feb 17/6.65

59 degrees
mississippi river road path/minnehaha creek path/lake nokomis

Record-breaking warm temperature + no calf pain + a run around Lake Nokomis = Joy

So much joy that I can almost forget about the puddle-covered paths and the super squishing mud that I had to run through and that left a cruddy residue in my socks as I unsuccessfully attempted to avoid soaking my shoes.

feb 16/REST

disclaimer: I’m actually writing this post on the 17th, but it’s about the 16th, so I posting it under that date. 

My calf started hurting yesterday, after my run. Good thing it’s a rest day today so I don’t have to deliberate over whether or not to skip a run. In honor (?) of my sore calf, I’m devoting this post to stories/ideas/fragments of thought about the calf.

one: Thomas Gardner in Poverty Creek Journal

My right calf is still a little stiff from where I straned it last week doing mile repeats in the cold. Just enough to not let me out of my body (3)

and

Struggling with my calf again this morning. A dull ache about half a mile into the run, as if my body were no longer my own, no longer transparent. Each step is a reminder of some uneasiness I can’t quite locate (8).

two: stretching advice from Runner’s World

Before my left calf started hurting, I had been concerned about my left foot. It didn’t really hurt; it just felt weird. Are the pains connected? Probably. Better do these stretches so I can put my best foot forward.

  • Straight-leg calf stretch
  • Bent-leg calf stretch
  • Calf rolling
  • Foot extensions
  • Eccentric calf raises
  • Jump squats

three: a charlie horse from hell, a ghost story

At the end of a 2 mile swim, back and forth across Lake Nokomis, I placed my right foot down in the shallow water and experienced a charlie horse from hell. My right calf knotted up so painfully that I began to yell out. I dropped down in the water, trying not to panic, and frantically shook my leg, hoping to loosen the knot. It didn’t take that long to loosen it, but long enough to disorient me so much that I dropped (and lost) my favorite goggles, long enough to make my calf ache for weeks and not feel quite right for a year and long enough to make me feel perpetually terrified of my calf and the excruciating pain it could cause.

That calf pain still haunts me. I’m not really sure how much pain I can take; I did give birth to both of my kids without any drugs so I must be able to tolerate a reasonable amount. But I’m scared of that pain. The threat of it often hovers there, subtly shaping my workouts. Whenever my calf feels strange, during a swim across the lake or while doing a hard run, I wonder, is it coming for me again?

 

feb 15/5.3 MILES

23 degrees/feels like 15
mississippi river road path

3 stories about the sun

one

The sun was bright today. So bright that as I ran away from it, towards the big hill on Franklin which is 1/2 mile from the bottom to the top (I measured it today), it cast my shadow and I was able to watch myself running. Which Sara-self was this runner just ahead of me? Was it Joyce Carol Oates’ “ghost-self” from To Invigorate Literary Mind, Invigorate Literary Feet, leading me to imagine new worlds and new stories and new ways of being?

two

 At the bottom of the big hill, directly facing the sun, I fumbled with my sunglasses before beginning my 1/2 mile climb. The glare, combined with the fog that had already accumulated on the glasses, blinded me and as I focused on the effort of running up the hill, I was transported to some other existence, almost floating above time and space, that cars and other runners couldn’t access.

three

 Running on the bluff, above the river, I spotted the sun shimmering on the water. It remained always just ahead of me, no matter how fast I ran, leading me to the parking lot where I end most of my runs.

feb 14/XT

70 degrees
road bike on stand, the front room

Another 30 minutes on the bike in the front room. I watched the Women’s Tri at the Rio Olympics while I pedaled. So awesome. I’ll never forget watching it live (at least I think it was live) when Gwen Jorgensen won. Maybe because she lives in St. Paul or because she seems to have a great combination of humility, dedication and talent or because it’s satisfying to watch someone consistently succeed, I had become invested in her and really wanted her to win.

