jan 21/5.75 MILES

36 degrees
25% snow-covered
the franklin loop

Wet air. Icy paths. Not a bad run. Very calm. A little tougher than the last run outside. My left hamstring hurt a little 4 miles in, so I stopped to walk for 30 seconds or so. Started running again right as I encountered the daily walker. Actually did 5.25 outside and then, because Scott wanted to run at the y in the afternoon, I tagged a long and did another 1/2 mile there. I’m writing this hours after my run so I’m probably forgetting a lot of what happened. One thing I do remember: running across the Franklin bridge and noticing the tree line along the river. Not sure how, but it was glowing. The sun was illuminating it from somewhere. One other image: at the y, a woman was stretching in the corner of the track right next to the window. She was extremely flexible. At one point, she looked like an alien or a spider as she did a strange squat with her legs open and her knees in line with her torso. After that she went down into the splits and stayed in that position for a few minutes.

jan 19/4.6 MILES

33 degrees
75% snow-covered
franklin hill turn around

Yesterday’s warm temperatures melted some of the snow and ice which turned back into supper slick and slippery ice this morning. It looked scary but it wasn’t that bad. I had a decent run. I managed to run down and up the Franklin hill without stopping. The gorge was beautiful. So open and light and still. Yesterday I took Delia the dog down on the Winchell trail below the path. The sun was barely above the path making the walkers and runners on it glow. Speaking of the sun, this morning as I got up off the couch after drinking my coffee to wake my daughter I opened the curtains and was greeted by one of the most beautiful sunrises that I’ve seen in years. Neon orange and pink. Within 10 minutes it was gone and I wondered how many other sunrises I had missed without even knowing it. This illuminating moment came only minutes after I wrote a few words about the difficulty of getting older and finding it harder to wake up:

early morning sitting
on the couch waiting
to wake up
I hear noises
the staticky hum of my son’s computer
the roar of a distant plane
the traffic a mile away
the resigned sigh of my dog sleeping
next to me but wanting
to be chased
through the downstairs
the heat kicks in
a car drives by
I sip my coffee
and lose my words
and my will
to move
and I wonder—
is this what it means to grow old?
to wake up every morning and really have to work at
wanting to do anything but go back to sleep or
sit and stare blankly at the wall as the light
slowly gradually almost imperceptibly
enters the room?

When I saw the sunrise, I realized that I would never have appreciated its beauty when I was younger. So maybe appreciating a sunrise is also what it means to get older, which sounds cliché, but this morning it was true for me and it mattered to make note of it.

jan 18/5.5 MILES

24 degrees
75% snow-covered
franklin loop

Much warmer today! The blanket of snow by the welcoming oaks was beautiful with the bright sun and the bare branches. The air was mostly calm, except for on the Franklin bridge. That was rough. The path was mostly clear, except for right after the Franklin bridge. I twisted my foot a little on the soft, clumpy snow. Overall, a good run.

the path

a few stripes of almost bare pavement on the edges of the path mixed with moments of not quite melting snow that isn’t packed but loose like sand–loose enough not to give solid footing but firm enough to twist an ankle. almost completely white. no satisfying crunch, just a dull thud that absorbs the force of striking feet. no puddles yet. all ice patches gone. most of the path is easy to run on while a few stretches are treacherous.

Yesterday, I experimented with the villanelle form and wrote a poem about running around the track. Here’s the form of a villanelle:

19 lines; 5 tercets + 1 quatrain; 1st and 3rd line of beginning tercet are alternately repeated in third line of remaining tercets, then last two lines of quatrain; rhyme scheme = aba/aba/aba/aba/aba/abaa

A Run Around the Track Isn’t Hard to Do

A run around the track isn’t hard to do
with its road that never runs out
An endless loop, run until you’re through

Warm and dry with a clear avenue
no cars to avoid, no need to shout
A run around the track isn’t hard to do

A little tedious, a lack of view
but a chance to fly fast, to go all out
on this endless loop, run until you’re through

Your brain can go blank, your thoughts can be few
mechanically moving without doubt
A run around the track isn’t hard to do

It can be monotonous, that’s true
encountering the same people on this repetitive route
of endless loops, run until you’re through

