Expo/Registration Cost/Value: So, I registered late, and paid the max fee. But, even that fee was still comparable to BIG races regular fees. It was around $120/$125. The expo was perfect. Big enough to purchase last minute items that either don't travel well or that you forgot, but small enough to get in and out of in a hurry, if you like. We received a long-sleeve half zip performance top that was gender sized. Also received a Huma gel in the bag, which was a nice little bonus. Overall, the expo was great and I feel like the registration cost was definitely in line with other races.
Course: The first half was really hilly. The last half was pretty flat, with the exception of a massive hill around mile 24. Thanks Des Moines! I found myself thinking multiple times during the first 13 miles or so... why the hell are there so many hills? This is IOWA, for chrissakes.
One major plus to the course, though, is that the half marathon split from the full around mile 2 or 3. Which, I LOVED.
Highlight of the course: Around mile 8, you actually run onto the Drake University track and run a lap on it. It was very cool.
Around miles 9ish-13ish (it might have been later than this, I'm a little foggy on the exact miles), the course ran through a park. Which, you think... oh, that's nice. But, it was so humid out, there was a lot of mud along the path and wet puddles and everyone ended up with muddy calves and you are just kind of getting to the point in the race, where, the littlest annoyances turn into big fucking deals, so, yeah, I didn't like that. It wasn't just me... that was a general complaint with the other marathoners in our group.
Miles 20-26 were some of the weirdest miles. You start making your way back into Des Moines and so, your legs start thinking... Yesssssss almost done. But then your brain is like... easy, there, we still have to get in 6 more miles somehow. We ran past my hotel at mile 20. LITERALLY RAN PAST IT. I stopped in a porta john right after passing the hotel and was like, as soon as I get out of here, I'm taking off my bib and walking back the hotel. Somehow... I didn't do that, but I wished I had for the next 5.5 miles.
Those miles are the worst of the race. You do an out and back loop, you wind through some neighborhoods, you are just teasingly close to the finish that it annoys you. And then, THEN, you have to climb up what appears to be Mt. Whitney around mile 24.
This picture doesn't do it justice. This is like halfway up the hill.
And as I'm reviewing this before posting, I'm not entirely sure this is actually the
Des Moines Statehouse, because the Des Moines Statehouse had a gold dome.
Fuck it, you get the idea.
The Start and Finish lines are downtown, which is convenient. I can't really speak of the finish line festivities, because, by the time my weak ass finished, they were tearing everything down.
Support: Hands down the most well supported marathon I've ever done. They have tons of bike support, I never went a mile without seeing one. They were amazing. One of them gave me flat coke, one of them gave me 3 tums (which ended up screwing me up, in hindsight). Very well supported race.
General: A destination race? Nah. But, if you live in the area or need the state, it's a great race. Des Moines was a really fun town and the race was well managed.
My issues: I fully expected to have to run/jog the last 10 miles of the race. I did not expect to be in a state where I could barely even walk. I had the worst stomach cramps. I think, since it was humid at the start of the race, that I overcompensated at the first few water stops and ended up just getting water logged and a sour stomach. The tums didn't help the pain, but I do think, they kept me from being able to throw up (which is what I needed to feel better). I could barely even stand upright. All I wanted to do was lie down on the side of the road in the fetal position, my stomach hurt so bad. I stopped at every porta john after mile 17. I was absolutely miserable. I've never been so miserable at a race before.
FINALLY at mile 25.5 I threw up. And I felt like an entirely new person. I was able to start running and ran pretty well to the finish. I feel kind of bad, because all the walkers who passed me the last few miles, I blew past them with a smile in that last half mile while running. But, HEY, I finally felt better!!!! And my legs felt absolutely fine.
At the end of the race, I was actually thrilled. I felt like if I could last through that much discomfort for that long, that I could honestly do anything. Apparently, I'm pretty tough. One of these days, I'd like to finally prove that I'm tough when it comes to pain of pushing hard, and not just the pain of my stomach revolting on me. ONE DAY. (2017 is going to be a good running year).
Anyway, that was Des Moines. SO FREAKING HAPPY that I actually finished and can cross Iowa off the list now. 15 states down!