Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bus stops - Dwitiya - The Americas

Minnesota bus-stop photo, in the first post Bus Stops Bus Goes, grew insane, so here comes the sequel post.


Metro transit in Minnesota connects all suburbs to downtown and few other main places. It goes via the expressways and once in a town, it stops every 2 blocks. Then these are connecting stations in major malls.

Bus-stops in quint suburbs are amusingly simple but just as efficient. First reaction is, "Is this it ?" Disbelief, "Will the bus really stop here ?"

I have seen butterflies at a neighborhood Bus Stop. Which is very impossible at a Bangalore Bus-stop given the crowds, and noisy vehicle around. But that did happen at a Minnesota bus-stop - in Spring yes. (Need a special reminder as Minnesota is synonymous with snow).

In Office districts, there are stops where multiple numbers buses will stop, every 2 blocks.

And then there are some with shelters.

Bus stops at shopping malls, have multiple shelters for buses spreading in different direction and connecting other malls.

Speaking of snow,  Metro buses are just as functional in Winters. A sudden snowstorm before the rush hour, will give no time for cleaning up the roads and only that can delay the bus arrival timing.  Otherwise its business-as-usual in winter.

Along with Metro Transit, there are few other private service from suburbs to downtown. Some fancy with Wifi for those who want to start work before reaching office.

Metro monorail connecting Downtown, Mall of America, Airport and those in between. Great way to beat the parking hassles in those areas. Trust me, I agree now after facing 45 minute wait in 1 mile to VMAC parking near Minnehaha Falls. I kept looking longingly at this monorail while locked in my car waiting for the queue to crawl forward. I made it to the race startline with few minutes to spare.


Here is the sole surviving photo of my 2005 trip to Toronto. I was so impressed by my first visit trip in a non-Indian subway, I wrote an entire post about it. but alas without pics. Clicking every single thing was not as epidemic in 2005.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Running Fuel

A whole lot of articles have been written in detail. I don't want to copy-paste any, so have the links in below section.

Here I will just summarize the points which I would usually say verbally to anyone in concise manner. But reading about fueling, is very good for the understanding this concept and then come up with your own solution for your long runs.

Any run beyond 1 hour means blood sugar/glucose is exhausted and you are running on empty tank. Since the wheels are still rolling you don't notice. And then suddenly legs and brain stands still and you wonder what happened ? Sheer will-power will only get you so far. This is the reason to eat up something before that 1 hour is up. And then every 30-40 minutes.

And that something is at least 200 calories with sufficient carbs in it.

If you run in loops, then leave the food/nutrition with water at your rest stop. If its a no-repeat trail, numerous belts & backpacks are available to carry nutrition with you.

Nutrition choices are enormous. It can be locally available fruits (banana, figs, dates, candied pineapple, Agra petha) and/or processed options (Clif bars, Gu, beans, gels, electrolyte/gaterade/powerade).

Getting an electrolyte drink along with water is crucial. It will refill the electrolyte lost in sweat. And it will help body absorb the plain water you are drinking.

The glucose-dense food will quickly nourish after the stores exhausted after 1 hr run. They gives the jump needed to go the extra mile.

Here again remember to refill before your body exhaust. Cause the newly ingested food will take sometime to kick in.


Runner World Links:

How to Eat During Long Runs | Runner's World

The Proper Way to Fuel Before a Long Run | Runner's World

What to Pack for Fueling on Race Day

Mid race Fuel - Runners World

Fueling For Long Runs

Best Sports Drinks for Long Runs

Stay Hydrated on a Hot Run

The Proper Way to Fuel Before a Long Run

For Super athlete:

A Fueling Plan for Every Distance

Fuel the Machine: Eating to Maximize Endurance Exercise Performance

Power Up Your Performance with Taper-Week Nutrition

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Different worlds

They say its a small world. I always felt it's a really large world.

Being in a non-makeup world, someone would not know what concealer is? Or get excited about the beauty of a half-moon handbag.

