august 8/UGH

Knee Injury.

Day Four

Still stiff. Still sore. Still hard to walk. Still using crutches. Well, just one crutch and hardly at all. Am I using a crutch or it, as a crutch?

Not being able to walk that well is getting old. This is the part of an injury that is tedious. The first day, you’re in shock and you don’t care about anything but getting rid of the pain and the feeling that something is in the wrong place. The second day, you’re a bit elated because the pain is gone and everything seems to be in the right place and it looks like you probably won’t have to go to the doctor—at least not yet—and there’s a glimmer of hope that you might not have to spend months recovering. The third day, you can walk, just a few steps, without crutches and even put a little bit of weight on your right leg. You marvel at far you’ve come in just 2 and a half days! But, the fourth day, that’s when the newness and the shock of the injury wear off. You’re improving, but not fast enough. And it’s hard to gauge how much. You’re tired of icing your knee and getting up very carefully and sitting on the couch or the bed or a chair all the time. You want to walk the dog. To not have to drive the 2 blocks for your son’s appointment. To enjoy the summer day. You worry that you’ve misjudged this injury, that it’s serious and that you’re doing more harm than good. You feel restless and lazy.

Ugh, day four, you’re such a bore!

I’d like to craft a ghazal about my injury, but it’s hard to do a ghazal without sounding forced or too cheesy. Not sure I succeeded, but I tried:

The injury happened on Saturday, so it’s only been four days
but even prior to the traumatic event, there had been lots of sore days.

My knee had felt weird, or slipped out of place, or just not right,
but it still worked. That was then, in the before days.

The days before Saturday, when my knee decided it was fed up with marathon training.
Getting up from a chair too quickly, I felt less shocked, more dazed.

I knew that something was wrong, something wasn’t fitting back into place.
I couldn’t stand up straight. And I wouldn’t be able to for days.

Now, it’s Tuesday and I’m recovering. Slowly. Mostly patiently, but it’s hard.
I ask myself, Sara, how long will this last: months or weeks or days?

Went to open swim. Swam only a few strokes but I knew: bad idea. My knee didn’t want to bend and I was worried that I would be in the middle of the lake and get a terrible calf cramp. No thanks. So, I turned around and got out. I can try again on Thursday.

Knee status: still limping. still stiff, but much better. My optimism continues to grow.

Treatment: Continue to get up out of chairs very slowly. To walk slowly. To move slowly. To be slowly.

august 7/Maybe?

Knee Injury.

Day Three

Another day of trying to not do much of anything. So hard not to be active. Luckily, or is it unluckily, I have nowhere to go today. No excuse to mess my knee up more.

My mom was restless too. When her cancer came back, she would pace around the house. Walking in circles for hours. When she started using a walker, one of us would follow behind her, making sure she didn’t fall. When she couldn’t walk anymore, when she couldn’t really move, she would chew gum. Lots of gum.

Can walk without crutches. Still limping. Still awkward. Seems like good progress.

A stiff knee. A restless spirit. A hopeful soul. A stalled imagination.

Limits. Restraints. Reminders. Recalibrations. Adjustments. Accomodations. A rethinking of goals, expectations, demands.

Look, 
I get it.
I
Must be careful not to
Injure myself
Too
Severely.

Yesterday, I didn’t care. Then I believed it was over. Today, I’m not so sure.

Put my bike on the stand and biked for about 12 minutes. Moving the legs feels good. My legs get so still and sore and tight and bored, just like the rest of me.

Gee knee, it’s NOT swell to see you.

After a day of walking around the house and up and down the stairs, both knees are stiff and sore.

Knee status: Stiff, swollen, less painful, awkward, improving. Can bike and walk. Stairs are getting easier. Also can straighten my knee while sitting in bed or on the couch.

Treatment: slow biking, ibuprofen, careful walking, rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, ingest ice cream to reduce swearing, avoid doctor, introduce a measured optimism, sit outside in the sun and watch the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance live with daughter.

august 6/OH WELL

Knee Injury.

Day Two

Certain immediately. Something wrong. Really wrong. At first, shock. But never denial. Or despair. Just shock. Now, recovery. And adjusting expectations. And acceptance.

