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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Soupification Adventures

For somebody who hates soups and forever refused to do the soup route, to reduce daily calorie intake, I did accidentally invent 2 soups that work. I don't claim to be the original inventor coz I have seen something similar in one of those fast time-lapse recipe vids on FB. But I actually made it for myself, that's the big deal. Earlier, I did try out Salads after refusing cold-foods and documented the Salad Matrix.

Key ingredient for these home soups is boiled potato to make them creamy coz I love mashed potatoes.
And second is a tadka of onion caramelized in ghee. Everything tastes better after tadka. Garnish, you can call it.

Brocolli Potato soup

Main motivation for this was I was fed up of throwing Broco stalks and I had 4 of them sitting in the fridge coz I promised I would grate & bake them into tarter tots but got cold feet everytime.

So off went the stalks to boil with chopped potatoes. When soft, scooped them onto the blender and soup was ready after a few swirls. Oh I did add tadka of garlic and red chillies in the blender. Salt ofcourse.

But who can eat this goo ? So came a mandatory tadka of caramelized onion in ghee. Add some cornflakes coz I had seen someone do that to Mashed potatoes hotdish.

My second version involved adding boiled Broccolli florets, celery and grated carrots to the base of blended boiled stalks & potatoes. Plus caramelized onion again. Much better.

Beets, Carrot Potato Soup

After the first soup I got bolder. I frequently make Beets poriyol and had accumulated enough guilt within me, from discarding the beets water after boiling them everytime. So this time, I added huge chucks of carrots, whole tomato and whole potato in the cooker with chopped beets, set to boil.
After they were cooked, I separated the large pieces of carrots, potatoes and tomato to the blender. And filter out the beets and put the beets water in blender. Salt & pepper ofcourse. There is something about beets & black pepper combination. Maybe a history in Rasam.
Tadka of caramelized onion in ghee again.

Since these don't have half&half or flour base, are these really soup ? Or are they Veggie Smoothies, just hot ? Hmm, I wonder now. I guess the soup formula is the same. Add spinach or mustard leaves. Or anything else from the Produce section.

Next I experimented with few other traditional recipes. Ones with flour and/or half&half.

Copycast version of Olive Gardens Chicken Gnoochi Soup

Shopping was tedious coz some of the ingredients were not frequently used ones. This bunch of source materials (Gnoochi, chicken and broth) helped make a batches of nearly 10 servings.

 Looks and taste wise it was very similar to Olive Garden version, so all izz well.

Recipe here on a FB vid by Cooking Panda.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Grand tour downtown Toronto Canada 2018

After a morning GO station ride with my host-friend, I entered Toronto downtown via Union station. Looking up at the CN Tower I felt like I had reached Mount Everest basecamp. I deferred taking the CN pic for later in the evening. Kahan jayega ? /Where will it go ?

Here is the skywalk towards CN Towers.

And the CN Tower peeping through the skylit cover on this skywalk. I have to say I was speechless walking here.

And here at the CN Tower Info center. I did not choose to go to observatory tower because it would 50 bucks and I have seen the Obeservatory tower views in, let me see Chicago Willis & Hancock towers, SanAntonio and where not and also because I had been up CN Towers 12 years back. So I don't regret not doing it this time.

 CN Tower peaking in between TD North Tower on Kings Street.

Now the Underground system of paths between the buildings, each block packed with shops and food courts is just fascinating. Its endless. But also its unaffordable. Seems very pricy after shopping in USA & India. The retail taxes are so much, it also worth another item you could shop.

Running Room ? Here ? Wow. And I thought it was MN local.

Hudson Bay - oldest retail in Canada. Again not somewhere I would buy anything. Stuff on sale were like $163 after 60% discount !

CF Eaton Mall. Those Goose installations.
 Yonge Street at Dundas

Yonge-Dundass square

Underground level at CF Eaton Mall on Yonge & Dundass junction.

I saw the CN Towers when I got off at Union Station. It was a clear but cloudy morning. So I said, ah I will click a good pick when I am back here to go back home. And when I did return here in the evening, it was pouring Snowflakes. So I don't have a clear direct pic of CN Towers from this visit.

View of CN Tower at Union Street

Grand station at Union and this was my goodbye to Toronto downtown. And Thanks for the cherished memories was 12 years back and helping create new ones.
Grand station at Union
Till this morning, before my trip to Toronto downtown, all I was excited was to use the TTC again.
But soon I got to know the commuting trials of living in a Toronto suburb. It's not all super-smooth TTC alone. It's usually a car-drive to the park & ride of GO station. Go train from Mississauga to Toronto downtown. Then TTC for within downtown transport or taxis. Between Airport and Toronto, its UP Express. And this is the daily commute of the urban office-goer. Makes me feel like I was living in halli/village in MN.
GO Train

Canada 2018 - Quebec, Mississagua, Niagara and Toronto.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Niagara - Canada 2018

From Mississagua my host-friends took me for a quick trip to Niagara.

Nothing has changed in Niagara in the last 12 years. I got the exact same view in the exact same weather in 2006. Casinos and museums lining up the village nearby is the same.

And it is exactly the same beautiful as I remember.

View of USA falls.

And the bridge between USA & Canada.

There was a Million lights display on a side trail.

Next up Toronto downtown tour .

Canada 2018 - Quebec, Mississagua, Niagara and Toronto.