april 17/7 MILES

32 degrees
35% snow-covered
washington ave bridge turn around

Before leaving the house for my run I decided to try and focus on the different types of water that I noticed. But, how much would I be able to focus on this task? It’s hard to hold onto thoughts when you’re running–or walking. As I walked to the river, it started out well enough. I made note of the drip drip drip of melted snow trickling down from a roof gutter. I thought about the particular sound snow that has partly melted, turned into a slushy mess, and then refroze over night, makes when it crunches. So sharp. Almost like walking over broken glass. But then, I noticed how that crunching sound mixed in with the chirping birds and all of the wind chimes. And then I heard the wind passing through a pine tree. I had to stop and record my thoughts on my iPhone. Here’s what I spoke:

The sharp crunching snow. Almost like walking over broken glass. The small drops of water slowly melting, mixed in with the birds chirping and the wind chimes and then: I finally get it. I heard the wind through the pine trees and I understand why there are so many poems about the wind and pine trees (I think my idea about pine trees comes from this article which also introduced me to a word for wind moving through the trees: psithurism).

Shortly after this revelation, I started running. So bright! So white! The snow sparkling, my shadow leading me on the path. The river was ice-free and a beautiful blue. I greeted the Daily Walker. Ran down the Franklin hill and into the flats. Heard the water gushing down the gorge in a spot fairly close to the site of the mudslide that shut the river road down for 2 years. Saw a lone goose, standing motionless in the snow, looking pissed that it was spring and there was no grass. Running back from the Washington bridge I had this strange feeling that I had dreamed about running this stretch recently. Had I? How much of it was a dream and how much of it was forgotten thoughts from the last time I ran this stretch a month ago?

I didn’t experience any euphoric moments–no runner’s high, but I felt good for most of the run. Happy with a slow, steady sense of joy and gratitude for being outside and moving.

I thought about the Boston Marathon and how so many people suffered from hypothermia. How, with the wind, it felt like 20 degrees while they ran in pouring rain, their teeth chattering only a few miles in. I thought about the layers they wore and how it must have felt to run soaking wet and miserable. Then I thought about my own layers and how soft my warm, dry shirt felt next to my skin.

About 30 minutes into my run, I hit some strong winds. Looking ahead at my shadow, I could see my pony-tail swishing vigorously in the wind. Later, heading back, I could feel it dripping tiny drops of sweat.

I heard a shovel scraping somewhere, probably trying to get the last layer of slightly melted but mostly shard-like snow off of the sidewalk.

As I neared the end of my running, feeling tired, I forgot to look down at the river. It probably had a shiny, sparkling spot or two.

Running back, into the sun, I saw more puddles. Nothing deep, only shallow spots spreading across the path.

My thoughts about water were scattered and unexpected: rain-soaked skin, a sweaty pony-tail, slushing snow, a forgotten river, shallow puddles. I guess that’s how my running brain works.

 

april 16/4 MILES

32 degrees
50% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

This weekend it snowed. A lot. Almost 20 inches. 2 inches an hour, at one point. It started late Friday night and didn’t stop until Sunday morning. But then only for a couple of hours. before starting again. Difficult to run in. So much snow that school was cancelled for the kids. In April. This is very wrong and I am over it. Thankfully, the path was clear today and I was able to run. In some spots, the path was completely clear. In others, there was only a thin strip of bare pavement. On my way back, I encountered more puddles and big chunks of snow that the plow on the road had kicked up. It felt good to be outside running after several days of being trapped in the house. What do I remember for the run? The wind in my face occasionally. Then, beside me. Then, at my back. The dull crunching of the snow when I ran over it, then the soft thud of my feet on the bare pavement. The cars rushing through puddles and splashing up water. I wondered if the water would hit me (it never did). The running felt good, strong. I felt like I was springing off the path.

Watched the Boston marathon this morning. Such miserable conditions–38 degrees, lots of rain, strong head wind. Des Linden was awesome. Had fun cheering for the persistent underdog.

