june 17/RUNSWIM

run: 3.25 miles
77 degrees/80% humidity
lake nokomis

So hot! The heat index was in the upper 80s, at least. Ran 1 loop with Scott and then a little bit extra on my own before open swim. I don’t remember much of the run except that we went slow, it was very hot and I didn’t feel tired just unmotivated. Maybe music could have helped? My entire face was dripping with sweat. The top of my head, my hair, my forehead, my cheeks, right below my nose. I do not like running in this heat but I still did it and I’m glad.

swim: 1.35 miles/2 loops
80 degrees/choppy water
lake nokomis

A great swim! Decided to be much more deliberate at the start, making sure that I could spot the buoys. Also looked for other swimmers and the lifeguards. After a few minutes, the buoy had completely disappeared but I was okay. I just kept swimming and stayed calm. Soon enough it came into view. For me, open water swimming is always unsettling–even as it’s exhilarating too–because I swim most of the time without being able to see where I’m going. I have to trust that I’m swimming straight and that the buoy will eventually appear. Most of the time it does. I’m sure that open water swimming is hard for everyone but it’s especially difficult for me and my messed up central vision. Whole sections of my central vision–especially those in the top quadrants are blacked out. When the buoy first appears in those areas, I can’t see it all. It’s a void, just endless blueish brownish undulating water. Often, I have to turn my head and use my peripheral vision to try and spot the buoy. A bit of a drag, really, but also good practice for learning to function with very limited vision. What else do I remember? Mostly breathed every five strokes except for when the water was too choppy on one side. Then I picked the side that wasn’t choppy, I think it was my right, and breathed every 6 to that side. Don’t remember seeing any planes or birds in the air. Didn’t notice any particular trees. No strange sounds. Just water. A overturned rowboat, its silver bottom exposed and glimmering in the sun at the little beach, and the white top of a building and the yellow paddle boats at the big beach. Had a few run-ins with other swimmers. One swimmer kept unintentionally pushing me off the far side until I abruptly stopped swimming and went around them the other way.

Speaking of breathing every 5 strokes, here’s a poem I started last year and then edited more this spring:

Every 5
Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis

I used to breathe every 3 strokes
Now I breathe every 5
lifting my head out of the water
1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left

I breathe every 5
Breathing oddly allows me to alternate sides
1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left
When I breathe every 5 I can stay underwater longer

Breathing oddly enables me to swim straighter
I don’t look underwater—
who can see through the dark murkiness?
I stay under longer, feeling the water lapping over my head
And forget that I am not a fish

I hardly look above the water—
all I see are flashes of white sails green trees orange buoys
I count my strokes 1 2 3 4 5
And try to forget that there are probably fish
swimming below me through the brown nothingness.

I count my strokes 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left
and listen to the water lapping over my head
gliding rhythmically through the brown nothingness
as I swim straight across the lake to the other side.

june 12/RUNSWIM

run: 8 miles
lake nokomis loop, short
70 degrees/80% humidity

Began the morning with a longish run. It was hot and humid. I was sweating before I finished the first mile. Overcast. So many cars on the river road whooshing past. Was it something about the air quality–the humidity?–that made the whooshing noise seem more hurried or was it just because people were rushing to get to work? Ran slow and steady. Decided I would run to the lake without stopping and then, on the return trip, take walk breaks. Enjoyed running beside the creek. I can’t remember running on my favorite part of the path at all–I remember running right before it and right after it, but not in it. Strange. The creek water was subdued. Surprised with all the snow that we got in April that it wasn’t gushing more. Almost to the lake, ran by the Dinosaur park at the rec center and remembered when my kids were younger and would play here. Both kids had their earliest pre-school classes here over 10 years ago. The lake was refreshing. A nice breeze that mixed with my sweat to make me extra cool. While running there, I kept thinking about how the first open swim of the season is tonight! Can’t wait. This year, I’m hoping to swim more and write more about swimming. Walked for .3 miles and then started running again–10 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking. Nice. Much easier. And I ran much faster. I think these breaks will help my legs recover faster–I hope. Tried very hard to not think about how I will need to run what I ran today plus 5 more miles in a 1/2 marathon race on the fourth of july. I was mostly successful.