So little to look at, so little to do
but keep track of the laps, not losing count
A run around the track isn’t hard to do
but it’s a boring, endless loop, run until you’re through

And here’s another fragment of a poem that I wrote about the track from a few days ago:

more routine than ritual

running inside at the track
attracts a different sort of church-goer
than running outside by the gorge
the congregation at the track comes
for the warm dry conditions and
stays for the comforting repetitions
looping lapping leaving
out the world
cocooned cared for
no wind no rain
but also no fun
more routine than ritual
only a run

jan 17/XT

bike on stand, front room
32 minutes

Watched The Great North Run half marathon on YouTube while I biked. Love watching races when I’m biking. Then walked to the studio and decided to take an existing poem by someone else and turn it into a running poem. It’s fun (and often helpful) to use other people’s poems as a starting point for my own. Today I used Natasha Threthewey’s “Theories of Time and Space.” As a play on her title, I’m calling mine, Strategies for Hill Climbs and Pace:

Strategies for Hill Climbs and Pace

You can run there from here, though
there’s no easy way home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
with a hard hill to climb. Try this:

head north on the Mississippi River Road, one—
by—one street signs ticking off

another stretch of your route. Follow this
to its inevitable conclusion—a huge hill

after Franklin, the flats by the U where
the path is a black ribbon

next to a blue river promising a breeze. Run beside
the carefully controlled water, 2 locks and dams

have made it wider and slower—taming
the rapids that once flowed. Run only

as far as you think you can go—remember
you still have to turn around and climb the hill. At the bottom,

where you begin your climb, start slow,
your watch will track your pulse and pace:

the data—how fast you ran, how hard you worked—
will be waiting on your phone when you return

jan 16/4 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Went to the track again today because it was cold and because I wanted to try out a speed workout. My first ever, I think. Here’s what I did:

1 mile, easy run
1 mile, 7:55 pace
easy walk, 4 minutes
2 x 1/2 mile, 7:50 pace
easy walk, 2 minutes after each one
2 x 1/4 mile, 7:45 pace
easy walk, 30 seconds after each one
1/2 mile, easy run

It went well and was much more interesting than just running 24 laps around the track. I think I’ll mix it in once every couple of weeks. Too many speed workouts can be bad for training and writing/thinking–I didn’t really think about anything else but my pace and how many laps I still needed to run.

What did it feel like to run faster?

lighter, freer, bouncier, more breeze, less breath, hotter face, less distractions, more focus, more fixation on time pace effort, less awareness of others except for when I wondered what they thought about me running by them so fast or at least so much faster than them

Listened to my playlist and had a strange combination of effort + song: during one of my sprints, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” came on. I added this to a playlist for longer runs and didn’t realize it was on the one I was listening to. Maybe I should put together a speed playlist?

jan 14/2.5 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Not much to write about this run. Felt fine. Runs at the track tend to be more boring and less inspiring. Listened to my running playlist and tried to run a little faster. How to summarize the run?

lune

slick snow cold
outside inside warm
dry boring

acrostic

Trying to
Remember what lap I’m on is
Always a struggle–why is
Counting so hard? Why can’t I ever
Keep track?

Tanka

Running in circles
around the track—-more effort
than inspiration
never quite getting anywhere
but back to where you just were.

jan 13/4.1 MILES

0 degrees
99% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

Cold but bright and barely any wind. Felt warmer than 0 degrees. As usual, I wore too many layers and was too warm. We got around 2 inches of powdery snow a few days ago so the path was covered with delightfully crunchy snow. Love that sound! And not too hard to run on–except for when I hit a slick spot. How to describe that sound?

Running on snow
I hear a crack–
not sharp and singular
like a wooden bat
on a hot summer’s day
but a constant crunch
creaking and brittle
dry crystals shattering
crying out
with every step

 

jan 10/5.1 MILES

38 degrees
10% snow-covered
franklin loop

Another warm and windy day. Another run on the Franklin loop. The path is almost clear but that will change tomorrow when it snows again. Since they don’t clear the east side of the river path quite as well, I’m not sure how long it will be before I can run this loop again. Listened to my playlist and had a good run. Could tell I was getting faster and that my last mile was my fastest. It’s a very gray, gloomy day. What did I think about? I really can’t remember. Didn’t worry about anything. Didn’t experience doubts about whether I could keep running. Didn’t struggle with trying to find the right words or ideas for my poems. Didn’t feel guilt about something I’m supposed to do or something that I already did. Just ran and felt the wind in my face, at my back, rush past my ears. Avoided puddles and ice patches. And tried to keep my breathing steady.

