What a trip! (part three)

Okie dokie, folks, are you ready for part three of my trip to Iowa? Oh good, because here it is! If you want to catch up and read the first two parts, click HERE for part one and click HERE for part two. And just like the first two parts, this will be long and filled with just a few photos!

I left off at the end of Saturday, the night before the Hy-Vee Road Race, which took place as part of the Drake Relays. My hubby and I signed up to do the 10K. I have to note that most often, when we sign up for races, I don’t read much about the race itself nor do I normally take a look at the route. I like to be surprised. Well, on Saturday night, my hubby was checking out the Hy-Vee Road Race website and the 16-page athlete guide. On page 6 of the guide, there was a section labeled, “Bulldog Hill,” that contained a couple of paragraphs detailing THE hill.

Here is the actual paragraph taken right from the athlete guide:

bulldog hill

And, for your viewing pleasure, here is the map of the 10K and the elevation chart, just so you can get an idea of what we’re talking about:

10K map


As my hubby was reading it, I told him not to read anymore because again, I like to be surprised. Even though he didn’t read all of it to me, I will admit that thinking about the hill did freak me out a little bit. I think it also freaked him out! If you want to see the elevation chart, along with all the other juicy details from my actual race, click HERE.

Early Sunday morning, the alarm went off – it was race day! We love race-day mornings! There’s always a certain energy about race-day mornings. And it always amazes me how much easier it is to get out of bed for a race than it is to just get up for a “normal” run. The race started at 8 a.m. and so we made plans to be there between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. because we didn’t really know what parking was going to be like. Parking was a little crazy but we eventually found a spot that actually turned out to be pretty close and it was easy to find where we needed to go. We made our way to the start, stopping a couple of times for me to use the restroom – once at a McDonald’s and once at the port-a-potties near the starting line! (I drink a LOT of liquids in the morning!) It’s kind of funny actually, both Al and I have a couple of race-day morning quirks – he sneezes A LOT and I use the restroom A LOT! Probably too much TMI! LOL!

After we got to the start, we heard the announcer say that the 10K race was going to have a delayed start – neither my hubby or I heard exactly why, but it had something to do with where the half-marthoners were on the course. Who knows? The delay was about 10 minutes. Not a big deal, really. While we were waiting, there was a photographer from The Des Moines Register taking pictures and he approached us and asked if he could take our picture. Of course we answered yes. Well, maybe I answered yes for us! The next day, Al looked and lo and behold, our picture made it as part of the photo gallery on the newspaper website. How cool is that? Check it out:

us in the des moines register

This was a screen shot off my computer. Here is the actual photo I saved from the newspaper’s online gallery:

us at race register photo

I have to say, this is one of my favorite photos of Al and I. There’s something about the color, the clarity, the lighting. I just love everything about it.

Shortly before the race was to start, Al moved closer to the front and I moved closer to the back or middle of the line of runners, which is typical for us. As I was waiting in line, I took a couple of photos of the line of people. There were quite a few in front of me and at first, I thought there was quite a few behind me, but when I turned to take the “back of the pack” photo, I realized there weren’t as many as I thought. Here’s a look at the runners in front of me:

crowd shot before the race 1

I was lined up right after the 10-minute pace sign. Typically, there are 11-minute and even 12-minute pace signs at races, but not this one. The only sign after the 10-minute pace sign was the sign for walkers. I have to admit, I thought that was awfully strange, but whatever, I guess. I knew I wasn’t going to be a 10-minute per mile runner, especially with the hills, which is why I lined up right at the back of that pace. But I also knew I wasn’t a walker. Here’s a look behind me.

crowd shot before the race 2

See, there weren’t nearly as many people behind me. As I was waiting for the line to start, I accidentally bumped into someone. And then again, we “accidentally” bumped into each other. I apologized and then I realized it was Sarah, who I had just met at the RRCA coaching certification course. Sarah is from MN and at the end of our session on Saturday, we exchanged information. We chit-chatted for a little bit before the race started. It was so fun to see her there.

It was finally time to start the race. Time to find out when I was going to start up the infamous Bulldog Hill!

The course was actually quite nice. A mix of flat and slight hills. Nothing too spectacular. Until, we came to Grand Avenue, which led us to 28th Street – and Bulldog Hill! I am not sure which was worse to be honest, the long, slow and steady climb of Grand Avenue or the three-tiered monster hill of 28th Street. Either way, though, to be real honest, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting! Thank goodness. I am not saying the hills weren’t bad. I am just saying they weren’t AS BAD as I thought they were going to be. It was fun to see all the people that lined the hilly areas of the race course. I even saw Andy and the crew from Fleet Feet Sports. And the drum corp was pretty cool, too. I even gave them a “thumbs up” sign as I slowly ran by!

The coolest part of the whole race? Finishing on the “blue oval” at Drake University, the track where the Drake Relays had taken place. This is the track where Olympic runners have raced. Seriously, how cool is that? That was my first time EVER running on a track of that caliber. Actually, I think that was my first time running on “real” track. I was definitely not an athlete in school – middle, high or college. Playing sports was the furthest thing from my mind. I guess I was, however, part of the track team in middle school. I helped with the stats at track meets. The only reason I did this was to watch the boys run. Not. Even. Kidding.

