oct 25/BIKESWIM

bike: 7.5 miles
to ywca and back
50 degrees

My last bike ride of the fall? Could be. Pretty sure it’s my last bike ride to the Y. My membership ends when October does. No choice, I’ll have to run outside all winter, which is fine with me.

swim: 1 mile/1850 yards
ywca pool

This could also be my last swim of the year at the y. Don’t know if I’ll get back there before next Thursday when my membership ends. It was a good swim. I noticed the sounds–so loud! Everything amplified by the water. Sloshing and thumping and splashing. I need some better words. At some point during the swim, I imagined swimming next to a younger version of myself. Then I imagined all 6 lanes filled with differently aged-Saras, younger Saras and older Saras. What would we think of each other? Strange and magical. I liked imagining a Sara-filled pool. Later, I noticed the shadows of the trees, just outside, dancing on the pool floor. It looked like the pool bottom was alive. I liked being in this world, free of gravity and the need to see anything too clearly.

sept 14/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
to the ywca pool

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

swim: 2 miles/3520 yards
ywca pool

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

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

Swimming Ool
BY KENN NESBITT

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

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

sept 12/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
to the ywca pool

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

swim: 2 miles/3600 yards
ywca pool

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

sept 6/RUNBIKE

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

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

bike: 9 miles
lake nokomis and back

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

aug 21/RUNBIKESWIM

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

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

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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

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

aug 19/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

aug 14/RUNBIKESWIM

2 miles
dogwood coffee run
75 degrees/77% humidity/dew point 67

Scott and I decided to run together before going to vote in the primaries. So thick outside! Everything felt heavy, especially my lungs and my legs.

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

It’s amazing how much easier it is to bike when you have your tires pumped up all the way!

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

Open swim is almost over and I will miss it. 4 more regular sessions + the 2.4 mile race on the final morning are all that’s left. What a great summer. Things I remember about my swim:

  • so many weeds and twigs to swim through, some almost like webs or nets
  • something warm touched my foot, before freaking out correctly decided that it was another swimmer’s hand and not a fish
  • lots of planes flying above
  • such opaque water!
  • several swimmers swimming way out, almost past the edge of the course, others swimming straight, from buoy to buoy
  • glimpsing something out of the corner of my eye–a swimmer? a duck?–decided it was just a wave then suddenly a blue-capped swimmer popped up, someone swimming breaststroke, surfacing only for a second before hiding underwater again–good thing I didn’t swim over them!
  • realization: I love choppy water

aug 9/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 6 miles
austin, mn
73 degrees/88% humidity/dew point 70

Hot. Humid. Sunny. Difficult. Ran with Scott through Austin on a loop that was almost entirely nature trails winding through woods and fields. Nice, except for when the path was in the bright sun.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 1.3 miles/2 loops
lake nokomis open swim

In the early stages of some sort of sickness that involves achy muscles and sore throat so I didn’t want to swim too much. Swam the first loop with goggles that were completely fogged up. I could barely see the little beach. Swimming mostly by memory. Switched to my other pair of goggles and was able to see for the second loop. Halfway through the second loop, my nose plug slipped a little, enabling air to get out on one side. Such a weird feeling.

aug 7/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
71 degrees/87% humidity

Dark green tunnel above the gorge. Leaves blocking out my view to the river and the sky. Later, past the old stone steps, I could see slices of the blue gray water. Lots of roller skiers. Some behind me going slow enough that they never caught up. Some ahead of me, slowing down enough that I could pass them. Why so many skiers this week? Ran to the Franklin bridge and then stopped to watch some rowers passing under the bridge. Felt pretty good, even if I walked a few times. Too many discarded acorns on the path crunching and twisting my foot. Why so early with the acorns? Will fall and winter come too soon this year?

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

A typical bike ride. Not too fast, on the river road. On the way back, looking out through the trees at the river, I felt lucky to live here and be able to bike on this trail so often.

swim: 1 mile
lake nokomis main beach

Looped around the white buoys ringing the big beach. 5 or was it 6 times? The water was gray and calm and cool. My arms felt strong cutting through the water, my legs powerful as I kicked. Several kayaks paddled through the swimming area, too close to me, so I spent much of my swim always looking out for clueless boaters. Swam for a little over 30 minutes. So glad I fired up to bike over. I’m going to miss these long loopy swims when I’m in the pool this winter doing countless flip turns, hoping my knee doesn’t slide out of its groove.

aug 5/bikeswim

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

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

Such choppy water! Big swells that messed up my stroke on the way to the little beach and then crashed into me on the way back to the big beach. Wasn’t into the swells that rolled in behind me, but I liked crashing into the short wall of waves. Fun! After one loop I thought the most that I would manage was 2 loops, but I just kept swimming. I’d take a break at the beach for 30 seconds and then start again. I’m wiped out, but it was great. I’m proud of myself for not stopping, not making excuses for why I shouldn’t swim another loop. Things I remember:

  • The spray of the water, shooting up, as it hit a swimmer ahead of me.
  • The silver shimmering of the over-turned rescue boat on the shore of the little beach.
  • The lone duck swimming out in the middle of the lake.
  • Not being able to see anything but a quick glimpse of an arm out of the water.
  • Almost hitting the floating dock on my way into the little beach because I couldn’t see it until I was almost on top of it.
  • Hearing a swimmer tell another swimmer that she saw something swimming below her out in the middle of the lake but just tried to ignore it.
  • Feeling strong powerful tough as I swam straight into the waves without stopping

aug 2/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 3.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
57 degrees!

