march 18/RACE

Hot Dash 10 Mile
Minneapolis
1:29:04 (8:55 pace)

A great race. Well organized. Decent weather (a bit chilly and windy, but no snow or ice). Challenging, but interesting course (tons of hills). I achieved all of my goals: running all the hills, not walking and negative splitting the second five miles. Perhaps the best thing about this race was that my husband Scott and I were able to run it together, which is a big deal because we’ve never run more than 5 miles together. In the past I’ve been too fast for him. But since I slowed down a bit to build up strength and endurance, we’re more evenly matched. Maybe we’ll run the marathon together?

Before the Race

#hotdash #hotdash10mile @twincitiesinmotion

A post shared by Scott Anderson ūüďé (@room34) on

During the Race

Crossing the finish line at yesterday’s #hotdash10mile with @undisciplined right behind me.

A post shared by Scott Anderson ūüďé (@room34) on


After the Race

Done! 1:29:05ish. Ran pretty much the whole thing together. #hotdash #hotdash10mile @twincitiesinmotion

A post shared by Scott Anderson ūüďé (@room34) on

march 16/REST

I’m resting up today for the 10 mile run on Saturday. While I was walking to the studio, I listened to Krista Tippet’s On Being. This episode, How Trauma Lodges in the Body, ¬†featured an interview with the psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. He’s particularly¬†interested in bodywork and how it can help people with trauma recover. I was struck by his discussion of the disconnect between mind and body in the West.

the mind/body split

DR. VAN DER KOLK: But it’s true. Western culture is astoundingly disembodied and uniquely so. Because of my work, I’ve been to South Africa quite a few times and China and Japan and India. You see that we are much more disembodied. And the way I like to say is that we basically come from a post-alcoholic culture. People whose origins are in Northern Europe had only one way of treating distress. That’s namely with a bottle of alcohol.

North American culture continues to continue that notion. If you feel bad, just take a swig or take a pill. And the notion that you can do things to change the harmony inside of yourself is just not something that we teach in schools and in our culture, in our churches, in our religious practices. And of course, if you look at religions around the world, they always start with dancing, moving, singing…

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah. Crying, laughing.

DR. VAN DER KOLK: Physical experiences. And then the more respectable people become, the more stiff they become somehow.

Part of this running project and the development of one of my key running stories is the split between mind and body and how it works in my running, writing, thinking and being. I’m trying to develop a relationship between mind and body that doesn’t prioritize one over the other or understand them to be wholly separate and disconnected things. What could that relationship look like?

 

heart rate variability (hrv)

Also during the interview, they briefly mentioned the importance of a “robust heart rate variability.” What the hell is that, I wondered. So, I looked it up and found that it’s a measure of the time between heart beats and that¬†it might be useful to track for improving your training. Now, I’m not trying to get too fiddly and overly complicated with my training. I don’t want to start tracking lots of different things, but I’m curious about HRV, mainly because my heart rate seems a little strange. The difference between a super¬†easy run (166 BPM for 6 miles/avg. pace 9:43) and a decently¬†hard run (180 BPM for 5K race/avg. pace 8:13) was not that much. Is that weird? Anyway, I’m just wondering how “robust” my hrv is.

Here’s an article that discusses HRV and its values for training and here’s an app for the iWatch that tracks your HRV.

march 15/6.1 MILES

28 degrees
mississippi river road path

Was only supposed to run 3 miles today, but decided to run a little extra. Wanted to do the Franklin hill one more time before my 10 mile race on Saturday, which, due to a recent course change, will include the monster hills that I’ve been running 3-4 times per week¬†this winter. A few months ago, this course route would have freaked me out, but now it doesn’t bother me at all.

Ran without headphones again. So beautiful. Heard lots of birds. Thinking of trying to learn to identify different bird calls. While¬†running and listening, tried to come up with words that could properly mimic the calls I was hearing. Now, writing this hours after the run, can’t remember the sounds or the words.

The river road is peaceful, but never completely quiet. It’s in the middle of Minneapolis and just across the river from St. Paul, so there’s a constant, underlying hum of city noise that you don’t so much hear as you feel deep in your core. I don’t mind that hum, but I miss my family’s¬†farm in the remote UP Michigan, where it was always quiet and still. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to run up there, where there are few off-road paths, only dangerous shoulders, too close to recklessly fast drivers and to the edge of the woods, where black bears, stray dogs, foxes, cougars and who knows what else might lie in wait, ready to lunge at me as I run by. Though I would like to go back up there and sit in a field, breathing in the fresh air and listening to the silence.

Just read an essay applying¬†Foucault’s theories on dominant discourses to self-narratives about long distance running. The author of the essay writes and then analyzes her own race report for The Big Sur Marathon. In her analysis, she discusses how she reinforces and subverts dominant discourses about femininity, the “ideal” body and running. I’m wondering: what are the dominant discourses in this story project?