Not much else to write. This weather is crushing my creative spirit.

april 12/6.4 MILES

40 degrees
franklin loop + extra

Felt much warmer than 40 degrees. Was it the sun? The lack of snow? The belief that spring was coming? Had a great run. Decided to try a variation on my franklin loop route. Ran north on the west mississippi river road, crossed the franklin bridge, ran south on the east mississippi river road past the lake street bridge and up the somewhat steep hill to Summit. Turned around, ran down the hill, over the lake street bridge and then south on the west mississippi river road. I liked it–even the hill.

What do I remember from my run? Lots of birds chirping. Turning on the river road just behind a runner who, after passing the parking lot, held up 4 fingers in one hand, 1 in the other. Why 5? Was he signaling to someone? Reminding himself that he had just run 5 miles or 5 loops or what? He was running faster than me–not fast enough for me to catch him, but fast enough to make me run a little faster too. I never found out what he was doing and by the time I had been running for 10 minutes, I forgot all about it. Greeting the Daily Walker. Greeting a runner I was passing who said “good morning” to me first. Deciding to run onto the Franklin bridge instead of below it into the west river flats. Running on the bridge and noticing the east river flats. Passing a few more runners. Smiling. Deciding to keep running past the Lake street bridge and run up the steep hill to Summit. Running close enough to the trees by the bridge to almost reach out and touch them. Turning around at the top of the hill and thinking about how I would be running up this hill in 2 weeks for a 10k race. Checking to see if the eagle was perched on the dead limb of a tree. Feeling good, relaxed. Loving how clear the path was and wondering how covered in snow it would be after the winter storm hits on Saturday. Looking down at the floodplain forest: a little bit of snow, bare branches.

At the end of my run, I stopped at an overlook to take in the beautiful view of the river and to listen to the birds, especially the woodpecker. Here’s a recording of some sounds:

april 11/4 MILES

38 degrees
minnehaha falls loop

It may be only 38, but it feels like spring outside. Sunny. Birds calling. Paths clearing. Water flowing. I am ready! Last night, I finished the (hopefully) final poem about the crunching snow that I will write this year. I’m ready for a new subject.

Recorded the sounds of spring as I was walking back home, at the end of my run:

april 9/4 MILES

33 degrees
50% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

More snow. An inch or two. Much of it melted by the time I started running. The rest of it–either soft grains that were fun to run through or slick, icy patches to try and avoid. Last year it was 57 degrees on my April 9th run. This winter has been much longer. Still, it was a good run. Encountered a few runners. The Daily Walker–passed him twice and then we turned off the river road at the same time. I thought about introducing myself, but then didn’t. Noticed the cars rushing by quickly, their wheels whooshing through the puddles on the road. The word for today’s run? Wet. Not too many big puddles on the path but lots of slick, shiny stretches. Wet roads. Big drips of melting snow that dropped off the bottom of the bridges and onto my face or my back or the brim of my hat as I ran under them. Dripping eaves. Gushing gutters. The big melt, part two–or is this part three?

Walking back home after my run, I recorded some wet sounds:

I love water. I’d like to read more water poems and maybe write some myself. Here’s an excerpt from a water poem I read last month that I want to remember (ed bok lee, water in love):

Worship, splash, guzzle, or forget
It clears any difference
Stone washer and mountain dissolver
that will
outlive us, even the memory of
all any eyes touched

april 4/4 MILES

17 degrees
95% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

It snowed. 9 inches total. Didn’t bother me at all. What a glorious run! So beautiful–a bright blue sky, powdery perfect white snow, my shadow beside me. Checked the “feels like” temp before I went out: 6 degrees. It didn’t feel cold at all. Actually, I was warm for most of the run. The path was plowed and mostly packed with a narrow strip of almost clear pavement. Not too much wind. Passed the Daily Walker at the beginning. Heard birds chirping, cars rushing by, snow crunching, snowblowers blowing, plows plowing, a few dogs barking.

