Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Parks by Pen

Lake Centennial Park
Sketch with Black Gel Pen

Blue Mountain

 Lake Centennial Park - Fall
Sketch with Black Gel

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monster Dash - 2014 - Race Recap

Monster Dash was not in my list of planned races. I had not even planned so much ahead in the first half of the year. I had registered for Half-Mara at Minneapolis Marathon. And I did show-up at the start line. But the organizers cancelled it. It caused lot of controversy. Lot of disappointment, as it was supposed to be the first Half Marathon Race of my life. No refund of registration fee also hurt. I spent the next few days monitoring the growing comments on their Facebook page. There I learnt about the Lola Half coming up next weekend and quickly went for it. Eventually the organizers came back with some relief offer - $20 to register among their other races of this year. That's how I picked Monster Dash.

Eventually I learnt this was a costumed race, timed right with Halloween. I am not much of a risk taker. I don't think I have even worn a costume for a costume party. So I did not plan to wear any costume. If anyone asked, I planned to say, I was dressed as a runner. Haha.  After finishing the race, I did feel the pinch of missed opportunity, like I often do. But I definitely wanted to see other costumes.

Race morning was the usual rush. Starting point was at the Cathedral at St Paul. The traffic had backed-up on 35E, much before the Exit 106B. It was obvious everyone was going for the race, but there was nothing else to do. The start time was getting close and there was no other option but to get out and start running. I had that luxury as my hubby was driving me. I feel for runners who had driven on their own and obviously could not abandon the car. Some folks in the cars ahead clapped for me as I ran away uphill. Later, I added an extra mile in my training log :)

The sight at the starting point was overwhelming. Huge huge crowd. And majority of them in costumes. I had dragged my family for this race cause I wanted them to see the costumed runners. Eventually I learnt that I was the one who had most fun. They were bored, hungry and cold being in one area. I meanwhile got to see mind-blowing variety of costumes. One in Nun costume and a paper tacked on back saying "Habitual Runner". I figured the pun after an hour maybe. Couples as Hot-dog and Ketchup. Princesses and Superheroes. I so wish I had carried my iPod for pictures, but I did not have any pocket or pouch for it.

Finally the race started. But it was so so crowded, I must have taken 15 minutes to actually start. The route was very picturesque. First along the Summit Avenue, then along the Mississippi River and then on my ever favorite Shepard Road ending at Upper Landing Park in St. Paul. The direction towards end is great - St Paul downtown is constantly looming ahead and the end never seems near. At no point in the race, was I lonely. That's a rarity, because I am always in the back-burner and trudging along alone. This race was that crowded.

I finished the race at 2:38:41 which is my PR :) Maybe the crowds worked for me and pushed me when I could have walked if I was alone. This race was right at the peak of Fall and the temps were pleasant 58F-65F.

Volunteers and water-stops were perfect. Since this was offered in-lieu of Minneapolis Marathon cancellation, I got no additional gear. The medal was exciting enough.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to get started with Running - 101

I started running in this year and here is all that I learnt in 2014.

  1. There is lot of material on running on the internet. And a great place to start is
  2. And here is the great glossary for the running catchwords:

  3. Training plans:

  4. Once you start running, it makes sense to fix a goal and train for it. Every running site provides it own training plan and guidance, for free or fee. Here is one I used. It has a variety from Couch to 5K to 10K to Half and then Marathan.
  5. Hal Higdon - Marathon Training Guide - Novice 2
  6. In general all training plans suggest workout for 4-5 days a week, with other days being rest days. And if you want to up your level, target a weekly increase by 10%. So the guideline is always your own capacity.
  7. Many runners and running websites have created Facebook pages. They are great to follow for daily dose of Motivation, Inspiration and Information. Just create a Running interest page on facebook and add them. It won't clutter your regular newsfeed. On a mobile device, I find this a very powerful tool.


