jan 21/5.75 MILES

36 degrees
25% snow-covered
the franklin loop

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

jan 19/4.6 MILES

33 degrees
75% snow-covered
franklin hill turn around

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

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

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

jan 18/5.5 MILES

24 degrees
75% snow-covered
franklin loop

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

the path

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

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

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

A Run Around the Track Isn’t Hard to Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

more routine than ritual

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

jan 9/5.3 MILES

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

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

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

jan 7/6 MILES

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

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

the path, some descriptions

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

jan 4/3 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

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

jan 3/3 MILES

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

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

cold words

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

jan 2/4 MILES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dec 30/2 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

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

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

dec 26/1 MILE

45? degrees
the dome
austin, mn

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

dec 22/4.2 MILES

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

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

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

 

dec 19/4 MILES

36 degrees
10% snow-covered
wind: 20 mph
mississippi river road south/minnnehaha falls/mississippi river road north

Earlier this morning I took the dog for a walk and the weather seemed perfect. Not much wind. Warm. Sunny. So, even though I ran yesterday and the day before that, I decided that I better get out there. Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow and the paths will probably be covered again with ice.  I got ready but just before I opened the front door to leave I heard it. The wind howling. Uh oh. I decided it was too late to stop so I went out for my run. The wind wasn’t too bad–only gusting in my face occasionally. Most of the time, it was at my back. When I reached the river road, I ran to the right instead of the —to Minnehaha Falls. Pretty cool. Half frozen, half gushing. The path was almost completely clear. Only a few ice patches.

dec 18/5 MILES

30 degrees
50% snow covered
franklin hill turn around

It hasn’t snowed since Saturday so the paths have cleared up. I was actually able to run on some bare pavement for a while! Decided to run all the way down and back up the Franklin hill. At the bottom, the sun was shining not quite in my eyes, making the path glow. Ran most of the way up the hill but then walked for a minute (or 2?). Felt good. Ran the last mile much faster than the first 4 miles.

encounters

  • 2 women passed me early on, running fast. I think one of them might have been the Olympic runner Carrie Tollefson. She runs by the river a lot.
  • A guy pushing a jogging stroller while running. As he passed me, I enjoyed watching the way his heels kicked up. Graceful. Swift.
  • A few fat tires.
  • A walker in a bright yellow vest who had turned into a runner by the time I encountered her again towards the end of my run.

dec 17/3 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

My first time running at the track since last spring. Listened to my little iPod with an old running playlist and tried to stay relaxed. Running inside is not nearly as meaningful as running outside, but it’s fine. Better than not running at all. Not too many people–more walkers than runners. And after the run–the hot tub!

dec 14/4 MILES

20 degrees
90% snow covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

Didn’t wake up planning to run this morning but when I took the dog for a walk and felt how calm and clear it was outside, I decided I better go. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow morning? I’m glad I did. Not too cold. Not too windy. Not too icy. After the turn around on my way back south, it started to snow. Medium sized flakes that got trapped in my eyelashes. More pretty than annoying. Listened to my playlist. Looked at the river. Marveled at how the snow just keeps coming, slow and steady. A few flakes at a time. Adding up to white everywhere. No green grass until the spring.

Last Tuesday, when the snow first stayed on the ground, I wrote a brief poem:

It happened.
Not last night but
the night before.
The snow came to stay
setting up camp
on the lawn
until the spring.
Goodbye green grass!
Goodbye bare forest floor!
I’ll see you in March.

dec 13/4 MILES

26 degrees
100% snow covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

It snowed again this morning right before my run. A dusting. Will this be the theme for all of winter or just December? Will Minneapolis Parks ever come out and clear the path? It wasn’t too slippery, just uneven on the path. Made for slower running. Probably a better workout for my leg muscles?

On my walk home, after my run, heard the snow lightly crunching under my feet. Love that sound. I want to figure out how to describe it and how to track the different versions of the snow–wet snow, soft powder, under the wheels of cars, mid-run, while walking…

dec 11/4 MILES

34 degrees
snow-coverage on path: 100%
mississippi river road path, north/south

I wasn’t expecting too much snow on the ground this morning, but there it was, covering the deck and the roads and the sidewalk. And when the sun rose more flakes appeared. Big heavy, wet clumps. I decided I would run anyway. The river road path wasn’t too slippery, just a bit sloppy and difficult to run on. I think my legs will be a little more sore than usual later today.

