sept 21/RUN

8.2 miles
franklin loop + extra
52 degrees/wind: 21 mph with gusts up to 32 mph

8.2 miles without stopping. This is the most I’ve run without stopping since before my knee injury in June of 2017. It felt good. I was originally planning just to run the Franklin loop but I was feeling good and decided to keep going. Running an extra 3 miles is a big mental victory for me. I rarely can get myself to run extra. And I didn’t it in the wind. I used to hate the wind, now I love it. Strange. The only time it was really bad was on the lake street bridge heading back to Minneapolis. I was running straight into it. A couple of times I was worried I would be blown across the path.

What else do I remember?

  • the gray sky, how it made the green glow softly
  • saw a roller skier (west side of river) and a rollerblader (east side)
  • the runner passing me from behind, his long stride looked relaxed but slightly strange
  • the clicking of a gear being changed on a bike
  • Minneapolis parks people out repainting the walking/biking signs on the path
  • hearing one of their vehicles rapidly approaching from behind, then watching it speed by beside me
  • flashes of yellow and orange almost hidden in the green trees
  • the blue gray Mississippi
  • my left shoulder aching every so often
  • feeling warm, then cooling off because of the wind
  • noticing the metal steps on the st. paul side that Scott, Rosie and I walked up last weekend when we checked out Meeker Lock and Dam
  • running above, trying to look down below to see where the dog park path is
  • the beautiful view of the river and the tree line on the path just past the lake street bridge
  • the orange vest of a gardener digging up dirt by the side of the road
  • feeling strong and not bothered by how strong the wind was
  • turning onto the river road path and falling in behind a runner in shorts and a gray sweatshirt. Not sure how fast she was running, but it was faster than me

sept 20/RUN

4.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south/north again
60 degrees/rain

A steady rain. Not torrential but constant and very wet. Today might be one of the first times I went out to run and it was already raining. Usually I try to get a quick run in before it starts but end up getting stuck in it. Today it started to rain before I could leave and I went anyway. And I didn’t mind. I think I might be done ever running inside on a track. I’ll run in heat, snow, rain, wind, below zero temperatures. Lot of conditions…except thunderstorms.

The theme for today’s run: water

List: types of water experienced

  • soft, steady rain falling straight down
  • rain collecting on the bill of my visor, always a single drop sitting in the corner of my peripheral vision
  • a soaked shirt sticking to my stomach
  • soggy shoes and socks
  • huge puddles on the sidewalk on the way to the river, hard to run around, hard to leap over
  • wet, slick leaves on the path, not slippery just saturated
  • drops playing a constant downbeat on the trees grass dirt….I wondered as I ran: is rain always steady, in 4/4 time? Anyone ever heard triplets or a 16th note rest?
  • running too close to the edge of the path and getting a face full of wet branch
  • water dripping on my head, dripping through my visor, mixing with the sweat on my forehead
  • spray from my very wet ponytail
  • tiny drops of rain landing on my watch face
  • cold wet legs shoulders fingers
  •  car wheels whooshing by
  • the river, a contemplative blue
  • only one quick break from the unrelenting rain: running under the Lake Street bridge

I enjoyed running in the rain. Mostly because it was cooler but also because it was different and unusual. I felt a kinship with the 2 or 3 other runners I encountered, we the weirdos willing to wade through the water-soaked path in order to run outside.

sept 19/SWIM

swim: 2 miles/3600 yards
ywca pool

Pushing off from the wall for my first lap, swimming at the bottom, my face inches from the tiles, it hits me: the line down the center of the lane, the one that is 6 tiles wide, is blue. Last week in an entry, I think I called it black. And, as I wondered in this entry, there is a line marking off the deep end, but it’s blue not black. On the wall, at either end of the lane is a blue plus sign made out of tiles. Maybe next time I swim, I can try to count them. The rest of the tiles are white. Less white this week, than a few weeks ago, right after the pool had its annual cleaning. During the first mile, my goggles were slightly fogged up so I didn’t see as much but when I stopped and quickly cleaned them out with pool water, they were clear for the second mile. This (somewhat) clarity of vision got me thinking about a paragraph I read the other day in an essay about swimming entitled “Buoyancy.” William Spiegelman writes:

Swimming, unique among physical activities, diminishes and almost eliminates the sense of sight, our primary means of engagement with the physical world. You see the sides of the pool, the bottom, the lane markers; you get momentary glimpses of the world as you breathe or raise your head above the water as you turn, but by and large, vision is kept at a minimum.

