jan 22/RUN

4.15 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
18 degrees
100% snow-covered

Warmer. Snowing, slightly. Sometimes I felt the flakes as hard crystals, but mostly as wet drops. My feet crunched on the path, not crisply but sloppily. Because it was warmer, everything felt sounded smelled wet. The path was soft and muffled. Hardly any wind. So quiet. If this snow sticks and gets colder, like it’s supposed to on Thursday, it will become sharp and loud. Heard lots of birds. First crows cawing then other birds chirping. Wheels gently whooshing as they approached. No bikes or Daily Walkers or dogs. A few runners. Today I looked down at the river. So cool. Almost all covered in white with an occasional big gaping black hole of deep, cold water. As I ran, I followed a thin track made by other runners or bikers. Had intended to think about poetry and rhythms and chants but I forgot. I did pay attention to my feet though, noticing how and where they touched the ground. And then, after I was done running, I recorded the sound of my crunching feet. I held the phone down at my side and really captured the delightfully irritating crunching, grinding noise.

Crunching Snow/ Jan 22, 2019

jan 21/RUN

4.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
9 degrees/feels like -9
16 mph wind/0% snow-covered

Cold. Windy. Snow flurries in the air. Gray. Beautiful. I don’t remember the air burning my lungs but it did burn my face after I started overheating. Most of me didn’t feel cold, just both of my index fingers around the end of mile one. Encountered several runners, a few walkers, no fat tires, no Daily Walker, no dogs. Listened to a playlist and felt relaxed. Not sore or too tired or afraid of injury. Only running and breathing and being outside. Felt great running north. So fast and free! Forgot what that meant: the wind was at my back, pushing me along. When I turned around, it would be in my face. And it was. Much harder running on the way back. Was able to run on the walking path instead of the biking path for about half the time. Smiled a lot. Don’t remember much of what I thought about. Did I look down at the river? Don’t think so. Up at the sky? No. Notice any trees? Nope. I do recall glancing down at the gorge between lake street and franklin and wondering if any critter was down there.

jan 19/RUN

4.85 miles
left on river road to downtown
2 degrees/feels like -12
75% snow-covered

Winter running is the best. The sun was shining and the wind wasn’t blowing too much. Decided to listen to my running playlist even though I probably should have been listening to the crunching snow, so tightly compacted in the cold. It’s extra annoying when it’s this way–a constant grinding noise, almost sounding like twisting styrofoam. Anyway, I was happy to listen to John Legend and Barry Manilow and Justin Bieber and Gonzo and Crowded House and Styx. When I wasn’t carefully watching the path to avoid chunks of snow, I looked down at the river. Totally covered with ice. A beautiful, desolate gray. Didn’t see many walkers–no Daily Walker–but several runners, including 3 men all in red jackets gliding by so quickly and gracefully. The flats, just down from the Franklin bridge were colder and windier but not miserable. Was proud of myself for pushing through as I approached the big hill right before downtown. Nearing it, my legs were sore and tired. I told myself that it was fine to walk. But when I got to the hill I kept going. Still tired, I told myself that I could walk halfway up. Then I reached the halfway point and kept running. I told myself I could definitely stop at the top of the hill and walk for a minute. Then I reached the top and sped up instead. I’m always pleased when I can work on my mental toughness.

Anything else I remember? At one point, I realized I was just running and not thinking about my form. Of course, realizing that made me think about my form. Didn’t see any dogs or geese or squirrels or fat tires or groups of walkers or skiers. I did see my shadow though. She was just ahead of me, leading me down the franklin hill, having as much fun as I was. No smells. My feet felt cold. My face, flushed. My fingers, fine. My right ankle hurt a little but I think it was my shoe, not an injury, causing the pain.

jan 17/RUN

4.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
20 degrees/feels like 10
50% light snow covered

Snowed last night. Barely even a dusting, but still snow. It’s been a strange, bare January. The biking path was mostly clear, with streaks and stripes of light snow. Tried running on the walking path for a bit but kept stumbling over small chunks that I couldn’t see. Always wondering, is it my bad vision or does everyone have trouble spotting these chunks. Looked down at the river. Clear. Grayish-brown. Open with no ice floes. Also looked down at the gorge. Brown trees with a white sliver of trail winding through the woods. Heard chirping birds. Music from a bike’s radio. Some voices. A few squirrels scurrying around. Greeted the Daily Walker near the beginning of my run. Encountered a few fat tires. Any other runners? I can’t remember, but I don’t think so. A few walkers, some with dogs, some without. Most of my thinking was about my form and whether or not my legs were up for running again less than 24 hours after I had run at the stadium. At one point I thought: I should stop thinking about my body and running form and get distracted. And, I did. I think that’s when I focused on the snow in the gorge and noticed that the sky was mostly gray with a hint of blue. Almost forgot about the smells–walking out of the house, I got a whiff of fried something. Must have been coming from the bar a block and a half from our house. Later, a mile into the run, running under the lake street bridge, I smelled breakfast–toast, eggs, bacon–coming from longfellow grill. Found it strange that the smells were so strong when it was so cold. Usually, when it feels like 10 degrees all I smell is cold. At different points in the run, I felt smooth. Sleek. More machine than gangly human.

