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.

july 27/TRI TRAINING

1.75 miles
mo and ro

Walked 2 min/Ran 1 min most of the way around the lake. The beautiful morning did not match my attitude. Driving over to the lake was particularly challenging with my bad vision and I struggled to motivate a daughter who seemed unwilling to really try. The theme of the summer:  find something and commit to it. Try as hard as you can and don’t give up. Recounting the morning to Scott, my daughter interjected: “You did a good job Mom.” My response: “Yes, at swearing.”

open swim
1 loop: 1200 yards

Decided to swim just one loop this evening. So bright! Almost impossible to see the big orange buoys on the way back to the big beach. Even more so than usual, I just swam straight, hoping–and knowing–that I was going in the right direction. I only spotted the buoys when I was right on top of them and the approaching shore in fleeting, fractured glimpses. This did not make me panic at all, which is cool. I’ve been doing a lot of hard work learning how to function without seeing.

The section that I’m working on for my running project is: routine/ritual, mundane/sacred. Here are a few acrostic poems that I crafted in order to help me focus my thoughts:

Staying in Trouble

Hardly
A day goes
By without me
Instigating
Trouble.

Every Morning

Read
Or write for an hour,
Unless it’s a running day,
Then read or write for 30 minutes.
Inhale the deep, rich smell of the brewing coffee, which
Never tastes as good as it smells.
Eat a cliff bar or granola or cheerios, bananas and walnuts.

Precaution

Right after
I tie my running shoes, I
Tuck the bows
Under the laces.
Always. It helps keep the
Laces from coming untied.

july 20/TRI TRAINING

75 degrees
82% humidity
dew point: 69
Run: 1.55 miles
Swim: 100 yards

Another training morning with Ro. Our first run, we did .66 miles. The next, 1.32. This one, 1.55! Slowly but surely, we’ll get there. I’m hoping to convince her to run a 5K race in the fall.

Here’s our walk/run breakdown by minutes:

walk 1/run 2
walk 1/run 2
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 2/run 1
walk 1

It was a beautiful morning at the lake. The water was glassy and smooth. At first, there was a haze, but soon the sun came out. I wish I could have stayed at the lake all day, but all be back there tonight for open swim!

open swim: fail!
bike to lake nokomis: 8 miles

I was all set to swim and then I dropped my nose plug in the water. The minute it dropped, I put on my goggles and looked for it, but couldn’t find it. Oh well. After my awful experiences last summer swimming without a nose plug and then staying up all night with a stuffed up nose, I wasn’t willing to risk it. Met up with Scott at Sandcastle and had a beer instead. Worked for me.

july 17/Tri Training

Team Mo (me, the Mom) and Ro (Rosie, 11 year-old daughter)
1.32 miles run/walk

The first real day of training for the mile was a bit rough, but we did it and we still love each other and are willing to race together. I’m proud of Rosie for toughing it out, even when she really didn’t want to.

june 18/5 MILES

60 degrees
dew point 60
lake nokomis, twice

Yes, the dew point was the same as the temperature. I guess, because it was only 60 degrees this morning, this didn’t bother me quite as much. Scott and I ran the first loop of Lake Nokomis together, then I ran the second one by myself while he got ready for his 5K race. After I finished running, I swam 2400 yards in Lake Nokomis, or two loops (the big beach to the little beach and back to the big beach). What a great morning! The run was pretty good, although I was tired at the end. But the swim was excellent. The water wasn’t too choppy. I could see all the buoys. And my calf didn’t cramp up in my wetsuit.

During my run, I chanted “I am flying, I am free. I am where I want to be” a lot. It helped.

During my swim, I thought about the dark, murky water and how I couldn’t see at all underwater. I was struck by the contrast between that dark water and the sky, with its patches of blue, some clouds and the occasional airplane.

