My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Marathon #10: Des Moines

Saturday, October 19, 2013 (Pre-Race)
We headed out to Des Moines, IA on Saturday around 1pm.  Des Moines was to be Eric's very first marathon and for me it had multiple purposes 1) it was my 8th "state" 2) it would qualify me for "Marathon Maniac" status and 3) I needed to finish my 2013 race season with a race that was just for me.  Eric and I discussed that I wouldn't run with him.  It is very hard to run someone else's race.  I was too injured to run at his pace and also he wanted to do it all himself!  We brought one of my client's (Jackie) and her husband (Matt) with us for this race.  Jackie was pulled out of the Twin Cities Marathon by EMTs 2 weeks before and she wanted redemption, so she joined us for her second attempt at a Fall marathon.

Jackie and Matt showed up at our house and we headed out in the Nissan.  Two minutes into the trip, I realized I didn't have my Garmin and we had to head back!  It was a very long drive out of Minnesota with all of the construction and single lane traffic.  It took us close to 4.5 hours to get to Des Moines.  My initial thoughts of the city (which I had never been to before) were that it was kind small and didn't have much to it.  I couldn't believe that it was the capital of the state!  I would later find out that it is a very beautiful city on foot!  The expo was held at Hy-Vee Hall which was some kind of civic center type building.  We headed in to pickup our race packets and walk around the expo.  It was a medium sized expo with some interesting things to look at.  As we wondered through, we saw a booth where Terry Hitchcock was at.  Terry ran 75 marathons in 75 days.  He ran from St. Paul to Atlanta and got there in time for the 1996 Summer Olympics.  He ran for a purpose - to raise money for single parent families.  There is a documentary on his famous run called "My Run" that I had watched just prior to the Women Rock Half Marathon on 8/31/13.  It was a little depressing to watch as he didn't receive much support during his run.  I told him that I'd be interested in connecting with him once I opened my gym.  He lives just a city away from me :)

Me and Terry Hitchcock

We headed over to pickup our packets and I took some pictures of Eric getting his very first marathon packet!

Eric getting his race packet!

We finished wandering around the expo with Jackie and Matt and stumbled upon the course map.  Of course I needed to get my traditional picture with the map!  After that, we headed over to the hotel to check in and find a good place to carbo load!

Jackie, Me, and Eric with the course map
One of many pieces of "interesting art" around the city

We spotted a great place to eat on our way to the hotel - Mezzodi's.  We pulled in there around 7:30pm.  Eric's cousin, David, happens to live in Des Moines, so we called him up and he joined us for dinner.  The five of us had a great meal and some great conversation!  Once we finished our meal, we headed back to the hotel and hung out in our rooms until 10pm!  Then it was time for sleep :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013 - Race Day
We woke up Sunday around 5:30 am and began the process of getting ready for the big day ahead of us.  We met Jackie and Matt in the lobby around 7:00 am and drove over to the start area.  We got over there fairly early and decided to sit in the warm car for a few extra minutes.  Once it was closer to 7:15 am, we left Matt with the car and headed for the Gear Check on foot!  It was a couple blocks away and it was very chilly - somewhere around 40 degrees!  It was supposed to warm up to 55 by the end of the race.  It turned out to be perfect running weather!

As we approached the start line, there were several signs that read "Athletes Only".  I've never seen that sign at a marathon before.  It was pretty cool to see.  Sometimes I don't think runners consider themselves as "athletes".  Most of them just think of themselves as "runners".  But marathoners are the truest of athletes.  A marathoner is someone that will always have my respect.  No matter who they are.  Because at some point during the 26.2, a marathoner will be humbled and humbled in a way that no one other than a marathoner understands.  They might be humbled by injury or fatigue or by the spirit of other marathoner (i.e. watching an 85 year old run in front of them, seeing a runner with a prosthetic leg, witnessing a runner limping across the finish line soaked with tears of determination).  Every marathoner, no matter how elite or non-elite they are, reaches that point in the race when they want to give up and quit.  But they don't.  They keep running. They keep running because everyone else around them keeps running.  Everyone is in it together.  They all share the same pain and fatigue.  And then, when they see that finish line, they all feel the same incredible pride of their accomplishment.  Crossing the finish line in a marathon is not about the victory.  It is about not giving up when you want to most.  It is about finishing what you started.  Marathoners are the greatest of athletes in my book! 

Eric entering the start area

Backing up a minute...just before we got to the start area, we ducked into the YMCA to use the restrooms.  We ended up in the longest line EVER and did not get out of the line until 7:50ish.  We ran like mad people to the gear check when we heard over the loud speaker "2 minutes to start"!  We then ran like mad people back to the start line.  We quick took a couple pics and then dispursed into the crowd of runners.  I had told Eric and Jackie that I wanted to run my own race and would not be starting with either of them.

