Waking up at about 5:30 on Sunday morning, I looked out the window to see the streets were wet. Strange, considering that hours earlier, the local Des Moines weatherman said it wasn’t going to rain until Sunday night! And they say meteorology is a science... :)
A quick check of the Weather Channel comforted me a little bit, as it looked like we would be in the clear. Even better, it would be cloudy, somewhat humid, and cool; ideal conditions for distance running.
Not making the mistake I made in Green Bay, I came armed with every article of clothing I would need for virtually any kind of weather. It looked like it was going to be in the 40’s for most of the race, so I settled on shorts, a light long sleeved top, and a short-sleeved running shirt over the top of that. Perfect. I also decided that this year I was going to carry my Amphipod water bottle filled with Propel (the bottle that I usually carry during trail races when there are few aid stations). This way, I can bypass most of the water stops and just keep running. I threw a couple of Clif Shot gels into my waist pack as well.
I wandered down to the starting area and noticed the fashion statements were all over the map. Numerous runners appeared to be dressed for a snowstorm; stocking caps, earmuffs, gloves, tights, expensive Gore-Tex jackets, you name it. Others were dressed in nothing more than a singlet and shorts. There was even someone running in a striped inmate’s outfit. But the real prize went to the Grizzly Adams-looking guy who was running barefoot wearing nothing but a loincloth (no, I didn’t just make that up...I really need to start carrying my camera with me at races).
A few thousand runners began to flood into the streets in downtown Des Moines. What follows next is what happens at every race; The race director is on a loudspeaker trying to give instructions and update. There is a loud buzz and a lot of chatter and commotion among the runners, so nobody can hear anything.
However, then something very cool happened.
Over the loudspeaker, a young lady started singing a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, and the crowd fell absolutely silent. To use the old expression, you could have heard a pin drop. Seriously, it was almost erie to have that level of quiet in a crowd of thousands. And when she finished, the runners responded with a deafening ovation. It was awesome to see that kind of respect and appreciation.
We were minutes away from the start, and you can feel the excitement. There are those who are in it to win the race. You see the Team In Training folks running for a good cause. Some are participating simply because of fitness goals. Others got talked into it last summer at a drunken party (like the guy who was standing next to me at the starting line!). My point is that everybody who was participating had their own reasons for running.
For me, this day held some significance because October 15th would have been my grandfather Ogden’s 90th birthday. As my family and friends know, I lost my two remaining grandparents on my Mother’s side of the family last fall. I wanted to run a big race in the memory of all my grandparents, so this race on this day seemed especially appropriate. I have been working towards this day all summer, and I was looking forward to the start.
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