oct 30/RUN

4.2 miles
minnehaha falls and back
52 degrees

Ran to the falls, stopped. Looked at the falls above, then below. Took the 100+ stone steps down to the lower bridge. Beautiful. Decided to run on the dirt path that follows the creek until I reached another bridge. Ran over it and then walked back up the steep incline. It was fun to run on a dirt path by the river. I was much less concerned about how fast I was going. Started running again and, just after reaching the double bridge (a bridge for bikers, another for pedestrians) at 44th street, I followed the trail that snaked down a hill to another dirt trail, halfway above the river. Well, some of it was dirt, some of it leaves, much of it abandoned asphalt, worn and rutted. I encountered a few walkers, but mostly had the trail to myself. My legs felt sore–maybe because I had run 3 days in a row?–but I liked looking at the river and St. Paul on the other side. Running on this trail reminded me of training with the kids this summer. Both of them preferred running on it over the main trail right by the road because they could be hidden from view. Summer seems so long ago.

oct 29/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin loop
45 degrees

A beautiful morning for a run! Sunny. Hardly any wind.

Favorite views: the reflection of the railroad bridge in the water from the Franklin bridge and the reflection of the Lake Street bridge from the top of the hill on the river road near Marshall.

Most annoying re-occurrence: stupid squirrels stopping right in front of me or darting out in front of me. At least twice, I had to pause my run for them.

Most interesting thing about the squirrels: saw at least 2 black squirrels.

Best noise: sh sh sh shuffling through the dead yellow leaves on the ground.

Worst noise: the wheezing, coughing, gasping of a woman running in front of me just past Meeker Island.

Prettiest leaf color: butterscotch.

Toughest part of the run: After running up 2 hills and crossing the road to the sidewalk just before Marshall.

Easiest part of the run: Running on a gentle downhill for several minutes after reaching the top of the curve on the Franklin bridge.

Best dogs: The pure white dogs I encountered at the end of my run as I walked back, one walking the other proudly perched in a stroller being pushed by a woman. Not sure what kind of dogs they were.

What made me happy to see: glimpses of the blue river through the trees at my favorite part of the trail, right above the gorge. A roller skier in a bright orange shirt speeding up the hill. The forest floor.

What I missed seeing: The Daily Walker. Rowers. Glowing orange leaves. Wild turkeys.

oct 25/BIKESWIM

bike: 7.5 miles
to ywca and back
50 degrees

My last bike ride of the fall? Could be. Pretty sure it’s my last bike ride to the Y. My membership ends when October does. No choice, I’ll have to run outside all winter, which is fine with me.

swim: 1 mile/1850 yards
ywca pool

This could also be my last swim of the year at the y. Don’t know if I’ll get back there before next Thursday when my membership ends. It was a good swim. I noticed the sounds–so loud! Everything amplified by the water. Sloshing and thumping and splashing. I need some better words. At some point during the swim, I imagined swimming next to a younger version of myself. Then I imagined all 6 lanes filled with differently aged-Saras, younger Saras and older Saras. What would we think of each other? Strange and magical. I liked imagining a Sara-filled pool. Later, I noticed the shadows of the trees, just outside, dancing on the pool floor. It looked like the pool bottom was alive. I liked being in this world, free of gravity and the need to see anything too clearly.

oct 24/RUN

3.25 miles
railroad trestle turn around
39 degrees

Ran a little faster on sore legs. Are they sore from running 5 miles two days in a row or has all that hiking from last week on icy trails in Rocky Mountain National Park finally caught up to me? It seems like late fall even though it’s still October. The welcoming oaks are bare. Two days ago they were a glorious gold. The gorge is slowly revealing itself at my favorite part of the path. I can see the forest floor. Can you see the river yet? Not sure, I forgot to look. All this unleaving reminds me of a poem that I revisited this morning: Emily Bronte’s Fall, Leaves, Fall:

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

I love this poem. Not because I’m into decay or dreary days, but because I love winter, especially winter running and I love when the leaves fall off the trees, exposing the mysteries of the wood and uncovering tree limbs: the thick, gnarled, twisted branches stretching out above the sidewalk and the tiny twigged tips that turn fuzzy in twilight and when silhouetted by the moon.

