This weekend I had the new experience of trailrunning at night! A friend of mine, Ellen, (of the Image Lake adventure) is going to pace a runner at Cascade Crest, and I’m training for my first 100 miler. Neither of us had trail run at night before, and we figured it probably shouldn’t be a new experience on race day. 😉
We chose an area we know well from all of our runs with the High Heel Running Group – Cougar Mountain. There’s a 7 mile loop we know and decided just to stick with that a few times. At 8:20pm, with the sun setting, off we went into the woods.
I can’t speak for Ellen, but it definitely felt a bit weird to go out on the trails at that hour. My mind was experiencing some cognitive dissonance with wanting to train and not wanting to get up close and personal with an elusive PNW predator of the ursine or feline variety. I’m used to running in my Seattle neighborhood in the dark, but I’m not worried about the threat of bear or cougar there (just creepy transients.) 😬 Anyway, we kept up a steady stream of chatter, and that definitely helped my comfort level.
At the end of our first loop, we were merrily running along until… crash, down I went. Caught my toe, belly flopped, and skidded on the trail, again.
I’ve got to keep my reputation of grace in action going, lol. Thankfully no real harm done except some scrapes, so onward!
During the second loop we both started to get sleepy. <yawn> It was definitely past our bedtimes, and while we needed to stay fueled, neither of us felt like eating much at that hour. We continued to tick off the miles, though. Before we knew it we were near the end, and it surprisingly started to pour rain on us. (It hadn’t rained in Seattle for 55 days, so the rain was very welcome.) We ended our run at 12:30am, and we both felt pretty good about our accomplishment. During both races we’ll be spending many more hours in the dark, but this run gave us a good taste of it. No one slipped on a slug or had to wrestle trail snacks from a bear, so I call that a win!
Night running takeaways:
-Always bring an extra light source and batteries. (We had an issue with one of our three sources, so something to keep in mind for the future!)
–Pick up your damn feet. (Seriously, Ana, pick up your feet.) Depth perception is way off with the limited light source so pebbles look like boulders, and gnarly roots look smooth and flat.
-Talking helps with the nervousness of being out in the dark – even if it’s just nattering on about something inconsequencial. (I happen to be decent at this skill…just ask my friends, lol.)
Happy day or night trails, everyone!