Race Report: My Final Marathon

October 18, 2015
Des Moines, IA
Marathon #15
Event #88
I-35 Challenge-Day 2

“Forward Motion IS A Pace”

After a not so quick shuffle back to the hotel, shower and check out, I was on my way from Kansas City to Des Moines, and the second half of the I-35 challenge. The journey is just under 200 miles and should take about 3 hours.

My legs were just trashed from the hills in KC. I went slowly in my first marathon, but any illusions that this strategy would “save the legs for Des Moines” were dispelled. I would be changing my registration to the Half Marathon when I reached the expo. I was at peace with this decision. The I-35 challenge was to complete a half or a full marathon in each city over the weekend, so I would still technically be completing the challenge…but it wasn’t what I trained for. Iowa would have been my tenth state (enough to join the 50 Marathon State Club), my first back-to-back (which would have elevated me from one star to four stars in the Marathon Maniacs), and my fifteenth overall marathon. What bothered me the most was that I trained for a marathon double, and I would be taking my first DNS.

The drive was slow. I stopped every chance I could to stretch my legs and to hydrate. As I got into Iowa, my legs started feeling slightly bit better. Walking was not so arduous…but I was still gimping around quite badly.

I parked about a block from the expo. The walk wasn’t horrible. I saw several other runners in the same boat. Most of the late arrivals were I-35ers. “Did you run the full in KC” was the typical conversation starter. The expo was at the far end of the exhibit hall. By the time I got to packet pick-up, I had changed my mind. I had a flashback to T2 at Ironman Wisconsin. I barely able to stand up, I was dehydrated and bonking. I only had 15 minutes rest before starting the marathon. I finished that run in 6:09. For Des Moines, I would have 7 hours to finish, and have the benefit of a good hot shower and 10 hours of sleep. I would attempt to do what I came here to do. I picked up my marathon packet. I would succeed or fail, but I would try. DNF is better then a DNS.

The expo was good, bigger then KC, but many booths had already closed up before I arrived. After a quick dinner I settled into bed.

The next morning was chilly. The air temp was 38F and windy. The forcast called for gusting winds from the south and a rapid warmup into the low 60’s. Creative layering was the order of the day. I was walking pretty well. My feet were sore and my leg muscles were stiff, but in pretty good shape for the day after a marathon. When I laced up, I discovered a pretty severe new pain on the top inner portion of my right foot. It was right over the laces and I thought that I may have laced up too tightly, but loosening the laces didn’t help. These were a new pair of shoes (I ran 5k in them to test them out, but they were not yet broken in). I quickly switched to the older pair that I had worn the previous day (which had fortunately dried out overnight). Those were even worse. I examined my foot. There was no swelling, but there was a small point that was very tender. Great. The newer shoes were less painful. I left the laces a little loose around the pressure point and walked to the start. The foot hurt with every footfall. Nothing I could do about it now…it may vanish as so many pains are prone to doing during a long run, or it may get worse. Time will tell.

The plan was to go even slower then yesterday. My legs felt OK, but they were sore and tired. They would rebel at some point during the race, and the longer I could keep them happy, the better my day would be. I joined to slowest pace group (5:25) and vowed not to run ahead of them.


Once again the half and full marathon runners started in one big coral. The first two miles were a loop of downtown and the half marathon runners went off in another direction. That’s when the hills started.


KC had about 2400 feet of elevation gain. Des Moines has about 2200 feet. The difference is that almost all of the uphills in Des Moines hit between mile 2 and mile 10. So, for 8 straight miles, we were climbing. My legs were hanging in there. Slow and steady was winning.

A few words about the course. Des Moines is a small town. We pretty much left the downtown area at mile 2. When I looked at the map after the race, I was surprised to see that we had run the length of the downtown area twice. After that, we ran through some nice tree lines neighborhoods for 15 miles or so. It was nice, but just a collection of out and backs that got pretty dull. After that, most of the rest of the race was along walking paths in a large park area before heading downtown for the final half mile. Basically, there were a lot of filler miles, which you have to expect in these smaller venues. The filler miles were nice, but still filler miles.

What was AMAZING was the course support. There were aid stations at every mile! There were port-a-potties every half mile (there was no line up at any of these). And, they had dozens of cyclists on the course handing out candy, Kleenex, and basic medical aid. I lost count of the number of twizlers that were given to me by a random cyclist! Musicians also crowded the course, with entertainment every half-mile or so. Overall, this is the best supported race that I have ever participated in. There were quite a few spectators as well, until we reached the park reserve.


I chatted with the pacer and the rest of the group which helped the miles go slowly by. At mile 19, the inevitable happened…my legs turned to concrete. I was also collecting various different pains in my feet and ankle (the earlier foot pain had disappeared by had now returned, along with multiple toenail pains, blisters forming, pains in my heels, arches, Achilles, ankle, etc). I knew I would not be finishing with my pace group, but planned to hang with them as long as I could. At mile 23, I gave in and let the pace group go. I was run/walking at this point, taking a walk break every half-mile or so. But the last few kilometers clicked by and I saw the finish line.

Finish Time – 5:26:09

The post race area was great. Got my medals, pulled pork, pizza, nachos, and a couple of sandwiches for the road.

I-35 Challenge complete!


Next up, a long drive home, and one final race before the off-season…Monster Dash Half Marathon on Halloween Day…



Filed under Race Reports

2 responses to “Race Report: My Final Marathon

  1. That’s an amazing achievement! I haven’t learned how to push through that kind of pain yet (not entirely sure I want to) but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire it in someone else. Congratulations on achieving all those milestones.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on your accomplishment! Running back to back marathons is not something I would ever consider for myself, although I have suggested it to an ultramarathon friend who jumped on the idea and set a PR on his Saturday marathon in Indianapolis only to set an even better PR on Sunday in Des Moines a few years ago. He is a crazy man 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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