aug 7/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
71 degrees/87% humidity

Dark green tunnel above the gorge. Leaves blocking out my view to the river and the sky. Later, past the old stone steps, I could see slices of the blue gray water. Lots of roller skiers. Some behind me going slow enough that they never caught up. Some ahead of me, slowing down enough that I could pass them. Why so many skiers this week? Ran to the Franklin bridge and then stopped to watch some rowers passing under the bridge. Felt pretty good, even if I walked a few times. Too many discarded acorns on the path crunching and twisting my foot. Why so early with the acorns? Will fall and winter come too soon this year?

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

A typical bike ride. Not too fast, on the river road. On the way back, looking out through the trees at the river, I felt lucky to live here and be able to bike on this trail so often.

swim: 1 mile
lake nokomis main beach

Looped around the white buoys ringing the big beach. 5 or was it 6 times? The water was gray and calm and cool. My arms felt strong cutting through the water, my legs powerful as I kicked. Several kayaks paddled through the swimming area, too close to me, so I spent much of my swim always looking out for clueless boaters. Swam for a little over 30 minutes. So glad I fired up to bike over. I’m going to miss these long loopy swims when I’m in the pool this winter doing countless flip turns, hoping my knee doesn’t slide out of its groove.

aug 5/bikeswim

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 2.72 miles/4 loops/4800 yards
lake nokomis open swim

Such choppy water! Big swells that messed up my stroke on the way to the little beach and then crashed into me on the way back to the big beach. Wasn’t into the swells that rolled in behind me, but I liked crashing into the short wall of waves. Fun! After one loop I thought the most that I would manage was 2 loops, but I just kept swimming. I’d take a break at the beach for 30 seconds and then start again. I’m wiped out, but it was great. I’m proud of myself for not stopping, not making excuses for why I shouldn’t swim another loop. Things I remember:

  • The spray of the water, shooting up, as it hit a swimmer ahead of me.
  • The silver shimmering of the over-turned rescue boat on the shore of the little beach.
  • The lone duck swimming out in the middle of the lake.
  • Not being able to see anything but a quick glimpse of an arm out of the water.
  • Almost hitting the floating dock on my way into the little beach because I couldn’t see it until I was almost on top of it.
  • Hearing a swimmer tell another swimmer that she saw something swimming below her out in the middle of the lake but just tried to ignore it.
  • Feeling strong powerful tough as I swam straight into the waves without stopping

aug 2/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 3.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
57 degrees!

A cooler morning. No headphones. Lots of bikers, not as many runners. Focused a lot of attention on my arm swing again. Saw some rowers being dropped off under the lake street bridge, above the Minneapolis Rowing Club. Maybe my daughter Ro should try something like that? I bet she’d be great at it. I think rowing on the river would be really cool. Don’t remember much else from my run. No roller skiers. Not too many birds. Only one or two dogs.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

The bike back was cool but beautiful. The sun starting to sink. The trees on fire. The light, pink. Biked with Ro and Scott.

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

Open swim is the best! The clouds before I started were puffy streaks, like someone had raked their fingers through them. The water was still. Not many people around. 2 kids swinging, entertained me with their toddler talk and their songs–including Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The air was cool but the water was warm. My feet felt like they might cramp and so did my calf so I was a bit wary of swimming too much or kicking too hard. Decided to only do 3 loops instead of 4. On the final lap, stopped in the middle of the lake, did some breaststroke and then listened to the silence. So amazing! Next time, I’d like to do an extra loop where I just swim out into the middle of the lake and tread water, experiencing the calm and the strange feeling of being out in the middle of the water.

july 31/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
72 degrees/75% humidity/dew point 63

I was going to write that last summer I had no problem getting up at 6 am for a summer run but then I checked my apple watch and saw that almost all of my runs in June and July from last year were at 8, so I guess I’ve been running this late for a few years. It would be easier to run earlier. Cooler. One problem: it’s cooler but much more humid with a higher dew point. Which is worse: high humidity with a lower temperature or lower humidity with a higher temperature. Can I get up early enough to find out? Heard the rowers on the river and my feet striking the ground. Worked on my arm swing and raising my knees. Encountered some fast bikers and a roller skier slowly passing me. Didn’t listen to music. Avoided the direct sun, which was already hot. Glanced at my shadow. Happily ran past the cars stopped at the stop sign, briefly wondering if they noticed me and wished they were out running.

