Sunday, December 30, 2018

Running Report for 2018

While last year 2017 was dominated by strength-training, I did up the running this year.

Ran a total of 478 miles this year. Very less, but barely more than those years with my least miles.

Races: Ran mainly MN series for the temptation of their jacket for signing the series in one go. Though I lost the jacket promptly after the first race (facepalm). Love their shirts though - the best design & material.

Kept my races to the minimum, but evenly spread across seasons.

Music in Plymouth 5K Fun Run/Walk
40 min
35F Cloudy No-Windy

As I end this year, I don't have any specific goals for 2019. But I for sure need to keep the running consistent & increase the miles. The call of the run routes is irresistible.

Wish you all a very Happy & Prosperous New Year !

Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018 Movies Experience

After the golden years of Doordarshan, this is that time. All thanks to Netflix & Amazon Prime, I don't remember any other year where I would have seen so many non-Hindi & non-English movies. This is the standout thing about 2018. The supply in Hindi & English was not enough for my demand of new fresh movies.

Thanks to the exciting hype around Mahanati and Amazon Prime, I got to see this movie fresh.
I am not alien to the Telugu universe, but I didn't know much about Savitri before this movie. And yet I was familiar with all other key players of the movie. And Keerthy Suresh's fresh-faced smile is enough reason to watch it. It's been long time seeing a high production value movie on the vibrant times from 50s, 60s & 80s South India. The movie did not disappoint in any area.

Other new discovery from this movie was Vijay Devarakonda as Anthonygaru. Samantha & he are the journalist storytellers of Savithri's & Cinema life. Looking for his other movies, I saw his Nota & am looking around for his other movies in any streaming services I have. I was surprised to know he is Arjun Reddy, of which I knew from longtime but have no stomach to see it.

Meanwhile, my exploration of Bengali lok started with  Guptodhoner Sondhane. Thanks to Abir Mukherjee's star power, I was hooked to a bunch of Byomkesh Bakshi movies & Feluda movies on Amazon Prime.  All these were not this years releases, but I am glad I stumbled into them this year.

The only new movie in Kananda world, that I saw & enjoyed is Katheyondu Shuruvagide. Its unique & calming music is the highlight. The movie location matches it. Thanks to its lovely song "Good Morning", youtube recommended some other melodies like in Kirik Party.

Now Kirik Party is on my wishlist along with Sarkari Hi. Pra. Shaale, Kasaragodu. But I don't know when I will get to watch it. Unfortunately the regular fare of Kannada movies is too ultra-masala for my taste. But its heartening to know that interesting Kannada movies are still being made.

Malayalam movies are in such a mixed variety. I left a few off halfway this year. But the one which got me started was a very satisfying Maheshinte Prathikaaram. The location Idduki, the sub-plots & all in between.

Marathi jagaatla movie bagitala, thanks to Netflix. Pimpal has that stirr quality about it. While my kid complained about how sad the whole movie was, I was happy at how many questions it raised, and did not answer because there are none. And while there is no villain, it is just life from different viewpoints. Bucket List was purely for Madhuri magic. It really picks up after the Drunk scene. As cliche as it is, it made me laugh in some portions. Killa was again a good watch for its location.

Hindi cinema, no doubt, had numerous brilliant releases for 2018. Good ones got their due in mass love and box-office hits. My personal favorite  list:

Tumhari Sulu
Sui Dhaga
Badhaai Ho

I need to blog separately about the outstanding music trends that happened.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Reading list in 2018

All these days I didn't think I read interesting books. Or that I read many books this year. Anything  worth a blog post. Only when I write this post,  I find out that I have really read good stuff in 2018.

The Pursuit of Endurance - Jennifer Pharr Davis


My fav Hiker & AT Record Holder published Endurance this year. Book has her usual tone, while she captured stories of some unique people associated with ATK. Each one merits a chapter here.

And gratefully her book tour brought her to Minnesota for a talk in the Wayzata library. So thrilled I got to meet her. Her oration is as inspiring as her books. Sadly I had to skip the Hike with JPB around Minnesota, after the talk.

North - Scott Jurek


And then my other fav, very own Minnesota Ultra Runner Scott Jurek was here on book tour. He spoke at TC Running Room store. It was an outdoor event.

North tells the story by him & his wife Jenny, of this ATK Record hike.

Packing for Mars - Mary Roach

My new fav writer. I can't wait to get hold of her other books.

Cheeky, that her tone. Chapters on Vomit, Gravity, BM etc are a revelations & wicked funny. And in the midst of all that ride, suddenly on 258 she made me tear up unexpectedly. Unbelievable. Also loved how she made Frank a running gag through the book.

Throne Spirits - by Ashna Kshirsagar & Ellie Abood

 Throne Spirits - Ashna K & Ellie A

Presenting the book by my neighbor. Both my kids read it and highly recommend it.

Gone to Dust - by Matt Goldman

Got hold of this primarily cause author is Minnesotan and the story is entirely set in Edina area. Did not disappoint on any areas - thriller, Edina locality details, Minnesota winter & a personal arc for the Detective.

