I’ve been dreading having to put up this post a little bit. I raced in the Dam to Dam half marathon on Saturday in Des Moines, IA. However the race did not go as I had hoped. The training had gone well and I felt very fit, but the results didn’t quite show it on race day. I finished 17th running 73:55 (5:39 pace). For a reference, that is a bit slower than the pace I ran my last marathon in (5:35 pace).
The race was a combination of bad conditions and bad decisions from myself early in the race. The weather was not cooperating the morning of the race. After waking up at 4:30, I checked the temperature on my phone. It was 72 degrees with high levels of humidity (the average morning temperature for Des Moines that time of year is 57). To go along with that after arriving at the start line we noticed a slight headwind (Dam to Dam is a point to point race heading mostly South the whole time, so the wind never really changed).
But even with all this evidence that I should adjust my race plan and start at a slower pace, I decided that I should just stick with the original plan and see what happens. So after getting out in 5:02 (downhill) and running a couple more around 5:15, my legs were already falling to pieces. I took on as much water as I could, but it wasn’t much help. I slipped to 5:25, then 5:35, then 5:45 and at that point I knew the race was pretty over. I couldn’t stop the bleeding of the pace and even dropped in a mile over 6 minute pace just for good measure.
The slow time was upsetting, but basically giving up and running over six minute pace for a portion of the race was the most disappointing part of the race. At the time I didn’t comprehend just how tough the conditions were. I could remember looking up as I was fading and being surprised that I could still see the leaders in the distance. It didn’t occur to me that they were running slow times as well. After the race I would find out that no one with a PR under 70 minutes (about 18 people) would finish within two minutes of their seed time (I was about 5 minutes off of mine). Looking back I wish I had tried to race a little more and worry about the time a little less.
I did show some signs of life late in the race. With about 4 miles to go, Ben Jacobs from Minnesota pulled up on my shoulder. We finished next to each other in the previous year’s race and both had seed times in the 68’s.
“Looks like it’s not our day,” he said. We chatted about how tough the race was for a moment and I started to realize that times were off for a lot of people that day. We were about 20 seconds off of a group of 3 guys and Jacobs told that the only thing he still wanted to do in the race was beat a guy from that group wearing a red singlet that he had raced in high school and never lost to before.
So were worked together to reel them back in and passed them with a few miles to go. However, the guy in red caught back up in the final mile. We had to put in a bit of a kick. I finished only two seconds ahead of red shirt with Jacobs two seconds behind. I couldn’t even get Jacobs to beat the red shirt. Tough day.
But, the fitness was there and I’ll be ready to go for the next one. And I must say that even with the tough conditions, Dam to Dam is one of my favorite races of the year. The race coordinator and elite athlete director Cal Murdoch and Ben Tilus do a great job and always put on a wonderful race. They are two of the nicer guys you’ll find out there directing a big race. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return next year and take some revenge out on the course (with the help of some cooler weather!).