Highlight of the run: Almost finished, I saw an older biker up ahead with a red, wide brimmed hat over her helmet. Never seen that before. How wonderful it is to be old and not give a fuck about how ridiculous you look!

swim: 1.37 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis open swim!

Started open swim with a bang: got the farthest off course that I ever have. Way off course. So far off course that I was almost to the other shore. The lifeguard had to come get me. As I swam back to the buoys I wondered, has my vision got that much worse? But, once I finished the loop and switched out my dark googles for the light ones, I realized that it was the googles. Ugh. I hate not being able to see where I’m going, to feel completely blind, just swimming into nothing. That’s how it felt. I’m glad I did another loop and that I could actually see the second time. Hopefully that won’t make me too freaked out next time I get in the water. I will have to chant to myself: it was the googles, not my vision. In good news, I wore my nose plug and I don’t seem stuffed up at all.

june 5/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles, top of franklin hill turn around
bike: 8.8 miles, lake nokomis and back
swim: 1/2 mile, lake nokomis

run

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)?

bike

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.

swim

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.

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 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.

sept 19/OPEN SWIM!

open swim: 350 yards
bike: 8.5 miles
air temp: 75 degrees
water temp: 68 degrees

I didn’t swim much, because the water was pretty cold and it was very windy, but I swam in the lake again today! And I might try again tomorrow.

Listened to an on being episode with Maira Kalman and they talked about how wonderful trees are. I like the line: “We see trees. What more do we need?” I think I’d like to use that as the title of an essay about trees or as a line in a poem. I can’t wait until I can run by my favorite trees again.

sept 15/OPEN SWIM!

open swim: 1/2 mile

Overcast. Calmer waters. Probably the last swim in the lake until next June. When I was done, I stood in the water, absorbing the view. First, staring at my open swim path across the blue-gray water to the little beach. And then, the tops of the trees, lining the shore all the way around. Some of the trees have already started to change color.

The only other people in the water when I was swimming were a couple of children, their caregiver and two guys in waders with metal detectors. It’s cool to hear the sound of the metal detector clicking (or would I call it scratching?) on the bottom of the lake as I swim by. I’m not sure that I would ever want to use a metal detector, but I can see the appeal. What an intimate knowledge of the lake floor they must have, it’s terrain—the dips and divots, the drop-offs—and the treasures it contains—coins, goggles, bobby pins and the two nose plugs that I lost this summer.

After swimming, I met up with Scott and we sat on the bench for a few minutes, barely talking, mostly looking out at the lake. We left when we smelled cigarette smoke. Later in the parking lot, Scott mentioned that the smoke came from the cigarette of an old guy in a wheelchair being pushed around by a nurse, probably a hospice nurse.

Overheard on the beach, just after exiting the water: “and that’s one thing you never do wen you go to an all-girls college!” What was the beginning of the story? What is the one thing?

Also overheard, from the metal detectors dudes, just before entering the water: “wow! that’s a big one! maybe one and half feet tall!” At first, I thought they were talking about a fish, which made me nervous about swimming, but later I decided it was something else. But what?

sept 14/OPEN SWIM!

open swim: 1 mile
biking: 8.5 miles

What a gift, to be able to swim three days this week at the lake in mid-September! Swam a mile today. The water was choppier during the second half of my loop, which made me to feel even more disconnected from the world. Couldn’t see or hear much. Just water rushing over me. I like that feeling of being disconnected. Occasionally had thoughts of some random lake creature emerging from the depths to eat me, even had visions of being the girl at the beginning of Jaws. It’s so funny how I can swim across the lake, way out into the middle, and never be worried about what’s swimming below me. But, swimming 70 or so yards out, on the edge of the swimming area, I imagine things lurking.

