Saturday June 10, 2017
This marks my 100th blog post which features a recap of my first visit to Des Moines, Iowa as well as updates on Meredith and Anne’s Half Marathon in San Diego! Lots to talk about so you may want to pull up a chair :). The past 10 weeks of training led Carrie and I to her home state of Iowa on what would be a very warm and humid Half Marathon race. It was noted that this was the 7th warmest race in its 38th year of running. lt felt miserable to us after mile 2 or 3.. of course we are used to more of a dry heat until July/August when the humidity cranks up.
But the view from the start was beautiful as nearly 8,000 runners waited on the bridge overlooking Saylorville Lake on the dam. Just a ways, we could see downtown Des Moines with the largest building in the entire state, the 801 Grand…13.1 miles away!
On the morning of the race, we had the privilege to ride with the Invited Elite group on a nice comfortable chartered bus. This was made possible because Carrie was accepted into the Elites group for the race. Fortunately, I was able to ride with her (by association) 🙂 and as a special treat Carrie was able to finally meet Elite Sara Ibbetson as they follow each other on social media.
As you know, running and runners hold a special place in my heart, anytime you can rub shoulders with some of the fastest runners around, is time well spent and an honor in my books! I felt a little out of my element due to the fact that I’m nowhere near the talent level as these men and women. It was an awesome 30 minute bus ride to the start as we began our day!
A special thank you to Elite Coordinator Ben Tilus of Dam to Dam for giving both of us the opportunity to share in this great experience along with the warm hospitality at their Invited Athlete’s room on packet pick up day.. it was great to meet you Ben!
Also a big thank you to Andy Strachan DC, MS of Capital Chiropractic for that much needed adjustment before race day!
The temperature at the start of the race was climbing near 70 degrees with humidity near 80%. Not ideal for racing, at least not for me where my comfort level is more like the low 50’s but that wasn’t going to spoil my day. Carrie was confident as well, she was poised and ready to have a good race as she felt out the field when the gun sounded!
From the start, I didn’t shoot out of the corral in a hurry. Sometimes the crowded beginning is better in that it allows you to gradually settle into your pace. As I crossed the start, I noticed there were no timing mats (more on this later). For as many runners in the Half Marathon (nearly 8,000 runners) the start didn’t seem too congested and I was able to stay in a pack comfortably without coming to a crawl.
Throughout the race it started out warm, got warmer, and finally felt muggy and hot at the end. At each of the aid stations, I took water and electrolytes making sure to take a cup or two to dump over my head to provide some sense of relief until the next station.
I was completely soaked in water and sweat as I continued my 13.1 mile journey. The scenery was incredible as we made our way through some shaded areas giving us temporary relief! Even though it was a tough race, the course wasn’t that bad and only a few small hills or inclines. My feet weren’t too bad until I reached the last few miles. At mile 12.5 Carrie came out to pick me up and run the last 1/2 mile with men. It was great to see her as I figured she would probably do. When I asked her how she did, she said something terrible! I was too focused on trying to finish that I didn’t say much either.
On a day like this, it’s not so much about your time as it is how you persevered and continued the fight when it was much easier to call it quits. So, with one final right turn onto 12th St with about 300 meters to go, I started to kick it in. Then the 200M sign came into view, this is where I visualized the track that I do my speedwork at. From here I put everything I had left in the tank and pushed as much as I could to the finish!
I heard John and Sue (Carrie’s parents) cheering me in as I crossed the finish line! My body was tired, my left foot was extremely painful but I was proud to complete the race. I remembered from previous blogs where I mentioned the race would be painful. I drew from this and was well prepared and pushed back the pain on several miles which was a great mental prep for me.
Remember earlier when I said there was no start line mat for chip timing? Well, it turned out the person in charge of the chip timing had a family emergency the night before the race! For this reason everyone who finished had their times based on gun time only.
Due to this, I finished in 2:00:57 but my watch said 1:59:51 which was the more accurate time. I’m disappointed but not completely upset. In the big picture, it’s simply a time and not a matter of life and death. The only thing in my mind is that I have never finished a Half Marathon race in 2 hrs or slower. I will put an asterisk on this race and know what I really ran. More importantly, I am simply grateful for a great training period and getting my body ready for race day. Mentally I ran a good race considering the hot and muggy conditions.
When I met up with Carrie at the finish line, I found out Carrie had run slower than her anticipated goal but so did just about everyone including the Elites. I told her to hold her head up and I was proud of her and let’s get some water and food :). Even with her “not so” good race, she still finished 15th overall female and 3rd in her age! I say she did a hell of a job and fought back against some tough conditions.. never a doubt she wouldn’t give it her all!
My overall take on the race minus the chip timing issue was that it was a nice course with a good downhill in the very first 1/2 mile with some small rolling hills and only a few climbs to make it a good balance. Despite the hot conditions, this is a race worth doing again if not for a better time for the great support on the course and hospitality… Thanks Dam to Dam and the City of Des Moines!
