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 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 13/4.1 MILES

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

Cold but bright and barely any wind. Felt warmer than 0 degrees. As usual, I wore too many layers and was too warm. We got around 2 inches of powdery snow a few days ago so the path was covered with delightfully crunchy snow. Love that sound! And not too hard to run on–except for when I hit a slick spot. How to describe that sound?

Running on snow
I hear a crack–
not sharp and singular
like a wooden bat
on a hot summer’s day
but a constant crunch
creaking and brittle
dry crystals shattering
crying out
with every step

 

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 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.

28 dec/4 MILES

60 degrees
us bank stadium

Scott and I ran inside at the US Bank Stadium for the third time this season. It’s closed for all of January to get ready for the superbowl so I’m glad we were able to go one more time. A nice run. We managed to sprint at the end. Much better than running outside in the cold snowy dark. On our drive back, near the Bohemian Flats, saw the Crows. Hundreds (thousands?) of them–a cawing congregation. A few of them flew off the trees just above my head almost looking like leaves falling. The sky was a strange mix of light brown and purple.

dec 27/4 MILES

6 degrees/feels like 2
5% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/south

Cold but not too windy. I think I was the only runner out there. I also think this is the coldest run I’ve done this winter. Felt the cold in my lungs fingers toes. What do I remember from the run? Loud cars driving fast along the river road. The sun already start to sink, blazing through the trees at the end of my run and the crows. The crows! So loud. Cawing and circling and cawing again. Here’s a poem about crows that I really like:

Crows

Marilyn Nelson, 1946
What if to taste and see, to notice things,
to stand each is up against emptiness
for a moment or an eternity—
images collected in consciousness
like a tree alone on the horizon—
is the main reason we’re on the planet.
The food’s here of the first crow to arrive,
numbers two and three at a safe distance,
then approaching the hand-created taste
of leftover coconut macaroons.
The instant sparks in the earth’s awareness.

I need to spend some more time with the bit about the crows, but I am instantly drawn to the idea of standing each is up against emptiness.

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 20/3.8 MILES

65 degrees
US Bank Stadium

Ran at the stadium again with Scott. Felt pretty good for most of it, but sore at the end. Scott ran another lap while I stopped to walk.

Working on a poetry chapbook about my running and inspired by the phrase I encountered in a poem–“who must change your life.” One poem is about fall and how exciting it is–crackling with energy. alive. electric. Wondering if I should try and focus on words that seem electric and that crackle. Hard Cs. Short vowels. Sharp crisp endings. Words like:

brisk
electric
bold
brusque
dark
bright
spark
sharp
prick
crisp
frantic
quick

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 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 6/2 MILES

60 degrees
us bank stadium

Scott and I ran inside at the Vikings Stadium this evening. In the winter, the Minnesota Distance Running Association sponsors indoor runs. Pretty cool.  We were planning to run 4 miles but neither of us were really feeling it. Side aches + groin aches + knee aches = only 1/2 the distance planned. This was my first indoor run since mid April. It was cool to run around the new stadium but I definitely prefer running outside by the gorge.

dec 4/5.25 MILES

45 degrees
franklin loop with a twist

Technically this run happened yesterday but since it’s a run for this week, I’m adding it here. Ran with Scott in the afternoon on the Franklin loop with a twist. The twist? Briefly stopping our run to explore the lower path on the east side of the river that I had unexpectedly glimpsed a week ago and was hoping to check out before it closed for the winter. So cool! I had no idea that there was so much land and a paved path and even benches and picnic tables in the gorge on the St. Paul side of the Mississippi. We walked some of it and ran some more of it and then hiked under the Franklin bridge. Such a high bridge. On the west side, you cross under the Franklin bridge less than halfway down the hill but on the east side, you’re at the bottom of it. The path travels under the bridge and keeps going all the way to the U and East River Flats Park–which we didn’t have time to check out. A goal for spring? or next week if it still doesn’t snow.

After walking/running around for a while, we climbed A LOT of steps and ran the 2+ miles home. I really enjoyed combining hiking, walking and running. A nice way to mix up a run to make it more interesting. I enjoyed it so much that I had a flash of inspiration–how cool would it be to try and run more of the trails by the mississippi in minnesota? are any of them as amazing as this stretch of the mississippi between downtown minneapolis and minnehaha falls?

This morning—the day after running, I decided to write a quick poem about the moment of discovering the trail. Because it often helps me find words, I used the abecedarian form:

Lower East River Parkway Trail

After seeing the paved path
Beckoning me from below, how
Could I resist? How could I not
Descend into the
East River
Flats on the St Paul side of the
Gorge? I
Had seen the steps near the Franklin bridge before but
Ignored them
Just running by, never needing to
Know where they went. Never
Looking down to the river but only across to
Minneapolis.
Never stopping—if
Only for a moment—to
Pose the
Question, what is beneath me on this side of the
River?
Surely something more than
Trees and
Under that, sand and dirt and dead leaves, dwells below my
View across? I had never asked but on Monday, I looked down at the
Water of the Mississippi and saw a flash of something
uneXpected—a paved path
Yearning to be traveled,
Zigzagging through the floodplain—and suddenly I wanted to know everything.

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.

nov 27/5.75 MILES

42 degrees
franklin loop

Ran the Franklin loop for the first time in a long time. Nice! Windy on the Lake Street Bridge, but not on the Franklin bridge. Crossing on Lake, the sun was shining brightly on the water–spreading light almost all the way across the Mississippi from St. Paul to Minneapolis. A bit blinding, but still beautiful.

Running up the St. Paul side of the river road towards Franklin and the U of M, I looked down at the gorge way below and noticed a paved path that I didn’t know existed. Pretty cool. I’ve run this loop at least 2 (3?) dozen times and have never noticed this path. I’d love to take it before it closes for the year.

As I ran I thought about how in late fall and early spring the gorge’s mysteries are briefly revealed–the bones of the woods, the forest floor, the sandy flats by the river and secret trails–before being concealed again by leaves or snow.

Near the end of my run, I began slowly gaining on a woman running ahead of me. It looked like she was wearing a tank top, but I could never quite tell. She was always too far away. I kept wondering if she was cold.

nov 25/6.2 MILES

33 degrees
downtown minneapolis
moustache run 10K race

A great race. Slow but successful. Ran the whole thing with Scott. Biggest accomplishment: running the big long steep windy hill without stopping! also, finishing with a big smile and sense of accomplishment. Not too bad considering I’ve only been running for about a month since my injury.

Beautiful sun.  Not too cold although I recall saying to Scott about a mile in that I had cold fingers, hot hands and a burning face. Not quite slipped on ice a few times. There were patches of it near the cracks in the road. Tried to distract myself from the BIG hill by focusing on the ice patches.

Favorite spectator: the women standing at the top of the hill congratulating us for having run up the hill and saying “That hill sucks but you did it!”

Least favorite pacer (for the 1/2 marathoners): the women who called out 1/2 mile into the race “only 12.5 miles to go!”

Least favorite bro-runners (brunners?): the guy who said to his friend, just in front of us, right before we passed them, “I like running the half, more time to look at runners’ butts.”

Second least favorite bro-runner: the guy very near the end who was walking and then suddenly yelled out “are you guys ready?!” and then started to full out sprint like a spaz.

Least favorite road on the route: the Cobblestones!

I hate these cobblestones.

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