I ran a dam 20K yesterday. [ba dump crash!]
The Dam to Dam is supposedly the largest 20 kilometer race in the country. I don't know if that's true, but there were 6,746 finishers, so you figure it's pretty big. All I know is I had a good time for being fat, slow and tired on race day.
The biggest drawback? Early start time + point-to-point course + sleeping at home Friday night = EARLY wake up call. As in 4:00. I met with our local runners group at 4:30 to pick up my race bag with timing chip and number, then drove to Des Moines with the group. We arrived at our parking ramp in downtown Des Moines and I promptly forgot my wallet in my car, so had to leave the runners group and go back. By the time I got down to street level the bus crowd was really big. I mean REALLY big. Crowds are the name of the game at Dam to Dam.
They dropped us off below Saylorville Dam at about 6:30. At this point I was thinking it would be a snap to get to a biffy, do my last 'business' before the run, lube up and get ready to go. Of course, that didn't happen. Biffy lines were long wherever you went, and they also didn't tell us that it was a walk of about a mile to the start on the Dam. So I got into line about 45 seconds before the starting gun went off, which wound up being okay since it was another seven minutes before I actually crossed the line and started the run.
It was a BEAUTIFUL day for a run. Temperature was about 60 at the start and was no higher than 73 at the finish. Light winds kept us cool as we moved off Saylorville Dam and wound through some countryside on our way into town. I can only remember four noteworthy hills, including the road over I35 where people were honking the whole time as they drove underneath us. Great day for a long run with 7,000 friends.
Personally, the day was just an endurance test. It's no secret that I've been struggling with training, my back and my weight since Alanna was born. So my only real 'goal' for this race was smart race management, as in: 1. No walk breaks; 2. Proper hydration; 3. Negative splits toward the end. I got the first two right on, but the third was just too much yesterday. I felt really good throughout the race, which indicates I hit a good pace for what was essentially a long, easy run. My feet and knees bothered me throughout, but never more than what I've become accustomed to enduring, and toward the end they weren't much of a problem at all. The only times I walked were at water stops and for one bathroom stop in mile 11. I only stopped for water twice, at mile 5 and mile 9, and I think that's about right for me. In previous distance races I've drank far too much and gotten sick at the end - yesterday, I felt just fine crossing the finish line and got some Gatorade in me right away to replenish fluids. Negative splits just didn't happen, for a couple of reasons. First, I haven't gotten enough rest lately, and the early start just sapped whatever energy I had to give from my limited sleep. Second, I'm just too heavy right now to run more than six miles at a hard pace, so by mile seven I could tell I'd just need to take it easy and grind my miles out to the finish. Third, I haven't run enough this spring, especially long runs. If I want to get faster, I'll just need to keep picking up miles until I'm back to where I was senior year of seminary. It was just tough to pick up the pace at the end - I covered mile 12 in 9:30-something, but miles 9-11 were all around 10:00. I just didn't have good speed in me yesterday.
But the course was great, the fans cheered us on and overall I was pretty happy. The post-race expo was really confusing, but I got my medal and some good food and enjoyed the post-race glow before changing my clothes and heading north to Ames. Next Saturday is going to be fun - a 10K charity race in Lincoln with college buddies. Hopefully this 20K will make next week a walk in the park - or maybe a jog.
Grace & peace,