Cricket is supposed a binder for Indians. But now, it is IPL vs other T20 vs One day vs Test matches vs Local league matches. There are just way too many to keep track of. Then there is Cricket vs Football. Football with its innumerable Clubs, international and local.

That dreamy world of being a Fan of a movie star. Oh its an endless rabbit-hole. Something that has been united into Fan Clubs, even before the online world made its presence. Its self-absorbing world and can get combative when faced with imagined rivals. Now the fan clubs have diversified, to catchup with the diverse set of celebrities. Just their social media shows the mind-boggling number of followers (mix of fake and real).

TV show world as well. There are a 1000s shows to choose from, in different languages and genres. We can totally drown in a TV show, know everything about the story line, sub-story, cast, background info. Even fan fiction. Cross-overs. Heartache when the favorite character dies or actor changes or anything bad happens. But the person next door in our real life, maybe living in a different TV show world.

So many of the 90s and before shows were epic and have a thread of nostalgia for that generation. That's because those were the only show every watched and hence more common things to discuss. Even with Cable arrival for nearly a decade, there were every few top ones and they were watched by all. Its only 00s or later, that the audience split, so even each in a family have their own choices. And with Netflix and other streaming ones and different unwinding times, the islandification will be complete.

Books have long been that individual pods we can escape into. The cozy private world, inhabited by whatever the books has painted. It can be argued that these books, shows and movies and fan following is all imaginary world. Its in the mind. Real life is with family and friends. But here too exist those division building their own exclusive words.

In real life,
the student worlds of tween, teen and collegiate
vs single new adult world
vs couple world
vs parents of single child
vs parents of multiple children
vs parents of small kids
vs parents of grownup kids
vs single working parents vs both working parents
vs empty nesters
vs retirees.
Perspectives are so different for each of these age groups. Every time I read a blog or article or even book, I wish, they would print the age of the writer at the time of writing. Even though the work will gain its own life in future, its worth knowing what kind of eyes wrote it ?

World of actual people cliques and social media cliques behave so differently.

No wonder data is the God today. Marketers would like to aim right at their targets and get better success rate at lesser costs.

After obsessing over a book, its characters or a movie and knowing everything about it. After residing its world, no matter how far removed it might be in time or space, there comes a time of realization that that world is imaginary. Its not real and can never be reached ever. The world we left behind. Of our 20s, our teenage, our childhood. It can't be revisited on this plane. This realization is  when the obsession ends.

So there ! There is hardly any overlap in world. Every time we step from one world into another, whether physical world or online, among people of different worlds. Instead of feeling inadequate or self-doubt, remember that its impossible to master all worlds. There has to be a pause for learning, for fitting in.

No one can change other people. They are what they are in that situation. Trick is to avoid that situation. Avoid landing in that world. There are multiple worlds co-existing. Just reside in the one which works for you.

Its such a large world and there are so many multiple worlds, we often don't meet those we intersected before. Sometimes this is a great argument for "What will they think ?" kind of thinking.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon - 2017 - Race Recap

Having quit Get in Gear Half at 10 miles last week, I was so unsure about Lake Minnetonka. I had signed up for the thrill of it - 2 Half Marathons in the space of 8 days, yeah ! I had done this in 2015. But with the GiG outcome and plantar fasciitis after, I was in panic mode and trying to cancel-refund my registration for this one. My email got a standard response - they would not refund. Very obvious, being so close to the event date.

So with this in background, I whiled away the week in vacation mode. No thinking about the race at all. La la la la. I got in a 3 miler on Thursday because there was nothing else to do and by now the feet-sole pain had reduced. Still not thinking far, I decided to pickup packet on Sat morning. There was absolutely no crowd at the school location, very peaceful. So at night I decided, I will show up at the start location and see how it goes. Star aligned and I could get my hubby to drop me off. Plus point here, was not carrying my car-key in water bottle through the race.

