A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Des Moines Half Marathon 2014

on October 21, 2014

Approaching this race, I never felt any real nerves or excitement. I was looking forward to it, but because a) I knew I’d finish (which was a fear I had last time) and b) things have been so busy I haven’t thought about it much at all! It wasn’t really until we got in the car Saturday afternoon to drive off to Des Moines that I even gave it much thought at all other than being something on my to-do list for the weekend! We gathered up all of our things, packed healthy snacks and hydration and hit the road for Des Moines.

As we came into town, we first went to the Expo at the Iowa Events Center. We paid to park in the lot rather than try to find parking along the street in a city we were unfamiliar with, especially as we’d be taking O in with us. We’d told O that we were going to a big running store, which is a pretty accurate description of a race Expo, don’t you think? Our first stop was dropping off shoes at the donation bins, as they were collecting food and shoe donations at the Expo.

It looks like a lot of people donated!

It looks like a lot of people donated!

We next headed back to packet pick-up, which was in the back of the Expo space. The Expo space was larger than I expected and much larger than Omaha was at last year’s marathon weekend! It was not nearly as crowded as Princess, thankfully. Packet pick up lines were sorted by bib number, which they’d emailed us earlier in the week and also had printed out on a series of long tables if you didn’t have the email. There was no line at all and I had my bag, complete with goodies, long sleeved tech shirt (very nice!) and bib in just a minute. They didn’t even ask for ID, which was a big departure from RunDisney as well!

Surprisingly big Expo

Surprisingly big Expo

We then wandered the Expo for a while to let O stretch his legs. There were booths from several shoe companies (Altra, Hoka, Brooks, etc), the SweatyBands headbands, running gear and Jeff Galloway (who I was geekily excited to see, but I didn’t stop for a picture because that would be too much).

Very tempting

Very tempting

Oliver loved the booth that was giving away cow bells and tattoos, both of which he armed himself with before we wandered back out the car. We could have gone straight to the hotel and walked to the Expo, but we didn’t realize they were so close together! The Iowa Events is only a few blocks from the race course, for anyone who is planning on heading out for this race in the future and staying near the race course. We stayed at the Savery Renaissance hotel, which was a block from the course and only 3 blocks from the starting line so it was really convenient.



And tattoos that O still has not let us wash off.

And tattoos that O still has not let us wash off.

We got settled in to the hotel and ate dinner in hotel restaurant, where they were doing an all-you-can eat pasta bar instead of their usual menu in honor of the race. In hindsight, I wish they’d been doing their usual menu because for some reason, I let myself fall into the trap of “gotta carb load” and ate two bowls of pasta, plus who knows how much bread. I was so uncomfortable for the rest of the night! I know better than that!


There was a table of African runners near us and my oh-so-smooth husband commented on how he guessed they were a lot faster than me because they were more “aerodynamic.” Thanks babe.

I was able to get to bed early, thankfully, but it was not a particularly restful night as all 3 of us were sleeping in a king sized bed. O was sideways between us, kicking Darrell, playing with my hair constantly and talking in his sleep ALL NIGHT LONG. We were all a little grateful when 6 am rolled around and we could just get up. Being so close to the starting line and with a smaller race, I didn’t need to leave until 7:30 am, so I had plenty of time to get dressed and pick up the bagel box they were offering runners down in the lobby. I ate my usual oatmeal, but I had the bagel for snacking later.

Bright and shining start.

Bright and shining start.

It was an easy walk down the starting line and there wasn’t much of a wait for port-a-potties or anything else. As O and Darrell were meeting me at the finish, I didn’t need to check a bag so I just wandered over to a starting point near the 2:30 pace group. They had signs for projected pace, plus several different pace groups, so it was very easy to figure out where to line up.

Not only were the groups well-marked, most people actually self-seeded appropriately.

Not only were the groups well-marked, most people actually self-seeded appropriately.

