The Des Moines Half Marathon ended four weeks ago, but my thoughts on this race have not. Although I’m late to report, still wanted to close out my thoughts on this race and the crazy good stuff that came together on this day.
First, this weather was impeccable. I like to pretend I’m not a fair weather runner, but that’s a lie. I like the wind to be under 5 mph, an overcast 68 degrees, and somehow a tailwind the whole way. The race conditions this morning couldn’t have been more perfect. A little breeze, crisp morning, overcast, and a little sun peaking out at the end. My usual race day “what to wear” panic was pretty casual. Didn’t stop me from packing an extra of everything, which I never need.
The race set up was also pretty perfect. Ample port-a-potties in different locations to accommodate multiple pre race nervous poos. The sun was just beginning to peak down Court avenue and there were multiple places to meet up without feeling overcrowded or confusing. A photographer walking around snapped a photo of my race day cheer leader and me.
I gotta run a half marathon to get a date with this guy.
After one last port-a-potty break, I lined up a few minutes before the start. I swam through thousands of runners to get to the pace group that would be a good marker of where I wanted to be in this race. My goal was to finish between a 10:30-10:59 pace. I was feeling pretty confident I could set this pace. I checked and rechecked my watch and shoes. Before I knew it, the race was starting. A slow walk to the starting line felt invigorating to hear the cow bells and cheers.
I usually get all amped at the beginning and sprint off the start. I tried to remind myself to take it nice and slow to warm up. I rounded the first mile and heard my watch buzz with my first split time. I felt like I was right on target, but my body felt weirdly sluggish. I tried not to panic as Eric had mentioned I might feel a little sluggish in the beginning.
As we split off from the marathoners, I started feeling more loose and my pace picking up. Rounding into water works park, I started to feel fucking amazing. Like my legs were tiny little thunder bolts of energy. There was a part of me that was scared I would poop out early, but decided to just keep going at the pace that felt comfortable. After a while I quit getting caught up in my splits and just started enjoying the race. High fiving the cold spectators and volunteers that showed up for all of us.
I left water works park to cross Fleur for the last portion of the race. I ran into Eric cheering me on. It was the boost I needed, because for some reason, I loathe the Gray’s Lake portion of the race. Running this route so often you know exactly where you are, which can be a shitty place to be mentally when you are getting so close to the end.
Right before mile 9. Feeling sexy.
Leaving Gray’s Lake, I had about two miles to go. Judging by my splits, I knew I was blowing my goal out of the water. Trying not to get too overzealous, I tried to just keep a consistent pace to get to the finish and NOT WALK. I made a little promise to myself that I would only walk for Gu or water.
Our last corner before the big finish was down Water street. I look down at my watch and see I had slowed down to a 12:30 pace. Realizing I was almost done, I found my last little bit of energy for a kick at the end.
Trying not to blow chunks at the finish.
At the end of the day, I was really pumped with my finish. My watch time was 2:14:26, which made this a 10:11 min pace (my chip time wasn’t that far off). I was beyond stoked. This is my fastest half marathon time by A LOT. A little emotional and a little nauseous, I was proud to finish this racing season the way I did.
Since the race, I’ve continued to run. I’m still doing my trek class and I plan on running the Living History Farms race a day before my 37th birthday. Running continues to be part of my physical health, but I’m realizing it’s more about my mental health. I get cranky and irritable when I don’t run. Running is time to myself to be mindful without the distraction of momming 24/7. When I give this time to myself, I realize I’m a more charged to do the mom stuff for my kids.
Writing about this journey has been a practice in vulnerability (thanks, Brene). Making public my internal struggles and, even harder to admit sometimes, moments of pride around running to a few friends and family still feels uncomfortable at times. I’ve gotten nice complements and comments from some of you in person. Those comments mean a lot to me, even if they turn my face is stop sign red. It’s like I almost forget that I wrote this stuff down in the first place and it feels like someone found my diary. Being or feeling “seen” by others has been tricky for me.
Thank you for reading and being with me in this. Hopefully, there is more to come.