july 12/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south

bike: 4.3
lake nokomis

swim: .36 miles
open swim
18 mph wind/choppy water

Even though severe rain/thunderstorm was coming, decided to bike to the lake and try to swim a little before we were evacuated from the water. So choppy! And such a dark, ominous sky. Purplish gray. Managed to swim out to the second buoy, about halfway across the lake, before turning around. A little less than 10 minutes in the water. Got out just before lightening was spotted. What a bummer. Still glad I went. I will remember that sky for years and how choppy the water was and the image of the orange buoy as I rounded it. I’ll also remember getting caught in the rain–suddenly the clouds unzipped–and walking my bike in the downpour to the awning at Nokomis Beach coffee then calling superhero Scott and waiting for him to drive over and pick me up.

july 7/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 2 mile race
lake nokomis
59 minutes/1st place 35+

Today I swam in my first open swim race. And I won for my age group. So cool! I can’t quite express how proud I am of myself. Not so much because I won–which is great–but because I did the race at all. Since I was diagnosed with a macular degenerative eye disease 2 years ago, I’ve been nervous to do an open swim race. Whole sections of my central vision are gone and I have a lot of trouble sighting the buoys. I was worried I might get too far off course. No problem today. Lots of other swimmers around me for the first section. Then, I swam behind another swimmer for the rest of the race so I didn’t have to worry about looking for the buoys. I tried to do an open swim race 2 years ago, right after my diagnosis, but it was too foggy and I was too overwhelmed by my new lack of vision. I tried again last year but a month before the race my kneecap displaced and I couldn’t walk without a brace for 2 months. Now, finally, after overcoming injury and my doubts about my very bad vision, I swam and loved it.

I got to swim all around the lake, not just across it. Past the little beach, the overlook on the small hill, the big bridge and the boats. Didn’t encounter any fish, but I did swim through some milfoil. Again, the water looked pea green. Don’t remember thinking about much except for staying close to the swimmer ahead of me.

july 5/RUNBIKESWIM

For some reason, I’m resisting writing in my log this week–maybe because I’m nervous about my 2 mile swim race on Saturday? Instead of forcing it, I’ll just add the distances in my log with no entries.

run: 3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south7
76 degrees

Needed the run to change my attitude after becoming too frustrated with the kids for not wanting to do their training this morning. Listening to Lizzo helped. She’s great. Do I remember anything from my run other than trying to stop thinking about how irritated I was by my kids? No.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Biked to the lake for open swim. A beautiful late afternoon. Now that I’m used to it, biking is much easier, although the early evening sun and the shade on the path made certain spots very difficult to see. Did I think about anything while I was biking other than trying to stay on the path and not run into anyone or anything? Not today.

swim: 2 miles/3 loops/3600 yards
lake nokomis

I feel ready for my swim race this Saturday even though I’m really scared. What if I can’t see the buoys? Trying to calm myself down by asking and answering, “what’s the worst that could happen?” If I can’t see the buoys, I can stop and look until I find them or wait until a lifeguard finds me and points me in the right direction. I’ll be fine. Even so, I’ll be happy when this race is over. It’s been stressing me out. Today I looked down at the water below me and I’ve decided it looks pea green, almost like pea soup. I don’t like pea soup but I don’t mind it as the color of the lake water. Noticed lots of planes flying above me. Rarely was able to see the orange buoys, but that didn’t stop me from staying on course. Felt the best in my third and final loop after I had already been swimming for 45 minutes.
.

july 2/RUNBIKE

3.75 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
70 degrees/79% humidity

Listened to a new playlist and ran towards lake street. Encountered other runners, a few bikers and at least two roller skiers. Did I see my shadow? Not sure. Felt good running, although now I wished I would have kept going the extra .25 to run the full 4 but I was thinking about how I would be running with Ro too.

1.92 miles, walking and running
winchell trail, below the river road
75 degrees/66% humidity

After finishing my run, I walked home and woke up my daughter. It was a struggle getting out the door, but we made it to the river. A big victory! Ran on the Winchell trail, below the river road. Mostly shaded with the first half dirt, the second half paved. So many dragonflies–my mom’s favorite insect. We thought about her as we ran, imagining she was with us. Saw some cute dogs and sparkling water. The paved path gently undulates, like small waves. It was fun to run slightly up then slightly down on the edge of the gorge. I’m glad Ro likes trail running. I’d like to try some more of it myself. It seems like a great way to lose yourself in a run.

bike: 11.6 miles

downtown and back
87 degrees/45% humidity

Biked downtown with Scott to pick up our bib numbers for the 4th of July race. It was supposed to be a half marathon, but was downgraded to a 5k (1 loop) or 6.75 (2 loops) because of extreme heat and humidity. Fine by me. I was not ready for a half and really wanted to just run a 5k.