jan 9/5.3 MILES

35 degrees
wind: 13 mph with 21 mph gusts
25% snow-covered
franklin loop

Warmer. Snow melting. Slushy and slick. The path was mostly clear with an occasional ice patch and some gritty debris. Dirt. Sand. Some dead leaves and ground up twigs. It made a fun rubbing sandpaper kind of a noise as my feet struck the asphalt. I’m glad I didn’t wear my headphones. I would have missed this sound entirely. Ran across the Lake Street bridge over to Saint Paul and up to Franklin. Noticed a few walkers heading down to the East River Flats, which I only discovered about a month ago. How wet and slippery is it down there? On the east side of the river it was calm and warm but I knew what that meant: all the wind would be on the west side in my face as I finished my run. And it was. I think I felt a few of those 21 mph gusts that I read about. Tough, but I didn’t stop. With a mile and a half left a runner—in shorts!–passed me but hovered just ahead. I followed him all the way home, feeling good.

Last year, I spent a lot of time trying to identify different versions of the wind. I think this year, or at least this winter, will be about the path–the different sounds it makes, how it feels, how it looks.

jan 7/6 MILES

26 degrees
75% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

Hooray for warmer weather! Still below freezing but almost 30 degrees warmer than the last time I ran outside on Wednesday. Felt good, except for the Franklin hill. Ugh! Made it most of the way up but then decided to walk the last bit. Good decision because the last two miles felt great, especially mile 6. Looked at my favorite part of the gorge and marveled at its beauty. Dark brown branches framing the light blue river and white forest floor. I’d like to incorporate that image–or the suggestion of that image–in a redesign of this blog.

the path, some descriptions

The path was clear for big stretches then completely covered for others. With the slightly warmer temperature, when the path was covered it was both slick and wet. Snow that had been packed tight a few days ago was loose and gloppy and hard to slog through. I like snow that makes a satisfying crunch or crack when I run over it. This snow was quiet, dull, hard to run on.

jan 4/3 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Scott was going to the y this morning so I decided to join him. We didn’t run together, just at the same time. It’s nice to run inside occasionally. Not crowded and much warmer than outside–almost 70 degrees warmer. Really can’t remember what I thought about while I was running. Oh–at one point I noticed the sun rising up and coming through the windows. A peachy, orangy, yellowy glow. Someone was pulling a sled off in the corner. At least two other people were crawling using their fingers and toes. None of this looked fun. A class was running on the other track below me. Listened to a song my Justin Bieber and was bothered because he sang “serious” when he should have sang “seriously.” Wondered if he knew and maybe just didn’t care because he wanted to rhyme it with delirious.

jan 3/3 MILES

2 degrees/feels like -11
100% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

Had a hideous song from the 80s–an over-wrought duet–stuck in my head so I wore headphones today. Didn’t feel cold at all. Wore two pairs of gloves again but by the second mile barely had one pair on. Love running outside in the cold! After all of my talk about winter running, it’s nice to know that I wasn’t romanticizing it. I actually do like the cold, even when it feels like -11 or -20.

cold words

frigid
freezing
hyperborean (greek/living in far north, beyond north wind)
frosty
frozen
arctic
rimy (covered with frost)
algific (as in algific talus slope –an ecosystem found in driftless area)
frigorific
brumal (of or relating to winter)

jan 2/4 MILES

0 degrees/feels like -20
99% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

First run of 2018. One of the coldest runs ever! Definitely the coldest “feels like” temperature run. 20 below! Wow. I didn’t mind it. Wore lots of layers:

  • 2 pairs of running tights–1 nylon, 1 fleece
  • 1 pair of fleece sweatpants
  • 2 shirts
  • 2 jackets
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 1 buff
  • 1 hood
  • 1 cap
  • no headphones
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 2 toe warmers

Encountered the daily walker and was able to say “good morning” to him. Saw a few other walkers and bikers but no other runners. The only part of me that was cold and only for a minute or two was my right pinky finger. Thought it might go numb but I was able to warm it up. My feet weren’t cold at all because I tried out some toe warmers. Nice!

