july 17/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

Watched a replay of stage 10 of the Tour de France this afternoon. So many mountains! The eventual winner Alaphilippe went at least 80 kph down the side of a mountain, sharply turning, hovering on the edge. I can’t imagine biking this way–meaning, I don’t know how I could ever do it, or why I’d want to. But I love watching it. For almost 10 years, Scott and I have looked forward to July and watching the Tour. My bike ride over to lake nokomis was much slower but seemed to have its own dangers. Not treacherous mountain descents but sharp turns, speeding cars that drive too close to the path and runaway surreys.

swim: 1.36 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis open swim

A beautiful evening for a swim! The lake water was warm: 80 degrees! It was calm. Very few waves. And it was bright. It no longer looks like green pea soup, but yellow lentils–maybe? Still opaque, but lighter, brighter, glowing yellow. The buoys were hard to spot, but I kept swimming, knowing I was on course. I felt strong again, trying to work on pulling my arms more quickly and powerfully through the water. In the second loop, my googles seemed to fog up which made it harder to see all the other swimmers–and there were a lot, a couple 100 maybe. So I stopped after 2 loops.

july 16/RUN

4 miles
64 degrees/85% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/south

Finally. A cooler morning. Still humid but 10 degrees cooler. Ran without headphones and heard lots of birds. Saw lots of green. Briefly glimpsed my shadow on the way to my favorite part of the path. She was running beside me, on the left. I’m feeling stronger, fitter and faster this summer. Could it be the swimming?

Encountered a few haikus that I really liked last week. Part of a larger series of haikus in a piece called Haiku/etheridge knight. Here are 3 of my favorite:

5
A bare pecan tree
slips a pencil shadow down
a moonlit snow slope.

6
The falling snow flakes
Cannot blunt the hard aches nor
Match the steel stillness.

9
Making jazz swing in
Seventeen syllables AIN’T
No square poet’s job.

What would my haiku be for this morning’s run?

Early morning run
in july with my shadow.
We are friends today.

A green tunnel greets
us, blocking out the shrill
sounds and the warm light.

3.1 miles
mostly walking, a little running with kids
mississippi river road path, south/north

Final training session before the kids’ first 5k. It went okay. The boy felt like he was going to throw up about halfway through it so we had to stop and rest for a few minutes. I am choosing to believe that he will be fine for the race. Encountered lots of trail runners on the part of the path that dips below the road. I’m starting to think it would be fine to try a few trail runs.

july 15/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

80 degrees with a dew point of 72! The air was so heavy, even biking was difficult. Scott was planning to run 8 or 10 miles but had to stop after 2 when he almost passed out. Glad I wasn’t running today.

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis open swim

It was hazy and bright and difficult to see but the water was warm and smooth. The lifeguards put the first buoy so far out that it was over halfway across the lake. I was worried I would get off course before I got to it but, surprisingly, I was fine. I swam straight to it. I remember the third loop the most. Something about the light–a mix of clouds, a blueish gray sky–made it very difficult to see anything in front of me, especially the orange of the buoys. I also remember noticing the slapping of the water as I cut through it and how it sloshed as it went over my head. Thinking more about the orange of the buoys: Scott reminded me that the most difficult color combination for my central vision is blue background with orange. Somehow the orange often disappears against the blue. So a blue sky with orange buoys is hard–it’s amazing that I can see the buoys at all! I must really love swimming in open water to be willing to swim across a lake when I can’t see. I do.

july 14/RUN

2 miles
dogwood run
76 degrees/85% humidity/dewpoint 71

Another hot, humid, sticky morning. So hard to breathe! Scott and I ran up the river road through Brackett Park and to Dogwood Coffee. Our Saturday morning tradition. I don’t remember much except for that I could handle the heat better than Scott. How does that happen?

