Running In The Dark

Its winter and its inevitable that we run in the dark. But I hate running in the dark. I’ve gotten around it by going to the high school track that has lights and doing my mid-week runs there. Another benefit is that it’s a softer surface to run on which is a lot kinder to my body (less aches and pains). Except this week, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Yesterday I got to the track only to find it closed to the public for a soccer game. So I hauled ass to the other school’s track. It was open, but unfortunately, the sun was quickly setting. I was able to get three and a half miles of intervals in, but eventually it was pitch black and I was all by my lonesome. I decided it probably wasn’t the safest situation to be in so I called it a night and headed home.

Learning my lesson, today I checked both school’s web sites only to find that they both had games today. Damn those kids, they keep ruining my plans! ☺ So I had no choice but to just run around my neighborhood.

Except for an overpass and a cul-de-sac, my usual route is not along any streets. Rather, it’s along a pedestrian/bike path that circles around a lagoon. While it was still lit when I left, I knew it would be dark by the time I got home, so I decided to play it safe and wear my reflection vest.

nathan10_pink_tricolor
nathan10_pink_tricolor

I bought this vest a while ago, but have never worn it. So this was its inaugural run. I also wore a bright colored top (as opposed to my usual black) to make myself more visible. I contemplated wearing my headlamp, but I decided that there would be enough lighting on the route that it wouldn’t be needed. And truthfully, I feel like an idiot wearing it. I know I shouldn’t but I do. That’s probably why I’ve only worn it once or twice.

The first half of the run I was Garmin obsessed. My pace was everywhere so I kept looking at it to try and steady myself. It was stressing me out. I kept telling myself to just “breathe.” That’s my mantra when I start to stress or panic; I take a deep breath and think, “Breathe.”

Eventually the sun did set and I couldn’t see my Garmin anymore and was forced to stop obsessing over it. That was a good thing. What wasn’t a good thing was the lighting. So the route wasn’t as lit as I thought it was. Don’t get me wrong, there were lights along the entire path; they just weren’t bright enough for me to see the ground. There’s lots of tree stumps and uneven pavement giving me something else to obsess about.

Lesson learned. The next time that I need to run around the ‘hood at night (or early morning), I am wearing the headlamp. Even if I feel stupid doing so. Better to be safe than sorry.

Bonus Points: I also carried the pepper spray that Chippy gave me for Christmas in case I had to spray a raccoon or two (the humans are nice in my neighborhood).

PS: After the abbreviated run on Tuesday, I met my friend V (who I ran my very first race with) to watch the Hood-to-Coast movie. My uncle and his team, "The Killer Watts", run HTC every year so it was great to learn about the race and all the effort that goes into it. Admittedly, seeing the runners run the middle-of-the-night legs got me through tonight's run in the dark. Every runner, and non-runner, should watch it.