jan 16/RUN

4 miles
us bank stadium

Ran again with Scott indoors. It was great. Did an abbreviated version of my warm-up before we started, which helped, I think. Usually they play bad pop music very loudly. Today, it was quieter and they had turned it off in certain sections of the loop, which was nice. We could clearly hear our feet striking the concrete. In unison. What do I remember from the run? The bright orange shoes one runner was wearing. The loping gait of another. Three runners: 2 burly, loud guys and 1 very petite, quiet woman, running effortlessly on her toes. Two women running in matching bright pink shorts. A young kid running with their mom. Voices far behind us, some attached to runners slowly creeping up on us, some to runners who were staying far back but were just loud.

jan 15/BIKE

biking on stand, 26 minutes
basement

No running today, but indoor biking and 2 walks with the dog. Began reviewing year one of my log. Thinking about writing some sort of summary of it. Was planning to do this anyway, but now that I’m planning to run the marathon again in October 2019, I’m even more interested in revisiting what I wrote and thought about running in 2017. How much has my thinking changed? Were there any hints that I would get injured and be unable to race? So far, the entries are optimistic about the power of running slower for preventing injuries and maybe even running faster. This time around, as I think ahead, I have one goal: to make it to the starting line. I’m thinking that a lot of my writing this year might explore my complicated relationship to my body, especially my fear of it falling apart.

jan 14/RUN

4.25 miles (40 minutes)
minnehaha falls loop
31 degrees

Felt strong and relaxed. Slipped a few times on ice patches as I shifted from the running to walking path. Ran past a woman calling out, “there’s a bald eagle sitting in this tree!” Didn’t stop because I probably wouldn’t have seen it anyway and because I wanted to keep running. For about a minute I wondered what she thought of me for not stopping. The sky was light gray. Gloomy, I guess, but I liked it. Made the river seem even more vast, majestic, other-worldly. The falls were almost roaring. Minnehaha creek was flowing. There are some disappointed cross country skiers out there, missing the chance to ski on the iced over creek. I wonder if there’s any open water at Lake Nokomis? So strange. Saw the Daily Walker just starting on the path as I was ending. Too far away to greet.

This morning, just before sunrise, I took my dog for a walk. The sky was a smudged gray. Such a pleasing contrast to the bare branches of the towering trees.

jan 12/RUN

6.2 miles
the flats and back
23 degrees/feels like 16

Another good run. My second time trying a 7 minute stretching warm-up before sheading out. I think it helps. Heard lots of crows cawing–no ducks or geese honking or chickadees chirping. Overcast. No wind. Humid. Not too cold. Didn’t encounter that many runners. No Daily Walker. Several fat tires. Ran down the Franklin hill to the flats. The river was mostly open with an occasional chunk of ice. Beautiful. Desolate. Recited “sick” my Shel Silverstein again. Peggy Ann McKay had the measles and the mumps at least 10 times. It was helpful, but I think it’s time for a new poem. I need another one I can chant–nothing too deep just rhythmic and rhyme-y. Scott and I are thinking about trying to do the marathon again this year. Slowly the idea is creeping in and taking hold.

Anything else I remember? My zipper hitting my jacket. The faint sound of a key (or keys?) jangling somewhere. The stinky stench of the sewer near the lake street bridge. Almost slipping on a hidden patch of ice right as I was turning around to head back. Wanting to walk the entire franklin hill but keeping running by chanting, “there’s a bridge, there’s a bridge, at the top, at the top, look at it, look at it, never stop, never stop.” Feeling strong. My eyes watering from the cold. Dodging ice chunks on the walking path and trying to time my foot falls so I wouldn’t land on a slippery patch. No snow, dead, crunchy leaves. Thinking it was late November and not mid January. Stopping to stare down at the floodplain forest at the end of my run. Hearing some voices somewhere down below–maybe at the beach?

jan 10/RUN

4 miles
almost the franklin bridge turn around
15 degrees/feels like 6

What a day for a run! Sunny and clear and cold. Hardly any wind. Only small chunks of ice left on the side of the path. So calm and filled with noises. Everywhere. Chirping birds. Honking geese. Whooshing wheels. The low hum of traffic rumbling from across the river. Decided to listen today. My zipper pull made a small rhythmic thud as it hit my chest. My striking feet thwacked. Was able to run on the lower path, above the gorge. Looked down at the floodplain forest and enjoyed the cool visual effect of sun flashing through tall, thin tree trunks as I ran by. Said “hello” to a walker about 3 miles in. Encountered a fat tire just past the lake street bridge.