3.1 miles with kids
mostly walking, some running
mississippi river road path, south/north

This Wednesday is the kids’ first 5k race. They won’t be running that much of it, but at least they’re doing it. Today we settled on a race plan: run 1 minute every 1/2 mile. This seems to be manageable for them. I’m hoping that the race will inspire them to want to do more training and running. As we ran/walked along the river road, we watched all the bikers racing in the lifetime tri. Such a hot and sunny day for a race! I raced in this triathlon a couple of years ago and thought about doing it again this year but I don’t like the biking part–too hard and dangerous to train with my vision.

 

july 13/RUN

3.5 miles
38th street/minnehaha ave/falls/river road
71 degrees/93% humidity/dew point: 71

Wet. Wettish. Water-logged. Soggy. Sodden. Saturated. Drizzly. Dank. Damp. Misty. Moist. Muggy. Ran 3 miles through intermittent rain. When Scott and I stopped to walk, I thought about the rain and my skin. Touching my leg,  the surface of my skin was slightly wet. In a few spots, I was dripping, but everywhere I felt damp. Like one of those little sponges you might use to moisten a stamp. Very high dew point, which made running uncomfortable. Everything dripping. Everything a dark, deep green. Surprisingly, didn’t notice (m)any bugs. We ran by the falls but–of course–I was too busy yapping about a book I’m reading, The Wonder, so I didn’t notice the rushing gushing falls. At 42nd street, we decided to run below the road on the lower paved path. I described it to Scott as undulating. Up and down and up and down. Partly due to the terrain and partly the result of erosion–so many cracks and bumps and tiny holes in the asphalt.

A few hours later, after getting up from the couch, by bad knee suddenly popped out of place again. It’s been a week since the last one. Slowly and carefully I popped it back into its groove. These subluxations don’t really hurt, although I do feel a slight, sharp pain. Instead, they just shock, taking my breath away. Very upsetting to suddenly, without any warning, have your kneecap slide out of place. Especially for someone who is so physically active and relies so heavily on being able to move–to walk or bike or run or swim or travel up stairs or down stairs or outside. I’m getting better at not panicking and at carefully yet quickly popping it back into place.

I would like to write some more about my knee–how it feels, my fraught relationship to it, my struggle to keep running and loving it. Here’s a wonderful poem I found by Rita Dove about her right knee–my “bad” knee is the right one too. She’s writing about osteoporosis, which is different from my unstable kneecap:

Ode to My Right Knee

Oh, obstreperous one, ornery outside of ordinary

protocols; paramilitary probie par

excellence: Every evidence
you yield yells.

No noise
too tough to tackle, tears

springing such sudden salt
when walking wrenches:

Haranguer, hag, hanger-on—how
much more maddening

insidious imperfection?
Membranes matter-of-factly

corroding, crazed cartilage calmly chipping
away as another arduous ambulation

begins, bone bruising bone.
Leathery Lothario, lone laboring

gladiator grappling, groveling
for favor; fair-weather forecaster, fickle friend,

jive jiggy joint:
Kindly keep kicking.

july 12/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south

bike: 4.3
lake nokomis

swim: .36 miles
open swim
18 mph wind/choppy water

Even though severe rain/thunderstorm was coming, decided to bike to the lake and try to swim a little before we were evacuated from the water. So choppy! And such a dark, ominous sky. Purplish gray. Managed to swim out to the second buoy, about halfway across the lake, before turning around. A little less than 10 minutes in the water. Got out just before lightening was spotted. What a bummer. Still glad I went. I will remember that sky for years and how choppy the water was and the image of the orange buoy as I rounded it. I’ll also remember getting caught in the rain–suddenly the clouds unzipped–and walking my bike in the downpour to the awning at Nokomis Beach coffee then calling superhero Scott and waiting for him to drive over and pick me up.

july 7/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 2 mile race
lake nokomis
59 minutes/1st place 35+

Today I swam in my first open swim race. And I won for my age group. So cool! I can’t quite express how proud I am of myself. Not so much because I won–which is great–but because I did the race at all. Since I was diagnosed with a macular degenerative eye disease 2 years ago, I’ve been nervous to do an open swim race. Whole sections of my central vision are gone and I have a lot of trouble sighting the buoys. I was worried I might get too far off course. No problem today. Lots of other swimmers around me for the first section. Then, I swam behind another swimmer for the rest of the race so I didn’t have to worry about looking for the buoys. I tried to do an open swim race 2 years ago, right after my diagnosis, but it was too foggy and I was too overwhelmed by my new lack of vision. I tried again last year but a month before the race my kneecap displaced and I couldn’t walk without a brace for 2 months. Now, finally, after overcoming injury and my doubts about my very bad vision, I swam and loved it.

