Run to Exile (10k) Race Report

Or How I Learned to Not Organize a Race…




Marking the beginning of an institution, activity, or period of office: “his inaugural concert as music director”.

This is the definition of inaugural. It’s a fancy word for new. Untested. Run to Exile 2013 was an inaugural race. Untested.

It was my first afternoon race. So getting the right nutrition became a game in itself. A couple bowls of cereal and a Clif Bar. How much water do I need to drink? The stories surrounding port-a-potty escapades left me hesitant to drink too much water.

We arrived a the brewery to a decent crowd of race goers and an even larger crowd of last minute packet pickers.
I left the wife at a bar side table and boarded the bus to the drop-off point for the 10k. Roughly 10 kilometers away from the brewery (foreshadowing).

Start with the Basics

We were dropped at an area park and it then became some sort of weird social experiment. Volunteers were trying to call back to home base to determine where the starting line was. The group of 50-100 racers began making the trek down the road under the assumption the starting line was awaiting us there. After a while the caravan stopped, realizing we weren’t following any volunteer or race official.

People starting to come out of their houses to watch the Asics parade now taking place. We past the 3:00 “gun time” and were told officials were coming to start us. Eventually enough of a groundswell took place that a trickle of runners caused the whole waiting group to start heading towards downtown.

You should have a starting line and a finish line before anything else.

The race was a decent scenic route which hugged the mighty Des Moines River. Despite the issues with the start – the police traffic and volunteer support was pretty strong on the course.


My pacing was slower than I wanted – with a goal of (again) running a negative split. Somewhere in the 10:30 range for first half and bringing it down to 10:00 min/mile pace for the second half.

Around mile 4 – the sky began to spit. Park of my “taper” during the week was to run in the rain in anticipation of someday doing it. Thoughts of Forrest Gump came to mind and the importance of keeping your socks dry. It also became a question of how waterproof my Garmin  Forerunner 610 claimed to be.

Go the Distance

As I rounded the last turn and cruised into the finish line – I briefly glanced at the clock as it read 59. My wife and a friend were also there, in the rain, cheering me on as I came across. There was a rumbling of “That time isn’t going to be accurate as they have no idea when we took off and it wasn’t chipped.” I wasn’t getting any medals or planning on putting the results on my resume, so it wasn’t grossly important to me. As a I grabbed some carb recovery, thoughts of the using the slip’n’slide setup nearby popped up. But I wanted some chocolate milk and a water. Glancing at the Garmin – I noted the distance. 5.56. So my first “official” 10k was not even that. Do I cross it off the goal list? So our original caravan at the starting line must have stopped a full half mile short of the intended starting line, if it was in fact measured.

Oh well. I hugged my our goal (despite being short on the distance). Had a good beer and some delicious fries afterward. And also got my first medal.

Do you have any unorganized race day stories?


Run to Exile Packet Pickup/Pre-Race


A local brewery, Exile Brewing Company, must have thought it’d be awesome if they could somehow get customers to come running into the business. Running…running…Let’s hold a run! We’ll charge them to enter the race and conveniently drop them off at the front doors to the brewery. 

In all seriousness, organized races seem to be few and far actually within Des Moines. Most popup in the smaller community holiday events. Running season is book-ended by large events like Dam to Dam in early June and the Des Moines Marathon in October.

For a moment I contemplated running the half marathon. My long runs were nearing the 10 miles peak and felt it would have been a good challenge. However, a week after Dam to Dam and only my second race wearing a bib, I opted for the 10k route.


Race Map – Version 1.0

The 5k, 10k and half are named after the beers the brewery taps. Those are named after ex-girlfriends as the story goes. So I’m running Ruthie.

I took initiative to run a training run on the course. They say races shorten with familiar territory. You’re likely to use guideposts or landmarks to recall your previous runs. It was a decent run that ran through a park just outside of downtown Des Moines. However, all of the blue depicted int he map tends to expand when it rains. So the course was updated the week of the race to really run alongside the half marathon course coming from the North.

Race swag;

1 – Exile Brewing Company Pint Glass
1 – Exile Brewing Company Gear Bag
1 – Tech Shirt


Dam to Dam Race Report

Race Day. Started early. Like 5:30 to 6:00 early. I wasn’t sure what the parking situation would be like at Iowa’s Largest Race – so I made sure the family was out the door in plenty of time to spare.

We parked within single engine plane distance of the start/finish line for the out and back 5K. The 5K is the smaller of the two races held during Dam to the Dam. The 20K is the more popular race and starts North of Des Moines at Saylorville Dam (hence Dam to Dam).

We hung out at the finish line as the first elite 20K runners trickled in around the 1 hour mark (officially 1:00:56). Insane. The weather was pretty much perfect as we gathered at the starting line for the 5K. It would be my first official race barring a DNF or surprise arrest warrant as we ran by Des Moines Police Department.

