Tuesday, June 4, 2019

DAM to DSM 20K - 2019 Race Recap


As one era ended, another began. And, I'm quite happy how everything played out.

Saturday, June 1, was a day I'd been anticipating. About 18 months or so prior, my beloved Dam to Dam race had announced it would be ending, and the June 2, 2018 race (RECAP) would be its final hurrah. A very short while later, a new race management team (Rip Roar) stepped in, and took the reigns. They committed to keeping the Dam race alive, using the same course (and keeping it the same 20K distance), and they changed the name to DAM to DSM.

The inaugural DAM to DSM 20K happened this past weekend, and here's the story...

Our morning began with an earlier-than-usual wake-up (how does 3:50 a.m. sound?) and a 4:35 a.m. departure for the 50-minute trek to Des Moines, IA. The race is a point-to-point route, so all runners are required to take shuttles to the start line, and the final buses leave at 6:00. We arrived around 5:30, easily found parking (in a free lot, none the less!) and were able to secure a spot in line.

Prior to race day, like any compulsive runner, I had been stalking the weather...and it had not looked ideal. As race day drew closer, though, the scattered storms had been pushed back, and shortened to a few hours (instead of the entire morning). On race day itself, the storms were not forecast to appear until the approximate time I'd be finishing (Score!).
Friday evening's forecast...and Saturday morning's 
Our bus arrived at the Saylorville Dam around 6:30, giving us plenty of time to hit the (crowded lines for) porta-potties. There were maybe 1/3 of usual number of porta-potties, so the lines were exceptionally long.

Although the air was quite humid, there was a hint of sunshine and a very slight breeze. The weather conditions actually felt nearly perfect.

We were able to get to the line-up as the National Anthem was being played, and by the time we'd walked the entire length of the dam (about 1/4 mile), the para-athletes and elites were taking off. One of the neatest sights at the start line, in my opinion, is seeing the Principal Tower, way off in the distance. The Tower sits in downtown Des Moines, near the finish line, making it a beacon as we make our way over the race route.
Can you see the tower (at about 2:00)?
 The hubby, bless his dear ambitious heart, was with me...but he had not trained hardly at all. He knew he'd be needing walk breaks and wanted to do the race on his own. He loves this race almost as much as I do, so he wasn't going to let a lack of training stop him.

As with most races, the first mile is very crowded. There's a lot of weaving, plenty of speeding up (then slowing down), and a lot of enthusiastic chatter. It's all good.

I'd brought some oatmeal to eat on the drive to Des Moines, and had some Honey Stinger chews in my fuel belt. A strategy that had has worked well for me is to eat a couple of chews around the third mile, then again near the 8-mile mark. I usually grab water at each of the stations (every two miles or so), and drink a few swallows.

So, the race had started and everything was feeling good. Although I had not trained specifically for these 12.4 miles, this was my goal race for the late spring/early summer. I had done several shorter races (three 10K's), and had some decent long runs (as well as the the Cherry Blossom 10-mile and Drake Relays half marathon), so I felt ready.

Although I'm a city gal, one thing I love about this race route is the open countryside. The first half of the race has us on a highway with plenty of grass and intermittent trees and brush on either side of the road. The route has a few gentle curves, and a generous downhill shortly after the start line.

The first few miles went well. The sun eventually disappeared behind the clouds, but the air remained really warm and humid. I could already feel the sweat soaking through my shirt each time I reached down to twist my fuel belt back into position. Did you catch that? My belt was already driving  me crazy, and refused to stay put. I tried securing it snugly around my waist, but it kept sliding. At least it wasn't bouncing, so there's that (#glasshalffull).

Shortly after the 3-mile mark, I dug out the HS chews (after untwisting the belt, again). I wasn't feeling tired or hungry, but wanted to stay ahead of the fueling game.
The Tower is just left of the power line pole...it's 3.5 miles closer, though it looks farther away (?)
Before long, I was nearing the I-80 bridge. This is another favorite photo-op spot. Crossing the interstate is pretty cool...there are numerous cars honking and lots of screaming and cheering from the drivers (who are probably wondering what all the weird runners are doing on the overpass at that time of day).



