As the saying goes, "always earned, never given."
That's true for many things, in running and life in general. It was the paramount mantra that got me to the DAM to DSM finish line on Saturday morning.
I have said it many times, but this event is one I look forward to every year. With Covid-19 wiping it off the grid for 2020, this race was a long time coming.
Under normal circumstances, D2D takes place the Saturday following Memorial Day. This year, it got pushed back to this past weekend (again, #Covid), so it was a few months later in the summer than usual...and the weather was a little hotter. Prior to race day, the race officials sent an email, cautioning the participants of the heat advisory in place.
As the name suggests, the race starts on a dam. Being a point-to-point race route, all the runners are bussed out to the start line, at Saylorville Dam.
We had a 3:30AM wake-up, and a 4:15AM departure to get to Des Moines in time to snag a spot on one of the many shuttle buses (the logistics do not allow for runner drop-offs or parking at the dam). The last bus departs downtown Des Moines at 6:00, allowing for everyone to make the 7:00 start time (elites and wheel chair athletes start at 6:45).
Unique to this year, they instituted a rolling start from 7:00-7:30, so the usual start line wasn't such a cluster of people (the event is chip-timed, so the rolling start was a great improvement).
The dam is a 2-lane road, with a very narrow shoulder, so it's very crowded walk (for the better part of a mile) before you reach the actual start line (on the opposite end of the dam).
|the tower is right above the tree line, on the left (at about 10:00)|
So, the hubs and I made it to the start corral. I had no grandiose goals (due to the heat and humidity, as well as the recovering hip), but I was almost embarrassingly giddy to just be there. The hubs? Well, he had not trained much, so he did have a grandiose goal - to simply finish, in a vertical position (he later told me that he'd seen a runner down, near the halfway point, receiving first aid. This runner appeared much younger, so that was a sign that it was a morning to respect the weather and not be a hero).
The first few miles went well and all things felt great. I even caught myself shedding a few happy tears because I was so grateful to be back running my favorite race. My fueling plan was to have a gel around miles 3-4, and then again around mile 8. It was somewhere in between the third and fourth mile that I paused for a quick pic of the Principal Tower, and decided to eat the first gel since I was already stopped. My hands were so sweaty (as were my clothes, so I had nothing to dry them off with) that I couldn't get a good enough grip to tear the gel wrapper open. I wound up walking for a couple minutes as I tried (in vain!) to rip off the wrapper tab. Finally, I was able to get an itsy-bitsy hole open (akin to a pin hole) and was able to access the gel. Anyways, mission accomplished. Onward!
|The tower is to the left, just above the tree line...a tiny bit closer|
Did I mention it was a hot and humid morning? Already by the third mile, I was a saturated mess. I had already noticed a lot of runners taking walk breaks, as well.
A highlight, of the route, is crossing I-80. This happens just before the halfway point. I usually am able to capture a selfie, among the chorus of honking cars and trucks. Wouldn't you?
Just after the I-80 overpass, is the 6-mile mark, and the 10K timing mat is just a short ways further. Up to this point, the route had been on paved county roads through the Iowa countryside. Once we pass I-80, we leave the country scene and heads towards the city...starting with Memorial Hill. This hill encompasses much of the seventh mile...and is a tough climb, especially on a hot morning. There's usually more people walking than running it...
|...at about the halfway point of the hill...|
|between miles 9 and 10...see the tower?|
Shortly after the 10-mile mark, the course loops off (into Union Park) for most of the 11th mile. It was during this little jaunt that my calf muscles starting seizing up if I ran for more than a 1/4- mile at a time. Ugh. This has happened a few times before, but it's been awhile (Quad Cities Half Marathon, September 2016). Also, by this time, I was seeing even more walkers...gals and guys (of all ages). I was tempted to ask if anyone wanted a power-walking buddy to finish the race with...but decided to just keep going at my own pace. Honestly, I could run pretty fast; I just couldn't run very far LOL, so my power-walking pace averaged out to be actually faster than the run/walk intervals I was doing by default.
