Most days I would feel anxious until my run was done for the day. But today was different because I had so much to do! I didn’t have an option to run in the morning because my shift at work started at 6:30 AM. I worked 8 hours and I still had to go find a dress to wear to my brother’s graduation and an upcoming wedding I’m attending. (Side note: I ended up buying 3 dresses from Plato’s Closet for a total of $37. One of these dresses was only $9!! I forgot how much I loved that store). I came home and had to check my online class for anything I might’ve missed. Then I got sidetracked reading the Hunger Games, making myself a veggie stirfry for dinner, and having a long conversation with my family. Before we realized it, it was already 8 o’clock and my dad and I still didn’t run. But by 8:20 we were out on the trail.
Out on the trail, with our headlights and trying to race the inevitable darkness, I realized how different running without the sun’s natural light is. I run the same trail nearly everyday and I can basically memorize every rock and stick on the trail. I know exactly where the puddles usually set and I know where the random patches of stones intercept the dirt. This is my home course – a trail that is 200 feet from my driveway and extends for nearly 3 miles one-way in either direction (it’s good for 10 mile runs!)
But this trail is deceptive in the dark. The trail seems completely different when you can see only 20 feet in front of you instead of 200+ feet. The tree branches block the light still glowing from the nighttime sky. There’s more shadows. The stones and rocks seem 10 times bigger at night than in the day. Shining eyes can be seen reflecting from our headlights as nocturnal animals come out of hiding for the duration of the night and wander the woods.
But here we were running 4 miles before 9 PM. It’s hard to focus on the end because you’re focusing so intently on the next step. Maybe that’s why the run seemed longer than it was. But then again it felt easy because I could only mentally picture how much further we had left to go. I couldn’t physically see the finish line because all I could see was the darkness ahead and the bobbing of our headlights shining on the 4 feet ahead of us. Ask anyone who has ever ran that trail for our hosted nighttime trail
runs races. Welcome to the darkness and the deception – focus only on your next step and run at your own risk of animals and obstacles. And whatever you do….don’t fear the dark.
It WILL deceive you.