Last night, I went for my FIRST night trail run! …And I loved EVERY second of it. A month ago, I came across a race called the Georgia Yeti NIGHTmare 10/20 miler trail race. The title caught my attention, so I clicked to read more.
I was intrigued with the thought of a night race on the trail. I already had a headlamp from last summer’s early morning training hours…though I couldn’t remember for the life of me how to get it to start. I fumbled with the headlamp, replacing batteries, but I still couldn’t get the blue light to quit blinking. Hmmm….maybe it’s locked? I held the little button down and BAM! @#!?%$*… I stumbling into the bathroom cabinet, grabbing onto the counter to steady myself. Holding in a few choice words for the sake of our sleeping son (after an hour of him fighting sleep), I waited for a few moments for my vision to return.
…well, at least I figured out how to turn on my headlamp again. ><
I knew I could run the distance but was apprehensive at the thought of running on the trail at night. It was a risky decision, considering that everything that happens between March and August dictates the success of completing my first ultra, the Georgia Jewel 35 miler.
“Are you crazy? What if you get injured? ….your nuts” were among the comments I heard. Along with those were “Why not, you can already run the distance? You’d LOVE night running! Get out of your comfort zone.”
…so voice of reason or heart? I went with heart and signed up. Then, Sean with Yeti Trail Runners, posted a training run that would take us on a good 6.5 mile section of the race. One of the many rules of running include: Train on the terrain that you’ll race on AND train during the same time of day.
The Training Run
I didn’t see any Yetis last night, but I did have an amazing time! There is something quiet and magical about running at night. Every sound seems amplified, every light magnified: from the stars above your head and the crunching of the leaves to the rushing of the white water from the river, as it spills over the rocks. If you haven’t gone for a trail run at night, you must put it on your list for 2013!
We met at OZ Pizza near the park, running on a relatively easy section of the course with a few inclines, felt more by the two gentleman carrying bricks in their packs than by myself! The two gentlemen are training for the Georgia Death Race 60 miler…with BRICKS…on their backs! WOW! You should have seen the calf muscles! Enough to make any runner jealous!
After rambling across the trail and across several wooden plank bridges, we came across the boulders next to the river. I wish I could have gotten more pictures. Unfortunately, this was only my second time using the camera. I’m still figuring out all the buttons and settings. The pics did get better as the run went on.
Oh, as if I didn’t learn my lesson about blinding myself, I learned another valuable lesson about night runs and headlamps. Whatever you do, do NOT turn around to look at the person behind you with your headlamp on! I felt so bad at blinding Ann. Her headlamp broke on the trail, so I was in front using my headlamp to illuminate the path. Hmmm, no wonder she didn’t want to run with David and I on the way back. Just kidding… well maybe…not sure really. Sorry Ann!
The meeting point was right next to the river, where a series of boulders led the path over the water. Pretty cool pic, huh? The gentleman in the orange is Sean, the organizer of the Georgia Yeti NIGHTmare. Jason, who also heads up the race, was unable to make it tonight.
The way back was much faster, going at a quicker pace than what I would normally hold; however, it felt good. We chit-chatted and laughed back and forth. Between that and me paying attention to my footing on the trail, oh and…this felled tree that hits directly at head level…which I almost hit on the way out…we were back at the start before we knew it!
Back at OZ pizza, we settled in for beer, and of course, pizza! …definitely a great way to end a night run! I enjoyed the experience and will definitely be back for more soon! The runners were extremely friendly, and you feel welcomed immediately.
I think that’s what sets trail runners apart from road runners. We’re all in for the long haul, and on the trail, you have to watch each other’s backs. Races usually have fewer runners, and you often end up seeing familiar faces at many of them. We’re all just out there to have a good time, which is what running happy is all about.
If you’re in the Atlanta area, consider signing up for the Georgia Yeti NIGHTmare and join us on our next training run, currently scheduled for March 9th!