feb 17/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
26 degrees
50% loose snow, 35% packed snow, 15% ice

feels like: I might fall or my legs might give out or I might twist my ankle in the loose, uneven snow

The conditions on the path are pretty bad but I still enjoyed being outside, especially having spent my morning in too many stores. Heard tons of crows–probably hanging out in the flats. Saw the sun completely covered by grayish white clouds, making them glow as it tried to break through the gloom. Saw fat tires, several dogs, a few runners and some kids sledding down the hill. The favorite thing I saw happened after I was done running and was walking back. A man and woman were running with their dog. Their gaits were so graceful and rhythmic and effortless. I stopped and watched, mesmerized by how they gently bounced, their feet going up and down on the path. It hardly looked like they were touching the ground at all. So cool.

Here’s my poem for the day:

Spell to Practice Patience

What burns will burn, what’s left

is brick and the soot marring the brick—

what’s left is the rebuilding.

Become small as the seed, which waits

without speaking. Settle as the cicada does,

humming faintly in its dark bed of earth.

Count the pearls in the heirloom necklace,

each a grain of sand gilded by decades,

made in the murks under an ocean’s weight.

Practice moving your fingers through the air

so gently, you can hold a feather

without it touching your hand.

Stare at ice so long, it becomes the same

as water. Stare at water so long, it is gone.

Stare at the mark made after.

Parse apart the slung syllables of every book

until your tongue is nimble iron, then

teach your tongue the strength in silence.

Bridle your desire, halter and harness until

it stands at attention, taut as the rope

that leads to the bell that waits to be struck.

When you ring, ring loud, exactly when you need to,

bright note pitched as the phoenix hatches

and you burn and burn and burn and burn.

Such a lovely poem. I love the idea of poems as spells. If I had more time and energy right now, I’d like to add a stanza about the patience involved in standing and watching the runners and their graceful gaits.

feb 16/RUN

1.75 miles
downtown loop
11 degrees
100% uneven, slippery, awful snow

feels like: misery, uncertainty (will I fall? injure myself on this uneven snow?), no fun

It’s rare to have a bad run in the winter, but today I did. Not because of the company–I got to run with Scott–but because of the path. So uneven and snow-covered. And it felt colder than 11 degrees. Oh well, no more runs on this loop until more snow is cleared.

The other day, I decided to tag all of the log entries on here that have other people’s poems in them. There are 31. Only 31 for 508 posts. I have been reading lots of poetry, I guess i just haven’t been putting it in my log entries. Not cool. So for the next month (at least), I’d like to put in a different poem for each entry. Or, if not an entire poem, a line or stanza or more. Today’s poem is only 2 lines because this poem is very long.

from Hymn to Life/James Schuyler

The world is filled with music, and in between the music, silence   
And varying the silence all sorts of sounds, natural and man made

I think I’d like to use these lines as an epigraph for a poem or a series of poems about sounds. As I mentioned this poem is long. You can listen to the author reading it and it’s over 30 minutes! I would like to spend more time with it, though. Strange and captivating and clever.

Here’s a few more lines:

Change in everything yet none so great as the changes in   
Oneself, which, short of sickness, go unobserved. Why watch   
Yourself? You know you’re here, and where tomorrow you will probably   
Be.

feb 14/RUN

3.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
23 degrees
99% snow-covered

Ran with a playlist today so I didn’t hear anything but Beck, Lizzo, Ke$ha, Queen and Justin Timberlake. The path continues to be covered with snow and is slick. Very tiring on the legs. Not much traction. The wind was blowing in my face as I ran north so I knew it would be at my back running south, which made me smile. It was almost too bright when I started but by halfway, a few clouds had moved in and it was overcast. With quick glances, I noticed: the trail of open water in the Mississippi and the snow-laden branches of the oaks and maples and cottonwood in the floodplain forest. Anything else? I can’t remember.

