It was pitch black when I left for my run at 5:15 a.m. so I wore a head lamp.
Even though it makes me look like a huge dickhead, I love wearing a head lamp because I can pretend I’m a Chilean miner. The night before, I mapped out my 19 mile run, which would take me around the perimeter of Sacramento.
Part of the run would be on the sketchy part of the river trail where even during the day lots of drug deals happen, crazy people convene and every now and then a body washes up on the shore.
So this morning, after a quick breakfast, I ran out of my neighborhood, over the overpass, through the park and toward the river. About two miles into the sketchy trail, I felt a wave of fear rushing through my body. I don’t like nature the way most people like nature. Most people are like, “Ooooh, a tree! Look at that tree! It’s so … old! And wooden!” I don’t really give a shit about trees.
To be honest, I like running, but I don’t like being outside.
That morning, I knew would be dark, but I didn’t realize how dark.
It was so dark that I felt like I was in a horrific dream, the glow of my headlamp bouncing up and down a few feet ahead of me.
Seriously. I jumped over a skunk.
The little bastard was right in front of me but it was so dark that I didn’t have time stop so I jumped in the air and let out a little scream.
I would like to take this sentence to thank that skunk for not spraying me with his stink fumes.
Anyway, the stretch of sketchy trail was only about 7 miles, which would take me less than 50 minutes, so I kept telling myself that it was almost over.
Which was a lie. A horrible lie.
Did I tell you that I jumped over a skunk?
I don’t know how, but I think halfway through the sketchy trail it managed to get even darker.
That’s when I heard muttering, then shouting, then wild screams. I picked up my pace so that I was running about a 6 minute mile, which is way too fast for a 19 mile run.
(Fear, it turns out, makes for a great marathon pacer.)
Then, out of nowhere, directly in front of me was a crackhead, a crazyass dude in his 20s with shitty dreadlocks, wildly baggy clothing and a bunch of random objects laid out in front of him like he was praying to some sort of fucked up schizophrenia shrine.
He was screaming, not at me, but at the sky, which was a hundred times creepier because the sky was black. He was screaming at the black sky.
And I’m pretty sure he was wearing raver pants.
Luckily, the crackhead rave champion didn’t acknowledge me. He just kept screaming at the sky. He didn’t even lunge at me (which, when I did the calculations, was statistically impossible) when I ran past him.
I would like to take this sentence to thank that crackhead for not stabbing me with an AIDS needle.
A few minutes later I reached the end of the sketchy trail where a bunch of police SUVs were parked on the river’s shore while a police boat floated nearby, probably fishing around for a lost set of keys OR A FUCKING DEAD BODY.
But at that point I could see street lights. The glow of the city was just up ahead.
When I finally made it downtown, the sun started to rise. I passed a weird Chinese farmer’s market where there were only Chinese people. Hundreds of Chinese people up at the asscrack of dawn buying shitloads of produce. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn and wandered into a secret, magical society.
But after asking around, it turns out everybody knows about that farmer’s market. It’s just a Chinese farmer’s market.
I ended up finishing the run in pretty good time, mostly because I ran half of the 19 miles in frightening darkness. I’ll probably run on that shitty trail again. But next time I’ll bring a friend. Or at least a rape whistle.