Friday, October 28, 2016

(10.16.2016) Race Recap - Nebraska Marathon / Half Marathon

All three distances (Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K) were scheduled to start at the same time. Which was originally 7:30.

That meant I didn't have to get up until 6:15 and really I probably could have even slept in until 6:30 but I like to stick to my regular routine even when I'm out of town

It was a pretty foggy morning but warm. I did not need the throw away that I'd packed. 
I was super excited to see the two wonderful ladies (Jennifer & Joanna) that I had met at packet pickup on Friday & Saturday. They were at the announcer's platform so I went up to say hello. 

After milling around for a few minutes and taking some pictures, they announced that the start would be delayed until 7:55 AM. So we went back into the hotel so my husband could get something to eat. 
Back out to the start line at 7:50 AM and were told that now the start would be at 8:15 AM. Some of this was still because of the fog but we also learned that over night some hooligans had set a few of the porta-potties on fire down by the finish line.  Oh my!

Prior to the start, the National Anthem was sung by a beautiful young lady who is a Pediatric Cancer survivor. She did a great job! This race benefits the Pediatric Cancer Action Network. Two young soldiers were also introduced who would be completing the race in their fatigues and carrying their rucksack. 

Finally we are off! 
It was still pretty foggy but since we had driven a lot of this area yesterday, I was mostly familiar with it. I was NOT ready to run on the cobblestones in the Old Market area. I've encountered these at one other race in Indiana. They are a pain in the butt.  Mad props to the Tour de France guys that ride their bikes on them!

Here are some pictures from along the course:
Pictures of the Gene Leahy Mall - it reminded me a little of our canal area in Indianapolis.
Then we went past the Pioneer Courage display that my husband and I checked out on Saturday.
Next we went past Creighton University. I was surprised to see banners that said Big East because back when I was at Indiana State University they were Missouri Valley.  Guess I missed that change!  As you can is still foggy.
Past the TD Ameritech Park - home of the NCAA Men's College World Series.
After running on Abbott  Drive which was lined with some beautiful trees full of yellow leaves, we then turned on to Riverfront Drive. In the distance I could see a guy sitting in a lawn chair with what looked like a giant fist. Naturally this was going to be a photo opportunity. As I got closer to him, he thought I was texting and heckled me a little bit. But I told him I need a picture of us Fist Bumping.  So fun!
We ran south down Riverfront Drive, traveling past the west side of the Heartland of America Park. and then into the ConAgra complex. Don't tell my husband but I think I saw a quarter on the road and didn't stop to pick it up.  "Always pick up the silver."

I did not realize that the World Headquarters for ConAgra was located in Omaha. This was a very pretty campus.
I saw this sign on my way in. I've seen a lot of signs during my 104 half marathons but this was a new one. 
And I saw the military guys coming in and I was leaving.
Back toward the river and the Lewis & Clark Landing area which is were I would eventually be crossing the finish line. But first we had to go back up Riverfront Drive, on to Abbott for a bit more, then near the Gallup offices (Poll it!) and Freedom Park Drive which is where you would go to take an excursion on the River City Star.
 Finally, I was about to approach Mile 10 and cross the bridge!  
I'm not sure why but it didn't really dawn on me at the time that Miles 11 & 12 were actually in Iowa!

We zigzagged a little through the Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park and I saw this cool bicycle art.
We crossed underneath I-480 and I could see the Nebraska state line sign above.

At approximately the 11 1/2 mile maker was the turn around for those doing the half while the full marathoners would continue on past Harrah's Hotel & Casino.

During this stretch - on our way back to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, I had a couple of people in my sites that I thought I could pass.  If I remember correctly, I passed at least 5 people from this point to the finish line.

Let me tell you something, going back over that bridge from Iowa to Nebraska was a chore. You've already completed 12 miles and now you are making a steady climb. But you find things to occupy your mind. For example...this kid with one shoe. I wondered what his story was. Did he do the entire race with just one shoe? Or did he lose it along the way?
Of course, I had to stop at the line and take a picture again!  I'm such a serious competitor out here.  Hahahahahaha
As I made the final descent of the bridge, I quickly texted my husband to let him know I had less than a half mile to go.

He was waiting for me a the finish line and got video of it.

And new friends Jennifer and Joanna came over to congratulate me.  That meant the world to me.  I just met these ladies on Saturday but they were interested in my story and wanted to make sure they saw me finish #104.  That pretty much sums up the awesomeness of this event.  From the very beginning when I emailed to double check that we weren't JUST getting a finishers tree to my finish, I encountered wonderful customer service.

