Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Securian Winter Run 2015 - Half Marathon - Race recap

Securian Winter Run 2015 was my 2nd Half Marathon of January 2015. And this is my second time with Securian run. I ran a 5K last year. It was sub-zero last year and most challenging hills in this course lie in the first & last 3 miles, within the downtown. After that, it is the super smooth Shepard Road.

This year I was ambitious and registered for the Half Marathon in the Fall of 2014. I had the scary visuals of last year’s freeze, yet went ahead with the longer stretch. (I need to stop being so anxious. Agree every race happens in a different weather and different course. And inspite of 1 year cycle, the same race doesn't come off as the year before. Yet I should believe in myself & my training. Even if my training was below par). So I had to do this race. Even though they do not give any medals. The swag this year included a Winter cap, Coffee mug and few other goodies. This race is special because it’s close to or on a celebratory date.

I left early from home so I could find a convenient parking. This is one of the best parts of race. Leaving home while it was ink dark and slowly watching the sky lit up with sunrise flames. And watching other cars and knowing there are others who have an important mission too, at this time of the day. It’s the same feeling any early risers gets when she steps out of the house. With no rush traffic, I reached my destination pretty soon. The Parking directions were correct to the tittle. I exited the I35E and smoothly swished to Securian’s parking. This time I put my faith in the exact parking instructions instead of Google maps path and thus was saved from getting trapped in blocked roads.
This year I decided to leave my "official cheering squad" home and go to races by myself. We did it successfully for like 10 races last year. But now with my increasing run times, it was not a good use of their time while they wait. We agreed it was time for me to do this by myself. So I went early, picked my packet, checked-in my bag and waited in the Securian Center.

Crowd grew slowly. And the Half marathon started at 9:00 AM. The 10K & 5K yers started 5 minutes apart and gave us back-packers company till a few miles in the Shepherd Road. It was only once they turnaround, and I went ahead for half-mara course, that I realized how far behind I was ! 
The course winded through the downtown in a few loops, before heading out to Shepard Road. It went via the Ice Sculpture show, part of the Winter Festival. And then … how I hate those hills of Jackson Street, Broadway Street and 5th Street E. They are very own version of Boston’s “Heartbreak Hill”. They were steep down, on our way out. I felt like I will roll off and let out a mumble-scream, and someone was like “isn’t it ?” And on the way back, when we are practically dead, it’s like climbing a mountain. Add the heat of 30F.

Here is my run gear for this race – along with the wrong choices pointed out, so I/we know better during the next race at 30F temp:
  1.  2 tech shirts and Columbia Thermal Jacket. Definitely never wear this jacket for any run at above 15F. I should have gone with my trusted lightweight green jacket.
  2. Lightweight C9 cap & headband to protect my head. Wizened after the restrictive ski cap in my last run (Polar Dash 2015), I stuck to my lightweight cap & headband for anti-slip support. Perfect choice for this weather.
  3. Neck gaitor – was useful while waiting. Because its cold when standing. But it was incredibly heavy and useless after 2 miles. Just added weight for me to carry.
  4. C9 compression pant + Extra layer of pant (which was totally not needed. I meant the extra layer, not both).

Eventually I was the last 4th. Other 3 were using the walk approach. I am sure I was running most parts, tried speed & stride when I could; of course combined with walk breaks. But it’s still a mystery how I maintained pace with them ? My end time was 2:58 which was 20 more minutes than my previous times; and my worst including training runs.

It was easy for the bags check-in folks to find my bag; because there wasn't any other bag around ! And the food guys opened the counter for me to pick as much I could. Volunteers were cheerful everywhere. Medical and Water stops were spaced every 3 or so miles and it was in small bottles. This helped me as I was trying not to drink as often as I do usually (out of anxiety) and so this spacing was really good. I did not crave water so much. I just realized I don’t need water for atleast 5k. But after halfway mark, I sorely missed Powerade. I had taken this nutrition for granted with every race and missed to check this detail for this race. By the end of the race, I was literally screaming for  “Salt … Salt”, gobbled as many chips packets I got hold of and continued eating chips for few days at home. My brain kept asking for salt for days.

