Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Little Running in the Cornfields

Saturday morning I crossed another item off my life bucket list:
- Run a long distance race!

I completed the 33rd annual Dam-to-Dam 20K here in Des Moines on Saturday and I had the best time! Below I have documented my thoughts of the before, during, and after the race.


{Shannon, me, Kristi and Angie - spending the evening before the race with them was PERFECT}

The night before the race I met up with three of my closest friends for a night of carbs and great conversation at Bravo! Which, is an Italian chain restaurant located at Jordan Creek. I had chicken scaloppini and it was delicious! We also devoured four mini desserts (yes, I said four!) and by the time I left I was stuffed. By 8pm I was getting extremely antsy because I wanted to be in bed by 9pm and I still had to get all my race stuff laid out and ready. My alarm was set to go off between 3:45 and 4AM and I wanted to make sure I got at least five hours of sleep. 

{The obligatory picture of race day gear laid out the night before ;) }
Throughout the entire day I drank a little over a gallon of water, and the entire week before the race I ate very clean and didn’t drink any alcohol at all. Although, at dinner, I was craving a glass of red wine, and I did splurge on that. I don’t think it hurt me at all, in fact, I think it helped me sleep once I got home!

I'm so glad I had this group of girls with me; they were so encouraging and supportive! Plus, there was another girl about our age eating dinner next to us and she overheard our conversation and joined in. She was also so nice and encouraging, I'm continuously blown away by how supportive the running community is. Each and every runner has really made me feel like they truly believe that anyone can do this sport if they are willing and able!

Early, early Saturday morning I got up, headed into downtown Des Moines, and met Emily at her apartment, and Kiara. We headed down the street to catch one of the many, many buses that were headed the 12.4 miles north to Saylorville Dam. I knew there would be a lot of people, over 8,000 were registered, but it didn't completely register with me how big it would be until I was there. Immediately my adrenaline started pumping, and I wasn't really nervous anymore, I was just ready to get started!

 {To the left are the buses waiting downtown to take us to the Dam, to the right are the buses, full, waiting to drop us off!}

We all piled into the bus and it felt like were on the bus for SO LONG. There were so many buses! Once we got off the bus, dropped our bags and peed, we headed up to the road above the Saylorville Dam and began to look for Alexson, our other friend (and fellow DSM blogger) that was running the race as well. We finally found her and then almost immediately the gun went off and we about to cross the start line! We were back with the 11:00 pacers, so we didn’t really start running until about 10 minutes after the gun start. I had to keep reminding myself that my chip time was more than 10 minutes behind the times posted every so often on the course.

 {Alexson and I at the start}
 {Kiara, Emily, me and Alexson - definitely one of my favorite pictures from the race!}
{If you look REALLY close you can see some small tall buildings. That's downtown Des Moines, AKA: where we were running to}


Going into the race I stuck with my strategy that worked so well during training, a 10:3 run to walk ratio. During training I had hoped to reduce that amount of walking, but it was just working so well for me, that I felt like I should just continue to do it. During the race on more than one occasion when my 10 minutes of running were up, I either felt like I could keep running or I was on a large decline and the running felt "easy" so several times I just kept running and I’m pretty happy with myself because I know I pushed myself harder than I ever had before.

The first 10K of the race were all country and cornfields. It was gorgeous and I really loved it! The last 10Kof the race was all urban city, and this area of town really pumped me up and gave me a super big high, because it was the neighborhood I grew up in! As soon as I really began to take notice of where we were and saw Aurora Avenue, I almost felt tears sting my eyes, because it just felt so cool to have already run that far! At this point I began texting my parents where I was, because they live off Penn (not too far from the Des Moines River) and I knew they were watching the race.

Running down 6th Avenue was probably one of my favorite legs of the race. Not only was it a huge decline (and also another moment where I kept running after my 10 minute bout was up) but it went right by North High School, their stadium (where I played my last soccer game ever) and down underneath the bridge by the Des Moines River. Growing up we lived in North district (I open enrolled to East) and my sister went to North as well as many of my childhood friends, so I spent a lot of time in that area.

The race went extremely well until between miles 9 and 10. At this point I hit a major wall and just couldn't keep up with my 10-minute spurts of running. I was really disappointed in myself because the first 9-10 miles was so nice! I was holding a pace below 11 minutes (barely, it was almost 12:00) and I had never been that fast! Unfortunately, by the end of the race, I had walked so much, my pace was over 13:00 minutes by the time I was done. I just completely pooped out! Plus, my legs hurt so badly. The only time they didn't hurt was while I was running, but I was just too tired to keep running! It was an odd feeling.