 

june 17/7 MILES

71 degrees
dew point 67
84% humidity
all around austin, mn

Wow, that dew point’s a killer. Ran with Scott in his hometown. The first 4 miles were rough. Then we walked for about 3 or 4 minutes. After that, it was a bit easier. Managed to finish the 7 miles, which I’m taking as a victory, even though we walked twice. None of my recent runs have been pretty, but I’m still managing to get them done. Someday soon, it will get easier. I’m sure of it.

june 10/2 MILES

77 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

It was hard to run this morning. It was hot and I was too sore from yesterday’s long run. Scott and I decided to do a few recovery miles together and then end at our favorite coffee place for iced lattes.

heat feet repeat

the heat, the heat
two feet on repeat
no proper rhythm,
an unsteady beat

the heat, the heat
the need for retreat
sweating so much
that you almost deplete
the salt that you need
to maintain your speed
and avoid defeat

the heat, the heat
out on the street,
too hot to care
about being discrete
with the clothes that you wear
or the people you meet
oh the heat, the heat!

It was hot.

It was hot.
It was not a good idea
to run this morning.
Only 7:30, but
it was hot.
the day shot already.
no more running, biking, gardening,
just hiding
inside.
We should have left earlier.
Maybe 6? Before
it was hot.
I forgot how miserable 77 can be
when there’s humidity
and a high dew point.
And the wind,
it was hot too.
We only ran a few miles before we stopped
It’s too hot,
I said to Scott.
And he agreed.

june 3/4 MILES

77 degrees
mississippi river road path, south

Another hot and sweaty run. Scott and I ran together today. We were both struggling because of the heat, although running through the sprinkles when we were almost done helped. We talked about one of my new favorite poets, Chen Chen, and his book When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities. We also talked about Scott’s Stravinsky project. And we were almost successful in avoiding talking about dictators and oppressive regimes.

Before and after running, I wrote two new things:

What’s the difference

between ritual and routine?
Superstition and belief?
When is it a prayer and when is it just proper form? Efficient breathing?
When does a habit become sacred?
Does it need:
a doctrine?
a theology?
hymns about souls and rejoicing and kingdoms and conquering and reigning?
chants about fathers and spirits and ghosts and sacrificing sons?
basement potlucks with seven layer dips?
uncomfortable pews?
getting up too early on a Sunday morning?
yes, it needs this.
Could it be that one defining characteristic of the sacred is
a refusal to stay in bed?

my purple toe

Have I told you about my purple toe? It’s on my right foot and it’s the second toe, the one that sticks out just a little bit farther than the others. Did you know, that this toe, the second one, turns purple? It’s not purple all of the time and maybe purple isn’t even the best way to describe it. Eggplant? I wish it were electric purple or purple mountain majesty or grape popsicle purple. Purple is my son’s favorite color. His computer case is purple. His clarinet case is purple. His suitcase is purple. His school binder, which he dissects and disembowels in new ways everyday—first removing the strap, then shredding the front pouch, then taking out the cardboard insert that helps keep it’s structure, then doing something to the 3 ring binders that I can’t quite figure out that makes them only barely close—is purple. The purple he prefers is royal purple. Not fuchsia or pearly purple or phlox.

My purple toe is purple from running. Technically, it’s my purple toenail, I suppose, but toe is much more pleasing to write and to hear and to imagine as purple than toenail. Anyone can have a purple toenail; just slap some nail polish on it and it’s purple. But a purple toe is special. A purple toe is a sign of a runner. Before I started running, I was unaware that this was a thing: your toe can turn purple. I read somewhere that it’s called runner’s toe or subungual hematoma. It’s also called black toe. I like purple toe, so that’s what I’ll call it, or “my purple toe” or “my perfectly purple, not painful at all, toe.” Is it the second toe for everyone? I don’t know.

