Today on my rest day, I updated my original training plan because it had a lot of errors. How had I not seen until yesterday that I had extra weeks in May and had added in two weeks of May 12? I also worked on two versions of a description of one of my classic running routes. One is a pithy and “straight” version, the other a creative story/set of directions for running the route:
FORD LOOP/5 MILES, 2 Versions
Mississippi River road path south, Minneapolis side /Ford Parkway Bridge/Mississippi River road path north, St Paul side /Lake Street bridge/ Mississippi River road path south
- Go south on the west mississippi river road for almost a mile and a half.
- Look for the shared path that travels up through the trees, just past Lock and Dam No. 1 and take it. Don’t worry it’s only a short hill and no one is waiting to jump out from the trees at you.
- Run on the bridge, over the mississippi and towards Highland Park in St. Paul.
- Either count the 101 concrete posts on the bridge as you run, like Scott does, or check the trees lining the river bank to see if they’ve reached their full color yet, like I do.
- At the end of the bridge, make a wide left and turn down the hill towards the east mississippi river road.
- Before crossing the river road to the path, check for cars. Don’t trust that car that has it’s signal on, it’s not actually turning left.
- Travel up the river, on the shared and sometimes precariously sloping path.
- Think happy thoughts as you hope your left knee doesn’t start hurting from the uneven grade.
- Watch out for the spazzy dog that lunges at you near the parking lot for the overlook. It looks like it could bite.
- Think about stopping to walk, but don’t, as you approach Stanford Avenue.
- Take the dirt path up above, instead of following the paved path as it dips down and slants precariously to the right. Just barely avoid tripping over the stone right before the dirt path converges with the paved path again even though you know it’s there and you’ve tripped over it before and reminded yourself repeatedly NOT to trip over it and hurt your foot like the olympic marathoner Deena Castor did in the documentary about marathons that you watched, when she stepped wrong on a pine cone in her backyard and had to run in the water for months and do tons of physical therapy.
- Brace yourself for the short but super steep hill near summit that you’re about to run up. Remind myself that “you can do this!!” But don’t get too distracted by pumping yourself up or you’ll step down wrong and hard on your right foot when you forget to veer to the left as the path slopes down by the entrance to the parking lot.
- At first, try to forget that you’re running up a steep hill. When that doesn’t work, tell yourself that it will all be over soon. And, when that doesn’t work, just grit your teeth, suck it up and focus on your breathing.
- Curve around the top of the hill on the weird part of the path where it follows the sharp bend in the river and triumphantly make your way down the other side, glancing at the faces of the runners struggling up on this side. Watch out for that nasty pothole and the point, at the bottom of the hill, when there’s a 3-4 inch drop-off, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to fuck up your ankle for weeks.
- Even though you used to cross over the river road and take the sidewalk up to the Lake Street bridge because it’s easier, run up the steps at the bottom of the bridge because you don’t want to get hit and killed by a distracted driver that doesn’t see you crossing in the pedestrian crosswalk, like the runner who was killed a few months ago.
- Reach the top of the steps and check to see if the eagle is perched on the top branch of the dead tree by the river again, like it used to be last year. It’s not. Will it ever come back?
- Head across the bridge, spending several minutes debating how you will handle the pedestrians you are slowly approaching who are cluelessly taking up the entire path: should you yell loudly “EXCUSE ME!” or, a little less forcefully, “on your left” or just clear your throat repeatedly?
- Opt for “EXCUSE ME!” and chuckle to yourself as the most clueless pedestrian jumps and awkwardly moves out of the way as you run by.
- Turn down towards the west river road, narrowly avoiding the large group of bikers biking up the sidewalk.
- Cross over and run on the path, towards home. The final stretch!
- Listen for the disembodied voices of those below you. Where are they? On the river, rowing? Hidden somewhere in the woods? Laughing on the river bank? You’ll never know.
- As the walking path nears one of your favorite parts of the path, by the old stone steps that take you down to the sandy beach on the river, check the progress of the leaves: how many are orange? are yellow? are red? are left on the trees?
- End at the 36th street parking lot.