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.