Note: Perhaps in honor of the colorful leaves–mostly in golden yellows–that are still on the trees, I dressed brightly for my run. A glowing greenish yellow long sleeved shirt and a bright orange sweatshirt. When I was in 5th grade, way back in 1984, kids always yelled out, “you’ve got the hi pro glow!” if you wore neon colors. Today, I had the hi pro glow.

vacation, oct 11-oct 20

estes park, colorado (elevation 7500 feet)
run: 3.8 miles
fish creek road

glenwood springs, colorado (elevation 5700 feet)
run: 4 miles
glenwood canyon hiking biking trail

Didn’t have much time to run for a week and a half. Partly because I was busy doing other things, partly because I had never run in such high altitudes before. Glenwood Springs didn’t bother me but Estes Park’s 7500 foot elevation kicked me in the ass. Wow. This past year I’ve heard so much about the altitude training that pro athletes do so it was cool to (sort of) try it myself. Here are some notes I took after my first 1.5 mile run:

25 degrees/50% humidity, dry/
ran next to some elk, heard their bugle mating calls
snowy mountains, a misty glassy crystal lake
screaming lungs, jagged breaths
poop-covered paths
an unfamiliar land

The 4 mile run with Scott in Glenwood Springs was easier and more interesting. We ran next to the Colorado River on the old highway, which has been converted into a hiking biking trail. Maybe one day will have time to run much farther on it. Didn’t see any elk there, but did have to run by some big horn sheep. Scott estimates that they were about 25 feet away.

oct 10/RUN

5.1 miles
river road/falls/creek path/falls/river road
47 degrees/98% humidity/drizzle

Ran to the river and turned right instead of left today. Wanted to check out the leaves. Beautiful soft yellow, orange and red. Not to peak color yet but getting there. It was drizzly and wet on the path which means more squeaky leaves. The most popular color of fallen leaves, covering the path: bright yellow. Heard water gushing through the sewer and trickling down the gorge. Almost avoided all the puddles. On my way back, ran below the Moustache Bridge and up through Longfellow Gardens. Not sure if I have ever run that bit before. I looked for the statue of Longfellow in the field, but couldn’t see him. He’s probably covered in tall grass.

oct 9/RUNSWIM

5.75 miles
franklin loop
47 degrees/raining

When I started my run, it wasn’t raining. But within minutes I felt some mist and by the time I reached the east side of the river it was raining. At first I didn’t feel the rain. I only heard it gently falling on the leaves. Such a comforting sound. Soon enough it was raining and I felt it on my face. I don’t mind running in the rain, as long as it’s not freezing, which it wasn’t today.

What else do I remember?

  • the squeaking sound the wet leaves made as I ran over them
  • the once yellow now glowing orange leaves near the lake street bridge
  • avoiding the cracks in the path just past the railroad bridge
  • looking down at the river as I crossed the Franklin bridge, remembering run across it in the race 2 days ago
  • hearing the trickling of water below the gorge on the st. paul side
  • hearing a dog’s sharp bark down in the gorge
  • seeing a runner up ahead on the franklin bridge and slowly getting closer, finally passing them before the meeker island sign
  • smiling as I ran back across the lake street bridge
  • seeing the Daily Walker up ahead, dressed only in a short sleeved shirt, passing him
  • running past 2 walkers with big umbrellas at my favorite part of the path near the end of my run
  • seeing red yellow orange leaves
  • encountering only one spazzy squirrel

swim: 1 mile/1800 yards
ywca pool

Until my membership expires at the end of the month, I’m swimming a mile at the y after band rehearsal on Tuesday nights. It felt good. I felt strong. And, amazingly, swimming for 30 minutes straight wasn’t boring or tedious.

oct 7/10MILERACE

10 miles
Twin Cities 10 mile
44 degrees

My slowest 10 mile by 2 minutes but I don’t care. My goal was to finish strong and to not stop and I did both of those: My last mile was my fastest by over 20 seconds and I kept going on Summit even though my left leg wanted me to stop. So many hills! So many potholes! So many beautiful yellow golden red leaves! So helpful to run with Scott!

What else do I remember about the run?