Grudgingly, I did run the last 800 meters and finished the race running, and happy, although as I crossed the finish line I was quite disoriented. I don't really remember someone shoving a medal into my hand and I think I carried it for a long time before actually putting it on! After I finished it was such a cluster of people that I didn't know how I was going to find my group! I gave up pretty quickly and plopped down in the grass in the sculpture park to stretch. Right after that I got a text from Emily with their location - by the chocolate milk!

 {Emily and I relaxing after the race}

I grabbed two chocolate milks, and drank them so fast I felt like I was going to be sick, we sat down for a minute and then we were off to find my bag. It was such a madhouse in that area and navigating was such a mess! I just wanted to sit back down! Luckily, we headed over to the front of the library (on the Grand side) and sat there for a while watching the youth races and waiting for my friend Anna, who ran the 5K with her finance. Finally they found us and we sat, talked and just relaxed for a little while. After saying goodbye to them, Emily and I just wanted to go home. I was really surprised with myself about not wanting a beer or more food or any celebrating yet. I really just wanted to go home! 

 {Anna and I after the race}
Once I got home, I took care of the dogs (which was humorous as I was hobbling all around), took a shower and immediately got in bed. I spent the rest of the day in bed before meeting my parents out at Pagliai's Pizza for dinner and then to meet some friends out for a couple drinks. I was just not feeling social AT ALL and really just wanted to go to bed. I was practically choking down beer and it didn’t taste good at all! I figured I should listen to my body and not force it. I went home and I'm pretty sure I was passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. 

{My first medal!}

Overall, I had a fantastic time! I love the feeling of knowing I pushed myself and that I worked so hard to get up to this level of ability. It's amazing to me that less than a year ago I could barely run one mile without feeling like dying and yesterday I ran 12.4 miles. I may have felt like dying (sort of) but I was still smiling. :) 

I'm definitely planning on training for a half this fall. I just need to figure out which one! 


Anne said...

Wow Amber!! I'm sooo proud of you!!

My first race (that you inspired me to run) is in 8 weeks, so I totally loved reading this post so I have an idea of what to expect. Thanks for sharing...and CONGRATS!!

Angie said...

Great job! It's amazing what we can do when we set our minds to things. I ran the Dam to Dam yesterday too and surpassed my goals and expecations. I'm looking forward to taking a few weeks off from the long runs, then get back into it and train for the DSM Half this fall!

Emmy said...

SO proud of you! It was such a great race!

chandra said...

Congrats on the race, you did so great!! Reading your recap made me miss D2D and DSM so, so much. The last few miles of a race are always the hardest. Way to go on the rally and finish!

pinkflipflops said...


Amy K said...

way to go! I love your blog! What do you think about following each other? -

Much Love.

Ioana-Carmen said...

Amazing blog! Would you like to follow each other? ;X

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Congratulations! I am glad you had such an awesome experience at your first distance race. You should definitely be proud of yourself as you've come so far! I am excited to see what half you end up doing this fall!

Lesli said...

Good job, Amber! I am sooo proud of you! Wish I could have been there to cheer you on. Maybe next year! :-)

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

YAYYY! So proud of you! Remember in Minneapolis last summer when you couldn't believe Lisa and I were heading out to run 10 miles? Well you just did OVER that! How freaking amazing!! Can't wait to see where your running takes you next :)

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Great job! You did it! That's so exciting. I knew you would do great. I am looking forward to hearing what half you decide to do! Are you sore today?

Marisa A. said...

SO proud of you! And a little jealous ;) I'm still bummed I had to miss the race but so proud of all my girls that did it! I totally know how you feel, last year I went home and stayed in bed until Drew called and I had to get up that evening. I could have slept for 24 hours!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Congrats!! That is so awesome!! You did great!

Shoshanah said...

Congrats! This is so awesome for you especially since I remember your posts when you were having a hard time running while taking that P.E. class. It sounds like you've really come so far in such a short amount of time.

And since I obviously have to comment on the food (ha!) we have a Bravo by us too. The first time we went we weren't a huge fan, but since we've been back I've really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Proud of you!!

Charlotte's Web of Books said...

Congrats!! That is quite the accomplishment!

marisol said...

Congrats! Races are addictive.