march 30/3.2 MILES

30 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

Cold but clear. Hardly any snow left. Felt pretty good. Wish I could remember more. Saw my shadow for a few minutes but then it turned gray. Encountered some dogs and runners and, after a long absence, a roller skier! Spring is coming. More evidence? Saw the U of M rowers out on the river yesterday.

march 28/6.7 MILES

42 degrees
the washington bridge turn around

Birds! So many chirping birds. And sunshine. And clear paths. And the feeling that spring is coming sometime soon. Ran down the franklin hill in the flats, all the way to the washington avenue bridge by the U and back. Felt strong and relaxed. Walked most of the way up the hill on the way back, but didn’t care (well, not too much) because it was still a good run. Started my run by getting to greet the Daily Walker. Encountered several runners and a few bikers. Saw my shadow–she was beside me today.

The wind was strong on the way back home and I had to run right into it. This wind was a wall. I hit it and happily stopped just a few tenths shy of my goal: 7 miles.

 

march 27/4 MILES

35 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/south

About 5 minutes into my run, I noticed my nose was bleeding. I always bring a kleenex but, of course, I didn’t have one today. Thought about turning around and going back home but I didn’t. I wanted to keep running. So I pulled over, looked at the river, hoped my nose would stop and then started running again. I tried to remember to keep my head tilted slightly up as I ran. My nose used to bleed a lot when I was a kid. In high school, it would often start while I was in the pool for swim practice. I’d have to get out and do dryland exerices. So annoying. Today, it wasn’t too bad. I’m glad I kept going. I don’t remember too much else about my run. Listened to headphones. Got to be on the walking path for awhile. Passed a few runners. Greeted the Daily Walker. Don’t think I saw any bikers. Maybe one dog. No puddles. No big ice chunks or snow banks. Ran into the wind at the beginning and had it at my back at the end. Saw some grass, not just snow. Wore less layers. No more bulky gray jacket or gloves. One pair of running tights. No buff. Spring will be here soon!

march 25/4 MILES

36 degrees
downtown loop

Scott and I started at the Guthrie, ran next to the beautiful, extra blue Mississippi river under the Hennepin Avenue bridge and over the Plymouth bridge through Boom Island and Father Hennepin park over the Stone Arch bridge and then back to the car. At the start of the run, I noticed so many intense shades of blue. The sky a purplish blue clashing with the steel blue river and the royal blue biking/walking signs on the path. Then I noticed the wind–such wind!–almost taking our breath away. 15 mph with strong gusts.

Scott stopped to take a picture on the Stone Arch bridge and I asked him to include me in the picture:

march 23/5.2 MILES

34 degrees
franklin loop

Wore less layers today. No headphones. Heard lots of grit scraping scratching shifting rubbing on the path under my feet. Right near the welcoming oaks, the path was covered in a super slick layer of ice. Not sure what happened–it wasn’t just melted snow that had refroze. Very slippery. Felt good on the run. The river was beautiful from the bridge–especially the Franklin bridge. Later, I noticed the sunlight had created two big spots on the water’s surface. Bright and sparkly. A few days ago, after listening to the line from one of my poems about how beautiful sparkling water is, Scott suggested that maybe I saw it differently–more sparkly?–because of my macular degeneration. I wonder, is that true? Do people with healthy vision not see the sun shining on water–the way it blinds and undulates and flashes, almost swims–as impossibly beautiful? Or, is it just Scott who doesn’t see it? Encountered a few walkers, a few runners, a few dogs and the Daily Walker. Heard something, I think it was a dog, down in the gorge on the St. Paul side and then a few minutes later, also heard a few people trying to hike up the side of the gorge. Noticed the trail in the east river flats was pretty clear. Also noticed a trail that seemed to lead below the Marshall/Lake Street bridge. Next month, Scott and I will have to check it out. At the end of my run, I saw a little kid with an adult, driving one of those annoying motorized kid cars. It made this irritating buzzing, grinding, not quite humming, sound that contaminated the calm quite river sounds that I had been (and hoped to continue) enjoying.

