Last weekend was To Grandmother’s House We Go — a local trail race partnered with the Capital Striders’ Turkeys (the trail runners of our Des Moines area running group). There were three distances to sign up for: a 5K, 10K, or 15K. This was a legit in-the-woods natures trail run in West Des Moines at Browns Woods Park. My first trail race was certainly memorable!


I was looking forward to this race for a while, so I’m disappointed in myself for not having as much fun as I planned. I didn’t sleep very well the night before (or the night before that), so I woke up on Race Day feeling pretty cranky. I wasn’t in the mood for anything and anyone, and I ended up not wanting to wear any resemblance of a costume either. My mood continued to deteriorate even in the middle of the run. I was really forcing myself to have fun, and I was becoming overwhelmed at running all alone. I run races by myself all the time — but being in the middle of the woods, without any runners around me for a good chunk of the second loop, I was questioning everything in my life. Being out in nature was having the exact opposite effect.

Maybe next time I should just bring my dang headphones and drown out all that negativity. All my poor attitude aside, I’ll likely go back to Browns Woods and run that trail a few more times to prepare for Hitchcock that’s coming up in December.

grandmothers house trail race des moines runner

Registration and Cost: Online registration through Get Me Registered and cost $28.07 (after fees and a $5 Capital Striders discount). You were able to change your race distance up to the start of the race and still be eligible for age awards.

No Expo! Small races are awesome dot com.

Packet Pick-Up and Bag Drop: There was an option to pick up my bib the evening before at Active Endeavors, but I didn’t feel like returning to West Des Moines after 6pm when I just left work there at 4:30. I opted for Race Day pick-up, and everything was fine about that choice — no lines or long waits; I even got to use the Kybo before the race started. There was also park bathroom facilities available (with a short line). Boyfriend came with me to the start, so he stashed everything in the car for me.


Free Swag: A really sweet bag (it has separate pockets and feels waterproof!) and a 25% coupon to Active Endeavors, a local store and sponsor of the race. No finisher medals, unless you place (I missed an age group award by just a couple minutes!).

Parking or Transportation: There were two lots — one dirt, one paved — which both filled up quickly. Most participants were parking around the edge of the paved lot (once the dirt one filled up… which happened right as we pulled into it) or on the street leading into the park entrance, and there were volunteers helping direct traffic.


UGH. This humidity.

Weather: I was wearing shorts in November, and had to remove my long-sleeve during the race, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ At least being in the woods, it wasn’t direct sun.


Course: Each distance of the race followed the same 5K loop — the 10k and 15k runners repeated the same lap. We were deep in the woods on this one, with the trail nearly completely covered in leaves. There was a lot of elevation gain and gnarly hills. I loved running up them, but they definitely took a lot out of me. I tripped over a few hidden stumps on the path, but (thankfully) didn’t wipe out completely. I also got to run through a muddy creek, which I do remember feeling really happy about mid-run. The course was marked REALLY well, and I never felt like I was going to get lost.

There was a water and Gatorade stop at the “finish” of each loop.

Start Line: Gotta love an airhorn start!

Finish Line: Since we were all running the same loop, there was some confusion at finishing at the flag chute vs. where we started just down the path. The volunteers handled it well, though, and chased after runners who were actually finishing – just in the wrong spot.


Experience: There were quite a few runners dressed in costume, which was really fun to see. There were awards for best Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, and an “other” category. Panfoto was taking pictures in the middle of the woods, which was also cool. I still need to order and download the couple pics of me since it’s a cool setting — at least I smiled!

After Party: I stuck around for the awards ceremony and all the Halloween candy at the finish line — and then came home and napped for two hours. GOOD LORD, THE TIRED. For days later, I was sore in a bunch of new places. Hooray, trail running!

Random Bullshit: How were there no females in the 20-29 age group running the 10k????

The Great: Trying something new! And I’m already committed to finishing the 15k next year.
The Good: The Capital Striders Turkeys are a fun bunch, and I’m pretty excited to get out more on the trails with them this season.
The Bad: I had an opportunity to cross an item of my yearly goal list (run a race in costume), and I didn’t do it. 🙁
The Ugly: My mood was just awful, and I wish I could have a do-over.

Do splits matter in a trail run?
SPLITS: 11:26 / 10:32 / 13:14 / 12:14 / 11:52 / 13:11

17th overall female
4th in my age group

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