Although I had been looking forward to this race, I was also kind of dreading it as well.
To give you a little bit of insight (in case you've never, ever, heard me mention this race), Dam to Dam is the one race I look forward to the most every year. It was my first-ever long distance event (in 2008), and it started me on a whirlwind of distance running and racing that has kept me quite happy. Not only did I run D2D in 2008, but I have returned every year since, making 2018 my 11th consecutive appearance on the Dam.
|my babies.... ;-)|
Anyways, registration opened up at 6:00 a.m.on March 14th (my birthday, ironic?) and the 8,000 registrations sold out in a couple of hours! They decided to add an additional 1,000 spots, and those sold out about an hour later. Yes, there were a lot of loyal runners who didn't want to miss out. A special twist to D2D 2018 is that our youngest daughter wanted to run it as well, as a birthday gift to me (sigh).
So, fast forward to race day.
|Doesn't everyone begin their race day planking before departing the house?|
|The daughter, myself, and Barb...waiting for the next bus...in the rain|
|Buses, buses, hundreds of buses....|
We heard the start time had been delayed, but we weren't sure why. There was speculation of lightning, but none of us saw anything. The daughter, Barb, and myself (and several thousands of other runners) huddled under the trees in the forest area. Thankfully, we had umbrellas and rain gear with us.
|At least one of us is finding the humor in the situation|
When we got the go-ahead to head to the start line, the weather had really gotten crazy. Not only was the rain still falling, but now the wind was blowing like I'd never seen. It looked and felt like a hurricane...there were discarded umbrellas, ponchos, and various debris flying everywhere as we made our way across the dam to the start line. Of course, in true runner fashion, several of us were laughing at the ridiculousness of everything, and reminding each other that we paid good money to be there.
The daughter had decided she wanted to run alone, so I gave her a hug and wished her well as we crossed the start line. This was her first race, ever. She had not even run track, so her running experience was only in recent months while training for this very day.
The hubby was gonna be near the 4-mile mark, so the plan was for us to hand over any "extras" we didn't want to keep with us. I was gonna leave the umbrella with him (if I didn't toss it).
So, we were off! As usual, the first mile is pretty crowded. It's a little frustrating, but it does keep me from starting off too fast.
It was somewhere just after the 2-mile mark that I noticed the rain had stopped. Not sure if the rain was for sure done, or if it would be down pouring again later, I decided to remove my makeshift poncho (actually, a dry cleaning bag) and save it...just in case. Trying to shed a plastic bag with sticky (already sweaty skin) is not an easy task. I had to pull over and gently peel it off my shoulders and back, so as not to rip it.
Also, I had attached my watch around my fuel belt (under the dry cleaning bag) in an attempt to keep it dry. As I started back running (with the dry cleaning bag all rolled up nice and tight in my hand), I tried to unbuckle my watch to put it on my wrist. Have you ever tried to run and unbuckle a watch with wet fingers? That's not an easy task either. I had to pull over again and use both hands to do so.
Back on the road, I hadn't even ran a 1/4 of a mile when I noticed my bib was flopping all over the place. Since I'd had the dry cleaning bag over it earlier, I had only pinned the top of the bib in place. With the bag gone, and the psycho head wind, my race bib was on the verge of ripping off...so I had to pull over for a third time to secure the bottom edge of it. Seriously? I don't know how much time I lost with those three tedious stops, but with the less-than-ideal weather, I had thrown out any hope of attempting to PR anyways.
My fueling plan was to slam a Honey Stinger gel at Miles 3 and 8. I had eaten part of a HS waffle on the bus ride (and had oatmeal before we left town), so I didn't think I'd need anything at the immediate start of the race. There were water stations at approximately every two miles, so I sipped on my gel between the 3rd and 4th mile until I could grab a water to wash the last of it down.
It was easy to spot the hubby (right before the 4-mile mark). I handed over the umbrella, and kept going.
|Still clutching the dry cleaning bag, I gave up the umbrella LOL|
Overall, I was feeling pretty good. That right hamstring/piriformis was being a bit of an annoyance, though. It's been kind of angry and cranky ever since my last half marathon (which was the end of April), so I know that was part of the problem. Also, with the pre-race huddling, I hadn't warmed up as much as I should have (my bad), so I'm sure that didn't help.
An interesting part of this race is around the halfway point, the route crosses Interstate 80. It's always fun running across the big bridge and seeing all the vehicles, many of which have drivers honking and waving.
One of my favorite highlights of the race, though, is Memorial Hill. This is a long hill, right before the 8-mile mark. It is lined with numerous flags, each of which represents an Iowa service member who has lost their life since D2D's inception in 1980. They always have bagpipers providing music. A lot of the runners are walking (because the hill is a lot bigger than it looks in the picture). Myself, I think it's an awesome tribute and make it a point to run the entire length of the hill...any discomfort I'm feeling is worth it to honor these fallen heroes.
|Approaching the hill....|
|... about half way up the hill...|
|...and....Ahhh, cresting the hill....|
By the time I reached Mile 10, now back in downtown Des Moines, the clouds had parted and the sun emerged! I had brought along my sunglasses as a rain shield, but also as a wishful thinking strategy...and I'm glad I had them with me. The temps also had started to climb a bit.
Finally, near Mile 11, I could feel my hamstring releasing a bit. Usually, it feels better after 3-4 miles, but not this day. Knowing I only had a little more than a mile remaining, I could feel my legs moving faster.
Before long, I turned the final corner and spotted the finish line. Although I had hoped to run this with a sub-2:00, I finished with a 2:07. Certainly not my fastest 20K (my PR is 1:55), but all things considered...the crazy rainy/windy start, numerous stops with the rain gear "stuff," and my somewhat angry hammy...I'm fine with everything. This race was not about me or PR'ing, it was about the final D2D, and it still was a Dam great experience.
|And look who was at the finish line? Herky, the University of Iowa's mascot! Go Hawks!|
|Another Dam race with Barb!|
I had no idea when the daughter would be coming in...I tired texting her and calling her, but she didn't respond. Having never been to this race, she would have no idea where to find us. Barb and I planted ourselves a ways from the finish line and waited...and then we saw her. I ran out and called her name and started running with her, telling her how proud I was of her, and encouraged her to finish strong.
As we approached the finish line, she asked if the photographers would be taking her picture...and she wanted to hold hands as we crossed. We grabbed hands and I could hear her screaming as she pulled my hand in the air. We crossed the finish line, and I gave her a big hug as the volunteer gave her the medal. Talk about a proud mom moment!
As I have said (for all 10 of my previous D2D races), this is such a great event! I have run this race in every kind of weather (except for snow)...there's been rain, wind, cold temps, and hot temps. It's only fitting, for this final D2D, that we'd have a little bit of everything.
The swag is always pretty sweet, too. Not only did we get tech shirts (in gender-specific sizing), but we also received running socks. And, they totally outdid themselves with the finisher medals this year....the red trim sparkles when the sunlight hits it, and the engraving on the back brought me to tears, literally.
So, that's my story. Dam to Dam 2018 certainly was an epic ending to a fabulous era. I'm so grateful to have become a runner and that I had the privilege of running this event for the past 11 years. If you'd like to know more of the history of the event, you can check out the Dam to Dam website HERE.
|Isn't it a beauty?|
Have you ever had an event that drew you back year after year? Ever run a 20K? What's the worst race day weather you've ever run in?