Here’s how it usually works for me. After some random long/longish run, my second one, the toe that sticks out just a little bit farther, feels strange. It looks like it’s splitting. At first, it isn’t purple, but i know what’s coming: in a day or two, it will be purple. The toenail never falls off. It just grows back in freaky ways: twisted, bent, doubled. Maybe I should call it “my perfectly freaky purple, not painful at all, toe.” After the nail grows back, it usually returns to its normal color. That is, until the cycle begins again. The “purple toe effect” has been happening for at least five years now.

In the same online article where I read about “runner’s toe,” it was also referred to as a “runner’s badge of honor.” I’m not sure I’d say i’m honored to have my perfectly freaky purple, not painful at all, toe. More like delighted by how it grosses other people out. Or fascinated by its freakishness. Most of the time I forget about it. It’s just a toe that’s part of my right foot that enables me to run—and walk and skip and saunter—without much pain and hardly any injury. It sticks out farther than my other toes. And it just happens to be purple or, if you prefer, which I don’t, eggplant.

may 20/5 MILES

46 degrees
mississippi river road path south/mississippi river road path north/greenway

Almost a repeat of Monday, except I ran with Scott and we ran south first. For most of the run it was raining, although it was a soft rain and I was sweating, so it was hard to tell. I greeted lots of other runners with a perky “good morning!,” partly to be friendly but mostly to check my effort level. As long as I could get out the full phrase and not sound like I was dying, I wasn’t running too fast. The last time Scott and I ran together, I suggested that we should come up with a longer phrase that we could use to check how hard we were running. I can’t remember his suggestion, but I know it involved speaking with an Irish brogue. (I just read this part to him and he told me that it was “Top o’ the morning to you.”) Maybe I should come up with some poetic line? Or what about a koan/unanswerable question?

After we got back, as I was eating my favorite breakfast–cheerios, bananas, walnuts–I started reading one of the books I just picked up from the library, Flanuese: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin. On page 2, she writes:

women came to the city…to pass unnoticed, but also to be free and to do what they liked, as they liked.

Then she describes “the key problem of the urban experience”:

are we individuals or are we part of the crowds? Do we want to stand out or blend in? Is that even possible? How do we–no matter what our gender–want to be seen in public? Do we want want to attract or escape the gaze? Be independent or invisible? Remarkable or unremarked-upon?

My immediate reactions to these passages include:

  • Yes! want to go unnoticed so that I can do what I like, as I like!
  • You mean other people feel that way too? I’m not the only one?
  • Being able to go unnoticed requires a lot of privilege. Who can choose to be invisible (as opposed to being rendered invisible) and who is always hyper-visible?
  • Wow, I’m only on page 2 and this book already has me thinking about so many things.
  • I want to write about this in my log entry because one aspect of running that I’ve barely addressed but that certainly subtly shapes my experiences, is being a woman running in public.

Question

  • What does it mean to be a woman running in public?
  • What does it mean to be this woman running in public?
  • What does it mean to be this white woman running in public?
  • What does it mean to be this white, middle-class woman running in public?
  • What does it mean to be this white, middle-class, healthy-looking woman running in public?
  • What does it mean to be this white, middle-class, healthy-looking woman running in public spaces that are well-maintained and safe?
  • What does it mean to be this white, middle-class, healthy-looking woman running in public spaces that are well-maintained and fairly safe, but still seem haunted, perhaps only slightly, by the threat of an unwanted encounter or assault?

In thinking about running in public l want to link my experience to the larger history of women in running (less than 100 years ago, a woman wasn’t supposed to run for fear that her uterus would fall out! Kathryn Switzer was attacked by the race director while running in the Boston Marathon in 1967. The woman’s marathon wasn’t in the olympics until 1984.) and women in public, including: women and safety and women and sexual harassment/assault. Of course, you also can’t leave out exploring an intersectional history of who is allowed to occupy public space and how running bodies get read by others–are they seen as exercising or running from a crime, for example. Both of those are heavily shaped by race. And, what about the types of public spaces runners have access to–dedicated paths? busy sidewalks? In what parts of the city do they exist?

Scroll over the first paragraph to reveal the hidden poem.