So glad I ran. When I saw that it was so cold I almost didn’t run but then I remembered—I love winter running. And I do, even when feels like 20 below.

Was thinking about new year’s resolutions yesterday, so I decided to play around with resolution/resolved.

i.
resolved: for as many people
who fervently make resolutions
and announce them on Facebook
there are as many people
who fervently reject resolutions
and denounce them online–
for it is not enough
to quietly not have resolutions
you must publicly declare
this lack loudly

ii.
Recipe for disaster or the answer to
Everything:
Shouting
Out
Loud your intention to
Uphold a promise
To yourself:
I will do this
Or I will
Not do that or I will
Start this, stop that?

iii.
I resolve to do something but not
to solve anything not to
settle a dispute or to
come to a final conclusion or to
be resolute or firm or steadfast or to
believe that everything should last.
What I resolve to do is this—
I will run outside
today by the gorge
even though it feels like 20 below
because I love winter running and
want to be outside more
than I want to be warm.
I will also resist
the urge to rhyme any more words
in this poem.

dec 30/2 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

-14, feels like -35 outside? No thanks. Even I have my winter running limits. Went to the YWCA track instead—my third track this week—and achieved my goal for the year: 950 miles. Originally the goal was the marathon. Then, when I was injured it became 1000 miles. But because I couldn’t run for 2 months, that goal was too ambitious. So I settled for 950 miles. Still a big accomplishment and probably more than I’ve run in a year before. And really it was 950 miles in 10 months.

Even as I love winter running, I’m getting excited about summer swimming. Found out yesterday that there will (finally) be an open swim race at Lake Nokomis this summer! So awesome. I’m hoping to write more about swimming in the lake this summer.

28 dec/4 MILES

60 degrees
us bank stadium

Scott and I ran inside at the US Bank Stadium for the third time this season. It’s closed for all of January to get ready for the superbowl so I’m glad we were able to go one more time. A nice run. We managed to sprint at the end. Much better than running outside in the cold snowy dark. On our drive back, near the Bohemian Flats, saw the Crows. Hundreds (thousands?) of them–a cawing congregation. A few of them flew off the trees just above my head almost looking like leaves falling. The sky was a strange mix of light brown and purple.

dec 27/4 MILES

6 degrees/feels like 2
5% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/south

Cold but not too windy. I think I was the only runner out there. I also think this is the coldest run I’ve done this winter. Felt the cold in my lungs fingers toes. What do I remember from the run? Loud cars driving fast along the river road. The sun already start to sink, blazing through the trees at the end of my run and the crows. The crows! So loud. Cawing and circling and cawing again. Here’s a poem about crows that I really like:

Crows

Marilyn Nelson, 1946
What if to taste and see, to notice things,
to stand each is up against emptiness
for a moment or an eternity—
images collected in consciousness
like a tree alone on the horizon—
is the main reason we’re on the planet.
The food’s here of the first crow to arrive,
numbers two and three at a safe distance,
then approaching the hand-created taste
of leftover coconut macaroons.
The instant sparks in the earth’s awareness.

I need to spend some more time with the bit about the crows, but I am instantly drawn to the idea of standing each is up against emptiness.

dec 26/1 MILE

45? degrees
the dome
austin, mn

7 below, feels like 25 below outside. Wind. Bright sun. Icy streets. No running outside today. Decided to try out the new dome at the old Austin High track. Scott thought the dome would be covering the old track (it didn’t) and heated (it wasn’t). Instead, it was cold and cramped and only covered the field. We managed to run for a mile on the astroturf, sharing it was more walkers (about 10) than runners (2 others). Lots of tight corners. Not ideal running conditions but better than running outside or not at all.

dec 22/4.2 MILES

19 degrees
5% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

What a great run! Crisp cold air. A clear path. Legs and lungs that feel strong. I listened to my playlist, running the final hill with “Hot for Teacher,” which was awesome.

I felt my feet rhythmically striking the path. I imagined that they resembled the triathlete Flora Duffy’s graceful running feet that I watched in a video yesterday, even as I knew they didn’t.