I got to swim all around the lake, not just across it. Past the little beach, the overlook on the small hill, the big bridge and the boats. Didn’t encounter any fish, but I did swim through some milfoil. Again, the water looked pea green. Don’t remember thinking about much except for staying close to the swimmer ahead of me.

july 5/RUNBIKESWIM

For some reason, I’m resisting writing in my log this week–maybe because I’m nervous about my 2 mile swim race on Saturday? Instead of forcing it, I’ll just add the distances in my log with no entries.

run: 3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south7
76 degrees

Needed the run to change my attitude after becoming too frustrated with the kids for not wanting to do their training this morning. Listening to Lizzo helped. She’s great. Do I remember anything from my run other than trying to stop thinking about how irritated I was by my kids? No.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Biked to the lake for open swim. A beautiful late afternoon. Now that I’m used to it, biking is much easier, although the early evening sun and the shade on the path made certain spots very difficult to see. Did I think about anything while I was biking other than trying to stay on the path and not run into anyone or anything? Not today.

swim: 2 miles/3 loops/3600 yards
lake nokomis

I feel ready for my swim race this Saturday even though I’m really scared. What if I can’t see the buoys? Trying to calm myself down by asking and answering, “what’s the worst that could happen?” If I can’t see the buoys, I can stop and look until I find them or wait until a lifeguard finds me and points me in the right direction. I’ll be fine. Even so, I’ll be happy when this race is over. It’s been stressing me out. Today I looked down at the water below me and I’ve decided it looks pea green, almost like pea soup. I don’t like pea soup but I don’t mind it as the color of the lake water. Noticed lots of planes flying above me. Rarely was able to see the orange buoys, but that didn’t stop me from staying on course. Felt the best in my third and final loop after I had already been swimming for 45 minutes.
.

july 2/RUNBIKE

3.75 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
70 degrees/79% humidity

Listened to a new playlist and ran towards lake street. Encountered other runners, a few bikers and at least two roller skiers. Did I see my shadow? Not sure. Felt good running, although now I wished I would have kept going the extra .25 to run the full 4 but I was thinking about how I would be running with Ro too.

1.92 miles, walking and running
winchell trail, below the river road
75 degrees/66% humidity

After finishing my run, I walked home and woke up my daughter. It was a struggle getting out the door, but we made it to the river. A big victory! Ran on the Winchell trail, below the river road. Mostly shaded with the first half dirt, the second half paved. So many dragonflies–my mom’s favorite insect. We thought about her as we ran, imagining she was with us. Saw some cute dogs and sparkling water. The paved path gently undulates, like small waves. It was fun to run slightly up then slightly down on the edge of the gorge. I’m glad Ro likes trail running. I’d like to try some more of it myself. It seems like a great way to lose yourself in a run.

bike: 11.6 miles

downtown and back
87 degrees/45% humidity

Biked downtown with Scott to pick up our bib numbers for the 4th of July race. It was supposed to be a half marathon, but was downgraded to a 5k (1 loop) or 6.75 (2 loops) because of extreme heat and humidity. Fine by me. I was not ready for a half and really wanted to just run a 5k.

july 1/RUN

2.1 miles, training with son
68 degrees/96% humidity
austin, mn

Ran/walked around a park in Austin. Humid. Thick air. Hard to breathe. But not hot. The sky was gray with rain coming. The clouds were low and moving fast. The boy (which is how Scott refers to him) complained a little, but kept going. I could tell he was mad at the running, but not me. He must want to actually giving running a try this year. We have 2.5 weeks before the race. I’m hoping he can at least double the amount of time he runs, from 9 minutes to 18. Too ambitious?