I guess this is true for a pool, although much more true for open water swimming, but I felt like I was seeing as well as or better than I usually do outside of the water. The water was very clear and I could see the tiny bits of mildew or grout (or who knows what) in the corners of the tiles. I saw other people, floating, kicking, crawling. Brightly colored suits. Yellow fins. A red-shorted, looming lifeguard talking to a woman in a black suit. The timing clock ticking down seconds. A word about the lifeguard: she was fascinating. Walking up to a lane to swim, I overheard her recounting to another woman about all of her aches and pains and the chair yoga class she was taking (or leading?) at another fitness center. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an older lifeguard. Cool. Now I’m wondering if I’m confused, but I’m pretty sure she was the lifeguard.

sept 16/RUN

4 miles
74 degrees/77% humidity/dew point 66
mississippi river road path, north/south

Running at 7:30, already hot. Humid. Heavy. Thick. I’m ready for fall and over this hot weather. What do I remember? The sound of a runner, gradually approaching from behind. He said “good morning” as he passed. I noticed how one strap of his running belt was askew. Later, passing a group of 4 runners, one of them was talking so loudly that I could hear her for several minutes. I was glad I was going fast enough to get clear of her voice quickly. I heard the rowing coach down by the river, barking into his bullhorn. A biker’s wheel made a thwack thwack noise like something was caught in it. Close to the end of my run, entering the green tunnel below the road, at my favorite part of the path, it smelled like early fall: earthy. I didn’t see any roller skiers or pay attention to the river or dodge large groups of runners or marvel at red or orange or yellow leaves.

 

sept 14/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
to the ywca pool

The hill up to the Sabo bridge was easier today. Could this be because I’m biking it more?

swim: 2 miles/3520 yards
ywca pool

Swam slightly less than on Wednesday, but I did it. 2 miles. I’m hoping to do this twice a week this fall/winter (at least). Might need to mix it up with some sets because an hour of lap swimming with so many flip turns gets a bit tedious. Today I put in a quick set of 4 X 100s on 1:45. Still not enough variety. But, even though it was tedious, I enjoyed doing it and felt good during and after. The main thing I remember about the swim is the beginning. Swimming underwater, my nose almost touching the white tiles, as I swam at the bottom for 3/4s of the first length. Swimming underwater without breathing until I reach the line marking the deep end has been my ritual at the y pool for several years now. Rereading this last line, I’m wondering: is there actually a black line at this point or does it just drop off? I’m doubting my memory now. I’ll have to check next time I swim. It always starts my swim.  I also remember how the choppiness of the water when all the lanes were full and the woman next to me was vigorously kicking. No waves making it hard to breathe, like on the open lake, but a gentle rocking. Oh, and at the beginning of the swim, when I was still getting used to breathing with my nose plug on, feeling the sting of chlorine trapped in my nose, burning. I thought about stopping to adjust the plug but I figured it would stop bugging after a few laps (it did). And the older woman in the brightly colored suit swimming next to me, her body halfway between horizontal and vertical, bobbing and kicking and hardly moving forward. Strange and fascinating and beautiful to watch. And the feeling of power and strength as I plowed through the water after increasing my speed for 4 100s.

Before ending this entry, decided to google, “swimming pool poetry”. Here’s the first thing that popped up:

Swimming Ool
BY KENN NESBITT

Swimming in the swimming pool
is where I like to “B,”
wearing underwater goggles
so that I can “C.”
Yesterday, before I swam,
I drank a cup of “T.”
Now the pool’s a “swimming ool”
because I took a “P.”