Yesterday I started reading Linda Barry’s What It Is. I was struck by her mention of inside and outside. “Images are found in by through the action between inside and outside. I’ve been thinking a lot about inside and outside lately. What is inside? What is outside? What is it that separates them? Skin? The self? The body? Layers of clothing? A window? Door? The gorge? The leaves of the trees?

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Inside and Outside. Linda Barry/ What It Is

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Inner and Outer Weather

Ever since encountering Edward Hirsch’s great line about inner and outer weather–“Wandering, reading, writing–these three adventures are for me intimately linked. They are all ways of observing both the inner and outer weather, of being carried away, of getting lost and returning.”–I’ve been thinking about weather and the relationship between things like wind or humidity and my thoughts, feelings, writing. I’ve been thinking about making it the focus of another chapbook. The phrase, “inner and outer weather” was originally in a Robert Frost poem.

Tree at My Window

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.

Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.

But, tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.

That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

Robert Frost, West-Running Brook (1928).

feb 13/RUN

4.4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
9 degrees/feels like 1
100% snow-covered

feels like: chunky, slick, crunchy, hard

I didn’t intend to, but I got to practice some hurdles today. Snow hurdles. I ran before the plows had returned to clear the mini snow walls they made when they plowed the crosswalks. Got to greet the Daily Walker. Saw a few fat tires, some other runners. No dogs or skiers. A few minneapolis parks trucks. My friendly shadow. The sun was too bright. Half the river was open, the other half covered in snow. Spent a lot of time paying attention to the path, trying to avoid ice/snow chunks. At times, the path was difficult to run on–too slick and uneven. Tried to not think about anything. I’m sure I didn’t for much of the run. Spent some time thinking about my form and wondering about my knees. Imagined running the marathon. Thought about my body and how little I noticed it when I was younger and didn’t have any aches or pains or problems. Now I notice it and think about what it is and how it’s me and not me. I wish I didn’t ache or have problems with my knees, but I like having a reason to think about my body–so many interesting questions to explore, so many new things to learn about joints and muscles and chemical processes!

layers: (too many!) green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket with hood, vest, 2 pairs of running tights, 1 pair of socks, a buff, visor, gloves. During the second half of the run, I was dripping sweat.

other layers: dirt, a thin hard sheen of ice, dusting of powdery snow, small clumps of snow, loose 1/2 inch of rough snow (the path); a woodpecker pecking, a truck backing-up, a car with a loose part rattling, a plow approaching, the fabric on my vest and jacket rustling, the quick crunch of my striking feet, a plane rumbling overhead (sound)

feb 11/RUN

4.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
22 degrees
100% snow-covered

feels like: a different world, one emptied of others; someone drained the color out of the landscape; running in soft sand

The snow was sloppy and loose. Even so, I smiled a lot and enjoyed my run. Greeted the Daily Walker. Didn’t slip on any of the ice patches, hidden beneath the snow. Felt strong and relaxed and empty of thoughts. After not thinking for awhile, I had a thought: How glorious it is to be running and not thinking about anything! Then of course, I had another thought about time, wondering if I was even noticing it pass at all. I ran for 40 minutes but it felt like 5. Heard some disembodied voices coming from some place I couldn’t see. There was so much snow–and it was so white. Hard to distinguish between the sharp crusty snow, the soft slushy snow, the mini piles of snow or the big hard chunks of icy snow. No contrast. My bad vision needs contrast. Can someone with good vision tell the difference between these snows? The sky was all gray. But not gloomy, at least not to me. Just peaceful and quiet and removed from everything. Noticed the river had some open water. Saw a few walkers and bikers. Again, no skiers. Will I ever see another cross country skier while I’m running by the river? With all the snow on the ground and in the trees, I suddenly remembered cross country skiing with my mom up in the upper peninsula of Michigan–in Houghton–on these amazing groomed trails a mile from her house. I always loved going there with her, when she was in her late 50s and I was in my mid 20s. So much snow everywhere. And so many beautiful trees–aspens (I think) and firs. There was one stretch that I especially liked where you skied through a forest. I called it the cathedral of trees. Today I didn’t run through a forest, but I felt that same sort of delight and reverence as I ran by the welcoming oaks, their branches loaded with snow. What a wonderful gift to be able to conjure up that memory and think about a time before my mom was sick.