I’m working on a collage involving ritual, routine and habit, playing around with what constitutes the sacred and how running might allow me to access it. Here’s what I have so far: Ritual/Routine/Habit

sept 13/OPEN SWIM!

open swim: 1/2 mile (880 yards)
bike: 17 miles (to the lake twice)

Another 82 degree day at the lake. Windier than yesterday. Choppy water with waves. At one point, swimming far out, by the white buoys, at the edge of the swimming area, about 70 yards from the beach, some bigger waves rolled over me and I wondered: is this a bad idea, swimming alone and so far from shore, in this rough water? But it was fine, except for when I swam into leaves and vines. Or did they swim into me? With no warning, a red leaf suddenly appeared on my googles and freaked me out. Because the water was so rough, I modified my route: 2 loops next to the buoys, swimming with the waves, one direction, and against them the other. Then 2 loops from the shore out to one buoy, with the waves rocking me side to side both ways. Sitting on the beach after finishing my swim, I looked out at the water, struck by how ordinary and calm it seemed. Unless I had been in it, I would have had no idea how rough it was.

 

September 12/OPEN SWIM!

open swim: 1200 yards
bike: 8.5 miles

Last night, after lamenting to my family how open swim was over for the season, we drove by Lake Nokomis on the way to somewhere else and I noticed that the white cylindrical buoys were still in the water. So, today I biked over to the lake and relived summer for an hour. Air temperature: 82 degrees. Water temp: ? But it felt wonderful. Bright sun. Just a slight breeze. Freezing water for only the first 5 minutes. Why does summer have to be over? And why didn’t swim every single day at the big beach? Every year I ask that question and promise myself that I will do it next year. And of course, I don’t. But I did manage to swim at the lake several times every week this year. So maybe next year will be different and I’ll keep my promise.

I still have another week and a half before I can start running again. I’m ready to move and to write words that move too. Looking back over past log entries, I’ve been observing how my writing seems less mobile these day, just like me. No different versions of the wind or leaves noticed on the trees by the gorge or reporting on how I’m breathing or how humid it is or what critters I’ve witnessed. I need to get back out there on my favorite path. I am reminded on Nietzsche and his way of assessing writing, which I found in Frédéric Gros’s A Philosophy of Walking:

It is our habit to think outdoors–walking, leaping, climbing, dancing, preferably on lonely mountains or near the sea where even the trails become thoughtful. Our first questions about the value of a book, of a human being, or a musical composition are: Can they walk? Even more, can they dance?

 

 

august 25/good-bye open swim

open swim: 4 loops/4800 yards/2.7 miles
bike: 8.5 miles

The final open swim of the season. Very happy to have been able to swim so much tonight. Very sad that the season is over. Pool swimming just isn’t the same.

4 loops is a lot. The most I’ve ever swam is 4.5 loops, which is about a 5K. I did that two, or was it 3, years ago. 4 loops was enough tonight. I think my favorite loop was the last one, around 6:15, when the sun was lower in the sky and my muscles had warmed up.

Because I swam longer and the sun set sooner, the light on the way back to the big beach was lower in the sky. A blinding light, blocking out the landmarks and buoys. It was a beautiful light, making the water, and the swimmer standing on the floating dock, glow.

The last loop of the season. The last swim around the floating dock, near the little beach, before turning back towards the big beach. The last test to see if I’ll keep swimming, even when I can’t see a buoy or another swimmer. The last glance through my peripheral vision to try and spot the big orange triangle, looming to my left. The last strokes, in the middle of the lake, through the dark water, 25 feet above the sandy floor and thousands of feet below the airplanes, circling like sharks in the air.

Before I started swimming tonight, I made a list of water-related words, especially ones related to my swimming at the lake.

