june 17/RUNSWIM

run: 3.25 miles
77 degrees/80% humidity
lake nokomis

So hot! The heat index was in the upper 80s, at least. Ran 1 loop with Scott and then a little bit extra on my own before open swim. I don’t remember much of the run except that we went slow, it was very hot and I didn’t feel tired just unmotivated. Maybe music could have helped? My entire face was dripping with sweat. The top of my head, my hair, my forehead, my cheeks, right below my nose. I do not like running in this heat but I still did it and I’m glad.

swim: 1.35 miles/2 loops
80 degrees/choppy water
lake nokomis

A great swim! Decided to be much more deliberate at the start, making sure that I could spot the buoys. Also looked for other swimmers and the lifeguards. After a few minutes, the buoy had completely disappeared but I was okay. I just kept swimming and stayed calm. Soon enough it came into view. For me, open water swimming is always unsettling–even as it’s exhilarating too–because I swim most of the time without being able to see where I’m going. I have to trust that I’m swimming straight and that the buoy will eventually appear. Most of the time it does. I’m sure that open water swimming is hard for everyone but it’s especially difficult for me and my messed up central vision. Whole sections of my central vision–especially those in the top quadrants are blacked out. When the buoy first appears in those areas, I can’t see it all. It’s a void, just endless blueish brownish undulating water. Often, I have to turn my head and use my peripheral vision to try and spot the buoy. A bit of a drag, really, but also good practice for learning to function with very limited vision. What else do I remember? Mostly breathed every five strokes except for when the water was too choppy on one side. Then I picked the side that wasn’t choppy, I think it was my right, and breathed every 6 to that side. Don’t remember seeing any planes or birds in the air. Didn’t notice any particular trees. No strange sounds. Just water. A overturned rowboat, its silver bottom exposed and glimmering in the sun at the little beach, and the white top of a building and the yellow paddle boats at the big beach. Had a few run-ins with other swimmers. One swimmer kept unintentionally pushing me off the far side until I abruptly stopped swimming and went around them the other way.

Speaking of breathing every 5 strokes, here’s a poem I started last year and then edited more this spring:

Every 5
Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis

I used to breathe every 3 strokes
Now I breathe every 5
lifting my head out of the water
1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left

I breathe every 5
Breathing oddly allows me to alternate sides
1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left
When I breathe every 5 I can stay underwater longer

Breathing oddly enables me to swim straighter
I don’t look underwater—
who can see through the dark murkiness?
I stay under longer, feeling the water lapping over my head
And forget that I am not a fish

I hardly look above the water—
all I see are flashes of white sails green trees orange buoys
I count my strokes 1 2 3 4 5
And try to forget that there are probably fish
swimming below me through the brown nothingness.

I count my strokes 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left
and listen to the water lapping over my head
gliding rhythmically through the brown nothingness
as I swim straight across the lake to the other side.

june 14/RUN

3 miles
gitchie-gami trail, north shore
60 degrees

Partly cloudy. Calm. Ran with Scott while we were up at the north shore for a few days. Shared the trail with some noisy crows and lots of hills. Ran next to speeding trucks, impatient cars, the sweet smell of pine trees and the beautifully blue lake superior.

Earlier this week, I discovered a new form: double abcedarians. Love the challenge! Here are 2 I have created so far. The first has the first letter traveling up the alphabet and the last letter traveling down. The second, does the opposite.

Walking in the woods, you hear a noise

A thump. A crash. A bzzzz.
Bugs or birds or something big and hairy?
Counting calmly, deliberately to six
Does not help slow
Elevated heart rates that rev
Fast. You
Grimace and try to reach the magic digit
Hoping it saves.
It doesn’t. Your
Jumping heart races loudly roughly. The biorhythmic eq
Kept out of sync as lungs fail to expand, heart valves don’t pump.
Laboring, a frantic vibrato.
Mouth jaggedly inhales than
Nose reluctantly releases air from
Overworked lungs until
Pulmonary veins do their work.
Quick beats slow soften are quiet. The noise returns. Maybe it’s only a blue j
Rustling in the woods vigorously, loudly, sounding as big as a yeti
Scratches amplified in the dry brush?
Tricked again into contemplating
Uncomfortable thoughts of
Violent demise.
What, you wonder, could
eXtremely large humanish-y bears do to you, alone in the woods? Don’t panic.
You don’t want to startle this type of bear. Running off frantically is dumb.
Zoologists know this. They have done the research. They have all the gruesome data.

