may 26/RUN

2 miles
73 degrees/68% humidity/dewpoint: 62
dogwood run

Ran with Scott north on the river road to the greenway, through Brackett Park, over to Lake Street, then walked to Dogwood Coffee for an iced latte. Hot. Humid. But no swarming bugs and lots of shade. We talked most of the time. Scott about why “The Last Jedi” was a bad movie, me about a two different race disasters that I had watched on YouTube–one runner hitting the wall at the end of a 10K, another tripping over a hurdle. Noticed the tree that had blocked Scott’s path yesterday had been moved and cut up. As we ran by it I asked Scott, “I wonder how loud of a crack that tree made as it hit the ground?” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a tree fall to the ground but I bet it’s loud.

may 25/RUN

4 miles
to minnehaha falls and back again
67 degrees/91% humidity/dewpoint 61

Ran early this morning. 6 am and already 67 degrees. Today, 90. Tomorrow, 95. Sunday, 97. I do not like running in the heat. This morning it was okay, especially since I was only running 4 miles. When I got to the river, I turned right instead of my usual left and headed towards the falls. A few minutes after me, Scott went out for a run too, but turned left at the river. My path was clear but his was blocked by a big tree, split in two during the heavy winds and thunderstorm last night. Listened to my running playlist so I didn’t hear birds or rushing water or snapping branches. I have no memory of what I thought about while I ran other than mundane running thoughts like: “I feel like I’m running fairly fast but I bet I’m running slow. I shouldn’t look because then I will just feel bad.” or “I need to make sure to focus on using my left leg so I can build up the muscles in it.” or “I don’t know if this rhythmic breathing works for me.” What else do I remember about my run? Running right by the falls and enjoying the coolness of the spray from the gushing water on my face and arms. Happily drinking water from the fountain that has finally been turned on. Feeling soaked from sweat even before the end of the first mile.  No bikes. No roller skiers or roller bladers or dogs or bugs. One squirrel that almost darted in front of me but then wisely turned around. Several pairs of runners, one trio. A woman stretching her calves on the concrete ledge where Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” is etched.

Again, everything was green. A lush, post-rain green that glows and overwhelms and spills out over the path from below and above. Late May is very early for that shaggy, scruffy, weedy, much too green feeling. I usually don’t feel that until July or August. I love the green, but I’m ambiguous about weeds. In theory, I appreciate their unruly resilience but, even so, I struggle to see beyond their disruptive excess–blocking my view of the river, covering the path, housing too many bugs. Here are 2 poems for reflecting further on this ambiguity, one that I encountered today, the other I read last fall:

Long Live the Weeds/Theodore Roethke

Long live the weeds that overwhelm
My narrow vegetable realm!—
The bitter rock, the barren soil
That force the son of man to toil;
All things unholy, marked by curse,
The ugly of the universe.
The rough, the wicked, and the wild
That keep the spirit undefiled.
With these I match my little wit
And earn the right to stand or sit,
Hope, look, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I.

Surrender/Geraldine Connolly

Rogue seedlings flank
the front bank.

Aspen roots lift
asphalt
from the driveway’s face.

I can hear
growth

like a crackle
of flames.
I watch a frantic

squirrel hoard
pinecones,
strip them clean.

Weeds choke the garden,
thorns and buffelgrass.
Wild blackberries seethe.

I scrub green moss.
Still it spreads its stain

across the deck, and
falls into cracks where
green sprouts flare up.

I fight against surrender but
the trees call to me
as they creep forward.
The forest wants to take us back.

may 24/BIKE

bike to u of m and back: 7 miles
87 degrees

Hot. Windy. Sunny. Feels like July or August, not May. Biked to the library at the U to skim through a few books I might want to buy. I do, at least one of them: Roger Deakin’s Water Log. Feeling ready to write more about water and my love of swimming. Strange to walk in the building. I haven’t been in it since I left the academy 6.5 years ago. Hardly anything has changed. Same steps. Same stacks. Same study tables. Different me. I miss being at the library, swimming in books. In Water Log, Deakin describes how swimming in water is an other-worldly experience. Submerged, your senses working differently in a dark, watery (almost) womb. Sitting in the middle of the library, surrounded by stacks, is not the same as swimming, but it generates similar feelings of being submerged and in a time/space that is in-between. Maybe I should think more about these two activities together?