This poem reminds me of sign at a nearby Middle School with a pool. Someone removed all the ls so instead of “pool, pool lobby,” it says, “poo poo lobby.” It makes me laugh every time I see it.

sept 13/RUN

5.7 miles
the ford loop
70 degrees/15 mph wind with 22 mph gusts

For some reason, I’m liking the wind this month. Who knew? Last year, I hated running when it was really windy. I avoided it, if I could. But this September, two of my best runs have been when it was 15+ mph wind. The only time the wind was really bad was on the Lake Street bridge, a mile into my run. I had to hold onto my visor so it wouldn’t blow off into the river.

What are some memorable things about my run?

  • the windy bridge
  • the moments when I ran in the sun and wasn’t sheltered by the shade
  • peering down at the trees in the ravine as I ran up the river road path towards Summit. So pretty and mysterious and inviting. Looking at a map the other day, I discovered that this place has a name: Shadow Falls Park. I must hike there before the winter!
  • feeling okay as I ran up the hill right before Summit, imagining how I’ll feel when I run it in less than a month at the TC 10 mile race.
  • listening to my feet striking the paved path with a thud, then crunching on the dirt
  • watching the relaxed, strong stride of a runner as she passed me, finally passing another runner who was running on the dirt path
  • speeding up to pass a group of 6 or 7 runners
  • checking out the trees–no color yet–while running across the Ford bridge
  • noticing 3 police cars passing me on the river road, not all at once, but within 5 minutes of each other
  • feeling hot and flushed

I wasn’t listening to music. Even so, I don’t remember many distinctive sounds. No roller skiers. Only a few bikers. Some walkers with dogs or backpacks. Several runners. No unusual whooshing wind sounds or barks. I do remember noticing, as I started, how intense (and intent) the cars seemed to be as they rushed up the road. No rowers or quick snatches of conversation overhead as I passed walkers. One brief song blasting from a radio on a bike. No water sounds. Some water sparkle on the bridge as the sun created a path of light across the river. A few bright orange leaves hidden in the trees just above the Lake St/Marshall bridge.

sept 12/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
to the ywca pool

Biking over the Sabo bridge on this beautiful day, I felt lucky to be pedaling hard on a bike and not trapped at the light in a car.

swim: 2 miles/3600 yards
ywca pool

I swam 2 miles in the pool. One mile without stopping, then a few quick breaks during the second mile. Felt pretty good although I’m tired now. The water was clear and, looping so many times (144 flip turns) and for so long (60 minutes), I was able to stare at the bottom of the pool. Pretty clean. Only two things that I could see. Even after all the time I looked at them, I still have no clue what they are. Fuzz? A barrette? Definitely not a bandaid or anything gross. What else do I remember about the swim? Mostly, I remember the other swimmers. All slower than me except for the one guy that started out faster for a lap or two then slowed way down. I like being the fastest swimmer in the pool. And I often am, especially at the time I go swimming: mid-morning. Usually the only other swimmers at this time are retired 60 or 70-somethings. I know that there are 70 year olds that can swim faster than me but they are never at the y pool when I’m there. I can’t quite decide if this desire to be the fastest is a good or a bad thing. Are the swimmers in the other lanes as competitive as me? Probably some of them are. I never actually try to race anyone else, I just like being faster.

sept 10/RUN

7 miles
bohemian flats turnaround
59 degrees 71% humidity

Ran down the Franklin hill, feeling good. Later, ran back up the hill too hard. Walked for a few minutes but still finished strong.

What do I remember from my run?
one roller skier holding both of their poles in one hand
two (or was it three?) police cars driving by
noticing how the parks crew was mowing down all the wildflowers on the side of the path
watching my shadow, checking out my form, trying to keep my shoulders even and relaxed
for a second, trying rhythmic breathing
listening to my feet strike the ground

sept 8/RUN

run: 2 miles
dogwood coffee run
65 degrees

A quick run with Scott to Dogwood Coffee. Our Saturday morning tradition. Lots of runners out. Some bikes. A team of rollerbladers, three with matching kits. According to Scott’s apple watch, we ran 2 miles. According to mine, 2.09.

