TBT: Reno, Part 1

Blog Post for 8/16/14: Getaway

I am writing this blog post on a flight from Baltimore to Reno, by way of San Francisco. This is my first time ever using a laptop on an airplane. I am doing so because the leg from Baltimore to SF is five hours, my cell phone can’t connect to the plane’s Wi-Fi network, my iPod is in my baggage (which is in the baggage hold), I can’t sleep, and I am bored as hell.

Friday was the first time in a long time that I had accomplished a lot of tasks in a single day. Some of them involved work, others involved personal finances and business, others involved last minute prep for my trip.
School is going to be a challenge this semester; I need $700 (not including books) to register for two classes at the College of Southern Maryland for fall. I will probably be registering on the last Friday before classes start, and then I will need to head down to the bookstore to see if they have any books left for my classes. On the upside, one of my classes (a multicultural literature class) is being taught by Wayne Karlin. He is a Marine Vietnam veteran, a published author, and probably the best professor I have had at CSM. He has also brought a lot of my writing, which I needed to get an A out the last course I took with him.

The other course is a history course, which shouldn’t be that much of a problem…except it means driving to LaPlata (50 minutes one way in rush hour traffic) on Tuesday nights.

Today is my circuit course II day at the gym. However, because I had to get up early to catch a 0600 flight, I will have to postpone that workout until I after I check in at the hotel and get settled. That means this is the first week in my training that I have delayed my 0500 gym workouts all three days in a week. Tuesday and Thursday were combinations of oversleeping and too much time on the toilet, so I was awarded sessions at World Gym at 1730 in the afternoon. World Gym was fairly populated, but I still managed to complete both my circuits. I only had to switch exercises twice during both days due to someone using a bench/machine that I needed.

This week I finally re-introduced myself to stretching before my circuit courses. I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago who had to have surgery because he had lost feeling in his left arm. He had been working out for a while and eventually developed tingling in his arm until it eventually went numb. He found out it was because he didn’t stretch out before he hit the gym. Now I devote at least five minutes to stretching out before and after my sessions.

For my short runs, it was back to Willows Road. On Friday morning, I ignored the alarm and got up three minutes before I was supposed to run. So, instead of a drive to NAS Pax River and running the (mostly flat) PFT course, I awarded myself the hill-laden Willows Road-HWY 5 three-miler.

I will be running in Reno, NV this week. I checked out the Reno Parks and Recreation website and I found three short courses and one five mile system of courses that I will check out. Sunday’s long run will be in the South Meadows trail system, in the Double Diamond suburban neighborhood of Reno. The whole system is about five miles, but they are three separate trails, despite all of them being very close together. The only problem I have is “How far are they from my hotel?” Hopefully there is public transportation available; I’m not too crazy about forty dollar round trip cab rides.

The Trip So Far

The Hilton Garden Inn at BWI Airport is perfect for overnight stays at the airport. I got in too late to check out the hotel restaurant, but the room was nice and spacious, the indoor pool had a Jacuzzi, there was a guest laundry to clean your swim trunks when you got done (packing wet clothes = bad!), there was shuttle service to BWI and back, and if you are taking a round trip out of BWI, they will let you park your car for $5 a night.
I got to BWI at 0500. My sister asked my why I drive home instead of flying, and I got a reminder this morning of why. The place was a mob scene, even at 0500. Long lines for check in, and the TSA screening as well. No time to get an overpriced breakfast in the terminal, so I settled for an overpriced breakfast sandwich on the flight.

United’s not so bad, so far. The flight took off 15 minutes late, even though the captain assured us we’d land in Frisco early. Somebody brought a cat on the flight instead of putting it in the baggage hold, and when we took off , as well as when we hit turbulence, that cat was screaming its head off. Surprisingly, the children have been quiet on this flight. It’s probably because their either watching something on their obligatory electronic devices, or trying to sleep like their parents are.

