Friday, October 28, 2016

(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!

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