Race morning my hubby dropped me at the shuttle pickup point. And shuttle bus took us to the start line. Among all the races, I find this one unique about its energy of racers converging. It could be because of the location, but this one seems seamless. Runners parking in different streets and converging towards the school for shuttle bus. And then after drop-off near Wells Fargo bank, gathering on the Wayzata Blvd. Its a great place for race start. Wide streets, cozy but spacious for such a large gathering. I guess the residents are inconvenienced only the first few hours, till the last runner has left and cleanup crew has finished. This race is point to point - it starts at Wayzata and ends at Excelsior.

Where is Waldo ?

Race kicked off in pace waves. Winding out of Wayzata through Orno, the first 5-6 miles was like being in Mahabaleshwar. Houses were all cozy hill-station type with perfect natural greenery around. This race is a tour of great real estate. Other runners too felt it so. Afterwards, my run clubbers were posting some of the estate listing on FB to each other saying "This is the one I was talking about".

At the Relay exchange point, I kept wondering if it was the real mid-point, in terms of miles. I don't know the exact mile it was on and since my math-brain stops working when I run, I could not figure it out for the next few miles. That way it kept me occupied. My Run club came to cheer us from the same club. They are awesome ! They clicked me here, as I barreled down hill.

Then came the Tonka bay area. Till here, the views were all of different parts of lakes, boats, piers, fishing groups, people relaxing in their garage on Sunday morning. The Final 12th mile was on Minnetonka Trail. And 13th mile was in residential area, slowly winding to the Finish Line at Excelsior Park. Only in this mile did I felt like yes I am actually going to make it ! This pic was clicked by the MN Series photographer Dave Cameron. He is my favorite coz he has got some great pics of mine in the past races. I am unbelievably serious about it - "no sarcasm" (like I have to add everytime, for my kids).

When I rushed through the last 0.1 mile, I tried to avoid looking at the clock, but a glimpse showed something like 3:12. I did not mind it. I was glad I actually finished. I was still in the race (so to speak). Later when I checked the result online, it was 3:01:53. Woohoo ! That's even better than some of the Half's of last year. And considering the hilly route for this one. Wow myself !

Finish area park was void of past runners. They must have obviously rushed to the return bus. Volunteers were still around, and they had not started packing stuff, so that's positive note. Got my chips and banana. Family was late. I borrowed a phone from a volunteer to call Hubby and joked, "My family thought I will finish at noon haha". This race had a right start of 7:30 for this kind of weather. Ended the morning with a picnic in the park, watching the Lake, sitting by on the bench, facing cool breeze. Beautiful.

Did I talk about the race swag. The shirt is awesomely cut, very unusual from standard design. Material is perfect - not too flimsy to be cold, not bulky thick to be hot. Medal has a lovely fish design.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bus stops, Bus goes

Bus rides are a thrill for children. Well it did make some sick, but in general it's fun to wait for that gigantic thing, then hop in, grab a seat and be zoomed to your destination. And buses are a lifeline for grownups, especially those commuting for work. Everything is linked to the bus timings. That immense trust on the driver. That insane rage in case of any lapse.

Here is my photo-listicle of bus-stops, bus and subway from Bangalore, Udupi and Chennai. Bangalore pictures were sourced from my family. They are not named or linked simply for their privacy reasons.



Bangalore Kemmpegowda Majestic Bus Stand - that's where it starts. It is truly majestic. Buses from here connect every nook and corner of the city and suburbs. All buses are timely and very frequent. Other major bus station hubs are KR Market and Shivaji Nagar.

Some of the aerial view shots are so beautiful. The intra-city bus stand platforms are shaped in concentric half circles.

I used BMTC buses for around 12 years. Ranging all times of the day. Covering my new adulthood years. Years when the most growth happens. While squished between a range of every-changing crowd, I felt like I have a lifetime supply of material for thousand books. As it stands, here I am with a blog-post to covering it - which is more photo-heavy than wordy :)

Bangalore buses have it all. There are (were) Red buses, Blue buses, Brown Pushpak, Red Volvo, Pink Women's only and BMTC keep innovating very often.

Almost all big organization run their own private buses for their employees commute. In spite of that, it's amazing how the Bangalore traffic has slipped into unparalleled chaos.

