june 16/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
72 degrees/91% humidity

Ran at noon when the rain and thunder finally stopped. Started raining again while I was running. Not sure how hard or how much–was it earlier rain dripping from the trees or sweat dripping from my face or a new, light steady drizzle landing on my head? All three, I think. My favorite part of the path was a gorgeous green. Lots of twigs and chunks of wood littered the path. Luckily, no big branches blocking my way. Legs felt strong. Pace didn’t feel too hard. Listened to my playlist, sometimes floating, sometimes flying. Saw some other runners. A few walkers. No bikers or rollerbladers or roller skiers.

Lots of water everywhere. Rain, wet leaves, puddles on the path, dripping sweat. Speaking of water, found this beautiful poem the other day:

Wind, Water, Stone
BY OCTAVIO PAZ
TRANSLATED BY ELIOT WEINBERGER

for Roger Caillois

Water hollows stone,
wind scatters water,
stone stops the wind.
Water, wind, stone.

Wind carves stone,
stone’s a cup of water,
water escapes and is wind.
Stone, wind, water.

Wind sings in its whirling,
water murmurs going by,
unmoving stone keeps still.
Wind, water, stone.

Each is another and no other:
crossing and vanishing
through their empty names:
water, stone, wind.

june 8/RUN

5.25 miles
69 degrees/79% humidity
franklin loop

Ran with headphones. Looked at the river today but only quick glimpses through the trees. Cloudy with no sun. Gray. The kind of gray that doesn’t make the green glow. Legs felt strong. So did the wind as I ran across the Lake Street bridge. Almost blew my visor off which is impressive because this visor–“swag” from the Torchlight race a few years ago–is tight. Earlier this spring, I finally decided that my beloved green baseball cap was too worn to wear.  The fraying at the top of the cap had turned into several holes. And it was barely green or any color. I traded it out for the visor.The visor is boring, lacking the personality and history of my twins’ baseball cap, but it works well enough at staying on my head and soaking up the sweat and keeping my hair out of my eyes. I wonder, will I wear it all summer?

june 6/RUN

2.3 miles
65 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

A quick run with a playlist. Ran because it’s global running day. Because I needed to forget about the difficult morning trying to get a girl to go to school. And because I could. Jogged to the river, turned right towards the falls and then ran much faster than I usually do. First mile: 7:39. Felt good. Free. I think my body likes running faster.

This morning I discovered double abcedarians and I’m in love. What a challenging form. The first one I read had 26 lines. Each line started with the alphabet going up (a b c …) and ended with the alphabet going down (z y x …).

Alcatraz
beneath a sky
crouching low and black as onyx

The second one I read had 26 lines, with each line starting with the alphabet going down and ending with the alphabet going up.

Zooks! What have I done with my anthologies? I’ll need a
year of sleep after writing my millionth review (with aplomb).
XX bottles of moonshine litter my bedside table like arsenic.

may 31/RUN

6.7 miles
bohemian flats and back
70 degrees/90% humidity/dew point: 67

Was planning to run 9 miles this morning but I started too late and it was too hot. Why is it so hard for me to run in the summer heat? The first 3 miles were fine: I saw the Daily Walker, glanced down at the gorge, settled into a dream-like state of moving without effort. But then something happened. I got hot. It got hard. I started thinking about how far I was planning to run and the 2 big hills I had to climb and doubt creeped in. Was it all psychological, this inability to keep going? I’m not sure but I’m not disappointed that I stopped.

addendumI almost forgot. I saw a bright pink yarn bomb in the shape of a heart on the railing just past the lake street bridge! It made me smile. I like the random whimsy of yarn bombs.

Here’s an excerpt from a poem about heat that seems effective:

The heat pours into their throats and ears.

It fills their lungs with a smothering staleness.

The heat blots out the conscientiousness

That made billy pick up the litter

That kept tracy from slamming the door.

