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?

march 11/3.05 MILES

36 degrees
15% puddle covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

The day started out rough. Adjusting to daylight savings time. Being trapped indoors at the biggest, most crowded mall. Failing to find what we needed. Shifting knee-caps. But I got to run outside by the river and look over at St. Paul and the white slopes of the gorge. And I got to breathe in fresh cold air and listen to Beck sing about being free. So, who cares what happened before that? Any day I get to run is a great day!

march 10/4 MILES

30 degrees
5% snow covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

A great run! Faster. Freer. More flying less plodding. A lot of runners out on the path, doing their long runs. Not me. I’m taking it easy this week, making sure my right knee is happy.

The favorite part of my run: 3 miles in, at the top of the hill that dips under the lake street bridge. Finding my rhythm. Pumping my arms perfectly in time with my feet. Left arm right foot. Right arm left foot. Not having to remember to move my legs, almost like they’re moving on their own. Flying through space. No effort. No attention to form or mechanics. Magically moving for almost a mile.

march 8/3.5 MILES

21 degrees
15% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/south

Low wind. Bright sun. Clear path. Great run. My knee hurt a little as I was walking to the river, but once I started, it felt better. Focused on my form–keeping my chest out and my arms closer to my sides. Listened to my headphones and smiled a lot. Occasionally glanced over at the river and down into the gorge. So beautiful! Blue-gray river with white slopes and dark brown branches. I like being able to see everything. In a few months, all I will see is green. As I was breathing in the crisp, cold air I realized that these winter runs will be ending soon. As much as I am ready for spring and summer, I will miss the cold and winter running.

march 2/3 MILES

31 degrees
15% ice-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

I ran today!
I ran outside today!
I ran outside today without my knee hurting!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting in the sun!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting in the sun and it felt good!

Well, mostly good. Not fantastic. But not like I was doing anything bad to my knee. Listened to my headphones, so I didn’t hear much on the run. Near the Lake Street bridge, I was wishing I didn’t have my headphones on. I thought I heard some birds–maybe some geese–making a lot of noise. The river was open. I wonder when the rowers will be out there?

I recorded myself walking home at the end of the run. A very different crunching of my feet, coming from the grit–the salt or sand or whatever they use to treat the road and the path to make them less slippery–was rubbing on the bare, slightly wet ground. Occasionally I walked over some crusty snow. Not sure the recording picks it all up but there were lots of sounds today: a wind chime, wind, a car driving by, birds, water dripping off the roof, a car starting.

feb 24/5.5 MILES

22 degrees
20% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/stone arch bridge

Thursday night we got 5 inches of snow. By Friday the path was already plowed. Minneapolis Parks are awesome! It’s supposed to snow another 5-8 inches this afternoon so I ran this morning while the path was still clear. Another great run. Steady and not too fast. I managed to run the entire steep hill near downtown without stopping to walk! In about a month, I’ll be running it again in a race.

The river was flowing–no ice or snow left. Will it freeze again or will I be seeing rowers on it soon?

Yesterday I finished a draft of a poem I’ve been working on for a few weeks. It’s an homage poem based on Alice Oswald’s beautiful “A Short Story of Falling Water.” Mine is about snow and my current fascination with the crunching noises it makes as I walk and run by the river.

A Short Story of Fallen Snow, audio

A Short Story of Fallen Snow
after Alice Oswald

It is the story of the fallen snow
to turn sharp and slick and force us to slow

it is the wonder of a winter storm
to start out as snowflakes but soon change form

from tiny puffed up pillows that cover the path
to crystals compressed, their size reduced by half

or to a smooth shining surface polished like glass
hidden in plain sight near the edge by the grass

if only you while heading to the river could make
the moment go numb and freeze like a snowflake

to absorb every sound in a blanket of air
releasing when pressed a kind of noisy prayer

then you might learn like snow how to balance
the light of attention against the weight of silence

snow which when cold is so brittle so strong
cracking and crunching a sharp steady song

compacted by cold, yielding to moving feet
compelling you to pause and listen to it creak

which is the story of the fallen snow
whose changing forms makes us slow.

feb 22/5.85 MILES

23 degrees
75% snow-covered
the ford loop

This run felt really great. I didn’t go too fast, but went faster than I thought for how relaxed I felt. I needed this run after having another stressful morning trying to get the girl to go to school. Listened to my running playlist and tried to block out the world. It worked! Almost 60 minutes of somewhere else.