  9. If you plan to run 2-3 times in a  month, then not-stretching is not an issue. But if you want to run the day-after as well, its better you stretch before and after every run. Otherwise the shin pain, maybe hip pain won't let you go again. And that is discouraging. Stretching videos I would recommend:


  10. Practically every training plan accounts for rest days. And those are the days to cross-train. Chose your favorite. Here is a list to help you with that:

  11. Run gear:

  12. Once running catches up, nothing can stop from spurlging on the running gear.
  13. Fit: Its better to have comfort fit shirts & pants. That good old image of loose cotton t-shirts and slack pants are best left out. All those loose clothing will flop over our head in case of yoga and provide added resistance incase of running. No use. 
  14. And cotton is a sin, go for wick-dry stuff. See next section for details. I haven't run in summer yet, but I plan to use wick-dry, 1 layer with shortest possible sleeve.
  15. Yoga mat - awesome for stretching or doing shavaasan (i.e. legit way to nap; just don't snore). Links: Flipkart, Amazon
  16. Sport bra for ladies. Stock up on those and get the right match. Guys use bandaid I think, if they need really really long run. I won't write the details, please google.
  17. Rash cream - for chaffing that will happen after you try anything new (new speed or distance or new clothes or shoes)
  18. Chapstick or lip-balm 
  19. Hankerchief or Kleenex - for the snot
  20. Phone, ipod, water bottle - depending on your needs.
  21. Shoes - this shouldn't be the last in the list, but .... Get running shoe which fit correctly, maybe with a gap in the front. Try out a run in the store. And it needs replacement every 300-400 miles in general.

  22. Winter running gear:

  23. This video is the best resource I could find about the right clothing for cold weather running or snow running:
  24. 22 Genius Running Hacks For When It’s Cold AF Outside
  25. Here is the list for running in sub 30F weather:
    • Tech shirts - Layering tech shirts is very useful. In sub-30F, 2-3 shirts and in sub-10F, 3-4 shirts will be needed. What is different about tech shirts, is that they are made of synthetic material and designed to wick the sweat away from your skin. If the cloth touching you skin is wet, pretty soon it will freeze up and frostbite that area of your body. On those lines, cotton is sin in cold weather running. Because cotton absorbs the moisture and keeps it there. So always look for "wick dry". (Target Tech t-shirts)
    • Wind-sheeter jacket - to stop wind from entering inside and cooling your core.
    • Compression tights - those pants are a blessing to run outside in temps below 60F
    • Neck gaiter - protects neck from cold wind. Also from breathing in that freezing air.
    • Cap
    • Chapstick or lipbalm

    Summer Running tips:

  26. I totally love the outdoor runs in spring & fall; even winter. Its summer that I am scared of. The increased heat can tire us easily. Cloth choice should be using current temp + 10F as guideline. Water & electrolyte replacement is important. So is the time of day and location of run.
  27. Both the below articles are very useful giving details to all these choices. Do read through them before start the summer runs.

  28. Running in Rain:

  29. 10 Tips for Running in the Rain - How to Dress for Wet Weather Runs

  30. Race info:

  31. Race is such a moral-booster to participate in a race. Numerous website maintain the schedule location-wise. Find one for your location:

  32. Race day gear should be as per the weather of the race day. Be prepared for all variations (like heat & rain on the same morning), coz it can be very unpredictable.
  33. Likewise, ensure your cheering squad is dressed for the day. They may have to wait out in the open, exposed to all elements. So they should not forget their umbrellas, wind-jackets, caps and more.

  34. Nutrition:

  35. General rule is to have some nutrition if the run is last more than 1 hour. And then every 30-40 minutes. This will help sustain the run and not hit a wall, which pretty much makes us give-up on the long run. 
  36. If you run in loops, then leave the food/nutrition with water at your rest stop. If its a no-repeat trail, numerous belts & backpaks are available to carry nutrition with you.
  37. Nutrition choices are enormous. It can be locally available fruits (banana, figs, dates) and processed options (clif bars, Gu, beans, gels, electrolyte/gaterade/powerade).
  38. 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.
  39. Long Distance Nutrition Planning

  40. Breathing & Posture:

  41. Breathing: Inhale thru nose & exhale via mouth. Beginner tendency is to breathe from mouth. In the long run, it dries up the mouth & throat. So practice to inhale via nose & exhale via mouth.
  42. Breathing: The recommended way to breathe is from diaphragm, and not just inflating chest. So the trick, is to tummy-out when inhale and tummy-in when exhale. This needs practice in 3 steps - in daily life, while practice runs and then graduating to when hard runs. 
  43. Breathe Like A Pro
  44. The Simple Technique That Will Help You Run Longer
  45. Running form - in simple terms
  46. And then there are whole lot of instructions about body posture. Numerous bloggers & run magazine write about them regularly. Here is a helpful pictorial:

  47. Other tips:

  48. While running watch the horizon. Not on the ground or sky. Helps keep the focus. In winter, snow or black ice made me watch the ground a lot and as much I loved the crunch of snow, in spring I realize it's so much freeing now to look away from ground.
  49. Mucous generation increases. So carry tissue or hankie to clear nose when needed.