june 22/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

A beautiful morning for a bike ride to the lake. Mid 70s, clear. Not much wind. Every time I bike it gets a little easier to see and to navigate the path.

swim: 1400 yards/.8 mile
lake nokomis big beach

Swam just off the big beach this morning. 4 loops. Felt good, except for when my right leg got sore again. I wonder what the problem is? It’s funny how swimming across the lake no longer freaks me out but swimming off the big beach does. I keep imagining that a fish or something else is lurking by a white buoy, waiting to bite me or drag me under. There was a fishing boat just outside of the swimming area fishing for the whole time I was swimming. Towards the end of my swim I realized that there must be some decent fish nearby. Otherwise, why would they be fishing here? This unsettled me a little. It didn’t stop me from swimming but just made me nervous. A month ago, at my first swim here, the water was freakishly clear. No longer. Now it’s light brown murkiness. Occasionally I spot a branch from the watermilfoil growing up from the bottom. Nearing the fishing boat, I heard a buzz. Were they using something to try and detect fish? It was nice to be in the lake but it is harder to stay motivated when I’m not swimming across the lake–it’s so much easier to stop when you’re not far from the shore.

june 19/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles
64 degrees/84% humidity
minnehaha falls loop

More water. Puddles on the path. A steady summer rain falling on my head. Listened to music while running the first two miles faster. Fun! But hot–shouldn’t have worn my pink jacket. Felt free and joyful to be out in the glowing green world.

Summer Rain/John Waters

Rain-woman,
Gray-haired,
Impatient,
You didn’t stay long
With your cloud-herd
And your silver shawl.
You went towards the East,
Flashing your whip
And thundering orders.
Perhaps a thirsty corn-field
Was calling you.

bike: 5 miles
nice and slow with Ro

Rosie and I biked over to our old neighborhood so she could get her haircut. An easy ride but I’m including it here because we got outside and moved. It was supposed to be done raining, but there was a fine mist as we biked by the river.

swim: .6 miles/1200 yards/1 loop
lake nokomis

Was planning to do 3 loops tonight but when it started raining heavily after the first loop I decided to stop. It would have been fun to swim more in the water but the visibility was really bad and I didn’t want to risk getting lost out in the middle of the lake.

Here are the notes I jotted down shortly after the swim: surface, smooth. cutting through the cold water. gliding. powerful. strong. clear vision. wetsuit. rain drops entering the water, shafts of water instead of light. after I finished, standing in the water watching the drops on the surface, like little dancing beads. so cool! did I see silver streaks below me as I swam–fish? now my muscles burn warmly. cool brown water, planes above. pouring rain when I exited the water. I didn’t care.

june 5/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles, top of franklin hill turn around
bike: 8.8 miles, lake nokomis and back
swim: 1/2 mile, lake nokomis

run

65 degrees. Sunny. Only a little wind. Not too much humidity. A great morning for a run. I’m writing this several hours after the run so I don’t remember too much of it. Ran in the shade. Saw some runners and walkers, no Daily Walker or roller skiers. For some reason, I thought about house keys and where you might hide a spare one. Why (and why do I remember this detail and not much else)?

bike

I’m getting used to biking again and that feeling of not quite being able to see the path. The bike path was crowded, especially on the way back, after my swim. Passed a biker near the falls, alerting them with my usual “on your left” and they said “thank you.” I like when other bikers do that. I try to do it too. It seems rare to hear people actually alert you. Lately I’ve been working hard to not let it bother me. Noticed that sky was bright blue and cloudless. Saw lots of birds’ shadows flying overhead. Mostly small birds. Locking up my bike at the beach, I heard an older woman compliment a younger woman on “her bright yellow bike.” She had a bright yellow bike too, but it was stolen out her garage. She misses that bike.

swim

The water was clear, but not nearly as clear as it had been last week. Still, I was a bit unsettled by it, not wanting to run into any big fish or see them swimming below me. Almost ran into a small dead fish, floating a few feet in front of me. Yuck! Noticed the sloshing of the water a few times. Looked around and saw shafts of light, more like slivers of light, cutting through the brown water. Swam just outside the beach area and saw how the lake floor dropped off. Mostly avoided the plants growing up from the bottom–I think it’s the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil–but one strand? leaf? branch? tapped at my ankle and freaked me out. Didn’t think about much except for how nervous I was about what might be swimming with me. For some reason, swimmer just on the edge of the big beach is scarier to me than swimming across the lake. Strange.

june 4/BIKE

7.2 miles
Wilson library/U of M west bank
71 degrees

Biked to the library at the U and then, after I was done, biked home. Read more of the book Waterlog as I decide whether or not I want to buy it. I do. Sitting in the cold, quiet library, I was reminded of something I read last year in Gros’s A Philosophy of Walking. The author is discussing Nietzsche’s love of walking and his distrust of ideas conceived while sitting inside, especially in libraries:

many books exude the stuffy odour of libraries. But what does one judge a book? By its smell (and even more, as we shall see, by its cadence). Its smell: far too many books have the fusty odour of reading rooms, poorly ventilated. The air circulates badly between the shelves and becomes saturated with the scent of mildew, the slow decomposition of paper, ink undergoing chemical change.

