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IMT Des Moines Marathon Recap

on October 20, 2014

The IMT Des Moines Marathon. Finished. I don’t know if I am able to even put into words how this went, but I’m going to try.

As many of you know, I was supposed to run the Minneapolis Marathon on June 1, 2014. That was to be my second marathon. However, Mother Nature didn’t agree as she scheduled heavy thunderstorms and severe lightning for that day. The race was cancelled and no marathon that day.

I was so disappointed and soon registered for the Des Moines Marathon. I knew that I could take a little time off from training and start again and that would be plenty of time. However, training didn’t go so well.

My training for Minneapolis went super. There were really no glitches at all. But training for Des Moines….did not go well. I would say I had some great runs. Women Rock Half went super for me. Quad Cities Half did not go well at all. My 20 miler was AWFUL. Even smaller mileage runs were going horribly. Not only that, but I skipped some runs because I just didn’t want to run at that point. Needless to say, I was really scared and nervous for Des Moines, and at times, I was dreading it.

Based on my past runs, I couldn’t even decide how fast or slow to run. I had no idea which pace group to stay with. Why? Because a lot of my runs were so inconsistent. One day I would have a great run and pace. The next would be horrible and I would feel like I could hardly get through it. So what was going to happen on race day?? Which pace group do I stay with? What if the one I choose is too fast? What if it’s too slow?

Race day came….my alarm went off and I said out loud, “Oh God help me.” Nerves were high. My hubby and I were staying with my best friend and her husband and we took off for the downtown. Hubby dropped me off at the spot and we said our goodbyes. It was a cold morning, very cold, but it was supposed to warm up as the day went on. I stood inside the entrance of a business until it was time to line up. I visited with people at the start line, which is always fun. And then….the gun went off. No turning back now.

It took us 10 minutes to actually cross the start line and then there is REALLY no turning back! We were running toward the capital building, as Des Moines is the capital city of Iowa. It was beautiful.


We ran around the downtown for about two miles and then we headed to some residential neighborhoods. And then….HILLS. Oh my goodness HILLS. I have been to Des Moines many, many times, but I had no idea that these neighborhoods were so hilly.

We ran through the campus of Des Moines University and the water stations were manned by college students….very fun. Beautiful homes with people outside having bloody marys, mimosas, breakfast, coffee and cheering us on. There were so many spectators and music…at this point, about mile 8…I realized that I had been smiling the entire time.
I think it was about mile 10 when we entered the campus of Drake University. I was especially excited for this as my sister attended Drake and played in the marching band! And the best part was that soon after entering the campus, we were allowed on the track of the football stadium! We were to run a lap and before leaving, we were filmed up on the jumbotron! I slowed down and got a picture of myself!


After the rest of Drake campus, we went back the way we came for a few miles. At mile 13, I saw something that I thought I would NEVER see. I was coming up behind this gal with a huge backpack on. She was walking. I knew that this particular group were wearing these backpacks in honor of cancer patients. As I was coming up to her, I could smell cigarette smoke. I looked down and she was smoking. I immediately thought that maybe she was a spectator and I looked back at her and she had on a marathon bib. Soon she started running again! I have never seen a person participating in a marathon and smoking. I saw her later on and she was drinking a beer! To each his or her own I guess!

I don’t remember exactly which mile we entered a wooded area and ran on a trail. I want to say it was around mile 15 or 16. It was beautiful, but of course secluded which really is tough mentally. When we came out of that, we were still in a wooded type area, but it was much more open and they had more entertainment in this area. This part was mile 18-20. My phone had died at this point and I knew hubby would be wondering where I was and if I was okay. I asked a volunteer if I could use her phone and gave him a quick call….at this point I was at mile 20.

