Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nowhere to Run

Almost invariably, wherever I travel, I can find a decent area in which to run. I'll often scout something out on Google Maps ahead of time, then head that direction from the hotel. Other times I just let serendipity lead the way for me. It helps that most of the hotels I stay in are located in decent areas. Not so much for the Courtyard in La Vista, Nebraska.

Same Treadmill, Same Workout, Same Result

I was here in La Vista in January, when the weather was incredibly cold - below zero and lots of snow. I spent the entire week (the running part of it anyway) on the hotel treadmill. One of those runs, a speed workout consisting of 8 x 1-Mile, resulted in my first bout with Plantar Fasciitis in quite a while. Since then, I've had the PF more or less constantly, although it hasn't slowed my running down too much. Actually it has, speed-wise, bit not mileage-wise.

So since there was a cold rain on Tuesday morning, I decided to hit the mill here once again. And since I needed speed, I decided to do 8 x 1-Mile again. And by now you've figured out what I'm going to say next: ouch! Yes, the PF, which never went completely away, is back in full force, or at least as bad as it was in January.

Other La Vista Running, Part 1

I did venture outside later in the week, and I wasn't pleased with the running possibilities; not at all. Every direction I went, there were concrete roads, traffic, and generally poor places to run to.

It almost didn't matter, because
a) my foot was hurting
b) I was tapering for the Cornbelt 24-Hour Run, so I didn't need a lot of miles
c) I was beginning to come down with an awful cold


I had decided to be as prepared as I could be for the Cornbelt 24. I packed gobs of gu, oodles of other odds and ends, several changes of clothes, etc. I bought a preponderance of Powerbars, a clutch of Cliffbars, and even some bottles of Boost. My work would keep me in Omaha over the weekend, and I'd decided that for something to do, I'd drive five hours east to the Quad Cities area in Eastern Iowa on Friday night, run the race Saturday morning until Sunday morning, and then drive back to Omaha on Sunday in order to be at work on Monday. Yes, I had it all figured out. Hey, maybe I'd even run well. At least I was giving myself the chance.

It was about midweek when my cold hit, and it hit hard. I'm a baby about these things anyway, but it was surely a bad one. How in the world was I going to run all day and all night with this? Would exposure to the elements for that long cause me to develop something worse, like pneumonia?

Of course there was the option of showing up, doing just a few miles, and simply running according to how I was feeling. Even this little bit would have seemed okay - at least I'd have tried. There was only one problem with that: the five-hour drive to get there. As bad as I was feeling, I wasn't sure I could even get through that in one piece. The one-hour drives to Lincoln were bad enough.

So I ditched the whole idea. It's disappointing, since I had begun to think I could possibly have done quite well. And in addition, I also wanted to see another one of these events in action. All in all, I probably made the right decision, however.

So then there was Lincoln.


When I was originally making my travel plans, I thought: "I wonder if there are any nearby marathons during the weekend that I'll be in Omaha." Sure enough, there was one, in Lincoln, Nebraska, on May 1! Alas, several weeks ahead of time, it was SOLD OUT already, at 10,000 runners for the full and the half. I didn't think there were that many people in all of Nebraska! At about the same time, I realized that I was having a difficult time getting hotel rooms for Thursday through Saturday night. Lincoln was an hour from Omaha, could the rooms be sold out because of the marathon?

Ironically I did find a hotel in Lincoln for Thursday and Friday, but not Saturday, when that one was sold out as well. After rearranging my plans anyway, I wound up back in La Vista for Saturday night. I also found out that what was filling up the Omaha hotels was the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting.

My run in Lincoln was actually pretty good. I went south on 27th street for 2 1/2 miles and then east on a (concrete) bike trail for another 2 1/2 miles before turning back. There were a few mile markers, so I could gage my speed. And that speed was about 8 1/2 minute pace outbound, and better that on the return; almost tempo pace for me these days. And my cold? I was beginning to feel better, and the running seemed to actually help.

But note that the running was ten miles, not ten times that amount.

On Saturday I visited the marathon expo. It was just a bunch of runners. I then made my final drive from Lincoln to Omaha. About half-way I stopped to visit the Strategic Air Command Air and Space Museum. SAC had been in place during the cold war years to be the nuclear deterrent to the USSR and other threats. Part of the US Air Force, SAC was the outfit that had all the heavy bombers and also the ICBM's. I was pleasantly surprised by the museum; there were plenty of huge planes inside, including a B-29, a B-52 and a B-1. The World War II exhibits included a sample plane and information about Doolittle's bombing raid on Tokyo. It was all quite impressive, to say the least.


I found it! A place to run from my La Vista hotel. This, after not finding anything the week before, and then spending part of the weekend in Lincoln. I had done some more searching, this time for trails, thinking that I'd probably have to drive to a park somewhere to get to them. Voila! Wehrspann Lake Park (part of the Chaco Hills Recreation Area) is only a short three miles away, and there are six miles of trails there, mostly around the lake.

Like everything else around here, the trails are concrete, but that wouldn't be a problem this time: once I got there, I ran along the grassy trail berms. It was a nice park, and it even had some small hills. I ran around the lake, taking a shorter route that cut part of the trail out by crossing over a bridge over the lake part-way through. I called this a five mile loop. Then I went around again, taking the longer route, which I called six miles. After doing about three more miles in the park, I went back to the hotel, trying to pick the pace up as best I could.

It was enough to call twenty miles, and I'm happy I did it. The cold continues to improve. Later Sunday I drove downtown to take a long walk along the Missouri Riverfront. Turns out there are plenty of nice places to run (and walk) there too. There's also a neat new pedestrian bridge crossing the river to Iowa. I did this walk too, but then just turned right back.

Later in the week I made my way to and around the park three more times - each time for the six-mile loop along with the three miles each way to and from the lake. Each run was a little faster, and my cold continued to improve. It's good to run again!

So it turned out that after finding no places to go at first, and after not being able to make it to my 24-hour run, I did eventually discover places to run.

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