Decided to try out the ford loop before the snow hits again and the path becomes impassable. Even though I enjoyed my run, deciding to do this loop was a big mistake. Tons of super slick ice and rough, clumpy snow made it very treacherous. I slipped several times and landed wrong on my foot at least twice.  Still, I did it. Even the steep short hill by Summit! Running across the Lake Street bridge, back to St. Paul was rough–ice and chunky snow.

It’s supposed to start snowing in a few hours. Maybe up to 5 inches. Then another round on Saturday. Possibly double digit totals. Will it actually come? Do I want it to?

I’ve been writing poem fragments every morning when I wake up about winter. Here’s one that I wrote shortly after we didn’t get the snow that was predicted:

another storm
narrowly avoided
early forecasts had predicted
5-8 inches of snow
sub zero temps
lots of wind
well—
it’s 20 degrees colder than yesterday and
I can hear the wind blow but
where’s that snow?
a no show as usual
I should be relieved and
I am but still
I wouldn’t mind watching
some big fluffy flakes floating
down from the sky
delivering little crystal bursts of joy
or at least distraction
as I sit on the couch
waiting for a girl to get ready
to go to school

feb 17/6.2 MILES

30 degrees
5% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/minnehaha creek/lake nokomis

Very slippery. Almost fell a few times on the way to the river. Ran to the falls, on the creek path, then over to Lake Nokomis. I haven’t run this route since late July, right before my injury. It’s funny how it feels longer than running north on the path. The creek was all open water. The lake was covered with snow but on the bridge I could see slushy, almost open water. As I ran by the little beach, I imagined the summer and swimming across the lake.

I’ve been thinking about snow and ice lately. Hardly any snow on the path today, but lots of ice. Patches of black ice–clear, almost hidden, blending into the path. Patches of thick opaque ice, with an ugly yellowish greenish tint. Strips of jagged ice, the result of snow melting, puddling on the path then refreezing at night. Slick spots under the dusting of snow that happened a few hours before I ran that was mostly melted in the almost above freezing air.

feb 16/2 MILES

ywca track
65 degrees

Ran a quick 2 miles at the track. People I saw at the y:

A woman, about my build, my hair color, my age, wearing an orange tank top similar to one that I wear. Scott almost called out to her, thinking she was me.

A short runner in a bright blue shirt, running much faster than me but only running a lap. Is it wrong that I felt some satisfaction when I passed them, still running, while they were walking?

A couple I’ve seen for years, both at the y and on the Mississippi River Road near the lock and dam by the falls, running and jump roping and pulling sleds or lifting heavy weights. Today one of them was pushing a sled by the wall, while the other was doing some leg exercises, then they both walked around the track carrying huge weights above their heads. One time, last summer, I saw them jump roping! up a steep hill.

An impatient woman in the locker room who became even more impatient waiting for one of two pool lanes–the others were filled with older women in an aquablast class–to open up.

The track wasn’t too crowded. The run wasn’t that memorable. Oh–I thought I packed a pair of socks, but actually only packed one, so I ran without socks. No blisters…yet.

feb 13/4 MILES

13 degrees/feels like 5
10% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, south/minneahaha falls/north

Slightly warmer. Gray. Damp. Occasional gusts of wind. Even though I have a cold, I’m glad I ran outside this morning. Ran around the falls. Still frozen. Thick snow on the creek bank. Just as I was wondering if minnehaha creek was frozen over, I noticed some slushy spots on the surface. Tomorrow it’s supposed to get a lot warmer–over 40 degrees. How much of a melty mess will it be?