What dominant discourses are present in my running?

  • time/speed, desire to achieve a PR, motivated by success as faster time
  • ‚Äútrue‚ÄĚ running = no walking, walking = failure
  • self-surveillance and monitoring (bpm, pace, total miles in training)
  • run training = complicated combination of long runs, tempo runs, hill work, speed work, Yasso 800s, tapering, ‚Äúcore‚ÄĚ work
  • running = overachieving + highly motivated and ‚ÄúSucessful‚ÄĚ person
  • value of running is being the fastest, or faster than most people, or the fastest you can possibly be
  • races are about PRs
  • excellent runners are disciplined
  • running = fancy and expensive gear

I am attempting to challenge, transform, unlearn, disrupt, rework and play with these dominant discourses. Sometimes I succeed¬†and sometimes I¬†don’t.

march 14/XT

70 degrees
road bike on stand, front room

Finished watching Asics Running: Beat the Sun while biking for 30 minutes. I teared up when the racer whose wife had recently died finished his final run and was briefly interviewed. Losing a partner too soon seems to be a theme today. Before biking, I read about the artist/writer who died yesterday from ovarian cancer, only days after her essay, You May Want to Marry My Husband, was published in the New York Times. So sad. Looking at her work, especially her experimental memoirs, and realizing how awesome she was and then finding out from my sister that she had known her, made her death seem more real and even more sad.

Grief and Running, a list of random sources

march 13/4.1 MILES

26 degrees
mississippi river road path

It snowed last night. About 2-3 inches. The path was already almost all clear by the time I ran at 1 in the afternoon. My right thigh wasn’t hurting anymore, which is a relief. So glad I took yesterday off.

Earlier today, I read a blog post by an academic about her running. I particularly liked her discussion about discipline, although I want to find another word for it:

I remember telling R. years ago, in those early running days, that the key aspect of discipline for me was less about the need to make myself go do something than it was about the need to keep myself from doing too much. And so I’m trying to be very disciplined about things, to build strength slowly, to keep plodding forward, to focus on the years ahead rather than the miles right now.

march 12/REST

Today I was supposed to run 5 miles. I rested instead. My right thigh feels sore and I don’t want to risk injuring it. ¬†It’s hard to rest. Much harder than getting out there and running. I’m proud of myself for having the strength¬†to not run.

strength? courage? self-control? willpower? discipline?

What is it that I displayed when I was able to overcome my strong desire to run even though I knew I shouldn’t? Many would describe it as “self-control” or discipline, but I dislike these words; they’re too directed towards certain aims, like success!, achievement! and privileging the mind over the body. They’re also too motivated by squelching passion and enthusiasm. About denying your Self and what you want¬†for the sake of¬†your goals.¬† How could we understand not running as a form of (self) care instead of as discipline or willpower?¬†Does this make sense to anyone other than me? Does it even make sense to me? I want to keep pushing at this idea of framing my training around care instead of achievement and Success!.¬†

 

 

march 11/10 MILES

13 degrees/feels like 1
mississippi river road path

My third week in a row doing 10 miles! Most of it felt good, except for the parts that didn’t. Just one part, actually. Coming back from downtown, running down the big hill, my right thigh started to hurt. It was hard to run. When I realized that I was clenching my fists and grimacing a bit, I decided to stop for 30 seconds to shake it out. Starting again, it felt much better for the remaining 4 miles.

According to the runner’s world pace tool, my long runs should be between 9:55 and 11:15. It’s a challenge to¬†run that slow, about 90 seconds slower than I ‘m used to running. ¬†But I did it today. I averaged a 10 minute pace. ¬†I ignored¬†the shadow Sara that wanted me to run faster so that I could stop being passed by other runners and so that I could finish the whole run in less than 90 minutes.

I ran without headphones. Heard lots of birds, cars, conversations, crunching shoes and barking dogs. Because I was running much slower, I barely heard my breath.