the yellow bike

Zoom. a
yellow bike passes by the curb
extra close to me, making the air feel kinetic
wild, unrestrained.
Veering into my path, the
unapologetic rider pedals off
to terrorize someone else who is running.
Silently, I fume and rehash.
Red-faced, a tsunami
quaking with over-blown outrage. I wonder, what would J
P Sartre think
of my reaction? Would he condemn it as bad faith? An existential
no no, giving other ways of being no room?
Maybe the yellow-biked rider had a reason,
like they were riding closer to say hello or to
keep me company as I ran on the path or to offer up
jokes—corny, idiotic ones that don’t require a high IQ?
I suppose these are plausible. Or
how about this:
gnats flew in his ear, down his throat
flustered, he failed to call out, “hey you!”
Edging close, all he could do was a hasty improv—
deftly swerving, just barely avoiding me, our escape from collision, narrow.
Could this be why? Stop with all this theorizing and relax—
bikers will bike by too closely
and it might just be because they’re a spaz.

june 2/RUN

2 miles
to dogwood coffee
62 degrees

My 7th anniversary of running. It was supposed to rain so I didn’t think I’d be running outside today, but the rain held off and Scott and I were able to do our new summer Saturday tradition: run 2 miles to Dogwood Coffee for a latte, either iced or hot. Today, hot. Then walk home.

With rain on the way, the sky was a light gray, making the green glow. Not glowing brightly but darkly and deeply, vividly. Everything felt green. Looked green. Smelled green.

Almost at the end of our run I heard the distinctive clickity-clack of ski poles. A roller skier! Why do I enjoy spotting them on the trail? I guess because it seems so Minnesotan to be skiing with wheels in the summer, just waiting for winter to come back. About a minute later, Scott and I also saw a group of four roller bladers with their coach. As we passed them, I heard the coach say, “Ok, get in formation.” I’ve seen these speedy bladers for a few years now, sometimes on the path, sometimes on the road. Skating in a tight single-filed line, swinging their arms widely and rhythmically. Growing up in North Carolina and Southern Virginia, where it hardly ever snowed and the only ice was at the big indoor rink at the Charlotte mall, spotting these roller skiers and serious bladers will probably always seem strange and exciting.

 

may 26/RUN

2 miles
73 degrees/68% humidity/dewpoint: 62
dogwood run

Ran with Scott north on the river road to the greenway, through Brackett Park, over to Lake Street, then walked to Dogwood Coffee for an iced latte. Hot. Humid. But no swarming bugs and lots of shade. We talked most of the time. Scott about why “The Last Jedi” was a bad movie, me about a two different race disasters that I had watched on YouTube–one runner hitting the wall at the end of a 10K, another tripping over a hurdle. Noticed the tree that had blocked Scott’s path yesterday had been moved and cut up. As we ran by it I asked Scott, “I wonder how loud of a crack that tree made as it hit the ground?” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a tree fall to the ground but I bet it’s loud.

may 19/RUN

2 miles
59 degrees/79% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/brackett park

Overcast. Thick, heavy air. Buggy. Relentlessly green. Cool but clammy. Went on a quick run with Scott. Kept it nice and easy and talked most of the way about the book I’m reading on rhythmic breathing. Earlier today, while I was waiting for Scott to wake up, I did a writing experiment with rhythmic breathing:

For slow, easy runs breathe in for 3, out for 2. 

In 2 3.
Out 2.
Blueberry
crumble
Raspberry
tartlet
Vanilla
custard
Strawberry
ice cream
Beautiful
dreamer
Primary
colors
Mystery
novel
Forbidden
forest
Untimely
death
Let it be
over
Long lost love
refound
Terrible
headache.

For fast runs, breathe in 2, out 1.

Refried
beans
Oven
fries
release
doubt
embrace
me
Sara
smile
Sunshine
bright
Flowers
bloom
Tempers
flare
Striking
feet
Flailing
arms
Yelling
font
Famous
fig
Noisy
bar
Smoky
room
Salty
beer
Bathroom
line
Early
heat
Maple
tree
Thunder
thighs
Coming
storm
Nervous
dog
Gangly
knee
Giving
up
Staring
out.

So much fun!