Stopped and took a minute video of the view from the end of my run. Had difficulty standing still and holding the camera straight. The camera rises and falls as I breathe.

mississippi river run jan 10

jan 9/RUN

3 miles
us bank stadium

Ran inside at the stadium with Scott. On the drive there, I noticed how big the franklin bridge looked from below, near the flats. The bright blue lights under the 94 bridge. The buildings downtown silhouetted in the twilight. The harsh white, stark, and sharp letters of the Gold Medal Park sign. Walking to the stadium, I saw a sliver of moon in the middle of the sky, framed by the window in the skyway. Then running, I heard a strange song lyric playing on the radio station at the stadium: “coming up daisies” instead of roses–were they talking about death? A loud crash as feet stepped on the metal threshold on the floor. Voices behind me approaching–or were they just hovering?

jan 7/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
38 degrees/98% humidity

Wet. Warm, but not warm enough. Lots of slick spots, more on the sidewalk than on the path. A gray day. Humid. Felt pretty good during my run, although I found myself worrying constantly about my back or my IT band or my knee. At one point I wondered, what would it feel like to not notice my body? To simply run? Of course, this did happen many times during the run, but I remember more the times when I was too aware of my body. Speaking of the body, when I crossed over the franklin bridge and was running on the St. Paul side, I started reciting Sick by Shel Silverstein in my head. All sorts of ailments: measles, mumps, wrench’d backs, crooked spines, chicken pox, cold nose, numb toes. This winter, I’d like to think more about my body (and the body) and my sometimes strained relationship with it as I’ve gotten older and it doesn’t work as effortlessly as it used to.

I looked at the river a lot this morning. Mostly frozen over, it looked like a weird wasteland. So gray and vast and empty.

Starting my run, everything was wet. Felt wet. Sounded wet. Whooshes and drips and gushing water out of drain pipes. Splashes. It was so humid I thought it was drizzling. Was it?

jan 5/RUN

3 miles
downtown loop
41 degrees

Ran with Scott downtown again. This must be our new Saturday morning ritual. We ran up the river road, over the Plymouth Bridge, through Boom Island and Nicollet Island, beside the cobblestones on St. Anthony Main and then stopped at the Stone Arch Bridge. The path was slick on the edges, wet in the middle. Hard to believe, but a lot of the snow has melted. I don’t remember much from the run except that it felt difficult. I also remember:

  • Feeling the bright sun on my face as we ran across the Plymouth bridge.
  • Being slightly annoyed by the flashing light from the sun as I ran by the railing on the bridge.
  • Watching our shadows ahead of us as we entered Boom Island park.
  • The shshsh sound of soft snow as we shuffled across it on the dirt path in the park. (As I learned last week, this shshsh sound is a sibilant sound. I like sibilant sounds.)

For the past 3 mornings, I’ve been starting the day with some yoga stretches–I’m using a 30 minute video on youtube. I took one yoga class in college but it was mostly meditation and sitting and breathing, not much stretching. Yoga is no joke. I thought I was flexible but I’m not that flexible…yet. I’m hoping that these stretches will help prevent injuries this year.

jan 4/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
33 degrees
less than 5% snow-covered

Sun! Warm(ish) air! Clear path! Almost clear lungs! A great morning for a run. Listened to a playlist and floated above the path. Saw my shadow a few times but focused more on the sky–some wispy white with bright blue. The river is almost frozen over. Saw the Daily Walker twice, but both times I approached him from behind, so no “good morning” greetings today. Also saw a few fat tires and a runner running far ahead of me with a glowing yellow shirt and black shorts (of course shorts, it is above freezing after all). Experienced a runner’s high around mile 3: a big smile spread across my body, from my head to my toes, and I felt Joy. Speaking of the runner’s high I was just talking with my son yesterday about endocannabinoids and how they contribute to our feelings of elation. I wrote a poem about it two years ago:

I See Wonder in the Chemicals

suddenly, without warning I am
exhilarated
euphoric
effervescent, bubbling over with feeling

sometimes I feel ecstatic
beside myself with joy
beside my shadow with delight
beside the world with reverence and awe
beside my mom with longing, regret, enduring love.

sometimes I feel enormous
capacious
if I stuck out my chest
and opened my mouth a bit wider
I could let in the whole world.

sometimes I feel electric
amplifying sounds
lighting up paths
nothing but pure energy,
a flow of electrons moving through the universe

how to explain these feelings?
are they chemically-induced delusions,
brought on by elevated levels of endorphins or endocannabinoids?
why do we need to explain?
can we bear witness to their wonder,
be curious about their origins and impacts
write about them
study them
experiment with them
propose scientific theories about them
without knowing them?
naming and classifying them?
reducing them to chemicals?
claiming that we own the Truth?