What does water do?

flows
undulates
cradles
rocks
soothes
sways
swells
transports
delivers
baptizes
refreshes
chills
spills
soaks
saturates
engulfs
floods
erases
conceals
reflects
disorients
dilutes
drips
drops
chops
splashes
sprinkles
sprays
cascades
sloshes
swirls
sparkles
shimmers
shines

august 1/XT

open swim: 1 loop, 1200 yards
biking with Ro: 11 miles (86 degrees)

Finally, after wanting to do it all summer, Ro and I biked to Fort Snelling. It’s about 3 miles to the entrance of the trail and then another 2 down to the state park and the lake. The last two miles were scary and very unsettling. Because of my vision and the condition of the path–partly sunny, partly shaded and narrow, with lots of ruts–I had to bike very slowly. I could tell that my vision has deteriorated a lot since the last time that I biked this route, which made me sad. I can still bike, but I have to go a lot slower and be prepared to feel anxious. When we got to the bottom of the hill, it was much better. And the 2 miles on the way back was much easier. Maybe because we were going up the hill instead of down it?

Swimming across the lake was fun, as usual. Experienced some choppy water on the way back, which made it harder to breathe. Didn’t make it harder to stay on course, though. This year, I’m not having problems staying on course, even when I can’t really see the buoys or anything but water and nondescript trees. I’m amazed by my ability to swim straight and to not panic when I have no idea where the buoy is. Pretty cool.

 

july 30/XT

72 degrees
open swim: 1 loop/1200 yards
bike to lake nokomis: 8.5 miles

Bright. Beautiful at the beach. Blinding sun. Difficult to see. I wrote an abecedarian about swimming and seeing. What is it about this poetic form that helps me to write?

A Steady Stroke

Almost
blinded by the sun.
Can anyone see through the sparkling? The
deep blue water mixes with the
endless blue sky and only
flashes of orange and brief
glimpses of the big triangles are visible on the water.
Hardly anything to
indicate which direction to swim. But,
just a brief glance is enough for me to
know that I’m getting close to the
little beach.
My stroke is steady and straight and I have
no doubts that it, and not my vision, is my best guide. Sometimes my
only guide.
Putting my faith in my stroke and not
questioning the movements of my body feels
right, not
scary or
too trusting or
unsettling. I see
very little with my eyes
while swimming across the lake. I don’t need
X-ray vision to feel which direction will take me to shore.
Years of stroke work—bending my elbows, tracing my thumbs up my side, like
zipping up a zipper—lead me to safety.

july 27/TRI TRAINING

1.75 miles
mo and ro

Walked 2 min/Ran 1 min most of the way around the lake. The beautiful morning did not match my attitude. Driving over to the lake was particularly challenging with my bad vision and I struggled to motivate a daughter who seemed unwilling to really try. The theme of the summer:  find something and commit to it. Try as hard as you can and don’t give up. Recounting the morning to Scott, my daughter interjected: “You did a good job Mom.” My response: “Yes, at swearing.”

open swim
1 loop: 1200 yards

Decided to swim just one loop this evening. So bright! Almost impossible to see the big orange buoys on the way back to the big beach. Even more so than usual, I just swam straight, hoping–and knowing–that I was going in the right direction. I only spotted the buoys when I was right on top of them and the approaching shore in fleeting, fractured glimpses. This did not make me panic at all, which is cool. I’ve been doing a lot of hard work learning how to function without seeing.

The section that I’m working on for my running project is: routine/ritual, mundane/sacred. Here are a few acrostic poems that I crafted in order to help me focus my thoughts:

Staying in Trouble

Hardly
A day goes
By without me
Instigating
Trouble.

Every Morning

Read
Or write for an hour,
Unless it’s a running day,
Then read or write for 30 minutes.
Inhale the deep, rich smell of the brewing coffee, which
Never tastes as good as it smells.
Eat a cliff bar or granola or cheerios, bananas and walnuts.

