If I ran primarily in the mornings, I suppose I would appreciate the November time change that brings daylight before 7 A.M. But my weekday training runs all happen after work, meaning it’s already dusk before I even finish tying my shoes.
This wasn’t a huge deal for my Monday and Tuesday evening runs from Rogue’s Cedar Park retail store since the surrounding area has wide sidewalks and decent street lighting. But now that we’ve moved to a training-only facility in an office complex right off Highway 183, we have two options: one, negotiate an overgrown gravel-ish, muddy-ish path through a wooded area (and a cemetery) to Brushy Creek Regional Trail. Or two, travel across a caliche lot to a grassy berm on the shoulder of the highway before picking up the sidewalk. The latter has an added degree of difficulty for our 6:00 P.M. training runs: commuters who pay only marginal attention to pedestrians.
Before the time change, on Monday evenings after core class a couple of us took the path to the trail for a three-mile run, and for our Tuesday workouts we usually ended up in one of the nearby neighborhoods where the large size of our group made us pretty visible to traffic. But now, traveling the path is an iffy proposition. Last week we got turned around in the woods, and when a set of glowing eyes reflected back from my phone flashlight, we may or may not have panicked until we identified it as a deer. And the trail itself is pitch dark, illuminated only by our headlamps. But the road, while slightly better-lit, puts us closer to traffic than is ideal. Drivers turning right on red often don’t fully stop; once their light turns green, they don’t always acknowledge that we have a Walk signal and blow through the turn when we have the right-of-way, no matter how brightly-dressed or properly-lit we are.
Having said that, the time change works great for my Saturday morning long runs, once the temperatures are cool enough that we don’t have to start early. The sun is just starting to appear over the horizon as we head out, and most of our run happens in daylight.
Post-time change, we drove downtown in the dark to Run for the Water, but the sky was fully light at the 7 A.M. race start. The following weekend it was light before we even left the house for an 8 A.M. race at Camp Mabry.
The earlier sunrise makes for nice race pictures, too.
But races aside, we have to adapt. Last winter, I quit running alone in the dark after a rash of sexual assaults made news in the Austin/Cedar Park area. This year I have a partner, but our options are different with the new Rogue location. After last week’s woodsy adventure, we decided we’d avoid the path and drive over to the trailhead after core class, which feels silly because it’s just half a mile. But at least BCRT itself is concrete and we’ve run it so many times every turn and hill are familiar, even with limited light. Tuesday night’s group run involves running facing traffic while wearing the brightest shirts we can find, plus headlamps, blinky lights, and reflectors.
I love the cooler temperatures that start arriving in November, but the accompanying time change presents some challenges. I declare it foe, not friend.
The only disappointment—and it’s a minor one–was the iRun vendor wasn’t there selling Shiner Beer Run shirts like last year. The brewery’s gift shop offered dozens of shirts (I got a cool long-sleeved technical shirt there last year) but none specifically for the race. Fortunately I like the official race shirt and didn’t really need anything else, but need and want are two different things. As far as I’m concerned there’s no such thing as too much running gear. Maybe next year.
About the Author: Melissa Cooper started running in 2011 with Couch to 5K. In the summer of 2012, in what seemed like a leap, she joined Rogue Running and completed her first half-marathon–San Antonio Rock and Roll–later that year. Finishing San Antonio was supposed to be a one-time bucket list thing, but these days her half-marathon total is at double digits (and climbing). Her favorite race distance is probably the ten-miler. By day, she is a middle school teacher who juggles work and life and running—sometimes even successfully.