We couldn't dilly dally too much because - although I had secured a later checkout - with the delay of the start and me being slow there wasn't much time left.

I really wanted the bridge in my medal photo but with the fog still lingering it was probably not the best option.

(10.15.2016) Explore Omaha Day - Nebraska Marathon / Half Marathon

It was nice to not set an alarm and to just wake up when my body was ready.

Sadly, I didn't remember that the hotel had a complementary breakfast and we headed out to find a McDonalds. I was looking forward to their oatmeal anyway so not a total loss.

Back to the hotel with full bellies so we both were a little sleepy. My husband feel asleep immediately - as he's famous for doing - but I decided to go ahead and take a shower and check out the area just around the hotel while he slept a little more.

The hotel is in Midtown section of Omaha which seems like it might be a "young professionals" side of town. There was a nice park that had a tribute to fallen police officers near by. There was a good view of the city from here as well.
Once my husband was up and showered we headed into town to 1) find some coffee for me 2) go to the visitor's center to see if they had any state pins there and 3) drive back over the I-480 bridge and get a picture of the Welcome to Nebraska sign.

Found a Starbucks and got my coffee to go so we could then drove across the bridge. We figured traffic would be light early on a Saturday morning.

The Visitor's Center was somewhat of a bust - nothing for sale - but the guy gave us some suggestions for other places to try to find a state pin.
This interesting sculpture was next to the Visitors Center
Since we were in a one hour parking area for the center, we decided we'd better look for another location a few blocks down the road.

We happened upon a Farmers Market so we walked around for a bit and also popped in some of the various shops. Omaha certainly is dog friendly...which we loved! So many dogs were out with their people. We met a little puppy named Peach. Her human Mom was carrying her and we stopped to meet her. She gave me kisses. Man! I've never wanted to steal someone's dog so badly!!  Little Peach was adorable.

The last shop we wandered into had a state pin! I went ahead and got an Iowa pin as well since I wasn't technically collecting them back in 2012 when I did my half in Des Moines. And I was able to get a Nebraska magnet as well.

From here we got back in the car to find an Omaha sign we spotted yesterday and to take a picture of it. We have a plan for it later!
Next it was back over to the National Park Service Regional office. There wasn't too much to it but we did get some "stamps" to put in our passport, watched a very interesting short movie about Lewis and Clark and then signed the Aerosmith.  (shake my head)  

I'm so glad my husband is a good sport and let me take this picture of him.
We then walked over to the Heartland of America Park. This was a very nice area. We spotted a black squirrel, (I don't think I've ever seen one of those before), did a poor job of getting a selfie with the fountain and saw this beautiful white swan.
I wanted to check out some sculptures that I'd seen out of the corner of my eye yesterday as we were driving through the city. Thankfully I have a pretty good memory and it was very easy to find again. There are some incredible intricate details on these statues at the First National's Spirit of Nebraska's Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park (whew...that's a mouthful to say!)
One more stop before going to the hotel. We drove past a gorgeous building that said Central High School and had some markers info in front of it so we needed to see what that was all about.

We needed to go back to the hotel to pick up some stuff and then made our way back to the Old Mattress Factory because I wanted to double check on something at packet pickup before they closed at 3:00 PM. We decided to go ahead and have lunch in the restaurant first. Our waiter Aaron was fantastic! I had a turkey burger and onion rings and my husband had a brisket sandwich and we may have also shared the brownie sundae for dessert.....THAT was completely Aaron's fault!

Since we'd done a lot of walking around during the day, I really didn't want to do much more but we needed to find a place near the hotel so that my husband could watch the Cubs game later. I would need to go to bed early-ish, he wanted to be considerate and watch the game elsewhere. Luckily there was a bar/pub super close (Saints Pub + Patio) and since the guy we talked to anticipated that it would fill up early, my husband wanted to stake his claim sooner than later. So he grabbed a table there (it was 5:45 and the game didn't start at 7:00) but I went back to the hotel to upload some pictures to DropBox and free up some space on my phone for tomorrow's potential photos. I popped back over to Saints a couple of times. It was busy but we would have been fine getting a table later. It was a good atmosphere and most of the people there were cheering for the Cubs. I left around 9:30 to get things ready for in the morning and was in bed at 10:00.

