Musings About 2020: Pandemic, Turmoil, and Running

Source: Unknown

The understatement of the year is that 2020 has been a really weird year. You’re all living it, so you know what I’m talking about it. At first, it was about disappointments and inconveniences—kids home from school and in the house with me as I tried to work, races and travel plans canceled, parks and trails closed.

My little blog slowly seemed irrelevant simply because there didn’t seem to be much to write about. Life was on hold. At first it just seemed ridiculous.

Then the world turned upside down again after George Floyd’s death, and with it a growing awareness of privilege, the depths and facets of racism, and some intense one-on-one conversations with family, neighbors, and friends. I wished I could back in time and change each person’s pain. I felt guilty for my privilege. Frankly, it all made writing about trail running seem trivial—no, not just trivial. It felt wrong to write about trail running while the country wrestled with topics like slavery, incarceration, and discrimination.

All photos credit Unsplash.com.

But I did run this summer. I didn’t run fast, and I didn’t try to. My running was focused on time with friends in beautiful places, and we talked and talked and talked . . . about Black Lives Matter, parenting and homeschooling, COVID and quarantine and social distancing, our work and layoffs and furloughs and uncertainty, the elections, our nation’s angst, the world’s angst, our parents’ health, we talked about it all. We learned from each other, supported each other, and somehow kept each other moving.

“While we may technically measure this race in miles (or, “yards”), I’m always reminded that we actually measure it in memories, friends, laughs, and lessons.”

Amelia Boone

More recently, I think I’ve rediscovered how much the trail running community is a community and how much community helps with connection to the world and people around us. I first started thinking about it during Bigs Backyard Ultra.

As the race took place in locations around the world, people like me—from all over the world—were enthralled with the accomplishments of runners from Mexico, India, Belgium, Canada, and, yes, the US, as well as others. Amelia Boone, one of the American racers, said after the event, “While we may technically measure this race in miles (or, “yards”), I’m always reminded that we actually measure it in memories, friends, laughs, and lessons” [emphasis added].

Friends, laughs, lessons, memories. All the good things. The things that recharge you, connect you to the world, connect you to humanity. The things that allow me to return home, able once again to be a mom and to do my best to help the next generation be kinder, more aware, better people.

It’s made me think that maybe remembering and sharing my adventures here could offer that in some small sense to maybe even just one other person. That maybe I create a tiny bit of community for others here too. Maybe, through creating community, we inspire, aspire, and join together in this little way and do each other a bit of good.

Socially distanced atop Tinkham Peak.

Ultimately, the path I’ve found to working toward making a difference seems to come in these little ways. I work to teach my children to respect all people and to be aware of the harm so many have experienced, to be aware of history and how it continues to live in our collective souls. I try to share the beauty of our planet with others.

I hope I can write adventure reports and race reports more often. Maybe they’ll be more reflective, maybe they’ll just be about beautiful places. But whether it’s a trail run, or personal growth, maybe simply a sharing of things I’m learning or wondering, it’s all a journey. And I hope you’ll take it with me when it works for you.

I will try to include acknowledgement of the Native American peoples upon whose lands I journey, using Native Land as I go. This is part of my learning journey, and I hope if I need to update my information, you’ll kindly help me so I can update my acknowledgements.

Here are a few of the beautiful places I went this summer. I hope you found beauty wherever you went too. xoxo

UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge: WAS Up Loop in the Washington Cascades

Historical lands of the Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Tulalip, and and Coast Salish people.

The Beaten Path in Montana’s Beartooth and Absaroka Wilderness

Historical lands of the Absaroka/Crow, Cheyenne, and Sioux peoples.

UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge: Big Jim and the Chiwaukum in the Washington Cascades

Historical lands of the Yakama and Wenatchi peoples.

Angel’s Staircase Loop in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness of Washington

Historical lands of the Chelan, Methow, and Okanagan peoples.

Tuck and Robin Lakes in the Teanaway, Washington

Historical lands of the Yakama and Wenatchi peoples.

I am happy. Best view I ever saw.

Rowan

Remember to hold onto what’s dear. And be like Rowan, who says, “I am happy.”