Thursday, August 31, 2017

Walk in Baker Park Reserve

I had this patch of being jobless coming up. And a few days when family was going to be out of town. And I had always wanted to use this kind of day for a long, very long trail hike kind of thing.

I spent many days researching on which route would suit best for me and kept aiming for an ambitious 20+ mile day. Eventually I chistled it down, but I picked a route I had never been to -  Bakers Park Reserve. After a few mis-tries thanks to messed up Goggle directions, I reached there.

Since I did not get hold of a clearcut trail map yet, I spent wandering by the lake. Once I found an arrow towards some trail, I did complete a loop, which was a disappointing 2 mile. And which turned out to be around a campground.

Before I could groan more and give up, I found a paper map, in a office building by the campground. And that pointed me to a 6.2 loop. Now that looked promising (which is why I came here) and challenging (because it was almost noon and I was hungry for lunch). Btw Baker Park Reserve Trail map is here.

More maps were there in a box at the entrance of this 6.2 loop. The path to the start of this 6.2 mile loop was about a mile. So overall I got 9 miles of walk in the unknown, that day. Here is the start point of the 6.2 mile loop.

The entire stretch had varied geography. Parts were woodsy scary.

Then came the spreadout prairie valleys.

I had  left home at 10 & knew I would be in the middle of woods at noon. So I had packed some basic supplies. Didn't want hunger pangs to derail me. Plus as usual I had huge chances of getting lost. I did not stop any specific place for lunch. Kept munching on pretzel and apples I had packed. I also added water, an emergency contact list and a whistle in the lightweight bag.

This was the most fascinating exciting sign I found. And I looked around for my kids or someone to chit-chat this with, but ahem no one around.

Here, the Baker Reserve loop crosses path with Luce Line.

By walk 6.2 loop seemed endless. I crossed path with 2 bikers, 2 skaters and 1 runner who started from the opposite side. Thats about all the people who were out here on a warm August afternoon on a weekday.

All in all, a lovely day spent conquering the unknown.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul - 2017 - Race Recap

I really really enjoyed this year Minnesota Half Marathon on Shepard road, St Paul. Multiple factors.

For the 7:15am start, I left home at around 5:40am. For the first, it was a carpool commute with my run buddies. It lightened the stressful morning ride and was fun laughing at different experiences on the way back.

Parking for this race is in Rivercenter ramp. Vehicles going in, queued up on the 7th Street W. I did get anxious and thought should park at the lot opposite Excel Energy, but I was stuck anyway, so crawled to the Rivercenter ramp. It wasnt so bad. Loads of free parking space. Parked it closer to the lower level, because exist it o lower level. Don't want to climb the stairs up after the half race.

Run crowd was not very large. It did not feel crowded and pressured to push fast in the begining. nor was it lonely in the last 3 miles. I am amazed by the paces of the first half. The extra long time in the last 4 miles, I think I took extended water breaks and yes slowed down the pace. But mentally I was better focused than I have been in past years races.

The race in itself was fun too. Loads of fun cheering squads, who had come to inspire their family/friend. 2 ladies holding a glittering stone covered Flamingo on a stick. A duo holding Unicorn helium balloon. And in my pace group, there was as Blind runner with her guide. Such an inspiration.

Historically, this race has always been the hottest - being in August. I think that is why I skipped it in 2015, or maybe it was some other reason. But the spectre of heat was always hovering around. Last year, they did take some temperature control measure. Same thing this year. 7:15 am start. Route winding westward. More trees lining the sides and center dividers. But the biggest unexpected surprise of all, was the cold-wave that came in that mid-week. Coldwave ? In August ? In Minnesota. Yes. Thunderstroms dipped the temps to 50s and it never went above 70F that week. The effect of that on race morning was so very useful for us runners. Throughout the race duration, it was supercool, cloudy hence hardly any sunny patches, and breezy thanks to the River by this route. I forgot my cap in the car, and I did not miss it at all.

My finish time was exact same as last year - 3:05:01. Yet instead of disappointment , I am more accepting. Coz I actually enjoyed this race.

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The race gear. Ah, I cant stop gushing over the shirt. Its is such a geat design - the sleeves, round collar and the hem-cuts. Just perfect. Material is perfect - not too filmsy that it would be see-through on being sweaty, but very lightweight. Medal was cute too.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017 - USA Edition

I had no plans and no prep. Cause MN was not in the line of actual line of total eclipse. And Twin cities have been dark all of August thanks to unexpected rains, thunderstorms and hence cloudy skies throughout. Husband and kids decided to drive to Kansas City MS, where total eclipse can be seen. I did not even think of borrowing 1 set of glasses from them. Bamm !

And when the day arrived, it was usual Monday morning for office. But at 1 PM, FOMO kicked in and watching online was not enough. So I stepped out of the office building, and great there was an impromptu Solar Eclipse Watching party was going on.

Birds were chattering and flying around aimlessly. Not something you see everyday. Nice to know this is true, after reading about it a thousand times.

Without googles, phone was handy to look at the sun directly. Clouds were helpful in reducing the glare. But for a long time could not make out anything about the eclipse. When I waved my fingers around to look at the sun, then something showed, in-between the finger gaps.

And then when light clouds moved on the sun, that's when the upside  Down Banana or the sliver of the Sun showed up. Wow it was beautiful !

Here I am borrowing a friend's picture without permission. This is a great shot. This is how it looked.

It took me half hour to recover once inside the office building. It could be my cultural fear of Solar Eclipse or thanks to staring at the sky for 15 minutes, no matter how cloudy.

It's easy to dismiss a natural phenomenon, that it won't be spectacular. It will be long drawn. Can't get good picture. Oh why bother ? But even the most unspectacular one, in words or photogenic picture, has the capability to move you when experienced. And this 2017 Total Solar Eclipse is monumental. One which occurred in US after 38 years. One which brought out people across US on a Monday afternoon.

So much fun chatter online. Some really marvelous one liner jokes on Twitter. Some of it brings about the realization - something taken so for granted - that the eclipse will be at 1:07 PM and we could plan the whole day around it. That prediction is all thanks to science and how much it has progressed.
Bottlerocket via Twitter