Do I move to acceptance too fast? Am I giving up too soon? Will I be able to race with my daughter next Sunday? Will I have to go for another expensive doctor’s appointment? Or physical therapy? Will I be able to run again, even just a 5k at a time?

Confronting the possibility of stopping enables the doubts to creep in. They never enter as enemies, but as friends, bearing gifts: reasonable explanations and justifications for why running a marathon was always a bad idea. Too much time. Too much stress. Too much for my body.

Scott picked up some crutches for me at the store this morning. I’m 43 and I’ve never used crutches before. Never had a broken leg or foot or sprained knee. Lucky.

A crutch is defined in 2 main ways: 1. as a literal object that you brace under your armpit to help you walk and 2. as a metaphor for an unhealthy dependence on something you use to deal with a problem. What’s wrong with a crutch? Why is the metaphorical meaning so negative? Does it reflect a disdain for vulnerability and an over-emphasis on self-reliance?

It’s funny how an injury likes this bothers me more because I can’t walk, then run. Walking is much more essential to my life than running.

Oh, to walk again!

Told daughter I might not be able to race in the triathlon with her next weekend. She asked if she still could. Something clicked. Why not try to do as much of the race as I could? I should be able to swim and bike. Maybe I could walk instead of run? And, maybe I could do that with the marathon too? Walk a lot of it? Have I re-entered denial? Decided that I gave up too soon?

Knee status: stiff and swollen, but without pain.

Treatment: It’s hard to put any weight on it, so I’m using crutches. Icing the knee and taking some Ibuprofen. Getting up slowly. Swearing, if necessary. Avoiding stairs, if possible. Watching a marathon of So You Think You Can Dance with daughter.

august 5/UH OH

Knee Injury.

Day One

Well, it happened. My right knee decided that it had had enough. After days of registering its complaints, it went on strike. Tonight, when I tried to get up from a chair, I couldn’t straighten my knee or put any weight on it. Pain. Not overwhelming, but still. Pain. Was it because I stood up too quickly, not giving it a chance to slowly pop back into place? Is it another bone spur? The same bone spur?

Will I be able to run a marathon? Unlikely, I think. But, maybe. Who cares? All I want is to able to walk again. And to not have another moment when I’m googling how to pop your knee back into place and seriously considering doing it. Or a moment when I have to tell Scott to shut up because he’s just said that “something looks like it’s sticking out wrong.”

Knee status: pain when I try to straighten it and the unsettling feeling that something is not in the right place.

Treatment: google possible problems, then stop because googling problems is almost always a bad idea. Try to calm down. Don’t move. Go to bed early.

august 4/9 MILES

58 degrees
a little more than the almost downtown turn around

Running when it’s in the 50s is so much better than running in the mid 60s! It was a beautiful morning for a run. I felt strong and not too tired. I ran the first half without stopping, then took a brief walking break at the top of the hill and another one at some point during the run–I think? After spending a lot of time thinking/writing about the run to lake harriet and how it wanders beside the creek, I was struck by how straight the path to downtown is. While it occasionally strays from the biking path, they are usually right next to each other. And the path crosses under several bridges–Lake Street, the Railroad Trestle, Franklin Avenue, I-94, Washington Avenue, the biking/walking bridge to the East Bank of the U of M,10th Avenue and 35W–but not over them. You also don’t cross any roads. The biggest features of this route are the two hills: Franklin and 35W. And the river, the gorge, the views of the U of M campus and the Minneapolis skyline.

I picked up Mary Oliver’s collection of essays/poems, Long Life, from the library yesterday and started it after my run. I haven’t even made it through the forward and I’m already inspired!

Writing poems, for me but not necessarily for others, is a way of offering praise to the world. In this book you will find, set among the prose pieces, a few poems. Think of them that way, as little alleluias. They’re not trying to explain anything, as the prose does. They just sit there on the page, and breathe (xiv).

No Explanation Necessary

What a thing to do!
To sit and just breathe.
How novel,
how necessary,
how different from what is expected.
Who needs an explanation
when there’s inspiration
and expiration
and alleluias?

