It gets dark early this time of year in Switzerland, we change our clocks back this weekend but right now the sun sets before 7. Yesterday I decided I was going for a run. I had an unproductive day at work, had eaten too many brownies before, and was tired of letting knee pain rule my life. Plus, I had a fun new heart rate monitor, and had finally read the manual enough times to think I knew how to use it. I suited up, and headed out around 6, with the sun shining through the leaves of the trees in the forest.
My goal was to be out, moving, heart pumping for an hour. I have been so lax lately, so lacking motivation, bummed by a lack of summits and lack of progress with my knee, but this past week I found myself eager to work out again, not dragging and mentally grumbling, stopping at the first excuse. So, one hour, any kilometers clocked up was a given, but I didn’t have a distance goal, I just wanted to enjoy the exercise and the nature. I was entertained by checking my HR, surprised at how quickly it could bump up above my upper limit, pleased to have an excuse for walk breaks when it did, listening to some new tunes, and generally pleased with myself.
The minutes ticked by, the meters flew by, things gradually smoothed out. I found a pace I could keep for a while (first run in months, so don’t expect a Kilian Jornet). I hit the 30 minute mark to turn around, having made it further than ever before on the winding forest path which had graced me with a surprise panorama of the Alps behind Uetliburg, summits thrusting through a low cloud bank. A horse galloped in a pasture, chasing a rider and simply loving life. Clearly I had made the right decision.
Turning around to head home I realized I probably should have brought a headlamp. The sun was down, and any residual light was definitely not making it through the woods to me. I ran in a grey haze which progressively got thicker and darker. I was a little worried about the footing of wet leaves, what was under them, if I would trip, but the longer I ran, the more those worries fell away. Ahead of me the grey tunnel faded into nothingness, there was no end, no change, I ran as if in a dream. The trees formed the walls and canopy, the trail a single straight line stretching to infinity into the gloom, with leaves covering the way to either side. It was infinite, I loved it, I flew.
A group of women swarmed past me, emerging from the gloom on either side, seamlessly merging back into one pack in front of me. I jumped, a few times, and starting laughing as reality clicked back in. No flying, less magic, more sweating, it was my first time running in dusk, and while I may bring a headlamp next time, but maybe I won’t, and maybe I will find some more magical moments.