Monday, June 4, 2012

DAM I can't Believe I did that!

On my last post I set forth a few goals. First among them was to do better with my calorie intake and secondly to get in 30 miles of walking or jogging per week between then and January 2014.

Regrettably I had a setback on my first day back on the road. I had worn a hole into the back of my right running shoe. I knew I needed to replace my shoes but I figured I could get in a jog or two before doing so. Wrong. About a mile out I noticed my heel felt hot and I knew a blister was starting. Another half mile later I took off my shoe and found that in such a short distance I had developed a dime sized blister. I walked back home. I went out a couple days later but my foot was still tender. I finally bought new shoes and got in two treadmill miles with those and a four mile outdoor jog a couple days later.

Due to lack of training I was already on the fence about running the DAM to DAM 20K and the blister situation was not helping. Packet pickup for the race was this past Friday and I figured that since my paid registration included a Dam to Dam tech shirt I would at least go down and pick up my gear. As I left the expo I was still undecided but by the time I got home I made up my mind that even if I got swept off the course I was going to give it a try.

So Friday night I loaded up on a nice chicken and pasta dinner and made myself go to bed early at ten. Sleep was restless and our dog Sophie waking me up at three in the morning did not help. Since I planned to be up by four anyway I did not attempt to go back to bed. I was afraid that if I did I would sleep through my alarm.

A got dressed, had breakfast and put a generous among of runners body glide over my blister. I drove downtown to catch a bus to the top of the course and I was pre drinking water to get hydrated.

Temp was in the high 50’s for the start. My niece and grand nephew were both running this year and it was also their first time running a long event. We met up and waited for the race to start. I knew they planned to jog the whole thing and my strategy (due to lack of training) was to follow the Galloway method of regular intervals of walking and jogging.

I started off with a one mile jog and then walked for 2/10 of a mile and my plan from there was to alternate walking 2/10 with jogging 8/10. I discovered that my endurance level was not going to sustain this long term and eventually I fell into a pattern of walk 2/10 and jog 2/10. This worked quite well and there were some portions where I did jog longer.

Once I passed six miles I felt go about my chances of finishing. Miles seven through nine felt the best during the run. Perhaps it was knowing that I was over halfway or more likely it could be that I was enjoying the shade of the mature trees in the Oak Park neighborhood. All was going well until I approached mile eleven and I felt my calves tightening up. From that point through the finish whenever I jogged my calves would spasm. I was wearing my Garmin GPS and I reached 12.4 miles (20K) blocks from the actually finish. Two factors for that are that when you run races like these you’re always going around people and that adds some distance the other factor is that at mile three I did have to run off road to water a tree so to speak.

My official chip time for the run was 2:40

The actual time I reached 20K according to my Garmin was 2:34

My niece Brianne and her son Tucker had a great run and finished twenty minutes ahead of me with an official time of 2:20.

Over all I am very happy with how I did. My training since January has been next to nothing and being able to complete this is very motivating.

I have to say a few things about the organization of this year’s DAM to DAM. First I’ll start off with the only real positive thing I can say. Additional water and power aid stations were added to this year making the run itself more pleasant.

On the negative side: The expo was moved from the Des Moines Convention Center to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. In the past you walked in and there was a wall with everyone name on it and your runner’s number. You got your number and then you proceeded to a booth that your number can be found. I walked into Vets expecting something similar and when I did not find any posting I looked to see if since this was a new location they might have someone answering questions and providing information. Nope, Nada, Nothing. I had to go into the pickup area get in a line and then be directed to a small unmarked room where I finally discovered my name and assigned number. There were some platters of toasted bread and some type cake available and there was red licorice. Most of this was picked over and what was there looked unappealing especially when you see kids (whose parents are not watching them) touching all of it. I the past such things were on counters and there were servers.

Like most races these days event sponsors’ have really cut back on the free swag and samples they give out. This year’s sole freebie was from Allied Insurance and it was a 12” die cast Nascar. Tell me how this relates to running?

This year the course was shift by nearly a mile. Runners used to start on the spillway side of Saylorville Dam and running across it completed your first mile. This year they moved the start to the far end of the DAM in order to have a new finish line area near the new Des Moines Library. The start was a mess. Event planners only put up a few speakers and no announcements could be heard. I was standing with the eleven minute pace group and there was not one speaker in that area. We all just had to guess that the race had started since the clock had past seven. We all started moving to toward the starting line and soon people were all bunching up because the race had not started.

It was mildly off putting that all of the mile markers that I have been used to in past years were now all shifted. But hey you just have to adapt to that. The finishing area was really the BAD part of the whole race day experience. Chip removal and a water station were far too close to the finish causing people to bunch up. Actually once you finished there was no way to escape the crowd. You were shoulder to shoulder with everyone. Between the temporary barricades, vendor trucks and the official finish photo area there was literally no were to go. In the past the finish was at Nolan Plaza which offers lots of room for runners to spread out and then get in lines if they would like food, beer or whatever else is offered.

(Finish came down Grand. DAM photography took up the corner of Grand and 13th. Food and Beer vendors took up 13th. I saw no way to access the large green space in this picture)

(This is the original finish area. Locust would be barricaded but right were it reached the building on the left you had an option of grabbing a water or power aid. Food venders were set up along third without baracades. This granted free movement in and out of the plaza area.)