And, here’s one of Oliver’s Alleluias:

Can you Imagine? by Mary Oliver

For example, what the trees do
not only in lightening storms
or the watery dark of a summer night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now–whenever
we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine
they just stand there looking the way they look
when we’re looking; surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade–surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind, 
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

I’ve just been editing a piece in which I reflect on what leaves on a tree are for and last month I pondered whether or not trees sigh and why. Now, I want to imagine more about what trees do when we’re not around. As I wrote this last line, I remembered by Modern Philosophy class from college and studying the empiricist George Berkeley and the classic question prompted by his suggestion that “The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived: the trees therefore are in the garden, or the chairs in the parlour, no longer than while there is some body by to perceive them”: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Maybe I should play with this question? Here’s a link I found to how some people in the UK respond.

august 3/REST

This should be an XT day, but open swim is rained out tonight. I’m okay with this because it’s only 56 degrees and supposed to be very windy this afternoon. Instead of swimming or running, I’m writing. For the past few days, I’ve been working on crafting a story about my latest running route to Lake Harriet. Here’s what I have so far:

The Run to Lake Harriet

The short version: taking the parkway for part of it and not the creek path.
Distance: 14-20 miles, depending on whether or not you run around Lake Harriet and/or Lake Nokomis.

The shortest version: mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/minnehaha parkway/lake nokomis/minnehaha creek path/lake harriet/minnehaha creek path/lake nokomis/minnehaha parkway/minnehaha falls/mississippi river road path, north

The longest version: mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/minnehaha parkway/lake nokomis/minnehaha creek path/around lake harriet/minnehaha creek path/around lake nokomis/minnehaha parkway/minnehaha falls/mississippi river road path, north

When you follow alongside water, you meander and, depending on the terrain and how the roads are laid out, cross over and under a lot of bridges and roads.

Cross over and under,
Move through and pass by,
Run near and alongside:
rivers, falling water, creeks, lakes,
rec centers, playgrounds, parking lots
waterways, pathways, parkways
streets, roads, avenues,
sidewalks, crosswalks, trails
bridges, arches, overpasses
and woods that wander beside water
that rushes, drips, 
falls, flows
and flushes 
out of Lake Harriet and Lake Nokomis and into Minnehaha Falls.

Number of times the running path crosses over Minnehaha Creek on the way to Lake Harriet: 6

Number of bridges you cross over or under: 16

Number of lights you must stop at: 5

Number of times the running path and biking path split and then come together again: 14?

Number of woods you run through: 5

Types of bridges: steel, wooden, concrete

Types of water: river, waterfall, creek, lake

Roads you run under: 46th street, Cedar Avenue, Chicago Avenue, 35W, Lyndale Avenue

Roads you run over: Hiawatha Avenue

Avenues you cross: 46th Avenue, Minnehaha Avenue, 39th-28th Avenues, 22nd Avenue, Bloomington Avenue, Portland Avenue

Roads you cross: Mississippi River Road

Streets you cross: 50th Street

Parkways you run by (or near): Minnehaha Parkway, Lake Nokomis Parkway, Lake Harriet Parkway

Number of giant bronze bunnies you run by: 1

Official name of bronze bunny: Cottontail on the trail

Number of old neighborhoods you run through: 1

Number of playgrounds you run by: 3

Places where you fill up your water bottle: Lynhurst Park, Lake Nokomis Rec Center

Number of hills you avoid because of the new path that goes under instead of over Lyndale Avenue: 1

Number of cats that have crossed your path while you’re running through the woods: 1

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

When I’m on a long run, I try very hard not to think too much about how many miles I have to run, how many minutes I’ll be moving before I can stop, how many bridges I have left to cross. I pay attention to my surroundings: the crunchy grit on the path, the fragrant trees by the steel bridge, the rushing water of the creek below me, the sun as it filters through the forest. Or, I distract myself with a podcast. If I fail to pay attention to the moment or to distract myself from the enormity of my task, the run becomes much harder.

When our paths cross again.

The running path and biking path on this route separate and then come back together again 14 times. Early in the run, while still on the river road, these separations are slight, with just a small patch of grass or a parking lot between them. But from Lake Nokomis to Lake Harriet, the divide between the paths grows wider. While the bike path follows next to the road, remaining on one side of the creek for most of the route, the running path wanders nearer to the water and away from the road. Winding through woods. Curving under the arch of a bridge. Zigzagging from one side of the creek to the other. When the paths converge, it is the running path that (almost) always returns to the biking path, and not the other way around. The most dramatic moment when they meet is at a place when both paths have strayed from the road and into some woods. As they come out the woods and towards the road, the paths cross and those on the running path must watch carefully to avoid being hit by a speeding bike.

