I am the Reunion Coordinator for the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics and it is a job I have had in the club for the last five years and I have a lot of fun with it.
When putting together a reunion, I try to work with the race director to make the race as fun for our members as possible (planning perks, dinners, after parties and activities) while helping draw our runners to the race.
This year I decided to take my little dog Zoe to the race with me. This was the first time she will have traveled with me after having her service animal certification and we were both super excited.
Zoe at the airport getting ready for her first flight!
I was lucky to get a non-stop flight to Des Moines fron Salt Lake City, which was only a two hour flight. Zoe did great. In fact, I sat next to a nice lady named Kathy on the way over and she loved Zoe the second she saw her. She wanted to hold her the entire flight and Zoe was all for it! (Zoe is an ESA, so she can be snuggled).
Zoe and her new friend Kathy on the plane.
The host hotel was at the Embassy Suites. This hotel had a free airport shuttle that took you right to the hotel. It would also drive you (and pick you up) within a two mile radius of the hotel, which meant I didn't need to rent a car.
The Embassy Suites was right on the Des Moines River.
The rooms were huge! Mine had a living room and kitchen area with a separate bedroom. The best part of staying at this hotel was the evening reception where guests were served an array of appetizers and free drinks (the Sangria was to die for)! They also did a made to order breakfast with omelets, pancakes, potatoes, fruit, etc.
The view from my room.
The next morning I got up planning to be at the expo when they opened at 10:00AM. I was up early, so I thought I would finish up the slide show of photos of members that we would show at the meeting before heading out, but I looked at the clock on my computer and realized it was on mountain time! I was already late! I got the hotel shuttle to rush me over and the crazy day began!
Dan Ruiz, MM #2 Chris and I at the MM/HF booth! (Photo credit: Dan Ruiz)
I checked people in, gave them their reunion swag (free Press Pass and a MM or HF buff). I stayed busy the whole morning which surprised me as a lot of our group were running in Kansas City, MO as a part of the I-35 Challenge. Runners participating in the double would not be arriving until later in the afternoon/evening.
Every reunion we have a club meeting. It's where the Main Maniacs get up and talk about new things or changes within the club and we get to meet members we only know via social media. The meeting was supposed to start at 3:00PM, but at 3:15PM, I still had a line of people waiting to check in. I scooped up all the swag and we headed down to the conference room for the meeting.
Patti (aka Maniac Krez) spoiling Zoe at the meeting! (Photo credit: Steven Yee)
Zoe milking the attention from Ed Childress
The meeting went well and was well attended as people arriving from Kansas City were rolling in. I only got a chance to play about half my slide show as I wanted to finish it at the expo and there was no WiFi. It was fine though.
When the meeting ended, I still had a line of people waiting to check in. This made me late for the dinner. Now I was so busy all day, I had no time to eat, or drink anything except the one bottle of water and a Kashi bar I brought. I was starving and I could already feel that I was a little dehydrated. I just wanted to get some food in me. Fueling is crucial for me the day before a race and I was failing miserably.
Again, I schlepped the swag and Zoe up to the dinner. I grabbed a seat and started to quickly eat my salad. People were coming up to me in the middle of my dinner to get their stuff. This would not have annoyed me generally, but I was so hungry and nervous about not getting enough food in me, I was probably a little more short with people than I should have been (sorry if that was you) and I had to ask a couple people to wait until I finished my salad before checking them in. I then went to the back of the room and checked people in during Jeff Galloway's talk. I asked David Holman to let me know when my entree was there and I inhaled that when it arrived.
Club members at the dinner! (Photo Credit: Dan Ruiz)
More members at the dinner. (Photo Credit: Dan Ruiz)
After the dinner we broke down the expo and headed back to the hotel. I was beat! I was still hungry and thirsty, so on the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the store and I picked up some water and bananas and I went right to bed.
One of the many perks the Des Moines Marathon gave us was a private gathering area at the start. Not just any area, they rented out the entire Civic Center lobby just for us! It had real bathrooms and we were able to keep our drop bags there during the race (they hired someone to watch our stuff)!
From the time I get there, I was running around trying to make sure everything was in order. Was our tent at the finish line set up? Where were the reunion medals? If the tent wasn't set up yet, where would we store said reunion medals? Whew!
I finally got it together and rallied everyone out for out group photo. It was awesome to have so many members there!
In the Civic Center giving the last minute instructions. (Photo credit: Dan Ruiz)
Maniacs and Fanatics at the start!
Had to get a selfie!
I was already tired and I still felt really thristy. I had eaten half a bagel and a banana on my way to the start, but even though I also had a bottle of water, I could tell I was a little behind on my hydration.
I got into my corral and sent my last text to Chris (#2), to let him know where the medals were and before I knew it, we were off with no time for mental preparation (which is sometimes good).
Before we even started the race, we were already drenched. It wasn't raining, but we were at 100% humidity. This was the perfect Halloween weather. There was a thick warm fog covering the entire course which made it hard. It wasn't particularly hot (about 70 degrees), but the fog trapped everything in and by mile two (yes, I said two), I knew it was going to be a long day.