Just after the I-80 bridge is the 10K mark. Whew! Half way! And, a mile or so later is the big hill that will lead us from the countryside and usher us back into the city limits. The hill looks much shorter than it really is because it curves to the left and weaves through a residential area and doesn't level off until after the 8-mile mark.
The hill.....it's a lot steeper than it looks
 I was about half way up the hill when I noticed how dark the sky had gotten. I also saw rain drops on the pavement. Oddly, I don't remember feeling any rain coming down, but I was so hot and sweaty, any additional "moisture from the sky" would not be noticeable.

I ate the last of the HS chews as I walked through the next water station (just after the 8-mile mark). This part of the route is a nice stretch of flatness, then we turn right and get to enjoy a much-needed downhill. Of course, as we know, most every downhill signifies another uphill.

There has been a lot of rain this spring, and Des Moines has had some flooding. As a result, the route was altered slightly. Just after the last major hill (near the 10-mile mark), the course looped into a park for a about 3/4 of a mile. Although this was a new thing for the race (by default of the flooding), I actually kind of liked the change of scenery. They had a lot of loud music at the entrance (and then again at the exit).

I had been glancing at my watch at most of the mile marks, to keep an eye on my pace. My main goal was to run this race strong, with ZERO discomfort. I also was hoping I could sub-2:00 with my finish time, since it was a little shorter than a half marathon (12.4 miles, to be exact).

My D2D PR happened many years ago (1:55:19, in 2012).Given the great spring I'd had, I couldn't help wondering if this could be the year I might be able to challenge that PR. As I was coming out of the loop, now approaching the 10.5 mark, my watch showed 1:43ish. I did some quick math in my head and realized I wasn't gonna make the sub 1:55, but I was probably gonna finish just (barely) under 2 hours!

Now, this is where I need to confess that my mind was playing a nasty trick on me. I have run this race many times, so I know the distance: 20K is equivalent to 12.4 miles. Somehow, though, in the midst of the rain (?), heat (?), humidity (?), and/or annoyance of the ever-twisting fuel belt (?), I was convinced the course was 12.2 miles (instead of the 12.4 that it had always been). With only "1.5 mile" remaining (or so I thought), I could pretty easily snag that sub-2 finish.

So, off I sauntered, probably with a goofy smile on my face. I didn't even notice the rain had stopped, I was finding my mojo to kick it in for the final jaunt to the finish line. I passed the 11-mile mark (not too long after the loop in the park), and it wasn't long before I saw the 12-mile banner up ahead.

Only I didn't hear much of a roar from the crowd....and I couldn't see the finish line. My Garmin showed that I'd, indeed, gone past 12 miles. I couldn't figure out why the finish line wasn't in sight (I could see the Principal Tower, after all). Then, I turned the final corner, and saw the finish line...but it was much farther than 200 meters away. DUH!!! The finish line was 400 meters away because 20K =12.4, not 12.2 (insert #facepalm). So, I did what any runner would do...I gave it my all for those final 400 meters!
Image may contain: 2 people, hat and outdoor

Even in a daze (from all the mathematical confusion LOL), the finish line still felt pretty euphoric. My Garmin showed 2:02:16 (with 12.53 for mileage). Not a 20K PR, but it was my 3rd fastest D2D finish time, ever. Given the fact that the course was altered slightly, I guess I could count it as a PR, right? Anyways, it was a 5-minute improvement over last year's race, so I'm totally happy with everything.

I grabbed some water, stretched for a few minutes, and sat down. I knew it would be awhile before the hubby would be coming through the finishers' chute.

I always like looking at the mile splits....they certainly tell an interesting story:

Mile -1- 9:38          Mile 7 - 10:24
          2 - 9:04                  8 - 9:54
          3 - 9:36                  9 - 9:42
          4 - 10:35              10 - 9:42
          5 - 9:32                11 - 10:11
          6 - 9:57                12 - 9:21
                            (final .53 - 4:41)

Oddly, I felt pretty good for having run a long race on a hot morning. Even when I stood back up (to go wait for the hubby near the finish line), it didn't take much effort...though I left an embarrassing sweaty bum mark on the curb. My main goal had been to run strong, and I did. I kicked it in for the final mile....but I can't help wondering if I could have pushed a little more? It was pretty hot and humid, though, and I don't believe in risking my health/safety for the sake of a faster finish.


