Confession: I have a lot of favorite races.
Another confession: I'm SO guilty of going back, year after year, to these favorite races.
The thing is, I feel ZERO remorse is doing so. These races never get old, but still offer a comfy "been there-done-that" nuance.
One such race is the IMT Des Moines Marathon. Now in its 18th year, it was in full force this past weekend in Iowa's capital city. This was my 10th time making an appearance for the weekend's festivities, and my 8th time running the half marathon.
With a start time of 8:00, and a 50ish-minute drive to downtown Des Moines, I was out of bed, dressed, breakfasted, and seated in Barb's car by 6:00. Another friend, Ramona, was also in tow.
We drove through some fog, but the sky was clearing as we pulled into Des Moines. We found a parking spot, and headed out for a quick potty stop (plentiful porta-potties at 7:00 on race day LOL). The temps were in the low-40's, which is chilly if you're not in motion, but there was no wind (you read that correctly, NO WIND!).
We found the bag drop...and I had one last chance to change my mind about my race gear...but I decided to go with my gut instinct and stay with the tank and arm warmers. Spoiler-I should never doubt my gut instinct because I felt perfectly fine (after the first mile).
Ramona was doing the 5K (which didn't start until 8:30), so we wished her well. Barb and I swung into a coffee shop for a few final minutes of heat (and an indoor potty option) before heading to the line-up for the start of the race.
I could feel my body shivering as I did a few dynamic moves (high knees, squats, butt kicks). The National Anthem was sung, and we were off. It took a good five minutes to make our way across the start line.
I had no lofty finish time goals for this race. I had (briefly) considered trying for a sub-2, but with a marathon seven days out, this was NOT the time or place for that to happen. My main goal was to run strong but cautiously. If I could finish around 2-hours, without any extra effort, aches or pains, I'd be content.
The first couple miles wind around some of the downtown streets of Des Moines. The full marathon and the half start together, but split near the 2.65 mile mark. The 26.2 runners then head west, on Grand, while the 13.1 peeps veer south, onto Fleur.
At the 3.69 mile mark (yes, I checked LOL), the 13.1 route turns right and begins the journey into Water Works Park. Historically, this segment is my least favorite of the course. It's a long ways in, followed by a 2-mile loop, and concludes with a long trek back out (nearly 5.5 total miles). It's scenic, with a lot of trees (most of which are in beautiful foliage), but for some reason it's always been the most challenging part of the race course for me. A nice feature of it, though, is seeing the elites, who are usually making their way towards the end of it as I'm approaching the 5-mile mark (which is roughly their 8-mile mark). Also, it's within the Water Works Park segment that the full marathon course (mile 18) reunites with the half marathon (mile 5).
As I was making my way around the loop, near the halfway point of the route, things were still feeling great. The temps were near-perfect, the sun had continued to shine, and I felt completely comfortable in my chosen gear. I'd taken off my gloves near the 4-mile mark (but kept them handy, just in case). I had been running strong and steady, and didn't have any phantom aches or pains.
|almost at the 7-mile mark (pic from MarathonFOTO)|
Most of the 13th mile is on the MLK straightaway. The sun was still brightly shining, but there was a slight breeze out of the east, so I put my gloves back on (the cool air felt chilly against my sweaty body). As usual, the final mile blessed me with a glorious dose of mojo, and I could feel my legs taking off as I headed to 1st Street for the final jaunt to the finish line.
I glanced at my Garmin and it showed 1:55. Obviously, the sub-2 wasn't happening, but I still wanted to finish strong. I made my way over the last part on MLK, turned left onto 1st Street and climbed the final few blocks past the 13-mile sign. Another left onto Court and the finish line was just a short ways from there.
No, I didn't finish under the 2-hour mark, but I finished close enough (2:04:14 official). As I said, the sub-2 wasn't a priority. I registered for this race not only because it's a long-standing favorite, but I also wanted a final long run before the Marine Corps Marathon. Thirteen miles was pushing the "long run" distance a bit, so I had to be cautious how I ran it.
I spotted Ramona as I made my way through the chute, and then I saw Barb a minute later. Both were happy with how their races had gone as well. It was a great day!
|We were all feeling great!|
20th (out of 151) in my age group
596th (out of 2200) for females
1430th (out of 3617) overall
Mile 1 - 9:25 Mile 6 - 9:08 Mile 11 -10:02
2 - 9:23 7 - 9:18 12 - 9:25
3 - 9:18 8 - 9:31 13 - 9:08
4 - 9:22 9 - 9:33 (:23) -1:55
5 - 9:22 10 - 9:29
Overall, I'm happy with how the race went. My splits were pretty even (except for the 11th mile, which reflects the hill coming out of Gray's Lake). The fueling went well (Honey Stinger chews near the 5-mile and 9-mile marks). I also took a few sips of water at most of the water stations (every couple of miles) and had a few swallows of Gatorade along the way.
|Very happy with how half marathon #40 played out|
The jackets (for the marathon, relay, and half marathon) are ever so sweet! Who needs another shirt, anyways?
So, that's my story. I'm all for using races as training runs...the key is to keep it as a "run" and don't let it morph into a "race." If you'd like more info about the IMT Des Moines Marathon, you can check out their website (HERE).
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