Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Night Runner

Mikes Keene and Valliant, after a 7-mile night run at Wye Island, refuel at the Keene mothership.

Now I know what David Hasselhoff would have felt like... if he hadn't had K.I.T.T. and had to run everywhere instead of taking his tricked-out Trans-Am. Okay, maybe not, but we did manage to get in a 7+ mile night run on Tuesday night at Wye Island, so we are at least "night runners" now.

Wye Island is a great expanse of dirt roads, wooded trails, grassy cross-countryesque trails through fields, and some paved roads. We have used it as a looped training grounds, logging 10, 19, 17, and 26.4-mile runs, in a picturesque setting, on softer terrain, and away from traffic. Our loops have generally taken us by our vehicle, so it is easy to refuel. It has been a welcome running sanctuary. Up to last night, all our runs had been during daylight.

My first mistake was loaning Mike K. Neal Jamison's great book, Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon. When he returned it, he was smitten, "We've got to do a night run! All these ultra runners talk about races going through the night. We could pick a full moon, hit Wye Island, and I doubt we'd even need flash lights."

After emailing a park ranger there and getting permission for the endeavor, May seemed like the best time to try to make it happen. Having said that, Mike was nursing an ailing calf, post 2 straight weekends of PR races, and neither of us had the free time this week we'd hoped for. So a 3-hour expedition turned into a sub-70-minute fun run, that finished with a momentum-gaining fast mile at the end.

I have never run at night, discounting the occasional inebriated jaunt from a bar or party quite a few years ago (I should note, I have left for long runs at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m, when it is still dark and the moon is out, but the difference seems to me to be sleep first, wake up, and go, rather than go at the end of the day). It is a great and charging experience. Mike was right, even with some cloud cover, neither flashlight nor headlamp was necessary--natural light was plenty.

We parked at the equestrian center, and used the main road, which is a wide dirt road, as our route. At the far end of the road, is the Osage Orange Trail, a 1.1 mile out-and-back wooded-tunnel of a trail, which seems to jettison me through it, day or night. Last night it was like a game--flying down the trail in the dark, flowing with the trail, and dodging the potentially bludgeoning low-hanging branches. At one end of the trail is a beach, and coming out the other was moonlight over the fields, forests, and roads.

Our run was from roughly 10:30 - 11:4o p.m. It was interesting to ask your energy to peak when it is usually on recharge. I dug my first dose of night running--certainly due to a great combination of venue, company, and concept. I look forward to seeing what and where the next installment will be.

As for next on the running adventure list: I have it in my mind to do a trans-St. Michaels run: from the CBMM parking lot, to Royal Oak, to Bellevue, go across on the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, run through Oxford, up Oxford Road, to the Easton Bypass, onto St. Michaels Road, then back to St. Michaels. Total trip is between 25 and 30 miles.


Nancy Toby said...

That's just crazy talk!

Have fun!!

MJK said...

We all have our motivating factors, and Valliant's seems to be found on a trail in a viney, wooded tunnel in the dark. I've never seen Michael Valliant run so fast as I did last night through segments of our Wye Island Adventure. Maybe it was fear; fear of the unknown in the dark shadows and of wild animals hungry for a taste of Smartwool, or maybe the removal of all other distractions in the darkness of the night, or, perhaps, the utter freedom the situation presented; to run on a really, really cool trail that invited a runner to do what he does best...RUN. Night-running recommendation: go with a friend. MJK

stephen bardsley said...

M&M, sounds like an awesome time! I run quite a bit at night, but not on trails.(I wear a Nathan reflective vest) Hopefully come november, we are all enjoying a cold beer in Boonseboro before it actually gets dark. Although the thought of finishing the JFK in a reflective vest in the dark with a flashlight actually seems like the way its supposed to be. Later guys!