june 29/RUNSWIM

run: 2.15 miles
87 degrees/ dew point: 75!
lake nokomis

Even though it’s really hot and the dew point is ridiculous, I ran around the lake on my birthday. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad and I went much faster than I usually do. Listened to a new mini-playlist with a few songs from Lizzo that made me smile, some Courtney Barnett, Lorde, Prince, Cream and Corinne Bailey Rae.  Ran over the bridge and passed a bunch of cars at a standstill because of the light. Saw a few other runners and not too many walkers. Haven’t seen any lone bright yellow paddle boat in a while.

swim: .2 miles/350 years
big beach, lake nokomis

Okay, I didn’t swim much–only one loop around the white buoys off the big beach–but it was really choppy and I feel pretty sore from last night’s 2 miles. Still glad I did it. Don’t remember much about the swim except: the rough water pushing me into a pink buoy, being able to see the bottom of the lake in the shallow, swimming area, noticing a few sailboats way off in the distance, feeling my sore shoulder as my arm cut through the water, trying to work on pulling through the water with more power.

june 28/SWIM

2 miles/3600 yards/3 loops
87 degrees/windy/choppy water
lake nokomis open swim

Another 3 loops! I swam (mostly) straight and on the correct side of the orange buoys! I battled the waves and didn’t inhale too much water! I didn’t swallow any twigs or leaves or anything else! A great swim. Now, sitting on the couch, I am tired and my muscles ache in a way that I welcome. The ache of a full body effort. What do I remember about the swim: the choppy water crashing into me, trying to push me off course. The menacing sailboat that seemed to want to race across the course but never did. The lime green swim caps. Elbows bent at an angle, gently entering the water. The light, opaque water below me. The barely visible roof of the changing building at the big beach. Breathing every 5, then 3 and 4, then 6. A lifeguard, out on the course, blowing their whistle–was it at me? (no.)

june 27/RUN

3 miles
68 degrees/89% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/south

Ran faster. Only 3 miles because I was also running with Ro later. Felt pretty good. Listened to music and didn’t pay attention to much else. For some reason, this summer I’m having trouble writing a lot. Too busy, I guess. I think it’s also the pressure of the upcoming 1/2 marathon. I hate this race but I always manage to be signed up for it.

1.95 miles, mostly walking, some running with Ro
mississippi river road trail, south/north

Third training run with Ro. Hardest yet. She wanted to stop and was complaining about how much it hurt and how I didn’t care that she was in pain. I told her that I cared, but she still needed to do it and that we needed to see what was on the other side of her pain, which (as expected) wasn’t really pain but a strong resistance to pushing herself. The running was slow but she still did it. Hopefully she’ll remember that she did and our next run will be better. We ran mostly on the lower pedestrian path, halfway down the gorge, closer to the river. Still. Heavy air. Overcast sky. A green glow. So surreal and dreamy. Ro also wanted to try running on the dirt path near the mesa. Fun! I can see why people like running on trails. You feel even more a part of the landscape and the soft terrain feels much better on your body. I’d like to try more trail running.

june 26/RUN

2.2 miles, some running, some walking
training with son
mississippi river road path north, south

Ran with my son this morning. Today we moved onto week two of couch25k which is harder. He was not happy but he did it–all but 30 seconds at the end. He didn’t talk as much about his new favorite video game because he was working too hard.

june 25/RUN

10 miles
72 degrees/84% humidity
lake nokomis loop, long

Tried running 9 minutes then walking 1. It worked until mile 6 when I got tired and my foot started to hurt. Running isn’t as easy this year. Still not fully recovered from my knee injury. What do I remember from my run? So many cars, streaming by on the river road, heading to work or vacation or somewhere fast. Saw some other runners, bikers, a few roller skiers on the creek path. Ran beside 4 bodies of water: the mississippi river, minnehaha creek lake hiawatha and lake nokomis. Halfway around lake nokomis, the path rises up a small hill and offers a beautiful view of the water. There’s a bench there and I always contemplate stopping and sitting and watching the waves. I haven’t yet. Today, as I ran by it, I noticed how splendidly the blue of the sky, the blue of the water and the green of the trees complemented each other. Was it because of the light–was it bright? I can’t remember. After making it to the big beach, I decided to listen to music. It helped motivate me to keep running. Ran down the hill between Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha and the hill after 28th avenue. Did I pay attention to the creek at all? Was it rushing? Were there any big turtles in it, like the one Rosie and I saw a few summers ago? I don’t know. So much of this run was a blur.