bike: 4.3
to lake nokomis

swim: 2.72 miles/4 loops/4800 yards
lake nokomis open swim

Another 4 loops! This time the water was choppy. So choppy that I had to breathe on one side. And it was crowded. So many swimmers swimming across and so many people hanging out that lake. But, I did it. 4 loops! 1 hour and 16 minutes which probably means it was slightly less than 4800 yards but it was still 4 loops. I felt strong and powerful as I cut through the choppy water and lifted myself up to see the buoys. When I was almost done with the last loop, my foot suddenly started to cramp up. Instantly, I stopped and shook it out until it felt better. Crisis averted. No repeat of the calf cramp from hell that I got 3 years ago. Other random things about the swim: almost ran into several people. Was attacked by weeds that got stuck to my cap and stayed there and by a stick. Was wary of a menacing sailboat that looked like it wanted to cross over, right through the swimmers. The slightly setting sun was blinding on the way back to the big beach. The water felt warm–76 degrees.

july 30/RUNSWIM

run: 3 miles
lake nokomis

Thought about running around the lake twice, but it was too sunny and hot. My legs felt sore. What do I remember from the run? Not much. Not enough shade. Lots of walkers and dogs. A few runners. Saw two roller skiers right at the end–always a good omen. Not sure if I’ve ever seen roller skiers at the lake before.

swim: 1 mile/5 little loops
lake nokomis main beach

What a morning for a swim! Warm. Sunny. No waves. I’m so glad I made it to the lake and swam. Got into a rhythm, breathing every 5 strokes. Didn’t see any fish but had a few run-ins with lake debris–floating weeds wrapping around my arms. Saw one other swimmer and a bunch of paddle boarders. One rower. A group of kids taking swimming lessons with the lifeguards. Felt relaxed and peaceful. Heard sloshing in the water and a bit of splashing as my arms broke through the surface. Thought about my stroke: bending my elbows, doing a strong pull under the water, sometimes touching my hipbone as I brought my arm in, legs kicking slowly then quickly. Had no problems seeing the white buoys with my peripheral vision. Only thought about Jaws and the girl at the beginning swimming then being attacked once, for less than a minute. Didn’t worry about anything lurking. Heard some planes flying above. No seagulls or ducks around. I’d really like to try and swim everyday this month.

july 29/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6
lake nokomis

swim: 2.72 miles/4 loops/4800 yards
77 minutes
lake nokomis open swim

4 loops! The goal for the rest of the summer is to swim at least 4 loops as many times as I can–and also try to swim the full 2 hours at least once a week. It felt great today. The water was refreshing and calm. Hardly any wind and no waves. The sun was blinding on the way to the little beach and I couldn’t see the orange buoys at all, but I kept swimming straight and was confident enough to know that I’d make it over to the floating dock without straying off course. Payed attention to the sloshing sounds as my hands cut through the water. Thought about how many years I’ve been doing open swim (5) and how much work I’ve put into feeling confident and strong and happy as I swim back and forth across the lake. Didn’t think about much else–except how wonderful the water is for erasing my memory–I can’t remember¬†what I thought about–and starving the strength of my anxieties–I can’t hold onto a thought long enough to turn it into a worry. I don’t (over) think in the water, I swim glide cut through slice pull stretch float crawl kick sight breathe count strokes.

july 24/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 1 mile
lake nokomis

Attempted a training run with Ro around Lake Nokomis but her resistance to accomplishing goals won out. Her ability to resist is impressive even as it’s disheartening. I will continue to believe that one day she will learn to harness her superpower in ways that make her (and the world) better, more just, more joyful. Some days it’s so hard to be a parent and let your kids be who they need to be. It was a beautiful day at the lake. Sunny. Breezy. Bright blue water. Even as I was angry and frustrated, I was also annoyed at myself for not being able to let go of it and enjoy the beautiful morning. Our plan had been to run around the lake and then swim out to the dock for the first time this summer. We walked around the lake and then left before swimming. Bummer.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

A beautiful afternoon. A very slow bike ride with Ro and Scott. Right at the river, past the falls, over the moustache bridge, beside the creek, up 2 hills, down to the lake. Then, after the swim, back again.

swim: 1.36 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis
water temp: 73 degrees

Another great swim. Every swim, I feel more confident about not being able to see much and every swim I feel stronger. On the way back from the little beach, the sun was so blinding that I couldn’t see anything and the water was choppy enough that I had to mostly breathe on one side, but I didn’t care. Swimming out to the little beach, I kept seeing the white sail of a boat beside me. Also saw the red of the kayak and (sometimes) the orange of the buoy. The only thing I remember hearing were the shouts of the lifeguards as they yelled back and forth to each other. After the swim, I met up with Scott and Rosie at Sandcastle–the restaurant at the lake. I had a beer, listened to the bluegrass musician and watched a few sailboats moving across the lake. The perfect summer evening. Recognized and celebrated. Redemption after a difficult morning.