I love libraries and their papery, decaying smells. And I especially enjoy coming to them to get lost in words and ideas and to retreat from the hot, summer sun. Today the library was cool and mostly quiet and a wonderful place to be. Perhaps it helped that I had moved quite a lot to get there?

Here’s another great quotation from Nietszche that I liked to remember:

How quickly we guess how someone has come by his ideas; whether it was while sitting in front of his inkwell, with a pinched belly, his head bowed low over the paper–in which case we are quickly finished with his book, too! Cramped intestines betray themselves–you can bet on that–no less than close air, closet ceilings, closet narrowness.

may 29/BIKERUNBIKE

bike to lake nokomis and back: 8.8 miles
run around lake nokomis: 2 miles
82 degrees

And the heat wave continues. Decided to bike to the lake. Was planning to swim when I got there, but I cut my finger pitting cherries yesterday and I’m wary of open swimming with an open wound. So, I ran instead. So hot! Even in the shade. Managed to run almost all the way around. Stopped at 2 miles. Saw a few other people running. Mostly slowly and miserably. Ended my run near the fishing dock. A paddle boat was up on the grass with no one around. How did it get here?How long has it been here? Where are its paddlers? When I got back to the big beach, I returned to my bike and grabbed my water bottle. The ice had melted, but the water was still cool. Then I walked into the water. It’s warmed up fast! A few people were out swimming, doing wide loops around the white buoys. Standing on the sandy lake bottom so clear and clean with the water almost up to my chest, the sun reflected off of the waves, bright and sharp, hurting my eyes. Not nearly as pleasing as the sun-casted shadows of leaves dancing in the breeze near the bike rack that memorized me before my run. Leaving the water I felt cold. Mostly refreshed but chilled too. And wet. Dripping, not from sweat, but from a wet suit. Later, drying off my sandy feet at a picnic table. I heard the click click clack beep of a metal detector as a man slowly walked around the trees near the trail. I’ve seen people–only men, actually–in the lake looking for treasure, but not in the grass. Did he find anything?

Found a short story online called Water In Its Three Forms. I like the idea of organizing a short lyric essay/prose poem around the theme of water. So much of what I wrote about in today’s entry involves water!

may 24/BIKE

bike to u of m and back: 7 miles
87 degrees

Hot. Windy. Sunny. Feels like July or August, not May. Biked to the library at the U to skim through a few books I might want to buy. I do, at least one of them: Roger Deakin’s Water Log. Feeling ready to write more about water and my love of swimming. Strange to walk in the building. I haven’t been in it since I left the academy 6.5 years ago. Hardly anything has changed. Same steps. Same stacks. Same study tables. Different me. I miss being at the library, swimming in books. In Water Log, Deakin describes how swimming in water is an other-worldly experience. Submerged, your senses working differently in a dark, watery (almost) womb. Sitting in the middle of the library, surrounded by stacks, is not the same as swimming, but it generates similar feelings of being submerged and in a time/space that is in-between. Maybe I should think more about these two activities together?

Bike Thoughts:

As usual, most of my thoughts while biking were about staying alert and cautious. Paying attention to other bikers and trying to avoid potholes. It felt good to ride, even though it was hot. At first, I was angry by all the bikers coming from the other direction, biking beside each other and hogging the path. With my lack of depth perception and my inability to quickly process some images, passing so close to other bikers is very scary. At some point, I decided I would stop worrying and just try to smile–not at others but for myself. Doing this helped. Much better than my old approach: rehashing the close encounter in my head and imagining how I would confront the bikers and shame them with an explanation of how dangerous their biking was for someone like me, with macular degeneration. Will I ever be able to lose myself in a bike ride, letting my thoughts wander like in a run or a swim, or is it just too dangerous to not always be focused? As I bike more this summer, I hope to find out.