layers: less layers today. Green shirt, orange shirt, black vest, 2 pairs of running tights, a buff, a visor, 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of gloves. Felt fine. The gloves didn’t come off, but I folded them over. Maybe if I had run for another mile I would have removed them?

feb 9/RUN

1 mile
mississippi river road path, south/north
8 degrees/feels like -5
100% snow-covered

feels like: my face is burning off, the wind is coming from every direction, more snow might be coming, colder than it is

Ran a mile with Scott this afternoon. It felt colder out there this afternoon than it did yesterday. Was it because it was later in the day? No sun? More wind? I’m glad we did it. It felt easy, like we could have run a few more miles. Noticed the river. Running south, I see more of the river than running north. Scott suggested that it’s because further north, there’s more land between the top of the gorge and the riverbank. I agree. Everything was white and gray and cold-looking. A little winter wonderland. Nice to be in it instead of just watching it through the window. Windows I watched it through today/what I watched: the writing desk in my bedroom/the snow-covered branch of the tree in my front yard; living room/snowy back yard; car window/river road, minnehaha parkway, south Minneapolis; the 3 story huge picture windows at Minneapolis Institute of Arts/Stevens Square Park.

feb 8/RUN

3.4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
0/feels like -15
100% snow-covered

feels like: victory, the inside of an ice cube

Wow, that sky. The brightest blue. Noticed it when I saw a bird flying in my peripheral vision and tried to track it in my central vision. So sunny and white. Thick slabs of snow on the side of the path. The trees coming up from the floodplain forest had snow slabs too. Bare brown branches, outlined in white, holding up the sky. Amazing. It was cold, I guess. Didn’t really bother me. My fingers were warm because I wore a pair of gloves and mittens. My toes were cold for the first mile. I think my butt was cold at some point too. Everything else was warm. Saw one other runner, a few walkers, no bikers, no skiers. Ran under the lake street bridge at the same time as the plows. The first plow hit a bump–such a loud noise. I flinched. Listened to my feet striking the snow. A constant, sharp crunch. Much quicker than when I walk.

layers: 2 pairs of running tights, a green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, gray jacket, buff, balaclava, hood, sunglasses, 2 pairs of socks, 1 pair of mittens, 1 pair of gloves

Why do I like running in this weather? I like being (almost) the only one on the path. I like testing the limits of how cold is too cold. Mostly, though, I like running in the cold. Being out in the snow. Hearing it crunch. Admiring how it decorates the trees and the forest floor. Breathing in the winter air. I think I also like how there’s no pressure to run fast when it feels like 15 below. Just being outside is an accomplishment.

feb 7/XT

bike 30 min/shovel 30 min
bike stand/driveway, sidewalk, deck
5 or 6 inches, I think

No running today. It’s been snowing since early this morning. Waking up before sunrise, I looked out the window and it was a beautiful blueish white. Now this is the kind of snow that I love! It snowed last night too, but then stopped overnight. Leaning my head outside around 7 pm, I smelled it–fresh, quiet, pure cold. I love that smell and the feel of the cold on my face. This morning, the snow was falling in big fluffy flakes and I was happy to be inside watching it. Although I did enjoy shoveling it too. A nice, light snow. Not heavy at all.