In the afternoon, we took Delia the dog to Meeker Island. Pretty cool. We didn’t have a chance to walk it, but there’s a dog park here that we’ll have to check out some other day.

sept 7/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
mississippi river road north/midtown greenway/sabo bridge/ywca

What a glorious early fall day! Sunny. Clear. Slightly cool. The view of downtown from the Sabo bridge was beautiful.

swim: 1.36 miles/2400 yards
ywca indoor pool

96 laps. 96 flip turns. Surprisingly, so many laps and turns didn’t bother my mood or my knee today. I felt strong and swift and glad to be swimming again after almost 2 weeks off. The water was so clear. I could see every tile below me. Such a different experience from the lake where I couldn’t see anything. It was also nice not to have to worry about sighting the big orange buoys or getting off course or random debris getting stuck on my hand or my head. I still prefer open swim, but I’ll happily swim in this pool a couple times a week this fall/winter/spring.

sept 6/RUNBIKE

run: 2.5 miles
62 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/south

This is my fourth day in a row of running. Feeling good. Woke up to 53 degrees. Fall is here!

bike: 9 miles
lake nokomis and back

Was planning to swim at the lake today but I got there just as a boat was taking out the last buoys. Last year, they kept the buoys in until the beginning of October. I’m sad but slightly relieved to know that it’s over–no more doubts about whether or not I should try biking over the lake to swim. I can’t, it’s closed. See you next summer, beloved Lake Nokomis.

sept 5/RUN

6.5 miles
the franklin loop + extra
63 degrees/72% humidity/dew point 54
wind: 16 mph/gusts up to 25 mph

What a run! The best I’ve done in months. Felt strong and steady, like I could have kept going for another hour. Didn’t look at my pace or my pulse. Didn’t listen to music. Oh, if all runs could be like this one! Spreading open possibility!

Overcast. No shadow today. Instead the wind was my friend, not by pushing me along but by giving me something to listen to and think about. I felt the gusts on the lake street and franklin bridges but it didn’t bother me. The wind sounded like a lot of things today. It blended in with whirring wheels of an approaching bicycle, the sprinkler set up on someone’s lawn across the street. I liked listening to it shake the leaves in the trees, making them sing, “fall is here! winter running coming soon.”

Running up from below the lake street bridge, glanced at a tree and was delighted to see slashes of bright orange peeking through. Soon all the leaves on the river will change and then fall and I’ll be able to see the river and all the way to the other side: the banks, branches, beaches. Right before seeing these leaves, I payed attention to the sign for the Meeker Island Lock and Dam. I want to check it out before winter. It’s so close. Only a mile and a half from my house.

I remember thinking about things, but I can’t remember what those things are
or were or whatever verb tense makes the most sense.

sept 4/RUN

4 miles
73 degrees/94% humidity/dew point 72
mississippi river road path, north/south

Intermittent rain
somewhat refreshing yet still
oppressively damp

Could this dew point be
the highest I have ever
run in? Probably.

I passed some runners
but no bikers or skiers
or dry anything.

When running in rain
it’s hard to determine which
drips are rain, which sweat.

Running under trees,
it’s hard to determine which
drips are drips, which drops.

Miserably hot.
So why did my run feel fine?
My pre-run fruit shake?

Not one glance at the
river today. Too busy
avoiding puddles.

