Saturday, August 10, 2019

Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul - 2019 - Race Recap

Brutal. That's what this year's Minnesota Half Marathon was, on 3-Aug-2019.

July had been rather cool, not hot at all. Race morning however was all hot & steamy. Still it looked manageable. There was Sun out in open and I guessed it would be 70'sF. I did not expect it, but it was the rising humidity which took the toll. Race started as usual and I kept the usual pace while being on the sunny side of the road. After the turnaround, made it back to the Science Museum side, which is 8th mile. Now the breathing seemed labored and I took my first walk break. Here on I saw many stops where medic van was helping runners. My run buddy who ran a 10 miler, actually saw many people throw up.

So by 9th mile, I decided that this slow pace is fine. I only need to cross the finish line. The real torture began after the turnaround on 11th mile. On this last stretch, Sun was on our back. No big deal. But gradually after 5-10 minutes I could literally feel all of my back - from my head to the heel - was on fire. I let out a yelp and turned around. This was totally real. But there was just no escape here - no trees, no building shades to hide behind. I don't know how I went on. Everyone on this stretch was red-faced, feet jogging ahead. On the 12th mile, a young girl was red-faced and crying. I tried screaming some motivation stuff, but within a few minutes I felt like I would breakdown. So I stopped and inched away from her but in forward direction. Every moment that I am talking about here, should be imagined in slow-motion. Anyway finally made it to the finish line.

And it shows up in my race time - a never before 3:15:33 hours.

Brutal & Horrifying - that what this race was.

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

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Maple Grove Half Marathon - 2019 - Race recap

This is my first time running Maple Grove Half Marathon today on Mon 11-May-2019. Start of the race was from Maple Grove Senior High School. Coffee, hot chocolates & muffins was available at the start thanks to Daily Dose. They were other sponsor tents like massage.

Perfect weather morning for the race. Pleasant 53F, Sunny with constant breeze. Very April Springy weather in May.

Half race started at 7:40am, with a loop around the track. Then the route went in & out of Rice Lake Trails. Those portion were by the water. Out of trails were in residential areas. The roads were not closed out, as there was hardly anyone driving this early Sat morning.

Route directions were exceptional. Considering how circuitous route this is, with 2-3 turns every mile, there were arrows with volunteers at each of these. A lot of those were high school students. Without these arrows, no way could we make it through this route. For people of my pace group, it got lonely in the trails after first few miles. Felt very Run club kind-of run. Water-stops were frequent & they had Gatorade after the first stop. Very helpful & cheerful volunteers here.

Race swag was cool, perfect fit shirt & medal.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Securian Winter Run 2019 - Half Marathon - Race recap

My fav Winter race Securian Winter Run - Half Marathon was on 26-Jan 2019 Sat this year. I was here after a gap.

Being a Winter Run, this race has the best start location, with the spacious Securian building & skyway as warming location for practically everyone.

As usual there was lot of hand-wringing before the race about weather conditions. The day I signed-up, the lowest it had been was bright & sunny 35F in Jan. Right after I signed up, the temps started dipping and hovered before -10F and 10F. I can't explain the number of nervous messages I exchanged with my run buddies.
But all the worry was for nothing. Weather worked out perfect for this morning. The actual bad weather came up right next week onwards - with a week of Polar Vortex (temps before -45F), followed by 3-4 days of icy road condition. Icy throughout the twin cities, like never ever seen before. And then weeks of snow blizzard. Looking back, that weekend was a warm one.

Temps were between 0F-10F, no sun, no wind, but light snow throughout the 3 hours.
My run gear was perfect. I was worried about overheating before the race. But my choices were perfect in these conditions.  I was never cold or hot throughout the 3 hour run plus more time to get back home.
  1. Columbia thermal jacket + 2 tech shirts 
  2. Regular Woolen cap
  3. C9 thick Neck Gaitor - Most of the quick runners had the thin variety on. But this worked perfectly for me. I alternated between covering mouth till nose every few minutes. So it never got too moist. Air was not cold, so that helped.
  4. Compression pants + wind-cheater-type outer layer pant
  5. Ski socks in my regular running shoes. My toes never got cold.
  6. And most importantly - Gloves. Large loose ones, so I could curl up my fingers on a warm palm. And Hand-warmers to keep warm the palm.


I have run out in cold past few years. But this year I hardly stepped out in Dec & Jan. But in all my life, this is the first time I had so much snow on me, my face. I go#FrozenLashes or #Lashicles.
When the leading crowd was coming back after turnaround, I got to see the leaders with #FrozenBeards. Unique sight indeed. 

My finish time was a decent 3:04 hours. So every half race, 11-13 is the killer stretch, where some pain drags my mood down. This time it was at mile 10, but no physical or mental time. But the van showed up. Driver asked me to get inside as they will open the roads in 10 minutes. I was incredulous - how can they open so soon. Its never been so soon before. But I knew they had to, coz it was snowing throughout, volunteers were few (& stars) and they couldn't stay out freezing for so long. Made sense, but also made me angry. That I wouldn't get a finish time in my record. I was so looking forward to this race, I didn't want it to end bad. I swore, this is the last half I do for any winter anymore. Anyway, I had opted to continue, and after the van moved on, I was worried about getting lost in the city. Shepherd Road is a straight stretch, but after the left turn within city, i had no idea how to make it to the finish location. But once the choice is made, I had to stick to it. On the Sheperd Road, I switched to the sidewalk on the right. A police officer helped me cross the half open road. Far away I spotted a Orange jacket running. Even with snowy visibility, I kept him in sight. Then once I turned inside the city, turns out I knew the way. Roads were opened, but the finish stretch outside Securian was still closed. Finish arc & time machine was still around, so I got my finish times. Asked others for pics & I was done. 

Race swag was a cool full sleeve shirt and neat cup. Cup was useful. As soon as I finished, first thing to do was get the free coffee in this new mug, coz everything else was packed up.

My Securian Winter Run - 2014 2015 2016 | 2019

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:
  1. Tumhari Sulu - worth multiple watch for its story flow and execution by all the actors.
  2. Parmanu - such a well made thriller touching on something from modern history. Perfect music & ensemble of actors.
  3. Stree - the only horror movie I readily saw in theatre. Its that funny ! Plus made by my fav filmaker pair - Raj&DK.
  4. Sui Dhaga - best execution of underdog becomes winner genre. They got the spousal-dynamics right too. Nice to see glamorous actors of this gen in real life looks.
  5. Badhaai Ho - If there was any doubt of Hindi movies being in a rut and BHB & above movies are the best showcase to contradict it. BHB keeps us engrossed from the trailor till the movie end. End scene is mixed with sniggers & laughs. Everyone know someone who is like some character from the movie.
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 year'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.