oct 30/3.85 MILES

37 degrees
wind: 16 mph
mississippi river road path, north

Ran for 35 minutes and 3.85 miles without stopping. Negative split each mile. My knee was sore for the first half, but it mostly felt okay. It was windy and cool with some light drizzle/snow. Checked on the progress of the leaves on my favorite part of the gorge: all gone. Now I can see the slope down to the forest floor and the Mississippi.

Thinking again about routine, rituals and habits and what is/isn’t sacred about running and preparing for running. Wrote a poem in homage to Craig Arnold’s Mediation on a Grapefruit. Towards the end of the poem he writes:

a discipline
precisely pointless       a devout
involvement of the hands and senses
a pause     a little emptiness

My homage is about coffee brewing, an essential part of my pre-race routine/ritual. note: I can’t figure out how to the spacing here. It’s supposed to have more, like Arnold’s poem.

Meditation on the Smell of Coffee Brewing

To wake when nothing is possible
before the unexpected joys of the day
have saved me
To come to the kitchen
and pull out a thin paper basket
before breakfast
To open the metal tin lid sounding
like cymbals being lightly struck
by a drum stick
metallic and sharp as a cold winter morning
To tip
each rich brown scoop into the filter
not that carefully sometimes spilling
several darkly fragrant grounds
To pour each cup of water
into a cheap black coffee maker
the water settling until the whole
carafe is emptied
and only then to breathe and to brew
who knew
this habit
seemingly not the point a repeated
performance ending with the nose
a deep inhale with no substance

each morning harder to live within
each morning harder to live without

and

Meditation on a running shoe

To wake when nothing is possible
before my morning run
has saved me
To go to the front room
and find my electric blue wings
after breakfast
To take them out of the shoe rack
light and featherless        with orange swishes
swirling on the side
vibrant and zesty as citrus
To slide
each foot in, first right then left
so mindfully     without making
my socks bunch up.
To tie each lace
into big, loopy knots
then tuck the loops    until the whole
shoelace is protected
and only then to run
more than fun
a ritual
reverently practical       a sacred
preparation for the body and spirit
a moment      a little attention

each morning more necessary to live within
each morning more impossible to live without

oct 27/3.1 MILES

32 degrees
Halloween 5K
Riverfront Minneapolis

I raced a 5K! I raced a 5K! And I didn’t stop or feel much pain. Only the second time I’ve run that much without stopping in 2 months. It wasn’t fast, but it felt good and Scott and I did negative splits on each mile. Many people were dressed up because it was a Halloween race. I saw 2 Mr. Incredibles, a bunch of Waldos, a Gilligan, a few Wonder Women, Thomas the Train, the Doodlebops, a bright blue fuzzy monster with fabulous fuzzy legwarmers, a donut, a reindeer, a mother and son as black and white striped robbers, Dwight from The Office, a few Minnie Mouses and Cruella deVille. That’s all I can remember. No zombies. No vampires. No ghosts. No homicidal maniacs. And no witches. Why no witches? Well, I did hear someone say they saw Hermione, but that doesn’t count. Scott and I agreed that this 5K was one of the easiest we’ve ever run.

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oct 25/3.3 MILES

41 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

My first day of running non-stop for 30 minutes! Not too bad, but I can tell that I need some more training before I’m back to my pre-injury endurance. Ran with headphones to forget about difficult mornings with middle-schoolers so I didn’t pay attention to much around me. I did notice that the leaves on the welcoming oaks are all gone and that I can see all the way to the river–sparkling in the sun–near the floodplain forest. Late fall is my favorite time of year. Seeing St. Paul on the other side of the river. Almost bare branches mixed with neon orange. The woods with its bones beginning to show. Colder air. Snow coming soon. Winter running!

oct 22/3.35 MILES

50 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

My last recovery run combining walking and running. Next week, I start running for 30 minutes without stopping! The light this morning was really cool. The entire neighborhood glowed with orange and gold and red. We are just past peak color season. I didn’t look down to check the progress of the leaves on my favorite part of the gorge because I was too busy making sure that I didn’t slip on the wet leaves or on an acorn shell hidden under them. Realized after finishing my run, while I was walking back home, that I had put my running pants on inside out. Oh well.

