Running Alone At Night

The other night I really needed to go for a run.  It was just one of those days where I was desperate to escape my house.  When my husband came home from work (late as usual), I was trying to get my older kids to eat their dinner while my 7-month old was screaming at the top of her lungs.  My husband felt bad about my stressed out condition, so he asked me if I wanted to drive to a bookstore and relax (one of my all-time favorite things to do… I just love drinking coffee and skimming through books and magazines).  I told him that I just wanted to go for a run.  Even though it was already dark outside, I changed into my bright running clothes and laced up my brand-new running shoes.

As I stepped outside, I knew that my heart was set on 6 miles.  I have been so used to running with other people that the thought of running 6 miles alone almost seemed daunting.  It is just so funny because 2 years ago I often ran longer distances alone.  Yet, once I tuned into my upbeat music and elongated my strides, I was happy as a clam (are clams really even happy?).  I wanted to stay focused on keeping my speed up while working on improving my form.

I was focused on my running, but not so focused that I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.  I kept thinking about how stupid it was for me to keep both ear buds in with the music blaring.  Granted, I live in a pretty good neighborhood, but any neighborhood can seem scary at night.  The other problem is that streetlights are hit or miss around here.  Some of the sidewalk is well-lit, while other sections are pitch black.  Not only do I have to worry about not tripping over a crack in the cement, but I also have to worry about some psycho jumping out of the bushes.  As I neared the high school, I kept running past groups of teenagers that didn’t seem to care if they were hogging the entire sidewalk.  Adolescent disrespect seems to be on the rise.

Soon, I encountered the elementary school and beyond that I only saw another stretch of darkness.  Since I hadn’t hit the turnaround point yet, I decided to run laps in the well-lit school parking lot before heading back towards home.  As I went over the bridge and past a dark and scary forest, I heard a rustling in the bushes that made me jump sideways nearly falling into the road.  Mind you, at this point I had realized that it was much smarter to run with only one ear bud in so I could have some idea of the noises that existed beyond my music.  The bushes continued to rustle loudly as I ran the fastest mile out of all 6.  Then the strangest thing happened.  As I ran towards a light it flickered and then shut off.  That must have happened at least three times within 5 minutes.  So, not only do I have to worry about cracks and psychos at night, but I have to escape ghosts?!  Finally I reached some decent lighting and happily continued to work on speed.  Whatever makes you fast, right?

Needless to say, running alone at night does have its advantages.  It definitely keeps the adrenaline pumping. Additionally, I was able to work on my form without anyone being able to see how silly I must have looked.  I was even able to observe my form when my body created a shadow in the street light.  I think I figured out that I might need to lift my knees just a tad higher.  I don’t know… it might be a hopeless cause.  I was just born to run like a flailing gazelle fleeing a lion.  No, actually gazelles are more graceful, even in life-threatening situations.

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