Here are 2 poems I wrote last winter that seem to fit my thoughts about the snow today:

This morning’s view

a white so white 
it’s almost blue
or the slight feeling of blue.
Is that what happens when 
snow is new
pure still perfect?
No sun yet or ever today
but the hint of blue blinds

what a snow!

feb 6/RUN

3.4 miles
mississippi river road, north/south
15 degrees/feels like 8
100% snow-covered

Also feels like: too warm for double gloves, an ice rink, a winter wonderland, I’m the only one not in a car, yaktrax

I ran today! It snowed 4 inches last night. The path had been plowed, which was helpful, but the ice was still there. I think this is the most slippery path I’ve ever run on. Wore my yaktrax and that helped, but only a little. I wasn’t worried about falling, just about twisting an ankle or a knee. Harder to run. My legs will be sore soon. Still, it was beautiful and there was hardly any wind and I had the path almost all to myself. One or two walkers, a runner, and an actual cross country skier! Not a roller skier, but a skier with skis! I think this is the first time I have ever encountered a skier on the river road. I loved listening to the sharp crackling of their skis on the crusty path. Glanced quickly at the river and noticed it was covered with snow. Everything is white today, the river, the roads, the path, even the sky.

layers: 2 pairs of running tights, a green base shirt, orange thicker shirt, thin black jacket with hood, gray jacket, 1 pair of gloves, 1 pair of mittens, a running belt with my phone and key in it, a buff, a visor, no headphones. Slightly too warm. Mittens came off after a mile, sleeves rolled up/hood off by the turn around at the railroad trestle, the buff turned into a headband by mile 2.

I don’t remember thinking about anything except for: this is slippery, ouch! (when my right knee shot out a quick flash of pain), I am running slow, how far should I run?, this is slippery, is that the Daily Walker? (no it wasn’t), I like the crusty snow the best because my yaktrax can grip it, I wonder what people driving by think of me running in this?, I hope no car slides off the road and hits me. No big insights or nagging worries. All wonderfully mundane.

feb 5/BIKE

30 minutes
bike on stand in basement

Boo. It’s not too cold outside for me (although it does feel like it’s below 0), but too icy. Not even yaktrax work. So I’m keeping safe inside. Riding my bike in the basement. Then watching the snow–which is now very rudely hiding the ice–from my window. Not sure when I’ll be able to run. The last couple of weeks have sucked. Too cold to run, now too icy. Hope next week is better. I suppose taking some time off of running before really getting into training is not the worst thing. I’ve been doing yoga and trying to figure out the best way to make sure both of my legs (and hips) have recovered from my injury last year. Seems like my left hip is stiffer than my right. Saw some exercises today for strengthening the hips on YouTube, including squatting on one leg. Will I ever be able to do such a bad ass thing as squatting on one leg? Is it wise for me to even try?

feb 2/RUN

4.75 miles
stone arch bridge to home
28 degrees
50% snow-covered
feels like: spring, sun, dripping eaves

One way runs are the best. No loops or turn arounds or thoughts about how I’ll have to run back up the hill I just ran down. Ran from downtown, right by the Stone Arch bridge, through the flats, up Franklin, under Lake Street, above the gorge, to the 36th street parking lot on the river road.

things I remember noticing:

  • my striking feet sinking into soft mushy snow
  • very bright, warm sun but no shadow
  • running into the sun, I was blinded. All I could see were the sparkling spots of bare pavement on the path that the sun was illuminating
  • spots of slick but not slippery snow in the shade
  • passing under the light rail on the washington ave bridge, hearing it rumble then honk
  • water trickling off of eaves, bridges, down rocks in the flats
  • a dog’s collar clanging off to the side, turning and seeing it walking with its human right above the gorge
  • river was covered with snow and ice, no black holes today
  • heard voices coming from the hill up the U of M’s Wilson Library. Were they biking? Running? Walking? Not sure.

layers

two pairs of tights, green base shirt, orange warmer shirt, black vest, buff, hat, gloves, sunglasses. Today, the gloves came off, around mile 3, probably right after running up the franklin hill.

chants while breathing

I can’t remember when it happened but sometime in the 3rd or 4th mile, I started rhythmic breathing (in 3 out 2) and creating chants to match. I tried to remember them, but now I can’t. Except: raspberry/custard. mystery/is solved. who could it/be now? it could be/nothing. why is it/ something? These chants really helped by distracting me. I’ll have to remember to do these again.