Bike Thoughts:

As usual, most of my thoughts while biking were about staying alert and cautious. Paying attention to other bikers and trying to avoid potholes. It felt good to ride, even though it was hot. At first, I was angry by all the bikers coming from the other direction, biking beside each other and hogging the path. With my lack of depth perception and my inability to quickly process some images, passing so close to other bikers is very scary. At some point, I decided I would stop worrying and just try to smile–not at others but for myself. Doing this helped. Much better than my old approach: rehashing the close encounter in my head and imagining how I would confront the bikers and shame them with an explanation of how dangerous their biking was for someone like me, with macular degeneration. Will I ever be able to lose myself in a bike ride, letting my thoughts wander like in a run or a swim, or is it just too dangerous to not always be focused? As I bike more this summer, I hope to find out.

may 23/RUN

5.1 miles
67 degrees/81% humidity
the franklin loop

3 miles in, I decided to stop and walk on the franklin bridge. I’m glad I did. Looking out over the Mississippi, I saw one of the biggest birds I’ve ever seen. To me and my questionable vision, it looked almost like a mini-plane floating way up in the sky. Wow, what a wing span! Could it have been a broad-winged hawk or an eagle or a kestrel or a falcon? No idea, but it was cool to see. Tried rhythmic breathing while chanting in my head:

raspberry/coulis
strawberry/custard
mundane is/monday
terrible/tuesday
wonderful/wednesday
terrific/thursday
fabulous/friday
saturday/so so

Not sure how it works for me, but I’ll try it again next time I run. Didn’t see the Daily Walker but was able to greet a few other runners. Didn’t see many bikes or roller-skiers or dogs. Smelled some lilac bushes. Heard the hum of traffic and the shuffle shuffle scratch scratch of my feet on the gritty path. I finished at my favorite part of the path and before the mosquitoes found me, I enjoyed stopping and peering down into the gorge. And I realized: I’ve been writing about the gorge in the summer as having a thick, green veil that blocks your view. That’s not quite right. The trees are thick and you can’t see the river, that’s true, but they don’t totally block your view of what’s down below. Part of what makes it feel so mysterious is how the trees are spaced out, offering quick flashes of more than green. When I look closely, I can see the steep slope and the trunks of the trees reaching above and below me. Even as I can’t see the floor of the floodplain forest, I feel it and how high above it I am. I’d like to spend more time studying this spot and figuring out how to better describe it.

bonus: here’s a great list of the birds found near the Mississippi River Gorge. What’s a mergenser or a tern? I need to find out.

may 21/RUN

8.2 miles
almost downtown turn around
63 degrees

Cloudy. Overcast. Almost light gray, which made the green glow. Running below the road and above the gorge, on my favorite part of the trail, the green enveloped me. Today I liked it. Sometimes it’s too much. Too much green. Too much vegetation. I especially feel this way in August when everything is overgrown and buggy and hot. Smelled lilac and honeysuckle. Remembered growing up in North Carolina and sucking the honeysuckle flowers that grew on the barbed-wire fence at the edge of our property. Felt steady and strong. Managed to keep running in several spots where I wanted to stop. What else do I remember? The construction worker walking on the franklin bridge that I could see as I approached the bridge from below. The 2 walkers that turned around and stared as I approached them. Passing the Daily Walker.