Walking through the neighborhood on the way to the river my feet made a delightful double crunch noise caused by the extra wetness of the snow. There was the quick crunch of my foot lifting off of the snow and then the deep rumbling crunch of my constant weight on the path. So fun to hear. I wish I would have recorded it.

It was a good run with negative splits. I didn’t care how fast I went just how strong I felt. I chanted “raspberry blueberry strawberry chocolate” again. Almost felt like I was waltzing at one point.

Before and after but no so much during my run, I thought about Minneapolis snow and how it seems to accumulate steadily through frequent dustings instead of amassing suddenly through big storms. It grows my inches, not feet. I decided to write about these snow dusting, first in free verse and then in ghazal form.

a dusting

it doesn’t come all at once
just an inch here
half an inch there
waking up in the morning
to yet another dusting
not much but enough
to keep the ground covered
until spring
first soft and fluffy
then hard and crusty
a pure white blanket
then a dirty gray bank
relentlessly present
not obstinate or malevolent
just always there
always cold
always covering everything
until it warms
or gets shoveled
but then
always covering again
with a light dusting
there’s something exciting
about a big storm
6-8 inches
a foot expected!
but “less than half an inch”
a dusting
is boring
bland
nothing
to dream about
nothing to wake up to
in wonder
only something to shovel

dustings

Never all at once, first it’s bare—a dusting—
an inch here, half an inch there—dustings.

It happens in the middle of the night
then waking up to white everywhere—a dusting.

Weekly inches adding up to feet steadily
crystals congregate in cold air—dustings.

Soon molehills become mountains, blankets banks
snow comes daily without fanfare—a dusting.

These flakes never shouting, “Winter is here!”
always quietly declaring, “dustings.”

Week after week after week after month
so boring so constantly there—a dusting.

Minneapolis—why no grand celebration
no big party? So many small affairs—dustings!

dec 8/4 MILES

26 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/mississippi river road path, south

My first run of the (almost) winter on ice and snow. The river road path was about 80-85% covered with lots of ice patches. My feet slipped on the ice many times but it didn’t bother me. Just great to be outside breathing in the fresh cold air. Last winter I didn’t pay attention, but this year I’m looking down at the floodplain forest and noticing the snow covering the floor and looking out at the river, watching the water flow and the ice accumulate.

Got a pair of Yaktrax to put on the bottom of my shoes for walking (or running) on snow and ice covered paths. Didn’t use them while running but they helped a lot when I was walking my dog. Instant confidence on the icy path. Walking without tensed muscles. So much better!

When the ice and snow returns memories of cold air, slippery/slushy/snow-covered paths, intense blue skies with sparkling white ground, frozen toes and lungs and snot in my nose return too. Winter in Minneapolis is such a contrast to summer. I always imagine myself as two Saras–summer Sara and winter Sara.

Wistful for clear paths yet
invigorated by the pure cold, the
new views to St. Paul, the bare
trees and the concentrated
effort needed to avoid slippery patches. Below me the
river still flows yet is beginning to

Slow
as the ice, gone for so many months,
returns
and accumulates on its surface.

dec 1/7 MILES

37 degrees
franklin hill turnaround + extra

7 miles on a beautiful morning. Next week it’s supposed to get much colder but not today.  Great weather for running! As I neared the big Franklin hill I decided to mix up my running rhythm and create a chant in 6/8 time with triplets instead of 4/4 time with straight quarter notes. It was hard to quickly compose sentences with this rhythm so I went for 3 syllable words. After trying out:

mystery beautiful mystical marvelous wonderful magical

I settled on a 4 bars of 6/8 with the words:

raspberry
strawberry
blueberry
chocolate

Occasionally I added in a fifth bar/word: delicious

This chant worked well for keeping me focused and steady. It especially helped me run up the Hill.

Towards the end of the run I encountered by favorite person on the path: the Daily Walker. I always see him, all year round. He’s very dedicated with his walking.