The swag was pretty sweet! The event shirts have a great (gender-specific) cut, and I love the fabric and flattering V-neck! We also received reusable tote bags from the expo, with event stickers, a 20K car sticker (with the event name), and cooling towels.

...and, just take a gander at the medal!
No photo description available.

 So, despite my trepidation with the new management company taking over this event, I was very pleased with almost every last detail. The pre-race communication was excellent. The details on race morning were well-executed. The post-finish line party was top-notch. The only snafu, in my opinion, was the limited number of porta-potties at the dam for the start of the race. Hopefully, that's a detail that can be fixed for next year (and future years as well).

A final note, this race was not without incident. There was a 26-year old man, named Chase, who didn't make it to the finish line. He collapsed just before the finish line and did not survive.  I did not hear anything about this tragedy until late in the afternoon, after we'd gotten back home. My guess is he was way ahead of me on the race course. The rescue personnel and first responders had treated him (and then had taken him to a hospital) long before I was anywhere near the scene. Such a sad damper on an otherwise great morning.

Anyways, I'm calling my 12th Dam race a total success. I'm pretty thankful for this thing called running. As many know, the original Dam to Dam was my first long-distance race (in 2008). It sucked me in, and I have gone back every year since. I'm glad the Dam race will continue.

Do you have a favorite race you have gone back to, year after year? Have you ever done a 20K? How do you feel about point-to-point race courses?

I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up

**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Marc  for the Running Coaches' Corner

I'm also linking this with Meranda and Lacey for the Friday with Fairytales and Fitness link-up. 

 

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36 comments:

  1. Brilliant medal and race report and this: "I didn't want to risk my health for the sake of a faster finish." - this is why I am totally OK with my slightly crappy last marathon so thank you for being one of us people who think like this. I love how you can see the end from the start and how lovely that you've done this one so many times.

    I did the Birmingham Half Marathon its first five years then I had to skip a year (make that two) with medical issues and I was sad I wouldn't be able to say in 20 years or so I'd done them all. But then I did the marathon which was on the same day as the half, so I'd have broken my run of them then, anyway!

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    1. I respect that for some runners speed is everything, and they are willing to risk a lot for those endorphins. Myself, I just don't have that competitive drive.

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  2. Sounds like the new race organization did a great job. I really love the shirt and medal for the race. Congratulations on a strong race and also congrats to your hubby for running too!

    So sorry to hear about the runner that didn't make it :(

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    1. Thanks, Kim!! I was very impressed with how well the new organizers did. They did my Dam race proud ;-)

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  3. Congratulations on a great race! I did not realize your hubby runs too. So nice he did the race, even though he was not really trained. I don't think I have ever done a 20K. It's a very appealing distance. I must admit, I smiled when I read your description of trying to do math in your head while running a race. I do that all the time, and I always get messed up too! So funny! :)

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    1. The hubby runs SOME, but he totally didn't train for this one. I was worried because the temps were hot and humid, and he's not one to usually "give in" and walk. Oh gosh....I don't what was going on with my mind! How that 12.2 number got in my head is a mystery LOL

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  4. Fantastic job out there and a negative split! My mind plays tricks on me with distances when I run as well. Sometimes I also struggle to eat the HS chews at just the right time to give me the energy I need to finish. Nice job out there friend!

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    1. The negative split was a surprise, given the hills in the second half of the race. Had I not stopped for so many pics (I took more pics than what I shared on this post), I might have actually gotten my sub-2, or PR. Oh well, no regrets!

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  5. Humidity is tough. Your later splits are great considering.

    I ran a 20K in Paris and found it hard to figure out where I should be timewise so I gave up and just enjoyed it. I was slower than 13.1 miles. Go figure!

    Glad they have continued this race. Looks like a fun one.

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    1. I was really surprised at my later splits! It seemed like I was slowing down, though I didn't really "feel" tired...if that makes any sense LOL

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  6. I read the story about the man who passed away at that race. How very sad.

