july 17/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

Watched a replay of stage 10 of the Tour de France this afternoon. So many mountains! The eventual winner Alaphilippe went at least 80 kph down the side of a mountain, sharply turning, hovering on the edge. I can’t imagine biking this way–meaning, I don’t know how I could ever do it, or why I’d want to. But I love watching it. For almost 10 years, Scott and I have looked forward to July and watching the Tour. My bike ride over to lake nokomis was much slower but seemed to have its own dangers. Not treacherous mountain descents but sharp turns, speeding cars that drive too close to the path and runaway surreys.

swim: 1.36 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis open swim

A beautiful evening for a swim! The lake water was warm: 80 degrees! It was calm. Very few waves. And it was bright. It no longer looks like green pea soup, but yellow lentils–maybe? Still opaque, but lighter, brighter, glowing yellow. The buoys were hard to spot, but I kept swimming, knowing I was on course. I felt strong again, trying to work on pulling my arms more quickly and powerfully through the water. In the second loop, my googles seemed to fog up which made it harder to see all the other swimmers–and there were a lot, a couple 100 maybe. So I stopped after 2 loops.

july 15/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

80 degrees with a dew point of 72! The air was so heavy, even biking was difficult. Scott was planning to run 8 or 10 miles but had to stop after 2 when he almost passed out. Glad I wasn’t running today.

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis open swim

It was hazy and bright and difficult to see but the water was warm and smooth. The lifeguards put the first buoy so far out that it was over halfway across the lake. I was worried I would get off course before I got to it but, surprisingly, I was fine. I swam straight to it. I remember the third loop the most. Something about the light–a mix of clouds, a blueish gray sky–made it very difficult to see anything in front of me, especially the orange of the buoys. I also remember noticing the slapping of the water as I cut through it and how it sloshed as it went over my head. Thinking more about the orange of the buoys: Scott reminded me that the most difficult color combination for my central vision is blue background with orange. Somehow the orange often disappears against the blue. So a blue sky with orange buoys is hard–it’s amazing that I can see the buoys at all! I must really love swimming in open water to be willing to swim across a lake when I can’t see. I do.

july 12/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south

bike: 4.3
lake nokomis

swim: .36 miles
open swim
18 mph wind/choppy water

Even though severe rain/thunderstorm was coming, decided to bike to the lake and try to swim a little before we were evacuated from the water. So choppy! And such a dark, ominous sky. Purplish gray. Managed to swim out to the second buoy, about halfway across the lake, before turning around. A little less than 10 minutes in the water. Got out just before lightening was spotted. What a bummer. Still glad I went. I will remember that sky for years and how choppy the water was and the image of the orange buoy as I rounded it. I’ll also remember getting caught in the rain–suddenly the clouds unzipped–and walking my bike in the downpour to the awning at Nokomis Beach coffee then calling superhero Scott and waiting for him to drive over and pick me up.

july 7/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 2 mile race
lake nokomis
59 minutes/1st place 35+

Today I swam in my first open swim race. And I won for my age group. So cool! I can’t quite express how proud I am of myself. Not so much because I won–which is great–but because I did the race at all. Since I was diagnosed with a macular degenerative eye disease 2 years ago, I’ve been nervous to do an open swim race. Whole sections of my central vision are gone and I have a lot of trouble sighting the buoys. I was worried I might get too far off course. No problem today. Lots of other swimmers around me for the first section. Then, I swam behind another swimmer for the rest of the race so I didn’t have to worry about looking for the buoys. I tried to do an open swim race 2 years ago, right after my diagnosis, but it was too foggy and I was too overwhelmed by my new lack of vision. I tried again last year but a month before the race my kneecap displaced and I couldn’t walk without a brace for 2 months. Now, finally, after overcoming injury and my doubts about my very bad vision, I swam and loved it.

