This was written on December 18, 2010, far before a 3 week long sinus infection and 64 inches of snow completely fucked up my training schedule. Here it is:
I've walked through some of the sketchiest neighborhoods in the South Bronx, had guns pointed at me on two separate occasions, and lived a life that should have killed me, but nothing is as unsettling to me as running through the woods in the dark with a headlamp. The world shrinks to the tight circumference of the light strapped to your head and beyond that light is nothing but smothering darkness. The uneasy feeling builds as you leave the parking lot behind you and that same feeling waits for a moments of undisciplined distraction to attach itself to you. There are only two end results when focus becomes obscured by the chatter in the nightmare factory.
The first end result is a physical one. The actual motion of running with a headlamp is not terribly hard until you have one of those "undisciplined moments". That's when the gravity hammer swats you back to earth. It's a brisk and cold reminder of what happens when the mind wanders.
The other result is the more dangerous and frightening of the two and it's an attack on the psyche. It takes more discipline to run at night. Discipline to make sure that you remain upright and discipline to keep your mind from wandering into some very bad places. It's a slow process but I have a feeling that I'll learn more about myself in those nighttime miles than I will under the heat of the sun.
Honestly, running in the dark kind of scares the shit out of me. It feeds on the paranoia and wild imagination that I have going on inside my Nightmare Factory. I think about everything from bears and coyotes attacking me to bashing my head in on a rock, Then there are the hunters. The trail is supposed to be closed at sunset to hunters. And runners. I keep my fingers crossed that they see me coming and don't run me through with an arrow and I also hope that the police don't think I'm in the woods hunting deer with a spotlight. A 2.8 mile run seems to take an eternity but with a change in my work hours, I'm going to be doing a fair amount of miles with the headlamp. I'll get used to it but really, running in the dark scares the shit out of me.