may 20/RACE

10K: 55:06
women run the cities

A beautiful day for a run beside the river! Sunny. Not too much wind. Not too warm. I decided to run this race to redeem myself for the get in gear 10K that I ran 3 weeks ago. In that race, I fell apart in the second half and walked a lot. In this race, I did much better. Starting slower and running through the bad moments. I still walked once–for about half a minute–and ran much slower than I have in the past, but I feel good about the race. What do I remember? A long line for the porta-potties. The energetic and entertaining way the women in front of me gestured with her hands as she talked. The woman behind me, describing her late night drinking and ordering domino’s pizza. The woman ahead of me in the race corral discussing meeting a random guy while running a marathon and then stalking him online later. The extremely off-key version of The Star Spangled Banner someone sang right before the race. A woman making this weird waving motion while running beside me. What was she doing? Being confused at the start of the lake street bridge because everyone was running on the sidewalk and not the road and then almost missing Scott cheering me on. Running up the Summit hill and hearing a woman encouraging her friend: “you can slow down but don’t walk.” Feeling grateful when “Back in Black” came on my running playlist and pumped me up. Trying to avoid all of the potholes. Crossing the Ford bridge and then seeing the long stretch of road before we turned down to the falls and wanting to stop and walk–but not doing it. Turning down to the falls just as the theme from Rocky started playing. Smiling as I finished.

bonus: Later, Scott and I biked to the game. 12 miles total. We weren’t biking too fast, but it was some nice cross-training. It’s always easier for me to bike when I’m following someone else. With my vision, I can bike but it can be difficult. Sometimes–not every time–it takes a while for me to really see the path, especially when going down hill. I see that it’s there, but I can’t quite find the edges. Usually, I trust that I’m following the path, even when I can’t completely see it.

may 19/RUN

2 miles
59 degrees/79% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/brackett park

Overcast. Thick, heavy air. Buggy. Relentlessly green. Cool but clammy. Went on a quick run with Scott. Kept it nice and easy and talked most of the way about the book I’m reading on rhythmic breathing. Earlier today, while I was waiting for Scott to wake up, I did a writing experiment with rhythmic breathing:

For slow, easy runs breathe in for 3, out for 2. 

In 2 3.
Out 2.
Blueberry
crumble
Raspberry
tartlet
Vanilla
custard
Strawberry
ice cream
Beautiful
dreamer
Primary
colors
Mystery
novel
Forbidden
forest
Untimely
death
Let it be
over
Long lost love
refound
Terrible
headache.

For fast runs, breathe in 2, out 1.

Refried
beans
Oven
fries
release
doubt
embrace
me
Sara
smile
Sunshine
bright
Flowers
bloom
Tempers
flare
Striking
feet
Flailing
arms
Yelling
font
Famous
fig
Noisy
bar
Smoky
room
Salty
beer
Bathroom
line
Early
heat
Maple
tree
Thunder
thighs
Coming
storm
Nervous
dog
Gangly
knee
Giving
up
Staring
out.

So much fun!

may 18/SWIM BIKE

swim at the ywca: 1875 yards
bike to ywca and back: 8 miles

Much of my bike ride was devoted to paying attention to the path and other people so I don’t remember noticing much else. It was very windy, both on the way to the y and on the way back. It was so windy coming off the Sabo Bridge that it almost took my breath away. Biked mostly on the greenway trail, which follows the an old railroad line, cutting across the city. You can take it all the way to Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun). A great, wide path. Easy to ride on with my bad vision. Much easier than the windy river road path.

My swim felt good. About halfway into it, I started to notice the shadows on the pool floor. Very faint. Coming from the leaves fluttering on the trees right outside the windows. Then I noticed the sloshing noise of my body moving through the water. And the fact that the blue line in the middle of the lane is 6 squares across. And the random stuff settling at the bottom, floating just above the white tiles and the metal drain. And the occasional click of my shoulder or wrist or knuckle or something, the noise amplified by the water. And the limbs of other swimmers as I passed by them. I spent most of the time trying to keep track of what lap I was on, but other thoughts did creep in. I can’t remember any of them now, but I do remember feeling like I was existing in a different sort of time, almost other-worldly. Pretty cool. Not as cool as open water swimming time, but still cool. I’m thinking that I should bring a notebook for these swims so that I can immediately record my thoughts, before they disappear.

