june 14/RUN

3 miles
gitchie-gami trail, north shore
60 degrees

Partly cloudy. Calm. Ran with Scott while we were up at the north shore for a few days. Shared the trail with some noisy crows and lots of hills. Ran next to speeding trucks, impatient cars, the sweet smell of pine trees and the beautifully blue lake superior.

Earlier this week, I discovered a new form: double abcedarians. Love the challenge! Here are 2 I have created so far. The first has the first letter traveling up the alphabet and the last letter traveling down. The second, does the opposite.

Walking in the woods, you hear a noise

A thump. A crash. A bzzzz.
Bugs or birds or something big and hairy?
Counting calmly, deliberately to six
Does not help slow
Elevated heart rates that rev
Fast. You
Grimace and try to reach the magic digit
Hoping it saves.
It doesn’t. Your
Jumping heart races loudly roughly. The biorhythmic eq
Kept out of sync as lungs fail to expand, heart valves don’t pump.
Laboring, a frantic vibrato.
Mouth jaggedly inhales than
Nose reluctantly releases air from
Overworked lungs until
Pulmonary veins do their work.
Quick beats slow soften are quiet. The noise returns. Maybe it’s only a blue j
Rustling in the woods vigorously, loudly, sounding as big as a yeti
Scratches amplified in the dry brush?
Tricked again into contemplating
Uncomfortable thoughts of
Violent demise.
What, you wonder, could
eXtremely large humanish-y bears do to you, alone in the woods? Don’t panic.
You don’t want to startle this type of bear. Running off frantically is dumb.
Zoologists know this. They have done the research. They have all the gruesome data.

the yellow bike

Zoom. a
yellow bike passes by the curb
extra close to me, making the air feel kinetic
wild, unrestrained.
Veering into my path, the
unapologetic rider pedals off
to terrorize someone else who is running.
Silently, I fume and rehash.
Red-faced, a tsunami
quaking with over-blown outrage. I wonder, what would J
P Sartre think
of my reaction? Would he condemn it as bad faith? An existential
no no, giving other ways of being no room?
Maybe the yellow-biked rider had a reason,
like they were riding closer to say hello or to
keep me company as I ran on the path or to offer up
jokes—corny, idiotic ones that don’t require a high IQ?
I suppose these are plausible. Or
how about this:
gnats flew in his ear, down his throat
flustered, he failed to call out, “hey you!”
Edging close, all he could do was a hasty improv—
deftly swerving, just barely avoiding me, our escape from collision, narrow.
Could this be why? Stop with all this theorizing and relax—
bikers will bike by too closely
and it might just be because they’re a spaz.

june 12/RUNSWIM

run: 8 miles
lake nokomis loop, short
70 degrees/80% humidity

Began the morning with a longish run. It was hot and humid. I was sweating before I finished the first mile. Overcast. So many cars on the river road whooshing past. Was it something about the air quality–the humidity?–that made the whooshing noise seem more hurried or was it just because people were rushing to get to work? Ran slow and steady. Decided I would run to the lake without stopping and then, on the return trip, take walk breaks. Enjoyed running beside the creek. I can’t remember running on my favorite part of the path at all–I remember running right before it and right after it, but not in it. Strange. The creek water was subdued. Surprised with all the snow that we got in April that it wasn’t gushing more. Almost to the lake, ran by the Dinosaur park at the rec center and remembered when my kids were younger and would play here. Both kids had their earliest pre-school classes here over 10 years ago. The lake was refreshing. A nice breeze that mixed with my sweat to make me extra cool. While running there, I kept thinking about how the first open swim of the season is tonight! Can’t wait. This year, I’m hoping to swim more and write more about swimming. Walked for .3 miles and then started running again–10 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking. Nice. Much easier. And I ran much faster. I think these breaks will help my legs recover faster–I hope. Tried very hard to not think about how I will need to run what I ran today plus 5 more miles in a 1/2 marathon race on the fourth of july. I was mostly successful.

Highlight of the run: Almost finished, I saw an older biker up ahead with a red, wide brimmed hat over her helmet. Never seen that before. How wonderful it is to be old and not give a fuck about how ridiculous you look!

swim: 1.37 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis open swim!

Started open swim with a bang: got the farthest off course that I ever have. Way off course. So far off course that I was almost to the other shore. The lifeguard had to come get me. As I swam back to the buoys I wondered, has my vision got that much worse? But, once I finished the loop and switched out my dark googles for the light ones, I realized that it was the googles. Ugh. I hate not being able to see where I’m going, to feel completely blind, just swimming into nothing. That’s how it felt. I’m glad I did another loop and that I could actually see the second time. Hopefully that won’t make me too freaked out next time I get in the water. I will have to chant to myself: it was the googles, not my vision. In good news, I wore my nose plug and I don’t seem stuffed up at all.

june 11/RUN

2.25 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
65 degrees/78% humidity