A cooler morning. No headphones. Lots of bikers, not as many runners. Focused a lot of attention on my arm swing again. Saw some rowers being dropped off under the lake street bridge, above the Minneapolis Rowing Club. Maybe my daughter Ro should try something like that? I bet she’d be great at it. I think rowing on the river would be really cool. Don’t remember much else from my run. No roller skiers. Not too many birds. Only one or two dogs.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

The bike back was cool but beautiful. The sun starting to sink. The trees on fire. The light, pink. Biked with Ro and Scott.

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

Open swim is the best! The clouds before I started were puffy streaks, like someone had raked their fingers through them. The water was still. Not many people around. 2 kids swinging, entertained me with their toddler talk and their songs–including Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The air was cool but the water was warm. My feet felt like they might cramp and so did my calf so I was a bit wary of swimming too much or kicking too hard. Decided to only do 3 loops instead of 4. On the final lap, stopped in the middle of the lake, did some breaststroke and then listened to the silence. So amazing! Next time, I’d like to do an extra loop where I just swim out into the middle of the lake and tread water, experiencing the calm and the strange feeling of being out in the middle of the water.

july 29/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6
lake nokomis

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

4 loops! The goal for the rest of the summer is to swim at least 4 loops as many times as I can–and also try to swim the full 2 hours at least once a week. It felt great today. The water was refreshing and calm. Hardly any wind and no waves. The sun was blinding on the way to the little beach and I couldn’t see the orange buoys at all, but I kept swimming straight and was confident enough to know that I’d make it over to the floating dock without straying off course. Payed attention to the sloshing sounds as my hands cut through the water. Thought about how many years I’ve been doing open swim (5) and how much work I’ve put into feeling confident and strong and happy as I swim back and forth across the lake. Didn’t think about much else–except how wonderful the water is for erasing my memory–I can’t remember what I thought about–and starving the strength of my anxieties–I can’t hold onto a thought long enough to turn it into a worry. I don’t (over) think in the water, I swim glide cut through slice pull stretch float crawl kick sight breathe count strokes.

july 24/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 1 mile
lake nokomis

Attempted a training run with Ro around Lake Nokomis but her resistance to accomplishing goals won out. Her ability to resist is impressive even as it’s disheartening. I will continue to believe that one day she will learn to harness her superpower in ways that make her (and the world) better, more just, more joyful. Some days it’s so hard to be a parent and let your kids be who they need to be. It was a beautiful day at the lake. Sunny. Breezy. Bright blue water. Even as I was angry and frustrated, I was also annoyed at myself for not being able to let go of it and enjoy the beautiful morning. Our plan had been to run around the lake and then swim out to the dock for the first time this summer. We walked around the lake and then left before swimming. Bummer.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

A beautiful afternoon. A very slow bike ride with Ro and Scott. Right at the river, past the falls, over the moustache bridge, beside the creek, up 2 hills, down to the lake. Then, after the swim, back again.

swim: 1.36 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis
water temp: 73 degrees

Another great swim. Every swim, I feel more confident about not being able to see much and every swim I feel stronger. On the way back from the little beach, the sun was so blinding that I couldn’t see anything and the water was choppy enough that I had to mostly breathe on one side, but I didn’t care. Swimming out to the little beach, I kept seeing the white sail of a boat beside me. Also saw the red of the kayak and (sometimes) the orange of the buoy. The only think I remember hearing were the shouts of the lifeguards as they yelled back and forth to each other. After the swim, I met up with Scott and Rosie at Sandcastle–the restaurant at the lake. I had a beer, listened to the bluegrass musician and watched a few sailboats moving across the lake. The perfect summer evening. Recognized and celebrated. Redemption after a difficult morning.

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 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.

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 19/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles
64 degrees/84% humidity
minnehaha falls loop

More water. Puddles on the path. A steady summer rain falling on my head. Listened to music while running the first two miles faster. Fun! But hot–shouldn’t have worn my pink jacket. Felt free and joyful to be out in the glowing green world.

Summer Rain/John Waters

Rain-woman,
Gray-haired,
Impatient,
You didn’t stay long
With your cloud-herd
And your silver shawl.
You went towards the East,
Flashing your whip
And thundering orders.
Perhaps a thirsty corn-field
Was calling you.

bike: 5 miles
nice and slow with Ro

Rosie and I biked over to our old neighborhood so she could get her haircut. An easy ride but I’m including it here because we got outside and moved. It was supposed to be done raining, but there was a fine mist as we biked by the river.

swim: .6 miles/1200 yards/1 loop
lake nokomis

Was planning to do 3 loops tonight but when it started raining heavily after the first loop I decided to stop. It would have been fun to swim more in the water but the visibility was really bad and I didn’t want to risk getting lost out in the middle of the lake.

Here are the notes I jotted down shortly after the swim: surface, smooth. cutting through the cold water. gliding. powerful. strong. clear vision. wetsuit. rain drops entering the water, shafts of water instead of light. after I finished, standing in the water watching the drops on the surface, like little dancing beads. so cool! did I see silver streaks below me as I swam–fish? now my muscles burn warmly. cool brown water, planes above. pouring rain when I exited the water. I didn’t care.