Sadly, I spent a lot of mental energy paying attention to the path and thinking about which side I should run on. In the middle with the bare pavement but in the way of others? On the soft snow but out of the way of approaching bikers? Right next to the walking path? Close to the cars, on the edge?

feb 1/RUN

4.15 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
8 degrees/feels like -3
100% snow-covered

Finally I get to run outside again. A balmy 8 degrees. Ran without headphones and listened. My feet on the crunching snow in quick, sharp snaps. A woodpecker rapidly pecking a tree. Some other random birds chirping. A dog barking in a truck driving by under the lake street bridge (is this the same truck, the same dog as last week?). Park workers starting up their chainsaws, clearing out dead branches. Brittle branches breaking–such creaking and cracking!

Layers: two pairs of running tights, a black tech shirt, orange thick cotton shirt, thin black jacket with hood, gray outer jacket, a buff, a visor, 1 pair of gloves, 2 pairs of socks. Again, almost too warm, except for my fingers which were cold for a mile. Unzipped my jackets a little at the end of mile 1, took off my hood at the end of mile 2, put it back on I turned around and faced the wind at mile 2.5, zipped up jackets to my chin at mile 3. Kept my gloves on the entire time.

Wind: Running north it felt easy which meant, of course, that the wind was tricking me. Hiding behind my back, slightly nudging me along without me noticing. Encountered a runner running south, bundled up with their face covered and I knew I was in for it in the second half. Yep. Turned around into a cold wind. Just read yesterday that you should always run into the wind at the beginning of your run before you get too warm and sweaty. Running into wind with a sweaty face makes you get colder faster. Oh well. It wasn’t too bad. Wind doesn’t bother me anymore.

The Path: Totally covered with snow. Not icy or slippery but slick enough that I was sliding slightly. Now, an hour later, my legs are more sore than usual….A few times I noticed how the path suddenly felt different–more absorbent, soft, gentle on my striking foot. Then I realized the Minneapolis parks crew had dropped dirt on the edges of the path. Mostly it was already covered in snow but in a few spots the dirt was still exposed. What a relief it was to run on those few, fleeting stretches!

jan 30/BIKE

30 minutes
bike stand, basement
50 degrees inside?
-20 degrees/feels like -50 outside

Yes, it actually is an arctic hellscape out there today. School has been canceled for the kids almost all week–not sure about Friday yet. Stores, restaurants, the post office are closed. No running outside for me. Maybe tomorrow if it warms up in the afternoon. Today, biking in the basement. So glad I have a stand for my bike so my restless body can get some exercise. After running spent some time researching the difference between wind chill and “feels like.” So, the wind chill, which was developed by 2 scientists in Antarctica in the 70s, is “how cold it actually feels on your skin when the wind is factored in.” I like the rhyme here. The feels like temperature considers other factors too: humidity, location, metabolism, time of year, type of ground cover. Not sure how it all works but, according to wikipedia (I think), it measures these in terms of how it would feel for an adult walking outdoors in the shade. Researching all of this makes me want to develop my own system for determining/describing the feels like temperature. Maybe a goal for this winter? Not today. To do it, I need to be outside running and figuring out what feels like what. For now, I’m trapped inside. Restlessness is creeping in slowly. Will it accelerate if I can’t go outside tomorrow? Would it be wise to read poems/articles about restlessness or better to avoid thinking about it?

Last week I posed the question: How cold is too cold to run outside? Here’s my response:

I have found it

the answer to the question–
how cold is too cold to run outside?
it is today
and tomorrow
wind chills reaching down to 50 below
maybe I shouldn’t have asked the question
maybe I shouldn’t have provoked winter’s curiosity
making them wonder just how cold cold would have to be
for me to declare, “this is too cold!”
maybe next time
I should keep my mouth shut.

