march 19/REST

It’s the day after the race and I’m resting my legs. I’m a bit sore, but not too bad. Just started an online poetry class about Bernadette Mayer and her list of experiments (Please Add this to the List). Really cool. I’m thinking about trying to write about running for my poetry experiments. In a post for class I wrote the following:

In the editor’s note it’s mentioned that Mayer writes hypnogogic poems. I looked up the word and found the definition (a state between waking and sleeping, when drowsy) and an interview with Mayer about how, after suffering a stroke, she experimented with using a tape recorder to record her thoughts in this drowsy/dreamy state. So cool. Currently, I’m writing about running and I’d like to experiment with ways to express the dreamlike state I sometimes enter during long runs.

march 18/RACE

Hot Dash 10 Mile
Minneapolis
1:29:04 (8:55 pace)

A great race. Well organized. Decent weather (a bit chilly and windy, but no snow or ice). Challenging, but interesting course (tons of hills). I achieved all of my goals: running all the hills, not walking and negative splitting the second five miles. Perhaps the best thing about this race was that my husband Scott and I were able to run it together, which is a big deal because we’ve never run more than 5 miles together. In the past I’ve been too fast for him. But since I slowed down a bit to build up strength and endurance, we’re more evenly matched. Maybe we’ll run the marathon together?

Before the Race

#hotdash #hotdash10mile @twincitiesinmotion

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During the Race

Crossing the finish line at yesterday’s #hotdash10mile with @undisciplined right behind me.

A post shared by Scott Anderson 📎 (@room34) on


After the Race

Done! 1:29:05ish. Ran pretty much the whole thing together. #hotdash #hotdash10mile @twincitiesinmotion

A post shared by Scott Anderson 📎 (@room34) on

march 16/REST

I’m resting up today for the 10 mile run on Saturday. While I was walking to the studio, I listened to Krista Tippet’s On Being. This episode, How Trauma Lodges in the Body,  featured an interview with the psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. He’s particularly interested in bodywork and how it can help people with trauma recover. I was struck by his discussion of the disconnect between mind and body in the West.

the mind/body split

DR. VAN DER KOLK: But it’s true. Western culture is astoundingly disembodied and uniquely so. Because of my work, I’ve been to South Africa quite a few times and China and Japan and India. You see that we are much more disembodied. And the way I like to say is that we basically come from a post-alcoholic culture. People whose origins are in Northern Europe had only one way of treating distress. That’s namely with a bottle of alcohol.

North American culture continues to continue that notion. If you feel bad, just take a swig or take a pill. And the notion that you can do things to change the harmony inside of yourself is just not something that we teach in schools and in our culture, in our churches, in our religious practices. And of course, if you look at religions around the world, they always start with dancing, moving, singing…

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah. Crying, laughing.

DR. VAN DER KOLK: Physical experiences. And then the more respectable people become, the more stiff they become somehow.

Part of this running project and the development of one of my key running stories is the split between mind and body and how it works in my running, writing, thinking and being. I’m trying to develop a relationship between mind and body that doesn’t prioritize one over the other or understand them to be wholly separate and disconnected things. What could that relationship look like?

 

heart rate variability (hrv)

Also during the interview, they briefly mentioned the importance of a “robust heart rate variability.” What the hell is that, I wondered. So, I looked it up and found that it’s a measure of the time between heart beats and that it might be useful to track for improving your training. Now, I’m not trying to get too fiddly and overly complicated with my training. I don’t want to start tracking lots of different things, but I’m curious about HRV, mainly because my heart rate seems a little strange. The difference between a super easy run (166 BPM for 6 miles/avg. pace 9:43) and a decently hard run (180 BPM for 5K race/avg. pace 8:13) was not that much. Is that weird? Anyway, I’m just wondering how “robust” my hrv is.

Here’s an article that discusses HRV and its values for training and here’s an app for the iWatch that tracks your HRV.

march 15/6.1 MILES

28 degrees
mississippi river road path

Was only supposed to run 3 miles today, but decided to run a little extra. Wanted to do the Franklin hill one more time before my 10 mile race on Saturday, which, due to a recent course change, will include the monster hills that I’ve been running 3-4 times per week this winter. A few months ago, this course route would have freaked me out, but now it doesn’t bother me at all.

Ran without headphones again. So beautiful. Heard lots of birds. Thinking of trying to learn to identify different bird calls. While running and listening, tried to come up with words that could properly mimic the calls I was hearing. Now, writing this hours after the run, can’t remember the sounds or the words.

The river road is peaceful, but never completely quiet. It’s in the middle of Minneapolis and just across the river from St. Paul, so there’s a constant, underlying hum of city noise that you don’t so much hear as you feel deep in your core. I don’t mind that hum, but I miss my family’s farm in the remote UP Michigan, where it was always quiet and still. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to run up there, where there are few off-road paths, only dangerous shoulders, too close to recklessly fast drivers and to the edge of the woods, where black bears, stray dogs, foxes, cougars and who knows what else might lie in wait, ready to lunge at me as I run by. Though I would like to go back up there and sit in a field, breathing in the fresh air and listening to the silence.

Just read an essay applying Foucault’s theories on dominant discourses to self-narratives about long distance running. The author of the essay writes and then analyzes her own race report for The Big Sur Marathon. In her analysis, she discusses how she reinforces and subverts dominant discourses about femininity, the “ideal” body and running. I’m wondering: what are the dominant discourses in this story project?

