jan 21/5.75 MILES

36 degrees
25% snow-covered
the franklin loop

Wet air. Icy paths. Not a bad run. Very calm. A little tougher than the last run outside. My left hamstring hurt a little 4 miles in, so I stopped to walk for 30 seconds or so. Started running again right as I encountered the daily walker. Actually did 5.25 outside and then, because Scott wanted to run at the y in the afternoon, I tagged a long and did another 1/2 mile there. I’m writing this hours after my run so I’m probably forgetting a lot of what happened. One thing I do remember: running across the Franklin bridge and noticing the tree line along the river. Not sure how, but it was glowing. The sun was illuminating it from somewhere. One other image: at the y, a woman was stretching in the corner of the track right next to the window. She was extremely flexible. At one point, she looked like an alien or a spider as she did a strange squat with her legs open and her knees in line with her torso. After that she went down into the splits and stayed in that position for a few minutes.

jan 19/4.6 MILES

33 degrees
75% snow-covered
franklin hill turn around

Yesterday’s warm temperatures melted some of the snow and ice which turned back into supper slick and slippery ice this morning. It looked scary but it wasn’t that bad. I had a decent run. I managed to run down and up the Franklin hill without stopping. The gorge was beautiful. So open and light and still. Yesterday I took Delia the dog down on the Winchell trail below the path. The sun was barely above the path making the walkers and runners on it glow. Speaking of the sun, this morning as I got up off the couch after drinking my coffee to wake my daughter I opened the curtains and was greeted by one of the most beautiful sunrises that I’ve seen in years. Neon orange and pink. Within 10 minutes it was gone and I wondered how many other sunrises I had missed without even knowing it. This illuminating moment came only minutes after I wrote a few words about the difficulty of getting older and finding it harder to wake up:

early morning sitting
on the couch waiting
to wake up
I hear noises
the staticky hum of my son’s computer
the roar of a distant plane
the traffic a mile away
the resigned sigh of my dog sleeping
next to me but wanting
to be chased
through the downstairs
the heat kicks in
a car drives by
I sip my coffee
and lose my words
and my will
to move
and I wonder—
is this what it means to grow old?
to wake up every morning and really have to work at
wanting to do anything but go back to sleep or
sit and stare blankly at the wall as the light
slowly gradually almost imperceptibly
enters the room?

When I saw the sunrise, I realized that I would never have appreciated its beauty when I was younger. So maybe appreciating a sunrise is also what it means to get older, which sounds cliché, but this morning it was true for me and it mattered to make note of it.

jan 16/4 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Went to the track again today because it was cold and because I wanted to try out a speed workout. My first ever, I think. Here’s what I did:

1 mile, easy run
1 mile, 7:55 pace
easy walk, 4 minutes
2 x 1/2 mile, 7:50 pace
easy walk, 2 minutes after each one
2 x 1/4 mile, 7:45 pace
easy walk, 30 seconds after each one
1/2 mile, easy run

It went well and was much more interesting than just running 24 laps around the track. I think I’ll mix it in once every couple of weeks. Too many speed workouts can be bad for training and writing/thinking–I didn’t really think about anything else but my pace and how many laps I still needed to run.

What did it feel like to run faster?

lighter, freer, bouncier, more breeze, less breath, hotter face, less distractions, more focus, more fixation on time pace effort, less awareness of others except for when I wondered what they thought about me running by them so fast or at least so much faster than them

Listened to my playlist and had a strange combination of effort + song: during one of my sprints, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” came on. I added this to a playlist for longer runs and didn’t realize it was on the one I was listening to. Maybe I should put together a speed playlist?

jan 14/2.5 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Not much to write about this run. Felt fine. Runs at the track tend to be more boring and less inspiring. Listened to my running playlist and tried to run a little faster. How to summarize the run?

lune

slick snow cold
outside inside warm
dry boring

acrostic

Trying to
Remember what lap I’m on is
Always a struggle–why is
Counting so hard? Why can’t I ever
Keep track?