Precaution

Right after
I tie my running shoes, I
Tuck the bows
Under the laces.
Always. It helps keep the
Laces from coming untied.

july 25/XT

Open Swim: 1500 yards

Thunder storm hit right after I made it to the little beach. Had to evacuate water and walk/run back to the big beach. Oh well.  It’s the first time that open swim has been cancelled this year.

This afternoon, I started work on a story about why I’m training for/running the marathon:

WHY AM I TRAINING FOR A MARATHON: 26.2 Reasons

Attention, as in paying, not asking for,
Adventure, 
facing Adversity
Absorption: more time outside to take in the world.

Breathing in and out,
reclaiming a Belief in myself and in possibility,
Because I want to and I can.

Commitment,
Conservation of energy, sanity, exuberance, joy,
Care of soul/body/intellect.

A desire to be Dedicated and to redefine Discipline.

a way to Experiment,
Escape,
Endure.

Form: a Focus, a Form for my creative explorations,
improved Form in running,
a stronger, healthier Form.

an expression of Grief and evidence of surviving it,
Gravity: defying it by flying.

Humility: practicing it, confronting it, learning to embrace it.

Inspiring, as in inhaling and feeling motivated to create and to Imagine new ways of being.

Joy!

Knees that I used to believe couldn’t, but now know they can, run for hours without stopping.

Limits, pushing at them, playing with them, accepting them,
for the Love of running.

Mind/body split: proving it doesn’t exist,
Mom: a runner for many decades, dead now for almost one,
Mystery: in the woods, on the long runs,
Magic: in the movement.

Nihilism-avoidance,
No excuses,
Nostalgia for an athletic childhood.

Opportunities: to open up, to commit to something important, to try something new.

Prayer,
Presence,
Playlists,
Podcasts,
Purple toes,
a big fuck you to Pancreatic cancer, the disease that killed my mom and that made me question how much I could trust a healthy, strong body.
Questions! So many Questions about running, training, enduring, the body, breathing, injury and more!

Runner’s High,
Rituals,
Repeated practices,
Routines.

Student: to be one again, learning new things about the body and creativity,
Something to Share with Scott,
Seeking the Sacred.

Triumph,
a lack of Traffic
ignoring, surviving, resisting Trump.

Unrelenting,
Uncomfortable,
Undulating grasses and waves to watch and admire.

Victory,
Vision: new ways of “seeing” the world without relying on diseased eyes.

to Wander,
Wonder,
acquire Wisdom,
celebrate Winter and
examine the Wind: how many versions can I name while I run?

Xerxes Avenue: I don’t want to train for any marathon, I want to train for the Twin Cities marathon. The marathon in which I can run through my city, by places I haunt, places I’ve lived, places I love, including right by Lake Bda Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun) as it intersects with Xerxes Avenue.

a Yearning, 
Youth revisited, 
Youngins: a role model for my kids.

an expression of a Zeal for living and being present/alive/healthy/active/energetic.

(æ)
æthereal or ethereal: an airy, other worldly, dream-like state that can be achieved during long runs and that makes me feel calm and peaceful and relaxed and removed.

(∫ long s)
to ∫tretch and
∫tay upright.

july 23/XT

open swim: 2 loops, 2400 yards

A beautiful swim. The water temperature was nice and warm. Had difficulty sighting the buoys, but I’m used to swimming without seeing, so it didn’t bother me. Some day soon, I’d like to write more about how open water swimming has helped me learn how to function (in the water, out of the water) without being able to see.

july 20/TRI TRAINING

75 degrees
82% humidity
dew point: 69
Run: 1.55 miles
Swim: 100 yards

Another training morning with Ro. Our first run, we did .66 miles. The next, 1.32. This one, 1.55! Slowly but surely, we’ll get there. I’m hoping to convince her to run a 5K race in the fall.

