Training for a ½ marathon requires a lot of discipline and, unfortunately, a lot of time. For me and Rachel it has meant a bit of a lifestyle change, but one we have been happy to endure. We have become used to waking up early on Saturdays, running for almost two hours and becoming zombies for the rest of the day. Perfect Halloween costumes in our book, sans the makeup and yearning for flesh. But, we knew this past Saturday would be impossible to run our 11 miles (our longest run) since it was Halloween weekend. For us it meant our annual trip down to San Antonio to enjoy a costume party at my brother’s house. Thus, we decided to push our run to Sunday, Halloween, so that we could fully enjoy the fun Saturday night. It’s important that when you are training you continue to enjoy the wonderful things life has to offer and not get so caught up in running. We didn’t mind pushing our long run back a day, but we had no idea what obstacles we would have to overcome on Halloween night.
I have provided a log of our evening run and the wonderful Halloween experience. We arrived at the park at 6:00 pm, both very tired and desperately searching for reasons not to run. We had just been driving for 5 hours.
6:05 pm – The Run Begins
My legs are tighter than normal. We both stood a lot the night before and had just sat in the car for 5 hours straight, but I shrug it off and run through it.
6:15 pm – More Than A Mile In
I throw up in my mouth a bit…The first sign we should not have had McDonald’s.
6:30 pm – The Sun is Setting Rapidly
Pain in my ankle is surfacing. Rachel now begins to burp as well and finds out what I meant when I said, “I just threw up in my mouth a bit.” She blames me for picking McDonald’s. A running argument follows…
Rachel: We should not have had McDonald’s.
Me: Next time you choose then or give me ideas.
Rachel: I picked the night before.
Me: I know I said give me ideas.
Rachel: We just can’t eat that kind of food before a run.
Me: (Burp) If you knew that then why didn’t you pick?
Rachel: (Burp) I just feel really gross. It’s sitting on my stomach.
Me: You need to at least tell me what you don’t want next time.
This goes on for a couple of minutes. Luckily it is distracting us from our run. We are both tired from the weekend and really don’t think 11-miles is possible.
6:40 pm – The Sun is Gone
We are at the back end of the park. We can see because the sky is still lit, but we know time is short. We decide not to do the wide loop for the second half of the run because we know it’s not possible to run through the woods section in complete darkness…There are snakes in this park…Big Ones!!
6:45 pm – We Are Alone…
The park feels completely deserted. Children are out trick-or-treating with their parents. We can hear kids in the distance. We can barely see and now the park is getting a little eerie. The ducks are lined up together on the ponds outside of the water. They are just standing and staring forward. They look ready to attack.
Since darkness is becoming an obstacle we agree to stay on the inner-loop which is a little more than a mile long. I forget we are running 11-miles and tell Rachel, “We can finish this run, just 5 miles to go.” Rachel responds, “You mean 6.” I freak out when I hear this…I am already tired and 6 suddenly seems like an eternity.
7:10 pm – Darkness Abounds
We can barely see anything in front us. Various bugs are flying into our faces and into our mouths. We are trying desperately to run with our heads down so the bugs hit our caps. We are glad we can’t see the bugs because we likely would stop. We are literally the only ones in the park. There are no lights at all. We have woods to our left and a huge pond to our right, complete with snakes and other kinds of animals.
7:15 pm – Near Bunny Casualty
We nearly run into a bunny that attempts to cross our path. We can barely see it. We first notice a rustling in the bushes that freaks us out. Suddenly the bunny appears and we both jump back. He nearly runs into our path. He scampers for a few seconds beside us and then disappears. It was cute, but scary.
7:17 pm – How Much Further?
We nearly lose count of how many miles we have run. We are tired and cannot see a thing. Luckily Rachel is wearing a white shirt and I have on white shoes. Other than that we cannot really see. I realize why they make lights on watches…it’s a lifesaver. By studying our time we realize how many miles we have run when we pass our mile marker and look at our time. I thought we only had two more miles to go….apparently we have three.
7:20 pm – What Was That!?!
Sounds are coming from left and right. The birds and ducks are making weird noises. Animals are heard in the woods. I nearly step on a frog…just miss it by inches. A moth of some sort is flying alongside us. I try and hit it away with my cap. Bugs are slapping our faces. It is more than dark, it is pitch black. The stars are our only source of light. We can see the pavement, but barely and only right in front of us. We think trash-cans are people. I can swear I see someone walking into the woods. I am sure it’s a ghost. After all, it is Halloween. I tell Rachel that this park could be on an old burial ground. She tells me that the ghost looks to be a Frisbee golf post. I tell her that’s not what I see, even though I am pretty sure she is right.
7:25 pm – Cramps!!
Rachel is starting to get a bad cramp in her side. We are both still burping and feeling a bit nauseous from the McDonald’s. I tell Rachel to clinch the cramp and keep running. We are nearly done. My legs are tightening like never before. My quads feel sore, but I am pushing through the pain. My left ankle is starting to throb.
7:30 pm – A Couple of Miles to Go!!
Rachel’s cramp is still hurting. I nearly step on another frog. Park is still completely empty. We start laughing because we can’t believe we are still running. Neither of us have ever run this far, nor have we ever run in the dark. It was not planned, but we think it’s hilarious. We start laughing, trying not to think about the run. I tell her to think about how it will feel when it’s over and we have made it…what a memory this will be.
7:35 pm – Still Going Strong
I can barely move my left ankle. For some reason it is getting tight. Rachel’s cramp is subsiding. She freaks out when she thinks a bug’s on her arm. She laughs when she realizes it’s the butterfly on her butterfly boogie 5k shirt she is wearing. She thinks she’s cool when she kicks a bug that’s on the ground as we’re running. She’s proud of herself for realizing it was a bug in the dark. She is also proud of how much air the bug got when she kicked it. I think she believes she saved our lives. I nearly step on another frog. We realize there are some freaky things that come out at night.
7:40 pm – That’s A Big Bird
A huge crane nearly hits us in the face…at least I hope that’s what it was. It flies right in front of us. I start worrying animals want to attack us. We know it’s not smart to be running in the dark, but dammit we’re determined to finish.
7:50 pm – THE FINISH LINE!! 1 hr 43 min 40 sec
We are on our last mile. We are pushing harder and faster now. We just really want to finish. I tell Rachel I can see the finish line, but of course I can’t…it’s completely dark!! Another moth runs alongside us. It’s scary. The world around us seems dead. About half a mile from the finish line we realize we have never run this far. We are proud of ourselves and we keep pushing. A few feet from the finish line I grab Rachel’s hand and we cross it with arms raised. I stop my watch and look down at the lightened time. The time reads 1 hour 43 minutes and 40 seconds. We have run over 11 miles in under 10 minutes a mile. We are excited, but you can’t see it. We are dead tired. As we walk back to the car I nearly collapse to the ground. I am not exhausted; my quads have just tightened so much I can barely move. I need to stretch. Once I do so the walking gets easier. The car is literally all alone in the dark parking lot. We have just run our longest run ever in complete darkness on Halloween. It is definitely a run we will never forget.