Friday, May 12, 2017

Des Moines Women's 13.1:Balancing Racing with Training

What happens when a nation-wide event comes to a nearby city? And, let's just suppose, for a moment, this event happens right in the middle of your 26.2 training?

Well, if you're anything like would go for it and register!

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At the Des Moines Women's Half Marathon with my friend, Barb
That said, let me emphasize what's REALLY going on in my running life right now. As much as I love pinning on a bib and exploring a new 13.1 course, I have a bigger dragon to slay...Grandma's Marathon (June 17). A lot of people probably think I have no business doing so many races in the midst of training for a marathon (and there'a lot of merit in their concern). I am not running these races with an all-out, in-it-to-win-it-mindset, though. With the exception of Klompen Classic 5K (recap), which was a legit "speed workout" (as well as an actual race in itself), I'm treating these races as training runs.

Leading up to this half marathon, I also had run one of my fastest 5K's ever (Wednesday, four days prior) and had also run a decent half marathon the previous weekend (Saturday, eight days prior).  I also had done two (easy-paced) 5-mile runs (on Monday and Friday). I have a few more weeks of increasing distance for my long runs (peaking at the end of May), and then it will time for the taper. So, in other words, these two back-to-back half marathons happened at a great time since I'd be doing long runs of a comparable distance anyways.

So, Sunday morning arrives and Monna N chose to bless us with beautiful weather. We had sunshine! Clear skies! Temps in the high-40's at the start line! And a very gentle breeze! All the makings of a near-perfect race day scenario.

The Jasper Winery was the setting for the inaugural Des Moines Women's Half Marathon (and 5K). Sponsored by Shape magazine, this was an event for (and all about) celebrating women.
Ready for the start line
The race began at the winery, and the first few miles took us towards downtown Des Moines and circled around Principal Park. The fifth and sixth miles had us running along the Raccoon River trail (along Grays Lake) before looping around Water Works Park and ending back at the winery.

For the most part, the course was pretty flat, and it was fast! Given my state of 26.2 training, I did have a bit of an inner-self battle with trying to hold back (and run easy) versus just letting the spirit of the morning take me (and risk injury by running too fast on a somewhat still-in-recovery body). After all, I had a beautiful morning and ideal conditions to go for a PR.

The first couple miles were fast for me (sub-9:00), and I could tell I'd need to reign it back. Although I felt good and wanted to keep going at that fast pace, I knew I needed to focus on the big picture (the upcoming marathon, and not the current race). I was able to progressively slow down some, but both sides of my brain had nonstop chatter about racing a 13.1 vs. training for a 26.2.

I did have to pullover for a potty stop in the sixth mile, which cost me 1:10 of "running time" due to the slowpoke ahead of me (seriously, why does it take some people so long to do their business???). Other than that, I ran the entire race without walking (except for the water stations) and never felt fatigued.

It was great seeing so many women, many of whom were embarking on their first half marathon. The course was well supported with numerous aid stations and occasional marshals on bikes. Everyone (of legal age) also received a glass of wine after the finish line!

1-This was a very successful race for me, especially in terms of how effortless it felt.  I felt great the entire race and was able to tap into a decent surge at the end. It was difficult trying to hold back, though. Although I don't consider myself fast, I do have a difficult time trying to make myself run slower than what feels "natural." There were times when I wanted to just let loose and go...but feared I'd crash and burn well before the finish line if I did so. Being a training run, this was more about running the distance efficiently and not about how fast I could do it. I still probably ran it faster than I should have, but I think I ran it well since I felt like I still had a little bit of mojo remaining when I finished. (I also did a slow cool-down run after the finish line)

2-My splits tell a good story. It's obvious that I progressively slowed my pace as the miles worn on. Some of that was due to the temperature rising, but most of it was a concerted effort to not "race" through the miles. If you've ever had to consciously make yourself slow down, you can appreciate how challenging it is to fight and keep your body from doing what it wants to do.

1-8:48                  7-9:10
2-8:53                  8-9:32
3-9:08                  9-9:36
4-9:10                10-9:39
5-9:20                11-9:47
6-11:01              12-9:47
(9:51 if you        13-8:57
subtract the        (.1-:29)
potty stop)

3- Free race pics! We're talking free printed pics, folks. We were encouraged to post our own pics on social media (and hash tag them #dsmwomenshalf). Throughout the morning they would print off these pictures and display them on a board...and the pics were free to take home with us. I've never see that before!
One of my pics on the display board
4-The singing of the National Anthem...the gal who sang for us was amazing! She also did a heart-stopping rendition of Alicia Keyes' "This Girl is on Fire" before the race began.

