[5.35 miles in 55:16 minutes 10:20min/mile – 313ft climb]
Darkness and running are two things that never have gone well for me. Because I’ve been time challenged and these are short days, I’ve had no choice but to run in the evenings if not when dark near enough to it that by the end of my run its pitch black except for the occasional street lamp that illuminates a small patch of space as I negotiate the route underfoot.
As I have written in other blog entries, cars and trucks seem to be attracted to me in much the same way a dog might be attracted to the leg of a person next to them; in both cases this affection is unwanted. Since near misses seem to be trending up, unlike the economy in the UK; I decided that perhaps it was time to change my run time to zero dark thirty or in this case 4:30AM.
My logic which I would find in error, was that since there were few businesses open at that hour, there would be a lesser risk of being turned into road kill by an overzealous driver attempting to exit a parking lot with nitrous oxide injection enabled. Drunks and drug addicts would be long off the streets; if not in jail, passed out someplace wallowing in their own bodily fluids making safe the streets for a lone runner braving the chill and dampness in the dark of the morning or so I thought.
At 4:30AM, before the rooster crows and at a time when most sane people are snuggled up in the warmth of their beds, I exited my house into the damp and chill of the morning. Standing on the sidewalk between my house and the neighbors, the headlamps of a random car passing whilst I fumbled with my running app bounced off my reflective wear lighting me up as if I were a defective TRON suit still among the rows of integrated circuits. Safety First.
App on, arm band mounted and ear phones in place, I push the screen of my phone and the silence of the morning is broken by a familiar voice reporting “Work Out Started, GPS On” followed by the distinct rhythms of GODSMACK Keep Away. Two miles into the run all is well although I worry somewhat about possibly tripping or stumbling on an obstruction on the sidewalk; wishing that I had invested in a headlamp that could light my way through the darkness.
Transitioning on to a main street, justly called Main Street, would be my trek to the 3 mile mark and also the most dangerous part of my run normally because of all the business driveways I need to traverse; happily this morning I past only one that contained a delivery truck, which the owner had started to warm up and posed no threat to my wellbeing other than the nocuous fumes emitted from its exhaust pipe. Two bells and all’s well, I mumble to myself.
Turning on to a frontage road where I will have no sidewalks to run on; I’m not worried because during the day this road sees little traffic. My trek to the four mile mark should go without incident, after all if there is little traffic during the day there should be none at this time of the morning. I’ve grown confident that my early morning run logic will hold true and I will have reduced my risk of becoming road kill. That is until the lights of a car in the distance come into view. As the car grows closer, my reflective tape dances in the light of the car headlamps. I notice that as the car gets closer, it’s not moving to its right to distance itself from me but rather angles toward me as if I were a fishing lure attracting a fish to my hook. Blinding me with its lights, the car passes within what seemed inches of me; I’m pushed by a blast of air from its wake. Soon to follow are two more cars in rapid succession both exhibiting the same behavior as the last, I run on to a dirt path that I can just make out though the glare of the headlamps; in a feeble attempt to put distance between me and the metal monster coming at me in the darkness. The dirt path turned out to be plumb with hazards. I was forced back on to the now unsafety of the blacktop. I’m treated to two more cars, one kind enough to cross into the opposing lane so as to give me way.
A sense of relief comes over me and any tightness in my neck subsides when finally I turn onto a street with a sidewalk. I’m for the first time happy to enter the hill part of my run. I think the 4:30AM runs will be left to those more adventurous than I from now on.