sept 5/RUN

6.5 miles
the franklin loop + extra
63 degrees/72% humidity/dew point 54
wind: 16 mph/gusts up to 25 mph

What a run! The best I’ve done in months. Felt strong and steady, like I could have kept going for another hour. Didn’t look at my pace or my pulse. Didn’t listen to music. Oh, if all runs could be like this one! Spreading open possibility!

Overcast. No shadow today. Instead the wind was my friend, not by pushing me along but by giving me something to listen to and think about. I felt the gusts on the lake street and franklin bridges but it didn’t bother me. The wind sounded like a lot of things today. It blended in with whirring wheels of an approaching bicycle, the sprinkler set up on someone’s lawn across the street. I liked listening to it shake the leaves in the trees, making them sing, “fall is here! winter running coming soon.”

Running up from below the lake street bridge, glanced at a tree and was delighted to see slashes of bright orange peeking through. Soon all the leaves on the river will change and then fall and I’ll be able to see the river and all the way to the other side: the banks, branches, beaches. Right before seeing these leaves, I payed attention to the sign for the Meeker Island Lock and Dam. I want to check it out before winter. It’s so close. Only a mile and a half from my house.

I remember thinking about things, but I can’t remember what those things are
or were or whatever verb tense makes the most sense.

sept 4/RUN

4 miles
73 degrees/94% humidity/dew point 72
mississippi river road path, north/south

Intermittent rain
somewhat refreshing yet still
oppressively damp

Could this dew point be
the highest I have ever
run in? Probably.

I passed some runners
but no bikers or skiers
or dry anything.

When running in rain
it’s hard to determine which
drips are rain, which sweat.

Running under trees,
it’s hard to determine which
drips are drips, which drops.

Miserably hot.
So why did my run feel fine?
My pre-run fruit shake?

Not one glance at the
river today. Too busy
avoiding puddles.

Running down below the road, above the gorge, into the dark green, momentarily hidden from the road, I thought about running as a woman and what I would do if I someone popped out at me. Then I remembered something I read the other day: a satirical essay on women and running over at McSweeney’s: How to Jog: A Guide for Women

aug 28/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
62 degrees/97% humidity/dew point 61

Light, steady rain. Dark skies. Darker tunnel of trees littered with acorn shells. A great run. Didn’t stop, kept getting faster. Right after the Greenway bridge, a bright orange shirted runner passed me, running fast. We became running partners. Not running together, but on parallel paths, encountering each other every so often. I think he was doing strides. Sprinting, walking, jogging, sprinting back and forth on the river road. He passed me, then I passed him, then he passed me again. I liked how his bright orange shirt glowed in the distance when he ran past me.

This run felt good after a difficult morning with the girl–getting her to school, that is. No major breakdowns, but signs that we might be in for another difficult year of anxious, “I feel sick” mornings.

aug 27/RUN

3 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
79 degrees/77% humidity/dew point 71

Yuck! So humid this morning. Hard to run. Humid, sticky, moist all day. My kids complained that every paper their teachers handed out in school was damp. No fun for running or walking or being in humid classrooms. Ran 2 miles, then walked a little of the 3rd. Started running again and impressed myself by not stopping after I started.

Last week, a thread was started on twitter about the dangers of running alone as a woman: This is the last place I ran alone and carefree. A thread on Mollie Tibbetts and running alone as a woman Nothing has ever happened to me while I’m running but I definitely feel the fears and the lack of freedom expressed in these tweets. There are many wonderful places near the river that I will never run alone, even though I’d really like to try them out. Often when the path I run dips below the road or behind the trees or under a bridge I become anxious and hyper alert, looking for places to escape if someone jumps out or blocks my way.

aug 21/RUNBIKESWIM

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

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

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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

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

aug 20/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
72 degrees/87% humidity/dew point 68

5 miles without stopping. The first time I have done this, without stopping to walk, since May 21st. Wow. How did I run in these conditions? Usually I HATE running in such muggy weather. Today, it didn’t bother me.

aug 19/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

aug 16/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 2.2 miles
mississippi road path, north/south
69 degrees/90% humidity/dew point 66

With my lingering cold and the thick air, it was hard to breathe. Mostly I managed short, jagged breaths. It doesn’t help when the temperature and the dew point are almost the same!

bike: 4.3 miles
to lake nokomis

I only biked to lake nokomis because Scott gave me a ride home. Two things I especially remember: 1. I can “see” the path much better than at the beginning of the summer. Is it the light that makes it better? Am I actually “seeing” it or have I just memorized all the curves? 2. Too many acorns on the path. Sometimes they crunched loudly under my wheels, sometimes they popped and went flying across the path. I was worried my wheel would hit one wrong and I’d crash, or a popping acorn from someone else’s bike would hit me in the face.