Under heat, the lightness is lethargy

The buckled-up discontent bursts

And the delicate brain-curves unravel.

may 29/BIKERUNBIKE

bike to lake nokomis and back: 8.8 miles
run around lake nokomis: 2 miles
82 degrees

And the heat wave continues. Decided to bike to the lake. Was planning to swim when I got there, but I cut my finger pitting cherries yesterday and I’m wary of open swimming with an open wound. So, I ran instead. So hot! Even in the shade. Managed to run almost all the way around. Stopped at 2 miles. Saw a few other people running. Mostly slowly and miserably. Ended my run near the fishing dock. A paddle boat was up on the grass with no one around. How did it get here?How long has it been here? Where are its paddlers? When I got back to the big beach, I returned to my bike and grabbed my water bottle. The ice had melted, but the water was still cool. Then I walked into the water. It’s warmed up fast! A few people were out swimming, doing wide loops around the white buoys. Standing on the sandy lake bottom so clear and clean with the water almost up to my chest, the sun reflected off of the waves, bright and sharp, hurting my eyes. Not nearly as pleasing as the sun-casted shadows of leaves dancing in the breeze near the bike rack that memorized me before my run. Leaving the water I felt cold. Mostly refreshed but chilled too. And wet. Dripping, not from sweat, but from a wet suit. Later, drying off my sandy feet at a picnic table. I heard the click click clack beep of a metal detector as a man slowly walked around the trees near the trail. I’ve seen people–only men, actually–in the lake looking for treasure, but not in the grass. Did he find anything?

Found a short story online called Water In Its Three Forms. I like the idea of organizing a short lyric essay/prose poem around the theme of water. So much of what I wrote about in today’s entry involves water!

may 28/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
83 degrees/dew point: 64

Wilting. Melting. Sweating. Sticking. Dripping. Barely 8 in the morning and even the shade is thick with heat. By the end of the first mile, my pony-tail is dripping sweat onto my shoulder. Breathing is difficult. My chest hurts. My face feels bright red. Hardly any moments of clarity, where I wander into a thought or an image or an idea. What, other than heat, do I remember? My favorite part of the path, just above the steep slope down to the river, was cool and dark. I greeted the Daily Walker. Most of the path was in the shade, even if it was still hot. I saw groups of bikers, runners, a rollerblader, a roller skier, walkers with dogs or children or coffee in their hands–I hope it was iced. Listened to a playlist that was stuck on a short loop, playing the same 5 songs 3 times in a row.

During the winter, I focused on the sounds of crunching snow. Maybe for the summer, I’ll focus on the textures and sensations of sweat and heat? Will this source help me? Thermodynamics in verse, the poetry of heat.

may 27/RUN

3 miles
mississippi road path, north/south
76 degrees/67% humidity

Another hot run. Ran the first mile fast, then took a few walk breaks. Listened to headphones and blocked out the world. Greeted the Daily Walker at the end. Don’t remember much else.

may 25/RUN

4 miles
to minnehaha falls and back again
67 degrees/91% humidity/dewpoint 61

Ran early this morning. 6 am and already 67 degrees. Today, 90. Tomorrow, 95. Sunday, 97. I do not like running in the heat. This morning it was okay, especially since I was only running 4 miles. When I got to the river, I turned right instead of my usual left and headed towards the falls. A few minutes after me, Scott went out for a run too, but turned left at the river. My path was clear but his was blocked by a big tree, split in two during the heavy winds and thunderstorm last night. Listened to my running playlist so I didn’t hear birds or rushing water or snapping branches. I have no memory of what I thought about while I ran other than mundane running thoughts like: “I feel like I’m running fairly fast but I bet I’m running slow. I shouldn’t look because then I will just feel bad.” or “I need to make sure to focus on using my left leg so I can build up the muscles in it.” or “I don’t know if this rhythmic breathing works for me.” What else do I remember about my run? Running right by the falls and enjoying the coolness of the spray from the gushing water on my face and arms. Happily drinking water from the fountain that has finally been turned on. Feeling soaked from sweat even before the end of the first mile.  No bikes. No roller skiers or roller bladers or dogs or bugs. One squirrel that almost darted in front of me but then wisely turned around. Several pairs of runners, one trio. A woman stretching her calves on the concrete ledge where Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” is etched.

