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.

 

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 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 30/1.8 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track
+ 1250 yard swim

Swam in the pool before running. Felt pretty good. I like swimming outside in the lake much better. The air is nicer and the swim is more interesting. Plus, less flip turns and less opportunity to stop. Once you start swimming across the lake, you have to keep going. Even so, this swim was fine. Ran almost 2 miles on the track after the swim. That felt good too. I’m definitely running faster than last year, but I wasn’t paying attention to my pace. Found myself trying to keep an even distance behind a runner ahead of me who was going at a fast (for me) pace. His right arm moved back and forth awkwardly with each step and his whole head leaned slightly to the right. Does he know this happens? I wonder how I look to others as I run? Scott told me I look a bit stiff–almost like a machine. Do either of my legs swing out awkwardly? Are my feet in line? My head straight? Someday, I’ll have to get some video of myself running.

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 26/1.25 MILES

55 degrees
the dome in austin, mn

Was planning to run outside on the sidewalk but it was too wet and sloppy. So Scott and I went to the Dome–which is the Austin High School football field covered with a bubble–and ran a mile. Started out rocky with walkers walking in the opposite direction and getting in our way, but we worked it out.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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 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.

april 26/3 MILES

80 degrees
ywca track

Most likely the last indoor run until next October, which is fine with me. I don’t really enjoy running inside. It’s dry, often crowded and repetitive. Before running at the track, I said goodbye to both of my kids who were leaving on school trips: the 11 year-old went 90 miles north for two days, the 14 year old went across the Atlantic to Budapest, Vienna and Prague for 10 days. It’s exciting, strange and a little scary. I also spent time crafting a poem in terza rima form (3 line stanzas with an aba, bcb, cdc, ded, etc rhyming scheme) about the single most important running advice I’ve tried to take, and have to repeatedly remind myself about: slow down!

Running Advice

Here’s a trick: at first, run slow.
Don’t start with too much speed.
Try to find a rhythm, a flow.

Let your shadow take the lead.
You should really stay behind
because that is what you need.

If you ignore this advice, you may find
that your pulse will become elevated.
This can put you in a terrible bind.

Too much lactic acid is created.
Muscles ache and you’re exhausted.
Hitting the wall, all energy has faded.

At this point, you’ve lost it.
You feel very sick.
But, you know what’s caused it.

You took it out too quick,
and forgot what I suggested:
go slow, that’s the trick!

Even if you’re invested
in training for a PB,*
this method has been tested.

Running slower, experts agree,
is good for preventing pain
and avoiding injury.

Running creates a strain
on various parts of the body,
like your joints, the experts explain,

and the tendons surrounding your knee.
So much pressure with every stride!
But slowing down could be,

when properly applied,
a way to reduce some of these tensions.
How slow? Here’s a guide

to a theory that gets lots of mentions:
Take your 5K per mile pace
and add at least 90 seconds.

So since you run 8 minute miles in a race,
your training runs should be in the range
of 9:30, or even 10, in case

you decide that you want to change
your pace and make it even slower.
The slower, the better! Sounds strange,

but it might make your finish time lower.
That is if your running form stays efficient and neat
and you mix in a few tempo runs or

intervals or maybe some mile repeats.
But only once in a while.
Speed work is something you treat

as a small portion of your weekly miles.
Slow, easy runs should be the biggest part
of what makes up your training percentiles.

Take this advice that I impart:
Sara, remember to go slow!
Or don’t. But you’ll be finished before you start.

*PB = personal best/your fastest time recorded.

Note: I have added an edited version of this poem to the my running stories section.

april 15/2.5 MILES

80 degrees
ywca track

The rain and threat of thunderstorms forced Scott and I to go to the y track. It was hot and steamy and crowded. Even so, for the first twenty minutes it was great. I ran slow and did not care if other runners passed me. I wasn’t even bothered when Scott passed me.  I kept my heart rate down and felt relaxed. Then a class descended on the track and took over. They started with a burst of speed and then slowed way down, first to a jog and then to a walk. Dodging them required speeding up and weaving. My pulse rate soared and I decided to stop. Partly because I was going faster than I wanted, but mostly because I was annoyed that the spell of my happy, relaxed run had been broken. I was not annoyed with the class; they seemed new to running and a bit overwhelmed. I think I heard one class member call out to the other in fear and disbelief when her instructor told them to run a mile: “Is he fucking kidding me?”

Hover over the entry to uncover the erasure poem.