march 21/4.1 MILES

37 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

Today’s run felt difficult. Was it because I ran in the afternoon? Or because I ran a 10K yesterday? Not sure. But I ran the whole thing. Ran right by Minnehaha Falls. So loud, with the water rushing down to the river. Didn’t feel much wind. Did feel overdressed. Too many layers. As I looked down at the gorge, with the trees bare, I thought about how the number of layers I’m wearing is inversely proportional to the number of leaves on the trees. I’m ready to not be wearing 2 jackets and a base layer + running tights. Heard lots of birds. Felt the sun on my face. Spring is definitely coming! Anything else? Oh–a woman was walking a big white fluffy dog–or was the dog walking her? Hard to tell. Several people were admiring the falls. One person was taking a picture of Minnehaha creek. Kids were out playing on the school playground. There was lots of grit on the path making a nice scratching sound. Ran through a few puddles, over one or two patches of ice.

march 20/6.2 MILES

29 degrees
70% snow-covered
franklin hill turn around + extra

Snowing this morning on the first day of spring. A wet heavy snow that will soon melt. Decided to run slow and keep going past the bottom of the hills and toward the Bohemian Flats. A nice run. Gray. Humid. A little windy with snow in my face most of the time. Will this be the last snow of the season? Probably not. Speaking of snow, yesterday I turned one of my early morning poetry fragments into a concrete poem:

What do I remember from my run? I thought a lot about keeping my pace relaxed and wondering whether or not my knee would start hurting. Also wondered which direction the wind was blowing–would it be in my face even more when I turned around and ran back home (yes)? Noticed the river flowing down in the flats–a graying brownish blue. The snow wasn’t too slippery, even under the bridge. It also wasn’t crunchy–at least I don’t think it was crunchy–I had headphones on. I was able to run on the walking path–instead of the bike path–for most of my run.

I wanted to start thinking about the differences between walking and running, but I forgot. I started thinking about running and walking last year–I even gathered together some resources and wrote a few creative essays. With spring coming and a desire to be outside more, it seems fitting to walk more and then think about how walking differs from running. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a brief essay about running and how it differs from walking:

But the act of running gives me something I cannot get from a walk, and that is total mental freedom. I agree with Kierkegaard that walking is objectively better than sitting, in terms of feeling good. But it is not always sufficient. And although the day-to-day business of writing is closely connected to walking, the business of being a functioning person – for me – requires something else. Running demands that you concentrate on something which requires almost no conscious thought at all. It is a particular kind of thinking which is all about the next few seconds and entirely pragmatic: mind that low-hanging branch, is that dog on an extendable lead, am I about to get mugged by a flock of Canada geese (the nightclub bouncers of the bird world). It also proves that you are more, or at least other, than you think.

I like her idea of running as offering a particular kind of thinking and I agree that much of running time is taken up with mundane, immediate thoughts about branches or cracks in the pavement or how deep a puddle is, whether or not the runner I’m approaching will move over, etc.. But, what I also like about running is that flashes of insight happen too–I have really great thoughts. Because of the effort I’m making and my need to pay attention to my surroundings, I can’t ruminate slowly and obsessively about those thoughts. The best I can do is try to record them in a voice memo or write them in a log entry after I’m done. Why is this a good thing? I’m not sure that I can express it right now–maybe something about a need to correct my tendency to overthink things or my love of imposing limits on my creative process?

march 18/5.25 MILES

43 degrees
franklin loop

A great run with Scott this afternoon! We went slow and walked for a minute after every nine minutes. Very easy. Almost effortless. Wet with lots of puddles. Not much ice. Not much else that I remember. No eagles perched on the dead tree near the Marshall/Lake Street bridge. A rowing boat–I think they’re called a shell?–on top of car driving up from the Minneapolis rowing club. An annoying black standard poodle–is there any other kind–was barking on the path ahead of us. I’m so glad that we ran!

march 16/5.2 MILES

27 degrees
franklin hill turn around

Cold this morning and a little windy, but still a good run. I ran up the Franklin hill without stopping! I felt strong and happy to be running. About 4 miles in, my right knee felt strange, but I kept going and it was fine by the end of the run. Listened to a playlist and wore sunglasses. Felt like I was in a different world. Totally disconnected. What else do I remember? The bike path was all clear and so were parts of the walking path. Encountered lots of fast runners at the beginning. In the last mile, the wind was blowing really hard from the east. Almost, but not quite, difficult to stay upright. Had to redo my ponytail while running down the hill–I’m sure it looked funny but I didn’t want to stop. Kept thinking about how Scott and I are running in a 10 mile race–neither of us are ready, so we will mix in some walking. After finishing the run, felt great. Joyful. Relaxed. Ready for spring.

