Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IMT Des Moines Marathon October 18, 2009

Disaster Strikes

The IMT Des Moines Marathon on October 18, 2009 was the marathon-that-almost-wasn't for Rick and me.  I called it our unlucky state #14!  As I look back, it's probably the marathon that proved how tough I am and how much I want to be able to run marathons.  Not only would it have been easier to not run this marathon, it arguably would have been smarter and even safer too.  The things you really want sometimes involve risks, but they are worth it in the end.  They prove what you are made of.

Preparing for the Trip from Alabama to Iowa
We were preparing to run a marathon a month after our Maui Marathon on September 20, 2009.  It seemed like the best use of our training to find another marathon to run roughly a month after Maui.  We had done this before with good results, and we were eager to get back into marathons after a pretty big hiatus.  Iowa came up as a possible state since it was close to Wisconsin.  Wisconsin was where my younger sister, Laurie, lived at the time, and she was willing to come over to Iowa and watch the kids for us as we ran (to see the entry about how Laurie helped us during the Madison, WI marathon go here).  So that is how the IMT Des Moines Marathon came up as a possibility for us.

I am thankful for Rick, since he is a planner and I am more of a dreamer.  He planned this trip for us, mapping the route, making hotel reservations, and registering us for the race.  Everything was in place and going according to plan when his work called him to Cape Canaveral, Florida at the last minute, right before we were supposed to leave for Iowa.  I was crushed.  There was no way for him to make it back in time for us to drive up to Iowa together.  I started thinking that maybe I could drive up there alone.  Now, the kids were two and three years old back then, and the trip was almost 800 miles, or at least fourteen hours with stops.  And I never drive on our car trips thanks to a great husband who always drives!  All of these things were BIG obstacles for me to get around if I wanted to run the marathon.  And at the time, it was just for me.  We both decided that Rick's chances of getting up there to run it were very slim due to the work situation in the Cape.  I had decided to do the drive alone when, at the last minute, my mom refused to let me drive it solo and agreed to come along with me. 

The Trip Up 

The trip from Alabama to Iowa with two toddlers was pretty rough, and I really don't think I could have done it without my mom's help and a trusty GPS.  The thing that I remember most about the trip was stopping for dinner at Subway near the kids' bedtime (about 7:00 p.m.).  My mom was thinking we would be looking for a hotel in that city since we had been on the road all day.  I refused to stop, changed the kids into their nightclothes, and drove for five more hours while they slept in the back.  Those of you with young kids know that it is much better to get driving time in while they are sleeping.  I did not want to strap them in for five hours when they were fresh in the morning.  I wanted them to be in Iowa.  I was in rough shape when we arrived near 1:00 a.m. at the hotel.  As we shuttled sleeping children and luggage into the dark hotel, I wondered what I had been thinking when I decided that I could safely do this part alone.  I was thankful my mom was there.

At the hotel the morning after the day-long car ride
Day Before the Race

If I remember correctly, the drive occurred on Thursday, so we had all Friday to explore Des Moines. It turned out to be a great plan. We used a reciprocal gardens pass to visit their botanical gardens and shopped at a great mall.   Below is a picture of the yummy Cheesecake Factory cheesecake slice that we all split after lunch.

We used the GPS to find the expo, since Rick had programmed the directions in it before he left for his trip.  I--of course--picked up his packet too, but we still didn't know if he'd be able to get here to run the race.  He was trying to fly from Florida to Iowa with a midnight arrival time.  Oh yeah, and we told Laurie (a grad student who had a ton of work that weekend) that she did not need to come watch the kids after all since my mom was with us.  It turns out that two years later, we eventually found another race for her to help out at!

The next two pictures show us outside of the expo and at the pasta restaurant.  We brought spaghetti home to eat in the hotel room.  My son loves to tell the story of how he spilled his pasta all over the white hotel bed as he ate.  I think it is one of his earliest memories!

Outside the expo

Getting pasta to go
This picture sums up this trip to me---a mom first and a marathoner second. 

I tried to get some sleep in our little room while waiting to hear Rick's arrival at midnight.  I was so glad to hear the key in the door!  He had made it and would be able to run after all!  Little did I know that his experience in the marathon the next day would be less than ideal.

The Race
I don't remember too much about this race, but here's a bulleted list of the things I do remember:
  • Beautiful fall leaves on the streets (I loved the beautiful changing leaves!)
  • Bagpipe music being played on the course
  • Chatting with other runners
  • Beautiful rainbow bridge we ran over with little rainbows cast from little prisms in the railings
  • Getting sub 3:50 for the first time in five years
  • Waiting for Rick while sipping a free beer at the post race party (good sized marathon)
  • Buying our marathon medal display holder as an early Christmas present
1 8:35
2 8:13
3 8:16
4 8:39
5 8:51
6 8:33
7 8:25
8 8:28
9 8:27
10 8:20
11 8:20
12 8:07
13 8:29
14 8:32
15 8:27
16 8:22
17 8:19
18 8:42
19 8:50
20 8:56
21 9:14
22 9:24
23 9:40
24 9:54
25 9:23
26 9:31
.2 2:10

overall 3:49:19
8:46 pace

We made it back to the hotel relieved that all had ended well (that is, we both finished the state!).  For me, the 3:49:19 marked the first time in five years to go below a 3:50.  I raised my bar after that and no longer made my goal sub-four hours.  I credit my time at this race for giving me the confidence to run the 3:35 I got the following February at the Mardi Gras marathon.  I was getting the hang of running marathons while mothering young children!
Iowa finishers!

Returning Home

We returned home on a two day trip (yea!), stopping in St. Louis to stay the night at my aunt and uncle's house and to see Rick off on an airplane back to the Cape (where his hotel room there was waiting for him).  Above is the whole gang at my aunt and uncle's house. 

Below is a picture of the arch.  When I see this picture, I think about how I circled around and around the arch trying to get on a bridge that was on the GPS map but was actually closed for construction.  This picture reminds me of the hard work, courage, and pure stubbornness I used to make this marathon happen.  And that is why running was the easiest part of State #14. 

We circled this many times.

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