Facing My Fears, One Run at a Time

In an effort to not be the last person to cross the finish line at the 10 miler I’m running in May, I decided to amp up my running game and do a mid-week run. I usually do my running on the weekends, or before work –as soon as we have daylight savings and it’s not dark and creepy at 5am. I wanted to run this morning, but a weather-check stopped those plans before they started (waking up at the crack of dawn is hard enough when it’s nice out; no way I’m running in a “wintry mix”). The forecast for last night was ideal: clear and in the mid-30’s.

I’m not gonna lie: I was terrified hesitant to run at night. I’ve seen too many SVU’s. My mind is filled with what-ifs and horrifying scenarios that involve me cornered in some dark alleyway and left for death (never mind that none of my routes include dark alleyways). Sure I know about the safety precautions for running at night. I just don’t abide by any.

-I run alone (I'm in the process of finding some running buddies; fingers crossed!).

-I don’t have any reflective gear (running doesn't come cheap; I just bought some new sports bras and sneakers, so the running budget is currently maxed out).

- I listen to my i-pod (I’m not at that place where the sound of my feet hitting the pavement is rhythm enough; I need Rihanna, damn it).

So, I’m batting 0-3.

On the way home last night, I saw at least a dozen runners through my neighborhood, so that was reassuring. I started off on one of my usual routes, and let me tell you, I felt like I was flying! I don’t know if it was the new sneaks, or the excitement of expanding my running repertoire , but I was in my groove (quite honestly, it was probably the adrenaline coursing through my veins every time I thought I saw someone approach me; the ol’ fight-or-flight in action).

I was running on well-lit pathways and at one point, I saw a bunch of runners coming towards me. I thought it was maybe a track team or running club, until I caught up with a ton more people a little while later. They all had running bibs and were clearly doing a race. I remembered reading about a weekly run through my neighborhood, sponsored by a local bar, and figured this must be it.

I decided to switch up my route; I like to twist and turn down all kinds of side streets on my runs, but figured sticking to main streets was smarter for nighttime. I passed the bar sponsoring the 5k, and there were all these finishers standing around cheering other runners on; I smiled and appreciated the encouragement, but refrained from putting my arms up in an act of victory (just barely). I wasn’t technically in their 5k.

I was a changed woman, singing the praises for running at night - until I caught a gnarly side cramp that nearly took me out. It came out of nowhere and hurt so bad I had to stop almost immediately. In my head, I had at least another mile mapped out I wanted to run. I still had my lungs and my legs; how was I being taken down by a cramp?!

As upset as I was to literally be stopped in my tracks, it was a great learning experience: I had eaten half an avocado after work, which clearly was not cutting it. I need to focus on fueling properly so I’m not blindsided by bellyaches.

I’m looking forward to my next nighttime run. I’m thinking it’s going to be next Thursday, same time, same place. I’ve always thought that just showing up to a 5k without registering would be the best of both worlds; you get the excitement and adrenaline of running against others and having a great trail mapped out for you, without having to pay the entrance fee (hey, I told you the running budget is low). Now I know right where to find one - and I'm fairly certain it won't involve any dark alleyways.


Michele said…
I ran tonight... in the rain... and the dark. A lovely 5.5 miler. At first I thought, hell no- I'll do a mile and then back home to where it's warm! But once I was out there, it all fell into place and the miles just swept me by.

Glad you are running!!!!
brigidmc12 said…
that's awesome! sometimes forcing yourself out the door is the hardest thing...once you're already out, the run usually isn't so bad!