If there was much fanfare at the start, I didn’t see or hear it where I was and soon enough we were off running. It was a friendly crowd of runners, with a surprising number of spectators at the start given how chilly it was (low 40s). I was most nervous about missing the split for the half marathon course. We all started together, marathon and half marathon, and the half course split off somewhere after mile 2. The half marathon course is a lot flatter than the full marathon course, but I didn’t want to wait until the hills started to realize I’d missed the turn off point! I was worried for nothing. Not only was there a giant flashing sign, there were volunteers lined up a block before the split yelling and pointing.

The volunteers for this race were truly amazing! In the start and finish area, I was never out of sight of a volunteer with a big “ASK ME” sign and a clipboard to point you in the right direction. Throughout the race, we were always in sight of these fantastic bike riders as well:

Seriously the best course support ever

Seriously the best course support ever

They had first aid supplies, tissues, water and even Twizzlers. 🙂

The water stations were also frequent and most of them were sponsored by specific groups and themed accordingly. My favorite was the tropical themed station, that promised the water was margarita flavored and gave out leis to the runners. There were also stations with Gu and fruit. As I was carrying my water bottle, I didn’t stop at any aid stations but I enjoyed seeing them.

There were also lots of little bands and musical acts along the way, a lot more frequent than I was expecting!

Loved this silly little musical act

Loved this silly little musical act

The course itself is very flat (only a couple of small hills) and scenic. Most of the half marathon course is through parks and green space, with the gorgeous changing leaves of a Midwest fall. The weather was also perfect – crisp, cool and breezy. I had a good time listening to the crowds, which lined the whole course, and the other runners cheering each other on. All of this made it easy to keep my A goal of having fun!

I loved the miles that looped along the water

I loved the miles that looped along the water

As far as my B goal of running strong and keeping to my intervals, I’m proud to say that I did! I skipped a couple of walk breaks (including one spell where I accidentally turned off the interval timer) but didn’t walk when I wasn’t scheduled to, even on a hill at around mile 11 where I really wanted to!

I was on track for my 2:30 time goal until around mile 9-10, which was where the course got a little compressed to let the marathon winners come by (yes, the marathon winners finished before I finished the half!) and I got stuck behind the big mass of the 2:30 pace group. I was moving faster than them during my run intervals, but slowing for the walk intervals which meant things got slowed down overall when I couldn’t get past them. It was frustrating to say the least. I thought about just sticking with them for the rest of the race, but knew as tired as my legs were, I wouldn’t be able to stick with them for the 3+ miles that were left without walk breaks and I didn’t want to mentally break the pattern I’d set of sticking to my current intervals. I reviewed my goals and reminded myself that feeling like I was running strong was more important than the time, so I’d stick to my intervals, which I knew I could carry to the finish. I was happy with that decision when I got to that hill at mile 11 and was able to keep running up it rather than stopping to walk!

Brilliantly sunny day!

Brilliantly sunny day!

I definitely gave all my little legs had in this race. I think I definitely have a sub-2:30 half marathon in me, but with the overall fatigue I’ve got from work and all of the travel I did this week plus the lack of adrenaline I had (again because I had other things on my mind this week!) it just wasn’t in me Sunday. 2:32:48 is my official time and according to my Garmin, I traveled more than 13.1 miles to get there so I’m happy with that time! At 13.1 miles on the Garmin, I was actually somewhere between 2:30-2:31 so I got very close to my goal except for a lot of weaving on the course. 🙂 This time is a big improvement over my official Princess Half Marathon time (2:45) and over the time my Garmin said I was actively running (as opposed to waiting in character lines, bathroom lines) at Princess (2:35). Maybe I’ll try to get into the Lincoln Half Marathon in the spring to gun for that sub-2:30 time goal that still out there. I’m sort of glad I still have it to shoot for (although I definitely won’t be shooting for any time goal for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge!).

We finished on the same bridge where we started

We finished on the same bridge where we started

All in all, it was a great day to run and I would definitely run this race again. If you’re in the Midwest, this would be a great first time half marathon with all of the course support, the flat course and the liberal time limits. As the course is shared in places with the marathon, it stays open for 7 hours so there were a fair number of walkers in the half marathon. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area or looking to check Iowa off of your 50 states list!