Afterwards, Carrie and I met up with her parents and their friends from Dubuque Ron and Barb. After showering up and checking out of our hotel, we grabbed a bite to eat and made our way east to Holy Cross for a 3 hour tour!
After the race I was able to reflect on my performance but also what led me to this point. I told myself I have a few goals that I want to achieve. Some of that includes making a positive change to my nutrition and what goes into my body. I know I would perform better in this area and will be working on this. I’m also building a new training plan and strength training regimen for the next goal.. Quad Cities Half Marathon in Moline, Illinois in September.
I’m going to be hitting the weights at the gym and home often and get this body in better form. I will continue to roll and stretch the body to help with some of the aches and pains I’ve been experiencing. I believe for nearly 30 years of running and little stretching and loosening up of the muscles have taken a toll on the body. Now is the time to continue to work on those tight hip flexors, glutes, and feet and make a good run this summer!
For the next 5 days we spent visiting her parents and friends and catching up. Living in metro Phoenix for 20+ years can seem like a big change when going to a place where the nearest store is a tiny convenience store. But the people who live in these small rural places have a different way of life. A lot of them own farms and almost everyone knows each other even though the nearest home is 1/4 mile away or further in certain areas before you get into neighboring towns. Even the locals who drive by as you are running along the road will give a friendly wave in their cars, trucks and tractors! I like that part of the world because it feels natural and relaxing when the rest of the world is caught up in the hustle and bustle.
Carrie also got to see her good friend/runner/yoga instructor/personal trainer Jessica who took in a few days of running on some trails and catching up. It’s ironic how similar the two are.. both are vegan and both are very close in their pace and racing times! Do I smell competition here???
By the way, I did do an hour of Jessica’s outdoor Yoga class along the Port of Dubuque overlooking the Mississippi river.
It wasn’t pretty (my yoga that is) but it did help my body and I appreciate you coming over and helping me with my much needed form Jessica :).
We also had a chance to visit Galena, Illinois just across the border from Iowa. John and Sue picked a nice clear day to visit Galena which is an old tourist town, home to Ulysses S Grant. We got to see the historic home which is now a museum and check out shops before we had lunch at a fantastic Sushi bar called Little Tokyo.. yep Illinois of all places but the food was delicious and so was the beer!
The days were filled were filled catching up with her family and getting in a good run, biking with John’s former John Deere co-workers Dennis and George..thanks to you both for not dropping me on the ride :). We also tended to their huge garden by getting rid of the weeds. Wish it was July when we could taste the sweet Iowa corn!
Check out the home made flag that John made out of wood in his barn complete with the stars and stripes!
Overlooking the vast lands of Iowa!!!
Working on the garden!
Iowa is a great place to visit and take in the natural beauty and appreciate what the U.S. used to be like before the hustle and bustle! It’s great to see there are still places like Holy Cross and Dubuque, Iowa that exist which give this great nation a reason to visit our states!
We spent the last day finishing up mowing the grass and taking in a game of scrabble before heading out to catch our late flight. Thanks again to Carrie’s parents John and Sue for a great week and for coming out to watch us at the race Dam to Dam!
Athlete race update.
Meredith and Anne also had their Half Marathon race in San Diego last Sunday. Leading up to race day, they both had a tremendous training period and worked hard. As a result, both of them had a GREAT race!
Meredith clocked a 2:02:00 and Anne finished in 2:10:59! This was an incredible race for them as they too were dealing with some humidity and warm temps from what I heard. These two ladies are best friends and have been working hard in the winter and spring for a moment to shine. I am very proud of their efforts and the amount of work they have put in.
A coach’s best outcome on race day is for his athletes to perform at their best and run a good sound race. Both Meredith and Anne ran extremely consistent splits on the 5K, 10K, and 10 mile splits as I was tracking them online on race morning. They didn’t drift outside the lines on pace which can zap you quickly if you go out too fast. Far too often runners feel then can “bank” their times on running faster the first half. Almost always, this will backfire and you end up running the second half of the race so slow that you blow your race.
I’m happy to say they stuck to their plan and ran as though their bodies were on a metronome.. sound and consistent! This was a proud moment for all and to see Anne come back from her fractured ankle back in December and have a great race was extremely encouraging!
And Meredith who is the Triathlete of the group with her busy schedule and pursuing her Doctorate and finding a way to work in training and never miss a beat is astonishing.
Kudos to you both on a great race in San Diego! I can’t wait for the next training session to begin and getting you out of your comfort zones once again!
That about wraps it up for Dam to Dam and our incredible trip to Iowa. Time to work on my next training plan and get ready for a summer of 80 and 90 degree morning runs drenched in sweat!