Metro services started a few years back. I did not get a chance to ride the metro, but my cousin shared these pics. They look awesome. I like all Bangaloreans have borne with it's construction for years, decades and most lines are still in-progress. Now that some of the Metro lines are functional, its hmmm good I guess. Everyone will enjoy the benefit most, once all construction is complete and cleared. But Metro ride's are always sci-fi level of thrilling and fun.


Udupi main bus stand. Facing Manipal-Malpe Road. Stones throw away from Manipal. Pushpa Bakery just around a turn and so is the Kediyoor Hotel. Narrow lanes in between, all teeming with traffic. This bus-stop mostly serves private bus service. The other bus stand connecting Mangalore and villages in between, is further up from here. And the City bus stand is walkable distance from there. Best landmark for it is Alwyn Bakery on the opposite side

The below bus stand is on Court Road, between Taluk Office and Big Bazaar.


Fascinating book stalls - latest magazines lined on a string, all pulp fiction books in different languages. A very standard feature in all central bus stands and even railway station. This picture is from Chennai Central Bus Stand. I was waiting here for Airavat Vovlo bus to Bangalore.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Get in Gear 2017 - Half Marathon - Race Recap

I signed up for Get in Gear Half to continue my tradition and also for some usual goals up ahead, inspite of being in a self-doubt phase. At the end of it this was a meh experience. The way this ended was a first time for me.

Race start was 9am. Till the previous day, it felt like too late in the day and a total waste of morning daylight. Anyway, carried on my usual morning ritual and left home by 7:30 ish. Aiming to park at VAMC for the shuttle to start-line, I got off on Highway 55 at 8am and boom what do I see ? Snarl traffic, just standstill cars. We crawled that last mile to VAMC for the next 50 minutes.I looked at the Metro rail so longingly, each time it passed ahead, kicking myself for not parking at MOA and taking the train. Distance-wise its seems illogical, but turns out ground reality of an event day is different.

After parking, I rushed to the shuttle bus line. Did not bother to grab my phone, hence no pictures. And since time was so short, I decided against any bag drop. Hence I had to take my car key in water bottle pouch.

Shuffling in the line for shuttle bus, I could not decide if it was cold for 1 shirt or will warm up later. So I stuck to my outfit of 2 technical shirts. Btw it's amazing, there is never any panic or hustle in queues in MN. Its less than 10 minutes to start-line and you would not guess it from the calm around. And just when I was wondering, "Why don't they have 2 lines for different buses ?", I overhear bus volunteer speak on phone, "No, the driver says can't fill 2 buses at a time". Wonder why they didn't decide to board the runners on priority and let families come by different bus later ?

After getting off the bus close to Minnehaha Falls, everyone broke into a run to the start-line. Great, I got my warm-up run ! But what I did not get is the lounging around the various promotion tents, no coffee, no peaceful mediation to compose my mind at the start-line.

Boom Race start. The first few miles were beautiful. Bumped into 3 folks I knew. Soon was running  on my own. By the halfway turnaround, crowd was very very sparse, as usual. These few miles to & from turnaround, this was a new addition. It was in construction for as long as I have run in these parts. So then I proceed well, running alone. I tried to chat with my closest lady neighbor. It was all jolly well, but I was not feeling IT.

After the turnaround and a hop around the bridge, I reached the 10 mile marker. Now here I sprinted to shave seconds off my 10 mile time (ha) and after that a  volunteer stopped me. I was like, "what now?" And he informed me that the 10 mile cutoff bugle (imaginary) went off 10 minutes back, so I have the option to run on the side trail and not road coz roads will be opened and so on. He was a sweet old guy, so to my surprise, my brain perfectly agreed with him. My second brain did not question me. There was ample time for the over-all time limit. But frankly I was so bored, I was like, screw the medal I don't need one. Yes frankly this is usual perk of being a slow runner - being interrupted with all the cutoff talk. It has happened to me so so many times and I have fought it and run to finish so many times, I decided to try the other option this time. The option of riding to the finish line. Yes, let me see how it goes.