  50. More Links:

  51. Stepping Up The Pace: 19 Ways To Shave Down Your Race Time
  52. Hal Koerner's Ultrarunning Commandments
  53. The Hardest Parts About Being A New Runner

  55. Mandatory Buzzfeed lists:

  56. 19 Insanely Clever Hacks And Tricks To Improve Your Run
  57. 21 Secrets Runners Won’t Tell You
  58. 25 Things Non-Runners Don’t Get About Runners
  59. 75 Thoughts Every Runner Has While Out For A Run
  60. The 71 Stages Of Running A Half Marathon With Little To No Training
  61. Watching People Have To Walk Down Stairs After Running A Marathon Is Surprisingly Hilarious
  62. 22 Unexpected Things That Happen When You Run Your First Half Marathon
  63. All The Worst Things That Happen Running
  64. 26.2 Observations That Every First Time Marathon Runner Makes
  65. 24 Clever Tips To Get In Shape That Lazy People Will Appreciate



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Women Run The Cities - 2014 - Race Recap

I don't remember where I first heard about Women Run the Cities, but I liked that it was a Women only race and wanted to try it. It was not my favorite Half-Marathon, but it had a reasonable fee.

 Last Sunday of September was still pleasant beginning of Fall weather. My outfit was perfect for the 64F morning. Race route was starting from Minnehaha Falls park and on the road along the Missisippi river and back. I so wish I had carried my iPod for pictures. But all my summer races without jacket are without any route pictures. I did not train to run with the shoulder patch or belt to carry the iPod.

I finished at 2:09 hours. It was nice and sunny by then. Later spent a few hours in the park with family and taking picures.

The half zip jacket and medal was super-cool. I see myself using it in lot of other workout sessions.

All arrangements were awesome good - packet-pickup, food, water-stops, medals, enthusiatic and helpful volunteers. Only thing they can improve is their website. there is some issue with the way it loads on browser.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Minneapolis Duathlon - 2014 - Recap Plus Biking

I got into the fitness lifestyle via Biking. For few summers, I watched enviously as young crowds zipped around in their bikes, while I was stuck in car lugging grocery and protected from leftover  snow. I was still stuck in the thought, that bikes were for kids. It took me a leap, to believe that nothing was stopping me, except I me myself. I felt no shame about what onlookers thought of me; I was well past that. And I could afford the money needed for bike and accessories; I was no longer the young graduate working through loans. Plus I loved the thrill that came from zipping away on a bike.

That's it, now all that needed to be done, was research and buy. As usual, nothing is perfect. First summer, I bought a mountain bike. It was pretty much first time I had bought a bike. I enjoyed that summer. Due to relocation I had to get rid of it. Next summer I bought another mountain bike. It was faulty with substandard parts, so had to return. By this time, I knew that mountain bike was not for me. It's way bulky and no way I was going into trails. So I needed road bike. Of course its very very expensive, so I settled for a hybrid one.

All this time, my favorite procrastination activity was browsing bike trails in my city & around. Once I traversed all bike trails around lakes and neighborhood, my stamina improved enough for me to dream of running. Lake Calhoun-Harriet were my favorite loppety-loop bike trails. Eventually I did start running and to keep it interesting, signed up for races. And that's how I ended up at Minneapolis Duathlon. Bike and running - something this scary is bound to be enticing :)

Packet pickup was at the Depot hotel, usual one for all Team Ortho races. Its a good landmark to visit. Swag was a Biking shirt and a Pouch to attach to the bike. Pretty useful.

Duathlon was in the last week of August. Hubby dropped me at the start point near Depot Hotel around 6am. It was still dark and the road were lit under florescent street-light. It was not cold at all and later it rose to 80F.

The bike shirt had nice 3 pockets on the back. But I have never practiced running with iPod and don't like that jiggling. So I missed out on some good pictures. Anyway there was not a minute of rest.

Race start was while it was still dark. Transition area was a car lot next to Depot Hotel, where everyone parked bikes. The start corrals were not properly managed. It took a lot of time to start. No mikes were allowed due to sound restrictions. This spot is right in the downtown. From here, the 5K race went via 3rd Avenue Bridge and through the Stone Arch bridge back to the transition point. Bike race went from here through UofM hills (I hate them) to Minnehaha Falls entrance and looped back to start. Next 5K race was the same route as first one. The sights throughout the route was absolute beautiful; especially in the changing lights from dark to mid-morning.