Again, everything was green. A lush, post-rain green that glows and overwhelms and spills out over the path from below and above. Late May is very early for that shaggy, scruffy, weedy, much too green feeling. I usually don’t feel that until July or August. I love the green, but I’m ambiguous about weeds. In theory, I appreciate their unruly resilience but, even so, I struggle to see beyond their disruptive excess–blocking my view of the river, covering the path, housing too many bugs. Here are 2 poems for reflecting further on this ambiguity, one that I encountered today, the other I read last fall:

Long Live the Weeds/Theodore Roethke

Long live the weeds that overwhelm
My narrow vegetable realm!—
The bitter rock, the barren soil
That force the son of man to toil;
All things unholy, marked by curse,
The ugly of the universe.
The rough, the wicked, and the wild
That keep the spirit undefiled.
With these I match my little wit
And earn the right to stand or sit,
Hope, look, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I.

Surrender/Geraldine Connolly

Rogue seedlings flank
the front bank.

Aspen roots lift
asphalt
from the driveway’s face.

I can hear
growth

like a crackle
of flames.
I watch a frantic

squirrel hoard
pinecones,
strip them clean.

Weeds choke the garden,
thorns and buffelgrass.
Wild blackberries seethe.

I scrub green moss.
Still it spreads its stain

across the deck, and
falls into cracks where
green sprouts flare up.

I fight against surrender but
the trees call to me
as they creep forward.
The forest wants to take us back.

may 21/RUN

8.2 miles
almost downtown turn around
63 degrees

Cloudy. Overcast. Almost light gray, which made the green glow. Running below the road and above the gorge, on my favorite part of the trail, the green enveloped me. Today I liked it. Sometimes it’s too much. Too much green. Too much vegetation. I especially feel this way in August when everything is overgrown and buggy and hot. Smelled lilac and honeysuckle. Remembered growing up in North Carolina and sucking the honeysuckle flowers that grew on the barbed-wire fence at the edge of our property. Felt steady and strong. Managed to keep running in several spots where I wanted to stop. What else do I remember? The construction worker walking on the franklin bridge that I could see as I approached the bridge from below. The 2 walkers that turned around and stared as I approached them. Passing the Daily Walker.

may 20/RACE

10K: 55:06
women run the cities

A beautiful day for a run beside the river! Sunny. Not too much wind. Not too warm. I decided to run this race to redeem myself for the get in gear 10K that I ran 3 weeks ago. In that race, I fell apart in the second half and walked a lot. In this race, I did much better. Starting slower and running through the bad moments. I still walked once–for about half a minute–and ran much slower than I have in the past, but I feel good about the race. What do I remember? A long line for the porta-potties. The energetic and entertaining way the women in front of me gestured with her hands as she talked. The woman behind me, describing her late night drinking and ordering domino’s pizza. The woman ahead of me in the race corral discussing meeting a random guy while running a marathon and then stalking him online later. The extremely off-key version of The Star Spangled Banner someone sang right before the race. A woman making this weird waving motion while running beside me. What was she doing? Being confused at the start of the lake street bridge because everyone was running on the sidewalk and not the road and then almost missing Scott cheering me on. Running up the Summit hill and hearing a woman encouraging her friend: “you can slow down but don’t walk.” Feeling grateful when “Back in Black” came on my running playlist and pumped me up. Trying to avoid all of the potholes. Crossing the Ford bridge and then seeing the long stretch of road before we turned down to the falls and wanting to stop and walk–but not doing it. Turning down to the falls just as the theme from Rocky started playing. Smiling as I finished.

bonus: Later, Scott and I biked to the game. 12 miles total. We weren’t biking too fast, but it was some nice cross-training. It’s always easier for me to bike when I’m following someone else. With my vision, I can bike but it can be difficult. Sometimes–not every time–it takes a while for me to really see the path, especially when going down hill. I see that it’s there, but I can’t quite find the edges. Usually, I trust that I’m following the path, even when I can’t completely see it.

may 11/5.25 MILES

48 degrees
20 mph wind
franklin loop

Brr. Colder today and a lot more humid. Overcast with rain coming soon. Everything is overwhelmingly green. Windy. Had my headphones on and my hood up for the first mile. Felt disconnected, in a dreamy state. Almost floating on the path–not flying but hovering. The floor of the floodplain forest is no longer visible. Just a sea of green. Clashing greens–mostly yellowish green, with a few darker blueish green patches. After running over the Franklin bridge I also couldn’t see the paved path down in the east river flats. Crossing back over the Lake street bridge, I saw some rowers–2 shells out on the river. I love watching the rowers. Finished my run feeling strong and fast.