  • Listening to everyone’s feet in sync
  • Trying to not listen to a few annoying conversations
  • Feeling overheated even though it was only 44 degrees outside, sweating a lot
  • Not having too much trouble for most of the Franklin hill but struggling to find room to run once we turned and curved up to the bridge
  • Looking down and paying attention to all the cracks in the road so I wouldn’t stumble, finding out that doing this was a good distraction
  • Hearing Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby,” Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil, “YMCA” the Village People and “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders
  • Not wanting to keep going but knowing that I would
  • Scott complaining because there was a bunch of sand on the last little hill before the finish line

oct 4/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
40! degrees

Love this colder weather. Finally! Decided to take it a little faster today. Another 14 seconds per mile faster than on Tuesday. Ended up keeping up my pace by chanting in my head: strawberry/blueberry/raspberry, occasionally switching one 3 syllable word for choc-o-late or choco-late sauce or butterscotch. Because I was running faster, I don’t remember much other than my chanting or wondering how fast I was going (I wasn’t looking at my watch) or whether or not I should be concerned about the slight ache on the side of my calf.

Anything else I remember?

  • Lots of branches on the path, blown down by last night’s storm
  • Annoying, dumb squirrels darting out in front of me on the St. Paul side
  • The bright yellow trees at the top of the Lake Street bridge
  • Stumbling slightly after misjudging the edge of the path near the Marshall Bridge
  • Studying the west side of the river at my new favorite spot to view the river (up from the bottom of the Marshall bridge), checking out which trees were changing color

oct 2/RUNSWIM

5.5 miles
franklin loop
50 degrees/96% humidity

Misty. Humid. Cool. Fall colors are appearing. Greenish yellows. Reds. Oranges. Greeted the daily walker. Felt good, relaxed. After stopping a few times to deal with a phone call in the first 2 miles, was able to run the rest without walking. Running over the Franklin bridge was beautiful. Admired an inverted image of the railroad bridge in the water. Ran around 20-30 seconds faster per mile than my last run. Saw a rafter of wild turkeys on the St. Paul side. Maybe a dozen of them just hanging out on the lawn of the Shriners Hospital. I love that I can see wild turkeys in the middle of the city. Heard water trickling down the side of the gorge. Felt water trickling off of my face. Wondered how long it would be before all the leaves would be gone and I could see to the other side. Thought about the 10 mile race I’m running this Sunday. My goal: to enjoy it and to not take it out too fast.

Anything else I remember?: cars rushing by on the river road, the gorge looking gorgeous in dark green and rich brown, the grit crunching under my feet by the lake street bridge, the yellow leaves on the trees right by the marshall bridge almost all gone already, squirrels darting frantically, no rowers, no roller skiers, any bikers?, no ducks quacking or geese honking, no bugs buzzing, no sirens wailing, no eagles or hawks soaring, no runners or walkers or bikers or drivers irritating me, my knee hurting only slightly and not too often.

swim: 1 mile/1760 yards
ywca pool

After band rehearsal, walked a few blocks to the y for a quick swim. 8:45 is a great time to go to the pool–no one else is around! There was one other swimmer a few lanes over. Far enough over that I couldn’t really see her for most of my swim. My mile went fast. So fast that I wondered if I had miscounted. But I didn’t. I often miscount, thinking ahead too much. The only way I don’t lose track is by mixing up my stroke count. I break the mile up into 200s with a 50 breathing every 3 strokes, a 50 every 4, a 50 every 5, a 50 every 6. I don’t remember much about the swim except: staring down at the blue line in the middle of the lane and then counting the tile of the other blue line that marks the drop off for the deep end: 3 tiles; looking up every so often, noticing the lifeguard walking around; trying to quickly glance at the clock as I swam by but having trouble; and noticing that there are at least 3 clocks within view as I swim, none of which I could see that well.

sept 30/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
46 degrees/86% humidity

Very quiet this morning as I left for my run. Overcast and cool. So humid. Hard to breathe for the first mile. Easier, after. The quiet stillness amplified my foot strikes and breathing. The river road is still mostly green but color is creeping in. Yellows by the lake street side of the bridge, a few slashes of orange by the Marshall side. It felt really good to be out in the world this morning. I am running well. Today is the 9th anniversary of my mom’s death. At one point during the run I thought about her and how this day doesn’t make me come undone as much as it used to. Then I talked to her in my head, telling her I loved her and missed her and that I was finally feeling happy and hopeful again, after years of struggling with many losses. Heard the rowing couch (was it the coxswain?) on his bullhorn calling out orders about straight arms and faster rates. At one point he said the name Sara–was it “you can do it Sara” or “good job Sara”? I imagined that it was my mom speaking to me, telling me that she knew I was okay. Decided to run up the hill past the bridge instead of taking the stairs so I could avoid the group of runners waiting to climb the stairs–never seen that before, they must have been a cross country team–and so I could view the river from my new favorite spot just above the Marshall bridge at a place on the path where there are no trees and you can see the river clearly.

