Dam to Dam 20K Recap

What a way to start the weekend!

I had a very low-key Friday night, KT taping my feet and right knee (it’s oh-so-helpful when your body is creaky like mine has been lately!) and preparing my race day gear before Saturday’s Dam to Dam. Shorts or capris? Lightweight long-sleeve top during or just pre-race? It’s always a tough judgement call no matter the conditions, but we couldn’t have asked for better weather: 60° and sunny as the gun went off.


The 20K began at 7 a.m. a bit outside of town. All participants hopped on school buses at locations across the metro area, which shuttled everyone the start line. The relatively flat course begins at Saylorville Lake Dam (above) and continues south, crossing over the Scott Street Dam and finishing in downtown Des Moines. Considering 7,087 people finished the 12.4-mile course, the race organizers did an amazing job with all of the complicated logistics! Extra props to them for managing a few last-minute changes in light of the recent flooding in the area. (We have May flowers, so what do May and June showers bring, again?)


I met up with two friends on my Million Dollar Marathon team and a couple more of their pals to run together. In the past, I’ve always run races solo and with music and focus on moving at my own pace. It was surprisingly awesome to ditch the playlist and tackle the course as a team! Why?

  1. I rarely stressed about my pace or looked at my watch. The focus was on staying with my group and chatting away the miles. Favorite races, pacing strategies, work projects…you can get to know people pretty well during a couple hours of uninterrupted time on the road.
  2. Hills are way less intimidating when you see them coming and laugh about how they’re probably just mirages, anyway. No problem!
  3. I barely thought about my nagging feet and knee injuries. Every few miles, I tired to check in and reassess the pain level, but it certainly wasn’t at the front of my mind.
  4. Going headphone-free made it easier to interact with other friends and co-workers we met along the course, as well as the friendly people cheering and volunteering on the sidelines. Joking with a guy in a Superman costume and another with a spiffy “Eye of the Tiger” tee were highlights. :)

We settled into a steady pace of 9:20 per mile before kicking it in during the final mile around 8:30. The five of us crossed the finish line at 1:59:14, and I placed 255 out of 726 in the female 26-29 age group.


Not my fastest race ever—I finished my last half-marathon about three minutes quicker—but considering it was my first 20K, a PR nonetheless! And it certainly goes down in history as my most social ever, which may be a good strategy for me to remember going forward since I can be pretty chatty and am unlikely to break any speed records anyway. :)

As you can see, all 20K finishers received a medal as well as a T-shirt and a pair of socks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a larger selection at a post-race party, either: Powerade, beer, Coke, chocolate milk, ice cream, kettle corn, BBQ sandwiches, nachos, apples, oranges, bananas and more. I wish it didn’t take so long for my stomach to chill out after a long run! I did enjoy a delicious brunch at Gateway Market a little later, though. Hit. the. spot.


A tank and shorts was perfect for the race, by the way. I was so happy that I had the long-sleeve tied around my waist, so I could throw it on after we finished. The layering strategy never lets me down!

Thanks to Katie, the one with the perfectly manicured nails in the photo above, for organizing such a fun crew of runners. Although I’m a bit sore today and nervous about adding another 14 miles to yesterday’s race distance in less than one month, I’m more excited than ever to hit the road again.

For now, off to yoga!

Do you prefer racing solo or in a group? With or without music?

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  1. Hey, a PR’s a PR. :) Great job on the race!

  2. I ran the 5k this weekend, and I agree with you that 1) the food selection was amazing and 2) it was surprisingly fun to run without headphones! I was planning on using them, but I read in the packet that it was discouraged so I left them at home. I had a few moments where I felt a little too “alone with my own thoughts,” but there were enough distractions on the course that I didn’t feel I needed them to continue.

    • First of all, I had no idea you had a blog, Kelly. I LOVE it! It’s packed with so many recipes to add to my to-try list.

      Second, congrats on rocking the 5K! I agree that it can get a bit boring running solo and without headphones, but going music-free definitely inspires me to be more social. :)

  3. I’ve always been a solo runner, though honestly, it’s always been due to me not having anyone to run with! So I’m not sure if I’m a group or solo runner.

    Always, always with music, though! Nice job on the race!

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