Slick and sweaty with Anne Sexton on the Lost Lake Trail

Today I ran the Lost Lake Trail with my faithful and limpy dog, The Beester. She doesn’t limp during the runs, but after we get home the poor girl often can’t get out of bed without a push. But she loves to run! She scolds me with little yipes whenever I pause or slow down (she’s 11 this year, a lab and husky mix).

The run was awesome. It was overcast and humid, and I veered off on the winter trail, which is steep with killer hills as it heads up the mountain. I was wet with sweat after the first half mile and for some reason, and maybe it was the green of the new leaves, I couldn’t stop reciting lines from that Anne Sexton poem as the trail became steeper and steeper: “I know well the grass blades you mention, the furniture you have placed under the sun.” I repeated that to myself over and over until it found a cadence with my breathing.

How odd that I would repeat lines from a poem titled “Wanting to Die” when I felt so very much alive. But poetry can do that to you, get inside your blood and swim up when you least expect it.

The trail was muddy. I didn’t have my camera with me but here are my shoes after I got home:

I almost lost my shoes in a couple of spots. I love running in mud. It makes me feel tough and gritty to finish streaked and dirty.

I clogged the drain when I took a shower, I was THAT muddy, hee, hee.

Unfortunately, when I got up higher on the mountain there was still snow, and I mean deep snow. I postholed up to my hips a couple of times. That was miserable, since I had on shorts and a tank. I thought about turning around but Beebs yiped so I kept on until we reached the cabin.

Coming back down was fast and furious after we cleared the snowy spots. Think running down a mountain for 2.5 miles and you’ve kinda got the picture. Mud sucked at my shoes and Anne Sexton cleared out of my head and instead I sang this refrain, over and over: “Turn the beat around, turn it up, turn it up, turn it upside down.”

What a glorious thing, to run down and down after killing yourself struggling up and up.

My time sucked, since I had to walk through the deep snowy parts, but no matter. It was an easy run day and I had a blast, and except for the first 500 yards by the parking lot, I passed no one. I had the mountain to myself, just me and The Beebster.

Later, after I got home, I thought about Anne Sexton and wondered if she would have been a runner, if she had been born a little bit later, in a little bit different time. I can imagine her digging in deep and running a marathon. I wish I could have run trails with her. I like to think of her running beside me and singing out poems as we wind through mountain trails. (Anne, wherever you are, today’s run was for you.)

My very favorite Sexton poem.

Her Kind

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

One thought on “Slick and sweaty with Anne Sexton on the Lost Lake Trail

  1. Arianne

    Hi there! I found your blog via a google search. I live in Denver (originally from Anchorage) and run Mt Marathon every year (coming up on year #9!). I am wondering if you can give me a perspective on what shape the mountain is in this spring. How's that snow field looking up top? Do you think it will be about average (+/-) by July 4th this year? That's for the local feedback! Love seeing your Seward blog and happy running!


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