I was into watching that race, totally lost in the drama of her battle with Nicola Sprig during the bike and run. When I wasn’t chanting very loudly,  “Go Gwen! Go Gwen!,” I was yelling race updates to anyone else in the house, freaking them out with my intense declarations, “SHE’S IN SECOND PLACE ON THE BIKE!” or “SPRIG IS MESSING WITH HER ON THE RUN” or “SHE’S PULLING AWAY! SHE’S GOING TO WIN!!” When she actually won and broke down at the finish line, utterly undone by joy (and probably relief), I broke down too and started crying. And, unlike what I usually do, I didn’t try to stop or hide my tears.

My reaction to Jorgensen winning wasn’t just because I was happy she had won. I cried because I was moved and inspired by her effort, her dedication and her belief in herself. I cried because I was happy that she was able to achieve her goal and that I could bear witness to the moment she fully realized that she had. I cried because it had been a rough year– I had just found out that I had a degenerative eye disease that would make doing triathlons difficult and potentially too dangerous–and I needed to see her succeed. And I cried because the sappy shit gets me every time.

feb 13/3.43 MILES

43 degrees
50th street/minnehaha parkway/ford bridge/mississppi river road

Ran a little less today. I’m tired after running a 5K race and 8.6 miles back to back. Also, the city of minneapolis is doing construction (until next fall. ugh!) that screws up my regular route and I’m experimenting with different routes to run; the one I tried today was less than 4 miles.

This week I’m reading about writers who run. Lots of stuff to think about. In an article for The Atlantic, Nick Ripatrazone writes: “each individual run has its own narrative, with twists and turns and strains.”

So, what was the story of today’s run? Running on legs that are tired from two tough running days and with feet that are wet from failed attempts at dodging the big puddles that have replaced the mounds of snow and chunks of ice on this unusually warm february afternoon, I try to listen to an “on being” podcast about love and relationships but am distracted by other thoughts: am I going too fast? why does this seem harder than yesterday? will this route add up to 4 miles? what should I have for lunch? are my feet just sore or something more?

feb 12/8.6 MILES

30 degrees
ford bridge and franklin bridge loops
17 mph wind

Not too bad of a run while it was happening, but I’m wiped out now that I’m done. I ran the first few miles a little faster than I should. I need to work on (almost) always starting slow in the early miles.

Towards the end of the run, felt like I was floating just above the path. Not fully outside of my body, but not quite in it either.

Almost forgot to write about the dogs:

  • Encountered at least three dogs, in two different locations, roaming–more like bounding–free, with no owners in sight
  • Witnessed two different dogs spazzing out and trying to bolt away from their owners, who were frantically trying to hold on to their leashes and calm the dogs down

Was it the wind and slightly warmer weather that caused such dog spazziness?

feb 11/RACE

Valentine’s Day 5K
Lake Nokomis
25:25 (8:11 pace)

Excellent race. Not my fastest time ever, but solid. My goals were to run each mile faster than the last, to hit about an 8:15 pace, to not stop and walk at all and to have fun and enjoy the experience. I achieved all of those goals and ran the entire race with Scott. It’s a great start to my ultra summit challenge (5K in feb, 10 mile in march, 13.1 in july, 26.2 in oct). I’m relieved to know that even though I’ve been running almost all of my miles about 90 seconds slower in training, I can still go faster when I need/want to.