may 10/3 MILES

60 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/south

Running in the afternoon is harder. Hotter. Windier. Listened to my playlist and felt pretty good. My knee felt okay, even though it temporarily displaced last night, right before dinner. Walking over to the cabinet to get a placemat, I stopped and felt a sudden shift. First pain, then shock. I could feel that the kneecap was out of its groove. I was able to pop it back in place by pushing on it and walking up the stairs. I hate that this happens. No warning. No abrupt twisting, Just a sudden, abrupt moving out of the groove. My kneecap displaced last month like this and was fine after a few hours, so I was pretty sure I would be okay. Still, it sucks when this happens. I wonder, when will it happen again?

note: I didn’t have time to write this log after my run, so I’m writing it the next day. I couldn’t remember much from the run.

may 7/5.75 MILES

69 degrees
ford loop

9:15 am and 69 degrees? No thanks. I love so much about spring and summer but not running in the heat and the bright sun. Hardly any shade. Listened to headphones and felt disconnected. Thought I was doing okay, but near the Ford Bridge, it started to feel difficult. Stopped to walk for a few minutes on the bridge. Strangely, walking today didn’t bother me or make me feel like I failed.

This very warm weather is coming too soon. Last year on May 7th it was only 51 degrees. Much better running weather. Everything is happening too soon and too fast. My view down to the river is almost gone. The floodplain forest is covered in green. A beautiful shade of green, but that’s not the point. I want to see the river and the sandy trail through the forest for at least a few days more. Yesterday when I was walking near the river I heard the rowers! They’re back. I looked down at the ravine as I ran up the hill near Summit. No water today. Tried to run mostly on the dirt trail next to the uneven path. Noticed the raging river at the locks and dam. Ran by a walker that I encountered in the same spot last week. If I keep running this loop in the morning, will he become a new Daily Walker to watch for? At some point during the run, around the time it was feeling especially hard, I wondered–am I getting enough iron? Resolved to eat more spinach and maybe take an iron supplement. Finished strong, running faster and feeling freer. Stopped at the water fountain but noticed too late that it wasn’t working yet. Saw my shadow–in front of me, then beside me. I think she likes the heat and the bright sun. Sweat a lot more. Face felt bright red. My hair was completely soaked and dripping by the end. Next time I run I’ll need to bring some water.

note: While quickly proofreading my log, I noticed a theme: water. A lost river view. Rowers. A lack of water in the ravine. The raging river below the bridge. A water fountain that doesn’t work. A sweaty, red face with a dripping ponytail. The need for water to drink.

Returning home, I discovered a new poem to love from The New Yorker: “Eating Grapes Downward” by Christian Wiman. I especially love the opening stanza:

Every morning without thinking I open
my notebook and see if something
might have grown in me during the night.
Usually, no. But sometimes a tendril
tries a crack in my consciousness
and if I remain only indirectly aware of it
and tether my attention to the imminent
and perhaps ultimately unseeable
sun, sometimes it will grow. Inevitably
a sense of insignificance intrudes: I think
of all the lives in all the places
waiting in their ways
for something to grow out of them,
into them. Is it the same God?

Love this idea of indirect awareness. So important to how I am living these days–with my writing and my vision and even my running. Want to experiment with ways to write about it/with it/around and through it.

april 30/5.75 MILES

57 degrees
ford loop

Windy. Almost raining. A great run. Signed up for a 10k in 3 weeks on the same course as the one I just raced. I’m hoping to redeem myself and feel strong in the second half. Hoping to run the route many times and practice better pacing. I ran it today, starting at a slow pace. It was great. Listened to my playlist. Felt like I was in a daze for the first few miles. Disconnected, almost floating. Love that feeling. Running across the bridge I put up my pink hood because of the wind; I was worried that my almost destroyed green hat would finally blow off and into the river. I imagined the log entry I’d write memorializing it. Encountered a few runners, not too many walkers, 1 or 2 bikers. No Daily Walker. No roller skiers. Thought a lot about keeping slow and strong. Anything else? Didn’t feel any rain drops. Didn’t see any more snow. No puddles to dodge. Just wind to run into. A few hills to climb. 2 bridges to cross.