may 17/RUN

5.15 miles
67 degrees
52% humidity
franklin loop

A good run. Steady and slow. There was cool shade and when there wasn’t, my shadow kept me company. Glanced down at the gorge and all I could see was green and a few slashes of brown. No river. No sandy path. So much green–a sea of it. I kept thinking that it was hard to distinguish between shades of green and that maybe I should think about textures and shapes instead? Soft fuzzy greens. Sharp, spiky greens. Thick, heavy greens. Ran through some swarms of bugs on the way to the franklin bridge. They flew into my eyes and my mouth until I tipped my hat so low that all I could see was the ground. Scott had warned me about them, but I was already committed to my route and decided that experiencing the bugs might make for a good story or a good description. Does it? Not sure what to say about the bugs other than that they seemed determined to drown in the fluid in my eyes. Yuck. On the east side of the river, ended up following (not too closely) a runner ahead of me for a few miles. Would I have run faster if I hadn’t been trying to keep a big distance from her? Maybe. Towards the end of the run, I got to say, “good morning” to the Daily Walker. Always a great way to end my run.

Early on in the run, I remembered a poem I read this morning. It was about cottonwood trees. I wondered, when will the cottonwood trees start snowing cotton? Probably in June.

Cottonwood/Kathy Fagan/from Sycamore

The cottonwood pollen is flying again,
Adrift like snow or ash. It lines
The curbs, it sticks to my lips
Like down to a fox’s muzzle.
I made a poem about it years ago.
We were new then. We’d set fire
To our old lives and made love day
And night, mouths full of each other.
Back then, we were a match
For June: arrogant, promising, feverish.
For as long as we live, summer returns
To us. And snow, ash, they, too, return.

may 16/BIKERUN

bike to lake nokomis and back: 8.5 miles
run around lake nokomis: 2.5 miles
73 degrees

First bike of the season! Sunny. Not much wind. A great day for a ride even with my bad vision. Biking to the lake is fun but mentally exhausting as I struggle to stay on the path. My depth perception is bad and I have trouble distinguishing between the grayish road, the grayish curb and the grayish path. Occasionally, a strip of bright green grass sandwiched between the path and the road helped me to see–another reason to love green–the edge of the path. It was much easier seeing in the bright sunlight. In the shade the light filtered through the trees and created a dappled effect. I used to like this dappling, but now it makes it so much harder to see. Everything swims around even more than usual, especially when the leaves are swaying in the breeze. Most of my thinking was focused on not running into another biker, runner, walker, or car and trying to stay on the path, but I did have a few thoughts: 1. I want to write something–a poem, a line for a poem–about the green strip of grass that helps me to distinguish between the path and road. It will be part of my larger interest in green. Maybe it will turn into a chapbook? 2. I want to document the difficulties of exercising with Best’s disease, especially biking.

Once I arrived at the lake, I ran around it. A loop = 2.5 miles. It was hot and sunny with hardly any shade. I felt a breeze a few times, but mostly hot sun and sweat and a very flushed face. I used to run around lake nokomis all the time. Now that I live 4 miles away, I only do it on long runs or if I bike there, like today. Saw lots of walkers. A few runners. Strollers, Dogs. Ducks. A hissing goose. My shadow, first to the side, then in front leading me over the bridge. Saw the shimmering water and a man precariously perched on a wall on the edge of the lake, fishing. Noticed lots of people sitting on benches, enjoying the day and one woman peering into the marshy, wetlands on the edge of the path, near the bridge. Passed a runner who was running with her phone but no headphones listening to a podcast or the news or a running app? When I started my feet felt heavy and awkward. I wondered if I would be able to run the whole loop without feeling miserable. Soon, I felt better and even though it was hot, I mostly enjoyed it. Ended the run by wading in the water, which up until 2 weeks ago was still covered in ice. Instant ice bath for my knee! No profound thoughts. No runner’s high. No super fast splits. Just a few things remembered and some interesting moments to record. And a sense of joy that summer is coming and I get to spend it at this lake, swimming and biking and running and writing.

