Lost Lake Trail, winter route. May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Lost Lake Trail, winter route. May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up in Blue: Clearing my head

I set out for a run in the afternoon to clear my head. It was this past Wednesday, Jan. 6, and I left the trailhead at about the time a 6 p.m. curfew went into effect in Washington, D.C.

I trudged through 4 inches of fresh snow while Seward rain dumped on top of me. A gray day gave me the trail to myself. It turns out, though, that a 3-mile run with 1,000 feet elevation wasn’t long enough or high enough to clear my head.

Three miles of running wasn’t nearly enough time to shake the thoughts of domestic terrorists who were trapped in a cult of personality so deep they stormed the U.S. Capitol building in a coup attempt that could have transformed our beloved republic into a banana republic. Maybe 25 miles would have been more effective at calming my mind.

I ran and tried to think of anything else. I’ve set up some ambitious 2021 goals, including my newest and purposely vague personal promise to “get fast.” I eyed my watch, trying to think of thresholds and paces instead of threats and coups.

It didn’t work.

I usually find solace in my runs. Even in the midst of skiing season, I like to save my running days to think. I often come up with column ideas to fill these pages. On simpler days, I think about what I’m going to call the Strava activity in which I’m engaging.

On bad days, I have full conversations with people I’ll never confront. On good days, I skip and jump and sing songs. On most days, when I set out for a run, my mind flows freely into these different directions until I find myself back where I started, refreshed and a little better off physically and mentally.

Wednesday, I panted and cursed and fumed — rinse, wash and repeat.

I ran until I reached 1,000 feet in elevation, my goal for the day, and looked out at the view. Instead of gridded streets forming the city I call home, my view was clouded.

I shrugged and headed back down the trail. One thousand feet wasn’t high enough to clear anything it seemed.

As I descended, I found some joy in stepping into the fresh, powdery snow and gliding quickly down the trail it had taken such strength to climb up.

I landed in my car, to the news that, as Vice President Mike Pence would later say, “the people’s work continues,” and Congress would reconvene that day.

Three miles wasn’t enough to clear my head, and, luckily, one incited, riotous mob wasn’t enough to stop democracy.


For the Clarion

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