I did a brief warmup and took a spot between the 10 and 9 minute corrals. Wearing my newly purchased Garmin Forerunner 610 – I tinkered with buttons to get the metrics I thought would be good. While I knew heart rate monitoring and pace monitoring isn’t a big deal in a race of this size – I wanted to play with my new toy.

The gun was off and we shuffled toward the starting line. Net time of right around a minute to the big chip crossing the starting line. From where it was a slightly controlled chaos. Through my early foray into running, I repeatedly read how important it was to “run your race” and not let the excitement of the small races cause you to barrel out only to struggle to the finish mats.

It seemingly was lost on me as I weaved in and out of runners – at one point using the sidewalk due to congestion. My Running List music hit some odd selections that didn’t work come race time. Like the classical styling of William Walton. That’s my bad. There was a little too much fumbling with my headphones as I forwarded through tracks.

But it was a good run as I kept up my desired pace of sub 10:00 min miles. We eventually made our way to the hairpin turnaround which features Iowa’s hill. We have more than one, but this one happens to be on the race course. During race prep I took some time to run it so knew it was coming. Despite running a race pace I hadn’t been accustomed to, I managed to easily maneuver up the hill and make the turn down back to the finish line.

It was passing mile 2 that my pace began to catch up to me and I found myself near the max heart rate area. My breathing wasn’t clean and I was using the water stations when I probably didn’t need to in a 5K. The distance from the 400 meter line to the finish line probably needed to be measured again because it sure felt much longer. But I crossed the line still maintaining a pace I hadn’t carried through “training”.

My first sub-goal in a sheet full of running goals was now complete. Officially race a 5k.

I grabbed a Poweraid – unsuccessfully tried to grab a 20K finisher medal and then met up with the family at our rallying point.

We ended up walking to another area in Downtown Des Moines for the Farmers Market. There was a good deal of walking. My feet hurt. But I was proud of my accomplishments and excited to see my Official Time. posted the results later that Saturday night, 30:23. I wanted to be right around the 30 minute mark but was pretty happy with the results. Middle of the pack! 553 out of 2700 racers in the 5K!

DamtoDamPaceTakeaways: Focus on steadier pace. The weaving in and out of people only adds distance you need to run. Have fun and not worry so much about time and pain.

National Running Day Quiz

Today marks National Running Day. Didn’t know this day existed before getting submersed in the culture. Here’s a short quiz posted on many blogs and my coinciding answers.

1. On average how many races do you run a year? Aiming for 5-7

2. Head accessories, things you have to run with: a hat, a visor, sunglasses, chapstick, sunscreen, head band, ponytail, braids, sweat band? A hat. Sunglasses sometimes but I don’t like the tint of my el-cheapo sunglasses.

3. Where do your workouts come from? A training plan, a coach, whatever you feel like doing that day or what your training partner is doing that day? In the past the Hal Higdon Marathon Training Plan. Now that I finally bought a Garmin (610) I’m using the incorporated plans on

4. How many miles on average do you put on a pair of shoes? . Last pair was probably nearing 700. Going to be a little more vigilant with this pair.

5. Cell phone= do you bring it with you on your run or leave it at home? Typically bring it with me for the music. Spotify it is.

6. What was your last running related injury or have you been an injury free runner? Thus far injury-free….oww…what was that?

7. Is your current running goal about running a farther distance (adding more mileage) or getting faster or BOTH?!? Speed focused at this point. But the distance numbers seem more rewarding and easier to obtain.

8. Speedwork—-> at the track, on the treadmill, on the roads or never do it? Treadmill typically.

9. Stretching after a run: hit the ground after a run and get stretching, stretch in the shower, stretch once you get to work/school, skip the stretching? Unfortunately, skip the stretching.

10. What was your reason(S) for starting to run? To strengthen discipline, willpower, lose weight, accomplishment, healthy hobby, increase fitness and eat gel-like pastes.

So about this tapering


Under the two week countdown to my first official race – the Dam to Dam 5k (Des Moines, Iowa).

I actually ran most of the official course during my Saturday long run, which shows an attention to detail that I normally wouldn’t show. It did pay off as I came across a hill at the midway point that acts as a hairpin turn to bring the racers back to the finish line.

While I’m not nervous about finishing, I am nervous about performance. It is starting to heat up and the dew points have been making afternoon runs to turn into bad run days.

Adding a little bit to the anxiety is the official label of “Having Not Run an Official Time”. I’m trying to research things to expect and things to not expect. Like the race bibs. I didn’t even think about how I would attach those to my shirt. So now I’m investing in a race bib belt. Or buying Body Glide to prevent the disastrous chafing in the nether regions. It is summer after all – commonly referred to as Gold Bond Season – and want to prevent any of those situations before they become a waddle inducing moment.

Trying to be diligent about adding speed workout as it appears I’ve reached a pace plateau. I’m guessing this is simply the plateau of my natural (in)ability and current fitness. Running coaches might refer to this as the “base”. Now I’ll need to build off of that base to continue to improve.

Weekly Mileage




What about you and your training? Is there something that surprised you during your first official run? Something that you obsessed over that didn’t really mean much on race day?