21 responses to “Des Moines Half Marathon 2014

  1. Kristin says:

    Awesome!! You ran such a great race!! Way to go!! I know you’ll get your goal!!! Have a wonderful week!! xoxoxo

  2. Wonderful race! Glad you had a great run! I love that W.W. Skirt!

  3. Great recap! And congratulations on your race! You did a great job and I am so impressed by your time improvement! 🙂 I definitely see a sub 2:30 in your future. I’m glad your hubby and O were able to come with you, too. I would have been just as excited about the cowbells as O was. I’ve been looking everywhere for one (I wanted to take it to RNR St. Louis on Sunday when I surprised my friend to cheer her on). This sounds like a really well-organized and fun race; I’m adding it to my list for my 50 states challenge. Your race photos are beautiful! I love the volunteers who had Twizzlers, too I told my friend that next time I go to spectate a race, I’m going to bring Twizzlers to hand out to runners. What a nice treat! Congratulations again on such a great race! I hope you are enjoying a somewhat quieter week! 🙂

    • I’m already planning on a spring half to break that 2:30 mark. I think I can do it (and am even considering the scary “race it” training plan in TLAM!). You should definitely come up to Des Moines for your Iowa race. It was excellent!

      • If you want to cross MO off of your list, we have a great half in April in St. Louis! 🙂 I have no doubt that you can do the sub 2:30 and the “race it” plan would be a great resource. Is that what Adrienne Martini is using this time? I know she was debating about which plan to use, but I think she challenged herself to do the race it plan. I think I am going to sign up for one of the AMR challenges next year. I could use a little kick in the pants. 🙂 Adding Des Moines to my list!

      • Adrienne did the race it plan and it was really helpful to see someone who runs a slower pace still do the “race it” plan. Race is definitely defined by our own experience, not anyone else’s after all. 🙂 The AMR challenge experience was great, in terms of having support from a lot of other people doing the same training at the same time.

        On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 1:03 PM, A Little More Each Day wrote:


  4. […] allowing myself a couple of weeks to rest and recover after my 13.FUN training plan for the Des Moines Half Marathon, I’m ready to get started with training for the Rebel Challenge at Disneyland! This race will […]

  5. […] After a couple of cups of coffee and some Excedrin for my headache, I was feeling a little more human. I got myself dressed in workout gear, including my new long sleeved tech shirt from the Des Moines half marathon: […]

  6. […] forward to the race but not really being “up” for it – I felt that way about Des Moines […]

  7. […] brought lots of travel, including running in Pennsylvania and Maryland on the same day, and the Des Moines half marathon. I highly recommend the Des Moines half marathon – awesome race organization, crowd support […]

  8. […] third half marathon in less than 365 days (between the Princess Half Marathon in February 2014, the Des Moines Half Marathon in October 2014 and the Star Wars Half Marathon in January 2015). That’s nothing to sneeze […]

  9. […] can absolutely do this. I know that my body can absolutely do this and could have done this at the Des Moines half marathon. My problem? My brain gets in the way. This year, that isn’t going to happen. I registered […]

  10. […] in the fall, in the midst of training for the Des Moines Half Marathon, I did a “Day in the life” post that went through a fairly typical day for me. Looking […]

  11. […] and it would be great to get it done now so I have a little less pressure should I decide to run Des Moines again in the fall (great race so I very well may and it would be fun to set some new goals there,  […]

  12. […] needed the first time around – learning to cover the miles. For my second half marathon, the Des Moines Half Marathon in 2014, I used an Another Mother Runner plan that incorporated more miles (more on that one here) and then […]

  13. […] Moines Half Marathon 2015 – I also ran this last year and was disappointed with my mental finish. I just gave up at the end. I also had some binge […]

  14. […] with less than a quarter mile to the finish!!). My current half marathon PR is 2:32:48, set at Des Moines last year. I’d love to beat that time and actually had the goal this year to run sub-2:30, […]

  15. […] time goal I wanted. I wasn’t as disappointed as I had been when I didn’t break 2:30 in Des Moines last year, but I was still […]

  16. […] mostly kid – they were lovely. However, last year, I started ahead of them and when they caught me I just became so demoralized and gave up. This […]

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