sept 8/RUN

run: 2 miles
dogwood coffee run
65 degrees

A quick run with Scott to Dogwood Coffee. Our Saturday morning tradition. Lots of runners out. Some bikes. A team of rollerbladers, three with matching kits. According to Scott’s apple watch, we ran 2 miles. According to mine, 2.09.

In the afternoon, we took Delia the dog to Meeker Island. Pretty cool. We didn’t have a chance to walk it, but there’s a dog park here that we’ll have to check out some other day.

sept 7/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
mississippi river road north/midtown greenway/sabo bridge/ywca

What a glorious early fall day! Sunny. Clear. Slightly cool. The view of downtown from the Sabo bridge was beautiful.

swim: 1.36 miles/2400 yards
ywca indoor pool

96 laps. 96 flip turns. Surprisingly, so many laps and turns didn’t bother my mood or my knee today. I felt strong and swift and glad to be swimming again after almost 2 weeks off. The water was so clear. I could see every tile below me. Such a different experience from the lake where I couldn’t see anything. It was also nice not to have to worry about sighting the big orange buoys or getting off course or random debris getting stuck on my hand or my head. I still prefer open swim, but I’ll happily swim in this pool a couple times a week this fall/winter/spring.

sept 6/RUNBIKE

run: 2.5 miles
62 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/south

This is my fourth day in a row of running. Feeling good. Woke up to 53 degrees. Fall is here!

bike: 9 miles
lake nokomis and back

Was planning to swim at the lake today but I got there just as a boat was taking out the last buoys. Last year, they kept the buoys in until the beginning of October. I’m sad but slightly relieved to know that it’s over–no more doubts about whether or not I should try biking over the lake to swim. I can’t, it’s closed. See you next summer, beloved Lake Nokomis.

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 26/SWIMRACE

2.4 mile swim race
bde maka ska
open swim classic

Third time’s the charm. The first year I tried swimming this race, I had just been diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration and the lake was too foggy for me to see anything–they almost cancelled it–so I had to drop out. The second year, I displaced my kneecap and my physical therapist advised me not to try swimming it. This year I almost wimped out because of sore legs, but I didn’t. I thought about how much I’ve wanted to swim this race and how I wanted to set a good example for my daughter and I did it. I swam it. I couldn’t see anything because of my vision and all of the water in my goggles, but I found someone else to follow and we made it all the way around the lake. I think she might have led us off track–my watch shows that I swam an extra 500 yards–but we made it and, according to Scott, I got 4th place.

What do I remember about my swim:

  • googles, filled up with water
  • rocks mixed in with sand on the beach floor
  • shallow water–starting the race and walking for the first 15-20 seconds. Heard one swimmer joke, “I thought this was a swimming race, not a walking race!”
  • clear water, checking out the Eurasian watermilfoil just below me
  • not being able to see anything but water and an occasional buoy
  • feeling like I (and the 2 other swimmers I was swimming with) were the only people in the lake
  • having no idea how far I had gone or how much farther I had to go
  • the swimmer next to me and the pink shoulders of her tri suit and white rims of her goggles
  • thinking: I’m actually doing this! yay me!
  • the shocking cold of the water as I entered and the feeling that I couldn’t breathe
  • watching the swimmer ahead of me stop to look where she was going and thinking: please don’t stop, I have no idea where I’m going or where the next buoy is!
  • before the race, overhearing a woman with a cast on her broken feet telling another swimmer: “I broke it at my daughter’s wedding. The doctor told me I couldn’t swim in the race and I thought that was unacceptable, so I’m here and I’ve rigged up something for my foot so I can swim.” What a badass.
  • feeling strong and proud and tired and happy to be done
  • a slightly aching shoulder

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 5/bikeswim

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

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

Such choppy water! Big swells that messed up my stroke on the way to the little beach and then crashed into me on the way back to the big beach. Wasn’t into the swells that rolled in behind me, but I liked crashing into the short wall of waves. Fun! After one loop I thought the most that I would manage was 2 loops, but I just kept swimming. I’d take a break at the beach for 30 seconds and then start again. I’m wiped out, but it was great. I’m proud of myself for not stopping, not making excuses for why I shouldn’t swim another loop. Things I remember:

  • The spray of the water, shooting up, as it hit a swimmer ahead of me.
  • The silver shimmering of the over-turned rescue boat on the shore of the little beach.
  • The lone duck swimming out in the middle of the lake.
  • Not being able to see anything but a quick glimpse of an arm out of the water.
  • Almost hitting the floating dock on my way into the little beach because I couldn’t see it until I was almost on top of it.
  • Hearing a swimmer tell another swimmer that she saw something swimming below her out in the middle of the lake but just tried to ignore it.
  • Feeling strong powerful tough as I swam straight into the waves without stopping

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.