Water points & Powerade were adequate. They even handed out towels at the 5K turnaround. There were photographers around.

I completed the  5K run (3.1 miles) - 14.5-mile bike - 5K run (3.1 miles) in 2:39:13 hours.

I was in the batch of last few finishers. They had started dismantling by the time I finished. And the whole place was cleaned out, by the time I got my bike back and waited for my ride. So I could not show the event stuff to my family, but we spent a relaxing time at the Stone Arch bridge, which was the finish point. This is yet another lovely landmark, to spend an evening with the family. Walk along the bridge and see interesting view of I35W bridge, Mill city museum and St Antony Falls below.

Monday, August 18, 2014

India Fest in StPaul, MN

India Independence Day was celebrated in Minnesota this weekend. It was hosted in Capitol Hills Ground in St Paul. This is the state headquarters.

There were display booth from many Minnesota based Fortune 500 companies like Target & Ameriprise. Twins (baseball team of Minnesota) and batting & bowling booth where kids got a chance to tryout. There were food stalls from many Indian restaurants. All guests, of India and American origin, enjoyed the colorful spread here. Many booths sold sparkly Indian ethnic-wear and kites, while some made henna patterns for the guests.

Talent show was hosted all day on a stage. Many youngsters and other age groups got a chance to showcase their dance, choreography, singing and event management skills. This “India Fest” event is organized every year by “Indian Association of Minnesota” every year (

It was attended by more than 10000 people. Mr. B Jayananda Shetty from Udupi participated in the event this year, “It is amazing to watch the organized way of celebration Indian independence day so far from the country and the immense respect America has for India and its people.”

Governor Mark Dayton was the chief guest of honor. He proclaimed it official the “India fest Day”. 4 other senators also addressed the crowds. They acknowledged the contribution of Indian community and immigrants, benefiting USA and the community. Governor hoisted the American flag with American national anthem, followed by Indian flag and national anthem. All participants showed their immense respect for their motherland and the country they adopted to make a living.
Minnesota is known for its cold winter, so everyone is outside to enjoy the summer to its fullest. And Independence day coincided with the best weather day this summer.

Here is the link for coverage of this event in local media. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Independence Day 2014

  1. Mars Mission should inpire us to create more. We should use this mission learnings and invent things to better our on-earth life – better toilet systems,  construction, better hinges , clothing, efficiencies from following a protocol. Like this list - NASA Technologies Benefit Our Lives
  2. Dedicated Parks & Recreation department - to improve existing parks and convert existing wastelands or undeveloped areas to more parks. So families can go for picnic. Kids can play every evening.
  3. Everyone can indulge in their health by runner, jogging, biking, soccer, in different park every evening and avoid boredom form killing their healthy pursuits.
    Playgrounds for kids to play football/soccer, badminton, track field running
    Parks with run trails for everyone to run/jog/walk/bike.
  4. Toilet facility - in all areas, remote & populated. More power to Sulabh International.
  5. Garbage Chute system to be incorporated across all new high-rises. This will reduce the inefficiencies & indignities of manual aspect of transporting garbage from flat home to outside. 
My I-Day wishes from 20082005 & 2006. I did not realise, I was this behind in blogging my IDay wishlist !

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul - 2014 - Race Recap

It was HOT, this one ! That's the first thing I remember everytime. It was. I came to know later, that the temps were 82F. And when you add 10F of heat generated while running, its extremely tricky and needs extreme caution in terms of prep. My outfit was just perfect for the race day weather. Anything more and I would have overheated.

I registered for Minnesota Half Marathon because I had not run a Half in St Paul. I wanted to checkout the routes here. My 5K for Securian was a short route in downtown with a bit on Shepherd Road. So I was interested in this one.

I had no place for iPod, so no route  pictures again. But the race start-finish point is at a great spot. Its on Shepard Road, right down from Science Museum. It has a park with path facing the Mississippi River. St Paul downtown skyline can be seen from here. Great place for kids to play and to take pictures.

Race start was on Shephard Road near Spring Street, going NorthEastward and looped back at Mile 2.5. Gwad, was this tortuous ! Yes, the first few miles of a race is always bad, but the sun was killing us. My hat was a savior for me. After a stretch & turnaround, the leaders started running back on the otherside. This early in the race, its quite demotivating to see this. And I was running with my head down, looking at the road below. That's an unhealthy posture - affects breathing and motivation. In that moment of darkness, somebody from opposite side prompted me to look up, cheer up and run alive again. I heard someone  scream "uuper dekh" (hindi for "look up"). I don't know who it was, but it worked. I looked up throughout. Nothing beats the cheers we hear in a race.