The overpriced sandwich was pretty good, although you could get a little bigger (foot long, at least) sandwich at Subway for about 2/3 the price. Only 4 oz. a cup of coffee though, and be careful with the sugar. Oh, and thank you God for the exit row seating, although I could have purchased a roomier seat for another $25.

Speaking of overpriced…FIFTEEN DOLLARS FOR WI-FI? Ummm, no.

Running future

I have a sixteen mile run planned this month, as well as another jaunt among the Sea of Faces in Greenbelt, MD on Labor Day Sunday. The “sweet sixteen” will be at St. Mary’s Lake Trail, which is a fifteen minute drive from my house and into Leonardtown, MD. The trail is a 7.5 mile loop around the lake. From the TraiLink reviews, the course seems more suited for mountain biking than hiking and running. I understood that there would be a lot of tree branches out, so I will probably need to do a route check of this course next Saturday (I return from Reno late Friday night).

I don’t recall the exact name of the race at this time, but I did get a glimpse of the course map. I know it’s a 15K (9.3 miles,but I can make that last mile up during the week), and I know the race is starting at 1700 in the afternoon, instead of like 0800-0900 like the other events I’ve been in. I have done other afternoon runs before, but not by design; I may think about later afternoon runs on the week before Greenbelt, just so I can try to shift my eating habits for that day (I can’t really perform well on a full stomach).

Off the Facebook grid

While I was home with my mother on Friday night, an old Marine friend of mine passed away. He had been battling cancer for the last 18 months and he finally offered up his spirit to God five minutes before midnight that night. I didn’t find out about his passing until I opened up Facebook after the Monday drive home. Between that, and spending part of the drive thinking on my parents’ wellness and their futures, my usual activities on fb (political posts and debates, posting videos, ranting, ignoring game requests) suddenly felt too shallow and petty. So, other than posting my blogs to the Broken Trojans’ Running Group and my own timeline, I decide to take a break from fb for a while.

Beliefs, ideals and politics

If you offend easily, skip to Personal Stuff…

I am a conservative Republican. I don’t participate in enough events to qualify as a Tea Partier, but I am one is spirit. That’s what happens when, as a citizen of Maryland, your military pension disqualifies you from drawing unemployment, and you have to pay state taxes for three years running, and your governor enacts the highest property taxes in the land, including a rain tax.

Courtesy of Bill Maher and Jon Stewart, liberals and progressives are capable of repeating Democrat talking points with a snarky attitude, but can’t/won’t do any research outside progressive sources. In person they may be somewhat personable, but online it’s like dealing with a thousand Regans from The Exorcist. Trust me on this one, I’ve seen the comments on several progressive fb pages, websites left, right, and center, and I’ve been defriended on fb by tow gay men and another liberal.

The Democrat Party supported slavery, enabled terrorizing freed slaves after the Reconstruction, implemented Jim Crow laws, founded the Ku Klux Klan, mostly voted against any Civil Rights legislation run through Congress…and they think pandering to blacks by setting up the welfare state and Planned Parenthood and electing a Black President is supposed to make up for it. Ummm, no.

President Obama: Has never had any executive experience (never had to produce products or results), suspect voting record, no experience in dealing with the military or diplomatic issues, too much time studying Keynesian economics instead of dealing with how the real world economy works, and a Constitutional “scholar” who mostly ignores the law rather than try to enforce it.

It’s not a race problem, it’s a “leading from the front” problem. There’s a reason why it’s called an executive branch, folks.

Michael Brown: No arrests, no trial, and people are already rioting? Why? Whatever happened to the peaceful protests of Martin Luther King? Where are the sit-ins, the peaceful marches?

White people: If you voted for President Obama because he was going to finally bring closure and healing to the race situation: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

People have no responsibility or regard for consequences with their sex lives, and they want others to pay for their abortions and accept their lifestyles as a civil rights movement? Ummm, no.