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

This is the best open swim season I’ve ever had. I’ve swam 4 loops 5 times this month (so far).  I only swam 4 loops once last summer, on the final night of open swim. The water was warm and calm and buoyant–at least it seemed more buoyant to me. I felt powerful and happy. Swimming back to the big beach, into the sun, I couldn’t see the big orange buoys at all. I swam mostly blind, occasionally glimpsing a stroking arm or the top of the building or a light pole or a lifeguard. I wonder if everyone else had as much trouble as I did or if it was my messed up central vision? I keep planning to stop in the middle of the lake and take a minute to pay attention to the light and the feeling of being immersed in water, but I don’t. It’s hard to stop pushing myself to the other shore. I’ll be happy if I manage to do it just once in the final week. I’m ready for summer to end, but sad that swimming in the lake is almost over too.

aug 14/RUNBIKESWIM

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

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

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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

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

aug 13/RUN

5 miles
75 degrees/77% humidity/dew point 67
franklin loop

Ugh! Hot and hard. Walked about 1/2 of the 4th mile, but I did it. What do I remember?

buzzing bugs

Cicadas buzzing so loudly. Not chirping or humming but buzzing like a live wire. Crackling. Deafening. Unpleasant. Whenever I think of cicadas I think of the movie Lucas–that’s the first time I ever really thought about cicadas. I do not like the sound and neither does my dog. So I listen to my playlist while I am running.

dangerous acorns

So many acorn shells scattered on the sidewalk and the path near my favorite part of the gorge. Sometimes they make a satisfying crunch but mostly they cause problems, making my foot roll and slide. Luckily no twisted ankles today. Why all the acorns in August? Shouldn’t they fall in September or October?

the gorge’s edge

Running down below the road and the bike path, the trail was dark and green. I peered over the edge and look down through the layers of trees and think about why this spot matters so much to me. It’s steep but not really that steep–just a hill with the forest floor not too far below.

aug 9/RUNBIKESWIM

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

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

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 1.3 miles/2 loops
lake nokomis open swim

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

aug 7/RUNBIKESWIM

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

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

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

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

swim: 1 mile
lake nokomis main beach

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

aug 6/RUN

7.25 miles
to lake nokomis and back
70 degrees/90% humidity/dew point 68

Ran to the lake, swam to the dock, then ran home. It was harder than I thought it would be but after checking the weather, I know why: so humid and that dew point? Yuck! Things I remember about the run (with some walking mixed in):

Auto-pilot. For large chunks of the early run, I was moving without thinking.

Buzzing bugs! I listened to my playlist but when I got to one of my favorite parts of the creek path I decided to take them off. It was still and quiet except for the electric buzzing of the bugs.

Creek crud. As I was crossing the mustache bridge near Longfellow Gardens, I looked down at the creek and noticed the big streaks of crud–weeds? algae? scum?–in the water. Gross.

Diving. When I reached the little beach, I swam out to the dock and stood, looking at the calm water. After a few minutes I stood on the edge and then dove into the water and swam back.

Empty. Made the mistake of not eating anything before my run. I was hungry and lacked energy.

Foot, left. I’m a little worried about my left foot. It started to hurt again about 3 miles into my run. Just a little pang, nothing too bad…yet.

Grass. After I got out of the lake, I tried to carefully wipe the sand off of my feet in the grass. I didn’t have a towel and I didn’t want sandy grit stuck between my toes causing blisters. That happened last year.

Humidity. So hard to breathe at the beginning of the run. The air was thick and warm and damp.

Impossible. Near the echo bridge, only 2.5 miles into the run, it felt impossible to keep going. I wanted to stop. So I walked for a few minutes and then started running again.

Justin Bieber. Listened to “Sorry” as I ran along Minnehaha Parkway.

Kayak. At Lake Hiawatha on the way to Nokomis, right after the bridge with the blind turn, there’s a dock and a stand with kayaks and canoes. Running/walking by it, I almost stopped to see if there were any boats in the water.

Lonesome loser. “Have you heard about the lonesome loser? Beaten by the Queen of Hearts every time.” Listened to Little River Band’s song as I ran.

Muggy. Moist. Miserable.

Nokomis. My favorite lake to swim in but not necessarily to run to or around. Not sure why, but I have a mental block with this route and often have to stop and walk while running on it.

Off the main trail. On the last stretch of running, north on the river road, I decided to take the lower, less-maintained trail, below the road. I’ve been walking/running with the kids on this all summer. A nice change of pace and beautiful, being that much closer to the river, running under a canopy of green.

Pulse. Average: 168. My heart rate is high when I run, usually in the mid 170s. It’s very low when I’m resting: 57.

Quick-dry. My running tank top dried quickly after my swim, but my shorts did not. They were dripping water for the entire run back, which felt weird and uncomfortable.

Roller skiers! So many out there this morning. I guess fall is coming. Solo skiers and big groups too. Saw them by the falls, on the creek path, by the river. Running below the road, I could hear their clicking and clacking above me.

Satisfied. Not by best run. Slow. Difficult. But I’ve wanted to try running to the lake, swimming to the dock and then running back all summer and I finally did it so I’m satisfied.

Tired. My legs felt tired for most of the run and now, a few hours after finishing, I want to go back to bed.

Underwater. Contemplated running with my googles so I could see underwater as I swam, but decided that it would be too awkward to carry them. Next time, I’ll probably bring them. I couldn’t see anything, above or under the water, as I swam the short distance to the dock.

