I had planned to run an 11 mile route at night through a remote mountain area but I misplaced my headlamp, decided to go home to retrieve it and run my town’s roads and bridges. Found headlamp in duffel bag, used it.
The weather was extremely weird. The rivers were swollen with icy run-off, but warm air was blowing in. Hollows of cold and warm air swirled in the hills, making one hollow pleasantly warm, and the next suddenly one sub-arctic. Places blocked from the warm air coming in were absolutely dead quiet.
It was incredibly eerie to run over the ridge of a hill to descend into icy air, emerge maybe ten minutes later, rise up an over the next ridge and once again descend into what feels. comparatively speaking, like entering a buoyancy pool at a spa. Luxuriously warm lower 40s, humid. It’s like Florida for Yetis.
I wore a water pak with an inline filter, carried some gels, a small towel. My mom bought me compression sleeves for my arms. They looked awesome. I dressed light tonight. The weird cold areas in the creek-bottomed hill valleys would be the highlight of the night.
The sleeves proved to be an issue, but it could’ve been a stomach virus. Three miles into my run, I felt like I was going to hurl. I ran out to a highway overpass to vomit in a relatively isolated area. Mouth dripping, cold sweats, dizzy. I peeled off the cotton? sleeves and stuck them in the water pak pouch. My arms were soaking wet. After a few minutes they dried out and I started feeling better. As I kept running the nausea diminished, but I felt sick the whole run.
Eating a giant fried fish sandwich two hours before the run was a bad idea. Nasty white bread, too much protein. Oh well, call the waambulance. That just made it more challenging.
Challenges! Those are super fun.
I ran out the high flat plateau south of town until I got to a spot past the turnpike overpass beyond which, I knew, lay a wide swath of wild earth where creatures traveling the creek in that valley could access culverts and places where fences were smushed under sycamore branches. I’d seen loads of roadkill, gotten bit by ticks there, knew that people liked to drag-race and throw trash through that secluded span of the woods. The woods were owned by a bouillabaisse of moneyed fishes, the state, oil companies, drilling companies, the county. Full of shotgun-blasted junk, ATV trails, animals, chaos. I don’t need that. I need my spotty streetlights. It’s about 1 am.
I live in a rural area. I wouldn’t say it’s remote, but there’s a smell of beef farts everywhere, like glitter for rednecks. I like the rural areas less than wild areas, especially woodlands. Wide, mowed areas of subsidized government cornfields are abominable. People driving through SW Pennsylvania would think, “wow, these are some corn-eating motherfuckers around here.” Nothing but welfare farms. Except for one local farm I don’t have time to talk about but they’re all awesome. They’re like saints here. Hardy, impervious to obstacles, and prosperous. Anyways, I had to run through Scary Woods Full of Critters, Drunks and Trash-Throwing Rednecks. Tires, roof tar, household furniture, all atop cars, construction rubble, a sedimentary edifice representing generations of poor stewardship. Small ferns unfurl in the broken glass and piles of rotting, molding roof shingles. Light falling from a single narrow shaft of sunlight glints on a bottle, like a star. Make a wish!
Enough, sorry. I ran back through town, stitching a couple of transverse routes along the way, getting tired. I’d been up for twenty hours already.
I crossed the river and kept up a steady 10 min/mile pace on the cold! side of the river: when I had crossed the bridge the temp dropped ten degrees. In some places I frosted. It was wild. I ran alongside a train for a while, at times close enough to touch it. I don’t touch trains. I’m not that kind of runner, a train-toucher. What if a serial killer was waiting with a machete aboard one of the cars?
I needed some spotty streetlights. I ran back through town, pulling an extra loop and home again with no highlights. It was a decent run, but my Garmin quit on the other side of PA-43 turnpike. I am having to use mapquest to determine the mileage so I can claim it I am presenting that lost segment. I presume I lost GPS signal because of the magnetic solar pole dance. Anyways, that’s approximately a 0.4 mile stretch of running I’m claiming. It looks like .4 to .42 miles, so I’ll call it .4 miles.
I got home at about 3 am, a 23-hr day. Dead in the bed.
I heard that Rory and Bored Alice might have been dancing in Chicago, but I’m not sure. The air was clearing, the moon hung low in the west, seriously, like a hammock, like a Lake Titicaca wicker canoe. And one bright star, brilliant in the fog overhead, pierced thought the orange haze of the halogen streetlights, like a potato waffle seen from an extreme distance.
I wish I had a hot tub.
EDIT: A little later in the day, after a glorious 3-hr nap, I ran low on baby formula. I was going to drive to the grocery, but my wife said, “Run it. I dare you.”
So, I did. It was 2.5 miles to the store. I grabbed a container of baby formula, and some hummus. I triple-bagged the sundries and ran back home, picking up and extra half mile for no reason. Running with a bag sounds difficult, but it’s easy to get used to. If you run in rural areas, you come across dogs ranging their territory, and I often run through these areas whilst carrying a stick. Some of these dogs look viscous. Some are chained up sand crazy. Dogs don’t want to fight, but they have to show you they mean business. A stick is just a way of barking. Bark = brandished stick. if you turn tail on a dog and run, they will attack you and try to bite you. If you stand down a dog, they will fight or retreat, or maybe show you they would rather be friends. I’ve been attacked by dogs, been bitten. So, I let dogs know I’ll fight. They respect that. If you don’t fight off a dog, they’ll mess you up big time, maybe kill you or bite off your hands. Running with a stick to fight off dogs taught me to run with a bag of baby formula. I’m such a soft old beastie.
If you squirt water in a dog’s face it will confuse them. Do it and tell them loudly to leave, to behave. Use commands they would recognize. Stand your ground, then walk away keeping eye-contact with the dog. At a safe distance you can run again. The only way to know what that distance might be is to watch the dog. They’ll let you know, and they’ll let you go. Some dogs will just say screw it, I’m running with you. Last summer one day a farm dog ran three miles with me, amazing.
So, I got another five-to-six miles in.
Slept like the dead.