Tanka

Running in circles
around the track—-more effort
than inspiration
never quite getting anywhere
but back to where you just were.

jan 10/5.1 MILES

38 degrees
10% snow-covered
franklin loop

Another warm and windy day. Another run on the Franklin loop. The path is almost clear but that will change tomorrow when it snows again. Since they don’t clear the east side of the river path quite as well, I’m not sure how long it will be before I can run this loop again. Listened to my playlist and had a good run. Could tell I was getting faster and that my last mile was my fastest. It’s a very gray, gloomy day. What did I think about? I really can’t remember. Didn’t worry about anything. Didn’t experience doubts about whether I could keep running. Didn’t struggle with trying to find the right words or ideas for my poems. Didn’t feel guilt about something I’m supposed to do or something that I already did. Just ran and felt the wind in my face, at my back, rush past my ears. Avoided puddles and ice patches. And tried to keep my breathing steady.

jan 7/6 MILES

26 degrees
75% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

Hooray for warmer weather! Still below freezing but almost 30 degrees warmer than the last time I ran outside on Wednesday. Felt good, except for the Franklin hill. Ugh! Made it most of the way up but then decided to walk the last bit. Good decision because the last two miles felt great, especially mile 6. Looked at my favorite part of the gorge and marveled at its beauty. Dark brown branches framing the light blue river and white forest floor. I’d like to incorporate that image–or the suggestion of that image–in a redesign of this blog.

the path, some descriptions

The path was clear for big stretches then completely covered for others. With the slightly warmer temperature, when the path was covered it was both slick and wet. Snow that had been packed tight a few days ago was loose and gloppy and hard to slog through. I like snow that makes a satisfying crunch or crack when I run over it. This snow was quiet, dull, hard to run on.

jan 4/3 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Scott was going to the y this morning so I decided to join him. We didn’t run together, just at the same time. It’s nice to run inside occasionally. Not crowded and much warmer than outside–almost 70 degrees warmer. Really can’t remember what I thought about while I was running. Oh–at one point I noticed the sun rising up and coming through the windows. A peachy, orangy, yellowy glow. Someone was pulling a sled off in the corner. At least two other people were crawling using their fingers and toes. None of this looked fun. A class was running on the other track below me. Listened to a song my Justin Bieber and was bothered because he sang “serious” when he should have sang “seriously.” Wondered if he knew and maybe just didn’t care because he wanted to rhyme it with delirious.

jan 3/3 MILES

2 degrees/feels like -11
100% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

Had a hideous song from the 80s–an over-wrought duet–stuck in my head so I wore headphones today. Didn’t feel cold at all. Wore two pairs of gloves again but by the second mile barely had one pair on. Love running outside in the cold! After all of my talk about winter running, it’s nice to know that I wasn’t romanticizing it. I actually do like the cold, even when it feels like -11 or -20.

cold words

frigid
freezing
hyperborean (greek/living in far north, beyond north wind)
frosty
frozen
arctic
rimy (covered with frost)
algific (as in algific talus slope –an ecosystem found in driftless area)
frigorific
brumal (of or relating to winter)

dec 30/2 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

-14, feels like -35 outside? No thanks. Even I have my winter running limits. Went to the YWCA track instead—my third track this week—and achieved my goal for the year: 950 miles. Originally the goal was the marathon. Then, when I was injured it became 1000 miles. But because I couldn’t run for 2 months, that goal was too ambitious. So I settled for 950 miles. Still a big accomplishment and probably more than I’ve run in a year before. And really it was 950 miles in 10 months.

Even as I love winter running, I’m getting excited about summer swimming. Found out yesterday that there will (finally) be an open swim race at Lake Nokomis this summer! So awesome. I’m hoping to write more about swimming in the lake this summer.

dec 22/4.2 MILES

19 degrees
5% snow-covered
mississippi river road north/south

What a great run! Crisp cold air. A clear path. Legs and lungs that feel strong. I listened to my playlist, running the final hill with “Hot for Teacher,” which was awesome.

I felt my feet rhythmically striking the path. I imagined that they resembled the triathlete Flora Duffy’s graceful running feet that I watched in a video yesterday, even as I knew they didn’t.

 

dec 17/3 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

My first time running at the track since last spring. Listened to my little iPod with an old running playlist and tried to stay relaxed. Running inside is not nearly as meaningful as running outside, but it’s fine. Better than not running at all. Not too many people–more walkers than runners. And after the run–the hot tub!

dec 14/4 MILES

20 degrees
90% snow covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

Didn’t wake up planning to run this morning but when I took the dog for a walk and felt how calm and clear it was outside, I decided I better go. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow morning? I’m glad I did. Not too cold. Not too windy. Not too icy. After the turn around on my way back south, it started to snow. Medium sized flakes that got trapped in my eyelashes. More pretty than annoying. Listened to my playlist. Looked at the river. Marveled at how the snow just keeps coming, slow and steady. A few flakes at a time. Adding up to white everywhere. No green grass until the spring.