Here’s our walk/run breakdown by minutes:

walk 1/run 2
walk 1/run 2
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 1

It was a beautiful morning at the lake. The water was glassy and smooth. At first, there was a haze, but soon the sun came out. I wish I could have stayed at the lake all day, but all be back there tonight for open swim!

open swim: fail!
bike to lake nokomis: 8 miles

I was all set to swim and then I dropped my nose plug in the water. The minute it dropped, I put on my goggles and looked for it, but couldn’t find it. Oh well. After my awful experiences last summer swimming without a nose plug and then staying up all night with a stuffed up nose, I wasn’t willing to risk it. Met up with Scott at Sandcastle and had a beer instead. Worked for me.

july 18/4 MILES

75 degrees
87% humidity
dew point: 70
mississippi river road path, north

Yuck! Uncomfortably thick and heavy. The first half of the run was okay, but my legs started to hurt and my pulse started to race after the turn around. I stopped to walk a few times. I really don’t like running in the heat. I’m not looking forward to the Torchlight 5K tomorrow night.

It seems fitting to post a collage version of my humidity/dew point fragments that I’ve been working on in this entry.

Bad Air! Bad Air!

“What is it exactly that I find so totally unbearable? Something which I cannot deal with on my own, which makes me choke and feel faint? Bad air! Bad air!”

unpleasantly warm

It was hot. It was not a good idea to run this morning. Only 7:30, but it was hot. Already, the day shot. No more running, biking, gardening, just hiding inside. We should have left earlier. Maybe 6? Before it was hot. I forgot how miserable 77 can be when there’s humidity and a high dew point. And the wind, it was hot too. We only ran a few miles before we stopped. It’s too hot, I said to Scott. And he agreed.

damp

The dew point is the temperature at which water condenses. The closer the dew point is to the temp in the air, the longer the sweat will stay in your hair, or any other part of your body, because the air is too saturated and your sweat can’t evaporate, which is how your body cools you down.

muggy

Oh you! You muggy, buggy thing. So thick it makes me sick! Why can’t the water you contain be refreshing like the rain? Why must you make me feel so moist, a word I detest hearing almost as much as I despise feeling its effects: sweat that drips and sticks, heavy air that presses down on my body, sinking me deeper into the ground and making it almost impossible to fly or even to lift my legs up off the damp earth.

moist

How many cups of sweat can fit
Under the brim of my baseball cap?
More than 2?
It’s hard to
Determine but
I keep
Trying to figure it out while I run through the thick air. I think my cap has
Yielded at least 3 ounces of water per mile.

thick

When you mix up the words in dew point you get: not wiped. Not wiped? I guess if the dew point is low. Anything under 50 would work. Otherwise, it should be totally wiped, but those aren’t the letters in dew point. You also get: wit open’d. Really? Could more miserable conditions = more wit? I suppose for some comedians, this is true. And you get: owed pint. Owed pint of what? A pint of blood that traveled to the surface of your skin to help cool you down instead of flowing to your heart? Or the pint of beer that you owe your body for putting it through the misery of running in the heat and humidity?

oppressive

The Index of Human Misery, the Dew Point Version:
<50: very comfortable
50-60: manageable
65: uncomfortable
70: so thick and hard to breathe.
75: ugh!
80+: stay home, it’s not worth it.

wet (blanket)

Have you ever said,
Under your breath, in the
Middle of your run,
I really don’t like humidity & humidity heard you & replied: Well, I
Don’t like you either!
I am going to make you even more miserable because of your
Thoughtless comment!
Yesterday I think that happened to me.

stifling

The effects of heat and humidity on your body as you run:
increased sweat,
depletion of electrolytes,
flagging energy,
dehydration,
the pumping of more blood to the skin and less to your heart or your muscles,
sweat that can’t evaporate to cool your body,
elevated heart rate.

sticky

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. It’s not the humidity, it’s the heat. It’s not the heat, it’s the atmospheric moisture. It’s not the warm temperatures, it’s the moisture in the air and in your hair, on your skin, in-between your toes, on the back of your neck. And it’s the stickiness between your fingers as you rub them together, trying to keep your hands relaxed. And it’s the fibers from the cottonwood seeds, the catkins, that fly into your eye or your mouth or get stuck in the sweat on your face.

