feb 19/RUN

4.2 miles
trestle turn around plus extra
5° feels like 4 below
50% snow and ice covered

A only slightly edited transcript of my notes about the run, dictated into my notes app on my phone.

A lot of slippery spots. Very sunny this morning. It felt really cold. About a mile in greeted Dave the daily walker. Almost yelled out to him, “it’s cold today!” He is hard-core–no coat again but some gloves. Running right before I got to the trestle I heard a beep beep beep beep beep beep beep sound. I wondered if it was the train and then after I crossed under the trestle and was still heading towards downtown, I heard the rumbling of a train. It lasted a long time. I thought about turning around and running back so I could see the train but I decided against it because I wanted to keep going north. I listened to the rumble and I couldn’t quite tell if it was coming from Saint Paul over to Minneapolis or from Minneapolis over to Saint Paul. I experimented with chanting in threes when I turned around and headed south again. Uppercut/ bowling ball/ sweaty brow Then I started chanting in triple berries: raspberry/ blueberry/ red berry/ green berry pink berry/ orange berry/ blueberry/ raspberry/ gooseberry/ mulberry I chanted them over and over again to try and keep a steady rhythm. I saw a couple other runners, a few walkers. I thought I heard some kids yelling in the gorge but then I realized it was geese honking.

thoughts about dictating running notes

  • Not sure if I like the notes app for this. It was a bit awkward and I think (at least I hope) it added in some random words.
  • I write much better than I speak.
  • I need to stop feeling so self conscious doing this. I also need to be more deliberate and thoughtful in what I say.
  • I still have to add in periods and capitals, which is irritating.
  • This is a good exercise for me. I need to get used to doing something that someday might be necessary.

The Blink Reflex/ Rick Barot

I have this notion that if you live long enough,
there are three or four great stories that you will have in your life.

A story of a journey or a transformation.
A story of love, which will likely mean the loss of love, a story

of loss. And a story of spiritual illumination,
which, for many, will probably be the moment of death itself,

the story untellable, its beginning and middle
and end collapsing with its teller into a disappearing conclusion.

I have believed long enough in my notion
to know that it is a romantic notion, that it erodes each time

I realize that the shard and not the whole
comprises a life, the image and not the narrative. Otherwise,

there’s no reason why all I remember of the airplane
I took as a child from one country to another

is the moist towelette packet we were given with our meal,
the wonder and absurdity of it. Or that, in love,

high in a tree in the dark, and high, he and I sat in the rain-damp
branches and ate 7-Eleven donuts. Or this, this piece

of a story that isn’t even mine, that isn’t even a story
but a glance of an experience, of the friend who held the stray

dog after it was struck by a car. Not knowing whether the dog
was dead, my friend called a friend

who worked for a vet. Poke the dog in the eye, this friend said.
Because if the animal no longer has a blink reflex,

it probably means the animal is dead. Decades after
college, when you could do such a thing, I typed his name

into a search engine to find out what became of the 18-year-old
boy from the tree. Like dozens of old keys

in a drawer, so many of the wrong people with the right name.
The child dead from leukemia, with a school gym

named for him. The wrestler who had a perfectly square jaw,
like a cartoon police detective in a fedora.

When I arrived at a page that was certainly
about him, I no longer knew the face, but I recognized the life

that he had had. He had transferred to
another college, gone to film school, and become a producer

of TV documentaries. A film about fishermen, the harsh fishing
season in Alaska. A film about Abraham Lincoln

and a film about the last days of Adolf Hitler.
A film about the Sherpas who go up and down the Himalayas.

What a beautiful poem. I love the title and the way the stories/fragments are woven together and the sweet, soft rhyme of “and high, he and I” and the playing with the romantic notion that we each only have 3 or 4 great stories.

feb 16/RUN

3.35 miles
river road, south/north
19 degrees/feels like 11
15% ice-covered

Ahhhhhh!! Winter running! Not too cold but cold enough to be able to breathe in fresh, cold, crisp air. A mostly clear path. Not too much wind. Not too many people. Everything quiet, still. Saw at least three people walking their dogs down on the Winchell trail. Encountered a fat tire biking alongside a runner. A few pairs of walkers. One or two other runners. Don’t remember hearing any birds cawing or chirping or honking. Not much traffic noise. Thought I heard some sloshing or dripping water at one point. Marveled at my new favorite view just past the oak savanna. One problem: I don’t remember there being so many bare trunks here between me and the river. Am I remembering the wrong spot? I love how the flat hill at the savanna–we call it the mesa–curves down to reveal the river.