may 15/SWIM

1825 yards/1 mile
ywca pool

In a month, I’ll be swimming across the lake. For now, I’ll settle for the pool. I’m hoping to build up my endurance so I can swim longer at open swims on tues/thurs/sun this summer. I also think I want to devote some attention to writing about swimming, especially open water swimming. First, I’m interested in documenting what I think about when I’m swimming. During today’s swim, which was actually yesterday because I’m writing this entry a day late, I didn’t think about much but the very mundane: why does 100 yards seem to take so long? Is my nose plug going to fall off? What’s that weird thing floating near the bottom? 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left. I don’t remember hearing or smelling anything. Just lots of laps. Lots of flip-turns. Lots of different patterns for breathing to keep it interesting. Sometime 3, sometimes 4 or 5 or 6. 50 yards of breathing every 2 strokes, which is not fun. I did see other people underwater in the lanes beside me as I passed them. One guy had on a snorkel; a woman had on fins. They were all mostly doing freestyle with the occasional length of breaststroke. I was probably the youngest swimmer by a few decades.

When we lived in North Carolina, my dad used to swim laps at the college pool. I should ask him about it. Don’t think I ever have. Does he miss swimming? His mom/my grandmother loved swimming when she was young. She swam in the summer at the lake near our family’s farm.

may 14/7 MILES

65 degrees
75% humidity
bohemian flats and back

Spring! A great run all the way to the flats and back. Was planning to stop and get water at the drinking fountain at the park, but it wasn’t turned on yet. Heard lots of birds, including a bunch of geese on the other side of the river. Enjoyed running on the sand on the edge of the path, making a great shuffling noise. Also ran in the dirt, right by the river and near a goose who appeared ready to hiss. Saw lots of strollers, a few runners, walkers, bikers. No rowers. Only a few dogs. Dodged some shoes and a jump rope blocking the path at the bottom of the Franklin bridge. Was able to greet the Daily Walker at the end of my run. Chanted “strawberry raspberry blueberry” and “I am flying, I am free. I am where I want to be.” Felt strong at the end of the run. Experienced a pang of doubt when I was almost finished, thinking about how today’s distance is barely half of what I will be running in a month and a half.

I know that running is all too often seen as an introspective activity, but running breaks down the barriers between what we think is inside us and what we see as being outside. Running unites us with places and creates emotional connections with them in ways that are not easily accounted for.

Runners know in their hearts that when thoughts move, we think them differently (Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human, 84-85).

may 11/5.25 MILES

48 degrees
20 mph wind
franklin loop

Brr. Colder today and a lot more humid. Overcast with rain coming soon. Everything is overwhelmingly green. Windy. Had my headphones on and my hood up for the first mile. Felt disconnected, in a dreamy state. Almost floating on the path–not flying but hovering. The floor of the floodplain forest is no longer visible. Just a sea of green. Clashing greens–mostly yellowish green, with a few darker blueish green patches. After running over the Franklin bridge I also couldn’t see the paved path down in the east river flats. Crossing back over the Lake street bridge, I saw some rowers–2 shells out on the river. I love watching the rowers. Finished my run feeling strong and fast.

may 10/3 MILES

60 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/south

Running in the afternoon is harder. Hotter. Windier. Listened to my playlist and felt pretty good. My knee felt okay, even though it temporarily displaced last night, right before dinner. Walking over to the cabinet to get a placemat, I stopped and felt a sudden shift. First pain, then shock. I could feel that the kneecap was out of its groove. I was able to pop it back in place by pushing on it and walking up the stairs. I hate that this happens. No warning. No abrupt twisting, Just a sudden, abrupt moving out of the groove. My kneecap displaced last month like this and was fine after a few hours, so I was pretty sure I would be okay. Still, it sucks when this happens. I wonder, when will it happen again?