Some Distinctive Sounds, a list

  • At first the wind blowing gently through the dead leaves on the trees sounded like shimmering, but after listening to it for awhile, I decided it sounded more like static on a television.
  • The brittle twigs sticking out of the fence that I hit as I ran too close to the edge of the path to avoid the runners approaching me made a “boing” sound. I can’t remember what I thought they¬†sounded like as I hit them, but now, reflecting on the run, I imagine¬†they resembled a distant diving board, right after someone has jumped off of it.
  • Without headphones, I heard a lot more people saying “hi” to me. Had people I encountered in past runs said¬†“hi” at the same rate, but I just didn’t notice because I was too distracted by Barry Manilow or Billy Joel or Krista Tippett or Michael Ian Black?

march 10/3 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

Wouldn’t have minded running outside in the 10 degree weather, but it worked out better for my schedule to run at the y. I need to stop running there. I run faster than I want (or should) and my knees or feet or some other part of my body always hurts more after running¬†20 times around a¬†track than running outside.

march 9/5.25 MILES

26 degrees
mississippi river road path

A wonderful run. The wind was down–only 8 or 9 mph instead of the 25+ it’s been at for the past 3 days. Wind like that scares me. The howling. The trees violently swaying. The dead leaves and random debris ominously swirling. A few years ago, I recall being outside at a¬†park when it was really windy. It was sunny and otherwise a beautiful day, but the¬†wind was making¬†the big trees towering over¬†the playground and my head tremble and shake. ¬†I had this moment of panic where I suddenly felt trapped…on the planet. No place to hide or be safe from that wind or those trees. Overly dramatic, I suppose, but it was such a¬†weird and intense feeling.

Felt really great during my run. Slowly built up my pace. Lifted my knees when I ran up the big Franklin hill and didn’t think I was going to die at the top of it. I guess running that hill 4 times a week¬†is paying off.

march 8/XT

70 degrees
road bike on stand, the front room

Biked on the stand while watching ASICS Running: Beat the Sun. It’s a crazy endurance race in France where 5 teams of runners run for 150 km and scale a huge mountain. They’re not so much racing each other as they are the sun; they have almost 16 hours–the amount of daylight on the longest day of the year–to complete the race. The race is broken up into 13 segments, with 5 of the 6 team members running 2 segments and 1 member running 3. Each team has 3 pros and 3 amateurs. 10,000 runners competed for the 15 amateur spots.

I love watching shows¬†like this, especially when they’re mostly about¬†the actual race instead of¬†dramatic conflicts between team members or highly polished and annoyingly clich√©d personal interest stories. An occasional story sprinkled in is okay, but not at the expense of the race.

Perhaps my one exception to this¬†rule is NBC’s coverage of the Kona Ironman. I love all those sappy stories about the athletes.

Sappy Kona Stories, a list

  • the widow of a gulf war vet who races¬†in his memory
  • the 70 something nun who comes back every year to battle the trade winds on the bike portion–the winds that once threw her right off her bike, forcing her to withdraw
  • the middle-aged man who uses the motivation of competing at Kona to recover from a debilitating stroke
  • the pro racer who placed¬†5th the year before but then had a training accident and was paralyzed, coming back to race in his¬†wheelchair
  • the octogenarian doctor who desperately wants to (and spoiler: does) beat the cut-off time of midnight so that he can¬†officially claim that “I am an Ironman!”
  • the father¬†and¬†son team racing¬†together, with the father dragging the son in a raft during the swim portion because the son has cerebral palsy
  • the former race volunteer who wants to see what Ali’i drive and the finish line look like from the other side.

I don’t care that these stories seem designed to get me to cry and that my connection to them might be more orchestrated than authentic, I love them anyway.

But, getting back to the Beat the Sun race. I’m about halfway done with the show. It’s almost all about the actual race. Only one brief mention of how one of the runners decided to come and race even though his wife had just died. I’m learning about the climbs in elevation, the pace of each runner, the terrain, the difficulty of the altitude, GI distress. No sappy feel good moments to move me or make me cry. Yet, there’s a moment in the show that made me feel something deeper than I’ve ever felt in the dozen or so KONA videos I’ve watched. ¬†A little over 19 minutes in, the camera focuses on a runner who has just finished his grueling segment. He’s wheezing and having trouble breathing. We watch him wheeze for 10 seconds, which seems like a long time. Finally, he recovers. He walks off and calls out “I need a hug.” I’ve wheezed like that after a race. I know how it feels to not be able to breathe, to panic, worrying that you might pass out. I hate that feeling. I’ve watched the clip several times now and every time, I feel my throat closing up.

I don’t have a neat conclusion to offer to this entry, but I feel like I’m getting at something bigger with my discussion of sappy stories, personal narratives, feel-good moments and orchestrated versus authentic. Part of what this run! story project is about is experimenting with how to authentically communicate my experiences training and running.¬†How do I express what it feels like to be running in a way that moves others and/or enables them to understand who I am¬†in all my complexity, beyond the trite clich√©s of “the runner” and the formulaic running stories and race reports?

march 7/4 MILES

65 degrees
ywca track

I’ve been trying to run in windier conditions but today’s 25 mph wind was too much. Decided to run at the Y track with Scott before lunch. Experimented with tempo, running fast and slow. I can tell my legs are getting stronger; the run felt good.

