Running in the dark with no streetlights, not my favorite thing. I much prefer the twilight painting the sky and the autumn colors swelling around us. Running down a washed out trail by headlamp, even less my favorite thing. Daylight savings time strikes the Muldooniacs 10K.
My first 5K was at night, and it was awesome. Crisp night around a lake. I was hooked. But there was a well defined and well lit route as well.
Darkness really robbed the experience. It lacked the transcendence of the other fall runs lately. The night collapsed the world around us into just the road bobbing in our headlamps. All the views that had dazzled us the previous time were concealed and cloaked. I knew they were there beneath the dark and dots of lights painting the hills of the cityscape. And I missed them.
It was just the run. It was just block after block. On the curb. Off the curb. On the curb. Off the curb. Faceless headlights whooshing by.
The sounds of the passing cars robbed us of the proper running mate conversation. We both fell silently into our strides. I tracked Trisha by the angle of her headlamp shining behind me. If it cast lower, I slowed down. As it rose again, I stepped back up to match pace.
I didn’t really think about anything, aside from sporadically writing this post in my head. My mind was surprisingly empty, like the scenery had become around me.
I was spoiled now; I demanded to be in awe.
I found myself missing dark morning runs on the Riverwalk. The large moon reflecting off the eerily placid water as moonlight danced in the air. The lightpoles emerging as beacons in the low hanging fog. The sun just starting to fracture the night as we sprinted into our cooldown. And, as always, I missed the sweet fishies in the concrete, denoting each half mile.
In the miniaturized sunlight of Trisha’s headlamp, I watched my silhouette jog on the path ahead of me. My shadow resembled a pear-shaped old woman, woefully misshapen, bouncing pathetically slowly along. The reflection was disappointing, and I was suddenly glad I have never had to run near a mirror. I never need to actually see the basset hound-esque zombie turtle of my form.
After a nebulizer treatment, Trisha could breathe again. She kept a good pace and rarely had to stop. Making excellent progress. I floated so hard through the second half that I had to willfully hold myself back to not abandon Trisha.
It was a strange, mixed run. The temperature was crisp. The physical run felt great even after 7 miles just the night before. Trisha did awesome. Yet I found myself inventorying my annoyances about the night and feeling devoid of my new-found transcendence into euphoria. Suddenly, just a good run wasn’t enough. I craved that perfect bliss. Like an addict.
Yet I was smiling run-drunk over a margarita at the end just the same.