note: I didn’t have time to write this log after my run, so I’m writing it the next day. I couldn’t remember much from the run.

may 8/5.5 MILES

71 degrees
franklin hill turn around

Green. So green! Everywhere I ran, I saw light green. Maybe like the color of the inside of an avocado or the tips of asparagus or the skin of a pear? Running above the floodplain forest, I quickly glanced down. Almost all I could see were green leaves and just the faintest memory of a sandy path winding through the woods to the river. I think it looked even greener because rain was coming. Now, as I write this a few hours later, it is raining and will be for the rest of the day. I like how green looks when the sky is gray. Of course, it’s shimmers in the sunlight, which is beautiful, but the clouds do something special to the green–at least as I see it, with my diseased eyes. It’s more vibrant or deeper or melancholy or? I’m not sure, but I’ve always liked cloudy overcast rainy green best.

I ran down the Franklin hill and kept going for a few more tenths before turning around. Ran back up the hill for a little bit then walked for about 2 minutes. Then ran the rest of the way home. It didn’t feel easy, but I know it wasn’t that hard. But hard enough that I found it difficult to do much more than think about how much I had left to run. Tried chanting “raspberry strawberry blueberry” which helped keep me focused. Did I notice much else? Lots of cars driving on the river road–a steady stream. My pony-tail was dripping a lot of sweat on my shoulder. The wind felt good in my face. Saw the Daily Walker but wasn’t able to greet him. The river in the flats looked brownish-gray. When I got tired of running and wanted to be done, I paid attention to the white line on the path, dividing the bikers from the walkers. Mostly unbroken white with a few worn patches. I think they painted this line last spring. I wonder if they’ll repaint it this year?

In honor of so much green, I found a few green poems on Poetry Foundation that I like:

Green/D.H. Lawrence

The dawn was apple-green,
The sky was green wine held up in the sun,
The moon was a golden petal between.

She opened her eyes, and green
They shone, clear like flowers undone,
For the first time, now for the first time seen.

Answer in Green/Florence Dickinson Sterns

I spoke to the grass that brushed against my knees:
Are you the answer or Empedocles
Who gave to life a scientific core,
And thus proclaimed himself conspirator
With what a man can dedicate to reason?

Does science solve the problem of the season,
That gives a blossom to the bough or ice to the eaves,
Or brings a livelier color to the changing leaves?

We rustle pages of our Aristotle,
And keep the Hylozoists in a bottle.
Unlike the ancient Genii lost to view,
They claimed a philosophic residue
Persisting through a labyrinth of years.

A robin does not argue. It appears.
It lives its day and lets discussion pass.
“Perhaps you’ve solved the problem,” said the grass.

The Green Eye/James Merrill

Come, child, and with your sunbeam gaze assign
Green to the garden as a metaphor
For contemplation, seeking to declare
Whether by green you specify the green
Of orchard sunlight, blossom, bark, or leaf,
Or green of an imaginary life.

A mosaic of all possible greens becomes
A premise in your eye, whereby the limes
Are green as limes faintly by midnight known,
As foliage in a thunderstorm, as dreams
Of fruit in barren countries; claims
The orchard as a metaphor of green.

Aware of change as no barometer
You may determine climates at your will;
Spectrums of feeling are accessible
If orchards in the mind will persevere
On their hillsides original with joy.
Enter the orchard differently today:

When here you bring your earliest tragedy,
Your goldfish, upside-down and rigidly
Floating on weeds in the aquarium,
Green is no panorama for your grief
Whose raindrop smile, dissolving and aloof,
Ordains an unusual brightness as you come:

The brightness of a change outside the eye,
A question on the brim of what may be,
Attended by a new, impersonal green.
The goldfish dead where limes hang yellowing
Is metaphor for more incredible things,
Things you shall love among, things seen, things known.

may 7/5.75 MILES

69 degrees
ford loop

9:15 am and 69 degrees? No thanks. I love so much about spring and summer but not running in the heat and the bright sun. Hardly any shade. Listened to headphones and felt disconnected. Thought I was doing okay, but near the Ford Bridge, it started to feel difficult. Stopped to walk for a few minutes on the bridge. Strangely, walking today didn’t bother me or make me feel like I failed.