Early on in the run, a group of preschoolers were on¬†the track. Tethered together with a rope, they walked the perimeter of the track. They were led by two caregivers and (mostly) stayed out of the way as I ran by. Sometimes when I run around the track in the evening, I encounter little kids who want to race me. A small part¬†of me wishes I appreciated this and that I could enjoy running beside them, but I don’t. I find it irritating and try to avoid it. Most of me is okay with¬†my grumpy attitude.

After the run, went to library and picked up four more books that I requested for this run! project:

So far, I’ve read a wide range of¬†things about running.

what I’ve been reading, a list

  • personal narratives about why runners run
  • race reports
  • training tips
  • academic essays on running and philosophy/feminism/rhetoric
  • dissertations on running and identity/feminism/narrative
  • interviews about running habits
  • memoirs about learning to love running
  • popular books about running as sacred
  • anthologies of running stories
  • tweets and news reports about elite athletes
  • fictional accounts of runners
  • stories about¬†pacing and/or coaching other runners
  • accounts of¬†suffering injuries; accounts of recovering from injuries
  • essays about running and grieving.

These readings have come in many forms.

  • books, almost all of which were checked out from my public library
  • blog posts on online journals, running sites, individual runners’ sites
  • tweets
  • newspaper and magazine articles
  • online short stories in literary journals
  • academic articles
  • dissertation chapters

I’m trying to develop a reading/researching plan for myself, in the form of a syllabus. It includes weekly reading lists, assignments and running challenges. Not sure how well it’s working because I keep changing it up. I’m all over the place with my reading, but that’s what makes it fun and undisciplined.

march 5/5 MILES

59 degrees
mississippi river road path
15 mph wind

If my mom were alive, today would have been her 75th birthday. She died in 2009, from pancreatic cancer. She was a runner. Well, more like a jogger. She jogged regularly for decades, sometimes alone, sometimes with my dad. She was slow and steady and rarely ran in any races, just a few charity runs. She started in 1977, when I was 3 and she was 36.

I never talked to her about running, or if I did, I don’t remember any specifics from¬†our conversations. Did she ever try to talk to me about it? Now that I’m an enthusiastic runner who loves to talk about running‚ÄĒwhere I run, who I encounter on my runs, how I feel on my runs, what parts of me hurt after my runs, what I listen to on my runs, what my times are on my runs‚ÄĒit’s hard for me to imagine her not wanting to talk about running and share her stories with me. Was I just not listening? Or, was she not as obsessed with running as I am?

Regardless of whether or not she talked with me¬†about running, the fact that she ran was always there, a constant in my life as a kid, even as we moved from the North to the South and then to the Midwest. One of the ways I still picture the non-sick her–over 10 years after she got sick and 6 years since she died–is in her running clothes.

Random Running Memories of Mom, a list

  • She started running at the Paavo Nurmi Gym at Suomi College (now Finlandia University) in the 1970s. I remember tagging along (with my 2 older sisters) and sitting in the bleachers. I got my first kiss from Kiefer during on of her runs.
  • In the early 80s, she ran in rural North Carolina, after teaching all day at a junior high school. At least once, I tried to go out running with her. I couldn’t keep up, so she went ahead. Alone, on my way back home, I¬†got trapped by a barking dog that was roaming the neighborhood.
  • In 5th grade, while biking recklessly on the road, I ran into a pick-up truck–I¬†hit¬†the truck; it didn’t hit me. My friend Sharla biked home and told my sister. She quickly got in the car and went looking for my mom, who was on her afternoon run. She rode with me in the ambulance, still wearing her running clothes.
  • My parents liked to go out running early on Saturday mornings. When they got back, they’d rush off again to go out for breakfast. I was rarely asked or allowed to go with them to the restaurant, which was fine with me because I hate breakfast food.
  • When we moved to West Des Moines, we joined a fancy health club: 7 Flags. My mom¬†would run on the track while I used the rowing machine.
  • I went along with my parents only once on one of their runs. It was 1997, when I was 23 and they were both 56. It was on¬†the recently redone waterfront in Houghton, Michigan. They ran; I walked. Their pace was slow enough that I could keep up while briskly walking.

Mom stopped running sometime in my 20s, years before her pancreas shut down and she had to have surgery and then chemo that only temporarily saved her life. It was also years before I started running. I never got to talk to her about how it felt to run for 20 minutes without stopping for the first time. Or experience her joy in witnessing the return of the physical Sara, the Sara that, in my late 20s, had been replaced with the intellectual Sara who thought too much and moved too little.