I got to swim all around the lake, not just across it. Past the little beach, the overlook on the small hill, the big bridge and the boats. Didn’t encounter any fish, but I did swim through some milfoil. Again, the water looked pea green. Don’t remember thinking about much except for staying close to the swimmer ahead of me.

july 5/RUNBIKESWIM

For some reason, I’m resisting writing in my log this week–maybe because I’m nervous about my 2 mile swim race on Saturday? Instead of forcing it, I’ll just add the distances in my log with no entries.

run: 3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south7
76 degrees

Needed the run to change my attitude after becoming too frustrated with the kids for not wanting to do their training this morning. Listening to Lizzo helped. She’s great. Do I remember anything from my run other than trying to stop thinking about how irritated I was by my kids? No.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Biked to the lake for open swim. A beautiful late afternoon. Now that I’m used to it, biking is much easier, although the early evening sun and the shade on the path made certain spots very difficult to see. Did I think about anything while I was biking other than trying to stay on the path and not run into anyone or anything? Not today.

swim: 2 miles/3 loops/3600 yards
lake nokomis

I feel ready for my swim race this Saturday even though I’m really scared. What if I can’t see the buoys? Trying to calm myself down by asking and answering, “what’s the worst that could happen?” If I can’t see the buoys, I can stop and look until I find them or wait until a lifeguard finds me and points me in the right direction. I’ll be fine. Even so, I’ll be happy when this race is over. It’s been stressing me out. Today I looked down at the water below me and I’ve decided it looks pea green, almost like pea soup. I don’t like pea soup but I don’t mind it as the color of the lake water. Noticed lots of planes flying above me. Rarely was able to see the orange buoys, but that didn’t stop me from staying on course. Felt the best in my third and final loop after I had already been swimming for 45 minutes.
.

june 29/RUNSWIM

run: 2.15 miles
87 degrees/ dew point: 75!
lake nokomis

Even though it’s really hot and the dew point is ridiculous, I ran around the lake on my birthday. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad and I went much faster than I usually do. Listened to a new mini-playlist with a few songs from Lizzo that made me smile, some Courtney Barnett, Lorde, Prince, Cream and Corinne Bailey Rae.  Ran over the bridge and passed a bunch of cars at a standstill because of the light. Saw a few other runners and not too many walkers. Haven’t seen any lone bright yellow paddle boat in a while.

swim: .2 miles/350 years
big beach, lake nokomis

Okay, I didn’t swim much–only one loop around the white buoys off the big beach–but it was really choppy and I feel pretty sore from last night’s 2 miles. Still glad I did it. Don’t remember much about the swim except: the rough water pushing me into a pink buoy, being able to see the bottom of the lake in the shallow, swimming area, noticing a few sailboats way off in the distance, feeling my sore shoulder as my arm cut through the water, trying to work on pulling through the water with more power.

june 28/SWIM

2 miles/3600 yards/3 loops
87 degrees/windy/choppy water
lake nokomis open swim

Another 3 loops! I swam (mostly) straight and on the correct side of the orange buoys! I battled the waves and didn’t inhale too much water! I didn’t swallow any twigs or leaves or anything else! A great swim. Now, sitting on the couch, I am tired and my muscles ache in a way that I welcome. The ache of a full body effort. What do I remember about the swim: the choppy water crashing into me, trying to push me off course. The menacing sailboat that seemed to want to race across the course but never did. The lime green swim caps. Elbows bent at an angle, gently entering the water. The light, opaque water below me. The barely visible roof of the changing building at the big beach. Breathing every 5, then 3 and 4, then 6. A lifeguard, out on the course, blowing their whistle–was it at me? (no.)

june 24/BIKESWIMRUN

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Hot and sticky this morning. Slightly overcast. What do I remember from my bike ride? Not really anything except for that it felt good to be up and moving in the morning and biking over to open swim.

swim: 2 miles/3 loops/3600 yards
lake nokomis open swim

Yes! Another 3 loops. The first 600 yards was difficult. Hard to breathe–was it the sticky air? The water also felt slower–was that because it was warmer? These were the things I thought about as I swam, in-between focusing on my strokes and sighting the big orange buoys. I also thought about my strokes and how I was mixing it up. Sometimes I breathed every 5 strokes. Sometimes I would breathe after three then four on one side, then three and four on the other side. Seven. My favorite number. The floating dock is finally up by the little beach! I love that dock and swimming around it every loop. So glad it’s back.