Recorded the crunching snow (hopefully) for the last time:

march 30/3.2 MILES

30 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

Cold but clear. Hardly any snow left. Felt pretty good. Wish I could remember more. Saw my shadow for a few minutes but then it turned gray. Encountered some dogs and runners and, after a long absence, a roller skier! Spring is coming. More evidence? Saw the U of M rowers out on the river yesterday.

march 28/6.7 MILES

42 degrees
the washington bridge turn around

Birds! So many chirping birds. And sunshine. And clear paths. And the feeling that spring is coming sometime soon. Ran down the franklin hill in the flats, all the way to the washington avenue bridge by the U and back. Felt strong and relaxed. Walked most of the way up the hill on the way back, but didn’t care (well, not too much) because it was still a good run. Started my run by getting to greet the Daily Walker. Encountered several runners and a few bikers. Saw my shadow–she was beside me today.

The wind was strong on the way back home and I had to run right into it. This wind was a wall. I hit it and happily stopped just a few tenths shy of my goal: 7 miles.

 

march 25/4 MILES

36 degrees
downtown loop

Scott and I started at the Guthrie, ran next to the beautiful, extra blue Mississippi river under the Hennepin Avenue bridge and over the Plymouth bridge through Boom Island and Father Hennepin park over the Stone Arch bridge and then back to the car. At the start of the run, I noticed so many intense shades of blue. The sky a purplish blue clashing with the steel blue river and the royal blue biking/walking signs on the path. Then I noticed the wind–such wind!–almost taking our breath away. 15 mph with strong gusts.

Scott stopped to take a picture on the Stone Arch bridge and I asked him to include me in the picture:

march 23/5.2 MILES

34 degrees
franklin loop

Wore less layers today. No headphones. Heard lots of grit scraping scratching shifting rubbing on the path under my feet. Right near the welcoming oaks, the path was covered in a super slick layer of ice. Not sure what happened–it wasn’t just melted snow that had refroze. Very slippery. Felt good on the run. The river was beautiful from the bridge–especially the Franklin bridge. Later, I noticed the sunlight had created two big spots on the water’s surface. Bright and sparkly. A few days ago, after listening to the line from one of my poems about how beautiful sparkling water is, Scott suggested that maybe I saw it differently–more sparkly?–because of my macular degeneration. I wonder, is that true? Do people with healthy vision not see the sun shining on water–the way it blinds and undulates and flashes, almost swims–as impossibly beautiful? Or, is it just Scott who doesn’t see it? Encountered a few walkers, a few runners, a few dogs and the Daily Walker. Heard something, I think it was a dog, down in the gorge on the St. Paul side and then a few minutes later, also heard a few people trying to hike up the side of the gorge. Noticed the trail in the east river flats was pretty clear. Also noticed a trail that seemed to lead below the Marshall/Lake Street bridge. Next month, Scott and I will have to check it out. At the end of my run, I saw a little kid with an adult, driving one of those annoying motorized kid cars. It made this irritating buzzing, grinding, not quite humming, sound that contaminated the calm quite river sounds that I had been (and hoped to continue) enjoying.

march 21/4.1 MILES

37 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

Today’s run felt difficult. Was it because I ran in the afternoon? Or because I ran a 10K yesterday? Not sure. But I ran the whole thing. Ran right by Minnehaha Falls. So loud, with the water rushing down to the river. Didn’t feel much wind. Did feel overdressed. Too many layers. As I looked down at the gorge, with the trees bare, I thought about how the number of layers I’m wearing is inversely proportional to the number of leaves on the trees. I’m ready to not be wearing 2 jackets and a base layer + running tights. Heard lots of birds. Felt the sun on my face. Spring is definitely coming! Anything else? Oh–a woman was walking a big white fluffy dog–or was the dog walking her? Hard to tell. Several people were admiring the falls. One person was taking a picture of Minnehaha creek. Kids were out playing on the school playground. There was lots of grit on the path making a nice scratching sound. Ran through a few puddles, over one or two patches of ice.

