racing? Did you get bonus bling for doing more than one race? Ever have a water bottle malfunction?
Do you prefer to run or to race?