Speaking of 7, I wrote a poem about 7 last year. Just like my breathing, the lines are 3 syllables then 4 syllables:

Lucky Number

I used to
wake up worried
too early
in the morning
to do a
thing about it
except be-
come more worried
I’d lay there,
anxieties
increasing
multiplying.
Then one day
I read something
that said not
to think about
anything
when you wake up
too early
at 2 am.
Try as hard
as you can to
not make plans
or process or
feel regret
about your life.
Clear your mind
distract yourself.
Count by 3s
or count by 9s
or count by
any number
as long as
it stops your thoughts.
Me—I like
to use sevens.
Three plus four
odd then even
trinity
earth wind fire
& water
magic mixed with
the mundane.
Not helpful if
you want some
resolution
this then that
on repeat—a
back and forth.
But pleasing to
my love of
balance not too
odd, not too
even just both
together.
Sevens work. I
stop thinking
worrying and
waiting for
sleep and it comes.

run: 2 miles, some walking, some running
training with son
mississippi river road path, south/north

The second day of training with my son. I can’t believe we was willing to go again! And he did the whole thing. Halfway through he started talking to me about the video game he’s playing (Rust) . He used to do that all the time when he was younger. So sweet to be able to do it again and to spend this time with him at one of my favorite places: the river. Before we started running I joked that we could probably get to see some surreys. We did: 3!

june 22/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

A beautiful morning for a bike ride to the lake. Mid 70s, clear. Not much wind. Every time I bike it gets a little easier to see and to navigate the path.

swim: 1400 yards/.8 mile
lake nokomis big beach

Swam just off the big beach this morning. 4 loops. Felt good, except for when my right leg got sore again. I wonder what the problem is? It’s funny how swimming across the lake no longer freaks me out but swimming off the big beach does. I keep imagining that a fish or something else is lurking by a white buoy, waiting to bite me or drag me under. There was a fishing boat just outside of the swimming area fishing for the whole time I was swimming. Towards the end of my swim I realized that there must be some decent fish nearby. Otherwise, why would they be fishing here? This unsettled me a little. It didn’t stop me from swimming but just made me nervous. A month ago, at my first swim here, the water was freakishly clear. No longer. Now it’s light brown murkiness. Occasionally I spot a branch from the watermilfoil growing up from the bottom. Nearing the fishing boat, I heard a buzz. Were they using something to try and detect fish? It was nice to be in the lake but it is harder to stay motivated when I’m not swimming across the lake–it’s so much easier to stop when you’re not far from the shore.

june 21/RUNSWIM

run: 2 miles, some running, some walking
first training session with son
mississippi river road path, north/south

This morning I ran with my son who is exactly three years older than his sister. I am amazed and excited that he’s willing to try running this summer. We didn’t talk that much but it was fun to be with him on the path. He usually spends most of his time in his room. What do I remember from our run? Allison, the voice on the couch25k app telling us to “run!”–which was the inspiration for the title of this blog. She says it so urgently and in such a prim, British accent that is always makes me laugh. It made my son laugh too.

swim: 3600 yards/2 miles/3 loops
lake nokomis

I did it! 3 loops. It took me an hour. I only stopped after each loop for less than a minute. Swimming in the 2 mile race will be a challenge in a few weeks. Swimming across the lake is an other worldly experience. Partly because I am in the water, unable to see or hear or feel much. But also because I’m so focused on getting across the lake. I don’t think about too much. I count the number of strokes I’m taking before I breathe. I constantly check for the big orange buoys or other swimmers or landmarks on the shore. Seeing the orange buoys is difficult, especially coming back to the big beach. Blinded by the sun, I rarely see more than the hint of orange or the vague sense of a looming triangle. It’s amazing how little I need to see to guide me. What did I notice on my swim? The water was brown and opaque. A few planes were flying overhead. The lifeguards had their kayaks set up too close to the buoys. My left leg started to hurt and so did my neck. The water was fairly calm and cold.

june 17/RUNSWIM

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

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

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

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

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

Every 5
Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis

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

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

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

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

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