Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mercy Live Up Loop Race Recap


What can I say? Sometimes the stars, moons, and planets all align, and things just happen.

The second annual Mercy Live Up Loop 5-mile Race happened this past Saturday morning, and I was there. I ran it last year (2016), but under much different circumstances (I had the Route 66 Marathon happening a month later, and had not spent the summer recovering from surgery). This year, having just returned to running, I was eager to see what I could do.


I had spent the entire week prior stalking several weather apps and sites, hoping for good news...but all were in agreement about the forecasted rain and potential storms headed our way for the weekend. Thankfully, the temps wouldn't be too cold (upper 50's), but the rain looked inevitable.
This is what the weather app showed as we were driving to Des Moines
This was, yet, another event that was part of the IMT Des Moines Marathon weekend. I am no stranger to the weekend's festivities. I have been participating in various IMT DSM Marathon events since 2008...for example:

***I have run the Half Marathon in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016
***I ran the Full Marathon in 2014
***I ran the 5K in 2015 (as part of the 5K/13.1 Combo)
***I ran the Mercy Live Up Loop 5-mile in 2016 (as part of the 5 Mile/13.1 Combo)

This year, due to that unfortunate surgery in late June (and subsequent recovery), there wasn't ample time to train for anything other than the 5-Mile race ((Womp Womp)). Ironically, though, this also was the first year for me to ever snag an Age Group award (more on that later).

It wasn't until we were just outside of Des Moines that we first saw rain (I live an hour from Des Moines, and we drove up that morning). It wasn't a torrential downpour, but it definitely was more than "light mist." The hubby wasn't running, but came along as my chauffeur (and also planned to run a few errands while I ran my race). I waited in the car until 7:30 and decided to make a run for it and hang out under the cover of the Principal Park stadium (the race started at 8:00). I had brought a dry-cleaning bag along, so I slid that over my head and headed towards the stadium.
Lovely, huh!
By the time we were ushered outside for the race start, the rain had lightened considerably. It felt more like a heavy mist, but even that dissipated within the first half-mile or so (#win).

I wasn't really sure what I should shoot for in terms of goals for the race. I knew I could run the entire five miles, but should I try to push my pace a little? Or, should I take a few brief walk breaks? How would my knee feel if I just ran "by feel" and didn't worry about pace?

The first mile was a bit crowded (as most first miles of races are). There weren't many walkers to dodge (I believe they were instructed to line up towards the back of the pack), but there were a few tight turns as we made our way around (the outside of) the ball park and out to MLK, Jr. Parkway. This was a route I have run many times, for various other races, so there were no unknowns to worry about.

The first mile felt good, and I debated about pulling off the dry-cleaning bag since the rain had stopped. I decided to leave it on...just in case. A short while later, we turned south (on Fleur) and made our way towards Gray's Lake Park. Before long, I was passing the 2-mile mark and glanced at my watch (it showed 18:30 for elapsed time)...dang! I was clipping right along.

I decided to grab a water at the water stand (right at the halfway mark) and walk for a few seconds as I drank it quickly. I wasn't feeling fatigued, but I was feeling a bit warm (under that plastic bag). Right after the halfway point, the route turns left, rounding the southwest corner of the lake. The course then continues east, along the south edge of the lake, eventually veering out of the park on a trail that runs parallel to the Raccoon River.

After passing the 3-mile mark, I started thinking about walking. I wasn't running fast, but I was running faster than I'd been training. There were a few slight curves on the trail, and I finally decided to take a short walk break near the 3.5-mile mark. I knew there would be a couple bridges we'd pass before eventually crossing the river (and then we'd be right back at Principal Park, where we'd started).

Eventually, I spotted the final bridge (in the distance), and saw the stadium across the river. I did one final brief walk (maybe 10 seconds?), and took off towards the bridge. It had started sprinkling a bit, but nothing crazy. I still had the bag on, so I wasn't worried about getting wet.

I could hear the announcer calling off runners' names as they crossed the finish line...and before I knew it, I had finished. Thankfully, nothing hurt and everything felt great! My watch showed 46:51 (official chip time was 46:48)! Last year, I ran this in 45:03, so the fact that I was less than two minutes slower (with not much training) was a great feeling!
I made my way back under the stadium (to stay out of the rain while I waited for the hubby to return). A sweet, little gal handed me my medal, and I grabbed a bottle of water and spotted the results tent.

After I grabbed my printout, I noticed it said I'd placed 3rd in my age division. Really? Seriously? I know the printouts don't always reflect the final results, so I asked one of the volunteers. They directed me to the information/check-in table. The volunteer glanced at my printout and congratulated me, and said they'd be mailing out the awards after everything was finalized (there wasn't a formal awards presentation).
Wow. Who would have thought?

It turns out, the printed "on-site" results did hold true and my 3rd place age division finish was confirmed (#happydance). This is a pretty flat and fast course, obviously. The 1st place guy finished in 29:12, the first place gal finished in 35:21. There were 406 total finishers and the average finish time was 53:54 (which includes runners and walkers). My stats showed I was 3rd (of 21) in my age group, 52nd (of 251) for females, and finished 109th (out of the total 406 participants) overall. I'm good with that.

My splits tell an interesting story...

Mile 1...9:25
Mile 2...9:04 (no wonder I was so hot and thirsty)
Mile 3...9:20
Mile 4...9:49 (a couple of short walk breaks)
Mile 5...9:10

Although I don't feel like I've completely gotten all of my "mojo" back, I'm pretty satisfied with my "rallying back" efforts thus far. I ran this race pretty much "by feel." I glanced at my watch periodically (mainly at the mile marks), but wasn't trying to maintain any specific pace.