april 21/3 MILES

47 degrees
greenway bridge turn around

Another beautiful morning. Don’t remember much because I was listening to my headphones. I think I saw my shadow a few times in the bright sun. Saw lots of runners, alone and in groups. A few bikers. Walkers. No roller skiers. No puddles. No ice, except for under the lake street bridge. Ran faster and felt the joy of working harder. I definitely need to do some more speed work to get used to pushing myself.

Encountered a wonderful poem that reflects my feelings about the slow arrival of spring:

april 8/4.4 MILES

32 degrees
10% snow-covered
almost Franklin hill turn around

Took several days off from running because my kneecap seemed liked it had displaced on Friday night, while I was sleeping. I was certain that I would be out for another month but suddenly, it felt better. Still sore, but much better. Very grateful. Whenever I injure my knee, I don’t worry as much about running as I do walking. Running is great, but walking is necessary.

Today’s run was wonderful. Cold and windy, but I didn’t care. I got to run without pain or uncertainty. Listened to my running playlist and blocked out the noise of the wind rushing past my ears. Didn’t encounter too many runners or walkers. What do I remember? I noticed the runner with the bright yellow shirt and thought about how my orange shirt was just as bright. I smiled a lot and almost spread my arms wide in a big hug. Encountered several runners going fast. Thought about running all the way to the bottom of the Franklin hill but decided to stop just under the bridge and turn around. Noticed that my right knee was a little sore and wondered if it would be a problem when I finished (it wasn’t). Was able to mostly run on the walking path instead of only on the bike path. Didn’t see any bikers or roller skiers or big packs of runners. Twisted my foot a little on a patch of ice.

A few days ago, I discovered a new poetic form: contrapuntal. I decided to write one about 2 sounds that crunching snow makes when I walk on it.

Here are my notes:

First, I noticed the noise: a crisp, sharp, snap. Delightfully dissonant, cutting through the quiet and the soft settling of my foot on the snow-covered path. Did I like it partly for its grating, grinding quality?

Then, I noticed its counterpoint: a soft, steady crush of crystals that never ceased. Sometimes creaking, occasionally squeaking. Always there, buzzing, humming under the other noises—birds chirping, planes rumbling, a car door slamming.

Before I had only made note of the noise and how it shattered my idea of snow as silent. Now I wondered how the different noises fit together. Why two? What was causing the multiple melodies? The crack crack crack with the crushcrushcrushcrushcrush?

Then, I understood. The two sounds traveled, trading off between my feet. As one foot cracked, the other crushed. Right crack left crushcrushcrush left crack right crushcrushcruch. The biomechanics of a step amplified! My body singing through snow!

And here’s my poem:

april 2/5.1 MILES

30 degrees
franklin loop

In a few hours, it’s supposed to snow again. 1-3 inches today. 1-3 inches tonight. 1-3 inches tomorrow. Wet, heavy snow. Yuck! I decided to get out and run before the path was covered again. Was able to run most of the way on the walking path instead of the biking path. Had to stop and walk twice because it was windy and I was running too fast. Listened to headphones. What do I remember? Hearing some sort of howling or barking or moaning down in gorge that I could barely hear over my music. Thought about taking off my headphones to listen more closely but didn’t. I wonder what it was? Tried to focus on keeping my shoulders back and my chest forward, with my arms swinging straight back, relaxed. Looked to see if the eagle was perched on the dead tree by the bridge. They weren’t. Saw the Daily Walker. Admired the beautiful Mississippi as I ran over the Franklin bridge. Noticed that it felt humid and hard to breathe. Glanced down at the east river flats and thought about how hidden they will be once the leaves return to the trees–will I ever try running down there alone? Probably not. Took note of the paved path leading down into the gorge, towards the Lake street bridge–it’s much closer to the road down to the east river flats than I thought.