jan 28/SHOVEL

49 minutes
4+ inches off deck, driveway, sidewalk
5 degrees/feels like 15 below

Okay, 4 inches is nothing in Minneapolis. But it might be the most we’ve gotten this winter and, combined with really cold temperatures that felt really cold, there was no way I was running. So I shoveled instead. I guess I shoveled slowly because we don’t have much of a driveway or a deck or a sidewalk and it took me almost 50 minutes. The only part of me that was cold were my fingers. I wore 3 pairs of gloves and still, they were cold. Had to stop halfway through to go inside and thaw them out under the faucet. Warming up, they burned. Stung sharply. Spent about a minute just chanting, “ow ow ow ow ow.” The snow was powdery and dry. Not heavy at all. Sliding easily under my sad, small shovel. We own a snow blower but it’s awkward and easier to just shovel. Plus, I like doing this kind of manual labor. Just a little bit of thinking–planning the best way to clear the path–and a lot of physical work. It’s very satisfying to clear a path. Shoveled the back first, then the side before heading to the front. Noticed that our neighbor had done it again–cleared their path by pushing all the snow into a mound at the end of their part of the sidewalk and the beginning of mine instead of shoveling it off to the side. Who does this? In fairness to my neighbors who are very nice, I don’t think they actually did it. Whoever they hired is responsible. This thoughtlessness bothers me a lot. Too much. I am bothered by how bothered I get by it. My brain almost melts as I try to find a logical reason for why someone would pile up a bunch of their snow on someone else’s sidewalk. I am trying hard to focus on other things, like how the neighbors on the other side always shovel beyond their sidewalk, sometimes shoveling almost half of mine. I would like to write a poem or an essay or something about the sidewalk and my (potentially) overblown outrage. Maybe I’ll add in a few lines about how bothered I am by my inability to confront my neighbors. Oh to have the skill to handle these situations without losing my temper, the ability to form coherent, generous sentences, and the temperament to not notice or care when something annoying like this happens!

jan 27/RUN

3.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
4 degrees/feels like -14
100% snow-covered

Today it was cold. I have run in colder weather at least once (jan 2, 2018) when it was 0 and felt like 20 below, but today’s feels like 14 below has to rank as one of the coldest runs. Mostly, I enjoyed it. I didn’t feel too cold. Started loosening my layers about a mile in. Was fine with only one pair of gloves. Listened to headphones and felt disconnected. Also felt distracted by layers covering my ears–headphones, music, a buff, a hood, a thick hat–and layers of concern clouding my mood–was my knee okay or was it a mistake to run today? I think my left knee is okay but I’m planning to take a few days off from running. Conveniently, we are expecting a big winter storm and dangerous wind chills until Thursday so even if I wanted to run, I couldn’t.  The path was totally covered with snow and a little slick. I didn’t slip but it was harder to get traction. Encountered a few runners, walkers and dogs. No fat tires. No squirrels. No sleds or skis. Don’t think I looked at the river even once. Too busy trying to stay warm and upright. When I started running, there were patches of blue sky but by the time I was done, it was all gray. A snow storm moving in. Barely noticed the snow crunching under my feet. Instead I heard Beck and Lizzo and Ke$ha.

Speaking of layers, which I’m doing a lot these days, I found a great poem about onions:

Monologue for an Onion
Suji Kwock Kim

I don’t mean to make you cry.
I mean nothing, but this has not kept you
From peeling away my body, layer by layer,

The tears clouding your eyes as the table fills
With husks, cut flesh, all the debris of pursuit.
Poor deluded human: you seek my heart.

Hunt all you want. Beneath each skin of mine
Lies another skin: I am pure onion–pure union
Of outside and in, surface and secret core.

Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot.
Is this the way you go through life, your mind
A stopless knife, driven by your fantasy of truth,

Of lasting union–slashing away skin after skin
From things, ruin and tears your only signs
Of progress? Enough is enough.