may 20/RACE

10K: 55:06
women run the cities

A beautiful day for a run beside the river! Sunny. Not too much wind. Not too warm. I decided to run this race to redeem myself for the get in gear 10K that I ran 3 weeks ago. In that race, I fell apart in the second half and walked a lot. In this race, I did much better. Starting slower and running through the bad moments. I still walked once–for about half a minute–and ran much slower than I have in the past, but I feel good about the race. What do I remember? A long line for the porta-potties. The energetic and entertaining way the women in front of me gestured with her hands as she talked. The woman behind me, describing her late night drinking and ordering domino’s pizza. The woman ahead of me in the race corral discussing meeting a random guy while running a marathon and then stalking him online later. The extremely off-key version of The Star Spangled Banner someone sang right before the race. A woman making this weird waving motion while running beside me. What was she doing? Being confused at the start of the lake street bridge because everyone was running on the sidewalk and not the road and then almost missing Scott cheering me on. Running up the Summit hill and hearing a woman encouraging her friend: “you can slow down but don’t walk.” Feeling grateful when “Back in Black” came on my running playlist and pumped me up. Trying to avoid all of the potholes. Crossing the Ford bridge and then seeing the long stretch of road before we turned down to the falls and wanting to stop and walk–but not doing it. Turning down to the falls just as the theme from Rocky started playing. Smiling as I finished.

bonus: Later, Scott and I biked to the game. 12 miles total. We weren’t biking too fast, but it was some nice cross-training. It’s always easier for me to bike when I’m following someone else. With my vision, I can bike but it can be difficult. Sometimes–not every time–it takes a while for me to really see the path, especially when going down hill. I see that it’s there, but I can’t quite find the edges. Usually, I trust that I’m following the path, even when I can’t completely see it.

may 18/SWIM BIKE

swim at the ywca: 1875 yards
bike to ywca and back: 8 miles

Much of my bike ride was devoted to paying attention to the path and other people so I don’t remember noticing much else. It was very windy, both on the way to the y and on the way back. It was so windy coming off the Sabo Bridge that it almost took my breath away. Biked mostly on the greenway trail, which follows the an old railroad line, cutting across the city. You can take it all the way to Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun). A great, wide path. Easy to ride on with my bad vision. Much easier than the windy river road path.

My swim felt good. About halfway into it, I started to notice the shadows on the pool floor. Very faint. Coming from the leaves fluttering on the trees right outside the windows. Then I noticed the sloshing noise of my body moving through the water. And the fact that the blue line in the middle of the lane is 6 squares across. And the random stuff settling at the bottom, floating just above the white tiles and the metal drain. And the occasional click of my shoulder or wrist or knuckle or something, the noise amplified by the water. And the limbs of other swimmers as I passed by them. I spent most of the time trying to keep track of what lap I was on, but other thoughts did creep in. I can’t remember any of them now, but I do remember feeling like I was existing in a different sort of time, almost other-worldly. Pretty cool. Not as cool as open water swimming time, but still cool. I’m thinking that I should bring a notebook for these swims so that I can immediately record my thoughts, before they disappear.

may 16/BIKERUN

bike to lake nokomis and back: 8.5 miles
run around lake nokomis: 2.5 miles
73 degrees

First bike of the season! Sunny. Not much wind. A great day for a ride even with my bad vision. Biking to the lake is fun but mentally exhausting as I struggle to stay on the path. My depth perception is bad and I have trouble distinguishing between the grayish road, the grayish curb and the grayish path. Occasionally, a strip of bright green grass sandwiched between the path and the road helped me to see–another reason to love green–the edge of the path. It was much easier seeing in the bright sunlight. In the shade the light filtered through the trees and created a dappled effect. I used to like this dappling, but now it makes it so much harder to see. Everything swims around even more than usual, especially when the leaves are swaying in the breeze. Most of my thinking was focused on not running into another biker, runner, walker, or car and trying to stay on the path, but I did have a few thoughts: 1. I want to write something–a poem, a line for a poem–about the green strip of grass that helps me to distinguish between the path and road. It will be part of my larger interest in green. Maybe it will turn into a chapbook? 2. I want to document the difficulties of exercising with Best’s disease, especially biking.

Once I arrived at the lake, I ran around it. A loop = 2.5 miles. It was hot and sunny with hardly any shade. I felt a breeze a few times, but mostly hot sun and sweat and a very flushed face. I used to run around lake nokomis all the time. Now that I live 4 miles away, I only do it on long runs or if I bike there, like today. Saw lots of walkers. A few runners. Strollers, Dogs. Ducks. A hissing goose. My shadow, first to the side, then in front leading me over the bridge. Saw the shimmering water and a man precariously perched on a wall on the edge of the lake, fishing. Noticed lots of people sitting on benches, enjoying the day and one woman peering into the marshy, wetlands on the edge of the path, near the bridge. Passed a runner who was running with her phone but no headphones listening to a podcast or the news or a running app? When I started my feet felt heavy and awkward. I wondered if I would be able to run the whole loop without feeling miserable. Soon, I felt better and even though it was hot, I mostly enjoyed it. Ended the run by wading in the water, which up until 2 weeks ago was still covered in ice. Instant ice bath for my knee! No profound thoughts. No runner’s high. No super fast splits. Just a few things remembered and some interesting moments to record. And a sense of joy that summer is coming and I get to spend it at this lake, swimming and biking and running and writing.