Monday, 23 November 2009

Running in the dark

Well, the dark season is upon us. It's dark as I write these words at just before 7 a.m., and it will be dark tonight by 4 p.m. And the days are still getting shorter.

At some level I like the starkness of November and December. The trees are bare. The leaves are in damp, disentegrating clumps here and there. In the woods, the ground is muddy underfoot from the incessant rain. When the sun is out the light is different - the shadows are long because the sun is lower in the sky even near mid-day. I'm content being inside, in my office at work, writing, or at home, making a stew or baking stuff.

Running in the winter means running in the dark. This began a few weeks ago when I was completing a run after work, and realised that having my torch (flashlight) would really have been useful. I have a bike-light with bright LEDs, and I power it with rechargeable batteries.

On Dec. 1, after work, I set out for a long loop that I do that includes a section of The Road in the final few miles. On map-my-run it's 9.8 miles, but there's a bit extra from my office, so I call it 10.
It was dark, and cold, and raining when I started. As I gained elevation, the path became icy in patches, and the rain turned to snow. The first snow of the year! As I continued running up the road, the rain turned to snow and covered the road. I ran in the middle of the road (it's a farm road with no traffic), and the snow actually provided a little traction.
But it was cold. The wind was blowing hard, and the snow was horizontal. With the darkness and the empty terrain near The Road, it was easy to imagine one was running in Siberia. The side of my face was numb, and my right hand was numb within a soaking wet glove. Stupidly, I'd forgotten my mobile phone. If I turned my ankle, I'd be in trouble.
Finally I arrived at the junction with The Road. From here it was 4 miles back to where I work, and downhill. I sped up a bit to try and keep warm in the strong wind. At one point an SUV over-took me, and the driver stopped and asked whether I needed a lift. It was that kind of weather.
Eventually I made it back to campus. Here I joined friends for a welcome pint of Guinness in the pub.