5-The swag was killer! Not only a bright purple 1/4 zip jacket (with thumb holes!), but also a wine glass! And the race bibs featured our names more so than our race numbers.

Overall, I think this was a well-organized event. Given the fact that it was an inaugural race for Des Moines, I thought it went off without a hitch. I finished in 2:03:10. Remember that annoying 1:10 wait for the porta-pot at the sixth mile? Subtracting that off gives me a 2:02 finish time.....which is pretty satisfying since I didn't really try to run hard (except for the final mile). I wound up with an 11th place age group finish (out of 55), and was 249 (out of 948) over all. I do have a little regret in not running a little bit harder, but am glad I was able to control my "training run" pace and keep it (somewhat) under control. That sub-2 will have to wait for another time.

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Isn't the medal pretty? (pay no attention to the salt smears on my face)
And, kudos to my friend Barb, who placed third in her age group, and another friend, Nettie, who won their age group!

Have you ever been blessed with what felt like an effortless race that rewarded you with a great finish time? Should I have given up on the "26.2 training" for the morning, or was I wise to slow things down? What would you do?

I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0. 

And also with Nicole for the Fit & Fashionable Friday link-up


  1. Seems like you have been running a lot of races during training but it seems to be working for you really well so why not?! hope you have a fabulous mother's day

    1. I'm thankful it's been working for me. Best Wishes for a great Mom's Day!

  2. I think you were wise to slow things down.

    PCB was one of my best races -- I wouldn't say it was effortless -- if it's effortless, I'm not racing! But some of it felt pretty darn easy.

    What a great inaugural race! Jelly of the swag? And PRINTED photos? That's amazing!

    If I could run a half in that amount of time, I would definitely at least try to tackle a full. Great job!

    1. The race definitely was a nice event. The pics were a great touch!

  3. I cannot do a race as a "training run". I think I absorb the race atmosphere and the adrenaline makes me want to run fast! Kudos to you for holding back.

    Barb is amazing!

    1. This one was tough to hold back on...but I'm such a goody two shoes gal, I always fear over-doing it with my "speed" and regretting it later

  4. What a great race and yes, you handled it wisely! Love the swag!

  5. I'm actually a huge fan of incorporating races into long runs. Like you, I don't race full out but I enjoy running in races.

    Hope you have a great Mother's Day!

    1. Thanks, Kim! I love the race atmosphere even if I'm not "racing" with the crowd

  6. Congrats!!! Sounds like you hit your race goals and played it smart! Love that swag too. Hope you have a great weekend.

  7. I love adding races to my marathon training. It makes all those long runs more fun! This race sounds like a blast. Wineries? Free pics? An awesome medal? Maybe I'll come do it next year with you!

  8. Slow and easy and fun sounds like a great plan to me! I love the printed out pictures for you to grab and take- super cool! Great race! Have a great Mother's day weekend!

  9. The perfect conditions for a race - congratulations! It always feels SO good when you have an effortless run and you nailed it, even though it had to be so hard to hold back! You're going to do amazing in your upcoming marathon!

    1. Thanks, Janelle! I'm feeling pretty good about my training thus far....

  10. Congrats! What a fun recap.

    When I race for training runs, I start suuuuuuper slow. Then I don't have to battle myself to slow down because you're right, it's a huge challenge!

    Way to go on another solid run!

    1. Starting slow is tough, too LOL There's no easy way to do it...

  11. I like to schedule tune up races before my goal race so I have an idea of what my fitness level is and if I am making realistic goals for the race. You could have probably pushed a little bit more but I know that in the back your mind, you don't want to take the risk of getting hurt. Sounded like a great race though!

  12. I think you were wise to keep it a training run. No sense risking injury when you've got a bigger goal ahead. Plus, it shows you how well you're progressing in your training that this felt effortless and was a struggle to keep the training pace. All good things!

    The race itself sounds like it was really great, too! Love the picture idea. That's really cool. And the wine, of course. ;-)

  13. Great splits and great that you kept it a training run, I have issues doing this because once I actually get into race mode I want to race. Love that they offer free race pics!

  14. What a fun race. Great swag.

    You know me. I love to race. I do short races as training runs all the time. I hold back but not as much as I should. But I'm not training for a full just a half.

  15. I'm all about using races as part of my training. Its a fun way to break up the long runs. Its often difficult to hold back, but sometimes its also good to push ourselves and see what we're capable of in the middle of a long training cycle.