triple berry chants

Did some triplet chants again: all berries. Without thinking, briefly chanted blueberry/ blackberry/ red berry. Then wondered why a raspberry is called a raspberry and not a red berry and why blueberries are called blueberries and not something else. Found a buzzfeed article that was a little helpful: The Delicious Origins of Summer Fruit Names

Here’s what is written about raspberries:

Like the strawberry, the raspberry isn’t a true berry in the biological sense of the word. And also like the word strawberry, we don’t know what its rasp- is about.

The word raspberry is found relatively late in English, attested in the early 1600s. An earlier form, raspis-berry, might give clues to its origins. In Middle English, raspise was a sweet, pink wine, possibly from the Anglo-Latin vinum raspeys. But this raspeys remains unexplained. Suggestions include the French rasper, “to scrape,” referring to the fruit’s rough appearance, and an Old Walloon word for “thicket.”

The listicle also mentions gooseberries and mulberries. And further down, it happens to mention the tree, sycamore. Another satisfying triplet. Maybe I’ll chant: gooseberry/raspberry/mulberry and then some trees: sycamore/cottonwood/? Need to think more about a third triplet tree.

to float, to haunt

At some point, thought about the article I read earlier this morning about the biomechanics of the run and the “double float” phase, which is when both feet are off of the ground. I usually think of this as flying but is also cool to think of it as a floating. What else floats: clouds, hot air balloons, ghosts, bodies in water, buoys, bubbles. I like the idea of being a ghost, floating and haunting the trail that I’ve traveled so many times in the last five years. Haunt is such a wonderfully rich word: to frequent, visit often; to continually seek the company of; to trouble; to reappear continually in; to visit or inhabit as a ghost; to stay around or persist, to linger; a place habitually frequented

feb 11/RUN

5 miles
stone arch bridge, one way
25 degrees
50% snow-covered

After noticing how pretty it looked in the (bohemian) flats yesterday afternoon, decided to run north on the river road to stone arch bridge today. Scott had a meeting downtown, so he could drive me home. One way runs are great. Yesterday afternoon the path looked clear and dry but it must have snowed a little last night because a lot of it was covered in soft, slippery, energy sapping snow. And, there was a blustery wind too. Still a great run. Still very glad to have done it.

Greeted Dave the Daily Walker as I ran up from under the lake street bridge. Admired the curved wall and fence on the Winchell Trail between the trestle and franklin bridge. Noticed the river flowing quickly. Not looking slush slow today. Reaching the bottom of the hill, running past Annie Young Meadow, I heard water gushing through the limestone cliff, close to where a mudslide had closed the road for almost 2 years. At the top of the hill near the turn off to Wilson Library at the U, the sun came out and so did my shadow. Hello friend! Then I noticed the river was no longer brown but blue. Not steel blue but blustery blue. Beautiful. Attempted to run up the steep hill with the I-35 bridge. Made it about halfway, then walked a few minutes. Ran again all the way to the stone arch bridge and watched the roaring, choppy, churning water of St. Anthony Falls.

Had some thoughts about my How to Be project and the ways running fits into it but cannot remember them now. Right before heading outside for the run, I thought about the importance of surrender. Paying attention by letting go. Not trying to control but to breathe.

Speaking of breathing, I just remembered something about my run. To regulate my pace and breathing, I chanted. Strawberry/ Blueberry/ Raspberry. Over and over again. One foot strike for every syllable. As I ran down the franklin hill I decided that blackberry fit better than strawberry and chanted that: Raspberry/ Blueberry/ Blackberry. I chanted this mostly in my head. A few times, I mouthed it and at least once, I whispered it. Very helpful in keeping me steady and in a dream-like state. Considered switching in other 3 syllable words but never did.