2 miles, some running but more walking
training with daughter
mississippi river road path south, north

Did second training run with daughter. Slowly, she’s getting better. Small, subtle positive changes. Running when she’s supposed to run. Not stopping. Not freaking out and refusing. Still complaining but with less anger. Today, she sang as she ran about the bing bong (or sometimes the ding dong) that the running app makes as it alerts you to start running again. Oh, the menacing “bing bong”! Why must it bing and bong at all and once it has, when it will it do it again so we can stop? The voice that tells us to “run!” or “walk” is named Allison. According to my daughter, we don’t like her. In fact, we hate her. She is the cause of our pain and suffering as we struggle to run in the heat. (I wonder, in a few weeks, will Allison become our bff? i doubt it, but maybe we won’t blame her quite so much?)  Soon, the bing bong is no longer the sound that the app makes, it is the pain that Ro feels in her chest or her foot. “oh, I have a bing bong in my chest!” By the end of the run, Ro has figured out what these “bing bongs” look like: bullet bills from the video game, mario kart. I love her imagination.

june 24/BIKESWIMRUN

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Hot and sticky this morning. Slightly overcast. What do I remember from my bike ride? Not really anything except for that it felt good to be up and moving in the morning and biking over to open swim.

swim: 2 miles/3 loops/3600 yards
lake nokomis open swim

Yes! Another 3 loops. The first 600 yards was difficult. Hard to breathe–was it the sticky air? The water also felt slower–was that because it was warmer? These were the things I thought about as I swam, in-between focusing on my strokes and sighting the big orange buoys. I also thought about my strokes and how I was mixing it up. Sometimes I breathed every 5 strokes. Sometimes I would breathe after three then four on one side, then three and four on the other side. Seven. My favorite number. The floating dock is finally up by the little beach! I love that dock and swimming around it every loop. So glad it’s back.

Speaking of 7, I wrote a poem about 7 last year. Just like my breathing, the lines are 3 syllables then 4 syllables:

Lucky Number

I used to
wake up worried
too early
in the morning
to do a
thing about it
except be-
come more worried
I’d lay there,
anxieties
increasing
multiplying.
Then one day
I read something
that said not
to think about
anything
when you wake up
too early
at 2 am.
Try as hard
as you can to
not make plans
or process or
feel regret
about your life.
Clear your mind
distract yourself.
Count by 3s
or count by 9s
or count by
any number
as long as
it stops your thoughts.
Me—I like
to use sevens.
Three plus four
odd then even
trinity
earth wind fire
& water
magic mixed with
the mundane.
Not helpful if
you want some
resolution
this then that
on repeat—a
back and forth.
But pleasing to
my love of
balance not too
odd, not too
even just both
together.
Sevens work. I
stop thinking
worrying and
waiting for
sleep and it comes.

run: 2 miles, some walking, some running
training with son
mississippi river road path, south/north

The second day of training with my son. I can’t believe we was willing to go again! And he did the whole thing. Halfway through he started talking to me about the video game he’s playing (Rust) . He used to do that all the time when he was younger. So sweet to be able to do it again and to spend this time with him at one of my favorite places: the river. Before we started running I joked that we could probably get to see some surreys. We did: 3!

june 23/RUN

run: 6.1 miles, 4.1 alone, 2 with Scott
70 degrees/86% humidity/dew point: 63
minnehaha falls + dogwood coffee