2 fast miles with a 1/2 mile warm up. A storm coming. Dark sky, dark green trees. Heavy air. Turned right instead of left. A lone rollerblader. A few runners. A walker with a stroller. A walker without a stroller. Birds chirping. Lots of wind but none of it bothering me. Greeted a few runners. Flew over some dips in the pavement. After several years of running this path, I think I’ve memorized all the hidden holes that wait to trip me. Didn’t look down at the river or notice the trees or smell the gorge or hear the noise my foot made as it struck the ground. Also didn’t hear the sound of my belt rubbing my shorts or my jagged breaths. The faster I run the less I remember.

june 10/RUN

6 miles
65 degrees/84% humidity
the flats

A great run! Walking towards the river, before my run, everything was still and quiet–except for the birds, which were chattering. Not too many people out yet even though it was past 7:30. Near the start of my run, greeted the welcoming oaks and a few runners. The part of the trail that dips below the road and above the gorge was dark and green and mysterious.

wheels

Near the old stone steps, saw 2 parents helping a kid ride their bike. Then heard a bike’s brakes squeaking loudly and longly behind me. The wheel of truck made a clicking noise as it traveled–something must be caught in the tread. Behind me, slowing approaching, a bike gear clicked into place. A lone rollerblader bladed by.  Heard, but didn’t see, a roller skier heading for the greenway path. In the flats, running on the bike path because the walking path is in terrible shape, heard a biker call out “bike path!”–or did they say, “biker behind.”  Stewed over it for a minute. Imagined calling out, “you try running on that path!”

Turned around at the top of the hill and headed home. Made it up the Franklin hill without stopping and kept going–a big victory. Took a short walk and then ran the last mile faster, finishing strong.

Thinking about wheels and bicycles, decided to look for a poem on the subject. Found this fun one:

Nun on a Bicycle
by Jonathan Edwards

Now here she comes, rattling over cobbles,
powered by her sandals, the gentle downhill
and the grace of God. Now here she comes, her habit

what it was always waiting to become:
a slipstream. Past stop signs, the pedestrian
traffic at rush hour, the humdrum mopeds,

on a day already thirty in the shade:
with her robe fluttering like solid air,
she makes her own weather. Who could blame her

as the hill sharpens, she picks up speed and smiles
into her future, if she interrupted
the Our Fathers she’s saying in her head,

to say Whee, a gentle Whee, under her breath?
O cycle, Sister! Look at you now, freewheeling
through the air conditioning of the morning –

who’s to say the God who isn’t there
isn’t looking down on you and grinning?

june 9/RUN

2 miles
dogwood coffee

Sticky, thick air. Overcast. A sky more white than gray. Body felt heavy, tethered to the ground. Didn’t see any roller skiers but Scott and I did see the serious rollerbladers. 6 this time. In formation. Swinging their arms. The view from the rim of the floodplain forest was nothing but green. How buggy is it down there, I wonder? Heard the rowers on the river practicing or were they racing?

june 8/RUN

5.25 miles
69 degrees/79% humidity
franklin loop

Ran with headphones. Looked at the river today but only quick glimpses through the trees. Cloudy with no sun. Gray. The kind of gray that doesn’t make the green glow. Legs felt strong. So did the wind as I ran across the Lake Street bridge. Almost blew my visor off which is impressive because this visor–“swag” from the Torchlight race a few years ago–is tight. Earlier this spring, I finally decided that my beloved green baseball cap was too worn to wear.  The fraying at the top of the cap had turned into several holes. And it was barely green or any color. I traded it out for the visor.The visor is boring, lacking the personality and history of my twins’ baseball cap, but it works well enough at staying on my head and soaking up the sweat and keeping my hair out of my eyes. I wonder, will I wear it all summer?

june 7/RUN

4 miles
top of franklin hill turn around
65 degrees/60% humidity

No headphones. Heard lots of birds and cars rushing by and my feet striking the path and a school group down in the gorge and people I passed, talking. Didn’t see the Daily Walker–maybe my run is too short? Didn’t see any roller skiers. Did see one rollerblader. Admired the welcoming oaks and the pink heart yarn bomb. Wrinkled my nose at the stink coming up from the sewer, near the lake street bridge. Successfully avoided the cracks in the sidewalk, near the greenway. Didn’t see the river, not even once. Also didn’t see my shadow even though she was there somewhere. Thought I saw my dead mom again, running towards near my favorite part of the path. Practiced some rhythmic breathing: in 2 3, out 2. Tried to catch the runners ahead of me. Felt good and strong and happy. Glad I decided to run the 5k instead of the 1/2 marathon next month.

june 6/RUN

2.3 miles
65 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

A quick run with a playlist. Ran because it’s global running day. Because I needed to forget about the difficult morning trying to get a girl to go to school. And because I could. Jogged to the river, turned right towards the falls and then ran much faster than I usually do. First mile: 7:39. Felt good. Free. I think my body likes running faster.

This morning I discovered double abcedarians and I’m in love. What a challenging form. The first one I read had 26 lines. Each line started with the alphabet going up (a b c …) and ended with the alphabet going down (z y x …).

Alcatraz
beneath a sky
crouching low and black as onyx

The second one I read had 26 lines, with each line starting with the alphabet going down and ending with the alphabet going up.

Zooks! What have I done with my anthologies? I’ll need a
year of sleep after writing my millionth review (with aplomb).
XX bottles of moonshine litter my bedside table like arsenic.

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.