The swag is unique, for this race, in that we receive stadium blankets. Seriously, I really do not want anymore shirts (tech or cotton), so the blanket is a nice feature. Participants in the 5K (which was held on Sunday) receive racing gloves, and the half/full marathon participants (also on Sunday) receive 1/4-zip jackets (specific to their event).
A new feature this year is the Heel to Toe Club, which is a loyalty program that honors those who have participated in previous years. Myself, I received a 5-year pin (and will be on target for a 10-year pin in 2019).
What do you think? Do you have a race that offers various distance events over the course of an entire weekend (each with different swag)? Ever been in a loyalty program for a race? Ever run in a dry-cleaning bag?  

**I'm linking up with Marcia and Patty and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run. Join the party!


**And with Nicole and Annmarie for the Wild Wednesday Workout
**And with Susie and Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner.

45 comments:

  1. Its always fun when a race offers various distances- there is always something new to try and something for everyone! Thats awesome that you did so well just coming back from your recovery. Congrats on the AG award!

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    1. The entire weekend is full of fun stuff with this marathon....probably why I participate every year ;-)

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  2. So cool they give you a pin from previously years. Congrats on your AG award. And the fact that you didn't hurt at all during the race is even better.

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    1. I'm very thankful for no pains, though I was a bit stiff on Sunday. I'm glad my recovery was successful!

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  3. I have to answer no to all of your questions. I love that races are offering loyalty incentives though! You are definitely rallying on that comeback trail. I love it! Congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Marcia! It feels good to be (almost) back ;-)

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  4. Congrats on a great race and that AG award. That has to feel good after such a tough summer!

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    1. Yes, indeed. It feels like all the frustrations of the summer were worth it (or at least mostly forgotten). Thanks for all of your support ;-)

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    1. Thanks!! This was a nice (surprisingly) great finish ;-)

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  6. Look at you! Out here getting age group awards already - so happy for you! Your comeback to running and racing is going mighty well! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kim! It feels great to be back with a race bib!

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  7. Dang girl, look at you! You really have had great success bouncing back from your surgery! Congratulations on a great finish time and the AG award! You're ready for Vegas!

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    1. Well, Vegas will be all about the fun times with friends...no pacing/timing to even think about ;-)

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  8. Awesome job! I think "rallying back" sounds a lot better.

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  9. Great job on the race. Sounds like you are coming back nicely. So what do you get as the age group award?

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    1. I have not received the AG award yet...they told me they would mail them, but didn't say when. Maybe it's a new pair of shoes (?) (HA!)

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  10. Congrats on your age group award! That’s awesome especially considering you’re just getting back to running. I love 5 mile races. I wish there were more of them.

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    1. Thanks ;-) There are not very many 5-milers in my area, either, which is why I made a point in registering for this one.

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  11. Wow! Wow! Wow! What a brilliant race and placing in your age group is the cherry on top! All your patience during your recovery is paying off!

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    1. Thanks ;-) It was pretty exciting to be able to run this at a faster-than-I-trained pace, and the AG award was a nice surprise!

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  12. Even without an AG award I think you did great -- but getting that AG award must have felt wonderful! I also like that you don't seem phased by being slower due to the surgery -- which is kind of inevitable but I know many runners who would still be angry about it.

    Congrats on a well run race, Kim!

    I love useful swag, too.

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    1. Thank you, Judy ;-) Well, I still am a bit bitter that I spent most of my summer NOT running, but I learned a great deal about myself...mainly that Running is my favorite sport, but it is not my entire life. I'm not dependent on it for my self worth or happiness, and I appreciate every mile, no matter the speed.

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  13. Great job! That's an awesome time for all that you have been through. Not far off last time!

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    1. I was happy with my finish time, no doubt. I'm thankful my time off (recovering) was well worth it

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  14. Great job... congrats on the AG award! It's cool that races offer something different than a t-shirt!

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    1. I agree...swag other than shirts is a nice change!

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  15. This is so great! Congrats on the award :D

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  16. Congratulations!! Glad to hear your racing is going well! The pin is such a cool idea, I haven't run any races that reward you for coming back, haha!

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    1. The loyalty program is new this year, and I was happy to see it happen. It's a great incentive for runners to consider returning in future years.

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  17. So exciting! So many congrats, my friend!!! And I really like the dry cleaning bag... I'm gonna have to step up my plastic bag game...

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    1. Ha ha...I'm not sure when I came up with the idea of using a dry-cleaning bag instead of a garbage bag. They certainly are a lot lighter in weight and bulk ;-)

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  18. How cool is that! You are seriously coming back so strong! 3rd place in your AG, dry-cleaning bag and all!

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    1. ha ha!! The dry-cleaning bag was not difficult to run in, though it did get a little "steamy" towards the end.

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  19. Congrats on a great race! I can't believe the dry cleaning bag, though! Too funny!

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  20. Congrats on the AG win! That is awesome!!!

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    1. Thanks! It was a pretty substantial victory after the crazy summer I had

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  21. Congratulations!! That is so amazing! I'm happy for you!

    A blanket sounds like a great race souvenir.

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    1. I have a blanket from last year, too (both have different patterns). Definitely a nice change from getting another shirt!

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  22. ICongrats on your AG award! Love your race “gear” too! And that medalmis awesome! Glad you are back at it and doing so well!

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    1. Thanks! The rally back seems to be going well ;-)

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  23. Congrats on the AG award! What a surprise to achieve such an accomplishment so soon after your surgery. Your dedication and persistence is definitely paying off. Keep it up!

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