Ran to the falls by myself and then met up with Scott to do our Saturday morning run to Dogwood Coffee. Hot and sticky this morning. Was very steady with my pace and felt pretty good. The last 2 miles with Scott were tougher. Sunnier. Warmer. Thankfully, he did all the talking, which was a good distraction and allowed me to grunt one-word replies instead of talking in full sentences. Lots of bikers out, alone and in pairs or pelotons. Lots of runners too. Fewer walkers and no roller skiers. Heard the rowers on the river but couldn’t see them through the veil of green. All the surreys were lined up at the falls, waiting to clog up the paths and to irritate Scott. The falls were rushing. 2 separate bikers were listening to talk radio as they rode. One jogger, MPR. Overheard 2 women having an animated conversation about an irritating friend, running slow enough to really emote their frustration. After I passed them, I could hear their complaints for almost 30 seconds. Don’t remember seeing any dogs or hearing any birds. I did get to see my shadow for a few minutes. She led me to the falls then left–maybe she wanted to hike down by the river instead?

june 22/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

A beautiful morning for a bike ride to the lake. Mid 70s, clear. Not much wind. Every time I bike it gets a little easier to see and to navigate the path.

swim: 1400 yards/.8 mile
lake nokomis big beach

Swam just off the big beach this morning. 4 loops. Felt good, except for when my right leg got sore again. I wonder what the problem is? It’s funny how swimming across the lake no longer freaks me out but swimming off the big beach does. I keep imagining that a fish or something else is lurking by a white buoy, waiting to bite me or drag me under. There was a fishing boat just outside of the swimming area fishing for the whole time I was swimming. Towards the end of my swim I realized that there must be some decent fish nearby. Otherwise, why would they be fishing here? This unsettled me a little. It didn’t stop me from swimming but just made me nervous. A month ago, at my first swim here, the water was freakishly clear. No longer. Now it’s light brown murkiness. Occasionally I spot a branch from the watermilfoil growing up from the bottom. Nearing the fishing boat, I heard a buzz. Were they using something to try and detect fish? It was nice to be in the lake but it is harder to stay motivated when I’m not swimming across the lake–it’s so much easier to stop when you’re not far from the shore.

june 21/RUNSWIM

run: 2 miles, some running, some walking
first training session with son
mississippi river road path, north/south

This morning I ran with my son who is exactly three years older than his sister. I am amazed and excited that he’s willing to try running this summer. We didn’t talk that much but it was fun to be with him on the path. He usually spends most of his time in his room. What do I remember from our run? Allison, the voice on the couch25k app telling us to “run!”–which was the inspiration for the title of this blog. She says it so urgently and in such a prim, British accent that is always makes me laugh. It made my son laugh too.

swim: 3600 yards/2 miles/3 loops
lake nokomis

I did it! 3 loops. It took me an hour. I only stopped after each loop for less than a minute. Swimming in the 2 mile race will be a challenge in a few weeks. Swimming across the lake is an other worldly experience. Partly because I am in the water, unable to see or hear or feel much. But also because I’m so focused on getting across the lake. I don’t think about too much. I count the number of strokes I’m taking before I breathe. I constantly check for the big orange buoys or other swimmers or landmarks on the shore. Seeing the orange buoys is difficult, especially coming back to the big beach. Blinded by the sun, I rarely see more than the hint of orange or the vague sense of a looming triangle. It’s amazing how little I need to see to guide me. What did I notice on my swim? The water was brown and opaque. A few planes were flying overhead. The lifeguards had their kayaks set up too close to the buoys. My left leg started to hurt and so did my neck. The water was fairly calm and cold.

june 20/RUN

2 miles: some running, some walking
first training session with daughter
mississippi river road path, north/south

This summer I’m trying to get my kids to move just a little. Without constant prodding, they’d hole up in their rooms for their entire break. So, I’m making them run/walk a 5k in July. We started training this week with the first day of couch25k. 60 seconds of running + 90 seconds of walking x 9. Today was my daughter’s turn. We’ve tried this before with not much success, but she did much better this time. It still takes a lot of patience, but it was better. What do I remember from our run? Not much except for the annoying squirrel, incessantly chirping, from below.