bear - ingn.1 the manner in which one comports oneself; 2 the act, power, or time of bringing forth offspring or fruit; 3 a machine part in which another part turns [a journal ~]; 4pl. comprehension of one's position, environment, or situation; 5 the act of moving while supporting the weight of something [the ~ of the cross].
Lake Calhoun is one of the "Chain of Lakes" here in Minneapolis, and is a prime walking/running/blading/cycling route. Peoplewatching too. There is a restaurant at the boathouse (haven't been there yet). Like all the water in the city (just about), it's parkland all the way around, though the other side of the street is mixed residential and business. The homes that surround the lake are a mix of gigantic mansions, condominiums, and much more modest dwellings. Somebody will be waiting in the wings to buy those, knock 'em down, and put something more expensive in its place to sit and gaze out at the lake.
I ran counterclockwise today. I have probably walked around Lake Calhoun before, how could I not have? I've lived in Minneapolis for almost 12 years now. I have definitely never run around it before. And when I started, even though I know I can run that far, I have run this far on the treadmill lots of times, and it's not like there are any big hills, as I looked across the lake I could hardly believe that I was actually going to make it all the way around. I am still at the point where I don't ask myself, "I wonder how fast I can run this?" I still ask, "I wonder if I can really run that far at all?"
Calhoun is 3.1 miles around, which makes it perfect training for a 5K. I don't know if you'd call what I did yesterday evening "training." It was more like, "Gee, I've been running on a treadmill. I wonder what it feels like to run on asphalt in the wind. I guess I'd better try it once before I run that 5K on Saturday."
Did I mention I'm running a 5K on Saturday?
I met Mark after work in the West 36th Street parking lot. We pulled the jogging stroller/bike trailer out of the car and threw his bike in the car. M.J. got in the stroller, the boys jumped excitedly (Get OUT of the bike path! Onto the grass! I said get OUT of the bike path before you get run over! Oscar, tell your brother to stay off the bike path!), Mark set his watch and ran off, and I set out walking with the children. The boys were instructed to race to the next park bench, turn around, and come back -- my favorite method for getting them good and tired. When we got within striking distance of the 32nd Street playground, I let 'em go.
(Yes, in the summer in Minneapolis the clouds spontaneously form themselves into web addresses of stock photo companies.)
It wasn't nearly as vernal as the pictures above, last night. Things are just starting to go green. And it was fifty degrees and windy. I had dressed the kids in layers, and they were glad to have their hats, even the hated orange one. My head was a little cold, because the only thing I could find quickly was a fleece ear band with the logo of an artificial sweetener on it, given to me by a friend of mine. One of those corporate engineering types, with a big head.
My ears thank you for it, Chris.
Ab0ut 20 minutes after we got to the park we spied Mark coming up behind us, having finished his loop. "How'd you do?" I asked as I wiggled my running shoes out of the extra pants I was wearing over my running pants?
"Pretty good," he said, "just good enough that I have hope I might break 20 minutes on Saturday."
"Well!" I said, "I have absolutely no idea how long it will take me to get around." Really, I didn't know. "So -- bye!" I walked briskly back to the last distance marker, by way of warming up, set my cell phone stopwatch, and... ran north.
I think the whiny voice in my head ("You can't possibly be expected to run the whole way around!") surfaced maybe 5 times. I'd only gone 4/10ths of a mile when I passed the snack bar, and the tiniest suggestion entered my mind that perhaps Mark would not be any wiser if instead of running around the lake in the cold wind I were to stop, buy a cup of hot coffee, and then run back along the street and pretended I'd gone all the way around. I laughed at myself, but still. Good thing I wasn't carrying any money!
As I rounded the curve up by Lake Street and the sound of traffic filled my ears, I thought of how often I drive around that curve. A dozen times a week, maybe. And every time, I gaze across the lake and notice the runners, bending at the waist slightly to come up the very slight hill that takes them over the bridge. There are always at least some runners, whatever the weather. How startling to think what I look like from one of those cars -- an anonymous runner. Just like so many others I have driven past. Wearing running shoes and running clothes that I purchased just for running, and that do not hang mockingly in my closet, but that I actually put on and, you know, run in.
I passed people on my way around the lake. People going the same direction as me, even. Yes, others passed me too. Not as many as I passed, I think. It wasn't crowded today. There was much nicer weather earlier in the week.
I passed that same mile marker at 31 minutes. And in a few more I had reached the playground where Mark and the kids were waiting.
"How'd you do?"
I told him. "Well, I guess I have a nice round goal now."
He nodded. "You'll knock a minute off your time easily, with all the people around you on race day."
'It was fun. Let's do it again. Not when it's really hot or anything, though."
We went home, and I made pizza, and ate a LOT of it, and marveled at how very far I'd run.