I wanted to take her on my run today. To imagine her beside me as I traveled on the bluff, above the Mississippi River. I couldn’t. My mind kept wandering back to the mechanics of my run–how was my heart rate? is my right knee doing okay? am I going too fast? But, that’s okay. I don’t need to imagine her beside me; she’s already always there. Not so much as a running partner, but as one of the reasons I run. I run because it’s something that I¬†can share with her even though she’s dead. And I run because I know it would delight her and make her so proud¬†that I’d found my way back to the physically confident Sara I had once been.

march 4/10 MILES

34 degrees
mississippi river road path

My second week in a row running 10 miles. This one was a little rougher than the last. Halfway up the big hill near Franklin, I had to stop and walk for a few minutes. Partly because I had already been running for over 7 miles, including about 2 miles directly into the wind, and partly because I was running about 30 seconds too fast per mile. I’m pretty sure I know why I was running faster. At the beginning of my run¬†I entered the river road path just ahead of two women running with a dog. They were really LOUD and they seemed to be hovering behind me, not fast enough to pass me, but fast enough to always be nearby so that I couldn’t block out¬†their annoying voices. The next time something like this happens, I should stay slow and just turn up my playlist, letting the Foo Fighters drown them out.

march 3/5.25 MILES

19 degrees/feels like 8
mississippi river road path

No headphones again today. Enjoyed experiencing the quiet calm of running by the river, but even though it was¬†calm, the path was still teeming with life and activity. I’m struck by the abundance and variety of sounds.

Variety of Sounds, a list

  • Birds that pecked, cawed, squawked, chirped incessantly, honked, cooed and rooted around in the dry underbrush on the edge of the bluff.
  • Cars that plodded, swooshed, revved, thundered, puttered and hummed as they ambled¬†on the river road or passed overhead on the bridges I ran¬†under or rushed hurriedly on the freeway that I could only faintly hear at the halfway point of my run.
  • Branches¬†that thrashed¬†against the iron fence when I accidentally hit them. That cracked¬†under my feet as I ran by. That rustled vigorously when a squirrel climbed¬†on them in the tall tree across the road and more gently when the wind caught hold of their dry and brittle leaves.
  • Critters that barked, screeched, thumped and noisily plodded through the vegetation near the riverbank.
  • Sandy¬†debris¬†that crunched under my right foot and rubbed against a small pebble that had become lodged in the slightly worn tread of my shoe¬†as I ran up the small hill, just past the Lake Street bridge and that cracked¬†under the heavy wheels of¬†the cars that drove over it. Mulched debris that absorbed most of the sound of my striking foot, converting its usual sharp thwack into a dull thud.¬†¬†

How much of my run was occupied with listening for these sounds? Not as much as you might¬†imagine. I still managed to think about whether or not I was going too fast, why my nose was running so much, if it was better to do a snot rocket or blow my nose into my buff (didn’t have to think about that one too long; I’ve¬†only tried shooting snot once and it was a gross failure) and how to swing my left arm¬†in a way that loosened up the tension in my shoulder but that didn’t make me look like¬†the woman that passed me running down the Franklin hill who had good form–a nice¬†kick and arms that swung by her sides, but still managed to be¬†a spaz.

march 1/3.1 MILES

34 degrees
mississippi river road path

It snowed this morning but by the time I went out to run, at noon, it had already mostly melted. I listened to a playlist–as a distraction from the cold wind (14 mph). Felt pretty good. The best moment of the run was this:

Running on the path, parallel to the river road, a gray car came barreling by, way faster than the 25 mph speed limit. Maybe 50 or 60 mph? They hardly¬†slowed down at one of the four way stops. Just as I was thinking about how fortunate I was that I hadn’t been near the stop sign that they ignored and lamenting how they¬†probably wouldn’t get a ticket, a police car drove by. “Yes!” I quietly exclaimed before I could stop myself.

feb 28/XT

40 degrees
longfellow neighborhood
walked 7.7 miles (2 dog walks + walk to/from office)

Today for cross-training I walked while listening to the latest episode of This American Life. It was about two babies that were switched at birth and it was fascinating. So fascinating that I became engrossed in the story, almost oblivious to my surroundings. Distracted. Barely aware of the sidewalk or any other walkers that were on it.

distracted.

Yesterday in my log entry I put two different versions of being distracted¬†beside each other without realizing it. I didn’t notice the juxtaposition until I reread the entry a few minutes ago. In one paragraph I describe how listening to a running playlist on my headphones makes me feel isolated and disconnected from the external world. In the next paragraph I mention how a distracted driver hit and killed a runner in a St. Paul crosswalk, on¬†one of my regular running routes. ¬†(update: looked this story up for new info and discovered 2 important things: 1. the driver was quite possibly distracted by multiple brain tumors that were only discovered after the accident and 2. the runner was not wearing headphones when he was running.)

