dec 14/4 MILES

20 degrees
90% snow covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

Didn’t wake up planning to run this morning but when I took the dog for a walk and felt how calm and clear it was outside, I decided I better go. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow morning? I’m glad I did. Not too cold. Not too windy. Not too icy. After the turn around on my way back south, it started to snow. Medium sized flakes that got trapped in my eyelashes. More pretty than annoying. Listened to my playlist. Looked at the river. Marveled at how the snow just keeps coming, slow and steady. A few flakes at a time. Adding up to white everywhere. No green grass until the spring.

Last Tuesday, when the snow first stayed on the ground, I wrote a brief poem:

It happened.
Not last night but
the night before.
The snow came to stay
setting up camp
on the lawn
until the spring.
Goodbye green grass!
Goodbye bare forest floor!
I’ll see you in March.

dec 13/4 MILES

26 degrees
100% snow covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

It snowed again this morning right before my run. A dusting. Will this be the theme for all of winter or just December? Will Minneapolis Parks ever come out and clear the path? It wasn’t too slippery, just uneven on the path. Made for slower running. Probably a better workout for my leg muscles?

On my walk home, after my run, heard the snow lightly crunching under my feet. Love that sound. I want to figure out how to describe it and how to track the different versions of the snow–wet snow, soft powder, under the wheels of cars, mid-run, while walking…

dec 11/4 MILES

34 degrees
snow-coverage on path: 100%
mississippi river road path, north/south

I wasn’t expecting too much snow on the ground this morning, but there it was, covering the deck and the roads and the sidewalk. And when the sun rose more flakes appeared. Big heavy, wet clumps. I decided I would run anyway. The river road path wasn’t too slippery, just a bit sloppy and difficult to run on. I think my legs will be a little more sore than usual later today.

Walking through the neighborhood on the way to the river my feet made a delightful double crunch noise caused by the extra wetness of the snow. There was the quick crunch of my foot lifting off of the snow and then the deep rumbling crunch of my constant weight on the path. So fun to hear. I wish I would have recorded it.

It was a good run with negative splits. I didn’t care how fast I went just how strong I felt. I chanted “raspberry blueberry strawberry chocolate” again. Almost felt like I was waltzing at one point.

Before and after but no so much during my run, I thought about Minneapolis snow and how it seems to accumulate steadily through frequent dustings instead of amassing suddenly through big storms. It grows my inches, not feet. I decided to write about these snow dusting, first in free verse and then in ghazal form.

a dusting

it doesn’t come all at once
just an inch here
half an inch there
waking up in the morning
to yet another dusting
not much but enough
to keep the ground covered
until spring
first soft and fluffy
then hard and crusty
a pure white blanket
then a dirty gray bank
relentlessly present
not obstinate or malevolent
just always there
always cold
always covering everything
until it warms
or gets shoveled
but then
always covering again
with a light dusting
there’s something exciting
about a big storm
6-8 inches
a foot expected!
but “less than half an inch”
a dusting
is boring
bland
nothing
to dream about
nothing to wake up to
in wonder
only something to shovel

dustings

Never all at once, first it’s bare—a dusting—
an inch here, half an inch there—dustings.

It happens in the middle of the night
then waking up to white everywhere—a dusting.

Weekly inches adding up to feet steadily
crystals congregate in cold air—dustings.

Soon molehills become mountains, blankets banks
snow comes daily without fanfare—a dusting.

These flakes never shouting, “Winter is here!”
always quietly declaring, “dustings.”

Week after week after week after month
so boring so constantly there—a dusting.

Minneapolis—why no grand celebration
no big party? So many small affairs—dustings!

dec 8/4 MILES

26 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/mississippi river road path, south

My first run of the (almost) winter on ice and snow. The river road path was about 80-85% covered with lots of ice patches. My feet slipped on the ice many times but it didn’t bother me. Just great to be outside breathing in the fresh cold air. Last winter I didn’t pay attention, but this year I’m looking down at the floodplain forest and noticing the snow covering the floor and looking out at the river, watching the water flow and the ice accumulate.

Got a pair of Yaktrax to put on the bottom of my shoes for walking (or running) on snow and ice covered paths. Didn’t use them while running but they helped a lot when I was walking my dog. Instant confidence on the icy path. Walking without tensed muscles. So much better!

When the ice and snow returns memories of cold air, slippery/slushy/snow-covered paths, intense blue skies with sparkling white ground, frozen toes and lungs and snot in my nose return too. Winter in Minneapolis is such a contrast to summer. I always imagine myself as two Saras–summer Sara and winter Sara.

Wistful for clear paths yet
invigorated by the pure cold, the
new views to St. Paul, the bare
trees and the concentrated
effort needed to avoid slippery patches. Below me the
river still flows yet is beginning to

Slow
as the ice, gone for so many months,
returns
and accumulates on its surface.

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.

dec 4/5.25 MILES

45 degrees
franklin loop with a twist

Technically this run happened yesterday but since it’s a run for this week, I’m adding it here. Ran with Scott in the afternoon on the Franklin loop with a twist. The twist? Briefly stopping our run to explore the lower path on the east side of the river that I had unexpectedly glimpsed a week ago and was hoping to check out before it closed for the winter. So cool! I had no idea that there was so much land and a paved path and even benches and picnic tables in the gorge on the St. Paul side of the Mississippi. We walked some of it and ran some more of it and then hiked under the Franklin bridge. Such a high bridge. On the west side, you cross under the Franklin bridge less than halfway down the hill but on the east side, you’re at the bottom of it. The path travels under the bridge and keeps going all the way to the U and East River Flats Park–which we didn’t have time to check out. A goal for spring? or next week if it still doesn’t snow.