I’ve traveled this route for over 20 years. In the past, I biked. Now, I usually run, mostly because I like running and I’m training for a marathon, but partly because my macular degeneration makes biking difficult and sometimes dangerous, especially if I’m biking too fast. Maybe I should slow down.

Crossing over

When running for almost 3 hours, I enter into an almost dreamlike state, where I engage with the world differently. I am present, feeling the varied textures as I move from path to bridge to path again, noticing the change in temperature as I enter the small wood that blocks out the sun and warily eyeing the approaching dog, wondering if it will lunge as I pass by. But I am also absent. Not quite there. Passing through the moments in a daze, lulled into a trance by my steady footfalls and by my attempt to not think about how much it hurts, how much I want to be done, how much I have left to run.

august 2/4 MILES

67 degrees
74% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/mississippi river road path, south

A good run. Ran faster than usual for three miles and then a bit slower, with 2 short walk breaks, for the last mile. Should I have kept running and not stopped? Was I being mentally weak? Not sure, but I’m still happy with my run.

About 4 minutes into my run, the walking/running path dips below the road and runs alongside a steep hill and above a floodplain forest and a dirt path that leads to the Mississippi River and the sand flats. I love looking at this forest and trying to see what’s down there. Maybe a tent? People walking? A dog or fox or coyote running? Today, when I did this, I caught a glimpse of the river, sparkling bright from the early sun. Just a small flash, piercing through the thick trees.

note: On the National Park site for the Mississippi River Gorge, they refer to the trees that I like checking when I run as the “floodplain forest” and the beach by the river as the “sand flats.”

 

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 31/13.6 MILES

70 degrees
81% humidity
dew point: 64
mississippi river road path, south/minnnehaha creek path/lake harriet/minnehaha creek/mississippi river road path, north

Ugh. Hard. Hot. Humid. I really don’t like running in the summer. Even so, I didn’t give up and kept moving the whole time. More walking than running in the second half, I think. Running to Lake Harriet has become my new long run route. It’s time to write a new running route essay. Here’s a list of landmarks along the route that I might incorporate into an essay or writing experiment.

The Run to Lake Harriet, Some Landmarks

  • 36th Street parking lot on the river road
  • the double bridge (a bridge for walkers/runners and one for bikers) near 44th street on the river road
  • under the 46th street bridge, near Ford parkway
  • Minnehaha Falls
  • Minnehaha Parkway and by the old neighborhood that we lived in for 10 years
  • the light at 34th
  • the four way stop at Nokomis
  • the light at 28th
  • Mel-o-glaze, where they sell “legal crack balls,” at least that’s what their sign proudly proclaims
  • the dinosaur park
  • lake nokomis rec center
  • over the small steel bridge that has a stand of trees that smell just like the UP
  • under the cedar bridge
  • the light at Bloomington
  • where Rosie learned how to bike
  • where the running and biking path split and where it becomes confusing and disorienting the first few times you run it
  • the bunny
  • the woods, part 1 (running under the freeway)
  • the woods, part 2 (where I saw the freaky cat just chilling out in the woods by the path, staring at me as I ran by
  • where you come out of the woods
  • running down the wooden platform and not up the big hill
  • the woods, part 3 (where you separate from the biking path by crossing over a small wooden bridge)
  • lynhurst park, where I fill up my water bottle
  • the woods, part 4 (between lynhurst and lake harriet)
  • Lake Harriet!

Reading through this list, I started thinking about words we use for roads/paths and bridges.

Bridge

link
overpass
platform
arch
branch
span
trestle
extension

Path

trail
lane
road
sidewalk
parkway
artery
byway
track
route
street
groove
rut
walkway
footpath

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 29/TRI TRAINING

74 degrees
lake nokomis
run: 1.85 miles
swim (just me): 422 yards, 1 beach loop

Another amazing morning at the lake. Another test in patience and persistence. Resistance to running (and training and swimming and being positive and committing to anything) was high. But, I need to remember that we still walked/ran more than we have before. And we still got up early on a Saturday morning to do it. Small victories. Next time we train we will each be listening to our own playlists (and not talking/yelling at each other) that we make especially for the run.