I made it out of Union Park, and passed the 11-mile mark. My watch showed I'd been going for just over two hours, which really was a decent pace despite all the unexpected walking. In a final attempt to run-it-in, I broke into a jog, then upped the pace a tiny bit. Things felt good...for about another 1/4 mile ((sigh)). So I did a few more brief run/walk intervals, rounded the corner at the 12-mile mark, and was able to run the final 400 meters (slowly) to the finish line.
But, I did it. And I did it with a smile. Though my finish time of 2:19:31 isn't horrendous, it is one of my slower D2D finishes. Oh well. Some days the stars, moons and planets all align and sometimes they don't. It's up to us how we handle it. This 2:19:31 finish time represents another finish line (of a favorite race, none the less) on an especially tough morning. It's a victory that I'm quite grateful for having fought, and won.
|20K - 2:19:31|
There was food and refreshments near the finish line, but also a shuttle bus that took runners to a post-race party at Exile Brewing (about a 1/2-mile away). All runners were rewarded with a free draft of their choosing, so we took advantage. And we all three left very wet spots on the pavement from our very sweaty clothing.
So, what exactly went wrong? I think it was a combination of several things, the biggest of which was probably (1) my fueling. With the race starting at 7:00, and us leaving town at 4:15, there's a pretty big gap in there. I had eaten some oatmeal before leaving town, and had also eaten a Honey Stinger waffle before the start line...but I probably should have had more solid food (though I didn't feel hungry, all morning, even as I was running). No doubt, the (2) weather was also a factor. It was downright brutal (92F at the finish line), says the gal who usually can tolerate such conditions. Although my (3) hip/groin issue didn't give me any problems on race day, I was paranoid it might...so I did try to take things easy. Even though I thrive on (4) little sleep, I probably should have gotten a little more shuteye. I did go to bed early for me (10:00PM), but I should have gotten more sleep in the days prior as well. Lastly, although this isn't a bad thing, (5) I was so content just being there, that I didn't really care how I finished. Yes, I love this race THAT much.
In addition to the awesome medal (pictured above, and below), there was plenty of additional swag: tech fabric (gender-specific) shirts, cooling towels, water bottles, and a key chain (which matches the medal). We also received a free drink ticket (for the after-party at Exile Brewing) and a stretch bracelet (not pictured).
The race shirts are SO awesome...the graphics are outstanding! Maybe that's why I saw a record number of participants wearing them...(?).
|front and back|
So, there you go! Although it was a tough day on the race course, it still was a successful day of doing what I love. Quite simply, in the 14 years I've done this race (including the forced-virtual one last year), D2D never disappoints.
Do you have a race that you've done for 14 consecutive years? What's the toughest challenge for you on race day...weather, fueling, proper rest, etc? Would you wear your event shirt on race day if it said "Finisher" on it?
Brilliant, well done to all of you! How lovely you could finally do it in person again. I did the Birmingham Half-Marathon for its first five years, had two years off then the marathon was the same day in 2017 so I wouldn't have been able to be an ever-present anyway.ReplyDelete
This race is just one of those events that I cannot imagine ever missing ;-) At least last year, when everyone else had to run it virtually, I didn't feel like I was missing out by "biking" it. I'm so glad they were able to have it return, even at a different time of year.Delete
Well done, Kim! I agree, sometimes races just need to be enjoyed - there's no use killing yourself on the course with all the heat and humidity going on. Well done for keeping up with the run/walk interval. I like the idea with seeing the tower come closer as you progress!ReplyDelete
You got such a lovely race shirt - I got one last weekend which was sooo ugly, haha!
Too bad on your race shirt LOL Honestly, what are the designers thinking??? I've had some ugly doozies, too, and I always wonder if anyone ever wears them beyond the finish line.Delete
Well done. Your finish time is not horrendous even if it is one of your slower finishes: it's very tough to run a long distance race with heat and humidity but you did it and you are in the 1st half of the pack!ReplyDelete
A very beautiful swag.