So I hung around the water stop volunteers there, waiting for that magnificent swag vehicle to take me back, chit-chatting with those volunteers, overhearing their Sunday plan of Tour de Tonka Ironman. Soon it was clear, that they did not expect anyone to take their offer of being dropped ! I had even asked them, "Will the ride be arranged in next 15 minutes coz if it's gonna take 40 minutes, I can as well run the remaining 3 miles haha". I saw them open the roads and allow cars to go on. More runners were stopped similarly and they ran further on the side-trails. Just then two magnificent Harley-Davidson bikes came along, and I kidded, "Thanks for arranging those for my ride !" The guy said some soothing stuff, in case I was devastated by refusing to finish - that "its better to quit than to be injured, there more races to run, some are going to be bad ones, so what?" True stuff. Amazingly I did not doubt my decision at all. I thanked him & others for volunteering, coz undoubtedly, the water-stops were perfectly placed and with the much needed water & Gatorade glasses. Volunteers in each of them were all cheerful and encouraging. So in 10-15 minutes, I was guided to Eric's car. He was a volunteer and going towards finish-line and ready to drop me.

Once at the Minnehaha Falls park area, I tossed between going straight for shuttle stop or hanging around. I was not hungry but decided to get some food. Actually I did not want to miss their Raisin Bun. Those are my favorite every year.

But I guess it's time to break my tradition. And not sign for GiG anymore. And its only because of the parking hassle and the long drive from home. I am done with that for now. Plus I have run this route enough times.When I say I was not demolished by this dropping off, I am not making it up. It just was not working for me. I could blame myself that I jinxed it by claiming last year's was perfect. I did prepare for this Half. Even ran 10 and 6 miles the previous 2 weekends apart from the weeknight runs. Then it's the cut-off interruptions that did it for me.

Given the self-doubt I have been in the last few months, concerned about my weight being in a plateau and its impact on my speed, and then dropping out of this one, my "what next" thought process was on hyper speed. Added to that I felt mild plantar fasciitis pain in both my feet, for the next 2-3 days. Even a massage did not relive it. I have been looking for ways to cancel and refund my next 2 race registrations.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I Big-Apple NYC

Things have warming up with the arrival of Spring. And it's the perfect time for my post on the New York City trip from April, last year.

Zantu from London, who BTW has covered all known countries, wanted to celebrate her milestone in NYC. Whatsapp connected us, a plan formed and we landed in NYC. It turned out to be a perfect College Reunion for 4 of us.

We choose to stay in Westin at Times Square. That was some brilliant research & decision by MJ. It saved us renting a car. Was very close to Metro station. Cabs all around and walking distance from Time Square.

Lots of squealing once we got together. All this excitement could not be contained in the hotel room. Even though it was late night and past usual bedtime, we were out for dinner and then spent a long time at Times Square.


We begin the grand tour with what else, but the Statue of Liberty. I am the Prodder - one who prods family out of the house, every-time we have a travel planned. So I started, with emphasizing the need to get out of the room by 7am because it will be hot and there will be mile-long line for tickets. Other sensible ladies brought it up to a decent 9 AM.

Turns out, it was not hot and no lines at Battery Park. Always a pleasure to be proven wrong this way :)

A short Ferry ride from Statue island to Ellis island. Fascinating place for History buffs.

Once back on land, we waded through the street dancers, snake performers & Jam stalls, looking for a good place to eat. All the sunny stroll had made us ravenous. Google maps took us to Tajin Restaurant. Food was decent, heavy even. In our excitement , we forgot to check that they charge extra for the chips & salsa.

Post lunch we walked aimlessly and reached WTC. Walking around the monument, reading all the names, was a very sobering experience.

After a brief rest in our room, we set out to find out the oldest/largest library in the world. We didn't find it though. Instead we wandered to Bryant Park and lounged there, watching the performances and crowds, taking more pics at the fountains and flower-beds.