Last Tuesday, when the snow first stayed on the ground, I wrote a brief poem:

It happened.
Not last night but
the night before.
The snow came to stay
setting up camp
on the lawn
until the spring.
Goodbye green grass!
Goodbye bare forest floor!
I’ll see you in March.

nov 29/4.15 MILES

31 degrees
mississippi river road path south/minnehaha falls/mississippi river road path north

Listened to my playlist today as I ran south to the falls. Not too windy, not too cold. As I ran below the road at the part of the trail where the running and biking paths each have their own bridges I wondered when the snow would arrive, forcing me to run on the biking path and, when it got really bad, avoid running this direction altogether. In past years, the snow sticks around in early December–and doesn’t leave until March or April. It’s difficult for Minneapolis Parks to clear this part of the trail because it’s narrow–too wide for the plow.

Had a brief runner’s high at the end of mile 3. Felt momentarily invincible and euphoric. My head tingled and I could feel my smile slowly growing and spreading across my face, almost like the grinch when he realizes how to destroy Christmas, except my smile was from joy not wickedness.

nov 13/5.4 MILES

33 degrees
franklin hill turn around

Ran the hill again today. Ran down all of it and up most of it. Then walked for a few minutes to recover. Felt pretty good. Listened to music because I felt like I needed it but now I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to try running without headphones. Beautiful light this morning, especially filtered through the bare trees and across the gorge. The muted tans and browns and golds make me happy. My shadow led me today and I enjoyed watching her run. Sometimes I marveled at her form, other times I imagined she was my mom. She followed me on the way back, after I had warmed up and was feeling strong. Every so often, when I turned back to see if anyone was coming, I noticed her.

nov 10/5 MILES

15 degrees/feels like 3 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/mississippi river road path, north

5 miles without stopping! 15 degrees, felt like 3! Wow. I didn’t even notice the 15 mph wind. I love running in the cold. No snow or ice, just dead leaves. Running along the mississippi towards the falls, I had some amazing views of the gorge and the river. No leaves in the way today. Color palette: gray, brown, grayish blue, white, burnished gold, dark green. The falls were falling in a big gush, surrounded by ice. I wonder when the water will freeze? November 10 is early to be so cold for so long. It’s already snowed 2 or 3 times and it’s been below freezing for days now.

Before running, started working on a poem about my running shoes. It needs some work:

Running Shoes

Cheap Dependable Sauconys
pronounced sock-a-knee
not sah cone ee or saw co knee or nike
thirty nine ninety nine
if you find them on sale
which I always do
online
Been wearing them for 6 years
6 different versions
6 different colors
white and gray then white and green
hot pink
bright orange
teal
now bright blue with orange swishes
or stripes or checks or whatever
you want to call them
they’re my bottom of the line basics
getting the job done
working with my wide feet
even when I run too fast
or too long
or on an uneven path.

nov 8/4 MILES

31 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

A great run with negative splits again. I love the colder air. It was sunny and a bit windy. Don’t remember too much. Saw only one dog. Very few bikers. No cross country skiers on skates. Less than 5 runners. Encountered one runner twice, going the opposite direction. Almost twisted my ankle on an uneven bit of the path. Sporadically practiced rhythmic breathing, in 3, out 2. Listened to headphones. Heard the Violent Femmes’ singing “Add it Up” and finally realized, after listening to this song for almost 30 years, that the lead singer says “When I take a bow and say good night.” Of course! This makes more sense than what I thought it was: “When I think about it and say goodnight.”

nov 4/3 MILES

37 degrees
humidity: 91%
mississippi river road path, north

Humid again. Didn’t bother me as much this time. Kept up my plan of doing each mile faster than the last. Listened to music. What do I remember from my run? Running behind someone dressed all in black. I followed him as he stayed on the bike path instead of traveling below the road on the part of the path that travels right above the gorge because I worried that it might be too slippery. Slowly creeping up on and then passing another runner dressed in black pants and white jacket.  Wondering how far ahead of her I was getting. Encountering her again, once I had turned around at the greenway trail. Feeling mostly good with only a few fleeting flashes of doubt and desire to stop.