You must not grieve that the world is glimpsed
Through veils. How else can it be seen?
How will you rip away the veil of the eye, the veil

That you are, you who want to grasp the heart
Of things, hungry to know where meaning
Lies. Taste what you hold in your hands: onion-juice,

Yellow peels, my stinging shreds. You are the one
In pieces. Whatever you meant to love, in meaning to
You changed yourself: you are not who you are,

Your soul cut moment to moment by a blade
Of fresh desire, the ground sown with abandoned skins.
And at your inmost circle, what? A core that is

Not one. Poor fool, you are divided at the heart,
Lost in its maze of chambers, blood, and love,
A heart that will one day beat you to death

jan 25/RUN

4.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
-5 degrees
5% snow-covered

The other day I wondered how cold was too cold for me. I’ve decided to take this as a challenge and an experiment, part of my focus for this winter on layers. Last year, I paid careful attention to the crunching snow. This year, I’m curious about layers, literal (as in layers of clothing, layers of sound, layers of ice) and metaphorical (layers of anxiety, doubt, joy, ideas, meanings). What will this project look like? Not totally sure, but for now, I’m interested in layers in terms of clothing I wore today as I ran outside in -5 weather. There was hardly any wind so the feels like temp was -5 too. I’ve run in feels like 20 below so today wasn’t the coldest I’ve been. What is the difference between actual and feels like temp? I’ll have to research that some more. Today I was almost too warm. I wore 2 pairs of running tights, one green shirt, an orange sweatshirt, a black jacket with a hood, a gray jacket with big pockets, 2 pairs of socks, a buff, a stocking cap, sunglasses, gloves and mittens. Too much. Great for the first mile but after that, I unzipped the jackets a little, moved the buff from my head to my neck, took off the sunglasses and put the mittens in my pocket. Ice kept forming on my cheeks, just below my eyes, caused my water on my lashes. Ice also formed on the surface of my gloves. Pretty cool looking and feeling. I think it came from the ice on my cheeks that I kept wiping off. The sun was too bright. Blinding. Ran with my shadow for awhile. Greeted the Daily Walker. That dude is hard core. No coat, just double shirts. Holding his gloves while he walked. How can you get warm while walking? I can only do it when I’m running. Heard some geese so I looked up and saw them flying above me in a V. Also heard the noise of my feet crunching on snow, then thwacking the frozen, compacted path. And a dog barking in a truck as it drove by. Saw steam coming from the boat house below the lake street bridge and wondered who was there in the winter. Turned around and headed back south right as I approached a parks crew cutting down more trees. Remember looking down at the river once and noticing one small hole of cold black water and expanded into a gaping hole. How can there be more open water as it gets colder?

jan 23/RUN

3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
17 degrees/feels like 10
50% snow-covered

Usually I don’t run 3 days in a row but it’s going to get very cold tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that—maybe even too cold for me!–so I decided to get one more run before the river road became an arctic hellscape (a phrase I read in a running article about winter). Sunny. Bright. Beautiful. Heard some geese honking. Smelled breakfast. Saw the path turn to sparkles in the sun. Good morning-ed the Daily Walker. Encountered some park workers chainsawing some trees near the Welcoming Oaks. Tried to look closely to make sure it wasn’t one of my favorites. I think they’re safe, but it was hard to tell. I was too far away and couldn’t focus fast enough. And I didn’t want to look like I was staring. Hardly encountered anyone on the path. Running north, my shadow was leading me. I guess she was tired today because it felt sluggish and difficult even though I wasn’t running that fast. On the way back, running south, I led her and we picked up the pace. Also on the way back, the sun was in my eyes. The path sparkled. Hard to tell when it was snow, wet pavement or ice.

I suppose 17, feels like 10 is cold but I was warm. Sweating. Less than a mile in, most of me was almost too warm. Except for my fingers, which always take the longest. Pushed my sleeves up after the lake street bridge. Then shifted my buff from my head to my neck. By mile 2, I wished I had worn a different hat–maybe a baseball cap instead of the thick teal stocking cap I had on. At the end of the run, I unzipped my jacket and took off my gloves. How cold does it need to be before I’m not hot at the end of a run? Not sure I want to find out, but I probably will if I try running outside later this week or early next week.