Running down below the road, above the gorge, into the dark green, momentarily hidden from the road, I thought about running as a woman and what I would do if I someone popped out at me. Then I remembered something I read the other day: a satirical essay on women and running over at McSweeney’s: How to Jog: A Guide for Women

aug 28/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
62 degrees/97% humidity/dew point 61

Light, steady rain. Dark skies. Darker tunnel of trees littered with acorn shells. A great run. Didn’t stop, kept getting faster. Right after the Greenway bridge, a bright orange shirted runner passed me, running fast. We became running partners. Not running together, but on parallel paths, encountering each other every so often. I think he was doing strides. Sprinting, walking, jogging, sprinting back and forth on the river road. He passed me, then I passed him, then he passed me again. I liked how his bright orange shirt glowed in the distance when he ran past me.

This run felt good after a difficult morning with the girl–getting her to school, that is. No major breakdowns, but signs that we might be in for another difficult year of anxious, “I feel sick” mornings.

aug 27/RUN

3 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
79 degrees/77% humidity/dew point 71

Yuck! So humid this morning. Hard to run. Humid, sticky, moist all day. My kids complained that every paper their teachers handed out in school was damp. No fun for running or walking or being in humid classrooms. Ran 2 miles, then walked a little of the 3rd. Started running again and impressed myself by not stopping after I started.

Last week, a thread was started on twitter about the dangers of running alone as a woman: This is the last place I ran alone and carefree. A thread on Mollie Tibbetts and running alone as a woman Nothing has ever happened to me while I’m running but I definitely feel the fears and the lack of freedom expressed in these tweets. There are many wonderful places near the river that I will never run alone, even though I’d really like to try them out. Often when the path I run dips below the road or behind the trees or under a bridge I become anxious and hyper alert, looking for places to escape if someone jumps out or blocks my way.

aug 26/SWIMRACE

2.4 mile swim race
bde maka ska
open swim classic

Third time’s the charm. The first year I tried swimming this race, I had just been diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration and the lake was too foggy for me to see anything–they almost cancelled it–so I had to drop out. The second year, I displaced my kneecap and my physical therapist advised me not to try swimming it. This year I almost wimped out because of sore legs, but I didn’t. I thought about how much I’ve wanted to swim this race and how I wanted to set a good example for my daughter and I did it. I swam it. I couldn’t see anything because of my vision and all of the water in my goggles, but I found someone else to follow and we made it all the way around the lake. I think she might have led us off track–my watch shows that I swam an extra 500 yards–but we made it and, according to Scott, I got 4th place.

What do I remember about my swim:

  • googles, filled up with water
  • rocks mixed in with sand on the beach floor
  • shallow water–starting the race and walking for the first 15-20 seconds. Heard one swimmer joke, “I thought this was a swimming race, not a walking race!”
  • clear water, checking out the Eurasian watermilfoil just below me
  • not being able to see anything but water and an occasional buoy
  • feeling like I (and the 2 other swimmers I was swimming with) were the only people in the lake
  • having no idea how far I had gone or how much farther I had to go
  • the swimmer next to me and the pink shoulders of her tri suit and white rims of her goggles
  • thinking: I’m actually doing this! yay me!
  • the shocking cold of the water as I entered and the feeling that I couldn’t breathe
  • watching the swimmer ahead of me stop to look where she was going and thinking: please don’t stop, I have no idea where I’m going or where the next buoy is!
  • before the race, overhearing a woman with a cast on her broken feet telling another swimmer: “I broke it at my daughter’s wedding. The doctor told me I couldn’t swim in the race and I thought that was unacceptable, so I’m here and I’ve rigged up something for my foot so I can swim.” What a badass.
  • feeling strong and proud and tired and happy to be done
  • a slightly aching shoulder

aug 21/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 2.2 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
67 degrees/70% humidity

Ran on the path beside the road towards minnehaha falls, then took the steps to the path below on the way back. Cooler. Greener. Better. A few very short steep inclines. So steep that I ran almost on my toes, which felt weird. My knee was a bit stiff because it partially displaced for less than a second last night when I turned onto my stomach in bed (this annoyingly happens every so often). Didn’t see anyone or anything on the river. No rowers. Not like yesterday when I heard and then tried to see a group of rowers near the Franklin bridge. The railing was too high and even though I stretched my neck to see them I could never quite. When I looked through the thick railings, I could almost see the shell but really only saw the break in the water that trailed behind them–what’s that called?