march 14/5.35 MILES

28 degrees
the franklin loop

A good run at an easy pace. Not too windy. Ran over the Lake Street and Franklin Avenue bridges and watched the river flowing. The sun was almost blinding, reflecting off of the water, as I ran over to St. Paul. Lots of ice under the bridge and several patches of barely ice, almost water for the next few miles. Noticed the river again near the end of my run. The sun was illuminating a big circle that started closer to the east bank but then quickly traveled to the west. Strange to see it travel so fast. What else do I remember? Lots of cars moving quickly on the river road. A handful of runners. At least one dog. Birds chirping. The path down in the east river flats looked clear–almost time to go check it out again! Briefly thought about the new show “Rise” that I had watched for 20 minutes before running. Why is the main character/savior a white male? Why is one of his main “enemies” a Latina? Did I think about anything else–other than how my knee was doing? I can’t remember.

march 12/4.3 MILES

31 degrees
clear path!
mississippi river road, south/minnehaha falls/north

The temperature may be below freezing but it still feels like spring. The water at the falls was gushing. The path was clear. The sun was shining. The elementary school kids were outside, gleefully shouting. Thought about my mom while I was running and looking over to St. Paul. Is this one of the reasons I like to have an obstructed view to the other side of the river? To see St. Paul, the city where my mom was born and raised (technically, she lived in West St. Paul, but close enough)? Running back towards the end of my run, I saw the shadow of a small bird flying behind me. It seemed strange and I wondered, how often do I see the shadows of birds? Not often, I think. I tried to keep my run steady and slow and my pulse low. It worked. A good run. Now, a good day.

march 11/3.05 MILES

36 degrees
15% puddle covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

The day started out rough. Adjusting to daylight savings time. Being trapped indoors at the biggest, most crowded mall. Failing to find what we needed. Shifting knee-caps. But I got to run outside by the river and look over at St. Paul and the white slopes of the gorge. And I got to breathe in fresh cold air and listen to Beck sing about being free. So, who cares what happened before that? Any day I get to run is a great day!

march 10/4 MILES

30 degrees
5% snow covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

A great run! Faster. Freer. More flying less plodding. A lot of runners out on the path, doing their long runs. Not me. I’m taking it easy this week, making sure my right knee is happy.

The favorite part of my run: 3 miles in, at the top of the hill that dips under the lake street bridge. Finding my rhythm. Pumping my arms perfectly in time with my feet. Left arm right foot. Right arm left foot. Not having to remember to move my legs, almost like they’re moving on their own. Flying through space. No effort. No attention to form or mechanics. Magically moving for almost a mile.

march 8/3.5 MILES

21 degrees
15% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/south

Low wind. Bright sun. Clear path. Great run. My knee hurt a little as I was walking to the river, but once I started, it felt better. Focused on my form–keeping my chest out and my arms closer to my sides. Listened to my headphones and smiled a lot. Occasionally glanced over at the river and down into the gorge. So beautiful! Blue-gray river with white slopes and dark brown branches. I like being able to see everything. In a few months, all I will see is green. As I was breathing in the crisp, cold air I realized that these winter runs will be ending soon. As much as I am ready for spring and summer, I will miss the cold and winter running.

march 6/3 MILES

33 degrees
70% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/greenway/mississippi river road, south

It snowed yesterday. Almost 5 inches. Here in Minnesota, winter doesn’t end until April or May. The snow didn’t stop until early this morning. Of course, the awesome Minneapolis Parks and Rec had the path plowed in just a few hours. Being able to get outside in the winter makes all the difference. I’m still ready for spring, but I can endure the endless white and gray and cold and slippery sidewalks if I can run by the river. The snow today is heavy, dense and wet. When I walked on it, it didn’t make a sharp snap or a crackly crunch. It was more like a thick, heavy pressing down–what sound is that?–of the snow, the air, the moisture in the snow.