march 18/5.25 MILES

43 degrees
franklin loop

A great run with Scott this afternoon! We went slow and walked for a minute after every nine minutes. Very easy. Almost effortless. Wet with lots of puddles. Not much ice. Not much else that I remember. No eagles perched on the dead tree near the Marshall/Lake Street bridge. A rowing boat–I think they’re called a shell?–on top of car driving up from the Minneapolis rowing club. An annoying black standard poodle–is there any other kind–was barking on the path ahead of us. I’m so glad that we ran!

march 14/5.35 MILES

28 degrees
the franklin loop

A good run at an easy pace. Not too windy. Ran over the Lake Street and Franklin Avenue bridges and watched the river flowing. The sun was almost blinding, reflecting off of the water, as I ran over to St. Paul. Lots of ice under the bridge and several patches of barely ice, almost water for the next few miles. Noticed the river again near the end of my run. The sun was illuminating a big circle that started closer to the east bank but then quickly traveled to the west. Strange to see it travel so fast. What else do I remember? Lots of cars moving quickly on the river road. A handful of runners. At least one dog. Birds chirping. The path down in the east river flats looked clear–almost time to go check it out again! Briefly thought about the new show “Rise” that I had watched for 20 minutes before running. Why is the main character/savior a white male? Why is one of his main “enemies” a Latina? Did I think about anything else–other than how my knee was doing? I can’t remember.

march 12/4.3 MILES

31 degrees
clear path!
mississippi river road, south/minnehaha falls/north

The temperature may be below freezing but it still feels like spring. The water at the falls was gushing. The path was clear. The sun was shining. The elementary school kids were outside, gleefully shouting. Thought about my mom while I was running and looking over to St. Paul. Is this one of the reasons I like to have an obstructed view to the other side of the river? To see St. Paul, the city where my mom was born and raised (technically, she lived in West St. Paul, but close enough)? Running back towards the end of my run, I saw the shadow of a small bird flying behind me. It seemed strange and I wondered, how often do I see the shadows of birds? Not often, I think. I tried to keep my run steady and slow and my pulse low. It worked. A good run. Now, a good day.

march 6/3 MILES

33 degrees
70% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/greenway/mississippi river road, south

It snowed yesterday. Almost 5 inches. Here in Minnesota, winter doesn’t end until April or May. The snow didn’t stop until early this morning. Of course, the awesome Minneapolis Parks and Rec had the path plowed in just a few hours. Being able to get outside in the winter makes all the difference. I’m still ready for spring, but I can endure the endless white and gray and cold and slippery sidewalks if I can run by the river. The snow today is heavy, dense and wet. When I walked on it, it didn’t make a sharp snap or a crackly crunch. It was more like a thick, heavy pressing down–what sound is that?–of the snow, the air, the moisture in the snow.

I only ran 3 miles because I’m trying to be gentle with my right knee. Lately, my kneecap likes to slide around and slip out just a little. So far these wanderings haven’t been a problem, except for some soreness. To keep it that way, I’m not running too much. The run felt good. Strong. My knee wasn’t perfect, but it also didn’t hurt and now, an hour after my run, I’m fine.

In the middle of the run, I felt dazed, transported somewhere else, almost blinded by the snow and the bright white, occasionally brilliant blue peeking through, sky. Pretty cool.