In both of these cases, being distracted is presented as bad or dangerous. But, is it always? Sometimes I need distractions to inspire me. To motivate me. To prevent me from being too fixated on my present realities:

  • That I¬†still have an hour¬†left to run. A good podcast can help me to forgot this.
  • That I’m running into a cold wind. Having my hood up, covering my ears, helps me to not notice this.
  • That our government is a shit show and our president is unhinged. Taking breaks from the news and stories designed to agitate and confuse by listening to Barry Manilow or Justin Bieber (sorry, not sorry that I like that song) or “The Jeffersons” theme song while I run helps me to shift my attention

feb 27/4 MILES

36 degrees
west mississippi river road /lake street bridge/marshall hill

Ran with headphones today, listening to a playlist. Have decided that running without headphones is better for connecting to the running and for thinking. Music can distract and isolate me from the external world. Sometimes that’s good; I like to feel separated. But not all of the time.

Ran past the spot where a runner was killed just last Wednesday; hit by a “distracted driver” (cell phone? drugs? alcohol?) while crossing the street in the crosswalk. Very sad and scary. This is one of my regular routes and I’ve run in that crosswalk dozens of times. Not today.¬†From now on, I’m running on¬†the steps¬†that lead directly up to the bridge instead of crossing the road and taking the easier climb. With my macular dystrophy, crossing roads is already dangerous enough. I can’t always trust that I’ll see a car coming. I don’t need the added risk of distracted drivers.

feb 26/5 MILES

32 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

A beautiful Sunday morning. Decided to challenge myself to running without headphones. Focused on listening.

Things I heard while running, a list

  • Crows cawing
  • Other birds chirping and cooing
  • A woodpecker pecking
  • Geese honking
  • The swoosh of cars as they drive¬†by on the river road
  • The worn wheels of a car, plodding along the¬†river road
  • Some funky music, playing from a radio on a bike
  • The sharp thud of my shoes on the¬†paved path
  • The dull thud of my shoes on dirt and¬†debris on the path
  • The crunch¬†of my shoes on salt and gravel on the path
  • My breathing, usually slow and measured, occasionally quick and labored, like when climbing the Franklin hill
  • My zipper pull, rhythmically banging against my jacket as I run
  • An airplane, faint and far above my head
  • The wind rushing by my ears
  • The wind rustling in the dead leaves that never fell off the trees this past fall
  • Cars thumping above my head as I pass under¬†the Lake Street Bridge
  • The quick and unexpected laughter of a woman¬†on a path below me
  • Bike wheels, rapidly approaching
  • Phantom steps from runners who seem to be gaining on me, yet never pass, managing to turn off onto another path before reaching me. The crunch of their shoes is so slight that I wonder if they even exist, or if I’m imagining them
  • The clanging of a dog’s chain
  • A walker talking quietly on a¬†phone
  • Children faintly laughing

That’s all I can remember.

Here’s a quick video I took just after finishing my run. Not the greatest quality, but effective at reminding me of what I saw when I was done running.

feb 25/5 MILES

34 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

A nice, fast (er/ish) run of 4 miles. Felt good as a way to get rid of some frustration caused by my 10, almost 11, year old daughter.

65 degrees?
ywca track

Ran the last mile at the Y track so that I could join Scott in the hot tub after¬†he finished his run. Lately, I’m not enjoying running on the track. It seems to aggravate my right knee and it’s not nearly as fun as running outside. Even so, today I did enjoy watching the 6 (or was it just 4? Neither Scott or I could remember) simultaneous boys basketball¬†games happening below the track, in the Minnesota Sports Center, while I ran my last mile.

feb 24/XT

25 degrees
longfellow neighborhood

Instead of biking in the front room today, I walked. According to my apple health data I walked a 10k. I doubt that it was¬†quite that much, but I did walk to Room 34’s new studio (Studio 2) and back twice and walked the dog around the neighborhood.

I have always loved¬†walking, way before I loved running, but for different reasons. I’m planning to devote at least one week to thinking through what these reasons are. Here are some readings that could help:

you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking.

I love this idea! I’ve often talked about being like a cow and ruminating. I never thought about a camel.

feb 23/10 MILES

33 degrees
mississippi river road walking path/stone arch bridge

I did it. 10 miles without stopping. I have run this distance¬†before. I’ve even raced it four times. But doing a 10 mile training run still seems like a big deal, especially¬†one with so many huge hills. I experimented with fueling by eating a mini pretzel starting at 30 minutes in and then every 10 minutes. That¬†worked. Will it work during a marathon? I doubt it; that’s a lot of 10 minutes and a lot of pretzels.

Currently reading Jen A. Miller’s Running, a love story. Miller mentions Katherine Jeffers Schori, so I looked her up. In an interview with Runner’s World, Schori says this when asked if she feels running helps with her work:

Absolutely. It’s focusing for me. In my tradition we might talk about it as body prayer. It’s a meditative experience at its best. It’s a sort of emptying of the mind.