feb 6/3.1 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Ran inside at the track. More crowded than I expected for 2pm on a Tuesday. I guess you could call what I did a tempo run. A little faster but not too fast. I’m writing this the day after the run, so I don’t remember much. Not too many runners, many more walkers. Saw a walker who seemed to be limping wearing thick black socks. He made it around the track for a few laps before sitting down on a chair. Also passed a woman using a walker. Didn’t recognize anyone else that I’ve seen before. No one pulling a sled or crawling. Did see someone using the long ropes–the ones that you grab in your hands and shake, making them look almost like snakes slithering or a wave rushing away from you. What are those called? Looked them up–battle ropes.

feb 4/1.5 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Another Sunday run at the track. The guy who runs at a lean was there, running fast and running with his head tilted slightly to the right. Saw an older women–in her 70s? 80s?–running around the track, looking strong even as she was hunched forward. Also saw an older guy–I’d guess he was in the his 70s too–running. Earlier in the day, driving on the river road, saw the Daily Walker and thought about running outside instead of the track, but it was cold and I wanted to go to the hot tub with Scott, so I didn’t.

jan 31/3.75 MILES

26 degrees
99% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

Woke up in this morning, opened the door and was completely shocked to see a fresh dusting of snow. About an inch. I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess, but I was. This dusting is the annoying kind, hiding the icy patches that have lingered on the sidewalk after the big warm-up/melt last week. Yuck. It was a bit treacherous walking to the river, but once I started running on the path it was fine. I had a good run. Listened to my playlist and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. I continue to run negative splits without trying.

For my poetry class this week, I had to write a haiku/haikus. I decided to create some about the condition on the running path:

An ice-covered path
is slick but not slippery
when you run, not walk.

Dry snow on a path
makes a satisfying snap
under running feet.

The wet snow muffles
my striking feet as I run
above the river.

An inch of powder
conceals ice chunks and slick spots.
I run cautiously.

Ice doesn’t sparkle.
It taunts and teases and hides
under the new snow.

Warmer air. Melting
snow. Paths with puddles soak socks
before refreezing.

Sunny. A clear path
and a clear mind allow me
to have a great run.

Running through wet snow
is like running on warm sand
except much colder.

jan 28/1.5 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track
+ 500 yard swim

A short run and a shorter swim. Saw several cute kids running–or was it trotting?–with an adult. And a young boy–maybe 12?–running with his dad. An older man–guessing he was around 70–running slowly and steadily and for at least an hour. He had on a marathon shirt and you could tell he was a serious long distance runner. I’d love to be running like that when I’m 70. Saw a 30-something guy who would walk a lap and then sprint two-thirds of a lap. I think I saw him at the track last week too. Wonder if he ever runs straight without stopping. Soccer games were going on below the elevated track, but I didn’t really pay attention to them. My watch seemed off–7 laps to make a mile, not the usual 6. Since the indoor distance is based on number of steps, I must have longer strides at the track and more foot strikes outside.

jan 27/5 MILES

33 degrees
franklin hill turn around

A good run. I went faster than I usually do and ran the whole thing without stopping–even the Franklin hill. Encountered a lot of puddles, wet spots, slick spots, messy spots. My socks and shoes didn’t get soaked but they did get wet. A few times I ended up running straight through some deep puddles. Yuck! I do not like when it gets warm in winter and the snow melts onto the sidewalk, making it wet during the day and icy at night. But, it didn’t bother me too much. Still had a great run, listening to my headphones and getting pumped up by Beck’s “I’m so Free.”

words to describe a path that is mostly clear but still slightly covered with puddles and patches of ice and an occasional chunk of snow:

soppy gloppy goopy slick icy thawing melting defrosting loose/loosening/looser softening messy soaked saturated soggy slushy slippery

jan 24/4 MILES

23 degrees
85-90% snow-covered
mississippi river road path north/south

A little colder today. The path was slicker and, in some places, thicker. The snow was heavy and hard to trudge through. Both yesterday and today, my left thigh got tight around the third mile and I stopped to walk for about a minute to loosen it up. I’m hoping it’s not a problem but just a reminder that I’m running on a loose, slippery path that forces my legs to work harder. Not too much mind or sun. I listened to my playlist–mostly because I added Beck’s song, “I’m So Free” from his new album. So good. Too bad it was the first song that came up on my shuffle–while I was still walking and warming up. I’d like to listen to it in the middle of a run.