The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna

I started the year by reading this book. Now I feel like how far back it was. Book has 4 short stories. Nothing exceptional (actually more of RKN style) but good reading in say airport or insomniac night. Best takeaway is that TK leveraged the 4th short story to popularize Auranachalam's story and eventually went on to produce PadMan featuring her superstar hubby AK.

Origin - by Dan Brown

Not comparable to Da Vinci Code. This one is a Langdon treasure hunt in Spain.

Story was tedious but I waded through it to an interesting last 100 pages.

More fun books


First Ladies of Running by Amy Burfoot

Interesting, insightful and thought-provoking book. Chapters dedicated to each iconic runners from different decades. Wish someone would commission the same for Indian women athlete and market them well.

Running for Mortals - John "Penguin" Bingham

is a great book for anyone new in running & has thousand unanswered questions.

Cricket textbooks


What books did you read this year ? Which one stayed with you ? Which one sent you on a journey of knowing more on the same topic or theme ?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon - 2018 - Race Recap

Fantastic race at Minneapolis Halloween Half - 2018 this year. Very similar to my experience last year in 2017. Actually no. My run-time was better - a sub-3 time of 2:54 hours.

Also the very first thing was very different. Usual parking lot was in construction, and there were long waiting lines on the roads. Even though we came in early, it was a huge shocker, unexpected surprise. I barely made it with minutes to spare for the start. Hence not too many start line pics of costumed runners.

Inspite of my usual cold-anxiety, race day weather was a perfect early 30F & no wind but no sun too. Fantastic road conditions. Very enthusiatic & efficient volunteers everywhere. And the organizers has taken my feedback and put in more turn markers at the Stonearch Bridge.

Race Gear was neat again this year. Scary pumpkin on the spoon on the shirt & medal. Very pumpkin-y twist to the Minneapolis symbol of Cherry-on-the-spoon. Shirt material, design & cut were fantastic as usual for MN Run series.

Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon - 2017 - Race Recap

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul - 2018 - Race Recap

Fantastic Half this yer's RBC Minnesota Half Marathon.

After a long time, my race time was satisfactory - 2:57:28 hours.

Race gear is the same design as last year, which is great because its a lovely cut & great material.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Race Medals - What's the Alternative now ?

One of the intergral aspects of Running Races is medal. In my first year of running, I had an aspiration for a medal. So when I was ready to moe to the next level, I signed for a GiG2014 10K in April. As I finished that 10K, I actually asked the volunteer for the medal and she replied its only for Half finishers. That popped my balloon. So I promptly signed for a Half in June. I got over the medal-mania here, when I was handed the medal after this Half Marathan was cancelled for weather condiions and their mis-management. You can say I sobered up after that. The disquiet about not running a Half when I had trained, lasted for a few days and so I again signed for a different Half, which was in the next weekend. That way Lolas 2014 became my first Half which I finished well and hence have happy memories attached to its medal. That's about it about my medal-mania period.

There are many other things that are a given in road races now-a-days - free shirt, water-stops, food at the finish-line,  medical aid, and any free gifts coming from the sponsors. All of them very useful and reusale in regular life. All but the Medal.

Medals give the great feeling of acomplishment. I will wear it at the finish-line, through the ride back home. If I am exceptionally happy, then I will wear it through the weekend. But after that, the medal goes into the pile of past medals. I have even considered skiping the part of accepting it at the finish-line. But the temptation of getting my pic clicked, with the latest medal on, is just too much.

I know I am not the only one thinking this. Frequent racers all face the problems of storage of the increasing pile of medals. I have seen numerous articles by run bloggers and discussion threads talking about the same.

Frequent racers have many reason why they run many races. Upcoming race gives a deadline to continue training for. Friends and run club may have signed up for the same. Spending a weekend morning running through sceni routes, maybe hte reason. Or it could be the free t-shirt and other swag. Medal disposal headache is just a side-effect of this habit.

I mean we paid so much for a race, we do need something to display. So what are the alternatives ?

(1) Medal is definitely important for a new runer or for a milestone race.Those are collectabile which will be prominently displayed at home. In that case, medals should not be given out to all finishers. Only division winners. If they stop giving to those finishing after a certain time limit, it will make those runners bitter - I know I would be.

(2) A shared medal. Wear it & get a pic taken and return it.
Cons of this solution: The medal strap will go through so many sweaty (dried or sticky) necks, no one would want to share.

(3) Display on some lovely Medal hangers. They work well as a wall display. But for a frequent racer, I have run out of space for a beautiul display.

(4) There are numerous articles on how to DIY to reuse the medals ? But seriously how many can you do, even if you are inclined towards towards DIY ?

(5) Alternates: Make the medal in the form of something that can be used - bottle opener, necklace, belts, coasters. These article are really creativ in their lists: theclymb, running competitor, active endurance.
     Some races do it differently. City of Lakes race does not give shirts to all runners, but only to division winners. Instead they give a lovely tall drinking glass and medal to ever finisher. They could easily swap the medal for shirt or something else.