Anything else I remember from my run? Greeting several runners. Seeing at least 2 roller skiers. Encountering a woman with a stroller, trying to wrangle a dog and almost blocking my way. Her apology was genuine and I was so happy running that I didn’t get mad, which is the way I wish I could always be. Feeling very strong at the end with a great, almost effortless rhythm. Another runner greeting me so enthusiastically as we passed each other that I wondered if she thought she knew me or if I actually did know her but didn’t recognize her.

sept 28/RUN

10 miles!
downtown loop with slight variation
46 degrees/up to 17mph wind

10 miles! 10 miles! Without stopping! I ran up 3 really steep hills without any problems. A perfect morning. My legs felt really strong and I knew that I could run the entire way. No doubts. Ran on the river road path down the Franklin hill, through the Bohemian flats, up the I 35 hill, past the Guthrie, down to Mill Ruins park, up a steep hill back to the river road then home. Occasionally my knee felt a little sore or my shoulder tight or my foot ached, but only briefly. The rest of the time I felt good and joyful and grateful to be having good runs after over a year of struggling with my knee. The last time I ran 10 miles without stopping was April 22 of 2017. 19 months ago.

What do I remember from the run?

  • Being able to almost see the forest floor.
  • Trying to keep a steady pace as another runner slowly passed me.
  • Watching my shadow run ahead of me, then beside me, then ahead of me again.
  • Feeling excited when I realized that they added a solid white line on the biking path in the flats for us runners who don’t want to run on the seriously slanted walking path right by the river’s edge.
  • Hearing some loud cracks over at the U, deciding it was construction work but still wondering if it were gunfire.
  • Hearing a bus rumble by above my head as I ran under the Washington Ave bridge.
  • Admiring the lush green grass under the bridge, finally returning after years of being a construction dump site for the bridge collapse debris.
  • Feel surprisingly okay running up the very long hill right before downtown.
  • Encountering the dude painting the white line that I was so excited about with a weird machine that looked like a lawnmower near the memorial for the people who died when the bridge collapsed.
  • The rough, uneven planks on the river road by the Mill City Museum and the sign that reads, “Caution: planks slippery when wet”
  • Instead of running on the Stone Arch Bridge, taking the path down to the Mill Ruins park, running past an embarrassed woman about the get her picture taken.
  • Hearing a tour guide barking out directions at a group of young kids.
  • Running up the steep path that connects back up to the path, right by the bridge collapse memorial, and passing several people, including two girls who had been running up the hill but gave up.
  • Running down a steep hill and feeling great.
  • The shimmery sparkle of the sun on the river’s edges near the flats.
  • Flashes of white boats through the trees near the rowing club.
  • Spotting at least one roller skier, several other runners, many walkers, a few dogs, some bicycles. No daily walker. No Santa runner (an older runner who is super fast and has a white beard like Santa Claus).
  • Almost being tripped by a stupid squirrel, darting out in front of me.
  • Looking at the spray painted image of a butt with wings and a heart on the left cheek under the Lake Street bridge that Rosie pointed out last weekend.

sept 27/BIKESWIM

bike: 8 miles
to the ywca pool

I always bike on the river road to the greenway then over the Sabo bridge,until I reach lake street and the high school where my son goes. I turn left, bike on the sidewalk for half a block, carefully turn in the narrow gate and I’m there, at the u. Today for the first time, maybe ever, I saw a train on the tracks beside the greenway trail. Usually the tracks are empty or, occasionally, someone is walking their dog on them.

swim: 1 mile/1800 yards
ywca pool

Changing into my suit, I overheard a woman talking about swimming in the locker room. “People ask me why I swim. Isn’t it boring, just swimming back and forth? And I tell them that it gives you time to think. I’m always thinking about work stuff, planning what I need to do. I should get paid for my time in the pool because I’m working!” I like locker rooms and the rituals around either getting ready to work out or winding down after you’re finished. I don’t always like talking to other people, but I enjoy listening to their conversations. Frequently, they’re happy and positive, about how great it is to work out or when they started working out or answers to the question of where they got their lotion/socks/shoes/shirt/shorts. The best conversations are between the older women (the silver sneaker set) between 9:30 and 10:00, after they’ve finished the aqua blast class. So much laughing and giggling and joy. They feel good, working their bodies in the water.