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    1. The man who passed was such a tragedy. I was surprised to hear about it AFTER we'd gotten home, because it was like it hadn't even happened. There were no signs of any finish line drama...

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  7. Glad the new management team didn't disappoint! Love the swag! You ran a great race - congrats!!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! This has been a favorite race of mine since the beginning, so I was really glad the new company did it justice.

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  8. Haven't heard of many 20k races; probably a really nice way to get a PR at a non-"normal" race distance. Congrats on the pace!

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    1. This is the only 20K I've ever done. They tried making the race into a half marathon for a few years, and many of the loyal Dam runners didn't embrace that change.

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  9. That is so sad about the runner!

    Congrats on your 5 minute improvement from last year. That is great! Glad everything worked out with the new management because sometimes things are iffy.

    I love that you got reusable tote bags. I love getting something different with a shirt. :-)

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    1. I was skeptical how this new race would compare to the other one, but it was great. WHEW!

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  10. It's always so sad to hear that a runner passed during a race, especially one in which you're competing. I know we as runners tend to feel that we wear armor when it comes to things like that.

    Runner's Math! It is a thing. I always have problems doing simple math problems (like how much is left, what doing another loop will add, etc.). I heard a guy talking to his running partner during Rock 'n' Roll, trying to figure some kind of distance issue, and I could tell he was struggling. I laughed and called "runner's math!"

    So it was Dam to Dam and now it's Dam to DSM. Maybe I just missed it, but what does DSM stand for?

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    1. DSM is the abbreviation for Des Moines (for example, the Des Moines Int'l Airport's "code" letters are DSM). And, yes, runner's math! Usually I'm pretty on-task with it...usually LOL

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  11. Congratulations on finishing such a long race with a time you were happy with! The medals looked great and good for your husband for doing it too, even with no training. That takes guts!

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    1. Thanks!! This race has been a favorite of mine ever since I first ran it ;-)

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  12. Knowing people went down in a race -- that is never fun, so it's good you were unaware of it at the time.

    I am just terrible at runner math. I don't show elapsed time on my Garmin, just pace & distance, which is what works for me. So I mostly don't know if I'm close to a PR or not.

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    1. I agree, it would have really been an emotional thing seeing (or just knowing) what had happened to the downed runner. I think I like knowing the elapsed time because that's what I've always done. Even before the Garmin, I always wore a simple stopwatch. I accidentally hit a button one time, and the pace showed (instead of the time), and that totally messed with my head because I wasn't used to it LOL

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  13. And oops, meant to say good job Kim! Humidity is always a bear (at least for me).

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    1. Thanks, Judy! The humidity certainly can be a challenge all on its own!

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  14. Glad you enjoyed the new incarnation of a favorite race. That medal design is really nice! Considering the conditions, you did great. Congrats!

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    1. Thanks! I'm really grateful for how the race played out (except for the unfortunate runner that didn't make it).

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  15. LOVE this! I know you were pretty sad that the DAM to DAM was no more but it sounds like they did a great job reinventing it! And you did GREAT! and obviously you were ready for it! I'm sorry to hear that there was a casualty though - it's always concerning to hear these things.

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    1. Yes, I was so relieved the company did such a great job with this race. It is really upsetting to hear of a downed runner; it just goes to show we are all human and need to respect the race day conditions.

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  16. That is so cool to see the tower in the distance and know you'll be running it in. Congrats on a strong race! I'm glad the new management company did this one proud!

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    1. The tower is a neat feature...one year, I took pics of it every 2-3 miles LOL (it was an especially hot day and I had ZERO hopes of a fast finish, so I chose to make the best of the race)

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  17. Great job and cool medal. That's great the swap bag gave you some race stickers. Usually you have to pay for those at expos.

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  18. Oh my goodness that is horrible about than who collapsed. I hate reading about those. Congrats to you and hubby. What did he think about the race? Will he train next time?

    I found it funny you mention the 1-80 bridge because I live right off the 1-80 bridge in my part of the country over here...lol. - Meranda

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    1. The hubby has run this maybe 8 of the past 12 times I've done it, so he knows the route. Usually he trains SOME...but not this year LOL He does a lot of lifting and other fitness, so he's in moderately good shape anyways.

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