Monday, October 21, 2019

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon 2019 Race Recap


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!).

Cloudy skies were in the forecast, though, so I was (again) confused as to what to wear. My usual go-to is a tank with arm warmers (because then you have the option to roll down - or completely remove-  the arm warmers if you get warm), but I toyed with wearing a long-sleeved top instead. I brought along said long-sleeved top (with the intention of wearing it post-race), and I also opted for capri tights. Since the air was cold, I wore a headband over my ears (but added a more colorful "summer" headband over it).
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ready to line up...
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)
Coming out of Water Works Park (near the 9-mile mark), we crossed Fleur and headed into Grays Lake Park. The path around Grays Lake is well-utilized for many of the Des Moines races. The loop around the lake was about two miles, and the path then lead us up the one major hill of the 13.1 race, just after the 11-mile mark. This hill is about a 1/2-mile in distance, but seems longer because it curves around and you can't see just how much further it goes until you're finally back on MLK Parkway (heading due east) with the 12-mile mark in sight.

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!
My stats:
20th (out of 151) in my age group
596th (out of 2200) for females
1430th (out of 3617) overall

My splits:
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.
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Very happy with how half marathon #40 played out
Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about the IMT Des Moines Marathon. There really is something for everyone. The marathon (which also offers a relay option), half marathon, and 5K  all take place on Sunday. Saturday features a 5-mile road race, a 1-mile walk, and a kids run. Participants have the option to combine Saturday's 5-mile race with any of Sunday's races...and their medals will coordinate as a set (this year the medals interlocked to create a stand-up display).

The jackets (for the marathon, relay, and half marathon) are ever so sweet! Who needs another shirt, anyways?

And, the medals! Every year, the medals seem to get better and better. Although the medals look similar, the logo showcases either an M, H or R (for Marathon, Half, or Relay) and they come with different colored ribbons.
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Isn't it a beauty?
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).


Have you ever run a race as a training run? If so, how did it go? Ever returned to a favorite race several times? Have you heard of the IMT Des Moines Marathon?

 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

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31 comments:

  1. Lovely race report (and no wind! hooray) and good, steady, solid work. I did Liverpool RnR marathon as a training run for my ultra and it worked really well although it's quite hard to run a marathon and not go all out for it! But I did that and was pleased as I knew I could have done five more on that day. Love the medal and the jacket, goodness me. I feel I might have to pop over to do some US races as we never get that here (there is somewhere you get a hoody, which is lovely).

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    1. Thank you! When I saw this race was the weekend before MCM, I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "so what?" I knew I wouldn't be "racing" it, but it did serve well as a long run (albeit a bit faster than my "marathon" pace).

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  2. Someone else I follow was there and showed a photo of the jackets -- I've only received a jacket from a half once, but that is definitely really preferable to a tee!

    You ran such a strong, consistent race. I think you're going to have a great MCM (well, I know it'll probably be great no matter what the finish time). Congrats, Kim!

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    1. Thank you, Judy! This was a great confidence-booster. The perfect weather really helped make it happen.

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  3. Nice race, Kim! Congrats on the speedy 13.1 (and you weren't even trying!) If this half was easy for you, you are gonna have a great MCM. Maybe I'll see you there!

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    1. Ha ha...well, I wouldn't go so far as to say it was "easy," but it definitely felt like everything fell into place. Finishing a race (a 13-mile race) and feeling like you could keep going for several more miles is a nice reality, especially when the weather was on-point.

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  4. A jacket is definitely preferable to a tee which I have a zillion of. I've never gotten one for a half but one for a 15k which I love.

    What a strong race for a training run. That would be a PR for me LOL

    You are going to rock MCM!!

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    1. Thanks, Darlene! We'll see what happens in DC...I've done this 26.2 gig a few times, and the race day can be a total crap shoot, even with a solid training cycle.

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  5. Well darn, this is a long drive from my house. Looks like a really great race! I see why you keep returning. So many race options! LOVE that jacket. I have never received a jacket from a race (well, except Boston which you pay for!). I didn't run any longer races during my summer marathon training and I really should have. It's great prep. Solid race for for you! Congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! This race felt good. It would have been a perfect day (with that perfect weather) to go for a PR...if only there wasn't this other race happening seven days later LOL

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  6. This is a great recap! I've never been to Iowa, but I have visiting all 50 states on my bucket list! It looks like you all got some really great swag from this race! Do you recommend any arm warmer brands? I always thought those were compression sleeves!

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    1. Thank you!! I don't have any specific brand of arm warmers I'm partial to. I actually wore cut-off knee socks for arm warmers (at this race) because they're thicker and warmer ;-)

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  7. I feel like this would be the race I would pick if I ran a race in Iowa. Also it has your seal of approval so that means it has to be amazing :)

    I have a local 5K that I do every year and it never gets old to me. I don't have a half marathon that I've done more than twice, but if I lived in Chicago I feel like I'd always do the RnR race there.

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    1. It would be awesome for you to join me in Des Moines next year!!!!

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  8. Good race report and nice effort for a training run. I was looking for you but didn't really expect to see you, me being so much further back in the pack. I was staying in an airbnb in the Kirkwood, right on 4th street. I was literally doing my warm up sprints on 4th in front of the door to my building. Stopped at that coffee store after the race before heading back to my room for a nice soak. It was a really nice day for a race. And those jackets are very nice.
    Well done and good luck at MCM!

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    1. Thanks! This is such a great event! They had the same jackets last year (but in different colors), and I think they are a nice touch.

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  9. Looks like a great confidence booster before your race this weekend. Nice job to you and your crew

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    1. Thanks, Deborah ;-) Yes, it was a great confidence boost, which we all need every once in awhile.

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  10. Congrats on a great race (or your last long run before the marathon, how ever you want to look at it). Love the jacket and you're going to do awesome this weekend.

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    1. Thanks!!! I'm getting a little anxious for this weekend...the weather is looking rather damp ;-( Hoping Momma N can turn things around in the next few days LOL

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  11. Congrats on another great race! I love the jackets! I certainly don't need another tshirt. Good luck on Sunday!

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  12. I did this race in 2014. We had some great weather and I liked the race. The best part was the post race food. :-)

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    1. It's a great race! The 13.1 course is pretty flat, so it's not too strenuous ;-)

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  13. Congrats on another great race...You are going to rock MCM...

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  14. Such a great race for you! I cannot wait to see what you do at MCM!

    And that jacket is great - I wish more half's offered a jacket instead of just a t-shirt.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle ;-) They've had 1/4-zip jackets for the past five years or so, but this year (and last year), they went with the track jackets. Definitely a step-up!

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  15. Love it! what a fabulous race, well run. I, too, have so many favorites to which I keep returning. I can't help it. I can't wait for you to conquer MCM!

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    1. This race is a favorite, no doubt. Both the 13.1 and the 26.2 hold my PR's ;-)

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  16. Congrats on a great race! And wow, that jacket is sweet and much better than another race t-shirt. I love doing the same race over and over and have several that keep calling me back.

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