bike: 7.5 miles
to ywca and back
My last bike ride of the fall? Could be. Pretty sure it’s my last bike ride to the Y. My membership ends when October does. No choice, I’ll have to run outside all winter, which is fine with me.
swim: 1 mile/1850 yards
This could also be my last swim of the year at the y. Don’t know if I’ll get back there before next Thursday when my membership ends. It was a good swim. I noticed the sounds–so loud! Everything amplified by the water. Sloshing and thumping and splashing. I need some better words. At some point during the swim, I imagined swimming next to a younger version of myself. Then I imagined all 6 lanes filled with differently aged-Saras, younger Saras and older Saras. What would we think of each other? Strange and magical. I liked imagining a Sara-filled pool. Later, I noticed the shadows of the trees, just outside, dancing on the pool floor. It looked like the pool bottom was alive. I liked being in this world, free of gravity and the need to see anything too clearly.
When I started my run, it wasn’t raining. But within minutes I felt some mist and by the time I reached the east side of the river it was raining. At first I didn’t feel the rain. I only heard it gently falling on the leaves. Such a comforting sound. Soon enough it was raining and I felt it on my face. I don’t mind running in the rain, as long as it’s not freezing, which it wasn’t today.
What else do I remember?
- the squeaking sound the wet leaves made as I ran over them
- the once yellow now glowing orange leaves near the lake street bridge
- avoiding the cracks in the path just past the railroad bridge
- looking down at the river as I crossed the Franklin bridge, remembering run across it in the race 2 days ago
- hearing the trickling of water below the gorge on the st. paul side
- hearing a dog’s sharp bark down in the gorge
- seeing a runner up ahead on the franklin bridge and slowly getting closer, finally passing them before the meeker island sign
- smiling as I ran back across the lake street bridge
- seeing the Daily Walker up ahead, dressed only in a short sleeved shirt, passing him
- running past 2 walkers with big umbrellas at my favorite part of the path near the end of my run
- seeing red yellow orange leaves
- encountering only one spazzy squirrel
swim: 1 mile/1800 yards
Until my membership expires at the end of the month, I’m swimming a mile at the y after band rehearsal on Tuesday nights. It felt good. I felt strong. And, amazingly, swimming for 30 minutes straight wasn’t boring or tedious.
50 degrees/96% humidity
Misty. Humid. Cool. Fall colors are appearing. Greenish yellows. Reds. Oranges. Greeted the daily walker. Felt good, relaxed. After stopping a few times to deal with a phone call in the first 2 miles, was able to run the rest without walking. Running over the Franklin bridge was beautiful. Admired an inverted image of the railroad bridge in the water. Ran around 20-30 seconds faster per mile than my last run. Saw a rafter of wild turkeys on the St. Paul side. Maybe a dozen of them just hanging out on the lawn of the Shriners Hospital. I love that I can see wild turkeys in the middle of the city. Heard water trickling down the side of the gorge. Felt water trickling off of my face. Wondered how long it would be before all the leaves would be gone and I could see to the other side. Thought about the 10 mile race I’m running this Sunday. My goal: to enjoy it and to not take it out too fast.
Anything else I remember?: cars rushing by on the river road, the gorge looking gorgeous in dark green and rich brown, the grit crunching under my feet by the lake street bridge, the yellow leaves on the trees right by the marshall bridge almost all gone already, squirrels darting frantically, no rowers, no roller skiers, any bikers?, no ducks quacking or geese honking, no bugs buzzing, no sirens wailing, no eagles or hawks soaring, no runners or walkers or bikers or drivers irritating me, my knee hurting only slightly and not too often.
swim: 1 mile/1760 yards
After band rehearsal, walked a few blocks to the y for a quick swim. 8:45 is a great time to go to the pool–no one else is around! There was one other swimmer a few lanes over. Far enough over that I couldn’t really see her for most of my swim. My mile went fast. So fast that I wondered if I had miscounted. But I didn’t. I often miscount, thinking ahead too much. The only way I don’t lose track is by mixing up my stroke count. I break the mile up into 200s with a 50 breathing every 3 strokes, a 50 every 4, a 50 every 5, a 50 every 6. I don’t remember much about the swim except: staring down at the blue line in the middle of the lane and then counting the tile of the other blue line that marks the drop off for the deep end: 3 tiles; looking up every so often, noticing the lifeguard walking around; trying to quickly glance at the clock as I swam by but having trouble; and noticing that there are at least 3 clocks within view as I swim, none of which I could see that well.
swim: 2 miles/3600 yards
Pushing off from the wall for my first lap, swimming at the bottom, my face inches from the tiles, it hits me: the line down the center of the lane, the one that is 6 tiles wide, is blue. Last week in an entry, I think I called it black. And, as I wondered in this entry, there is a line marking off the deep end, but it’s blue not black. On the wall, at either end of the lane is a blue plus sign made out of tiles. Maybe next time I swim, I can try to count them. The rest of the tiles are white. Less white this week, than a few weeks ago, right after the pool had its annual cleaning. During the first mile, my goggles were slightly fogged up so I didn’t see as much but when I stopped and quickly cleaned them out with pool water, they were clear for the second mile. This (somewhat) clarity of vision got me thinking about a paragraph I read the other day in an essay about swimming entitled “Buoyancy.” William Spiegelman writes:
Swimming, unique among physical activities, diminishes and almost eliminates the sense of sight, our primary means of engagement with the physical world. You see the sides of the pool, the bottom, the lane markers; you get momentary glimpses of the world as you breathe or raise your head above the water as you turn, but by and large, vision is kept at a minimum.