relief

86 degrees. Hot! Difficult! Some success, some failure. A hot wind, blowing in my face, which is already bright red. The sun beating down. My pulse heating up. No running playlist to distract me. And no memory of the running chants that I created to keep me going. What am I thinking about, other than: when am I done? why am I running in this heat? will I make it to Lake Nokomis for open swim? I stop and walk several times. But then I’m at the lake and it’s cooler, with a breeze coming off of the water, and I’m almost done and I’m trying to get past two other runners that are running just a little bit slower than me so I speed up for the last half mile. It feels good.

open swim: 2400 yards
bike to open swim/back: 8 miles

A great swim and a good bike ride. Some serious exercise today. 116 minutes worth. Talked with a woman after the swim today and she told me that she just learned to swim 2 weeks ago and managed to swim an entire loop tonight. Wow! Very impressive. I told her that I learned to swim when I was 6 months old and it took me until I was 38 to swim across the lake! She also said that she’s signed up to do a half ironman triathlon (1.2 mile swim/54 mile bike/13.2 mile run) this fall. That’s hard core.

july 13/8 MILES

60 degrees
77% humidity
the almost downtown turn around

60 degrees! I run so much better when the weather is cooler. Today was a very good run. I ran up and down both hills without stopping and felt strong and happy to be running.

I’m collecting fragments for (maybe?) a collage on bad air, which at this point I’m defining as humidity, heat and dew point. Here are two more things to add:

1

the effects of heat on my running
a
bright red face, an increase in 
coughing and
clearing my throat, a strong
desire to stop doing anything,
especially running, very
few happy thoughts
going through my
head, shallow
inhaling,
jagged breathing, no
kick in my stride,
legs feeling
mushy,
not strong
or
powerful, all
quickness
rapidly evaporating while
sweat refuses to do the same,
too much moisture for that, so it pools
under my baseball cap and down to the
very tip of my ponytail, a
wick that collects the
(e)xtra water then drops it on my arm or leg or bright
yellow shirt, sometimes making
zigzag patterns on it.

2

Do point me to the pool or the lake or the air conditioning or anywhere that isn’t here, where the temperature is high, the heat index is higher and my desire to do anything but run is at its highest.

3

Hugh, mid tee or Hugh, mid t (shirt) or hew, mid tree?

open swim
3 loops: 3600 yards

My longest swim of the season. Great conditions for it. Overcast. No wind. Cooler. Felt good. On the way out of the water, I dropped and lost my nose plug. The first causality of the season. No big deal; nose plugs are under $10.

july 12/4 MILES

86 degrees
dew point: 64
mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/minnehaha creek path/lake nokomis

Hot! Difficult! Some success, some failure. Gravel on the road, getting kicked up by commuting cars. Pebbles and dust flying at me. A hot wind, blowing in my face, which is already bright red. The sun beating down. My pulse heating up. No running playlist to distract me. And no memory of the running chants that I created to keep me going. What am I thinking about, other than: when am I done? why am I running in this heat? will I make it to Lake Nokomis for open swim? I stop and walk several times. But then I’m at the lake and it’s cooler, with a breeze coming off of the water, and I’m almost done and I’m trying to get past two other runners that are running just a little bit slower than me so I speed up for the last half mile. It feels good.

open swim
1 loop: 1200 yards

I’m only swimming one loop since I already ran 4 miles in the heat. I am worried that I might cramp up if I swim more than that. The water is warm, which feels nice, even though cooler water would be nice for cooling me down. The water is choppy, but not too choppy. Gentle, not rough. Only a few big waves are crashing into my face when I breathe on the wrong side. I spot the big orange buoys the whole time. I’m not running into anyone, although a vine ran into me, a few yards back. I’m not being routed by any other swimmers, well, just one at the little beach, but it was only a minor routing and I got back on track pretty quickly. I feel relaxed. Strong. Happy to be out in the water.