Only swam a mile today because I think all the flip turns are messing with my kneecap (I’ve displaced it before, pushing off the wall). I could stop doing flip turns, but I’d rather stop coming to the y and run outside this winter. Swimming is something I’ll do in the summer. Noticed that the blue tiles that make up the plus signs on the walls at either end of the lap are in blocks of 6. I tried thinking about different things while I swam, most of which I don’t remember. Lots of thoughts about my stroke and the catch, push, pull, recovery of it. And, one fun idea about a writing experiment I’m doing right now about my many Sara identities (the Saras): the Sara with a smile not the Sara with storms brewing in her eyes.

Discovered a wonderful poet who is also a swimmer the other day: Maxine Kumin. In her poem “To Swim, to Believe” she writes:

Each time I tear this seam to enter,
all that I carry is taken away from me,
shucked in the dive.

Where have I come from? Where am I going?
What do I translate, gliding back and forth
erasing my own stitch marks in the lane?

What a beautiful way to describe how swimming takes away/erases your thoughts/worries/sense of self!

sept 26/RUN

4.5 miles
franklin bridge turn around
49 degrees/89% humidity

Fall running! Sunny. Brisk. Not too much wind. Beautiful. Glanced down at the gorge while running through the green tunnel and thought about how not being able to see the forest floor makes you feel like you’re high up, in the sky, near the tops of tall trees. I like this feeling. Ran past the Daily Walker. We were both headed in the same direction so I wasn’t able to say “good morning.” Tried to see my shadow but only got glimpses. Still too much shade from the trees. Maybe I’ll see her more in a month? Enjoyed listening to the crunch of my feet on the small patch of dirt right before the lake street turn off. Heard at least one dog barking across the river, probably at the Meeker Island dog park. Ran partly down the hill to just past the Franklin bridge and then turned around. Almost caught up to a roller skier climbing the hill too but she sped up once the path leveled off. Stopped and took the steps down by the railroad bridge. I run by these steps several times a week and I’ve never taken them. A beautiful dirt trail halfway up the gorge. I wish I had followed the trail instead of turning around and heading back up to the paved path by the road but I wanted to keep running. Sometime soon, I’ll run back, maybe with Scott, and we’ll explore the trail. Avoided darting, dumb squirrels. Smiled. Breathed. Pumped my arms. Kept my shoulders relaxed. Lost a few thoughts. Didn’t hear any rowers but I think I saw two under the bridge, either just about to head down to the boathouse or having just finished. Encountered many bikes, walkers, a few dogs. 1 roller skier. Several runners. No birds. No buzzing bugs. No rain drops. No orange or red or yellow leaves.

sept 25/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
52 degrees/91% humidity

Overcast. Sky, white with gray smudges. A few drizzles. The green down below the road aglow. Cool. A great morning for a run. Decided to tackle the Franklin hill. Managed to run the whole thing without stopping. Victory! Wasn’t too hard running up it today. What do I remember? Saying “good morning” to the daily walker. Catching a glimpse of a big bird–an eagle? a hawk?–between lake and franklin. Marveling at a super fast roller skier zooming by me on the path. Wondering why a car was parked on the sidewalk just in front of the franklin avenue bridge with its headlights on. Running up the hill, almost to the top, and noticing how the tree line carved out the sky, making it almost look like a river, wondering if the world was upside down. Hearing the buzz of a weedwacker down by the rowing club blend into the swirl of the wind and the whoosh of a car. Wanting to stop and take the steps by the railroad bridge down to the river to see what was down there. Feeling strong. Feeling joyful. Feeling hot, my face burning bright red. Noticing the leaves turning yellow on the way up from the bottom of the lake street bridge. Wondering when the leaves by the creek near the duck bridge will be turning golden. Thinking I should run that way sometimes this week.

