I will admit that this was difficult initially. I had never run a half without the goal of running my fastest and pushing myself as hard as I could, so the first few miles I kept finding myself running too fast too early on for our collective pace, and I was automatically setting my brain to competition mode. Around mile 4 or 5 my lil bro started to need some pacing adjustments and moral support so I quickly switched gears and put on my cheerleading shoes. After I let him set our pace I started to actually enjoy myself more than I thought possible (while running a distance race, that is!).
This was only my second time at the event, but once again the IMT DMM did not disappoint. The route for the half quickly split from the full marathoners and took us to what would be the end of the full marathon route. I absolutely loved this because I could reminisce over memories I had had at different mile markers from last year. I remembered the place around mile 19 that I saw my family and children cheering me on. In fact, my brother came to cheer me on last year and that is what had inspired him to run this year.
I saw the spot, near mile 22, when I hit a serious wall but then had seen my favorite sign, "For all the girls picked last in gym class" and I recalled how those words got me through the slump. I remember that long bridge around mile 23 or 24 and how I cried like a little baby while on it, thinking about how I had almost finished a marathon, something I trained so hard for last year. I saw mile 25 where my husband had been standing while he had cheered his loudest to help me push through that last difficult mile...
I have chills and tears of nostalgia just thinking about it.
I love the IMT DMM for so many reasons (and it's not only because they always have the coolest participant shirts!). First and foremost, Iowa has the best people. Just like last year, the spectators and volunteers were once again amazing. I love the route because you are closer to the spectators than in other races I've done so they can give you high fives, tissues, power poster punches, and can read your name on your bib and cheer you on personally. This is definitely the most supportive group of strangers I have ever experienced in a race.
Oh and I love the race route; you travel through both urban and rural areas and other than a few small hills early on, it is a pretty flat route (I know, I know, it's Iowa, right?). I joked above, but I do love the shirts too. If you are a runner, you probably have several race shirts sitting around your house that don't get much use. The IMT DMM tech long-sleeved shirt will not be one of those. I LOVED my shirt last year and was so pumped to get the same style in a different color this year. As far as participant shirts go, they are really, really nice.
I also wanted to say how wonderful the expo at the Iowa Events Center is and how plentiful the race packets are. So many races don't actually put anything in your race packets anymore- but not the IMT DMM! Mine was overflowing with goodies and samples of lotions, vitamins, snacks, discounts, and more... and that's just the actual race packet. There was a virtual race packet, full of great deals and discounts, emailed out to us too.
The medals are just fine. Heavy and solid with large colorful neck straps, but they probably aren't the reason you run this race. But EVERYTHING else is. Even the food after the race is awesome. In addition to all the free food and drinks for the athletes, Jimmy Johns was walking around giving out free subs to spectators! As a mom with three young kiddos there cheering her on, free food was a nice distraction for them.
There are a few Thank You's that need to go out. My husband, who not only ran the Waddell and Reed Half with me and is the reason I PR's on Saturday, but who then hauled our kids to Iowa that same afternoon (when he probably would have preferred an ice bath) and helped me get ready for my race the next day. My sister and her family, my parents and my brother and his girlfriend too. It is truly incredible to look at these pictures and see how many people came to cheer us on.
I also have some pretty supportive fans on Facebook and friends in my life that inspire and motivate me to run, and to write about my running on Mamagottarun.
A final thank you to the IMT DMM blog for allowing me to post training updates these last three months, and for helping me to connect with so many fellow Iowa, Kansas, KC and I-35 Challenge runners on Twitter. It was awesome talking with some of you in person and even more of you online these last few months!
What a fun weekend. I'm a little sad it's over, but that only means that it's time to start planning for my next running adventure.
Here's to next year- who's with me? Comment below!