This very warm weather is coming too soon. Last year on May 7th it was only 51 degrees. Much better running weather. Everything is happening too soon and too fast. My view down to the river is almost gone. The floodplain forest is covered in green. A beautiful shade of green, but that’s not the point. I want to see the river and the sandy trail through the forest for at least a few days more. Yesterday when I was walking near the river I heard the rowers! They’re back. I looked down at the ravine as I ran up the hill near Summit. No water today. Tried to run mostly on the dirt trail next to the uneven path. Noticed the raging river at the locks and dam. Ran by a walker that I encountered in the same spot last week. If I keep running this loop in the morning, will he become a new Daily Walker to watch for? At some point during the run, around the time it was feeling especially hard, I wondered–am I getting enough iron? Resolved to eat more spinach and maybe take an iron supplement. Finished strong, running faster and feeling freer. Stopped at the water fountain but noticed too late that it wasn’t working yet. Saw my shadow–in front of me, then beside me. I think she likes the heat and the bright sun. Sweat a lot more. Face felt bright red. My hair was completely soaked and dripping by the end. Next time I run I’ll need to bring some water.

note: While quickly proofreading my log, I noticed a theme: water. A lost river view. Rowers. A lack of water in the ravine. The raging river below the bridge. A water fountain that doesn’t work. A sweaty, red face with a dripping ponytail. The need for water to drink.

Returning home, I discovered a new poem to love from The New Yorker: “Eating Grapes Downward” by Christian Wiman. I especially love the opening stanza:

Every morning without thinking I open
my notebook and see if something
might have grown in me during the night.
Usually, no. But sometimes a tendril
tries a crack in my consciousness
and if I remain only indirectly aware of it
and tether my attention to the imminent
and perhaps ultimately unseeable
sun, sometimes it will grow. Inevitably
a sense of insignificance intrudes: I think
of all the lives in all the places
waiting in their ways
for something to grow out of them,
into them. Is it the same God?

Love this idea of indirect awareness. So important to how I am living these days–with my writing and my vision and even my running. Want to experiment with ways to write about it/with it/around and through it.

may 5/7 MILES

58 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/minnehaha creek/lake nokomis/minnehaha parkway/falls/mississippi river road path, north

7 miles without stopping. I ran slow, but I still did it. A beautiful morning. Low humidity, slightly cloudy, light breeze. Everything had a hint of green. The lake was open–no more ice. The ice out (which is what they call it when the ice is completely off the lake) happened on April 30th. Last year: March 7th! Saw a rower at the lake. Heard some rowers on the river. Ran on my favorite part of the creek path. Encountered lots of bikers. A few groups of runners. Some serious rollerbladers. Heard lots of birds. People chatting, including a woman who exclaimed, “well, they shouldn’t have the job!”–whatever that means. Around mile 6 started to have that dazed feeling. Not quite a runner’s high, but a feeling of disconnection, like I was in a dream, just me and the path stretching out in front.

3 times I encountered people stopping on the path, slightly blocking it. First time: near my favorite part of the path 2 women stopped to admire some chalk drawings that were covering the entire path–I didn’t stop to read them. Who drew them? Second time: at Lake Hiawatha, right before the bridge. 2 bikers stopped on the edge of the path, right before the bridge, at a blind corner. Lamenting something that wasn’t there this year–not sure what. I was too distracted imagining a bike going 20 mph, rounding the corner and hitting them. Third time: almost to the top of the hill on the river road path between the locks and dam and 44th street. A shirtless runner was stretched out on the ground, blocking part of the path, holding up his phone to take a picture. Strange.

may 3/5.9 MILES

66 degrees
ford loop

Sunny. Low humidity. Low wind. Warm. Too warm. 55-60 would be perfect. Struggled with this run for the last several miles. Had to convince myself to keep going by chanting, “I am flying, I am free. (And) I am where I want to be.” It worked. I didn’t stop, but the run still felt difficult. Mainly, my legs hurt. Still, I did it. I kept running and I pushed through several moments when I really wanted to stop.

