Dam to Dam 20k

Posted by on June 2, 2012

Today I ran the Dam to Dam 20k. This is one of, if not the biggest, road race in Iowa. It was my first time running this race and my first 20k race. I was not thrilled about a road race. I am becoming a trail running snob I guess. LOL.

There was over 11,000 racers today. In addition to the 20k they also ran a 5k event. I am fighting a foot injury and a knee issue. I ended up buying a knee brace Friday night thinking it might help. I was hoping so anyway. Friday night I laid out all my gear and planned to take 4 gels and my water bottle with me. I knew carrying the water bottle was odd for a road race but I did have a strategy behind it. More on that later. I ended up going to sleep around 1:45 AM. I just couldn’t sleep. When I did sleep it was not for very long. I think I was worrying about my knee. At 4:45 AM my iPhone alarm went off and I was up. I showered, dressed, ate two slices of toast and peanut butter. I gulped down a big glass of water and stepped out the front door at 5:15 to catch a ride with my next door neighbor to the buses at the mall. With 11,000 runners you can’t drive to the starting line. You have to be dropped off or take the buses. There must have been 10 buses waiting for us and we were catching the last possible group of buses.

Sorry for the blurry photo. A little early for me!


We made it to Saylorville Lake without any issues. We have about 45 minutes before the race started at 7AM. I jogged the Dam that we start on a little bit then found a spot by the 8 minute mile markers and waited for the run. I noticed my friend’s wife Maggie about 20 feet in front of me. I beat Maggie by something like 3 seconds at the Des Moines half marathon last year. I wanted to beat her again at this race so I set myself up to follow her without her knowing. I planned to follow her the entire race then bolt past her the last 200 meters. Sneaky devil I am.

Here is what it looked like in front and behind be just prior to the start.




Take a look at this next photo. Can you see the little, bitty buildings on the horizon? Well, that is the finish line downtown Des Moines. That. Is. A. Long. Way.


The gun went off and about 6500+ 20k racers took off. As you can image it is a few miles of people getting into their rhythm and finding their groove. Within the first mile Maggie disappeared as she jockeyed for position and passed the people who had no business starting in the 8 minute mile group. Crap, I couldn’t find her at all. I only remember she had on a pink top and when she runs her right foot swings out. With no hope of drafting her I only hoped I’d eventually find her.

I settled in and felt pretty good. I was killing some early splits in the 7 minute mile range. I was clocking along at about 8:10 most of the time. On the hills it was more like 9 minute splits. Since I was carrying my water bottle I planned to only stop when it was empty and have the volunteers fill up my bottle. Everyone else jockeyed for position and try to run and drink from paper cups. It turned out that I only needed to stop twice to fill up my bottle and it was less than 10 seconds to get it filled each time. Plan successful. I was also taking a gel every 3 miles.

Sometime after mile 7 I looked down at my Garmin and it was stopped. WTF! I was not happy I started it again just so I could look at my pace. I ended up losing just over a mile. I am not sure how it stopped but it could have been getting my bottle filled the first time. I guess I hit the pause button. Oh well, a little frustrated without an accurate read on how much distance was left I motored on.

After many false attempts at finding Maggie she appeared in front of me about 50 yards ahead. Boo-yaa! Game on. Over the next 2 miles I slowly reeled her in. By mile 9 I was less than 5 strides behind her. For the next 4 miles or so I matched her pace. Once or twice I wanted to go a head and pass her but I am glad I didn’t. As we made our way into downtown Des Moines I was hurting. The knee was holding up with the new brace. My toes were really hot and I knew a blister was forming. With less than a mile to go Maggie picked it up a little bit and I was trying pretty hard to keep my 5 stride distance going.

The crowds were cheering us on and with about 3 blocks to go I saw my wife. Funny thing was she almost missed me because she saw Maggie and was not sure it was her. As I passed my wife she finally saw me and snapped a quick photo.  I look way to happy to be finishing a 20k.


With 200 yards left and the finish clearly in focus I put the hammer down. I pulled up uncomfortably close to Maggie with a really mean look on my face. She was taken back for about 2 seconds then yelled out, “Ed Husar!”. We both then broke out laughing and I said, “Let’s go!” We both put the pedal to the floorboard and crossed the finish line at the same time. It was a great finish. But I knew I had beat her since we were chipped timed and she was ahead of me when we crossed the starting line. I would have to wait for final results to know for sure.

After chatting with Maggie a bit we parted ways and I looked for my wife who found me right away. I got a quick official photo. I was pretty spent and had a hard time walking around. Knee felt okay with just a little pain, but my right foot was hurting. I am also fighting Plantar Fasciitis right now. Never had it this bad before.



It must have been cold out. Nipping a little bit in the photo below. 🙂





Terra and I had a couple beers after I hit the port-a-potty visit. We watched for a few friends that were running the 5k. Had a couple more beers, met a few friends and chatted.




We finally made it over to Royal Mile for fish and chips and a couple Guinness. A nice end to great race even if my training is not going all that well right now. 5-6 weeks until my next 50k. I need to pick up the training for sure!

10k split 52:32, 20k chip time 1:46:15. 8:33 pace. 154 out of 396 in M40. 1240 out of 6895 finishers.  AND I beat Maggie by 2 seconds!

Here are the final results

Related posts:

4 Responses to Dam to Dam 20k

  1. HermanTurnip

    “I just couldn’t sleep”

    Yep, I’m exactly the same way the night before a big run, especially when I’ve travelled some distance to get to the race. Congrats on the run! Looks like it was a lot of fun. Dug the guys waving to your camera at the start. Heh.

    And that leg brace, is that a remnant from your recent epic trail run disaster?

  2. Ed

    Yes, the knee brace is a result of last trail race. It is still bugging me. I have been running less thinking it will go away but that is not happening. I think I still struggle with it all summer until I can take some real time off. It is time to pick up the training pace for next 50k so I just hope it olds out.

  3. Mike McElmeel

    Nice job my friend

  4. Ed

    Hey Mike. I am not sure if you will come back and read this but great job on your 50 miler! Awesome job! I tried to post a comment on your blog but I can’t. You will need to turn on the option for people with self hosted blog. It is a comment option in blogr for the comment. I did add your blog to my list of sites just tonight.

    All the best!