After the turnaround, we headed SouthWest. This is a major block of Shepard road, which is right under the direct sun. Trees by the side did not cover the stretch of road. They advise us to run tangents in a race. Well this route had no turns, and no tangents. We might have covered extra, just trying to run in shade, to avoid the harsh sun. It felt never-ending. Thankfully the Mile 9 turnaround came up. Now even if the sun was on the top of us, atleast it was not on the face. There is this bridge which look very marginally slopy, but gwad I hate it in every race ! And then the St Paul skyline seemed so .. far off, I couldn't believe I was anywhere close to finish. There were very few us, but we kept chugging along quitely. And after like hours of quite, I blurted out, "The last mile is the worst". I got some Ayes.

But the last few miles looked beautiful. There were yellowing young-trees lining up. Classic mix of scary & beautiful. Scary because the end banner still looked very far. By the last half mile, I started weeping. No reason I can think of now. But I weeped non-stop. And that is my official race picture, yes.

Gwad, it was done. My finish time was 2:49:05. I was desparately looking for my kids & family for the winners embrace. And I did get it. What a relief :)

Race as such was very well organised. There were sufficient water-stops for this hot day. Musicians and other volunteered cheered along. Race medal and shirt were cute.

But I did a goof-up in my race-day planning. I registered my kids for the kids race. And for some reason, I came here separately and told my hubby to get the kids for 10:30 race. Once I finished the race close to 11 AM, I came to know my error. Turns out the kids race was at 10 and it was over by the time they arrived. As expected, their heart was broken and they were crying. The race organizers suggested both of them to run the route and then they gave the medals & goodies. My kids did run the road and hubby described how they were the only ones on the road, right in the hot sun and crying too. It was heart-wrenching. They did have numerous events for this race and each ones start times were close together in the information. No wonder I mixed-up the times..

2015 Update: Kids ran this very race again, at this very spot again in 2015 and it was awesome experience for them and us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014



Can't believe it’s been 20 years since Hum Aapke Hai Kaun. Does make me feel old & grownup :D I remember going to that theater in Udupi with Shoba akka, Sowmya & Deepthi.

20th year anniversary seemed like a good time to introduce this movie to the next Gen (my kids). This is the chain of events that happened next.

All cries for Disney stopped, once "Bechain hain teri  nazar..." started playing.

Cheers from me to Dad when "Vijaya Bank" featured in the title credits!
Vijaya Bank credits in Hum Aapke Hai Kaun

Kids - "What's her name again ?" 
"Like a Goddess !?!?!"

Kids were all attention - from the Skating sequence to all songs from “Wah wah Ramji” and later ones.

“Shakuntalaaa … who is Shakuntala?”

Kids were totally glued, for the tempo in "Joothe do paise lo" - 
"Are they stealing shoes ? Isnt it a bad thing.." 
I had to explain same thing which Madhuri explains to the young girl. 
Krishna featured during this sequence - so that was totally a hit with the kids.

When Renuka appears in her bridal dress, I am thinking "Wedding dress is so simple. Nothing blingy like the ones in today's movies. Nice ! And I thought those days were flashy". 
But kids are shocked, "Where is her head?" Coz it was totally covered. 
When they showed her face, relief "Oh there".

Dupata and swiveling around during "Mausam ka Jadu hai Mitwa" - both on TV and i nthe living room.

Didi tera devar dewana.. – 
“Is she a boy or girl” 
“Why is the melon on her head” 
“Is she a boy ?” “No that is Bindu” 
“Now he is a girl “ !

At the pool, Salman does push-ups to muster courage, Kids go, “I can do that” and go on to show me 1-hand push-ups.

My Dad pitches in, “Kitna songs hain isme !?!” (so many songs !). Ya like every 5 minutes.

Fruit cutting scene for late night dinner - 
"She cuts fruits, he eats". 
I said, "No everyone cuts fruits". 
"But he didn't". 
"They didn't show it that’s all. In our home, everyone cuts fruits."

Pehla Pehla payaar hain – “what are they doing ?” Skip, skip...

“How many songs are there in this film ! Did anyone count ? Must be 200 atleast”

“It’s a song movie…but the songs are good”

By the time of Diktana diktana, “The songs just keep coming. These people never get tired.”