Next stop - Willies Tower (Sears Towers). Why do they keep renaming places ?

No long ticketing queues but by the time we reached the Observatory deck, it was close to dark. So no great pics, but absolutely great views. Even with crowded balconies, we got enough unhurried view of all sides.

Dinner was at a Thai place we stumbled upon while wandering the street in the dark.



Central Park was the main theme of Sunday. We had decided to get into the touristy I-Heart-NY shirts. After breakfast, the first hour was spent looking for the said shirt. 4 ladies with 4 different choices. But we did end up buying white shirts with the same I-Heart-NY logo. Now that we were well-fed and dressed, off we went to the Central Park. First thing, we spent 30 minutes clicking picture at the entrance.

Then we haggled for bike rentals and took a cycle rickshaw to the rental shop and got ours. Yahoo the Fun Begins now !

Ride across the Central Park was very eventful. Stopped at each location for photos.
 My cycle chain kept coming off, which my more handy friend Mandy, fixed it for me. When it happened the nth time and one Indian uncle offered to help plus some patronizing lecture, she brushed off his help. Applause.

Here we are at the fabled F.R.I.E.N.D.S. water fountain. We were ready to dip our feet in the water and click pictures. There was a shooting crew already and the camera guy offered to click for us.

When he finished clicking, a lady from the crew came by and said, he is a famous BAFTA award wining cameraman and we should take pictures with him, so ofcourse we did that ! Weeks later Zantu did some research and found out, that the lady was also a UK Celebrity Anita Rani ! We didn't click pic with her. Bamm !

Once the shooting crew went away, we lingered in the algae water. And soon a Parks employee came running to chase us out. We, bunch of 40 year old, never felt more Collegiate young before :) And she was laughing at us, "I don't think this is even the real one". Oh !

Further biked up to a Japanese Garden. Just more opportunity for us to goof-off and click more pictures.

This place I forgot what it's called. But this large stone area is featured in so many movies. A place where the protagonist muses or has a private conversation with SO. In reality, it was teeming with people.

Once we got out and all photoshoot was complete, a side look at 2 shirts revealed that it was not "I Heart NY". It was "I Apple NY". Apple, as in Big Apple. Geddid ? Nawww.

Now we were on our hunt for a lunch place. We roamed 40 minutes rejecting everything that came up. Finally landed at "Lunch Pazza Notte Restaurant & Lounge". Food was I-cook-better-pasta type.

The street outside was much more interesting. There was a market in the middle of the street, selling trinkets, crochet jackets & the lot. Perfect post-lunch activity.

Sunday night

Monday gloom began to set in early Sunday evening. With Mandy gone and me to leave by an early flight, there was not much cheer. So best thing to do was a Times Square stroll again.

Take-a-away dinner which took 2 hours to decide because umm choices. I went for my favorite Falafal sandwich loaded with every veggie on the table.

Someone managed to pull in another friend RH. Our conversations went on and on. There was no settling us. And soon I discovered, that the new friend RH, was an old school friend of my PUC BFF and about whom I had heard so many school-time stories. Oh small world indeed. Zantu was also a school friend of my PUC BFF, but I had forgotten about it. So bamm ! More Whatsapp calls to Belgaum. And more talking.


I had to force myself to sleep at 2:30 so I would get atleast some sleep before getting up at 4 AM. I dilly-dallyed and got out of the hotel by 5 AM. Long multiple Metro ride to JFK. Since I reached at 6:45AM, they wouldn't allow me for my 7:30 flight. Boom ! They put me standby for the next flight at 10. There was only one thing to do after Security check - find a spot to get some ZZZZZZ. That is exactly what I did. Later I tried communicating with work & home to say I will be late.

Clocks did not exist for me that weekend. All the leisurely walks, like we had nowhere be, at no given time. That unhurried feeling. Crowded streets. Metro rides. It all come back when I played some of the NY-centric movies - Been Again and Before We Go  .

Did I put enough photos ? Did I miss something ? Is this post not lengthy enough ? Bah.