A Dark Alley

Wednesday evening’s trail run was fun (he said with a straight face). I had been looking forward to it all day. My boss wanted to discuss ideas for some upcoming ads and I said, “Trail run!”

“What?”

“Cactus and critters!”

“Doug’s gone to la la land. Anyone else have ideas?”

The thing is, I have an hour commute and normally get home a little after 5:00pm. So I left work at 4:00 and thought, Ok, I’ll get home, change into my running clothes and be at the trailhead by 5:30. The sun sets at 6:39pm so that would be perfect. I could do the longer trail! But I could almost hear the fates laughing at my well-laid plan, “Not so fast, George Banks.” [name the movie]

By the time I got through rush-hour traffic, changed, and read a magazine (I’ll let your imagination interpret that) and got to the trailhead, it was 6:30. Crap! I’ve got nine minutes until the daylight’s gone. So, disappointed, I opted for the shorter two mile trail.

Now, you would think that Wednesday evening would not be a popular day to hit the outdoors but the lot was full! It was like the cafeteria on Free Soft Serve Day at the old folks home.

All right, I’ve got to hustle, I thought as I strapped on my hydration pack, passing pedestrians left and right, feeling speedy. But I saw the moon and couldn’t help myself.

“Wow, look at that big beautiful moon,” I said to a Cactus Wren while pulling out my phone for a snapshot.

big-beautiful-moonIt looked bigger in person, I promise! Can you see it? There, just over the mountaintop? No, it’s not an airplane or speck on the lens. Google Grand Lunar Illusion.

Then it got dark. Now I know why the Ragnar people say to do a couple of training runs in the dark. I didn’t have a headlamp and all depth perception went away, so every step was a tightrope walk on the precipice of oblivion. Well, maybe not that bad but a misstep certainly could have meant a big skidding raspberry on my tush.

Uphill wasn’t bad. Downhill was out of control. The trail was littered with Ruggles (non-running folk) and I was constantly calling out, “On your left,” which means nothing to them. They either ignored me or stopped and turned around with a look of confusion.

“I can’t stop! Gang way!” as I careened on by.

Now, with no depth perception it’s impossible to tell whether a line on the trail is a step up or a step down – or even a step at all. I was busy looking at the elderly couple ahead of me, trying to decide how best to let them know I was coming up behind them without scaring them, when I came upon such a step, and it was a downer. There was a loud popping sound (probably a disk in my back giving way under the sudden strain, “You bastard! Why do you treat us like this? We’ve done nothing to you!”) as my foot landed a good six inches below where I expected it to. I let out a “Hiyah!” that must have sent horses galloping for miles. As for the old couple, I can only hope they were wearing their Depends.

I recovered with as much grace as I could muster and wished them a good evening as I trotted by. Their eyes were as big as cueballs and the lady had her hand on her chest.

Well, now I know to be prepared. The days are getting shorter and I may have to shift my running schedule around.

Until next time, cool runnings to you, my friends!

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