Read a poem by Mary Oliver earlier this morning and encountered the phrase, “deep, moist summer.” I don’t like how summer is moist. I also don’t like the word moist. I hate humidity and I don’t like how overwhelmingly green and thick with vegetation summer is, even as I love so much about the season. I will miss winter running–so quick, crisp, sharp and slick.

april 1/2.1 MILES

60 degrees
ywca track

A quick run on the indoor track. Cold outside. Most likely wet, slushy snow tomorrow and the day after that. Where is spring? Read a headline from the MPR weather guy–Will we skip spring and go straight to summer? Nooooooo!!!

The track was crowded with an irritating walker who stubbornly refused to follow the rules (that were painted on the track) and walked in the center lane, making it difficult to pass on either side.

 

march 27/4 MILES

35 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/south

About 5 minutes into my run, I noticed my nose was bleeding. I always bring a kleenex but, of course, I didn’t have one today. Thought about turning around and going back home but I didn’t. I wanted to keep running. So I pulled over, looked at the river, hoped my nose would stop and then started running again. I tried to remember to keep my head tilted slightly up as I ran. My nose used to bleed a lot when I was a kid. In high school, it would often start while I was in the pool for swim practice. I’d have to get out and do dryland exerices. So annoying. Today, it wasn’t too bad. I’m glad I kept going. I don’t remember too much else about my run. Listened to headphones. Got to be on the walking path for awhile. Passed a few runners. Greeted the Daily Walker. Don’t think I saw any bikers. Maybe one dog. No puddles. No big ice chunks or snow banks. Ran into the wind at the beginning and had it at my back at the end. Saw some grass, not just snow. Wore less layers. No more bulky gray jacket or gloves. One pair of running tights. No buff. Spring will be here soon!

march 20/6.2 MILES

29 degrees
70% snow-covered
franklin hill turn around + extra

Snowing this morning on the first day of spring. A wet heavy snow that will soon melt. Decided to run slow and keep going past the bottom of the hills and toward the Bohemian Flats. A nice run. Gray. Humid. A little windy with snow in my face most of the time. Will this be the last snow of the season? Probably not. Speaking of snow, yesterday I turned one of my early morning poetry fragments into a concrete poem:

What do I remember from my run? I thought a lot about keeping my pace relaxed and wondering whether or not my knee would start hurting. Also wondered which direction the wind was blowing–would it be in my face even more when I turned around and ran back home (yes)? Noticed the river flowing down in the flats–a graying brownish blue. The snow wasn’t too slippery, even under the bridge. It also wasn’t crunchy–at least I don’t think it was crunchy–I had headphones on. I was able to run on the walking path–instead of the bike path–for most of my run.

I wanted to start thinking about the differences between walking and running, but I forgot. I started thinking about running and walking last year–I even gathered together some resources and wrote a few creative essays. With spring coming and a desire to be outside more, it seems fitting to walk more and then think about how walking differs from running. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a brief essay about running and how it differs from walking:

But the act of running gives me something I cannot get from a walk, and that is total mental freedom. I agree with Kierkegaard that walking is objectively better than sitting, in terms of feeling good. But it is not always sufficient. And although the day-to-day business of writing is closely connected to walking, the business of being a functioning person – for me – requires something else. Running demands that you concentrate on something which requires almost no conscious thought at all. It is a particular kind of thinking which is all about the next few seconds and entirely pragmatic: mind that low-hanging branch, is that dog on an extendable lead, am I about to get mugged by a flock of Canada geese (the nightclub bouncers of the bird world). It also proves that you are more, or at least other, than you think.

I like her idea of running as offering a particular kind of thinking and I agree that much of running time is taken up with mundane, immediate thoughts about branches or cracks in the pavement or how deep a puddle is, whether or not the runner I’m approaching will move over, etc.. But, what I also like about running is that flashes of insight happen too–I have really great thoughts. Because of the effort I’m making and my need to pay attention to my surroundings, I can’t ruminate slowly and obsessively about those thoughts. The best I can do is try to record them in a voice memo or write them in a log entry after I’m done. Why is this a good thing? I’m not sure that I can express it right now–maybe something about a need to correct my tendency to overthink things or my love of imposing limits on my creative process?