I guess this is true for a pool, although much more true for open water swimming, but I felt like I was seeing as well as or better than I usually do outside of the water. The water was very clear and I could see the tiny bits of mildew or grout (or who knows what) in the corners of the tiles. I saw other people, floating, kicking, crawling. Brightly colored suits. Yellow fins. A red-shorted, looming lifeguard talking to a woman in a black suit. The timing clock ticking down seconds. A word about the lifeguard: she was fascinating. Walking up to a lane to swim, I overheard her recounting to another woman about all of her aches and pains and the chair yoga class she was taking (or leading?) at another fitness center. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an older lifeguard. Cool. Now I’m wondering if I’m confused, but I’m pretty sure she was the lifeguard.
bike: 8 miles
to the ywca pool
The hill up to the Sabo bridge was easier today. Could this be because I’m biking it more?
swim: 2 miles/3520 yards
Swam slightly less than on Wednesday, but I did it. 2 miles. I’m hoping to do this twice a week this fall/winter (at least). Might need to mix it up with some sets because an hour of lap swimming with so many flip turns gets a bit tedious. Today I put in a quick set of 4 X 100s on 1:45. Still not enough variety. But, even though it was tedious, I enjoyed doing it and felt good during and after. The main thing I remember about the swim is the beginning. Swimming underwater, my nose almost touching the white tiles, as I swam at the bottom for 3/4s of the first length. Swimming underwater without breathing until I reach the line marking the deep end has been my ritual at the y pool for several years now. Rereading this last line, I’m wondering: is there actually a black line at this point or does it just drop off? I’m doubting my memory now. I’ll have to check next time I swim. It always starts my swim. I also remember how the choppiness of the water when all the lanes were full and the woman next to me was vigorously kicking. No waves making it hard to breathe, like on the open lake, but a gentle rocking. Oh, and at the beginning of the swim, when I was still getting used to breathing with my nose plug on, feeling the sting of chlorine trapped in my nose, burning. I thought about stopping to adjust the plug but I figured it would stop bugging after a few laps (it did). And the older woman in the brightly colored suit swimming next to me, her body halfway between horizontal and vertical, bobbing and kicking and hardly moving forward. Strange and fascinating and beautiful to watch. And the feeling of power and strength as I plowed through the water after increasing my speed for 4 100s.
Before ending this entry, decided to google, “swimming pool poetry”. Here’s the first thing that popped up:
BY KENN NESBITT
Swimming in the swimming pool
is where I like to “B,”
wearing underwater goggles
so that I can “C.”
Yesterday, before I swam,
I drank a cup of “T.”
Now the pool’s a “swimming ool”
because I took a “P.”
This poem reminds me of sign at a nearby Middle School with a pool. Someone removed all the ls so instead of “pool, pool lobby,” it says, “poo poo lobby.” It makes me laugh every time I see it.
bike: 8 miles
to the ywca pool
Biking over the Sabo bridge on this beautiful day, I felt lucky to be pedaling hard on a bike and not trapped at the light in a car.
swim: 2 miles/3600 yards
I swam 2 miles in the pool. One mile without stopping, then a few quick breaks during the second mile. Felt pretty good although I’m tired now. The water was clear and, looping so many times (144 flip turns) and for so long (60 minutes), I was able to stare at the bottom of the pool. Pretty clean. Only two things that I could see. Even after all the time I looked at them, I still have no clue what they are. Fuzz? A barrette? Definitely not a bandaid or anything gross. What else do I remember about the swim? Mostly, I remember the other swimmers. All slower than me except for the one guy that started out faster for a lap or two then slowed way down. I like being the fastest swimmer in the pool. And I often am, especially at the time I go swimming: mid-morning. Usually the only other swimmers at this time are retired 60 or 70-somethings. I know that there are 70 year olds that can swim faster than me but they are never at the y pool when I’m there. I can’t quite decide if this desire to be the fastest is a good or a bad thing. Are the swimmers in the other lanes as competitive as me? Probably some of them are. I never actually try to race anyone else, I just like being faster.
bike: 8 miles
mississippi river road north/midtown greenway/sabo bridge/ywca
What a glorious early fall day! Sunny. Clear. Slightly cool. The view of downtown from the Sabo bridge was beautiful.