I see wonder in the chemicals
their poetic names
their purposes
their possibilities
but only when our theories about them
don’t foreclose
other explanations
other ways of feeling and being.

I reworked bits and pieces of this poem into other poems. I’m not happy with this poem as it is, but I would like to re-visit and further explore this idea of wonder in the chemicals.

jan 3/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
25 degrees
5% snow-covered

Much warmer today. Bright sun. Beautiful! But running was hard. Since my cold has settled in my chest I can’t take in enough oxygen. Oh well. Even with the difficulty breathing, I enjoyed the run. Glanced down at the river and noticed it was almost all frozen. Heard a dog barking in the gorge. Let my shadow lead me–she loves the sun. Heard a train horn blaring for at least 10 seconds. Saw the shadow of a bird flying overhead. Wondered whether the noise I was hearing by the Lake Street bridge was water trickling, wind blowing or a car driving by. Wiped out my fogged up sunglasses several times. Blew my nose, cleared my throat. Stopped at the halfway point to catch my breath. Tried to keep my shoulders relaxed and my hips high. Encountered a few fat tires, a stroller, some walkers and runners. No Daily Walker. No running groups. Couldn’t smell anything. Felt the warm sun on my face running north, a cold wind on my wrists running south. Can’t remember thinking about much else but breathing. Inhale deeply, slowly, through my nose and mouth.

jan 1/RUN

3.2 miles
greenway bridge turn around
2 degrees, feels like -10
95% snow-covered

Cold! Wouldn’t have minded it except that I have a cold and a bunch of junk in my chest. It was hard to breathe. So I stopped and walked a few times. Still glad I got out there. A beautiful morning without much wind. Listened to the snow crunching under my feet. Right before starting my run, as I was walking, I heard the 2 distinct sounds of crunching snow: the quick snap of the one foot striking and the perpetual grinding of the other foot leaving the ground. I heard these two sounds less when I was running. Much more snapping, less grinding. Noticed the river today–almost frozen. Greeted the Daily Walker-a great omen for 2019.

Learned a new word today: spoonerism. Named after Minister William Archibald Spooner, spoonerism is a term for of wordplay in which a speaker switches the first letters/sounds of words. Like a blushing crow instead of crushing blow or truck fump (or tuck frump) instead of…well, you know. Anyway, I’d like to play around with some spoonerisms in relation to running. Here’s one I just came up with: instead of long run, wrong lung.

Here I am in all of my layers:

dec 30/RUN

3.25 miles
greenway bridge turn around
30 degrees
15% snow covered

Much warmer today. The feels like temperature is 25 degrees warmer. The path was clear but wet. Lots of runners out there. What do I remember about my run? The sidewalks were slippery but the path by the river was not. Encountered 2 fat tires. Didn’t notice any birds or squirrels or the river–did I look down at it even once?

dec 29/RUN

3.15 miles
greenway bridge turn around
10 degrees/feels like -2
100% snow and ice covered

I think this is the coldest run of the season. Feels like -2! It didn’t seem too cold to me. But it was super slick. Decided to run in my yaktrax for the first time ever. Not too bad. With their spikes, they made a much louder crunch on the snow. I barely slipped at all. Encountered a handful of runners out on the trail. Not too many walkers and no bikers. Was this the last run on 2018?

dec 25/RUN

3.1 miles
austin, mn
35 degrees

Ran with Scott around Austin Christmas day. Hardly any snow and not too much wind. What do I remember? Wishing Merry Christmas to a man walking his dog that crossed our path. Noticing that the sky was almost all white with gray smudges. Checking to see if Bessie–the big plastic cow at the county fairgrounds–was wearing a scarf (she wasn’t). Watching a rabbit haul ass across the road–they can run fast! Listening to a dog’s bark echo across the open field. Cutting through the parking lot of the Japan Panda (Japanda) restaurant and noticing they were open and one car was in the parking lot. I don’t remember seeing that many holiday decorations. No Santa Claus. Didn’t hear any Christmas music. Or smell any good food.

dec 23/RUN

3.25 miles
greenway bridge turn around
25 degrees, 100% (light) snow-covered

The dustings have begun. A slow gradual accumulation of snow on the path, 1/4 of an inch at a time. I loved my run this morning. Cold, but not too cold. Slick, but not too slick. White ground, blueish gray water, grayish white sky. Listened to a playlist so I didn’t hear any gorge sounds. Greeted the Daily Walker. Saw a guy who sorta looked like Santa Claus walking a dog. Noticed that the river was clear, no ice. Didn’t smell any sewers or almost burnt toast. On the way back from the turn around, 1/2 mile left, 3 runners, dressed all in black, were running on the road. Very dangerous. I’m glad they decided, after the third car passed them, to move up onto the path.