Here are a lune, a tanka and a haiku about my run today:

a city block
illuminated:
red gold orange.

Red, gold and orange leaves are so pretty on a tree but not on the path; they conceal debris that lies in wait, ready to twist knees.

blue pants, inside out
only noticed at the end
much too late to care.

oct 19/3.1 MILES

43 degrees
shirley theel memorial park/austin, mn

A 5K! 1 minute walking, 4 minutes running, six times. Scott and I ran it together. Felt pretty good. My knee feels okay. Looking forward to being finished with the injury recovery plan and just being able to run. Maybe then I can pay attention to things other than how my knee feels, what my pace is, when I stop walking, when I start running.

This week’s poetry assignment is haikus. Thought I’d try to do some breathing/running ones.

1.
jagged breaths
as running begins
crisp cold air.

2.
hard to speak
legs start to warm up
air is cool.

3.
nose drips
eyes weep in the wind
hood stays up

4.
zipped jacket
muscles loosen up
breathing slows

5.
longer strides
longer sentences
said out loud.

6.
unzipped shirt
hood comes off. bare skin
is exposed.

7.
a warm trunk
bent slightly foward
hands relaxed.

8.
In 2 3
out 2. rhythmic breaths
rapid pulse

9.
flashing sun
pulses through pine trees
steady feet

10.
quicker steps
sweat pools at tip of
ponytail

11.
six loops run
warmer body and
warmer air

——

12.
to run is
to stop thinking and
start flying

13.
when running
never trust a path
without trees

oct 16/3 MILES

41 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

I made it past the railroad trestle, just as I knew I would. 3 miles today! 1.5 minutes of walking then 3.5 minutes of running, six times. Didn’t listen to headphones, but wished I did. All the cars sounded like planes taking off as they passed and there was a low, insistent hum the whole time I was running. Where was the wind? I’m not sure.

Before running, I worked on a few poems/poem fragments about words. So fun!

A word walk

Yesterday
I took my words for a walk.
Down the block
to the river gorge
through the oak savanna
on the trail that hovers above the mississippi
I didn’t know I was taking them,
I thought they’d stayed behind
still in bed
but
there they were
just sitting on my tongue
waiting to be spoken
into my phone
into the air
onto a page somewhere.
Today
i think
I’ll take them
for a run
but
will they come?

A Walk in the Words

for Marie Howe.

Walking into words
isn’t the same as
walking in the woods
but sometimes
they can be done
at the same time and
sometimes
they help each other:
the words bring the woods or
the woods bring the words.
Stepping into the floodplain forest
maples and oaks and aspens towering
I encounter
words falling as gently as leaves.
words scattered on the path
words waiting,
just behind a tree
to jump out
and surprise me
with their clarity.
How right they feel!
How much they understand!
How little I knew before they came!

Difference between words and thoughts

I.
Are thoughts just words waiting to happen?
Words not yet woken up?
Words that want desperately to be
out there in the world
yet can’t quite get there
so they wander and wander and if and
when they aren’t used
wilt or
weep like that willow near the walking path?

II.
Why is it that some thoughts seem so brilliant
until they meet words?
Realizing only then
that they mean nothing
or not yet something
and not nearly enough to be worthy of words?

III.
How do you keep a thought from running away?
Grab a stick and etch it in your hand (Jamie Quatro)?
Put it on a piece of paper and pin it to your clothes (Jonathan Edwards)?
Jot it down in a small notebook that fits in your pocket (Mary Oliver)?
Speak it into your smart phone?
Why not let it run away
instead of trapping it in words.
You might be able follow it
into the woods or
over the creek or
down by the river or
across the bridge.

oct 13/2.9 MILES

51 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

The end of week 2 out of 4 for my injury recovery plan. Halfway done. I end this plan with a 5k race right before Halloween. Today I walked 2 minutes and ran 3, six times. More running than walking! Decided to listen to my playlist instead of the wind. I don’t remember much about my running except for that it wasn’t too bad. I almost made it to the railroad trestle at the greenway but not quite. I briefly considered just running the extra 15 seconds to reach it, but then decided not to push it. I’ll make it there and probably much farther on Monday when I run 3.5 minutes and walk 1.5.