Atheists, gays, and Muslims: demand tolerance and acceptance from everybody else, but don’t want to show any in return. Atheists and gays don’t like religion because they can’t stand any idea where there is anything bigger than human life, nor do they believe in a world where there may be consequences for what you do in this life. Muslims? At least the Catholics have apologized for the Inquisition and the child molestation scandals, has anybody head any apology from Islam about the bloodshed they’ve perpetrated worldwide since their inception?

Israel/Gaza/Palestine: Israel has surrendered thousands of miles of land since winning the Six Day War in 1967, seeking to be recognized and to live in peace with their Arab neighbors. In 2014, they respond to rocket attacks from Hamas by going into the Gaza strip, and we get the biggest display of Anti-Semitism since the rise of the Third Reich. Dafuckisdis?

Hillary for President? Let’s compare Mme. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State with Sarah Palin’s tenure as Governor of Alaska and then we’ll talk, mmmkay?

The Republican establishment needs Marine Corps Recruit Training and/or Fight Club. ‘Nuff said.

Personal Stuff

As my ten year old Kia Spectra heads towards 150,000 miles, here’s what she needs:
1) New air conditioner panel
2) New turn signal
3) Fuel gauge light replaced
4) Could use some new driver’s side floorboard carpet.

The blood sugar was at 325 at 0600, July 1. It’s back to a manageable 95-100 now, but my endocrinologist re-upped my metformin dosage to 500 mg twice a day. I may have to keep up the exercise routine if I ever want to get off the drugs (or at least keep the insulin injections away).

8/17/2014: South Meadows Trail System

After paying $25 for a round-trip cab ride to Wal-Mart, I decided to see if Reno had a mass transit system. Fortunately, Reno does have one. After doing some research, I ultimately discovered that the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (http://www.rtcwashoe.com/public-transportation-5-5.html) not only has a bus system that runs seven days a week, but they had routes that would take me to within a reasonable walking distance to my running destinations.

For Sunday’s run, I was to take the #1 bus (So. Virginia) to Meadowood mall, where I would catch the #56 bus (South Meadows/Damonte Ranch) to the area where the South Meadows Trail System was located.

In retrospect, the bus could not take me anywhere near my original destination (Center Creek Park), but it did could drop me off at the junction between South meadows Parkway and Sandstone Way…the nearly geographical center of the three separate trails.

Sunday morning, I got up at 0430 to catch the first $1 bus at 0615. I made that bus and got to Meadowood at 0645…and found out that the first #56 bus didn’t leave until 0730. I did get to visit a little snacks-and-slots place named Dolly’s, where I used the restroom and bought a bottle of water to show my gratitude.

When I boarded the #56, I showed the driver my map pf the course, courtesy of the Reno Parks and Recreation website. Rather than look at the actual route map, he and I sort of guessed where I should get off. He dropped me off at Double Diamond Elementary School (not a bad place, in retrospect). I ambled down about a mile and a half of South Meadows Parkway, took a brief break at a gas station for another pee/water break, then found my first beacon of light among the path: Gateway Drive. After another half mile and a good look around, I finally found the start of my first of the three paths.

The South Meadows Trail System is made up of three separate asphalt running paths. The westernmost trail I will call Industrial Park Lake, the middle path Diamond Arrow, and the easternmost path the Parks Path (these are my unofficial names; I will explain why later).

I started the Industrial Park Lake path at 0850…after being awake for three hours, forty minutes on the bus, forty ounces of water, two pee breaks, and a two mile hike I probably had no business taking. The IP Lake path is an asphalt path that runs by a couple of apartment complexes and some businesses; the highlight of the trail is a path around a lake. I ran the path, making sure to run the entire loop around the lake. When I reached the end of the path, I turned around and headed for the SoMead/Shadow Junction to look for the middle path.