After walking/running around for a while, we climbed A LOT of steps and ran the 2+ miles home. I really enjoyed combining hiking, walking and running. A nice way to mix up a run to make it more interesting. I enjoyed it so much that I had a flash of inspiration–how cool would it be to try and run more of the trails by the mississippi in minnesota? are any of them as amazing as this stretch of the mississippi between downtown minneapolis and minnehaha falls?

This morning—the day after running, I decided to write a quick poem about the moment of discovering the trail. Because it often helps me find words, I used the abecedarian form:

Lower East River Parkway Trail

After seeing the paved path
Beckoning me from below, how
Could I resist? How could I not
Descend into the
East River
Flats on the St Paul side of the
Gorge? I
Had seen the steps near the Franklin bridge before but
Ignored them
Just running by, never needing to
Know where they went. Never
Looking down to the river but only across to
Minneapolis.
Never stopping—if
Only for a moment—to
Pose the
Question, what is beneath me on this side of the
River?
Surely something more than
Trees and
Under that, sand and dirt and dead leaves, dwells below my
View across? I had never asked but on Monday, I looked down at the
Water of the Mississippi and saw a flash of something
uneXpected—a paved path
Yearning to be traveled,
Zigzagging through the floodplain—and suddenly I wanted to know everything.

dec 1/7 MILES

37 degrees
franklin hill turnaround + extra

7 miles on a beautiful morning. Next week it’s supposed to get much colder but not today.  Great weather for running! As I neared the big Franklin hill I decided to mix up my running rhythm and create a chant in 6/8 time with triplets instead of 4/4 time with straight quarter notes. It was hard to quickly compose sentences with this rhythm so I went for 3 syllable words. After trying out:

mystery beautiful mystical marvelous wonderful magical

I settled on a 4 bars of 6/8 with the words:

raspberry
strawberry
blueberry
chocolate

Occasionally I added in a fifth bar/word: delicious

This chant worked well for keeping me focused and steady. It especially helped me run up the Hill.

Towards the end of the run I encountered by favorite person on the path: the Daily Walker. I always see him, all year round. He’s very dedicated with his walking.

nov 29/4.15 MILES

31 degrees
mississippi river road path south/minnehaha falls/mississippi river road path north

Listened to my playlist today as I ran south to the falls. Not too windy, not too cold. As I ran below the road at the part of the trail where the running and biking paths each have their own bridges I wondered when the snow would arrive, forcing me to run on the biking path and, when it got really bad, avoid running this direction altogether. In past years, the snow sticks around in early December–and doesn’t leave until March or April. It’s difficult for Minneapolis Parks to clear this part of the trail because it’s narrow–too wide for the plow.

Had a brief runner’s high at the end of mile 3. Felt momentarily invincible and euphoric. My head tingled and I could feel my smile slowly growing and spreading across my face, almost like the grinch when he realizes how to destroy Christmas, except my smile was from joy not wickedness.

nov 27/5.75 MILES

42 degrees
franklin loop

Ran the Franklin loop for the first time in a long time. Nice! Windy on the Lake Street Bridge, but not on the Franklin bridge. Crossing on Lake, the sun was shining brightly on the water–spreading light almost all the way across the Mississippi from St. Paul to Minneapolis. A bit blinding, but still beautiful.

Running up the St. Paul side of the river road towards Franklin and the U of M, I looked down at the gorge way below and noticed a paved path that I didn’t know existed. Pretty cool. I’ve run this loop at least 2 (3?) dozen times and have never noticed this path. I’d love to take it before it closes for the year.

As I ran I thought about how in late fall and early spring the gorge’s mysteries are briefly revealed–the bones of the woods, the forest floor, the sandy flats by the river and secret trails–before being concealed again by leaves or snow.

Near the end of my run, I began slowly gaining on a woman running ahead of me. It looked like she was wearing a tank top, but I could never quite tell. She was always too far away. I kept wondering if she was cold.

nov 25/6.2 MILES

33 degrees
downtown minneapolis
moustache run 10K race

A great race. Slow but successful. Ran the whole thing with Scott. Biggest accomplishment: running the big long steep windy hill without stopping! also, finishing with a big smile and sense of accomplishment. Not too bad considering I’ve only been running for about a month since my injury.

Beautiful sun.  Not too cold although I recall saying to Scott about a mile in that I had cold fingers, hot hands and a burning face. Not quite slipped on ice a few times. There were patches of it near the cracks in the road. Tried to distract myself from the BIG hill by focusing on the ice patches.

Favorite spectator: the women standing at the top of the hill congratulating us for having run up the hill and saying “That hill sucks but you did it!”

Least favorite pacer (for the 1/2 marathoners): the women who called out 1/2 mile into the race “only 12.5 miles to go!”

Least favorite bro-runners (brunners?): the guy who said to his friend, just in front of us, right before we passed them, “I like running the half, more time to look at runners’ butts.”

Second least favorite bro-runner: the guy very near the end who was walking and then suddenly yelled out “are you guys ready?!” and then started to full out sprint like a spaz.

Least favorite road on the route: the Cobblestones!

I hate these cobblestones.

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