sept 24/RUN

5 miles
minnehaha falls
70 degrees

Hopefully this is (one of) the last too warm days of the year. I’m ready for cool, crisp air. Decided to do a run that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: run to minnehaha falls, then take the dirt path, following minnehaha creek, to the mississippi river. It was 2.6 miles from the start, a block from my house, to the bluff, at the end of the trail before it turns and crosses to the other side. Pretty although it will be beautiful in a few weeks when all the leaves start changing colors. Most of the path to the river is downhill which made it easier getting there, harder coming back. Stopped briefly at the top of a bluff overlooking the river before heading back. I’ve stopped at this bluff before–last October–sat on one of the many flat rocks studding the hill and took notes about what I saw and heard. I want to go back and do that again. Here’s what I wrote then:

the notes
mississippi river
just south of the ford bridge
a sky that leaves the water as white
then turns gray
then blue
then even bluer
golden leaves that look like gold dust sprinkled on the sky
a small motorboat floats by
its engine off
water laps and then slaps on the rocks
depending on the wind and
whether or not the boat will start its motor
it does and the water starts slapping
then sloshing
until the boat’s wake has passed
then it laps again
brown water
white foam
gold leaf static
a bigger boat approaches
hugging the other shore
a broken branch
not a small limb
but a main branch
taking a drink in the mississippi
the lock at the lock and dam #1
is locked permanently
shut down to an asian carp invasion
so the bigger boat returns
this time it doesn’t hug the shore
but travels down the middle
it’s named Riff Raft
Will I care when I can’t see?
How bad will it get?
In the distance
I can see
the water as it tumbles roars pours rumbles rains rushes
down the rocks
the concrete rocks
the water slides
or does it glide
past me?
the creek that feeds into this river was rushing
then it stopped
Why?
Where?
How?
Every half minute or so
a leaf falls
phfftt to the ground
a gentle pat on the earth
but not gentle enough to be silent
more white foan
an occasional voice
across the river a pear green to gold canopy
a low rumble of traffic and
a plane

sept 23/RUN

6 miles
ford loop
52 degrees

Fall running! Very sunny and bright. Studied the welcoming oaks at the start of my run: the two straight trunks at the beginning,the one leaning in to whisper in my ear, the other leaning back, its limbs spread out almost as if to yell, “watch out!” Also noticed the light piercing through the trees at my favorite part of the run, below the road, above the gorge. Glowing. Radiant. I decided to pay attention to the noises I heard: a siren, the feet of an approaching runner, the bullhorn of the rowing coach, cars driving by, music being blasted from a bike’s radio, the shuffling scratching sound of my feet on the gritty gravel, the dripping of the water from the drain on the st. paul side, the clickity clacking of a roller skier’s poles, the wind in the trees, the quiet steady buzzing hum of bugs in the green tunnel. Crossing the lake street bridge, I watched a shell with 4 or 5 rowers on the river. Sometimes they were blocked by the railing. I craned my neck to catch another glimpse of them. Later, I noticed them as I crossed the Ford bridge. A small blip in the middle of the big river. I didn’t see much fall color–maybe I wasn’t paying attention?–but I smelled fall on the path, traveling down from the Ford Bridge to the locks and dam #1. Musty, earthy leaves decaying in the dirt. Didn’t encounter too many runners and no big groups. Felt strong and decided to run a bit extra so I could reach 6 miles.

sept 21/RUN

8.2 miles
franklin loop + extra
52 degrees/wind: 21 mph with gusts up to 32 mph

8.2 miles without stopping. This is the most I’ve run without stopping since before my knee injury in June of 2017. It felt good. I was originally planning just to run the Franklin loop but I was feeling good and decided to keep going. Running an extra 3 miles is a big mental victory for me. I rarely can get myself to run extra. And I didn’t it in the wind. I used to hate the wind, now I love it. Strange. The only time it was really bad was on the lake street bridge heading back to Minneapolis. I was running straight into it. A couple of times I was worried I would be blown across the path.

What else do I remember?