Walking back to my house after my run, the sky looked so heavy. A dull, dense grayish white–almost like the sky was a ceiling of snow looming, hovering. Not quite waiting to collapse. Weird.

march 3/4.5 MILES

40 degrees
18 mph wind/26 mph gusts
mississippi river road, north/franklin hill/washington bridge/franklin hill

Windy! Was planning to do 7 miles but made it to the Franklin Hill and thought that I better take it easy on my knee. It feels okay, but a little weird. So I stopped at 4.5 miles. The gorge was beautiful. Bright blue sky with white snow and bare trees. It was so windy that down in the flats the river had white caps! The path was wet but clear. Don’t remember much about the run except for the annoying runner who was slowly creeping on me. I could hear her feet crunching. She passed me on a hill and then stopped at the top, right in front of me. I kept going and she started running again. She passed me and then stopped again.

feb 26/4 MILES

26 degrees
85% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

A beautiful day for a run by the river. Not too cold with abundant sun. But I should have listened to my body, especially my knee, and not run today. The path was very difficult, with only one narrow strip of bare pavement, and my knee was already a little swollen from hiking through the snow yesterday. It was difficult walking home with a slight limp. I must take a break from running for a few days. It’s probably a good time to take a break with the weather getting warmer then colder. “Thaw, freeze, repeat” is how MPR describes it. Yuck!

Even though I’m (only a little) worried about my knee and whether or not I’m entering another round of subluxations and swelling and even though there’s so much snow on the ground and covering the path and blocking the sidewalks, it’s hard not to think of spring with the warm sun shining on my face and the birds!! chirping. I recorded a little bit of it when I was almost home:

Birds!!

At some point in the year, I might take the birds for granted, hearing them only as background noise, but I couldn’t today. Such a glorious sound!

feb 21/4.25 MILES

8 degrees/feels like -3
99% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

Bright blue sky. Blinding sun. Cold air. Slippery path. Fogged-up glasses. Crunchy path. I was struck by how the 2 crunching sounds of my feet highlighted the differences between walking and running. When I was walking, the slower, steadier crunch lasted longer, as my foot went from the initial heel strike to the final toe-off. How many bones came into contact with the crunchy snow? When I was running, that second crunch was quicker, with less grinding. I’d like to capture some sound of me running on crunching snow, but that seems hard.

Reading The Snow Poems by AR Amons which is, disappointingly, not all about snow. But, there are some snow poems, like this one:

here a month of snow,
mere January than
February, intervenes
during which
I wrote
nothing. it is
the winter-deep, the
annual sink:
leave it unwritten,
as snow unwrites
the landscape

feb 20/4.05 MILES

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

We got about an inch of wet snow yesterday/last night so the path was covered…and crunchy. Mostly fine to run on, although a few spots were softer, causing my foot to sink down. A beautiful morning. Grayish-white. Calm. Quiet. Not much wind, not much noise. Tried to catch up to the runner ahead of me after I turned around but couldn’t. Was she going fast, or was I going slow–or were we going the same pace so I couldn’t gain any distance on her? Saw the Daily Walker twice! Both times, from behind, so I didn’t get to say “good morning” to him.

Recorded the sound of my crunching feet on the sidewalk, after I finished my run:

2 distinct sounds. One, a steady grinding, like gears with small teeth turning rhythmically, constantly, The Other, one quick thrust, like a small shovel being thrust into sand or small pebbles. I think that the sounds trade off between my moving feet. But how? I need to go out and walk in the snow some more to figure it out!

Discovered a few great lines in Snow in America:

‘In prose,’ the Mexican poet Octavio Paz writes, ‘the word tends to be identified with one of its possible meanings at the expense of others…the poet, on the other hand, never assaults the ambiguity of the word.’ Poetry is to snow what prose is to rain, says Howard Nemerov, because ‘it flew instead of fell.’

feb 18/2.25 MILES

43 degrees
puddles!
mississippi river road path, south/north

Decided to fit in a quick run since it is so warm today and will be so cold/icy/snowy tomorrow. It was windy and wet but not too bad. I managed to avoid most of the big puddles.

February

Following
Every
Bright, sunny, above freezing day the cold and gloom
Returns having only briefly hidden
Under the promise of spring’s early
Arrival. Always
Retracted revoked replaced with more cold—-O how I
Yearn for warmer air!