3:30 Awoke, ate breakfast, let it settle and then took a nice wake up shower before dressing and leaving for downtown Des Moines.
4:30 Heading downtown I found myself in a convoy of area school buses heading the same way to help transport runners to the DAM.
5:00 Parked my car and headed to the convention center. Ran into two friends here, Marilyn who walked the full Des Moines marathon last year. She was DAM volunteer. Also ran into an old pal whom I have not seen for a few years. John told me this would be his fourth DAM to Dam and that last year he had run a full marathon in Chicago in under four hours. Like Justin, John told me he likes to always be registered for an upcoming event to keep his motivation up.
5:20 Called Justin and left as message saying I was going to hop on a bus and hoped to meet up with him at some point.
6:00 Due to flooding last year that wiped out the road to the Dam's south side the buses dropped participants off at the Lakeview Boat Ramp. This meant a nice little uphill hike to the starting area. The view up the lake was nice and there were a few boats out already. Once up top I paced myself through drinking a few more cups of water and I even ate a bag of Sharky's.
6:45 Line up for the start. A few thoughts and well wishes for a good run where said to the runners, our national anthem was sung, and prayer was said.
7:00 The race begins and I am standing in the middle of the road. I was expecting that the run would start out like years past,a quick walk for the first mile across the DAM. Well I was wrong and I quickly found myself jogging at a 10:00 pace, last year this would not have been a problem, but with this years lack of training I found myself seeking a way out of the pack as I tried to reach the shoulder in order to slow my pace down. I found many runners passing on the shoulder and I could not get over without risking a catastrophe so I had to tough it out. Finally near the bend of the first mile I was able to get out of the pack. After catching my breath I quickly hopped back into the race.
Eventually I realized that to finish I would have to pace myself and alternate walking with jogging. By mile three I was in a good rhythm many others around me where taking the same approach. During this time I could not help but compare how different this run was going to be from my past two Dams. I was already vowing that I would not let this happen again. Deciding to stay positive I turned my thoughts toward all the support Team Voice has given me over the past couple years. Once more I thought about Byron and his 8 miles. I knew that mile 8 of Dam would place me into residential areas and that people would be out cheering the runners on.
At mile 7 the water stations where out of cups. I found this alarming as I was afraid of what that meant on the course ahead. Fortunately all the remaining stations had cups.
At mile 9 I was 2:04 into the run. This was my finish time for last year. Lack of training began to really sink in as I thought about how much I have sacrificed by losing the focus I had only a year ago. Not long after mile 9 my calves began to cramp up on me. I knew that if I pushed to hard I would be out of the race so I walked quite a ways before jogging again. This bothered me because this was a downhill portion of the course and I could have made up some time. The cramping came back shortly after every jogging attempt I made for the rest of the course.
Mile 11 brought a nice surprise.
I already knew about this from my drive the day before. It seems that the trail here had collapsed. The solution was a detour and this rather crude solution.
Thankfully they improved this by race day, but it was still nothing more than grass carpet duct taped and staked to the ground. I'm sure the elite runners where not too happy with this. At least they had a volunteer on site to warn runners to be cautious.
One mile out I took off my headphones to hear a string quartet that was playing. They were handing out champaign. I took a glass but found it to be a very odd thing to be drinking so I discarded it.
Suddenly I see runners coming toward me. I realize that they have started the 5K run while the 20K runners are still coming in. The 5K had a turn around just past our 11.4 mile mark. At first the runners coming my way stayed over in the opposite lane but as I got closer to the botanical center they where spreading across the entire road. Holy Cats this was dangerous and it affected the 5k runners who where already returning. Many of them jumped over the sidewalk to maintain pace.
As I rounded the corner toward the finish I could hear the drum corp at the YMCA. This always pumps me up. Once more I tried to break into a run and cramped up again.
My chip time was 2:59:30 nearly a full hour slower than last year. I had hoped to finish at 2:30 but at this point I was glad to simply be finished. I had met the main goal I set out to accomplish.
There were no medals at the finish. I was later told that they ran out and would be mailing them out to those who finished after a certain time. I checked my phone shortly after finishing and noticed Justin had called. After grabbing water and a Gatorade I called him and we met up. Justin and his wife had great finishes Justin came in at 1:56:50 and his wife Krystal 2:15:33. They are a very nice couple and it was wonderful to be able to spend some time with them. I wish I had known that fellow Iowans where not only fans of All About the Mouse but were also down at last years Disney half. It's nice to know I'm not the only one from the "Snowy Tundra." I look forward to seeing them both again next January and possibly again later this year in other Iowa events.
Be sure to stop by Just Keep Goofin' for Justin's report.
Coming soon. The race aftermath and much needed goals.