What dominant discourses are present in my running?

  • time/speed, desire to achieve a PR, motivated by success as faster time
  • “true” running = no walking, walking = failure
  • self-surveillance and monitoring (bpm, pace, total miles in training)
  • run training = complicated combination of long runs, tempo runs, hill work, speed work, Yasso 800s, tapering, “core” work
  • running = overachieving + highly motivated and “Sucessful” person
  • value of running is being the fastest, or faster than most people, or the fastest you can possibly be
  • races are about PRs
  • excellent runners are disciplined
  • running = fancy and expensive gear

I am attempting to challenge, transform, unlearn, disrupt, rework and play with these dominant discourses. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.

march 14/XT

70 degrees
road bike on stand, front room

Finished watching Asics Running: Beat the Sun while biking for 30 minutes. I teared up when the racer whose wife had recently died finished his final run and was briefly interviewed. Losing a partner too soon seems to be a theme today. Before biking, I read about the artist/writer who died yesterday from ovarian cancer, only days after her essay, You May Want to Marry My Husband, was published in the New York Times. So sad. Looking at her work, especially her experimental memoirs, and realizing how awesome she was and then finding out from my sister that she had known her, made her death seem more real and even more sad.

note from March 14, 2022: Many of the links below are no longer available.

Grief and Running, a list of random sources

march 13/4.1 MILES

26 degrees
mississippi river road path

It snowed last night. About 2-3 inches. The path was already almost all clear by the time I ran at 1 in the afternoon. My right thigh wasn’t hurting anymore, which is a relief. So glad I took yesterday off.

Earlier today, I read a blog post by an academic about her running. I particularly liked her discussion about discipline, although I want to find another word for it:

I remember telling R. years ago, in those early running days, that the key aspect of discipline for me was less about the need to make myself go do something than it was about the need to keep myself from doing too much. And so I’m trying to be very disciplined about things, to build strength slowly, to keep plodding forward, to focus on the years ahead rather than the miles right now.

march 12/REST

Today I was supposed to run 5 miles. I rested instead. My right thigh feels sore and I don’t want to risk injuring it.  It’s hard to rest. Much harder than getting out there and running. I’m proud of myself for having the strength to not run.

strength? courage? self-control? willpower? discipline?

What is it that I displayed when I was able to overcome my strong desire to run even though I knew I shouldn’t? Many would describe it as “self-control” or discipline, but I dislike these words; they’re too directed towards certain aims, like success!, achievement! and privileging the mind over the body. They’re also too motivated by squelching passion and enthusiasm. About denying your Self and what you want for the sake of your goals.  How could we understand not running as a form of (self) care instead of as discipline or willpower? Does this make sense to anyone other than me? Does it even make sense to me? I want to keep pushing at this idea of framing my training around care instead of achievement and Success!. 

 

 

march 11/10 MILES

13 degrees/feels like 1
mississippi river road path

My third week in a row doing 10 miles! Most of it felt good, except for the parts that didn’t. Just one part, actually. Coming back from downtown, running down the big hill, my right thigh started to hurt. It was hard to run. When I realized that I was clenching my fists and grimacing a bit, I decided to stop for 30 seconds to shake it out. Starting again, it felt much better for the remaining 4 miles.

According to the runner’s world pace tool, my long runs should be between 9:55 and 11:15. It’s a challenge to run that slow, about 90 seconds slower than I ‘m used to running.  But I did it today. I averaged a 10 minute pace.  I ignored the shadow Sara that wanted me to run faster so that I could stop being passed by other runners and so that I could finish the whole run in less than 90 minutes.

I ran without headphones. Heard lots of birds, cars, conversations, crunching shoes and barking dogs. Because I was running much slower, I barely heard my breath.

Some Distinctive Sounds, a list

  • At first the wind blowing gently through the dead leaves on the trees sounded like shimmering, but after listening to it for awhile, I decided it sounded more like static on a television.
  • The brittle twigs sticking out of the fence that I hit as I ran too close to the edge of the path to avoid the runners approaching me made a “boing” sound. I can’t remember what I thought they sounded like as I hit them, but now, reflecting on the run, I imagine they resembled a distant diving board, right after someone has jumped off of it.
  • Without headphones, I heard a lot more people saying “hi” to me. Had people I encountered in past runs said “hi” at the same rate, but I just didn’t notice because I was too distracted by Barry Manilow or Billy Joel or Krista Tippett or Michael Ian Black?

march 10/3 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Wouldn’t have minded running outside in the 10 degree weather, but it worked out better for my schedule to run at the y. I need to stop running there. I run faster than I want (or should) and my knees or feet or some other part of my body always hurts more after running 20 times around a track than running outside.

march 9/5.25 MILES

26 degrees
mississippi river road path

A wonderful run. The wind was down–only 8 or 9 mph instead of the 25+ it’s been at for the past 3 days. Wind like that scares me. The howling. The trees violently swaying. The dead leaves and random debris ominously swirling. A few years ago, I recall being outside at a park when it was really windy. It was sunny and otherwise a beautiful day, but the wind was making the big trees towering over the playground and my head tremble and shake.  I had this moment of panic where I suddenly felt trapped…on the planet. No place to hide or be safe from that wind or those trees. Overly dramatic, I suppose, but it was such a weird and intense feeling.

Felt really great during my run. Slowly built up my pace. Lifted my knees when I ran up the big Franklin hill and didn’t think I was going to die at the top of it. I guess running that hill 4 times a week is paying off.