You see, it happened this way.
I was pretty much resigned to the fact that Iowa would have to wait until 2015 if I wanted to color that state in on my completed 50 Half Marathons map. There didn't seem to be many choices for races. The small handful that I could find conflicted with plans I'd already made for other parts of the country. And maddeningly, I couldn't seem to connect an Iowa race with a race in a neighboring state to improve my travel efficiency. So I just said, "Screw it" and decided to worry about it next year.
But then....I happened to be browsing the list of upcoming races at the Runningintheusa.com website and saw this race in Council Bluffs....The Gambler Half Marathon on April 27. I can do this! I have no conflicts on the calendar to speak of. It's a fairly easy 900 mile drive (a day and a half away). I can do it in one long weekend. The best part is that it meets all of my most desired criteria: Loop or out-and-back route; hotels within walking distance; flat course; 3.5 hour or longer time limit. Okay...I'm in!
As boring as the drive might seem to others, to me it's not so bad. I don't get up this way very often so I still find the drive interesting. And once out of Texas, there's very little traffic so the drive is easy. I've wearied of the drive east on I-10, having done it so many times, and I've come to hate the drive northeast out of Texas on US 59, for how painfully slow it is going through all those towns...but it's the only route out of Texas if I want to head to the Northeast.
I cashed in some Marriott points and stayed at a Fairfield Inn near Wichita, the same place I stayed on my last trip (and I'll have a free room waiting for me on my way home, as well). And from my previous trip up here, I knew there was a big Walmart Superstore in Nebraska City where I could stop to buy Cheerios and bananas and a few other odds and ends.
Strong winds were the order of the day along my route. I was wearing a headband at one of my gas stops and then suddenly I was no longer wearing that headband! the winds were whipping my hair and suddenly they ripped that headband right off my head and sent it careening across the parking lot, dashed and broken.
So while at Walmart I browsed the hair accessories aisle and picked up several options, purchases that were long-overdue. My hair has gotten long enough that I need to get serious about ways to tame it into submission. Headbands, larger barrettes, and large jaw clip to pull my hair up into a loose french knot. I may need someone to give me lessons!
|Rib tips, beans, corn muffin at Famous Dave's|
So now I'm in Council Bluffs at a very nice Springhill Suites hotel with several restaurant choices within walking distance. But there's not much else to do here. I had dinner my first night here at Famous Dave's BBQ near the hotel and the next morning had Cheerios, banana and coffee in my room before heading over to the Harrah's Casino to pick up my race packet. It was a short drive, so while out and about, I decided to drive over to the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center just south of the interstate, along the river.
|Lewis & Clark pictorial|
|Replica of Lewis & Clark conveyance|
I watched the film then browsed the exhibits. I've been to several museums and visitor centers dedicated to Lewis & Clark. In my IBA National Park Tours, I've stamped my way across the western half of the U.S., all the way to Oregon, picking up national park stamps along the way and watching a variety of films and reading several books about these two explorers. The film here at Council Bluffs was a unique twist on an oft-told story. It ran two parallel story lines: That of Lewis & Clark and that of a modern family taking a road trip. Very unique and very interesting. Where we have all modern conveniences available to us along the way, they had nothing but their grit and determination.
I parked the car back at the hotel and walked over to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch. On my way, I passed the back side of the Mid-America Center Arena, where the race will start and finish and I could see them setting up the start line and getting ready for us! Now settled in front of a movie in my room, then tomorrow....race day!