Writing that last paragraph makes me want to experiment with ways to describe the unlayering process that occurs as I run–both literally, as I shed gloves and buff, but also metaphorically as I remove layers of doubt, anxiety, restlessness. 

jan 22/RUN

4.15 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
18 degrees
100% snow-covered

Warmer. Snowing, slightly. Sometimes I felt the flakes as hard crystals, but mostly as wet drops. My feet crunched on the path, not crisply but sloppily. Because it was warmer, everything felt sounded smelled wet. The path was soft and muffled. Hardly any wind. So quiet. If this snow sticks and gets colder, like it’s supposed to on Thursday, it will become sharp and loud. Heard lots of birds. First crows cawing then other birds chirping. Wheels gently whooshing as they approached. No bikes or Daily Walkers or dogs. A few runners. Today I looked down at the river. So cool. Almost all covered in white with an occasional big gaping black hole of deep, cold water. As I ran, I followed a thin track made by other runners or bikers. Had intended to think about poetry and rhythms and chants but I forgot. I did pay attention to my feet though, noticing how and where they touched the ground. And then, after I was done running, I recorded the sound of my crunching feet. I held the phone down at my side and really captured the delightfully irritating crunching, grinding noise.

Crunching Snow/ Jan 22, 2019

jan 21/RUN

4.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
9 degrees/feels like -9
16 mph wind/0% snow-covered

Cold. Windy. Snow flurries in the air. Gray. Beautiful. I don’t remember the air burning my lungs but it did burn my face after I started overheating. Most of me didn’t feel cold, just both of my index fingers around the end of mile one. Encountered several runners, a few walkers, no fat tires, no Daily Walker, no dogs. Listened to a playlist and felt relaxed. Not sore or too tired or afraid of injury. Only running and breathing and being outside. Felt great running north. So fast and free! Forgot what that meant: the wind was at my back, pushing me along. When I turned around, it would be in my face. And it was. Much harder running on the way back. Was able to run on the walking path instead of the biking path for about half the time. Smiled a lot. Don’t remember much of what I thought about. Did I look down at the river? Don’t think so. Up at the sky? No. Notice any trees? Nope. I do recall glancing down at the gorge between lake street and franklin and wondering if any critter was down there.

jan 19/RUN

4.85 miles
left on river road to downtown
2 degrees/feels like -12
75% snow-covered

Winter running is the best. The sun was shining and the wind wasn’t blowing too much. Decided to listen to my running playlist even though I probably should have been listening to the crunching snow, so tightly compacted in the cold. It’s extra annoying when it’s this way–a constant grinding noise, almost sounding like twisting styrofoam. Anyway, I was happy to listen to John Legend and Barry Manilow and Justin Bieber and Gonzo and Crowded House and Styx. When I wasn’t carefully watching the path to avoid chunks of snow, I looked down at the river. Totally covered with ice. A beautiful, desolate gray. Didn’t see many walkers–no Daily Walker–but several runners, including 3 men all in red jackets gliding by so quickly and gracefully. The flats, just down from the Franklin bridge were colder and windier but not miserable. Was proud of myself for pushing through as I approached the big hill right before downtown. Nearing it, my legs were sore and tired. I told myself that it was fine to walk. But when I got to the hill I kept going. Still tired, I told myself that I could walk halfway up. Then I reached the halfway point and kept running. I told myself I could definitely stop at the top of the hill and walk for a minute. Then I reached the top and sped up instead. I’m always pleased when I can work on my mental toughness.

Anything else I remember? At one point, I realized I was just running and not thinking about my form. Of course, realizing that made me think about my form. Didn’t see any dogs or geese or squirrels or fat tires or groups of walkers or skiers. I did see my shadow though. She was just ahead of me, leading me down the franklin hill, having as much fun as I was. No smells. My feet felt cold. My face, flushed. My fingers, fine. My right ankle hurt a little but I think it was my shoe, not an injury, causing the pain.