The light this morning was strange. At first, a bright sunny beaut of a morning. All glowing trees and crisp autumn air. Then, when I wasn’t paying attention, the sun left. It was much darker. Gray instead of blue. Then, suddenly, it was bright again. This happened several times. Bright blue. Dull gray. On repeat.

 

 

oct 11/2.7 MILES

45 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

Colder this morning. I actually wore gloves and 2 long shirts. Winter running is coming!! Run recovery plan for today was: walk 2.5/run 2.5 X 6. My knee felt a little sore by the end but not after I was done.

Walked through the oaks between 36th and 35th at the start of the workout. They are more and less golden everyday. More because the leaves continue to transform from green to gold and less because the leaves are starting to fall to the ground. Realized yesterday that this group of oaks is an example of the “goldengrove unleaving” that Gerard Manly Hopkins writes about in “Spring and Fall.” Learned that a grove is “a small group of trees with little or no undergrowth.”

On another walk break noticed three oaks on alternating sides of the path. The first oak, on my left, had a trunk that leaned slightly, almost as if it were trying to talk to the second oak, further ahead on my right, that had two branches sticking out on either side of its very straight trunk, both branches extended horizontally and then bent up. This tree looked like it was shrugging. I can’t remember what the third oak, on my left again, looked like.

correction: Walked by the three trees again. The third one is on the same side as the second one and has a porta potty chained to it.

I wrote a poem about the trees that I see while I run.

oct 9/2.5 MILES

52 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

52 degrees! Sunny! Radiant. So many yellow trees, some gold, some paler yellow. A red tree near the lake street bridge. I planned to run with my playlist again but when I started running, it felt wrong to shut out the wind and the crunching leaves and the cars gently driving by. So I took off my headphones. Today’s injury recovery run was walk 3 minutes/run 2 minutes X 6. My knee felt a little sore during the last three runs, but not too bad.

3 versions of the wind I heard today

  • shimmering (or sparkling, not whispering) wind that passes by, or that you pass through, almost like a curtain
  • wind that sounds like the gentle roll of boiling water
  • the wind that picks up the dead leaves on the path and swirls them around, lightly, not vigorously

oct 6/2.3 MILES

71 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

Week one of returning to running complete! Today I walked 3.5 minutes/ran 1.5 minutes 6 times. I ran longer and a little faster. And it felt okay. Now, hours later, my knee still feels fine. Very exciting!

The trees just above the gorge are turning from lime green to lemon yellow–or is it more of a banana yellow? Whatever it is, it’s definitely not golden or fiery red or orange. The other day, I started thinking about how much of the poetry I’ve read about fall, which is not that much, talks about red leaves or gold/yellow ones, but rarely orange. Why is that?

For the Orange Leaves that have been Overlooked

I’ve read many lines
about fiery red leaves
and glowing golden ones
but where is the poetry for leaves that are orange?
Is it because of the sound?
Red has a punch
yellow is mellow
and gold is bright, brassy, bold!
But orange just splats on the page,
plops off the tongue.
Maybe we should talk about
leaves of vermillion
or leaves of persimmon
or marmalade leaves
or leaves that glow like a neon crayon?

oct 4/2.15 MILES

48 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

Sunny. Crisp. Cool. Great fall weather for running! This morning I ran a little more, walked a little less. 4 minutes of walking, 1 minute of running, six times. Felt okay. I listened to my playlist and didn’t pay attention to much other than the time, making sure I didn’t miss my minute of running or run too much.