Kept working on my sonnet assignment when I got back home. Came up with 2 versions. Don’t quite like either.

Attention

is the beginning of devotion
devotion, the beginning of prayer
prayer, undertaken while in motion
motion, gliding in and through outside air
a prayer that is given with lungs and feet
inspiring trees and absorbing the ground
a letting go to a steady beat
desiring nothing but to hear the sound
of time slowly dripping like the drops of sweat
that fall from my face and sit on my skin
cooling me down as they evaporate
counter-clockwise time, moving out, not in
I listen and imagine I can hear
my Self—a slow steady release into air.

Attention

is the beginning of devotion
devotion, the beginning of prayer
prayer, undertaken while in motion
motion, gliding in and through outside air
a prayer that is given with lungs and feet
inspiring trees and absorbing the ground
a letting go to a steady beat
desiring nothing but to look around
and count the leaves or catch a fleeting glimpse
of river, near the stand of mesic oaks
and to witness time as it slowly drips
like the sweat off my face that slowly soaks
my shirt and evaporates from my skin
my sense of Self moving out and not in.

nov 1/3 MILES

33 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

It’s getting colder. I love it! I run so much better in the cold air. As I ran by them, I tried looking a little longer at the bare trees, the gorge slope, the floodplain forest floor and the river. Turned around at the railroad trestle. Before reaching it, realized that I wasn’t feeling the wind so I knew when I turned around that I would. And I did. But it wasn’t too bad. Encountered a woman who might have been talking to me. Not sure if she was or what she said; I had my headphones on. Listening to Sia, Loverboy, Huey Lewis and the News, Pat Benatar, Violent Femmes, Justin Bieber, Cee Lo Green and Adele. Right before running back under the Lake Street bridge noticed two trees, one was a rusty red, the other a brilliant gold.

Later, walking through the neighborhood, I marveled at the beauty of bare branches. Some trees, maybe maples, need their limbs hidden by leaves, but not oaks. Such forms! Some graceful, stretching up and out everywhere. Others awkward, gnarled and twisted toward the sky, the ground, the other side of the sidewalk. All of them interesting, demanding my attention. How do I look, I wonder, to anyone else when I stop and stare, craning my neck to take in every limb?

oct 30/3.85 MILES

37 degrees
wind: 16 mph
mississippi river road path, north

Ran for 35 minutes and 3.85 miles without stopping. Negative split each mile. My knee was sore for the first half, but it mostly felt okay. It was windy and cool with some light drizzle/snow. Checked on the progress of the leaves on my favorite part of the gorge: all gone. Now I can see the slope down to the forest floor and the Mississippi.

Thinking again about routine, rituals and habits and what is/isn’t sacred about running and preparing for running. Wrote a poem in homage to Craig Arnold’s Mediation on a Grapefruit. Towards the end of the poem he writes:

a discipline
precisely pointless       a devout
involvement of the hands and senses
a pause     a little emptiness

My homage is about coffee brewing, an essential part of my pre-race routine/ritual. note: I can’t figure out how to the spacing here. It’s supposed to have more, like Arnold’s poem.

Meditation on the Smell of Coffee Brewing

To wake when nothing is possible
before the unexpected joys of the day
have saved me
To come to the kitchen
and pull out a thin paper basket
before breakfast
To open the metal tin lid sounding
like cymbals being lightly struck
by a drum stick
metallic and sharp as a cold winter morning
To tip
each rich brown scoop into the filter
not that carefully sometimes spilling
several darkly fragrant grounds
To pour each cup of water
into a cheap black coffee maker
the water settling until the whole
carafe is emptied
and only then to breathe and to brew
who knew
this habit
seemingly not the point a repeated
performance ending with the nose
a deep inhale with no substance

each morning harder to live within
each morning harder to live without

and

Meditation on a running shoe

To wake when nothing is possible
before my morning run
has saved me
To go to the front room
and find my electric blue wings
after breakfast
To take them out of the shoe rack
light and featherless        with orange swishes
swirling on the side
vibrant and zesty as citrus
To slide
each foot in, first right then left
so mindfully     without making
my socks bunch up.
To tie each lace
into big, loopy knots
then tuck the loops    until the whole
shoelace is protected
and only then to run
more than fun
a ritual
reverently practical       a sacred
preparation for the body and spirit
a moment      a little attention

each morning more necessary to live within
each morning more impossible to live without