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 big 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 30/RUNSWIM

run: 3 miles
lake nokomis

Thought about running around the lake twice, but it was too sunny and hot. My legs felt sore. What do I remember from the run? Not much. Not enough shade. Lots of walkers and dogs. A few runners. Saw two roller skiers right at the end–always a good omen. Not sure if I’ve ever seen roller skiers at the lake before.

swim: 1 mile/5 little loops
lake nokomis main beach

What a morning for a swim! Warm. Sunny. No waves. I’m so glad I made it to the lake and swam. Got into a rhythm, breathing every 5 strokes. Didn’t see any fish but had a few run-ins with lake debris–floating weeds wrapping around my arms. Saw one other swimmer and a bunch of paddle boarders. One rower. A group of kids taking swimming lessons with the lifeguards. Felt relaxed and peaceful. Heard sloshing in the water and a bit of splashing as my arms broke through the surface. Thought about my stroke: bending my elbows, doing a strong pull under the water, sometimes touching my hipbone as I brought my arm in, legs kicking slowly then quickly. Had no problems seeing the white buoys with my peripheral vision. Only thought about Jaws and the girl at the beginning swimming then being attacked once, for less than a minute. Didn’t worry about anything lurking. Heard some planes flying above. No seagulls or ducks around. I’d really like to try and swim everyday this month.

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 19/SWIM

.68 miles/1200 yards/1 loop
lake nokomis open swim

Thunderstorms were expected, but this week, unlike last, I lucked out. Only a strong wind and a light drizzle that briefly turned into a heavy downpour when I was halfway across the lake. As I waited for the lifeguards to set up the buoys, I chatted with a fellow swimmer. Joyfully, he talked about how fun it was to swim in the wind and rain last week. He said, “I can handle it. I grew up swimming in Lake Ontario!” I was there last week too, but I was out of the water and on my bike by the time it was pouring. I would have liked to stay in the water last week and experience all that rain, with the dark sky, but I had biked to the lake and was hoping to get home before the storm hit (which I didn’t, but that’s another story).

Swimming in the rain is strange. If it’s a light drizzle, it’s hard to tell it’s happening. Today’s rain was heavier. I could see it coming down when I lifted my eyes out of the water to sight the shore. For some reason, in these conditions, it’s much easier to see the buoys and the beach and other swimmers. Why? Not sure. But I love swimming in the rain.

Found a poem with the title, Swimming in the Rain by Chana Bloch:

swimming in the rain

Swaddled and sleeved in water,
I dive to the rocky bottom and rise
as the first drops of sky

find the ocean. The waters above
meet the waters below,
the sweet and the salt,

and I’m swimming back to the beginning.
The forecasts were wrong.
Half the sky is dark
but it keeps changing. Half the stories
I used to believe are false. Thank God
I’ve got the good sense at last

not to come in out of the rain.
The waves open
to take in the rain, and sunlight

falls from the clouds
onto the face of the deep as it did
on the first day

before the dividing began.

Roger Deakins writes about swimming in the rain too–in Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journal–but I didn’t write the passage down so I’ll have to either buy the book or go back to the library to find it. Something about the drops on the surface.

At the little beach, I decided to stop and readjust my nose plug. Big mistake. It fell off. I almost caught it before it tumbled to the sandy bottom. But then it was gone. 3 nose plugs sacrificed to Nokomis in 2 years. Maybe I should attach them to a cord? The worst part: I had to swim back across without a plug, knowing that, with my allergies, my nose might be completely stuffed up all night (thankfully, it wasn’t). I swam as fast as I could. So strange swimming without a plug after 3 (or is it 4?) years. I’m not sure how fast I swam, but it made my shoulders ache warmly for several hours after I was done. I like that feeling.

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 15/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

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

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis open swim

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

july 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.
.

june 29/RUNSWIM

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

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

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

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

june 28/SWIM

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

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

june 24/BIKESWIMRUN

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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

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

Lucky Number

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

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

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

june 22/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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

june 21/RUNSWIM

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

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

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

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