A- A+

I Was Inspired to Move to DSM USA After Competing at Drake Relays

Drake Relays

April 17, 2018

I had never seen anything like it — the drumline matching my heartbeat, the fans filling the stands with cheers and excitement and the sun setting over the Blue Oval. Even though it was not my best race, it was an experience that would forever shape my future. It was the Drake Relays held in Greater Des Moines (DSM), and I was toeing the line for the first time on the Jim Duncan Track to race in my Columbia College uniform. I didn’t know then that this would become my home and would be the place I would get to follow my dreams.

Growing up near Kansas City

I grew up in a suburb of Kansas City called Lee’s Summit, a town that had held many running traditions. I fell in love with racing at the age of 11 when I ran my first 5K. I ran throughout middle school and high school, as did my husband Jordan. In fact, we met on our high school cross country team at the ripe ages of 15 and 16, respectively. We both pursued running for the Columbia College Cougars following our high school graduations. As Cougars, we made many national championships and I earned six All-American titles, including two runner-up finishes. Having redshirted each season once, I had a fifth year of eligibility to fulfill but knew I was ready for a change. We had both finished our undergraduate studies. Jordan went on to become a coach and I started my graduate studies but wanted to continue pursuing my running at a different level.

Cross country move

In the summer of 2015, we got married and moved to Albuquerque where I studied exercise science at the University of New Mexico and competed for the Lobos’ cross country and track team. We were the NCAA Division I Champions in cross country that year, comprised of mostly 22 or 23-year-old graduate students, with one of the lowest team scores in NCAA history. It was an amazing experience, but I missed home and its lush green Midwest grass, the summer thunderstorms and the way people waved driving down your neighborhood street.

Small business aspirations

Jordan and I started talking about wanting to open a running store of our own in high school. We both loved working at running stores for many years and have always been passionate about helping people find the perfect fit. We were fortunate enough to be mentored by one of the first running specialty store owners in the U.S. while we lived in Albuquerque. It really helped us start forming the idea of Heartland Soles as a realistic dream to pursue. We both bring our strengths to the table — his business-minded entrepreneurial spirit and my exercise science background. We knew we would make a great partnership but had to consider where the best place to follow our dreams might be.

Falling in love with DSM

When we came to DSM for the Drake Relays with Columbia College, we both fell in love with the city. It was so clean, the people were so friendly and the running history simply could not be replicated. We had said then that DSM would be a perfect place to live and raise a family someday, before even thinking of the possibility that we could open our own running store here. A few years later, after learning as much as we could about owning a running specialty store, we started talking about locations. We knew it had to be somewhere we would be happy for the rest of our lives and immediately felt that DSM was that place.

Opening shop in DSM

Small Business DSMWe came out to DSM to start scoping out locations and loved the idea of being in Johnston. Mayor Paula Dierenfeld is a runner and we loved the Johnston Station building being so close to the highway and being accessible for people all over the region. We also really liked that the new Terra Park development would be a great place just a half mile away from the store for group runs and races.

We opened Heartland Soles on July 1, 2016, and have enjoyed every day since. It has been a wonderful adventure and such a dream come true. For us, running is part of who we are. We met on a cross country course, started dating at a cross country meet, had our first kiss on a run, got engaged on a cross country course, got married in a church on a cross country course and I went into labor with our daughter at a cross country meet back in September! We feel such a sense of joy getting to help people in our store every day. Whether they’re a walker, a runner or need good shoes for work, we absolutely love getting to help them find the perfect fit.

Layla Jo Baby DSMOur daughter, Layla Jo, is with us at the store most days, something that we are so thankful for. She has the opportunity to grow up around so many wonderful people who come in our doors. It’s amazing how many awesome people we get to meet every day; people who inspire us and make this adventure even more rewarding.

DSM is a fantastic place to open a business; there is so much support from the community to shop local and the local Chambers of Commerce are excellent resources. There’s certainly a reason it was named a Top 5 Best Places for Business and Careers by Forbes! It truly is a great community for business and just as great of a community for us to live and raise a family in. We are so glad that we came to DSM and opened Heartland Soles and are so excited that we get to be a part of this amazing community for many years to come.

Are you interested in moving to DSM? Relocation Packets offer information on everything from neighborhoods to shopping, parks and local attractions. Or, kick start your career by checking out the DSM USA Career Center. It has over 10,000 jobs listed!