(6) Recyle & donate - Here is an article which gives more details about Sports Medal Recycle and Medals 4 Mettle.

Road races are large in terms of participation. Sheer number of medals, their manufacturing, shipping and disposal costs are definitely worth pursuing alternatives.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon - 2018- Race Recap

My third time running Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon. Results were on Athlinks. While I miss the flexibility of MTEC Results, in terms of reordering the entire result list to analyse different criteria, I am happy with the finish-line photos they have shared on Athlinks.

Race had an early start this time at 7am, which was good. It has been only 2-3 weeks since good weather landed in MN, and yet it has caught up to 80s by the afternoon. So with 7am start, it was mild chill at the start and pleasent at the end.
Wayzata - start corrals

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon route is breathtaking - even when not running. Its only filled with real estate or lakes or lake facing real estate. You could spend the entire stretch till 11 mile admiring the properties and guessing their prices. Mile 11 is on a LRT trail and the last stretch is through the suburbs, to end at Excelsior by the lake, which is a perfect picnic spot.

Excelsior - finish location

A lot of the route stretches were on open roads with traffic while we ran on the shoulder or sidewalks. But most went through closed roads and some trails.Throughout there was beauty to see. Maybe because the trees are not in full foilage by this time this year, I saw something new - "North shore" which was a boat parking, all large boats packed in white covers for the winter and racked on 3 levels of stands. I want to explore that and see which machine did this stacking of 100s of large liesure boats to upto 3 levels ?

On the Crystal Bay Rd, there are houses facing the lake. And this happened in 2015 but I remembered it while running.
So a father & boy were working on their driveway and the boy asks, "Who are these people ?"
Father replied, "They are running a race."
A pause, then the boy says, "But they are not running."
All runners started laughing. Then father replies, "They are tired by now.":D

I finished at 3:02:39 hours, which is much better than a lot of Halfs in the recent past. But uff I narrowly missed being sub-3hours. The mile-wise breakup clearly shows what happened on the route ?

At the start line, there was a 2:30 pacer and a "Last Runner" pacer, and I placed between them. For the first time, I was in a suitable corral. But by the time of start, I realised I was standing very close to the last finisher pacer. That realization really scared me. I was sure, soon I would be behind her. So I took off as fast as I could, to increase the distance between us. Hence the increadibly fast I-saw-Ghost pace in the first few miles.

Wayzata - start corrals
And later I was in my usual cadence. Everything was cheerful till mile 10-11, when negative clouds started to engulf me. By Mile 11 milestone, I started to fast-walk. Eventually it turned out to be my sole planter fascia pain. It took another day to go away. Maybe its time for me to change my shoes and increase my reduced run training.

Race swag was a good quality shirt and medal.

Finish line at Excelsior included the usual perks of banana, chips, bars & water. Medical aid was available throughout the route and finish line. Volunteers were a cheerful lot and very helpful. My Lifetime Run club too turned up to cheer us at Mile 7 and the Finish line.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Goldy's Run - 10 mile - 2018 - Race Recap

My first time running Goldy's Run 10 mile. I can't think of why I avoided it so far. Maybe it was the brown full-sleeve shirt, because I lean more towards the half-sleeve shirts. But after running this race, I am thrilled, for many reasons.

And I loved the official finish photo they shared on the result board. A1 click.

First off the weather scare build-up to this race on 8-April Sunday morning. There were predictions of sub-20F cold morning and heavy snowstorm. Numerous backup plans about the clothes to wear till the last minute. Eventually things worked out. I ranged from 16F to 25F, but the running experience was just like in the 30s.

After parking in one of the lots in UofM, we moved to the 3M Arena, where all runners could wait in warmth.

The indoor stadium was soon tightly packed.

But this was the place with the smallest line for the restroom and water fountains.

Starting point was right outside TCF Stadium. Bag-drop was here too. Afterwards I came to know there were 9000 runners that day.

The 10 mile route was scenic. While I enjoy the riverside part of the route, I sickening hate those steep mountains by UofM. Other races have hills. These are mountains yes.

View from the Franklin bridge, shows there is still some snow drifting in Mississippi.

And in this one, I was trying to capture the monorail on the bridge with UofM logo. This is on the loop back at about 7 mile.

The last mile was a loop around the TCF Stadium, on the cobbled stone/tiled paths, which felt boring, being the last mile & all. And then we entered the tunnel and moving towards the finish arch, right in the middle of Stadium. This stadium finish was oh so thrilling. My finish time was 2:20:58 hours.

Couldn't get enough pictures in the stadium. The temps, in this race, ranged from 16F in the morning to close 25F at the end of the race. My race gear was perfect. It was the same I use for runs in the 30's, but it worked in the 20's as well. The only new thing were Hand-warmers my run-buddy brought for all of us. They were a life saver in the morning and I hung on it till the end.

The race swag was a very good quality full-sleeve technical shirt and light-weight square medal. I signed-up for Mail-my-BIB, so shirt pickup was after the race.