Triplet Words/Rhythms/Dactyl Meter

  • Beautiful
  • Terrible
  • Wonderful
  • Mystery
  • Decadent
  • Diffident
  • Dental Care
  • Vision Quest
  • Telephone
  • Underwear
  • Prototype
  • Punching bag
  • Summer time
  • Radical
  • Reticent
  • Waterfall
  • Avalanche
  • Certainly
  • Understood
  • Icy cold
  • Ignorant
  • Buttercream
  • Factual

Interesting note found in my research about dactyls: “Strawberry (as the word is pronounced in East Tennessee—elsewhere it’s two longs and a short).” So East Tennesseans say it the British way, I think. Speaking of East Tennessee, I was just listening to an episode of Dolly Parton’s America and learned that East Tennessee was originally a part of the Union during the Civil War. Maybe I knew that at one point, but I had forgot.

may 23/RUN

5.1 miles
67 degrees/81% humidity
the franklin loop

3 miles in, I decided to stop and walk on the franklin bridge. I’m glad I did. Looking out over the Mississippi, I saw one of the biggest birds I’ve ever seen. To me and my questionable vision, it looked almost like a mini-plane floating way up in the sky. Wow, what a wing span! Could it have been a broad-winged hawk or an eagle or a kestrel or a falcon? No idea, but it was cool to see. Tried rhythmic breathing while chanting in my head:

raspberry/coulis
strawberry/custard
mundane is/monday
terrible/tuesday
wonderful/wednesday
terrific/thursday
fabulous/friday
saturday/so so

Not sure how it works for me, but I’ll try it again next time I run. Didn’t see the Daily Walker but was able to greet a few other runners. Didn’t see many bikes or roller-skiers or dogs. Smelled some lilac bushes. Heard the hum of traffic and the shuffle shuffle scratch scratch of my feet on the gritty path. I finished at my favorite part of the path and before the mosquitoes found me, I enjoyed stopping and peering down into the gorge. And I realized: I’ve been writing about the gorge in the summer as having a thick, green veil that blocks your view. That’s not quite right. The trees are thick and you can’t see the river, that’s true, but they don’t totally block your view of what’s down below. Part of what makes it feel so mysterious is how the trees are spaced out, offering quick flashes of more than green. When I look closely, I can see the steep slope and the trunks of the trees reaching above and below me. Even as I can’t see the floor of the floodplain forest, I feel it and how high above it I am. I’d like to spend more time studying this spot and figuring out how to better describe it.

bonus: here’s a great list of the birds found near the Mississippi River Gorge. What’s a mergenser or a tern? I need to find out.

may 19/RUN

2 miles
59 degrees/79% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/brackett park

Overcast. Thick, heavy air. Buggy. Relentlessly green. Cool but clammy. Went on a quick run with Scott. Kept it nice and easy and talked most of the way about the book I’m reading on rhythmic breathing. Earlier today, while I was waiting for Scott to wake up, I did a writing experiment with rhythmic breathing:

For slow, easy runs breathe in for 3, out for 2. 

In 2 3.
Out 2.
Blueberry
crumble
Raspberry
tartlet
Vanilla
custard
Strawberry
ice cream
Beautiful
dreamer
Primary
colors
Mystery
novel
Forbidden
forest
Untimely
death
Let it be
over
Long lost love
refound
Terrible
headache.

For fast runs, breathe in 2, out 1.

Refried
beans
Oven
fries
release
doubt
embrace
me
Sara
smile
Sunshine
bright
Flowers
bloom
Tempers
flare
Striking
feet
Flailing
arms
Yelling
font
Famous
fig
Noisy
bar
Smoky
room
Salty
beer
Bathroom
line
Early
heat
Maple
tree
Thunder
thighs
Coming
storm
Nervous
dog
Gangly
knee
Giving
up
Staring
out.

So much fun!

dec 1/7 MILES

37 degrees
franklin hill turnaround + extra

7 miles on a beautiful morning. Next week it’s supposed to get much colder but not today.  Great weather for running! As I neared the big Franklin hill I decided to mix up my running rhythm and create a chant in 6/8 time with triplets instead of 4/4 time with straight quarter notes. It was hard to quickly compose sentences with this rhythm so I went for 3 syllable words. After trying out:

mystery beautiful mystical marvelous wonderful magical

I settled on a 4 bars of 6/8 with the words:

raspberry
strawberry
blueberry
chocolate

Occasionally I added in a fifth bar/word: delicious

This chant worked well for keeping me focused and steady. It especially helped me run up the Hill.

Towards the end of the run I encountered by favorite person on the path: the Daily Walker. I always see him, all year round. He’s very dedicated with his walking.