Sunday, October 18, 2009
Race Report: Des Moines Half Marathon
Oh, Des Moines. I am just not even sure what to say.
I rolled into town Friday night on the final stretch of my crazy-whirlwind tour of Colorado. Mentally drained. Physically exhausted. Just pretty much spent. I had worked out all of twice since my 20-miler 8 days prior and I had driven nearly 3000 miles in my car. This is not exactly a recipe for racing success.
Saturday I went down to the expo to register. Which really, if you think about it is a milestone itself.....rolling up to a half marathon like "um, ya, sure...I think I'll run this little race tomorrow....it seems to fit in with my training plan." Just a few months ago that would have been the equvalent of heading out for a liesurely walk on the moon.
First kudos go out to Des Moines for the cute race t-shirts! I might actually wear this one. They kept it simple, and added a nice touch of green on the sides. Well done.
Second kudos, it took me all of 10 minutes to get through registration and packet pickup. Sweet. Although, this is a remarkably small race. I guess I was expecting bigger. I heard 2000 marathon, 3000 half. Pretty small.
But small means no parking issues on race morning! I left my friend's house just over an hour before the start with no idea where I was going to park, and managed to get free ramp parking two blocks from the start line. So nice.
Third kudos, upon exiting my parking garage, I crossed the street to a row of porta-potties with NO WAITING. Unheard of. I was in awe.
It was a cold morning. Frost on the car, even. But the lobby of the office building next to the start line was open to keep warm. I just could not believe how relaxed the whole thing was. I barely got pre-race jitters. It felt like I was just out for a little training run with 5000 of my friends.
The start was a little bit of mess. I think the pacers lined up too close to one another so there was overfill off the street. I ended up having to start way behind my pace group, but it all worked out.
What didn't work....my Garmin. Ugh. I had turned it on when I was inside, which apparently disables the satellite, so about a mile in I realized I had no pace or distance. A bit of a problem for someone trying to PR this thing. I ended up resetting it around mile three which threw off my mileage and time, but at least I knew my pace.
And my pace.....was FAST (you know, for me). I set a personal record (PR) for a 10k the first 6.1 miles of this half marathon. Umm....I don't pretend to know a lot about racing but I'm guessing that is a bad strategy for a half marathon. And, it was. The second half was a bit of a train wreck (almost literally, but I'll get to that in a minute).
My hip started hurting around mile five. By mile eight I was about ready to cut off my right leg. So frustrating. I've had lower leg issues, but haven't have any of the hip pain that has plagued me in the past....until now. Two weeks before the marathon. Figures.
Other than the pain, the race was pretty uneventful -- downright boring, even. I just kept mentally telling myself "PR, PR, PR." And I was pleasantly surprised to find I had the speed to get away from annoying race conversations, and heavy breathers.
I started slowing noticeably after mile 7. My legs felt tight, like they never warmed up from the cold. And I couldn't hold form for anything. (Little too much slouchy car-time maybe?) By the last mile, I really just wanted to be done and warm. I had blisters on both big toes, my hip was in full-on stabbing-pain mode, and I was bummed that I wasn't going to smash my PR.
The way the last mile of this race is laid out, you don't see the finish until you turn left with about four blocks to go. As I turned the corner, the marathon winner was coming through. Really fun to see (if not a bit depressing, considering the dude had just run twice as far as me in the same amount of time) and the first time I can ever say I ran along side the winner of a race (albeit for about half a second). But then I looked up ahead and saw something I had never seen before in a race......a train. A train that was about to cross the street and block runners from the finish line a mere two blocks away. Runners that included the marathon winner.
I don't make this stuff up. Read about it here.
So there we all stood. Watching the train. Watching the marathon winner watch the train. And eventually watching the second place marathon runner catch up, and also stand there and watch the train.
I mean, can you even imagine?
I ended up missing my PR by 29 seconds. About the time I stood there watching that train. Am I bummed? Not really. The fact that I was that close to my PR is good enough for me. Especially considering the hip problem. I'm more bummed about that than the stupid train. Fitness-wise I felt great. But I think my body was letting me know just how it felt about being trapped in a car for 3000 miles.
Oh well. Another medal to hang on the wall. Which seems funny, considering just 10 days ago I ran 20 miles with no fanfare at all. But then those medals we get are about more than just the race. They are symbolic of all the effort that it took to just get to the start line.