Me & Jackie
Eric in the corral!

I started working my way to the 8:30 pace sign.  I wanted to be in front of many of the half marathoners that might cause some congestion in the first few miles.  Experience teaches a runner many things and learning where to line up is a big lesson I have learned!  Immediately after reaching my destination, the national anthem began.  A few seconds later, I heard the "Ready, Go!" command.  It was the perfect start.  In the first half mile, I made the decision to not look at my Garmin for the entire race.  I looked at it only a couple times to see what mile I was at, but other than that I never knew my pace.  I decided to run by feel and listen to my body :)  My injured body that was running its 3rd marathon in 37 days!

At mile 3, the course split.  The half marathoners turned left onto a flat street.  The full marathoners went straight for the first of many mile long uphill climbs.  The elevation chart showed me a steady climb from miles 3 to 8.  And it held true.  It was hard work, but with beautiful scenery.  The course was lined with beautiful homes in mature neighborhoods.  It was awesome to run through.  There were local musicians spread throughout the course.  It was nice to run without headphones and be able to listen to all that was going on!  I saw a group of 5 people cheering and each holding a letter that spelled out L - A - U - R - A.  They cheered for me as I ran by!  It was cool!

I made my way closer to mile 8 and saw the elites run past in the return direction of the course.  Shortly after, I saw Jackie run past about 10 minutes behind me.  She looked great!  She had stayed back in the crowd and didn't work her way to the front, so I will be coaching that point for her next race :)  I proceeded forward as we ran onto the campus of Drake University.  It was a really cool campus.  I had heard many times about the Drake Relays that are run on the track there.  Even my client Jackie had run the Drake Relays.  I was excited to see that we were running out onto the track to run the entire loop.  We also were up on the jumbo tron as we ran past!  I stopped to take a picture of it!

Drake University Stadium

Of course I had to let the guy in orange (in the pic) pass me so I could take a picture.  I'm sure I passed him back though!  LOL!  As I ran out of the stadium, I went back up a hill and onto the road that I came in on.  It was two-way running traffic again.  I looked for Jackie, but realized she must have been on the track not too far behind me, so I started to look for Eric.  I figured he would not be far behind the 4:30 pacer, so I started to look for that sign.  I passed it shortly before the half marathon chip mat and less than 30 seconds after I crossed the mat, I saw Eric coming down the road on the other side.  So, I cut across the median and planted a kiss on the man!  Then I set out in search for a porta potty.  I made myself wait until after the half split, but I couldn't wait any more!  It took another mile, but I finally found one and as usual, my hands were too numb to function properly and I wasted a couple minutes in there. 

Once I was on my way again, the length of the race started to present signs of fatigue.  So far, I had only dealt with hamstring tightness on all the hills.  But now I was in my energizer bunny mode and things just started to feel a little sore from being on my feet for two hours.  It always amazes me that my half marathon split is just as fast as my half marathon times when I run them independent of a marathon...must be in my head!  I saw the L-A-U-R-A fans and as they cheered for me, I told them I was changing my name to Laura.  I saw them again shortly after that in which they told me I was winning that baby!  I ran to a part of the course that entered into a regional park.  We ran along a beautiful path, but it was just runners in there and we were running single file as runners started to spread out a bit.  I hate that.  It makes me feel like I'm alone in the race and not in a group of people!  As I approached mile 18, we headed out of this portion of the park, but into an area that was incredibly boring.  It was a huge open field and we ran a circle around it.  It was about two miles along the perimeter of the field.  I wanted to cry.  I was hurting and it was terribly boring - a bad combination!  This is the part of the race I always want to throw in the towel.  I ran by the mile 19 marker and there was a Red Bull setup there.  They were actually giving out Red Bull to the runners.  I can only imagine how crappy the people that drank it must have felt.  Nothing like putting a person in a state of absolute depletion and then jacking them up on that crap.  I saw a lot of empties...sad.

As I rounded the field and exited the other side, I saw Jackie again!  It is good to see a familiar face during a marathon!  It always makes you not feel alone.  She was looking a little defeated, but that will happen at that point of the race!  I continued on and entered into the final 10k of the race.  This is where it gets more fun.  It's kind of like that point in time during childbirth, when the contractions stop and therefore the pain stops and you get ready to bear down and push.  Different situation, but the same feelings of pain!  The agony of enduring the race ends, but the fatigue sets in - especially in the legs.  However, you can now taste the finish line and you know you will make it, so you just run or walk or run/walk to the end.  I was feeling good and just kept running.  I took a few short 30 second walking breaks about every mile, but mostly I just wanted to finish.  I ran by a guy with a Marathon Maniac shirt on.  I told him that I was earning Marathon Maniac status that day.  He gave me a high five and said congrats!  He looked pretty rough though, so I ran on.  I ran around Gray Lake and decided that running around lakes in a marathon sucks.  It sucks to see the other side of something and how far you still have to run to get there!  As I exited the other side of the lake, I ran onto the final stretch of downtown.

