Des Moines Half Marathon – 2019 Race Recap
“Disclaimer: I received entry into the IMT Des Moines Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”
It’s felt like forever since I ran a race, I miss running all the races. However, it’s football season, so I do what I can. If you want my to the point review you can check it out here – https://www.bibrave.com/races/imt-des-moines-marathon-reviews and now for my all details, all opinionated review.
As I mentioned it is football season, so this meant in order to complete my transfer from the marathon to the half, I needed to get to the expo on Friday. However, it was also homecoming weekend and the U of I parade started at 5:45 PM. So, I was in my car and on my way to Des Moines just after 1PM.
I arrived and found that parking near the Iowa Events Center would cost $10. I am a small town girl, paying to park to in a GIANT lot designed for the event space, isn’t something I was going to do. I strolled around the block and found a parking meter on the street. As luck would have it, there was already 24 minutes on the meter, I threw in another quarter and I had 44 minutes to get through the expo.
I found a door to the event complex, but it was a walk to the actual event space. There were many signs guiding the way. I found the expo and proceeded to the back to get Josh’s bib first, which was super easy, no questions asked by providing his bib number. *The bibs came in pre-filled, clear bags. They were full of goodies like food, toothbrushes and papers. The bag also doubled for gear check.
Then I went to get my bib, but asked how I should proceed to complete my transfer. I had to get my full marathon bib first, then go to the registration computers. I then had to go through the online process of registration, but there was a check box for transfers. Participants could switch to either race for a fee. I was confused why I couldn’t have done this online in Iowa City, and someone else could have grabbed my things for me? Maybe just to be sure it was me? After I had a new registration email, I went and gave them my old bib, they gave me a half bib. It was simple and easy.
Then I went to the line to grab our finisher jackets. The race does a great job, no t-shirts. Instead they give gender specific, zip up light weight coats. They are also race specific.
I was watching my Garmin and had a few minutes, so I did a walk through of the expo vendors. There was a variety of things to explore: area races, products, race merchandise, speaker series, etc. I stopped by the Grandma’s booth to try for a free entry. I then noticed a stocking cap at the race merch booth… it was black with a gold stripe, and the race logo. I could not resist, when is the race gear Hawkeye colors? I then walked by Jeff Galloway and made my way out of the expo to see more vendors set up in the hallway. Nothing I needed, so I hoofed it back to my car. I had 2 minutes left on the meter, phew! Parking for $0.25!
I made my way back to Iowa City and was only a few minutes late to the homecoming parade. It was just as I remembered except there were not any Greek floats?? I did meet up with Josh and we ate Chipotle for dinner and called it a day.
On Saturday, I met with my tailgating friends and we cheered the Hawkeyes onto victory against Purdue, in the rainy mist. Then we packed it up and Josh and I made the trek back over to Des Moines. We were both very tired and looking forward to getting some rest.
When we got back to Des Moines, we checked into the hotel and just decided that Fuzzy Taco’s would be the place for dinner, something cheap and quick. Well, it was cheap, but it took some time. After some tacos, it was time to call it a night.
I woke up at 4:30 AM… oh yes, the race didn’t start until 8 AM, but I had been presented with a unique opportunity, and when do I ever say no? Through BibRave and with the help of Corridor Running, the race allowed us a space in a parking lot near the festivities to set up a tent. This tent could be a meeting area, a place to showcase the group, and a place to keep gear during the race.
I met up with the club president around 5 AM and we popped the tent up, and made our space eye catching – banners, table cloths, swag to giveaway. We are the dream team!! However, it was only about 5:30 and I needed coffee! The nearby Starbucks didn’t open until 6 am, but it is located in a Hy-Vee. When it finally opened I was able to grab some coffee and a bagel with peanut butter. When I got back, Mark went on a journey, but brought back donuts and bagels!
As race time approached, the sun started to shine. It was going to be a beautiful day for a race. People gathered around the tent, pictures were taken, luck was shared. Then it was time for the race to start.
I was not in a rush, but made it near the starting corrals to listen to the singing of the National Anthem. Then I proceeded to get in the corral, which are back fed, so I just had to be happy with where I was starting, as I couldn’t get ahead to a faster pace group because there were so many people. We started with the full marathon. There were some announcements on the loud speaker too. Jeff Galloway was there and so was our governor, and for some reason the announcer kept pushing the fact our governor was there. I was not impressed, don’t make it political. I would have been more impressed if she were running. Anyway………..