Things I remember? So many birds! The bright, light (almost lime) green of new leaves on the trees in the floodplain forest. My view of the river will be blocked too soon! My feet, sometimes shuffling, sometimes sizzling, on the gritty path as I crossed the lake street bridge. Hearing a sound near the Summit ravine and wondering, is that the rush of air or water gushing out of a pipe? After hearing more water gurgling under the path as I ran over a manhole, decided it was water. Looked down in the ravine and noticed only a trickle of water in the creek bed. Is this part of Bridal Falls–the waterfall that I wrote about last fall when I discovered east river flats? Running mostly on the dirt trail next to the path on the St. Paul side. Getting a quick glance at a runner just behind me, then looking again a few minutes later and not seeing them anymore. Where did they go? Running under the ford bridge and up on the other side–much easier, the hill isn’t as steep. Negotiating with myself: keep running until you get to folwell. now keep running until dowling. now keep running until the florescent crosswalk sign. now keep running until..no? okay stop (just short of 6 miles).

Started reading a new book about running, Footnotes: How Running Makes us Human. In the introduction, here’s how the author describes the runner’s high:

The sun warms the earth beneath my feet, everything looks saturated with pigments, and if I can keep going long and steady enough a wave of ecstasy will soon break over me. And when that comes, the burrs, the static and the clamor of the everyday will be washed clean from me. Virginia Woolf called them ‘moments of being’: those few seconds when we are only ourselves, and our senses reverberate with the pleasure of the present (xi-xii).

He uses words like immediate, raw, urgent, overwhelming, calm, invincible, super-sensitive. I have felt all of these things to some degree but also other things: grateful, at peace, removed, joyful, capacious, generous, open, machine-like. I did not feel any of these things today. Today, I was too focused on keeping going to feel much of anything.

may 1/2 MILES

63 degrees
mississippi river road south/north

A quick run in the bright sun. Shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. No jacket. As predicted we’ve jumped straight from winter to summer. Time for my body to get used to warmer temperatures and higher humidity. No more pure cold air to breathe or crunchy, crusty paths to hear. I’m excited for summer–especially open swim, but I will miss the cold, clear air and the distraction of layers and snow-covered paths.

What do I remember from my run? It was warm. Encountered several people pushing strollers. A few bikers. Another runner–just one? No squirrels. No snow. Lots of chirping birds that I tuned out. No rowers on the river. No more fat tires. A few flowers by the side of the path. Can’t remember anything else except keeping an even pace. I think once or twice I tried to steady my breathing, swing my arms, straighten my back.

 

 

 

april 30/5.75 MILES

57 degrees
ford loop

Windy. Almost raining. A great run. Signed up for a 10k in 3 weeks on the same course as the one I just raced. I’m hoping to redeem myself and feel strong in the second half. Hoping to run the route many times and practice better pacing. I ran it today, starting at a slow pace. It was great. Listened to my playlist. Felt like I was in a daze for the first few miles. Disconnected, almost floating. Love that feeling. Running across the bridge I put up my pink hood because of the wind; I was worried that my almost destroyed green hat would finally blow off and into the river. I imagined the log entry I’d write memorializing it. Encountered a few runners, not too many walkers, 1 or 2 bikers. No Daily Walker. No roller skiers. Thought a lot about keeping slow and strong. Anything else? Didn’t feel any rain drops. Didn’t see any more snow. No puddles to dodge. Just wind to run into. A few hills to climb. 2 bridges to cross.