Verdant. Green everywhere. The river road, the creek path and the lake trail are all surrounded by large patches of green grass. And tons of trees. Sometimes, the green leaves form a tunnel above me.

Water. The Mississippi River. Minnehaha Creek. Lake Hiawatha. Lake Nokomis. I run by all of these bodies of water on this route.

X. Having written a lot of abecedarian poems, I’ve decided that x is the biggest problem. I’ve used x-ray and x marks the spot. The X on my socks. Even eXactly of eXtreme. I’m tired of x.

Yield. There are 2 crosswalks that I have to run through at Minnehaha Falls. Sometimes drivers pay attention and yield, sometimes they don’t. Today they did.

Zig-zag. Encountered a walker on the trail and we had one of those awkward moments when she zigged instead of zagged and I zagged instead of zigged.

aug 4/RUN

2.35 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
73 degrees/89% humidity/dew point 66

It was supposed to rain/thunder/storm this morning but after waiting an hour without anything happening I decided to risk it and go out for a run. Felt a few rain drops but that was it. Hot. Sticky. Humid. It didn’t bother me today. Ran with my running playlist. Encountered bikers, runners, walkers. No roller skiers or birds or dogs. My foot, which felt weird yesterday–the left one, felt okay today. Don’t remember much from my run except how I was trying to evenly swing my arms and run with my shoulders relaxed. Oh–and when the song–“Loving is Easy” by Rex Orange County came on my playlist, I thought it was Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Might need to add that to a new running playlist.

Addendum: After finishing this log, I read an essay by Devin Kelly about running and his dad. Beautiful. I want to spend more time thinking about its substance and structure. I really like how he weaves the different threads together.

aug 2/RUNBIKESWIM

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

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

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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

july 31/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
72 degrees/75% humidity/dew point 63

I was going to write that last summer I had no problem getting up at 6 am for a summer run but then I checked my apple watch and saw that almost all of my runs in June and July from last year were at 8, so I guess I’ve been running this late for a few years. It would be easier to run earlier. Cooler. One problem: it’s cooler but much more humid with a higher dew point. Which is worse: high humidity with a lower temperature or lower humidity with a higher temperature. Can I get up early enough to find out? Heard the rowers on the river and my feet striking the ground. Worked on my arm swing and raising my knees. Encountered some fast bikers and a roller skier slowly passing me. Didn’t listen to music. Avoided the direct sun, which was already hot. Glanced at my shadow. Happily ran past the cars stopped at the stop sign, briefly wondering if they noticed me and wished they were out running.

bike: 4.3
to lake nokomis

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

Another 4 loops! This time the water was choppy. So choppy that I had to breathe on one side. And it was crowded. So many swimmers swimming across and so many people hanging out that lake. But, I did it. 4 loops! 1 hour and 16 minutes which probably means it was slightly less than 4800 yards but it was still 4 loops. I felt strong and powerful as I cut through the choppy water and lifted myself up to see the buoys. When I was almost done with the last loop, my foot suddenly started to cramp up. Instantly, I stopped and shook it out until it felt better. Crisis averted. No repeat of the calf cramp from hell that I got 3 years ago. Other random things about the swim: almost ran into several people. Was attacked by weeds that got stuck to my cap and stayed there and by a stick. Was wary of a menacing sailboat that looked like it wanted to cross over, right through the swimmers. The slightly setting sun was blinding on the way back to the big beach. The water felt warm–76 degrees.

july 30/RUNSWIM

run: 3 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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

july 26/RUN

1 mile with son/3 miles alone
mississippi river road path south, below, above, north
61 degrees

Such a great, grayish glowing greenish morning for a run. Started out with the boy. Much more walking than running. But no complaining and lots of laughing. The weather was so great, the path so inviting that I decided not to stop after we were done with our workout. Ran the other way on the river for a mile and a half and then headed back. Felt good. Heard a roller skier approaching me for several minutes. Click. Clack. Scrape. Click. Clack. Scrape. Click. Clack. Scrape. It always seems to be a good omen, hearing and seeing a roller skier. When they finally passed me, I could hear that they were listening to the Tour de France. I called out, “Are you listening to the tour? Cool.” Was able to greet the Daily Walker when I was almost finished. Another good omen.

july 25/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls loop

A good run. Started with headphones but the shuffle on my playlist was stuck and I kept hearing the same 3 songs over and over again: Lorde’s “Homemade Dynamite”/Rex Orange County’s “Sunflower”/Courtney Barnett’s “Nameless, Faceless”. So I took out my headphones and listened to the chattering birds and the rushing cars and the even rhythm of my feet striking the path. I ran by the falls without really noticing it–I seem to do that a lot. My legs started feeling sore around mile 3 so I walked for a few minutes. Finished with some strong running, even though I had struggled to start running again. Somehow I made it through the moment of doubt and desire to stop and kept going, running until I reached the water fountain.

After my run, I sat on my back deck and listened to the birds:

july 24/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 1 mile
lake nokomis

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

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

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

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

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