swim: 1.36 miles/2400 yards
ywca indoor pool
96 laps. 96 flip turns. Surprisingly, so many laps and turns didn’t bother my mood or my knee today. I felt strong and swift and glad to be swimming again after almost 2 weeks off. The water was so clear. I could see every tile below me. Such a different experience from the lake where I couldn’t see anything. It was also nice not to have to worry about sighting the big orange buoys or getting off course or random debris getting stuck on my hand or my head. I still prefer open swim, but I’ll happily swim in this pool a couple times a week this fall/winter/spring.
run: 2.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
This is my fourth day in a row of running. Feeling good. Woke up to 53 degrees. Fall is here!
bike: 9 miles
lake nokomis and back
Was planning to swim at the lake today but I got there just as a boat was taking out the last buoys. Last year, they kept the buoys in until the beginning of October. I’m sad but slightly relieved to know that it’s over–no more doubts about whether or not I should try biking over the lake to swim. I can’t, it’s closed. See you next summer, beloved Lake Nokomis.
2.4 mile swim race
bde maka ska
open swim classic
Third time’s the charm. The first year I tried swimming this race, I had just been diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration and the lake was too foggy for me to see anything–they almost cancelled it–so I had to drop out. The second year, I displaced my kneecap and my physical therapist advised me not to try swimming it. This year I almost wimped out because of sore legs, but I didn’t. I thought about how much I’ve wanted to swim this race and how I wanted to set a good example for my daughter and I did it. I swam it. I couldn’t see anything because of my vision and all of the water in my goggles, but I found someone else to follow and we made it all the way around the lake. I think she might have led us off track–my watch shows that I swam an extra 500 yards–but we made it and, according to Scott, I got 4th place.
What do I remember about my swim:
- googles, filled up with water
- rocks mixed in with sand on the beach floor
- shallow water–starting the race and walking for the first 15-20 seconds. Heard one swimmer joke, “I thought this was a swimming race, not a walking race!”
- clear water, checking out the Eurasian watermilfoil just below me
- not being able to see anything but water and an occasional buoy
- feeling like I (and the 2 other swimmers I was swimming with) were the only people in the lake
- having no idea how far I had gone or how much farther I had to go
- the swimmer next to me and the pink shoulders of her tri suit and white rims of her goggles
- thinking: I’m actually doing this! yay me!
- the shocking cold of the water as I entered and the feeling that I couldn’t breathe
- watching the swimmer ahead of me stop to look where she was going and thinking: please don’t stop, I have no idea where I’m going or where the next buoy is!
- before the race, overhearing a woman with a cast on her broken feet telling another swimmer: “I broke it at my daughter’s wedding. The doctor told me I couldn’t swim in the race and I thought that was unacceptable, so I’m here and I’ve rigged up something for my foot so I can swim.” What a badass.
- feeling strong and proud and tired and happy to be done
- a slightly aching shoulder
run: 2.2 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
67 degrees/70% humidity
Ran on the path beside the road towards minnehaha falls, then took the steps to the path below on the way back. Cooler. Greener. Better. A few very short steep inclines. So steep that I ran almost on my toes, which felt weird. My knee was a bit stiff because it partially displaced for less than a second last night when I turned onto my stomach in bed (this annoyingly happens every so often). Didn’t see anyone or anything on the river. No rowers. Not like yesterday when I heard and then tried to see a group of rowers near the Franklin bridge. The railing was too high and even though I stretched my neck to see them I could never quite. When I looked through the thick railings, I could almost see the shell but really only saw the break in the water that trailed behind them–what’s that called?
bike: 8 miles
Biked to the lake for open swim. On the way there, I had convinced myself that this was the last open swim, the last bike ride to the lake before the swim, the last time I’d nervously anticipate the effort I was about to make and whether or not I’d get off course, the last time I’d round the bend and see the big orange buoys already pumped up, ready to be positioned in the water. I got nostalgic and grateful for having a wonderful season and worried–who would I be next summer? Someone who could still swim across the lake? Then I remembered: it’s only Tuesday. The last open swim is on Thursday.
swim: 4 miles/6 loops/7200 yards
lake nokomis open swim
6 loops! I’m sure that the distance I swam is a little less than 7200 yards but I swam 6 loops and it’s supposed to be 1200 yards from the big beach to the little beach and to the big beach again, so I’m counting it as 7200 yards. Swam without stopping for the first 4.5 loops (80 minutes), which might have been a mistake. My feet and calves felt like they might cramp up. The last loop and a half were tough. I was very afraid that my calf would get knotted up so I tried to swim without kicking as much. My calf has only knotted up once after a swim, 3 years ago, and I still remember the pain. It was not quite right for a year. Swimming the last loop, I felt like I had pushed myself to my limits. When I finished, I was freezing and exhausted.
So late in the season, the light, swimming from the little beach to the big one, consumed everything. I could see the hulking shadow of the buoys, but barely and almost nothing else. No white roof at the big beach or yellow boats, just the light pole and a few menacing sailboats who seemed ready to ignore the lifeguards and sail through the swimmers. So many swimmers! Tuesday night is free night so there are always more swimmers trying out the course. I got kicked hard in the hip by someone breaststroking. Another swimmer swam right into me.