When I entered the path for Diamond Arrow (named for Diamond Country Drive and Gold Arrow Drive, the main roads lining the path) I was nearly thrown off by the parallel course I saw across the way. I tried to cross, but the nearest junction was closed off due to the path being flooded. I continued on until I saw a street sign (Diamond Country Dr.) that confirmed that I was on the right way. Diamond Arrow runs through the western part of the Double Diamond neighborhood, along the two concurrent streets that I named it for. It’s a nice asphalt track that has a few bumps but no major elevation changes. There is a good stretch of wetland along the middle to southernmost half of the course.

As I found Vista Bonita Lane, I checked my pedometer and stopwatch and was feeling good as I sought out my last part of the trail…and here’s where the fun began. In retrospect, I should have found Eagle Falls Way and followed it to Emerald bay Drive, where I could have found the intersection that crossed the Parks Path. Instead, opting for as long of a run as possible, I headed down Double R Boulevard. My plan was to follow Damonte Branch Highway to a streambed that would lead me to the end of the Parks Path trail, where I would start the last trail. As I checked my map, I reminded myself: “If you hit Steamboat Parkway, you’ve gone too far.”

My search for the streambed proved futile, and I ended up ambling down Damonte Ranch Parkway to the end, where I latched onto a trail going to the left. “This must be it,” I reasoned. The trail went from a single trail and split into two trails (WTF?). I stayed on the one I was on until I came to a street; I saw the Damonte Ranch Parkway street sign, and I assumed that I was on a path parallel to that street. Ooops.

I followed the path to a crossing that led under a bridge. That path was washed out; but I found an alternate path. The path I took was through another nice neighborhood; however, as I ran, I noticed that the path had more curves that the Parks Path that was shown on the map. After about an undetermined distance and about a half hour of running, I came to a park with children playing…and more importantly, a bathroom. Fourteen-minute mile pace and navigation be damned I went on another pee and water break.

After relieving myself and getting a good sip of water, it was back on the road. The path curved still and yet another split in the road (dafuck?). One path curved across a bridge, another to the end of the street, I followed that path going to the end of the street so I could check the sign and get my bearings. As I came to the end of the path, I took a look at the street sign…STEAMBOAT PKWY.

At that point, it was 1045, my pedo said I had overdone my distance for the morning, and I was tired. I stopped my stopwatch, reset the pedo, and began looking for some sign of civilization where I could get a ride back to (at least) Meadowood mall.

My amblings took me to Damonte Ranch High School (go Mustangs!), where I found a session of LifeChurch going on. Tired, worn out, and bearing The Runner’s Stench, I limped inside and met a greeter/nameplate gentleman named Kevin. I told him about my plight and asked him if there was a phone I could borrow to call a cab. Kevin graciously offered me a ride to the mall, if I didn’t mind waiting a half-hour as he finished his duties. I agreed, and took him up on his offer of taking some of the water and fresh fruit offered by LifeChurch. I grabbed a couple of small bottles of water and some fruit, and made small talk with some of the parishioners. As promised, a half hour later, I accompanied Kevin and his wife as they drove me to Meadowood Mall. I was just in time to catch the #1 bus back to the 4th Street Station, where I began my journey six hours earlier.
In the end, the Industrial Park Lake and the Diamond Arrow trails were good trails to run. However, there was nothing on any of the trails that specifically called them “The South Meadows Trail System.” There were neither signs nor any mile markers on any of the trails. For all of the asphalt paths I found along the way (especially as I got lost), there were no paths that could have unified the entire system of trails. If you’re not a local, it comes down to land nav skills and common sense.

My lessons for today:

1) Running and land navigation don’t mix!
2) Better communication with the bus drivers
3) Check your maps…ALL of them!
4) Some of those Christians aren’t as mean as the media make them out to be.

Long way down that holiday road:

Speaking of Mr. Buckingham…

Because it was a vacay:

Loved this one…

I was going to post this first…

…aaand one more from Lindsey for the dismount:

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