Reflections in List Form

  • I only used the porta potty once and there was no line!
  • The last 20 minutes before the start of the race seemed to take forever, but it wasn’t cold, so I can’t bitch about it…too much.
  • Only saw 1 or 2 people wearing shorts.
  • Costumes observed: couple dressed up as Wall-e and Eve, several women wearing tutus and a woman in Paul Frank footie pajamas.
  • Youngest runner: 10 or 11 year old boy who also had an ultra summit race bib, which means he’s running the marathon. Can you run the marathon when you’re only 11? What a bad ass.
  • Favorite announcer dude, who announces almost all of the races…running and triathlon…that I’ve done (Galen), wasn’t there.
  • The guy who sang “The Star Bangled Banner” was good–nice voice and no crazy runs. My favorite version of the National Anthem was before the Get in Gear 10K in 2015: a brass quartet from Minnesota Orchestra. As the runners began the race, they also played the “William Tell Overture.”
  • Almost 2000 runners, but it didn’t seem crowded.
  • Most annoying conversation overheard: [two runners, having a casual conversation, running about an 8 minute pace] Runner 1: “So how long have you been running now?” Runner 2: “Oh, this is my first time running this distance. I’ve only been running 3 times a week for about 6 months.” Actually, that conversation was not that annoying. It was only annoying when I thought he said 2 months, but I had misheard him, according to Scott. 
  • Mile 1: 8:22 pace. Most distinctive memory: Hearing Jessie J’s “Bang Bang” song as we ran by the big beach at Lake Nokomis and feeling compelled to explain to Scott who was singing. Why? Not sure.
  • Mile 2: 8:16 pace. Most distinctive memory: Asking Scott if we were at 2 miles and not feeling any panic when we answered, “no, just one and a half.”
  • Mile 3: 7:59 pace. Most distinctive memory: Observing another runner who seemed to be trying to race us, thinking that I didn’t care if she passed us and then realizing that I actually did when we passed her for good just before the 3 mile mark.
  • .1: 6:48 pace. Most distinctive memory: Feeling like I was going to hyperventilate when I stopped running at the finish unless I kept walking, so walked in circles while waiting to get my medal, looking like a fool or a spaz or both.
  • Post race food: water bottle, peanut butter stuffed chocolate cliff bar, chips and sugar cookie for daughter.

25:25. #vday5k #ultrasummitchallenge

A photo posted by Scott Anderson 📎 (@room34) on

feb 9/5.4 MILES

15 degrees/feels like 5
minnehaha parkway/ford bridge/mississippi river road path (st. paul side)/lake street bridge/mississippi river road path (minneapolis side)

Cold today, warm tomorrow. A temperature jump of about 30 degrees. Strange weather. Bundled up for the run with 2 pairs of running tights, 1 long sleeve shirt, 3! jackets (one which is way too big for me), 2 pairs of gloves, 1 pair of sunglasses, 1 stocking cap, a buff and a hood. Overkill? Perhaps.

Plus my headphones, tucked away under my hood, with my running playlist (somewhat) softly playing. All of that made me feel like I was not quite in the world, running through a haze of very cold air and too bright sky while listening to Barry Manilow congratulate himself for making it through the rain. I like that feeling. And I liked my run. I wasn’t even bothered by the hill on the St. Paul side just after Summit avenue. I used to dread that hill.

 

feb 7/XT

70 degrees
road bike on stand, the front room

Watched two thirds of the 2016 Island House Tri on YouTube while I biked for 30 minutes. Fun to watch Gwen Jorgensen racing (and winning) just a week before competing in the NYC Marathon. Wow. She’s amazing.

20 degrees
longfellow neighborhood
freezing rain

Took the dog (Delia, aka “dealz”) out for a walk this morning. It didn’t feel too cold and it was nice to be outside, moving slowly (very slowly, so I wouldn’t slip. think I might want to get some yaktrax). I don’t get too contemplative when I’m running, but I do when I’m walking. Nice. Walking past a yard I heard and then saw something rustling. Sensed that it was too big to be a squirrel. After a second (and third) glance realized it was a possum. Wow. I’ll add that to the list of things I’ve seen just a few blocks from our house, which is in the middle of the city.

list! critters spotted by/near the mississippi river

  • fox
  • coyote
  • wild turkeys (rafter of them!)
  • beaver
  • muskrat
  • possum
  • raccoon

What’s next? Hopefully not a bear. I’d rather not see a bear.