The President of the Maniacs/Fanatics, Steven Yee and our expo guy Garrett Anderson caught me and the three of us decided to stick together. We had tucked in behind the 4:10 pacer, which wasn't a huge stretch for us, but after about 6 miles, we were struggling. How could this be so hard so early?!
Maniacs with a Maniac black cat (it is even sitting on my head)!
I mean, I get it if I had run in Kansas City the day before, but I didn't and I was still struggling! Steven, Garrett and I joked about how being at the expo all day is a whole other kind of marathon, and they were right.
About mile 8 we head into Drake University Stadium (home of the famous Drake Relays)! It was so cool to come around the track where so many great runners have run and see ourselves on the jumbo-tron!
Running on the track at Drake Stadium was so cool!
We are on the jumbo-tron!
I was struggling and felt tired, but otherwise OK until we left the track. I got really hot and dizzy. I felt like I was going to faint, so I told Steven and Garrett to go on without me. I needed to walk off whatever was going on. I was having flash backs of my first DNF at Ogden and did NOT want one here, so I walked to cool down and get my head back.
When I started running again, I ended up catching Steven and Garrett (who had stopped at the restroom). We all decided that no matter how slow we had to go, we would stick together to the finish.
Garrett, Steven and I with a big old cow! (Photo Credit: Steven Yee)
We were having as much fun as one could have running in a marathon totally exhausted and in 100% humidity. There were a few out and backs, so we got to see and cheer for other club members. That was really fun. The course is just gorgeous!
I had zero leg turnover. My legs felt like lead and we were going a an easy pace. We decided that we would run to each mile marker, then take a short walk break. We did this all the way to mile 20.
I remember feeling particularly bad and did not want to stop running before the mile 20 marker, so I pushed. We did our little walk break and started running again and my eyes started feeling really heavy. It was strange. I wasn't only tired, I was sleepy. The only time I have felt like that was when I was running 100 miles!
I kept going for another minute and then I started feeling like I was going to pass out. I could feel something was happening to I moved over to the side of the road and the next thing I knew I came to in the grass with Steven, Garrett and a fellow runner who also (luckily) was a paramedic, standing over me.
The paramedic asked me some questions and took my pulse, then told me that I was severely dehydrated (I knew it!) From that point on we decided to walk the last five 1/2 miles in....OK that would take way to long! We just wanted to be done, so we ran where we could and walked the hills.
I made sure to stop at every aid station to drink and let me tell you, I have never seen a race with more aid stations! It was AWESOME! There were aid stations at least every mile and when there wasn't an aid station, they had bike marshals on the course with water, candy, Vaseline, etc. You would not go thirsty at this race unless (like me) you started out that way.
Around mile 24, Steven, Garrett and I in front of the Iowa Capitol Building. (Photo credit: Steven Yee)
We took it easy the last couple of miles, but finished strong!
Coming into the finish! (Photo Credit: JM Gabriel)
Right after the race, I rushed to the Maniac tent to see how Chris was doing. He was good, but Steven stepped in to relieve him while I ran back to the hotel to grab a quick shower and pick up Zoe.
The Des Moines Marathon went all out on our reunion medal! They turned out great!
Zoe and I got back to the tent and relieved Steven so he could get back to the hotel for a shower before the after party.
Zoe trying to take over as Maniac Mascot!
Our after party was at Buffalo Wild Wings, where we celebrated, ate, drank and watched football!
Having fun at the after party! (Photo credit : Stacey Bolyard)
I love the 1/4 zip shirt and the medals!
Closer view of the medals. They connected by a magnet on the side! So cool!
Back of the reunion medal.
The next morning I got breakfast downstairs, said good bye to Tony, Chris and Steve. My plane did not take off until 6:00PM, so I got a late checkout of 1:00PM, had the hotel hold my bag and Zoe and I went out and explored downtown a little!
Crusoe Umbrella sits in Cowles Common where the race finishes. If you wondered what the medal depicted, here it is.
Zoe next to the peeing dog sculpture.
I rented a bike for $3.00 per 30 minutes and Zoe and I explored the city!
Des Moines has the coolest Capitol Building!
Zoe saying good-bye to Des Moines.
Time for thank yous! HUGE THANKS to Race Director, Chris Burch! This guy was so nice and accommodating. ANYTHING we wanted, he provided it for us and we are so grateful. It RD's like Chris that make our reunions a success. This is a top notch event!!
THANK YOU to all the IMT Des Moines Marathon volunteers and staff for all their hard work.
THANK YOU Steven and Garrett for sticking with me when you could (and probably should) have took off! You guys are the BEST! Thanks to the paramedic pushing the running stroller for stopping to help me too!
AND, THANK YOU to ALL the Maniacs and Fanatics that make this club so AWESOME and THANKS to Steven (#1), Chris (#2), and Tony (#3) for giving me this opportunity! I LOVE throwing these parties. If anyone has any idea of things you would like to see at the next reunion (not sure where it will be yet), let me know and I will see how we can make it happen!