Then for a Salman-Madhuri sequence, background guitar played, and distracted kids came running “I thought one more song is coming … I hope another song comes soon…”

Hubby came back, and kids to their Dad, “You sure missed many songs; like twelve songs  !”

For the passing pillow game, kids were in Cricket gloves and clapping all along ... “….sabkuch gawaya hain, thoda sa pyaar kar…” and Mugle-azam sequence.

Welcome rangoli made of flower – “Look, A cake, cake !”

Lo chali mein – “Tuffy is playing football”
Once she falls down, kids stopped playing. 
"Blood blood" "Who" "The other one". 
They watched the whole sequence. "She is going to she can't die.... This is the saddest part of the movie. This must be the middle of the movie. The middle of the movies are the baddest …always...this is the saddest. I wish it didn't come at all."

After this, everything became quiet & everyone dispersed.

Can’t help it, but I think this every single time - "Sangeet ladies are wearing the exact same dress they did in the first wedding" :)  

Once up a time, nitpicking this movies costumes, was a mini-industry – the green & white dress, purple saree. And kids speaking in hyperbole is a gem.

It might be 20 years, but HAHK is still flawless. There must be some reason it still works its magic. Everytime it comes on cable TV, it just has to play till the end. 

HAHK songs just have to play on somewhere ....

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lola Half Marathon 2014 - Race Recap

Lola Half Marathon was my very first Half Marathon. Chance played a role here again. I had registered for Minneapolis Half Marathon and trained for it thoroughly. I ran 13.1 miles twice few weeks before that. Saturday was a lovely sunny day. And then it started to rain and thunderstorm from midnight. There was such suspense and repeated checking on FB for updates. Everybody was doing it. Next morning, Hubby dropped me at Theodore Wirth Parkway, which was the starting point. Everyone waited from 8 to 8:30 AM. No announcements. But it was clear that the race had been cancelled. Such a heart heavy disappointment. Shuttle took me to the Depot hotel, where they handed the medals to all. Hubby picked me up and he reported that people in a far-off Caribou coffee (where he had stopped) were also agitated about the clumsy way this was cancelled. I took pictures with the medal, because I thought I had trained well and I deserved it. But there was a gap in my heart. This was not it. I need my Half-Mara Race !!! Next few days were spent reading the lengthy comment threads on FB. There I learnt that Grandma Marathon had reopened their registration, to accommodate those who could not make it here. That made me realized how much bigger disappointment it must be for Marathoners. And in these threads I learnt about Lola Half race. So rather mope and be sad forever, I registered in Lola's, with just 2 days to spare.

So early 7-June-2014 Saturday morning, off we all went for the starting point somewhere near Lake Waconia. Dad had arrived that week and I wanted to give him the race spectator experience. The google map route I choose, was somewhat confusing and we spent some tense time looking for the street to take us to start point. It was raining and we were very close to missing the start time of 8:00 Am. I had not picked the packet. So it was very tense. Eventually we did make it. I got in the queue for my packet and Hubby in the one for kids race packet pickup. Due to the rains, the time had moved to 8:30 am (Thankssss !! :)

It started to rain and the irritating drizzle continued. Temps were in 55F-60F range, but humidity made it uncomfortable. My outfit had many new items, yet none cause any issues for me :
  1. Nike air shoes. I wore them for April race in Get in Gear 10K. So about 2 months of running. It was different from the clunky, thick soled shoes I wore for winter running. I went the opposite way and got this one with sole as thin as chapati/tortilla, lightweight body and stitched flap.
  2. Full-sleeve shirt layered with a short sleeve one for layer and new sports bra.
  3. Cap. That cap was a life saver in this drizzle. It kept the water off my head, face and eyes. Else this silent torture over the distance would have been baddd ! 
  4. Full pant. Looking back, those Yoga pants stand out. I have never worn those for any run again. The bottom flare is not aerodynamic. I switched to skin-tight pants, with zipper at the legs. I am amazed I did not face any difficulty in these pants in the race. Maybe coz it protected me from the cold.

First 3 miles were around the city streets and then it was 10 miles loop around the lake. Serendipity -  my family gave me a shout-out here, when I least expected it. They were just driving around. Next 10 miles were around the Lake Waconia. Each mile had a different beautiful sight. Boats, benches, gardens, hills yes. Chatted with another girl who was doing this for first time with a  friend. Last 2 miles were steep uphill, towards the same starting point in the point. How I hate that part ! And here 2-3 senior ladies with graying heads, soon passed me and kept a power walk pace. Ego-totally-squashed. The entire route was so beautiful, especially in this rainy weather. I wish I had photos, but I don't carry iPod in races, especially those in non-winter when I don't have any jacket.