I only ran 3 miles because I’m trying to be gentle with my right knee. Lately, my kneecap likes to slide around and slip out just a little. So far these wanderings haven’t been a problem, except for some soreness. To keep it that way, I’m not running too much. The run felt good. Strong. My knee wasn’t perfect, but it also didn’t hurt and now, an hour after my run, I’m fine.

In the middle of the run, I felt dazed, transported somewhere else, almost blinded by the snow and the bright white, occasionally brilliant blue peeking through, sky. Pretty cool.

Walking back to my house after my run, the sky looked so heavy. A dull, dense grayish white–almost like the sky was a ceiling of snow looming, hovering. Not quite waiting to collapse. Weird.

march 3/4.5 MILES

40 degrees
18 mph wind/26 mph gusts
mississippi river road, north/franklin hill/washington bridge/franklin hill

Windy! Was planning to do 7 miles but made it to the Franklin Hill and thought that I better take it easy on my knee. It feels okay, but a little weird. So I stopped at 4.5 miles. The gorge was beautiful. Bright blue sky with white snow and bare trees. It was so windy that down in the flats the river had white caps! The path was wet but clear. Don’t remember much about the run except for the annoying runner who was slowly creeping on me. I could hear her feet crunching. She passed me on a hill and then stopped at the top, right in front of me. I kept going and she started running again. She passed me and then stopped again.

march 2/3 MILES

31 degrees
15% ice-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

I ran today!
I ran outside today!
I ran outside today without my knee hurting!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting in the sun!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting in the sun and it felt good!

Well, mostly good. Not fantastic. But not like I was doing anything bad to my knee. Listened to my headphones, so I didn’t hear much on the run. Near the Lake Street bridge, I was wishing I didn’t have my headphones on. I thought I heard some birds–maybe some geese–making a lot of noise. The river was open. I wonder when the rowers will be out there?

I recorded myself walking home at the end of the run. A very different crunching of my feet, coming from the grit–the salt or sand or whatever they use to treat the road and the path to make them less slippery–was rubbing on the bare, slightly wet ground. Occasionally I walked over some crusty snow. Not sure the recording picks it all up but there were lots of sounds today: a wind chime, wind, a car driving by, birds, water dripping off the roof, a car starting.

march 1/BIKE

70 degrees
front room, bike stand
30 minutes

It’s hard not running, but I want to make sure that I don’t get into another cycle of subluxations, so I’m not out by the gorge today. It makes it a little easier that the sidewalk is covered in sheer ice which will soon turn into a puddle than a pool than a river or a lake all hoping to enter my boot and soak my socks. I wonder what the mississippi river road path looks like right now? Yuck. I despise the Great Melt that happens every almost-spring. Thawing. Dripping. Soaking. Oozing. Pooling. Freezing. Thawing. Dripping. Soaking. Oozing. Pooling. Freezing. When will it end? Not anytime soon. It’s supposed to snow again on Saturday.

It was last March that I (re?) discovered poetry in my first class at the Loft. To honor that discovery, I’ve decided to work through Bernadette Mayer’s list of writing experiments–the same list we used in class last year. Some of these will involve being by the gorge, running or walking, some of them will not. Today’s did not.

The assignment: Pick a work or phrase at random, let mind play freely around it until a few ideas have come up, then seize on one and begin to write. Try this with a non-connotative word, like “so” etc.

I settled on the phrase on my coffee mug, “Let it Be.” Quickly into the exercise I wondered, what is IT in this phrase? I turned IT into an acronym: information technologist, impending tests, icky tacos, incanting toads, inky trails, infinite troubles…I made a list of 25 or 30 nouns that IT stood for. Then I wrote a poem using some of them:

Let it Be

Let ink trails be the secret way
into a world waiting to save us
from ignorant tyrants.
Let those trails lead us to intelligent trees–
the ones that know better than us
with our immovable theories and our
irritating tantrums.

We–
the inexplicable termites
possessing indefatigable troubles
wasting all the important tissues
on our indigo tears.
Why can’t we be more like those indifferent trapezoids–
not interested in even, parallel lines
not caring to reach infinitely upwards?

Let incanting toads be what finally
sings us to sleep
so we can dream better dreams
imagining terrains that believe in us.

Let invisible threads reveal themselves
so we may see how we belong
connected, tethered to each other–
vulnerable to violence yet
also to the inviting touch of another.