Here’s what I remember:

  • Walking under the oak? trees that line the path between the 36th and 35th street parking lots. Their gnarled branches stretching horizontally.
  • Encountering the daily walker and wondering if he recognized me after my 2 month absence.
  • Two runners passing me while I was walking, one right before the lake street bridge, one just above the floodplain forest, on my favorite part of the path, the part where I always check the progress of the leaves. Both had graceful, relaxed gaits.
  • Seeing one of those runners run off the path onto the grass to avoid two path-hogging walkers. Wondering if my last running minute would start soon and then imaging running up behind the walkers, stepping off onto the grass, and displacing my kneecap again.
  • Seeing lots of yellow trees, a few red, a few orange.
  • Not encountering any dogs and very few walkers.

I’m working on a collage of writings about “the body electric” that might include an homage (of sorts) poem to the final part of Walt Whitman’s “I sing the body electric” from Leaves of Grass. Here’s what I have so far:

The Parts and Poems of the Body

I. The Knee

Bones, joints, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles,
fibrous thickenings and fluid-filed capsules and sacs
make locomotion possible.

The femur, patella and tibia move
The fibula bears weight.

The tibiofemoral joint bends
the patellofemoral joint grooves
the rings of Meniscus absorb
the smooth white tissue of the articular cartilage transfers
loads of tremendous force.

The cruciate ligaments cross over each other
the collateral ligaments support
both link femur to tibia
the quadriceps tendon attaches
the quad muscles to the patella.

The quads, that four headed muscle of the femur, with its
vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedium
and rectus femoris bend and straighten.

The hamstrings, those string-like tendons in the hollow of the knee—
the semitendinosus, semimembranosus
and biceps femoris—extend and flex.

The adductor longus and the gracilis keep the runner upright
the beefy stomach of the leg, the gastrocnemius, points and lifts
the popliteus, devoted solely to the knee, rotates and unlocks
the Iliotibial band stabilizes and assists
the synovial fluid lubricates
and the bursae reduce friction.

O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say the soul of the runner is the knee!

oct 2/2 MILES

59 degrees
mississippi river road path, north

Running again! Well, mostly walking with a little bit of running too. Since I have only run once (and with a brace) in the past 2 months, I’m easing back into it with this plan. Today I walked for 4.5 minutes and ran for .5 minutes 6 times. It felt good to be running again. I was surprised by how fast 30 seconds went by. On Wednesday, I’ll walk 4, run 1 and Friday: walk 3, run 2.

As I read more poetry and experiment with my own poems, I’m thinking about line breaks. I found a useful exercise in which you take the same poem and arrange the line breaks differently depending on 6 Ss: speed, sound, syntax, surprise, sense, and space. I applied it to a poem I wrote about the body a few months back. Here’s the original poem:

The body is a machine.
Not the body as machine
or the body is like a machine
or the body is only a machine.
But, the body is a machine.
An efficient machine,
capturing energy, consuming minerals, converting air into breath.
The body is an intricate machine,
made up of muscles and tendons
and ligaments and joints and bones
that work together in the complex process of locomotion.
The body is a marvelous machine,
containing strange creatures
with multiple heads and fantastical names.
The body is a beautiful machine,
composed of grace and exuberance and joy.
The body is a powerful machine,
able to endure intense pain and absorb tremendous force.
The body is a delicate and temperamental machine;
it can shut down from overuse, lack of use or repeated abuse.

And, here’s a version where I took the best parts of each “s” attempt:

The body is a machine.
Not as
is like
is only
but is

An efficient machine,
capturing energy,
consuming minerals,
converting air into breath.

An intricate machine,
containing muscles and tendons
and ligaments and joints and bones
and organs and arteries and veins
and fluids and systems that work together
in the complex process
of locomotion.

A marvelous machine,
made up of strange creatures
with multiple heads
and melodious names.

A beautiful machine,
composed of grace
and exuberance
and joy.

A powerful machine,
able to endure
intense pain and
absorb
tremendous force.

And a delicate and temperamental machine
that can shut down from
overuse,
lack of use
repeated abuse.