The last mile was full of disbelief. It was in the city streets. I could see parents running with their kids for the Kids Race. I started searching for mine. And when I reached the half mile part of my finish, my kids came running to join me. That was such an emotional moment for me. I kissed & hugged them even before finishing and ran with them. Luckily the race photographer captured these moments and shared on FB later. I relive these as many times I like.

My time of 2:50:35 hr for the very first Half Marathon was absolute great. I was thrilled that I actually finished my first Half Marathon.

They had great volunteers everywhere. Water-stops were perfect. Finish point had adequate food (apples, bananas, chips & milk). Race photographer took my photos & displayed on FB, so yes this race is my favorite :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Camping Essential Checklist - 101

Every camping or road trip or daytime picnic, I scramble around to find out what we need to prepare & carry. So here is the list of all things we used, missed and needed in most of our camping trips.

Camp site should have below facilities for ease of life. Usually all of them have it, but no harm in checking their website and then making your schedule.
  1. Electric connection  (for rice-cooker, phone charger, RV, ...)
  2. Bathroom, shower & drinking water facilities
  3. Firewood (should be bought locally)
  4. Hiking trails
  5. Biking trails
  6. Horse-back trails
  7. Check state-park calendar of events for your planned date. Usually all state-parks have outdoor activities in the morning half (butterfly or fossil hunting, geo-caching) and live animal demo or story telling at night.

Grocery for Meals & Snacks

  1. Rice – make ziplocks of portion for each cooking session. And an Electric cooker to cook rice
  2. Curds/Yogurt
  3. Pickle
  4. Maggi
  5. Bread (for sandwiches)
  6. Boiled eggs
  7. Lettuce
  8. Fruits: Banana, Strawberry, Orange, Apple, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Pineapple
  9. Chakna (mixtures)
  10. Corn chips with Salsa

Grill foods:

  1. Corn
  2. Potatoes
  3. Paneer, tomato, Capsicum/green peppers & Onion on Skewers
  4. Chicken drumsticks marinated and packed in icebox.
  5. Marshmallows (eaten with Grahm crackers & Hersheys chocolate)
Best Meal Recipes for Camping or picnic:
  1. Lalita sandwiches: Bread slices with butter or cream cheese, layered with Haldiram’s bhujiya Sev. Can add Boiled eggs.
  2. Sesame bread slices with butter/cream cheese, salsa, lettuce, sliced boiled eggs, sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika.
  3. Gajare sandwich: Bread slices each with mint chutney & butter with filling of cucumber, tomato & boiled potato slices
  4. Curd rice with pickle
  5. Roasted corn
  6. Corn chips with Salsa
Lighting & Campfire:
  1. Lamps & torch (wide range available in Menards & HomeDepot)
  2. Candles
  3. Fire Lighter & matchbox for backup
  4. Petrol / lighter-fluid
  5. Firewood – should be bought locally in the State Park office.
  6. Coals


  1. Water jars
  2. Gatorade / Lemonade
  3. Juice boxes for kids
  4. Cool-box with ice for storage

Cooking & food utensils

  1. Cutlery & Silverware
  2. Paper plates, glasses & bowls
  3. Dishtowel or tissue roll
  4. Skewers (Wooden ones soaked in water so they don’t burnup while grilling)
  5. Shakers with Salt & Pepper and other spice bottles (Red chilly flakes/powder, Oregano, Kala-namak)
  6. Dishwashing scrub & liquid

Sleeping arrangement:

  1. Tent
  2. Bedding or sleeping bag 
  3. Bedsheets
  4. Pillow
  5. Quilt – night-time temperature decides this. No matter how scorching it is at noon, it can dip to extreme cold in the middle of night. After all this is outdoors.
First-aid kit: Small pouches of
  1. Band-Aid
  2. Mosquito-cream (Odomos)
  3. Skin cream for any rashes
  4. Pain cream/spray (Iodex, Volini)
  5. Fever meds


  1. Kids journal
  2. Nature Scavenger Hunt – Print one of these sheets & stick on a paper bag. So kids won’t lose the list & collect all treasures in the bag. 
  3. Hiking/Running Gear
  4. Bikes/Cycle
  5. Outdoor toys 
  6. Drawing book & pencils
  7. Reading books

Other stuff

  1. Mosquito spray
  2. Garbage bags
  3. Toothbrush & paste
  4. Soap / Shampoo
  5. Bath/Beach towel
  6. Folding chair
  7. Flip-flops / Slippers
  8. Camera devices & chargers
  9. Caps / hats / sunglasses
  10. Umbrellas – as needed
  11. Whistle

Buzzfeed lists that I just cannot help, but share:

I might update if I find any item I missed. Do add your checklist in comments.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sunflower in a Vase

Sunflower vase with Charcoal & then Acrylic

Friday, February 14, 2014

TCM Valentine 5K 2014

(This is a back-dated blog-post. Life happens and I never get to write down on time.)