july 19/SWIM

.68 miles/1200 yards/1 loop
lake nokomis open swim

Thunderstorms were expected, but this week, unlike last, I lucked out. Only a strong wind and a light drizzle that briefly turned into a heavy downpour when I was halfway across the lake. As I waited for the lifeguards to set up the buoys, I chatted with a fellow swimmer. Joyfully, he talked about how fun it was to swim in the wind and rain last week. He said, “I can handle it. I grew up swimming in Lake Ontario!” I was there last week too, but I was out of the water and on my bike by the time it was pouring. I would have liked to stay in the water last week and experience all that rain, with the dark sky, but I had biked to the lake and was hoping to get home before the storm hit (which I didn’t, but that’s another story).

Swimming in the rain is strange. If it’s a light drizzle, it’s hard to tell it’s happening. Today’s rain was heavier. I could see it coming down when I lifted my eyes out of the water to sight the shore. For some reason, in these conditions, it’s much easier to see the buoys and the beach and other swimmers. Why? Not sure. But I love swimming in the rain.

Found a poem with the title, Swimming in the Rain by Chana Bloch:

swimming in the rain

Swaddled and sleeved in water,
I dive to the rocky bottom and rise
as the first drops of sky

find the ocean. The waters above
meet the waters below,
the sweet and the salt,

and I’m swimming back to the beginning.
The forecasts were wrong.
Half the sky is dark
but it keeps changing. Half the stories
I used to believe are false. Thank God
I’ve got the good sense at last

not to come in out of the rain.
The waves open
to take in the rain, and sunlight

falls from the clouds
onto the face of the deep as it did
on the first day

before the dividing began.

Roger Deakins writes about swimming in the rain too–in Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journal–but I didn’t write the passage down so I’ll have to either buy the book or go back to the library to find it. Something about the drops on the surface.

At the little beach, I decided to stop and readjust my nose plug. Big mistake. It fell off. I almost caught it before it tumbled to the sandy bottom. But then it was gone. 3 nose plugs sacrificed to Nokomis in 2 years. Maybe I should attach them to a cord? The worst part: I had to swim back across without a plug, knowing that, with my allergies, my nose might be completely stuffed up all night (thankfully, it wasn’t). I swam as fast as I could. So strange swimming without a plug after 3 (or is it 4?) years. I’m not sure how fast I swam, but it made my shoulders ache warmly for several hours after I was done. I like that feeling.

july 17/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

Watched a replay of stage 10 of the Tour de France this afternoon. So many mountains! The eventual winner Alaphilippe went at least 80 kph down the side of a mountain, sharply turning, hovering on the edge. I can’t imagine biking this way–meaning, I don’t know how I could ever do it, or why I’d want to. But I love watching it. For almost 10 years, Scott and I have looked forward to July and watching the Tour. My bike ride over to lake nokomis was much slower but seemed to have its own dangers. Not treacherous mountain descents but sharp turns, speeding cars that drive too close to the path and runaway surreys.

swim: 1.36 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis open swim

A beautiful evening for a swim! The lake water was warm: 80 degrees! It was calm. Very few waves. And it was bright. It no longer looks like green pea soup, but yellow lentils–maybe? Still opaque, but lighter, brighter, glowing yellow. The buoys were hard to spot, but I kept swimming, knowing I was on course. I felt strong again, trying to work on pulling my arms more quickly and powerfully through the water. In the second loop, my googles seemed to fog up which made it harder to see all the other swimmers–and there were a lot, a couple 100 maybe. So I stopped after 2 loops.

july 15/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

80 degrees with a dew point of 72! The air was so heavy, even biking was difficult. Scott was planning to run 8 or 10 miles but had to stop after 2 when he almost passed out. Glad I wasn’t running today.

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis open swim

It was hazy and bright and difficult to see but the water was warm and smooth. The lifeguards put the first buoy so far out that it was over halfway across the lake. I was worried I would get off course before I got to it but, surprisingly, I was fine. I swam straight to it. I remember the third loop the most. Something about the light–a mix of clouds, a blueish gray sky–made it very difficult to see anything in front of me, especially the orange of the buoys. I also remember noticing the slapping of the water as I cut through it and how it sloshed as it went over my head. Thinking more about the orange of the buoys: Scott reminded me that the most difficult color combination for my central vision is blue background with orange. Somehow the orange often disappears against the blue. So a blue sky with orange buoys is hard–it’s amazing that I can see the buoys at all! I must really love swimming in open water to be willing to swim across a lake when I can’t see. I do.