Walking back to the hotel, I could see where they were being to set things up for the start area. Nothing much better than the start line basically being in front of your hotel! 

And there was a full moon this night as well. I think it was even a Super Moon!

(10.14.2016) Travel Day - Nebraska Marathon / Half Marathon

In an attempt to keep travel costs down, I wanted to find something on the eastern side of Nebraska so that I could drive there.  And it needed to fit within my already full half marahon schedule.  Thus the Nebraska Marathon was chosen. I officially registered on July 31st (before the next price increase if I remember correctly) and with taxes and fees my total cost was $84.50.

I was able to book at room at the host hotel - Element Omaha Midtown Crossing - via and cash in my free night. More often than not, you can't book the host hotel this way so I was pleased to see that I could. I think it was a little more expensive, maybe 20 bucks more. I was flabbergasted that the taxes and service fees amounted to $50.56.  I'm curious if that would have been the case had I booked directly and used the "race code" but I was too lazy to investigate any further.

I thought I'd be traveling alone but my husband decided that he wanted to go even though he wouldn't be running. YAY! 
This yellow lab stuffed toy has gone on numerous trips with us.
We can't take our dogs so this is the next best thing.
We left our house around 8:30 AM Friday morning. The drive was mostly uneventful aside from two things: 1) we stopped A LOT!  This always seems to happen on the way "to" an event for some reason. Seriously I think we stopped at least FIVE times!!!  2) My husband needed to be on a conference call. Two and a half hours later, he learns that he didn't need to be on the second part of it. I couldn't reach my headphones. If I could have, I'm not sure if I would have used them to listen to music or strangle myself. That was a painful 2 1/2 hours.

One of my "things" about traveling to races is that I NEED to get a picture of the "Welcome to..." sign. I'd prefer that these be at the side of the road so that I can stop and get a good picture. Sadly the one for Nebraska - at least the way we came in - was above the interstate and in the middle! Impossible to get not knowing in advance that is where it would be and we were arriving close to the end of the work day so traffic was heavy. I was saddened not to get the photo and hoped to make it back there at some other point.

We drove directly to the hotel, checked in, took all of our stuff up to the room and then drove over to The Old Mattress Factory for packet pickup.
Packet pickup was super easy and parking was plentiful. Along with getting the bib and shirt, we were also given our Finishers Tree at that time as well. It makes perfect sense to hand them out then rather than at the finish line. 
We placed all my stuff in the car and decided to explore the area.  The main goal was to find our way over to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.  It looked close to where we were. We hoped that it wasn't an illusion like how things look close when you are in Las Vegas but they actually 5-6 miles away. I'm referring to you seen from the Luxor!

We randomly walked past the College World Series ball park. It was closed but we were able to get a few pictures through the gates.
While we could see the bridge, we weren't exactly sure how to get to it.  We could tell that there was a train track that ran parallel to the area and it looked to be blocked off by a fence.  And once we got a little closer, we realized that there was no gate access.  For safety reasons this made perfect sense. However....there did seem to be a section of the fence where others had obviously DIY'd an entry point. So with a boost from my husband, I found myself climbing over this part of the fence and then he followed suit. Yes, I know this wasn't safe to do and we were probably breaking a law but we made it. No trains were in the vicinity and more importantly no clothing was ripped!
Through the fence, across the train tracks and over the grassy hill...we made it to the bridge and found the Nebraska / Iowa state line!  I'm so glad my husband researched "Omaha" on Trip Advisor to know this was there. Naturally you have to take the obligatory pictures!
We noticed a National Park Service Building and made our way over there to check it out. It was closed but we thought we'd head back tomorrow to see it. We need to remember to always pack our NPS passport with us so we can get it stamped!
Next we saw a monument down by the river so of course we needed to check that out as well.  Very interesting to learn how the river flooded in 2011 and engulfed this monument up to the hammer.
We decided that we'd better head toward the car and back to the hotel.  They were some cool sculptures in front of the Centurylink Center but surprisingly I didn't take any pictures of them!

By the time we got to the hotel, we both were hungry so we merely walked across the circle drive to the Cantina Laredo. Normally I wouldn't eat Mexican or anything spicy the night before a race but since the race wasn't until Sunday this was a fine option. The service was poor at first and I was half tempted to get up and leave but eventually it was (mostly) good.
Cheers and Mexican beers!
Since it had been a long day that one margarita did me in and I was ready for bed. It was back to the hotel and lights out!