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 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!

jan 26/1.25 MILES

55 degrees
the dome in austin, mn

Was planning to run outside on the sidewalk but it was too wet and sloppy. So Scott and I went to the Dome–which is the Austin High School football field covered with a bubble–and ran a mile. Started out rocky with walkers walking in the opposite direction and getting in our way, but we worked it out.

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 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 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.

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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nov 23/4 MILES

33 degrees
austin, mn

Did a 4 mile run with Scott on Thanksgiving morning. Not sure why, but it was difficult. Hard to breathe. I never wanted to stop but I was glad when it was over. It was a nice morning. Sunny and calm. I especially liked running by the creek for a few minutes.

I’m working on collection of tankas (100 of them) about running. Here are two about difficult breathing:

the first breath always
hurts sharp icy too pure too
fresh too cold but soon
it travels through nose and mouth
enters lungs and warms slightly

muggy buggy &
heavy not quite air but soup
hard to inhale or
exhale no inspiration
just jagged and labored breaths

nov 18/6.2 MILES

35 degrees
st anthony main/boom island/mississppi river road/stone arch bridge

Ran downtown with Scott on the race route for next week’s 10K. Felt really good! Even with the wind. This is the longest run I’ve done since the day of my injury at the beginning of August. My knee was a little sore at the beginning of the run but it mostly felt okay. It was beautiful by the river. Sunny. Really blue water. Had to dodge a lot of goose poop on the path near the flats. Also had to wait for a train to pass on Nicollet island.

oct 27/3.1 MILES

32 degrees
Halloween 5K
Riverfront Minneapolis

I raced a 5K! I raced a 5K! And I didn’t stop or feel much pain. Only the second time I’ve run that much without stopping in 2 months. It wasn’t fast, but it felt good and Scott and I did negative splits on each mile. Many people were dressed up because it was a Halloween race. I saw 2 Mr. Incredibles, a bunch of Waldos, a Gilligan, a few Wonder Women, Thomas the Train, the Doodlebops, a bright blue fuzzy monster with fabulous fuzzy legwarmers, a donut, a reindeer, a mother and son as black and white striped robbers, Dwight from The Office, a few Minnie Mouses and Cruella deVille. That’s all I can remember. No zombies. No vampires. No ghosts. No homicidal maniacs. And no witches. Why no witches? Well, I did hear someone say they saw Hermione, but that doesn’t count. Scott and I agreed that this 5K was one of the easiest we’ve ever run.

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oct 19/3.1 MILES

43 degrees
shirley theel memorial park/austin, mn

A 5K! 1 minute walking, 4 minutes running, six times. Scott and I ran it together. Felt pretty good. My knee feels okay. Looking forward to being finished with the injury recovery plan and just being able to run. Maybe then I can pay attention to things other than how my knee feels, what my pace is, when I stop walking, when I start running.

This week’s poetry assignment is haikus. Thought I’d try to do some breathing/running ones.

1.
jagged breaths
as running begins
crisp cold air.

2.
hard to speak
legs start to warm up
air is cool.

3.
nose drips
eyes weep in the wind
hood stays up

4.
zipped jacket
muscles loosen up
breathing slows

5.
longer strides
longer sentences
said out loud.

6.
unzipped shirt
hood comes off. bare skin
is exposed.

7.
a warm trunk
bent slightly foward
hands relaxed.

8.
In 2 3
out 2. rhythmic breaths
rapid pulse

9.
flashing sun
pulses through pine trees
steady feet

10.
quicker steps
sweat pools at tip of
ponytail

11.
six loops run
warmer body and
warmer air

——

12.
to run is
to stop thinking and
start flying

13.
when running
never trust a path
without trees

july 29/TRI TRAINING

74 degrees
lake nokomis
run: 1.85 miles
swim (just me): 422 yards, 1 beach loop

Another amazing morning at the lake. Another test in patience and persistence. Resistance to running (and training and swimming and being positive and committing to anything) was high. But, I need to remember that we still walked/ran more than we have before. And we still got up early on a Saturday morning to do it. Small victories. Next time we train we will each be listening to our own playlists (and not talking/yelling at each other) that we make especially for the run.

In other news: I finally used my apple watch to figure out how far the loop off of the big beach is, from the far right white buoy to the far left one. It’s .24 miles. I did a rough calculation in my head and guessed around 420 yards. It’s actually 422. I only have to do 4 loops to swim a mile. Pretty sweet. I’d like to start doing that on my non-open swim days.