Monday, September 7, 2009

(The Lighter Side of) Running in the Dark

Mike V. and Derek Hills await the down stream float/swim of the rest of the Rise Up Runners crew during a 10-mile trail run at Tuckahoe State Park after serious flooding. Photo by Joel Shilliday.

I run in the dark. Sometimes that is a metaphor. There are plenty of life examples when I feel like I am cruising along with only a narrowly illuminated view of what's going on around me. And I push ahead, running into the sunrise, hoping for a brief glimpse into the bigger scheme of things.

Mostly that doesn't happen. And running in the dark is just running in the dark. But it is enough. Though it's cool when it happens, running does not open up in "a-ha" moments too frequently. Some runs feel good, some hurt. Some runs are with a group and some are solo. The only thing I have any control over is getting up, drinking coffee, and getting out the door for a run. In the dark.

There is something to running out from under the streetlights in town and getting onto Oxford Road, where the light pollution fades and the stars pop. There is something to being out and active before most people are awake. I dig it. But I don't run in the dark for just those reasons.

My wife is a teacher and our two girls are in 2nd grade and Pre-K. They play soccer and take dance some afternoons. When I leave in the morning, they are asleep and they are generally still sleeping when I get home. Our schedules don't allow for the convenience of after work runs. Plus, I don't want to miss time with the girls. So I run in the dark by necessity. It won't happen otherwise.

It's a lot easier when I know I am meeting other folks. I don't want to be the one that leaves folks hanging, especially when some of our runners drive some distance to meet at 5 a.m. It motivates me to know there are other folks rolling out of bed to meet for a run. That's the reason our Rise Up Runners group got together.

Then there is the feeling of knowing the run is in the books. Banked for the day. Granted, coffee, tea, and/or a kick in the pants is sometimes necessary in the late afternoon, but my body (and mind) have adapted and now even look forward to running in the dark. It's become a part of running and a part of me. I wouldn't change it. Except maybe to have some trails closer by...:)

1 comment:

OneRunner said...

I despise waking up early; however, once I'm up and out the door I too enjoy that feeling of being one of a few people wandering the streets. It's almost a magical experience when I run removed from the added layers of a typical day. It's calmer and more peaceful. Oddly, it in no way feels lonely. Rather, running before most people are awake almost feels like I am more connected to everything and in this connection i am able to focus my thoughts, mind, and intentions more clearly. My runs become more of a meditation. I also enjoy taking the midnight shift on a long road trip for this same feeling.