In other news: I finally used my apple watch to figure out how far the loop off of the big beach is, from the far right white buoy to the far left one. It’s .24 miles. I did a rough calculation in my head and guessed around 420 yards. It’s actually 422. I only have to do 4 loops to swim a mile. Pretty sweet. I’d like to start doing that on my non-open swim days.

july 28/8.45 MILES

69 degrees
79% humidity
dew point: 60
the almost downtown turn around

This run felt hard and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. But I did, with the help of several walks. I’m surprised at how little it bothers me that I’m walking so much during these runs. Or that I’m going so slow. Have I given up or just become wiser and more measured in my approach? Or some thing else that I can’t quite figure out? Whatever it is, I’m continuing to train and survive and have moments that I deeply enjoy. I would like to work on pushing through some of the more difficult moments.

For the first half of the run, I listened to an old On Being episode with Mary Oliver. I love Mary Oliver. Here are a few lines that I particularly liked:

What is the meaning of life?

“have no answers but have some suggestions.” I was expecting her to end her line with: “have lots of questions.” I like that she didn’t and I like the idea that we can make suggestions instead of assertions or claims. These suggestions offer insight without definite answers. I’d like to do a writing experiment organized around the idea of having suggestions instead of answers.

writing while walking

They discuss how Oliver writes on her many walks through the woods.  A notebook is mentioned. I’d like to know, in more detail, her process of walking and writing. A few months ago, I read about Jamie Quattro and how, if she got an idea while she was running for a story, she would stop and find a stick and then scratch some notes on her arm (or in her hand?). I’ve tried composing lines while running by speaking them into my voice memo app. But, how does Oliver do it? Maybe she writes about it somewhere?

listening convivially

Krista Tippet references Mary Oliver’s suggestion to “listen convivially” while walking. Where does Oliver say this? In a poem? Prose? An interview?

convivially: good company, joyful/agreeable attitude, greeting others/the world with delight

For me, listening in such an important part of the process of running and paying attention. I like the idea of being convivial as we listen. What are the subtle (and maybe not so subtle) differences between being convivial and generous or open?

attention without feeling is only a report

“You need empathy with it rather than just reporting. Reporting is for field guides. And they’re great. They’re helpful. But that’s what they are. But they’re not thought provokers. And they don’t go anywhere. And I say somewhere that attention is the beginning of devotion, which I do believe.” Attention/Devotion/Rumination/Engagement/Feeling the Force of Ideas and Experiences and Moments.

mystery is in that combination of discipline and the convivial listening

I’m really interested in how being disciplined and undisciplined combine to generate creativity and a more meaningful life. Limits, in the form of structure–Oliver discusses how one of her most famous poems, “Wild Geese,” began as a writing exercise in using end-stopped lines–and freedom, in the form of experimenting, taking risks, imagining new ways of writing, being, doing.

Such wonderful ideas! I can’t wait to read more.

Here are 2 of her poems that I found and want to spend more time with: Spring and What is it?


And here’s my attempt at playing around with Oliver’s idea of suggestions, not answers.

a suggestion on suggestions

I’ve never been good with answers,
giving them, that is.
I can handle accepting them,
as long as they aren’t final
or firm
or boring,
lacking imagination and a wonder
that is necessary for joyful living.
I used to believe that this was a problem,
my refusal to give answers.
It certainly is for some people.
But, no longer for me.
Answers are overrated and too easy.
Even sometimes lazy.
I always want questions.
And now, having heard Mary Oliver utter it in an interview,
suggestions.
Possibilities to explore, entertain, use in our experiments.
Proposals that might fit the facts and feelings.
Things to consider
and ruminate over as I wander through the woods
or run on the path that stretches ahead of me for miles.

And, a poem inspired by Oliver’s exercise in combining end-stopped lines with enjambment and by Gros (Philosophy of Walking) and his use of Nietzsche and the question from The Gay Science about the value of a book or dance or musical composition: “Can they walk?”

How Does Your Writing Move?

With ideas that end when the line or the path does.
And ideas that wander, traveling over
the edge, maybe down
into the gorge, where mystery lives,
behind the green veil that covers the trees from mid-May to early October.

