feb 25/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
17 degrees / feels like 9
100% snow-covered

I was planning to do a short run on the treadmill today, but when I went out to shovel the 2 or 3 inches we got yesterday afternoon and felt the warm sun on my face, I knew I needed to run outside by the gorge. What a beautiful day! Clear sky, bright sun, chatty birds. No wind or frozen fingers. I ran north towards the trestle today, first listening to the gorge, then to an old playlist (songs I remember hearing: “Eye of the Tiger”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”).

10 Things I Noticed

  1. running above the tunnel of trees, on the plowed biking trail instead of unplowed walking path, there were big chunks, almost balls, of snow on the edge of the path. Some were bright white, others with a tinge of gray. I made sure to avoid them but wondered, are these chunks of snow soft or hard? If I hit one with my foot, would it crumble or would my toe?
  2. lots of birds singing, sounding like spring, mostly cardinals, I think. At least one black-capped chickadee doing their fee bee song
  3. ran by the porta-potty below the lake street bridge. The door was closed so I steered clear of it, imagining someone might quickly open it on me, if I was too close. Last week, I ran by it and it was wide open. Why?
  4. the path was completely covered in snow. Some of it was soft, like sand, and difficult to run on. Some of it, was packed down or scraped away by a plow. Will most of this melt in the sun?
  5. the smell of the sewer, near 28th street as I passed a crosswalk. Stinky and fishy and foul
  6. a car doing a 3 point road turn at the top of hill, just past lake street, near longfellow grill
  7. a man and his dog, hanging out near the trestle, just above the steps down to the winchell trail, which are closed for the winter
  8. 2 runners, one of them wearing a red coat, shuffling her feet
  9. looking back to check if a biker was coming, see my shadow following me
  10. running down the hill to under the bridge, feeling like I was flying, my arms and feet in sync, my breathing easy

No geese or woodpeckers or kids laughing or crying. No overheard conversations about war or winter. No smells of burnt toast or breakfast sausages. No good mornings to anyone. No run-ins with squirrels or lunging dogs. A great run in which I forgot about a lot of things, and synced up with time in such a way that we both seemed to get lost or disappear or dissolve into the clean, blue air.

While doing some research for a course proposal I’m working on, I found a great article, “Running, Thinking, and Writing.” Here’s a question that was asked to some writers who run, and their answers:

Do you have trouble remembering your creative ideas after you have finished your workout? If so, any strategies?

Aschwanden: “I don’t use a special trick to remember. If the ideas are any good, I’ll remember them. At times I’ll repeat the thing to myself a few times as I run to make sure I’ve instilled it.”

Epstein: “I have a ton of trouble remembering the ideas I come up with while running. Sometimes I’ll tell myself, ‘I must remember this,’ and then five minutes later it’s totally gone. So I’ve taken to doing my own modified version of a memory palace where I make a little story that contains the cues that will remind me. Occasionally I’ve made notes in my phone’s memo app.”

Magness: “Yes, I forget them. This is the biggest problem I have with running as a path to insight. I don’t carry a phone or pen with me, and I don’t have a perfect solution. I often forget my big ‘breakthrough’ and spend hours trying to remember the insight. I try to retain thoughts by repeating them over and over in my head, and tying them to a landmark on the run. For example, if I get an idea while crossing a bridge at mile 4, I’ll incorporate that fact into what I’m trying to remember.”

McDougall: “I don’t want to screw things up by stopping to write notes. I just let it flow and try to visualize the big ideas as movie scenes in my mind. It’s not the words or phrases that matter. You just need to retain the Big Picture, and that’s easier to retain as an image rather than some syntactical word sequence.”

Miller: “Sometimes, I’ll forget. I try to remember by repeating the thought over and over in my head. Or I’ll type a note into my phone.”

Pappas: “I will stop and type in my phone if I have an idea that needs to be actually remembered.” 

Switzer: “They are absolutely very difficult to remember. I choose three of the most important ideas, and repeat them like a mantra. I’ll forget others, but can generally hold onto three. I do have to write them down as soon as I get home. If I shower or even stretch first, they’re gone.”

Thompson: “Yes! I do forget. But if I remember something genuinely useful, I will jot it down in Evernote at my desk after the run.”

Here’s a poem I bookmarked last spring. It seems fitting as I think about how running (or just being) by the gorge and noticing more things, then making note of those things, and turning some of them into poems, helped me to endure the 2 years of the pandemic.

Every day as a wide field, every page/ NAOMI SHIHAB NYE


Standing outside
staring at a tree
gentles our eyes

We cheer
to see fireflies
winking again

Where have our friends been
all the long hours?
Minds stretching

beyond the field
their own skies

Windows   doors
grow more

Look through a word
swing that sentence
wide open

Kneeling outside
to find
sturdy green

glistening blossoms
under the breeze
that carries us silently


And there were so many more poems to read!
Countless friends to listen to.
We didn’t have to be in the same room—
the great modern magic.
Everywhere together now.
Even scared together now
from all points of the globe
which lessened it somehow.
Hopeful together too, exchanging
winks in the dark, the little lights blinking.
When your hope shrinks
you might feel the hope of
someone far away lifting you up.
Hope is the thing …
Hope was always the thing!
What else did we give each other
from such distances?
Breath of syllables,
sing to me from your balcony
please! Befriend me
in the deep space.
When you paused for a poem
it could reshape the day
you had just been living.