Raleigh has a long network of lovely greenways that snake for miles. The best part of running, walking and biking year round is watching the seasons change. The worst part is watching the days change.
Dark, black, scary night.
When I am out there in the middle of the woods.
A few weeks ago I got started on a five-miler a little too late. Once the sun starts setting, it goes down in a hurry, so there I was, on the back side of the lake when it started getting dark on me.
My imagination took flight.
The canopy of branches overhead, normally pretty and green, providing cooling shade in summer, became shadows against the gradually darkening sky. Branches looked like the long bony fingers of skeletons hovering overhead. Bushes alongside the trail started closing in.
Another runner burst out of the darkness to pass me. I let out a scream, and the poor guy leaped up in the air and screamed too.
Faster and faster I ran.
A bunny hopped into my path.
Then the hallucinations kicked in, my mind conjuring up frightening creatures lying in wait to grab me.
I thought I saw someone cross the trail up ahead to hide in the woods.
A GHOST, and not Casper.
My heart rate jumped up a few more notches.
Normally a five-and-a-half-hour marathoner, I could have qualified for the Olympics that night. I swear I could not feel my feet hitting the ground.
Finally finally finally, up ahead, I saw a clearing. The end of the trail…out of the woods.
I looked back, and the mouth of the park was open and black. Then, after spitting me out, the woods silently closed up.
With a full-blown case of the creeps, shivering and shuddering, I made my way three more miles along a popular road, with comforting sidewalks and cheerful streetlights, and made it back to my car.
I wonder if the extra adrenaline and out-of-control heartbeat of being scared half to death burned more calories?
Hmmmmm….. a new exercise strategy?