Lessons Learned
1.       Clothing for sub-20F and over-30F are different. I wore my really warm jacket and was hot from mile 2 to 13. Like REALLY HOT ! And I could not afford to discard my jacket, neck-gator and gloves. As they say,  it’s cold when you are still - or even for 2 miles. Note to myself –
a.       learn to be without this extra gear for 30 minutes outside. In hindsight, I did not run outside enough this winter.
b.      And also do not be shy about giving a 2nd bag at checkin – those containing the things you changed your mind about 5 minute before start time.
2.       Salt. I missed it so much. With only water at the water stops, I missed the electrolyte of Powerade. I did not carry any beans or salt-tablets with me coz I was used to Powerade in all past races. I should have paid attention to this details of the water-stop rather than focus on other goodies.
3.       Hills in the StPaul downtown turning towards Shepard Road. Gwad are those killers ! Only other hill in this course is the bridge on Shepherd Road.
Overall, should not be confident based on last year’s performance, but should train atleast the month before the race. Though in my defense it was very unpredictable this Jan. Just 2 days before the race had been hovering at 0F.

Or I guess, no race is ever perfect. Some things work and some don’t. And that’s how things are.
This summary is soothing, but the above details will come handy next time ;)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2014-15 Book Recommendations + Happy Women's Day 2015

#HappyWomensDay #WorldBookDay

Here are some of the books I read recently in the past year or 2. They cover a wide range of topics, feelings and situations. Everyone will find some takeaway they can relate to. And I feel more so for ladies joining the new world of adults, of work, of relationships and acquaintances.

More content we create, easier it becomes to drown useless junk created in the past.
I am looking forward to more easy going, positive, uplifting literature produced by women covering all genre like young adults (YA), science-fiction, romance, mystery, political & sports writings. Dark literature (Manjula Padmanabhan) is not my thing, but I hope ladies enrich that field as well with our colors. My next wishlist includes books by Kalpish Ratna (scifi) - just need to get hold of one.

I follow a lot of female illustrators and am so happy to see their output in the world of animation (among other Arts). In films, Farah Khan is one of my recent role models and before her, have looked up to Sai Paranjpye. I wish more ladies would follow their work practices.

I am so looking forward to books and social media posts by Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal & Sania Mirza talking exclusively about their sports. That kind of detail will help other girls interested in these sports. Somebody go commission an interesting biography on PT Usha & Ashwini Nachappa. (Publishers, can you hear me ?)

I am keeping JK Rowling and Jane Austen completely away from this post. And only because they are my favorite authors and totally rule every second of my life.
So here goes my recommendations:

Lean in : Women, Work, and the Will to lead
by Sandberg, Sheryl (2013)
This should be a graduation gift to every girl who leaves college for the world of work. It talks of every paradigm that exists, that we might take years to figure out. Since it talks of the existing issues, it makes it easier for us to know the solutions, to never self-blame and not bang our head on an unyielding wall.

Bossypants - by Tina Fey (2011)
Writing Style on the whole. Very signature Tina Fey Witty style.
And I was impressed by the breakup of chapters relevant to a women's lifecycle.

Yes please by Amy Poehler (2013)
Chapter on Apology, voice in the head, her chapter on her sons.
She wrote a lot of words; a LOT.
To compare BossyPants & YesPlease, difference is in the quantity of words. BossyPants kept her chapters short and witty. YesPlease went around a lot, covering numerous people and eventually slammed her points.

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games bk. 1)
by Collins, Suzanne (2008)
Catching fire (Hunger Games bk. 2)
by Collins, Suzanne (2009)
Mockingjay (Hunger Games bk. 3)
by Collins, Suzanne (2010)
Oh I was totally crushing on Peeta/Josh throughout !
I saw the HG & CF movies first and that was enough to excite me to read the trilogy. The books were equally good. Katniss observations, viewpoints and actions are reassuring & inspiring.
I saw the movies 1 & 2 in order, so read the books in reverse i.e Mockingjay, Catching Fire then Hunger Games ! Wacky !

Management in the home; happier living through saving time and energy - by Gilbreth, Lillian Moller (1959)
Just because it seems old-fashioned, it is not anti-feminist. House chores and cooking are every adult and young house members responsibility. Almost all cultures expect women to own these areas. So as a leader, we can own it, plan it and delegate tasks to every member of the house. This book make a science out of hosework. It is very relevant to a number of new working women. Just the motion study science is fascinating to me. I came upon this after reading "Cheaper by The Dozen" & "Belle On Their Toes" (written by her daughter & son) - which was more entertaining version with snippets of their life.

Samanyaralli Asamanyaru by Sudha Murthy
This one is in Kannada and I don't know to read Kannada. But my parents read it and loved it. It conversationally talks about prominent personalities from North Karnataka.

Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight by  Rujuta Diwekar
More than anything, but for reminding us to pride our home cooking, regional cuisine & women's health.

Let's go ahead and blog, write books, create art and make movies - to make our viewpoints not an exception, but the rule of the world.

Happy Women's Day 2015 ! Let's Rock !