Thursday, May 13, 2010

Concrete and Strip-malls and Four-lanes, Oh My

Run 1
I step out of the Fairfield for my not-so-early morning run. I go past the Home Depot, past the Best Buy, past the Cracker Barrel. I run alongside the Walmart, the Toys R Us, the Sams Club, the Fazoli’s. By the Red Lobster, the Applebees, the Menards, the Office Max, the Golden Corral. I turn onto the main road before hitting the Kohl’s and the Hobby Lobby. Next thing I know, I’m out on the busy four-lane highway. You’d think that with all this concrete, they could’ve found some for making a few sidewalks.

This could be Anywhere, USA. In fact, it’s Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across the Missouri from Omaha, Nebraska. I’m taking it fairly easy this week, trying to take my own tapering advice. The older and probably wiser tapering advice, that is. The tapering advice that says you should actually do a taper. The Cleveland Marathon, you see, is looming.

Interlude: More on (or moron) Tapering
As part of my tapering regimen, I only ran 81 miles last week. This is true, but it’s also a tiny bit misleading – most of those miles were accumulated during the previous Sunday’s 28 and Tuesday’s 24. The rest of the week was easier. Except, that is, for the Friday night 5k in Medina, where I saw all my friends and ran 20:40, which was about as expected. And also except for Saturday’s 14-mile run on the towpath with Debbie, Dave, Brad, Dan and a couple others. 14 miles wouldn’t have been so bad, unless you race them like Dave and I did.

After all that, and after a nice Saturday night dinner with Rita and George, I was determined to take it easier on Sunday. And I did, a little. I ran the big Hinckley loop once with Debbie, and then only most of the way with the rest of the bunch, winding up with 17. That’s a little better than 28. I also wanted to get finished in time to pick Mom up, take her to Mother’s Day Brunch at Thyme with Debbie, Carol and Dave, and then get to the airport for my flight.

Run 1 Continued
So today would be an easy run. It’s just too bad that the environment doesn’t favor running. After a mile or so, the four-lane changes to two-lane, and then dead-ends at a lake. I’d seen this on a map, so I wasn’t totally clueless about where I was headed. I start going clockwise around the lake and manage another mile or so before realizing that I’d better head back. I do some pick-ups along the way.

I’m calling this run a seven miler. As the week goes on, I’ll get some other runs in, where for some I’ll actually make it all the way around the lake.

Run 2
This time I’m gonna make it around the lake or die tryin. Gmap Pedometer told me it’s only about 4.7 miles around, so with the mile to and from the lake I should get a bit short of 8 miles in. I really want to get well over 10 miles in, so maybe I’ll take a detour or two – maybe even over to the Missouri River.

Heading out of the hotel an hour earlier, I ought to have plenty of time for this longish-run-to-be. Foul weather is predicted for today, but it’s dry so far. About three minutes into the run I feel the first raindrops. At least it’s not raining too hard. I hate a cold drenching rain. Six minutes or so into the run it’s pouring. At least there’s no lightning. I hate running in thunderstorms. Nine minutes into the run I’m ducking for cover. I’d seen a few distant flashes of lightning, but now it seemed to be all around me. I hesitate to say that at least it’s not hailing or tornadoing.

Turning back isn’t an option. I need to get this run in, dang it. Maybe it’ll subside. I keep running around the lake. The rain and lightning isn’t subsiding. I feel like I’m sprinting through this storm, but now that I know the distances, I calculate that I’m only doing eight and a half minute miles.

I manage to get around the lake and back to the hotel. I’m freezing from the cold downpour and still ducking from the lightning. I’m not gonna get ten in (it’s barely eight), but that will have to do. At least I made it around the lake.

Run 3
This time I have enough time to run a decent amount of mileage. And this time there doesn’t appear to be any kind of storm looming. So I head south toward Lake Manawa once again. I huff and puff and go as fast as I can to the south end of the lake, which I know is 4 miles. 32 minutes and change; felt like faster. Instead of continuing the lake circuit, I turn south and run a short distance to the Missouri River. I’d had thoughts of running along it for a short, or possibly long while. There are some trails, but they appear to be muddy from last yesterday’s deluge.

I head back toward the road, but before I reach it I take a paved bike trail that goes on through the woods to the west. That trail goes on and on and on. I believe I had been on it for well over 4 miles before I hit a road crossing.

I take the road back east, taking one more detour towards the lake. By the time I get back to the hotel, I’ve got enough time in to call it 12 miles. Not bad.

If/when I return, I certainly have many more trails, both asphalt and dirt, to explore in these parts. Western Iowa ain’t all concrete, and therefore is not so bad after all.

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