Thank you so much! I did so much walking, especially in the last three miles, I was really surprised my finish time was as "fast" as it was. No regrets, though ;-)Delete
Way to give it your all despite the heat! Heat really does suck the energy out of you and it was probably was made your cramping come up. You finished and it sounds like you still did your best to soak it all in and enjoy this race!ReplyDelete
The cramping, no doubt, was from the heat and my electrolytes were definitely MIA I have noticed, too, when I have to walk a lot, that just exacerbates the cramping...But, this race still was a great time, even in the less-than-ideal conditions.Delete
This will be year 7 for my local marathon, so yes I have "that race" that I will always do no matter what. I have to say that DAM to DSM sounds pretty awesome.ReplyDelete
PR's are all very well and fine, but the #1 goal for every race should be to have a good time and you nailed it!
Yes, I agree the #1 goal should be to have a good time ;-) That's why I seldom ever regret a bad finish time because I can usually find something to enjoy about the race OR learn from the experience.Delete
Awesome job on another D2D race! You already know I love the medal, but the shirt is great too. Seems like that race has awesome swag options!ReplyDelete
OMG, this race has always had great swag, but the past three years (under the new race company), the swag is spectacular!Delete
Great job! Sounds like a tough day, but you made it. Its been so tough running in the humidity this summer so I can't imagine trying to race in it. So glad you were able to be back at your favorite race!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Lisa! It was so great to be back at the dam, running the DAM race ;-)Delete
What a tough day to run--the humidity has been really hard this year. It's always important to adjust your expectations and remember how lucky we are to be able to do these things. Congrats!ReplyDelete
Yes, exactly! The humidity and heat do not make for "hero-like" expectations. I'm forever grateful to be on any race course, especially this one ;-)Delete
That is an early start! Summer running and humidity is so unpredictable. I'd say finishing is a great win! I am going to carry my own hydration for my race next week too bc I have trained using it and well it's still so hot. congrats to all of you on a tough raceReplyDelete
Yes, it is an early start to a long day...and we really don't have any downtime until after the finish line (except for the bus ride to the start line).Delete
Ah, that race looks amazing! I love a point-to-point race- it seems like such a fun adventure. Of course, the weather... 92 is brutal. Looking at your pictures, I can't believe how many people were wearing t-shirts (as opposed to tanks!). That would make it so much worse for me. Anyway... I'm glad the race happened and that you were able to enjoy it. 14 consecutive years is quite an accomplishment!ReplyDelete
There were a lot of peeps in short-sleeved shirts, and SO MANY were wearing the event shirt! I think we all were just so grateful to have our DAM race back, live and in-person ;-)Delete
It's never easy to race on a hot & humid day. The weather last week was really brutal! I'm glad you still got to enjoy the experience, Kim.ReplyDelete
Weather mostly tends to be the thing that can make or break me -- but sometimes I come out on top of it too.
This is such a special race to me, I've never walked away feeling bad (no matter my finish time or struggles to get there).Delete
Congratulations!! You did a great job in tough conditions! I gasped when I saw that wakeup time, lol! Humidity is always a killer for me, so it has definitely drained me on more than one race!ReplyDelete
I've have had pretty much every kind of weather condition (except for snow LOL) for this race. There have been a few years with really hot/humid conditions, but this was one of the most extreme. Still, no regrets!!Delete
Great job especially under those conditions. My splits lately are similar.ReplyDelete
I have raced a 5k (Freihofers) for 13 years...it's like an old friend.
This race is definitely an old friend ;-)Delete
I'm sorry you had a rough time, but it sounds like this race is just as good as ever! Congratulations to Barb!ReplyDelete
I am doing a point to point race in a few weeks. They are different, although I hate the idea of bussing anywhere right now.
This race never disappoints ;-)Delete
Great job Kim! I love that you have run this race so many times. And huge congrats for enduring the tough conditions!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Michelle ;-) It was a tough day, the fact that so many people were walking by the third mile says a lot.Delete
Great job Kim! The wake up time is so early but I get it. I remember having to wake up really early for the Disney races too and did not like it one bit.ReplyDelete
Congrats on your finish in spite of the heat and humidity. I love that your hubby was there to suffer along with you.ReplyDelete