  • the gray sky, how it made the green glow softly
  • saw a roller skier (west side of river) and a rollerblader (east side)
  • the runner passing me from behind, his long stride looked relaxed but slightly strange
  • the clicking of a gear being changed on a bike
  • Minneapolis parks people out repainting the walking/biking signs on the path
  • hearing one of their vehicles rapidly approaching from behind, then watching it speed by beside me
  • flashes of yellow and orange almost hidden in the green trees
  • the blue gray Mississippi
  • my left shoulder aching every so often
  • feeling warm, then cooling off because of the wind
  • noticing the metal steps on the st. paul side that Scott, Rosie and I walked up last weekend when we checked out Meeker Lock and Dam
  • running above, trying to look down below to see where the dog park path is
  • the beautiful view of the river and the tree line on the path just past the lake street bridge
  • the orange vest of a gardener digging up dirt by the side of the road
  • feeling strong and not bothered by how strong the wind was
  • turning onto the river road path and falling in behind a runner in shorts and a gray sweatshirt. Not sure how fast she was running, but it was faster than me

sept 20/RUN

4.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south/north again
60 degrees/rain

A steady rain. Not torrential but constant and very wet. Today might be one of the first times I went out to run and it was already raining. Usually I try to get a quick run in before it starts but end up getting stuck in it. Today it started to rain before I could leave and I went anyway. And I didn’t mind. I think I might be done ever running inside on a track. I’ll run in heat, snow, rain, wind, below zero temperatures. Lot of conditions…except thunderstorms.

The theme for today’s run: water

List: types of water experienced

  • soft, steady rain falling straight down
  • rain collecting on the bill of my visor, always a single drop sitting in the corner of my peripheral vision
  • a soaked shirt sticking to my stomach
  • soggy shoes and socks
  • huge puddles on the sidewalk on the way to the river, hard to run around, hard to leap over
  • wet, slick leaves on the path, not slippery just saturated
  • drops playing a constant downbeat on the trees grass dirt….I wondered as I ran: is rain always steady, in 4/4 time? Anyone ever heard triplets or a 16th note rest?
  • running too close to the edge of the path and getting a face full of wet branch
  • water dripping on my head, dripping through my visor, mixing with the sweat on my forehead
  • spray from my very wet ponytail
  • tiny drops of rain landing on my watch face
  • cold wet legs shoulders fingers
  •  car wheels whooshing by
  • the river, a contemplative blue
  • only one quick break from the unrelenting rain: running under the Lake Street bridge

I enjoyed running in the rain. Mostly because it was cooler but also because it was different and unusual. I felt a kinship with the 2 or 3 other runners I encountered, we the weirdos willing to wade through the water-soaked path in order to run outside.

sept 19/SWIM

swim: 2 miles/3600 yards
ywca pool

Pushing off from the wall for my first lap, swimming at the bottom, my face inches from the tiles, it hits me: the line down the center of the lane, the one that is 6 tiles wide, is blue. Last week in an entry, I think I called it black. And, as I wondered in this entry, there is a line marking off the deep end, but it’s blue not black. On the wall, at either end of the lane is a blue plus sign made out of tiles. Maybe next time I swim, I can try to count them. The rest of the tiles are white. Less white this week, than a few weeks ago, right after the pool had its annual cleaning. During the first mile, my goggles were slightly fogged up so I didn’t see as much but when I stopped and quickly cleaned them out with pool water, they were clear for the second mile. This (somewhat) clarity of vision got me thinking about a paragraph I read the other day in an essay about swimming entitled “Buoyancy.” William Spiegelman writes:

Swimming, unique among physical activities, diminishes and almost eliminates the sense of sight, our primary means of engagement with the physical world. You see the sides of the pool, the bottom, the lane markers; you get momentary glimpses of the world as you breathe or raise your head above the water as you turn, but by and large, vision is kept at a minimum.

I guess this is true for a pool, although much more true for open water swimming, but I felt like I was seeing as well as or better than I usually do outside of the water. The water was very clear and I could see the tiny bits of mildew or grout (or who knows what) in the corners of the tiles. I saw other people, floating, kicking, crawling. Brightly colored suits. Yellow fins. A red-shorted, looming lifeguard talking to a woman in a black suit. The timing clock ticking down seconds. A word about the lifeguard: she was fascinating. Walking up to a lane to swim, I overheard her recounting to another woman about all of her aches and pains and the chair yoga class she was taking (or leading?) at another fitness center. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an older lifeguard. Cool. Now I’m wondering if I’m confused, but I’m pretty sure she was the lifeguard.