As I approached an intersection, I was stopped by a police officer.  This was unusual during a marathon.  I was the only one around and waited to see what was happening.  Within the next few seconds a police car and an ambulance drove through the intersection.  When they passed, I was able to cross the road and onto the final mile.  I was pretty tired and everything hurt, but I was so excited to hit the final stretch!  It is the part of the race where there is a huge crowd cheering and it's very exciting and emotional.  As I rounded the corner towards the bridge that the finish line was on, I saw my L-A-U-R-A fans!  They saw me and cheered loudly.  I threw my fists up in the air and yelled "LAURA!"  It was hilarious.  Together, the Laura fans and I bonded for this race.  We had no idea who each other was, but we endured something together, got to know each other, and had fun.  ONLY during a marathon does this happen :)

I made the final turn and saw the finish line about a quarter mile away.  As I approached the bridge, a hand swung out to high five me.  It was Matt!  He cheered as I was the first of our group to cross the finish line!  I started to get teary eyed as I looked at the clock.  I had just ran my second fastest marathon.  I was seriously injured, stopped several times during the race, and didn't look at the clock the whole race.  I just enjoyed it and still ran fast.  Although, I have to admit that I was still 9 mins slower than my PR.  But I know that my natural and untrained race pace can still be fast and that made me smile.  Even though it is "Year of the Turtle", I still got it!  It was a nice race to end my 2013 race season with!

I approached a race volunteer to take my picture after I received my medal!  Then I walked over to a PT tent to get my foot looked at.  During the 20s, I started to feel sharp pains in the top of my right foot and I was a little concerned considering my history of injuries with that foot.  Of course the doctor explained to me that she was sure that I had tendinitis because of my minimalist footwear.  What an idiot.  I took a bag of ice and walked out.  The pain was gone within an hour and I never had it again.  Never had it before either.  And stability shoes...NOT in my future...stupid.  I wandered over to the food tables and CHOWED.  They had everything - pizza, BBQ, sandwiches, cookies, etc.  It was AWESOME!

Love this sign!
Number 10 complete!

Once I finished eating, I headed back to the final mile.  I had received a text alert that Eric would finish around 1pm and I knew Jackie wasn't in yet since Matt hadn't seen her come through.  I waited a couple blocks before the finish and started watching for Jackie.  Within 5 minutes, I saw her come through limping.  She had pulled her hamstring :(  She had a rough Fall race season, but she got her completion.  And it was still a good time!  I sat down in the middle of the intersection (since it was closed for the race) and waited for Eric.  I couldn't stand anymore and was carrying all my gear, so I just sat there.  It was another 20 minutes before Eric came through.  He looked good!  He was tired, but not hurt.  I had been worried about his tight IT Band the past few weeks, but it held out!  I was very proud of his accomplishment and was excited for him to join the ranks of marathoners!  I met him at the food tables (and had more food :) and took some pics! 

Final stretch!
"Marathoner"
Selfie of our medals!

We headed over to get our free beer at the beer tent and realized that our IDs were back at our hotel.  We thought we'd try anyway to get a beer.  The lady asked me my age and looked at me like I was lying.  Then she made me tell her my bday without hesitating.  I then told her I was turning 40 in May.  She congratulated me and handed me a beer!  I thought that was a good response to be congratulated about turning 40.  As if I "survived".  Haha!  It was awesome.  I am actually excited to turn 40.  I earned it :)  I did survive and I plan to be FREAKING AWESOME in my 40s.

We drove home from Iowa and hit crappy construction traffic and of course that was lovely on a Sunday night...whatever.  We went to get the kids from my parents and then we went home and I registered for the MedCity Marathon in Rochester, MN on May 25th.  It will be my next race.  I will be 40 and my BQ qualifying time will need to be sub 3:45.  My PR is 3:45:19.  So, that will be the one.  It is flat and near home.  I also emailed my races and times to the Marathon Maniac guys to get approval into the club.  I am excited and will now take 5 weeks off from running to heal :)

STATISTICS:
Event: IMT Des Moines Marathon
Place: Des Moines, IA
Theme Song:  N/A
Date: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Time: 8:00am
Overall Place:  543 of 1750
Gender Place:  139 of 754
Division Place (F3539):  21 of 147
10K Split:  52:26
Half Split:  1:51:51
20 Mile Split:  2:53:17
Final Time:  3:54:26 (8:57 avg. pace)