edge of black


Runner’s World had a short article about night running the last issue.

It listed all the safety accessories you should buy and use…the headlamps, reflective clothing…the bear alert…just kidding about that last one…most of the urban runners wouldn’t need something like that….it listed a lot of different “must haves”…I can’t remember them all.

Something as simple as running is still going to be an opportunity to sell us something.

Something as potentially scary as running in the pitch black is a really good thing to sell accessories for.

I run early in the morning.

Some mornings, it’s black as …night…outside.  It’s dark.  I can’t see the rooster on the porch…can’t see my hand in front of my face.

Some mornings the full moon’s lit everything up like a Wal-Mart parking lot.  It’s bright.

It makes for easier running when I know where I’m going.

Actually, I have a pretty good idea where I’m going.

I just can’t see the road in front of me.

I have two routes I take….short runs always…down our country road.

One way is past the guy who rakes. Every day he’s out raking, waving at the cars…been doing it for years.  I can never tell when he’s going to be out in the morning, either.  I run at 5 and he’s surprised me, standing out by the edge of the darkness with a shovel, even that early in the morning.

That pretty much freaks me out when someone is standing by the edge of my running route that early in the morning.

That scares me.

The other way is what we call the hard way.

It goes up a gradual hill for half a mile and then drops off down a fairly steep hill for about another half a mile.

Then I turn around and run up the steep hill and cool down on the gradual part.

That’s what we call the hard way.

We’ve seen a quite a few bears lately on the “hard way”…that scares me some, too.

It’s weird to be surprised by something really big that’s covered in thick, black fur.

But I’m almost less scared of being surprised by a bear than I am to be surprised by a guy with a shovel.

I don’t accessorize when I’m running…just a black t-shirt and dark blue shorts.  I plan ahead…minimum visibility.  Actually, I do have a “Road ID” that’s reflective that I wear…I guess so that they can identify “The Man in Black” if they need to….”Why’d he have to camouflage himself?  It was hard enough to see him at night as it was?”

The thing about running at night….running in the darkness…is that I really have to pay attention.  I am on full alert…listening, scanning the sides of the road…staring off into the edge of my vision as far as I can….wondering what might be out there that can see me in the inky blackness but that I can’t see.  I really have to rein in my imagination.

You can’t think about that last Friday the 13th movie you saw…or trolls out in the woods lying in wait to eat me.

The darkness isn’t really my element.

I guess that’s why they have a big flashlight section at the discount store.

I guess that’s why we always figure out a way to accessorize everything…running included.

We need a way to distract us from the scary things at the edge of the black.


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