May 30th started off as a dreary morning. I was up at 4:30 am to catch the bus from downtown Des Moines to Saylorville Dam. I was on the bus at 5:30 am carefully thinking over my race strategy. OK, not really, I was thinking more along the lines of, “OMG! After 4 years of registering for the full distance, I am finally going to do it! No injuries sidelined my training this year and forced me to drop down to the 5k…AGAIN!” That and as I had about an hour to kill waiting for the start on the crowded dam, I wondered if I was going to PR at the half marathon distance. It was a bit cold as I dropped my wind pants in my bag fairly early during my wait, but held on to my sweatshirt through the first mile before I was all warmed up and glad that I had worn shorts and a tank for the run.
The race started off well, I was just a touch to fast thanks to race day nerves. I was able to hold a fairly even pace through the first 4 miles, though somewhere between mile 5 and 6 I felt a blister starting to form under my big toe on my right foot and a bit later as I started up the memorial hill decorated with flags for the fallen I had a huge side cramp and had to slow down to recover. Interestingly, my time crossing the mat at 5 miles had me at 52:05. The speed work and training has definitely been paying off. My Garmin had me at 1:02:08 at 6 miles. That’s pretty speedy and was on track for a PR as I was chugging away passing everyone I could.
The thing about Dam to Dam is that you are never running by yourself. I was running with 6,000 other runners and never once did the pack thin out. The only other race I’ve done that has a crowd like that is the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon. It definitely makes this middle of to back of the pack runner feel pretty damn fabulous!
Around mile 8, a running group friend, Heidi, yelled at me as I went past her. We hit the next water stop at about the same time and then she went flying by. She is faster than me in general, so I wasn’t surprised when she took off. And she finished well ahead of me.
I was moving along still fairly on target when I hit mile 10, which according to the timing mat was at 1:48:09. Now if I can have that same time this fall for Capital Pursuit, it will be another PR for me at the 10 mile distance! I was pretty excited by this. I might make my goal time after all! And then when I was coming off the trail on to MLK, I hit the wall. Miles 11 and 12 were rough, I had too much water in my stomach and it was sloshing around. I walked more in those two miles than I had in the rest of the race and I was starting to feel defeated and deflated. I wasn’t going to hit the 2:15 finish time I was hoping to achieve. Hell, I wasn’t even going to beat my PR half marathon time of 2:18. By the time I turned off of MLK on to 15th St for the last bit, I was hoping to finish by 2:25. That time would still be better than my slowest half marathon. I have no idea where I dug up the speed to finish my last mile under 11 minutes, but I did it, and passed people along the way for a fast, strong finish. My final chip time was 2:22:33.
Overall, I didn’t get the PR that I was hoping for, but I did run well and did have my second fastest half marathon finish time. Plus, I had finally put the Dam to Dam injury curse behind me! I had finally finished the whole DAM thing!