run: 4 miles, top of franklin hill turn around
bike: 8.8 miles, lake nokomis and back
swim: 1/2 mile, lake nokomis
65 degrees. Sunny. Only a little wind. Not too much humidity. A great morning for a run. I’m writing this several hours after the run so I don’t remember too much of it. Ran in the shade. Saw some runners and walkers, no Daily Walker or roller skiers. For some reason, I thought about house keys and where you might hide a spare one. Why (and why do I remember this detail and not much else)?
I’m getting used to biking again and that feeling of not quite being able to see the path. The bike path was crowded, especially on the way back, after my swim. Passed a biker near the falls, alerting them with my usual “on your left” and they said “thank you.” I like when other bikers do that. I try to do it too. It seems rare to hear people actually alert you. Lately I’ve been working hard to not let it bother me. Noticed that sky was bright blue and cloudless. Saw lots of birds’ shadows flying overhead. Mostly small birds. Locking up my bike at the beach, I heard an older woman compliment a younger woman on “her bright yellow bike.” She had a bright yellow bike too, but it was stolen out her garage. She misses that bike.
The water was clear, but not nearly as clear as it had been last week. Still, I was a bit unsettled by it, not wanting to run into any big fish or see them swimming below me. Almost ran into a small dead fish, floating a few feet in front of me. Yuck! Noticed the sloshing of the water a few times. Looked around and saw shafts of light, more like slivers of light, cutting through the brown water. Swam just outside the beach area and saw how the lake floor dropped off. Mostly avoided the plants growing up from the bottom–I think it’s the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil–but one strand? leaf? branch? tapped at my ankle and freaked me out. Didn’t think about much except for how nervous I was about what might be swimming with me. For some reason, swimmer just on the edge of the big beach is scarier to me than swimming across the lake. Strange.
Wilson library/U of M west bank
Biked to the library at the U and then, after I was done, biked home. Read more of the book Waterlog as I decide whether or not I want to buy it. I do. Sitting in the cold, quiet library, I was reminded of something I read last year in Gros’s A Philosophy of Walking. The author is discussing Nietzsche’s love of walking and his distrust of ideas conceived while sitting inside, especially in libraries:
many books exude the stuffy odour of libraries. But what does one judge a book? By its smell (and even more, as we shall see, by its cadence). Its smell: far too many books have the fusty odour of reading rooms, poorly ventilated. The air circulates badly between the shelves and becomes saturated with the scent of mildew, the slow decomposition of paper, ink undergoing chemical change.
I love libraries and their papery, decaying smells. And I especially enjoy coming to them to get lost in words and ideas and to retreat from the hot, summer sun. Today the library was cool and mostly quiet and a wonderful place to be. Perhaps it helped that I had moved quite a lot to get there?
Here’s another great quotation from Nietszche that I liked to remember:
How quickly we guess how someone has come by his ideas; whether it was while sitting in front of his inkwell, with a pinched belly, his head bowed low over the paper–in which case we are quickly finished with his book, too! Cramped intestines betray themselves–you can bet on that–no less than close air, closet ceilings, closet narrowness.
bike to lake nokomis and back: 8.8 miles
run around lake nokomis: 2 miles
And the heat wave continues. Decided to bike to the lake. Was planning to swim when I got there, but I cut my finger pitting cherries yesterday and I’m wary of open swimming with an open wound. So, I ran instead. So hot! Even in the shade. Managed to run almost all the way around. Stopped at 2 miles. Saw a few other people running. Mostly slowly and miserably. Ended my run near the fishing dock. A paddle boat was up on the grass with no one around. How did it get here?How long has it been here? Where are its paddlers? When I got back to the big beach, I returned to my bike and grabbed my water bottle. The ice had melted, but the water was still cool. Then I walked into the water. It’s warmed up fast! A few people were out swimming, doing wide loops around the white buoys. Standing on the sandy lake bottom so clear and clean with the water almost up to my chest, the sun reflected off of the waves, bright and sharp, hurting my eyes. Not nearly as pleasing as the sun-casted shadows of leaves dancing in the breeze near the bike rack that memorized me before my run. Leaving the water I felt cold. Mostly refreshed but chilled too. And wet. Dripping, not from sweat, but from a wet suit. Later, drying off my sandy feet at a picnic table. I heard the click click clack beep of a metal detector as a man slowly walked around the trees near the trail. I’ve seen people–only men, actually–in the lake looking for treasure, but not in the grass. Did he find anything?
Found a short story online called Water In Its Three Forms. I like the idea of organizing a short lyric essay/prose poem around the theme of water. So much of what I wrote about in today’s entry involves water!
bike to u of m and back: 7 miles
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?
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.
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.
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.
bike to lake nokomis and back: 8.5 miles
run around lake nokomis: 2.5 miles
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.