In forms that hold tight with elbows at a 90 degree angle.
And forms that sprawl
all over the place. Messy moments
transformed into words that spill across
the page, leaking energy (and black ink).

Using syntax that remains steady and even.
And syntax that starts. Stops. And starts again,
moving slowly through ideas and experiences and feelings and images.
Then, rapidly.
Like jagged breathing during a tempo run.

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 26/4 MILES

72 degrees
90% humidity
dew point: 69

Did I go for a run or a steam bath, just now, outside in humidity so wet that it dripped off the trees? The dew point was high too, but it didn’t feel thick, only moist. Felt pretty good on my run. My knee didn’t hurt and I could handle the humidity and the dripping sweat. Briefly walked twice to make sure that I didn’t run too fast and that I was recovering and not racing.

Yesterday, I started work on something about Monday’s long run:

Almost

Almost three hours.
Almost one hundred and eighty minutes.
Almost one fourth of my waking hours.
Almost sixteen miles.
Almost two thirds of a marathon.
Almost the age I got my driver’s license.
Almost too much.
Almost too long.
Almost too tired.
But not quite.

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 24/15.4 MILES

67 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/minnehaha parkway/lake nokomis/minnehaha creek path/lake harriet/return

My longest run ever. Slow. Difficult. Lots of walking. But, I did it. And, I’ll do it again next week. It was a beautiful morning for a run. It started to feel really difficult on the way back. I have no deep thoughts. No brilliant insights. No interesting observations. Just fatigue and relief.

Technically, I should count these miles in this week’s total, but this long run is for last week. I didn’t have time to run it any sooner because 2 of my college friends (and favorite people!) were visiting. So I’m adding the miles to last week.

Hover over entry to reveal the erasure poem

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 21/8.2 MILES

72 degrees
86% humidity
dew point: 70

I had originally been planning to run my 16 miles this morning, but when I got outside and felt how thick and heavy the air was, I knew it wasn’t happening. So I did my 8 miles instead, with several walks. At about 5 miles, I had to stop and create a make shift band-aid for the blisters on two of my toes. I ripped up the paper towel I had and wrapped it around the toes. It worked pretty well. Note to self: always put band-aids in my pack!

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 19/3.3 MILES

71 degrees
86% humidity
5K race/downtown minneapolis

This race was supposed to be a 5K (3.1 miles), but they measured it incorrectly and we ended up running extra. This error was very upsetting for Scott because he would have achieved a great PR, but not for me because I didn’t care. It wasn’t my fastest time and I was just happy to have only briefly stopped once and to be done. My time ended up being decent: 27 minutes for 3.3 miles/8:10 pace. I’m very happy with that!

Things I Remember From the Race

  • It was really cramped and uncomfortable in the starting line. A young runner (in high school) was standing/stretching/jumping up and down right in front of me. I was afraid he might land on my foot.
  • Hennepin Avenue was in bad shape. Lots of manholes and deep impressions that could twist an ankle.
  • For much of the first 2 miles, I ran near a mother and son. The mother was wearing a red clown-hair wig; the son was probably 9 or 10 years old. The son kept bolting ahead. The Mom kept saying, “slow down!” until she gave up and said, “Go ahead. I can’t run any faster.” He stayed with her while I ran ahead. They passed me again around mile 3.
  • Running on the Stone Arch Bridge, not quite near the end, I heard someone’s timer go off: “You have run 3.1 miles.” I was confused until later, when I found out that the race was long.
  • Hearing “Whoot there it is” playing as I passed two male runners who were blasting it as they ran in daisy duke shorts and no shirts.
  • Listening as one runner ahead of me thanked every volunteer and police office as he ran by them.
  • Nearly getting hit by a clueless, speeding biker who was biking recklessly on the race route.
  • Nearly twisting my ankle on the cobblestone right after exiting the Stone Arch Bridge.
  • Just as I was passing one runner, another runner approached and called out, “Hi Sara.” I looked over and then quickly realized that he was greeting the other runner, who must have been named Sara too. I wonder, does she spell her name the right way, without an h?
  • Usually it is very hot at this race. One  year: 95 with a heat index of 99 or 100! This year, only 70 degrees. It still felt hot to me. I really dislike running in hot weather.