I took off on the streets of Des Moines. The first 3 miles are run near the downtown area. My friend Bethany found me in the first mile, she was running her first marathon. Time passed so fast as we ran together until the two courses split. I wished her well as she climbed the hill into the residential neighborhoods of DM.
The half marathon course then went out to Water Works park. To get to this area, there was a small portion of out and back. It was cool to cheer on the other runners as we passed by each other. I saw some people I knew including Josh!
Then we had a loop around this area. There were many aid stations with water and Gatorade, however they were all different. It was hard to tell which liquid was in which cup, I then had to ask. I was also on the look out for some vaseline, there were plenty of medical stops, but no Vaseline in eye sight. I finally asked at a stop, the medic said he did not have any, but there was a traveling bike support guy and of course he had some in his bag of tricks. The traveling bike people were the best!! They had candy and tissues too.
I left the Water Works area to the Gray’s Lake area. There were also a lot of musical acts along the course. Solo acts, symphony bands, and DJ’s. I would say they give the big name race with musical acts a run for their money.
Gray’s Lake is a really pretty place to run, there is really long bridge that goes across the center of the lake. I just kept plowing along. I really felt great! I also managed to see Tim, and eventually Lois. I like a race that’s big enough, yet small enough to see running friends.
After this portion, there is a small little hill and then we are headed back towards downtown. The miles really go by quickly on this course.
I kept searching for the best song to bring me to the finish, I landed on “Some Nights” by Fun. It reminds me of my friend Kelly, so I hustled the last few turns and I could see the finish line.
I could hear the announcer, but he was excited as the lead marathoner was turning the corner behind me. I knew I had to beat this guy!
I crossed the finish line with a time near 2:16. However, the lead marathoner was just behind me, so the finish line was a mess. The half marathoners were told to go to the right, but everyone who had finished was lined up at the finish line with their phones out to take photos of the lead marathoner. There was a GIANT bottleneck to get through. I was not happy, I found a bottle of water, but could not find the finisher medals. There were so many people in my way and they might have met the wrath of Ang. Everyone should get the same finisher treatment, snaking through lollygaggers that only wanted to congratulate the fast guy did not make me happy.
There was another woman that was also on the hunt for her finisher medal, eventually we found someone handing them out. This did not leave me with a good feeling, luckily as I walked the finisher chute, I had time to cool down.
I passed on the photo with the backdrop as MarathonFoto was the official photographer. I then ran into Tiffany in line for food, so I was able to talk with a familiar face. The food line was insanely long, so I took a pass on it for the time being and hit up the beer area.
The next block was filled with a stage for the band and an area to get a Sam Adams or a Truly seltzer drink. It took me seconds to grab a beer, wahoo!! I then remembered there were donuts back at the tent. I took my beer and went and enjoyed a sprinkle donut!
This was my 56th half marathon and my 5th of the year. I was very pleased with my finishing time. It’s a far cry from the days of running sub 2 hour, but it was the best of the year for me. I also felt really good, no aches or pains.
I celebrated with friends at the tent. People came and went and we had chairs to enjoy the beautiful day.
I checked the time of day and realized Bethany should be coming towards the finish line, so I walked over to the finishing chute. I also then downloaded the race app (yes, it took me that long) to see where she was. The app had her near the finish, but I didn’t see her. So Josh and I way made our way to the last turn and found Jen and Molly cheering runners in near DJ Hollywood. We danced and cheered, then we saw Bethany coming towards us, wahoo!!!
I then walked back to the tent to follow the progress of Carol and Amy. Carol was running her second marathon in as many days, and Amy was running her second in 3 weeks. We watched the app as the wind picked up.
We saw that Carol finished and then Amy. They each came back to the tent area and we congratulated them. The tent was the perfect thing for the organizations to have at a bigger race.
It was after 3 PM and I was tired! We picked up all our things and loaded them in the vehicles and it was time to make our way back to Iowa City. I drove as far as Williamsburg, as Josh napped. Then I made sure we stopped at McDonald’s for french fries to switch drivers.
What a weekend! A great race and a Hawkeye victory.
I may have some issues with the aid stations and finish line, but it is a nice event just a few hours from my door step. Plus those things can easily be fixed and happen with volunteer turnover year after year. If it fits in my schedule, I will always try to run this race, and I think I will always try to train for the full, just a better tour of the city, and some hills.
*A note on my time. I never watch my Garmin for timing splits. Every once in a while I check to see what mile I am at, but I am never watching my pace. A few days after the race I took the time to review my stats and discovered I ran negative splits. The course is flat and the weather was so great, I just kept pushing myself and had a good run. Sometimes it really isn’t about winning, it’s about doing your best.