Anyway, when I hit that track, something came over me and I just kind of took off toward that finish line. For the first time, I felt like a real, true runner. A real, true ATHLETE. It was the most surreal and coolest feeling ever. I loved it. It was so fun! And one of the best running experiences I’ve had to date. Knowing that I was running on the same track as Olympic athletes just made my day! Al got a couple of shots of me coming in, here they are:

coming into the finish

coming into the finish 2


I found Al pretty quickly after I crossed the line and then we shared stories of our runs – our times, splits, THE hill, etc. We got our medals and some water and moved to the sidelines to watch for our friend, Travis, to come in. He was running the half-marathon. As we were waiting, as usual, I found someone to take a picture of Al and I in front of the finish line. There was a woman standing right by us waiting for some people to come in. I asked her and she happily said yes that she would take our picture. However, as she was taking the picture, one of her friends came in and I felt bad that she didn’t get to see the person actually cross the finish line. She actually was okay with it and not mad at all. I found out her name was Vicki and she was from Florida. She was in town because she attended the RRCA Convention. I thought that was pretty cool. Here’s the picture she took:

me and al at the finish line

Well, it turned out, that Vicki ran the 10K and the three other people she was waiting for ran the half-marathon. After they all crossed the finish line, she actually approached me and asked me to take photos for them. And, it gets better. She didn’t have her phone with her and her friend’s phone wasn’t working. So, I actually ended up taking pictures with MY phone and then I just texted them to her. I told her I knew how important photos were and that I didn’t mind one bit taking pictures for them. I think I ended up sending her eight or nine pictures. Funny part is, as I was taking their pictures, Travis crossed the finish line and I missed it. Although, I ended up getting him in one of the pictures I took of their group. Check it out: (Vicki is in the green with the blue ribbon. Travis is off to the right, wearing sunglasses and he has a NoBoundaries shirt on. He’s actually coming in for a high-five from Al, who you can kind of see in the picture, too! Pretty crazy, huh?!?!)

pic I was taking when travis came in


We had Vicki take a couple more photos of the three of us – Travis, Al and I. She, and her friends, were really nice and it was fun to chat with them. Here’s some more pics from after the race:

three of us at finish

me and al drake

three of us in front of drake

After the race, Al, Travis and I headed toward our cars, but got sidelined by the spread of food that was being offered to the runners. There were apples, bananas, oranges, cookies, granola bars, bagel bites and of course water, along with a variety of pop. It was awesome. Along with food and beverages, runners could get a printout of their times. Here’s mine and Al’s:


We were both quite pleased with our results. I have ran faster 10K’s, but none that were that hilly. My goal was to finish in one hour and five minutes or less. Didn’t quite make it, but I was darn close. Like I just said, though, I was happy with my time. And so was Al. And although Travis didn’t quite meet his goal of two hours or less for his half-marathon, he still ended up getting a PR with 2:04:33. I thought he did awesome. I was actually surprised at how non-tired and quite spry he was after his race. He surely wasn’t acting like he just finished a hilly half-marathon. If you didn’t know any better, you’d thought he had only done a 5K! Way to go, Travis!

After we said our goodbyes, Al and I headed back to our hotel to shower up, pack and hit the road. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Des Moines and will hopefully visit again. Maybe, soon. There’s a half-marathon in October that looks pretty tempting!

Before we left for home, however, we did make one more stop…to Rock Bottom Brewery for a celebratory beverage and some grub. We were thirsty and we were starving!

rock bottom brewery

Our beverages – mine was the dark one. It was called Lumpy Dog Brown Ale and it was DELICIOUS! Paired perfectly with my buffalo burger and macaroni and cheese. (Side note and not that it really matters, but I ate the entire burger, but only half the bun – the top half. The bottom gets too soggy! And, I only ate half the mac and cheese. Al ate the other half! And yes, the only thing I finished was my beer AND my glass of water!)

buffalo burger


We made it home safe and sound shortly before 10 p.m. on Sunday night. It felt so great to be back home and sleep in my own bed with my own pillow. As much fun as it is to get away, there’s also nothing like being at home!

So, I know some of you are probably wondering, well did she pass the coaching certification course?

The answer is……….YES!

We didn’t take the test as part of the actual three-day course. On Monday, all participants received an email with a link to the 100-question open book, multiple choice, online test. Yes, you read that right…it was an open book test. Almost immediately after receiving the email, I took the test. We had 30 days to complete the test and we could, if we really wanted to, answer a few questions at a time and then save it and go back to it another time. The only criteria is that it had to be complete within the 30-day time frame. I decided that if I started it, I was going to finish it. So, Monday afternoon, at exactly 2 p.m., I started the test. Some of it was fairly easy and I answered the questions quite quickly, without even having to look up the answers. And yes, I knew they were right. Other questions were very, very, very difficult for me and I really struggled. Those were the ones I agonized over and took forever to answer.

It took me just shy of four hours to complete. Yes, FOUR HOURS! I’m telling ya, it was a doozy. My group fitness certification test was a walk in the park compared to this test. UFF-DA!

I was very happy to find out that we got our results within seconds of hitting the submit button. I have to admit, I was sweating and I may have closed my eyes, too nervous to open them right away. We had to get at least 85 percent to pass the exam and become a certified running coach. Here’s my results:

test results


Yep, I barely passed. But, I PASSED!!!!!! I am now an RRCA Certified Running Coach. Well, I will be as soon as I submit my CPR certification AND take an online first aid course. As soon as I do that and submit both the CPR and the first aid certifications, it will take about two to three weeks and then I should receive my certificate in the mail. I can’t wait! Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you know when I do!


3 thoughts on “What a trip! (part three)

  1. Congratulations on passing your certification! I am so happy and proud of you! It makes me want to take it as well.

    Thanks again to you and Al for everything, especially waiting until I finished my run. And yes, I did the half, even if you think I didn’t look like I did. You’re just too kind. You should have seen me after the 18 mile bike ride later that day!


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