Race day morning for the Dam to Dam Half Marathon in Des Moines, IA started with a 3:00 wake up. We had to make sure that we were up and ready for a bus ride to the start of the race. We warmed up the breakfast I made and then headed to our bus loading area.
It was really eerie walking through Des Moines at 4:30 in the morning. A lot of the bars were cleaning up and there were no cars or people on the streets. At first I thought we were going the wrong way but the Hubs led us straight to the buses.
It was about a 25 minutes drive to the start of the race. I really didn’t look out the window because I was getting slightly nervous about how many miles 13 miles looked from the bus. But once we got to the start, all the nervousness went away. We now had a fantastic view of the Saylorville Dam.
Even though there were a ton of port-a-potties we still had the usual potty lines. And there were also many people just using the natural resources available (i.e. trees!).
After hitting the port-a-potties, we headed to the start. This picture made me laugh. It represents exactly how the entire race felt. HOT!
The Race: Here’s my mental diary of the race
Corrals: After a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, and gun start we started walking to the start. We started in the 10 minute corrals and it was so cool to walk across the whole dam. It was HUGE! Then a quick “good-bye” to Duane and “see you at the finish!”
Start: Crossing the start I notice that are no mats for our chips. Dang, it’s a gun start! No need to worry about time now…
Miles 1-2: Wow this feels great except for that huge ball of heat in the sky. This part of the course was loaded with big beautiful trees and a well paved road that’s downhill! Man that sun was bright!
Mile 2: Missed the water station! Dang, I thought it would be longer. Oh well, I am so thankful of my handheld water bottle right now.
Miles 3-5: Yeah we turned so the sun was behind us. Much better…Lots of corn fields on both sides. Baby corn plants are SO CUTE! I hit the second water station without a problem. Love that they have water on both sides of the course.
Mile 6: Yikes, runner down and hooked up to an IV with a medic. Wow, he looked so strong too. I could tell he was mad that he had to stop. He was stomping his feet while the volunteer was telling him to relax. Said a prayer for him…
Miles 7: I can’t believe I’m over halfway done already. Hitting every single water station was a must. I’m sweating up a storm. Check heart rate–looked good in a low-threshold range. I’m doing good. Leg’s felt awesome! Gotta make sure I send a thank you to Coach Andy for hill work training and my friend Sergio for speed work. Feeling Strong! Drink a water and pour a water on top of me. Ahhhhh
Mile 8: Second runner down with another volunteer on a radio. I could hear the ambulance in the distance. A bunch of us slow down. Still sweating, I’m good. Drink from my bottle and keep going.
Miles 9-10: Shade–finally! Big chunks of shade! Stay in the shade and look at the pretty houses. I’m soaking wet with sweat and water from each station. It felt great! Legs were only stopping for water station. YES!
Mile 10: I can see the city!!!! Almost home! Wow, it looked like we were all running the exact same pace. No one’s passing each other. Everyone’s face looked so focused on just finishing.
Mile 11: A trail—it felt like my trails. I love trees! And a wooden bridge! I love running on bridges!
Mile 11.5: Runner down. He’s breathing like he’s wheezing. Another runner was next to him with a phone helping him. Runners are awesome.
Mile 12: Holy S*#@! Only 1 more mile. Picking it up easily now. Staying in a safe zone really helped my finish.
200 meters: Yeah, we just did 200 meter runs this week at speed training!
100 meters: Smile at the photographers!
Finish: Yes!!! That was an awesome run. Made eye contact with a volunteer who looked at me and smiled. I know his job was to make sure everyone was OK at the finish. Grabbed my medal, now where’s the food?!
The volunteers did a great job trying to keep up with all the runner’s needs. They were watching for runners who needed help and they always had a smile on their faces. I imagine they were exhausted after this race.
The finish was loaded with tons of free food. The time after the race consisted of eating and drinking. There was all-you-can-eat pulled pork sandwiches, ice cream, fruit and beer. Funny having all this before 10am…
Now this wasn’t the smoothest year for Dam to Dam.
The race had some challenges this year. And I kind of feel bad for the director because all of this was out of his control.
- Something happened with the start mat so there was no chip start time. This added a lot of extra time to most runners’ times including ours.
- No flags on Memorial Hill due to construction.
- Sounds like a shortage of cups for the runners in the back.
- The Heat!
For the Hubs and I, we were here to just enjoy a course in a different state. So we focused on all the positive things about this race like…
- All the great food at packet pick-up
- A Brooks technical shirt and socks
- All the water stations along the course with amazing volunteers
- Fantastic support from a bunch of local businesses
- All the free food after the race
- All the beer you wanted to drink (no limits–but I only had 1!)
- A beautiful medal!
We sat and enjoyed the band for a bit and then headed back to our room. We were in dire need of a shower! On the way back to our hotel, we passed a huge Farmer’s Market. We looked around at all the beautiful bakeries (yes, we did make some purchases), jewelry and farm stands.
After a shower and a nap the rest of the day was followed by lunch, dinner and then exploring the skywalk. These were really great air-conditioned glass tunnels to get around the city.
The evening ended with us heading back to our room for a full night sleep with NO ALARM!
Des Moines was a great city! It was walker friendly and loaded with great places to eat and drink. If you’re looking for a half-marathon in Iowa I would highly recommend this race.
Want to join us? Use promo BR2017 for $10.00 your registration. It looks beautiful!!!
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Mad Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews
Anyone else doing a half in each state?
If so, what races do you recommend?