TCM Valentine was my second race of the year 2014. This was the first race I registered for months back after intense planning. And then Securian came along which I immediately registered for because of the date.

Parking is a nightmare in these event and we arrived just in time. So my hubby dropped me closest to the starting point and drove away, to keep the kids warm. No checking or warm house waiting for me this time. It was a freezing morning – literally it was -5F. Yet there was a usual big turnout, all enthusiastic in costumes and in red or pinks to celebrate Valentines. The starting point was the band shell at Lake Harriet and the race a full loop of the lake for 5K. The road is wide, but the middle & back packer crowd could just fit in; which is where I was. There was 1 small hill and you could hear the group groan. Even as I was halfway through, some runners with bib, were running in opposite direction on the lake trail path. They must be long distance runners and did not have their fill with 5K. I was wide-eyed when I realized it. These are my early days of running.

Clothing-wise I stuck to what is recommended for running in Sub-zero temps.

  1. Top layers of 3 tech shirts and light wind-breaker jacket
  2. Compression pant & track pant to keep the cold wind out
  3. Woolen gloves with snow gloves on top
  4. Cap with headband
  5. Neck gaiter
  6. Thick sole running shoe with compression socks.

There was no chips, so no results were published. Clock showed 44 minutes for me. I was glad to see the reduction by 4 minutes than the Securian 5K race the previous  month.

Water, chocolate-milk, sugar cookies and photo-booth were setup at Lake Harriet bandshell. I had picked up a lovely glass and tech shirt along with bib as a previous day packet pickup.

This was super fun run to celebrate my new found love of Running.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Securian Winter Run – 5K - 2014

(This is a back-dated blog-post. Life happens and I never get to write down on time.)

Securian Winter Run 2014 was my very first race. I had only just started running last month and wanted to get some race exposure for excitement. The fact that it was an open outdoor race in January in Minnesota, in the middle of polar vortex, did not discourage me – maybe because I was naïve and also because I had trained outside (flying hifi). Nevertheless, I started small and went with 5K.

It was an instance decision because the date was of significance to me. Inspite of that, the fee was not so high. Securian had a great parking space; covered, spacious and accommodated nearly all runners cars. That was connected to their warm, indoor pre-race space; again huge with all facilities in there. Late packet pickups, bag check and stretching areas were running smoothly. Family warmed me with their hugs to calm my nerve and waited for me here while I ran.

Race started in the downtown outside the Securian center and winded out of the downtown to Shepard Road. 10K and Half Marathoners continued, while we 5Kers could turnaround back to the same place for finish. Towards the end I happened to see the clock and nearly stopped to curse; it was incredibly over my expectations. After a pause, realized it was for the other race and my race clock showed 48 minutes. Phew that was a relief. It’s not a great record but it was my first time racing in my  adult life.

Temperature for the duration of the race was closed to 10F. Remember we were still in the middle of Polar Vortex i.e. we were colder than Antarctica that January. So my running gear was:
1.       Bulky wind proof winter jacket layered over fleece shirt, full-sleeve tech shirt and half-sleeve shirt.
2.       Winter cap & neck gaiter for my face
3.       Now this was my first race in Minnesota winter, so in my anxiety I was trying out new gloves. They did not work. For the initial 15 minutues I was scared I might lose them to frostbite. I kept thinking I should have stuck to my gloves-&-mitten combo from my training run. But after some distance, my fingers warmed up.
4.       Lower limbs were protected by C9 Compression pants and wind-proof track pants.
5.       Reebok shoes with thick soles & compression socks.

Race goodies: There was no medal for the 5K category. But they gave a Headband which has been useful for me for my runs across the chilly part of the year. That and the ceramic mug. This run is part of Saint Paul Winter Carnival. and so there were other promotional goodies. Their waiting area had numerous food offerings.

Race results were published on Chronograph with details and photos. This being my first race results, I am so proud of it and also spoiled for all other races when make any mistake in their results.