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

Biked to the lake for open swim. On the way there, I had convinced myself that this was the last open swim, the last bike ride to the lake before the swim, the last time I’d nervously anticipate the effort I was about to make and whether or not I’d get off course, the last time I’d round the bend and see the big orange buoys already pumped up, ready to be positioned in the water. I got nostalgic and grateful for having a wonderful season and worried–who would I be next summer? Someone who could still swim across the lake? Then I remembered: it’s only Tuesday. The last open swim is on Thursday.

swim: 4 miles/6 loops/7200 yards
lake nokomis open swim

6 loops! I’m sure that the distance I swam is a little less than 7200 yards but I swam 6 loops and it’s supposed to be 1200 yards from the big beach to the little beach and to the big beach again, so I’m counting it as 7200 yards. Swam without stopping for the first 4.5 loops (80 minutes), which might have been a mistake. My feet and calves felt like they might cramp up. The last loop and a half were tough. I was very afraid that my calf would get knotted up so I tried to swim without kicking as much. My calf has only knotted up once after a swim, 3 years ago, and I still remember the pain. It was not quite right for a year. Swimming the last loop, I felt like I had pushed myself to my limits. When I finished, I was freezing and exhausted.

So late in the season, the light, swimming from the little beach to the big one, consumed everything. I could see the hulking shadow of the buoys, but barely and almost nothing else. No white roof at the big beach or yellow boats, just the light pole and a few menacing sailboats who seemed ready to ignore the lifeguards and sail through the swimmers. So many swimmers! Tuesday night is free night so there are always more swimmers trying out the course. I got kicked hard in the hip by someone breaststroking. Another swimmer swam right into me.

aug 20/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
72 degrees/87% humidity/dew point 68

5 miles without stopping. The first time I have done this, without stopping to walk, since May 21st. Wow. How did I run in these conditions? Usually I HATE running in such muggy weather. Today, it didn’t bother me.

aug 19/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 3.4 miles/5 loops/6000 yards
lake nokomis open swim

5 loops for the first time ever! Maybe I can swim 6 on Tuesday? Felt strong and not too sore. Such a great way to start the final week of the open swim season.

aug 16/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 2.2 miles
mississippi road path, north/south
69 degrees/90% humidity/dew point 66

With my lingering cold and the thick air, it was hard to breathe. Mostly I managed short, jagged breaths. It doesn’t help when the temperature and the dew point are almost the same!

bike: 4.3 miles
to lake nokomis

I only biked to lake nokomis because Scott gave me a ride home. Two things I especially remember: 1. I can “see” the path much better than at the beginning of the summer. Is it the light that makes it better? Am I actually “seeing” it or have I just memorized all the curves? 2. Too many acorns on the path. Sometimes they crunched loudly under my wheels, sometimes they popped and went flying across the path. I was worried my wheel would hit one wrong and I’d crash, or a popping acorn from someone else’s bike would hit me in the face.

swim: 2.72 miles/4 loops/4800 yards
lake nokomis open swim

This is the best open swim season I’ve ever had. I’ve swam 4 loops 5 times this month (so far).  I only swam 4 loops once last summer, on the final night of open swim. The water was warm and calm and buoyant–at least it seemed more buoyant to me. I felt powerful and happy. Swimming back to the big beach, into the sun, I couldn’t see the big orange buoys at all. I swam mostly blind, occasionally glimpsing a stroking arm or the top of the building or a light pole or a lifeguard. I wonder if everyone else had as much trouble as I did or if it was my messed up central vision? I keep planning to stop in the middle of the lake and take a minute to pay attention to the light and the feeling of being immersed in water, but I don’t. It’s hard to stop pushing myself to the other shore. I’ll be happy if I manage to do it just once in the final week. I’m ready for summer to end, but sad that swimming in the lake is almost over too.