Body prayer. I like this idea. I want to learn more about it.

feb 21/4 MILES

41 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

I’m in the midst of reading Rachel Toor’s Personal Record. Just before heading out for my run, I came¬†to¬†her chapter, “Speed Goggles.” In it, she writes¬†about her attraction¬†to men who are fast runners; regardless of how they actually look (too skinny, gangly) or act (“uncivilized”), the fact that they run fast makes them attractive to her.

Toor understands going fast to be a mark of commitment and excellence, and what is necessary to be a good runner. Toor wants to be a good runner. She writes:

I have always been a good student, a type A clich√©. It I was going to do something, I was going to be good at it….I was never going to jog for my health. I didn’t care all that much about my health, having always been healthy. If I needed at some point to lose weight, there were easier ways to do–starvation, say. No, with running as with all else, I wanted to be good (26).

I thought¬†about Toor’s emphasis on being fast as I got¬†ready to leave the house and then during my run.¬†What do I think about speed? Do I want to be fast? Mostly, I’m taking the opposite perspective: I want to go¬†slow. Being willing to slow down, to stop going so fast in training, is more of a mark of commitment¬†and the willingness to focus on a bigger goal: to run longer–in a race, but in years as a runner, without stopping to walk and without injury.

I also thought¬†about this idea of being good. What does it mean to be good at running? Is it necessarily tied to winning races or going faster and regularly achieving new PRs? If so, I guess I don’t want to be good.¬†At least I don’t think I do.¬†It’s complicated. I like going faster in races and I do have PR goals, but they don’t define¬†the joy I get from¬†running.

I feel stuck in writing this log entry. Too much to think about in terms of my dislike of competition–especially aggressive competitors– but my fear that I’m more competitive than I admit; my stubborn dedication to not being too good at things; my extreme reluctance in ever sharing my times with others, which I attribute to not wanting to brag but wonder if it has more to do with not allowing myself to be proud of my accomplishments. ¬†

feb 20/3.2 MILES

51 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

Managed to finish running before¬†the rain came. ¬†Rain in February?! Was pleased with my easy run; slowing¬†down for the past two months is¬†working. My run seems easier and more relaxed and my heart rate isn’t getting so high. I enjoy the challenge of going slower. Fighting against pride and an investment in being fast. Cultivating humility. Relishing the run, not just rushing through it to achieve another training goal.

My marathon training, much like most things in my life, is a combination of focused dedication to building up helpful habits (in this case, running slower in order to run farther and to avoid injury) and breaking down harmful ones (like running too fast in order to be fast and to be faster than others).

Is this a combination of becoming¬†disciplined (building up) and being undisciplined (breaking down)? With my interest in virtue ethics and the ethical effects of accumulated practices, and my virtual identity as undisciplined, I’m fascinated by this question and the difference between becoming and being here.¬†In my training, I’m giving the edge to being undisciplined, focusing my attention on breaking bad habits and being vigilant against¬†developing new¬†ones that could be just as bad, or worse. This undisciplining work enables me to become disciplined–or focused, dedicated, committed?– in my practices.

 

feb 19/2 MILES

58 degrees
mississippi river road walking path

Not only is it freakishly warm outside but it’s been warm for enough days that all the snow has melted on the walking path. Because they only plow the bike path in the winter, I usually don’t run on the walking path until spring. Today and yesterday I ran by people who were standing around,¬†looking up into the trees at the edge of bluff. What were they looking at? Bald eagles? Falcons? Just admiring the view? I guess I could have stopped to see, but I¬†wanted to keep running.

feb 18/9 MILES

59 degrees
mississippi river road

Another unusually warm day. So warm that I wore shorts. Shorts in February in Minnesota. Weird. Saw my shadow again today. She was moving all around. Sometimes ahead of me. Sometimes just to the side. And sometimes way down in the gorge. Tried eating pretzels during my run. Starting 30 minutes in, a mini-pretzel every 15 minutes. Felt okay while I was running but now I’m totally wiped. Did I not fuel enough or am I wiped out because I ran about 30 seconds per mile too fast? Tons of people out walking and biking today. Mostly not a problem, but some people did annoy me, taking over the whole path or whizzing by without warning. I don’t think a single bike called out “on your left.” I must be mellowing out, because that didn’t really bother me.

feb 17/6.65

59 degrees
mississippi river road path/minnehaha creek path/lake nokomis

Record-breaking warm temperature + no calf pain + a run around Lake Nokomis = Joy

So much joy that I can almost forget about the puddle-covered paths and the super squishing mud that I had to run through and that left a cruddy residue in my socks as I unsuccessfully attempted to avoid soaking my shoes.