I was dreading mile 20. I know that this is the typical “wall hitting” mile and/or BONK, but so far I was feeling really good still. I really hit the BONK at mile 22 in my first marathon, so was really nervous that was going to happen. At mile 21.5, I saw Trish and Rick. It was SUCH A BOOST! Trish came and ran with me for a little while. She had me stop so she could get my picture at mile 22!

runnergal:jess 22

We ran around a lake and then she left me at mile 24. This was it. I was alone until the end. One last hill at 24.5 and at mile 25 I started to cry. I realized that not only was I going to finish, but I was going to finish on MY terms…..MY race…the way I had started out I kept going in MY OWN WAY and I had enough left in my tank to finish the way I had run the previous 25 miles. I had to walk about 10 steps to get myself together and stop crying and just finish. There was this awesome drum and dance group at about 25.5 that was in the right place at the right time. Their music was spectacular and energy was just what I needed to keep going.

We had to take a left turn to start heading to mile 26. And then I saw my hubby waving his arms. He was standing by the bleachers at mile 26. Shocker…I started to cry. He ran came out on the course and ran a little bit with me telling me how proud he was of me and kept saying….”You did it!” He then said that he was going to get to the finish and he would meet me there.

The start and finish were in the same place, so we had to cross this bridge to get to the finish line. The bridge was lined with people and at that time, I think I was about the only one running. As soon as people started cheering, I started crying….and when people saw me start to cry, they cheered even louder. I could hear the announcer saying something and I have no idea what he was saying. He could have said my name or he could have read the most boring thing….I have no idea. I crossed the line and was just so emotional. A lady with the race grabbed me and she told me what a huge accomplishment I had just completed and that she was so proud of me. I was muttering thank you and tears rolling and then she said….”Now let’s get you a medal!”

finish line dm 14

She stepped out of the way and there were several men and women in Army uniforms handing out the medals. They were all congratulating me. I hear Trish screaming my name for a picture. I went over to hug my hubby and Trish and Rick. Trish got his great shot of hubby and me.


As I made my way around to meet them, I was still emotional. Suddenly, what seemed out of nowhere, a solder came in front of me, stuck out his hand for a high fine and said in a very determined, serious, firm voice…..”Great job. Congratulations” That sent me into another fit of tears!!!! I couldn’t even mumble a word!

I met up with Lane, Trish and Rick and we headed back to our cars. We had to get on the road to our 4 hour trip home. I had a couple of pieces of pizza from the athlete village which were YUMMY at that point.

As I reflect….the Des Moines Marathon, Half, and 5K was an incredible event. The organization was top notch, spectators were fantastic, music was placed perfectly and very inspiring, the course was although HILLY, absolutely beautiful. I still can’t get over all the stunning spots. As runners and walkers, we were able to see all of Des Moines….urban and the quite wooded/lake area, as well as two college campuses. And no kidding or exaggerating, I really, really did smile the entire race…..well until I cried. 😉

I had decided as soon as I crossed the start line to forget staying with a pace group and just run the race alone. I am so glad I did. I ran my way, my pace that felt good on that day. I kept myself steady the entire time. I ran a very smart race and I can’t explain how good that feels, especially when my training was so inconsistent.

It was an absolutely fabulous day!
marathon pic


4 responses to “IMT Des Moines Marathon Recap

  1. sweatsisters says:

    thank you for sharing your experience! Loved it all and would have loved to run it with you but was with you in spirit:) so curious how you felt at school today?? And here’s the big question everyone probably is asking….will you do another?:)) You’re so young….nothing you have to decide today! Congrats again!!! I’m sure Chris was one of the crowd of witnesses cheering you across that finishline!

    • runnergal22 says:

      Linda thank you so much! I thought of you so often during the race. I kept repeating…”I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me”. Lots of people wearing t shirts that said that and also many people holding signs that said it….I knew you were there in spirit! Reading that about Chris at the finish line just makes me tear up. I also thought of him as I do every race. I’m sure he would have LOVED that race!

  2. Kim Hatting says:

    This is great! Congrats to you!!! I’m still working on my race recap..lots of details LOL There were some crazy hills, huh, but Drake Stadium was great 😉

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