feb 16/REST

disclaimer: I’m actually writing this post on the 17th, but it’s about the 16th, so I posting it under that date.¬†

My calf started hurting yesterday, after my run. Good thing it’s a rest day today so I don’t have to deliberate over whether or not to skip a run. In honor (?) of my sore calf, I’m devoting this post to stories/ideas/fragments of thought about the calf.

one: Thomas Gardner in Poverty Creek Journal

My right calf is still a little stiff from where I straned it last week doing mile repeats in the cold. Just enough to not let me out of my body (3)

and

Struggling with my calf again this morning. A dull ache about half a mile into the run, as if my body were no longer my own, no longer transparent. Each step is a reminder of some uneasiness I can’t quite locate (8).

two: stretching advice from Runner’s World

Before my left calf started hurting, I had been concerned about my left foot. It didn’t really hurt; it just felt weird. Are the pains connected? Probably. Better do these stretches so I can put my best foot forward.

  • Straight-leg calf stretch
  • Bent-leg calf stretch
  • Calf rolling
  • Foot extensions
  • Eccentric calf raises
  • Jump squats

three: a charlie horse from hell, a ghost story

At the end of¬†a 2 mile swim, back and forth across Lake Nokomis, I placed my right foot down in the shallow water and experienced a charlie horse from hell. My right calf knotted up so painfully that I began to yell out. I dropped down in the water, trying not to panic, and¬†frantically shook¬†my leg, hoping to loosen the knot. It didn’t take that long to loosen it, but long enough to disorient me so much that I dropped (and lost) my favorite goggles, long enough to make my calf ache for weeks and not feel quite right for a year and long enough to make me feel perpetually terrified of my calf and the excruciating pain it could cause.

That calf pain still haunts me. I’m not really sure how much¬†pain I can take; I did give birth to both of my kids without any drugs so I must be able to tolerate a reasonable amount. But I’m scared of that pain. The threat of it often hovers there, subtly shaping my workouts. Whenever my calf feels strange, during a swim across the lake or while doing a hard run, I wonder, is it coming for me again?

 

feb 15/5.3 MILES

23 degrees/feels like 15
mississippi river road path

3 stories about the sun

one

The sun was bright today. So bright that as I ran away from it, towards the big hill on Franklin which is 1/2 mile from the bottom to the top (I measured it today), it cast my shadow and I was able to watch myself running. Which Sara-self¬†was this runner¬†just ahead of me? Was it Joyce Carol Oates’ “ghost-self” from¬†To Invigorate Literary Mind, Invigorate Literary Feet, leading me to imagine new worlds and new stories and new ways of being?

two

¬†At¬†the bottom of the big hill, directly facing the¬†sun, I fumbled with¬†my sunglasses before beginning¬†my 1/2 mile climb. The glare, combined with the fog that had already accumulated on the glasses, blinded me and as I focused on¬†the effort of¬†running up the hill, I was transported to some other existence, almost floating¬†above time and¬†space, that¬†cars and other runners couldn’t access.

three

 Running on the bluff, above the river, I spotted the sun shimmering on the water. It remained always just ahead of me, no matter how fast I ran, leading me to the parking lot where I end most of my runs.

feb 14/XT

70 degrees
road bike on stand, the front room

Another 30 minutes on the bike in the front room.¬†I watched the Women’s Tri at the Rio Olympics while I pedaled. So awesome. I’ll never forget watching it live (at least I think it was live) when Gwen Jorgensen won. Maybe because she lives in St. Paul or because she seems to have a great combination of humility, dedication and talent or because it’s satisfying to watch someone consistently succeed, I had become invested in her and really wanted her to win.

I was into¬†watching that race, totally lost in the drama of her battle with Nicola Sprig during the bike and run. When I wasn’t chanting¬†very loudly, ¬†“Go Gwen! Go Gwen!,” I was¬†yelling race updates to anyone else in the house, freaking them out with my intense declarations, “SHE’S IN SECOND PLACE ON THE BIKE!” or “SPRIG IS MESSING WITH HER ON THE RUN” or “SHE’S PULLING AWAY! SHE’S GOING TO WIN!!” When she actually won and broke down at the finish line, utterly undone by joy (and probably relief), I broke down too and started crying. And, unlike what I usually do, I didn’t try to stop or hide¬†my tears.

My reaction to Jorgensen winning wasn’t just because I was happy she had won. I cried¬†because I was moved and inspired by¬†her effort, her dedication and her belief in herself. I cried because I was happy that she was able to achieve her goal and that I could bear witness to the moment she fully realized that she had. I cried because it had been a rough year–¬†I had just found out that I had a degenerative eye disease that would make doing triathlons difficult and potentially too dangerous–and I needed to see¬†her succeed. And I cried because the sappy shit gets me every time.