running in the dark: an update
If you read my faux-harrowing post of last week, “running in the dark,” you know that I rise at an insane hour and go running to beat the summer heat. You’ll also know that I was not accosted, molested, bested, or arrested from that “incident.”
But the frisson lingered, and I have done a little “research” since then.
Two days later, I ran much of that same route, passing through the same park and stopping at the shelter for water and a few minutes of rest. This second time through was in the late afternoon, with plenty of light and people all around. There was no hulking, humanish mass at the picnic table this time, but the bathrooms were closed and locked. In the winter they are locked because, I imagine, the water is shut off due to the freezing cold. But in the summer this park is used by runners and cyclists on the trail, families with young children who use the playground, and dozens and dozens of tennis players who pack the many courts laid out there. All of them might have use for the bathrooms on a Monday afternoon. Yet they were locked tight.
Had an incident occurred there two days before perhaps? Had that hulking, humanish mass caused some kind of trouble? I don’t know, and perhaps I don’t want to know.
But I ran the same route again last Saturday morning, coming to the shelter in the pre-dawn dark just as I had the week before. This time, however, I scanned the picnic tables as well as I could in the twilight for any masses that didn’t belong there. (Technically, I didn’t belong there either since the park officially opens at dawn.) I saw no one and was able not only to get a drink and take a few moments of rest but to use the bathroom that was unlocked and open again.
It was when I was leaving the shelter to finish the latter part of my run (another 3.5 miles or so) that I saw something else unnerving. On the sidewalk outside the shelter was a fresh, wet pool of liquid that in the pale light looked blood red. Yikes! Part of me wanted to take off running, and not on the trail but on the lighted, street-side sidewalk. But another part of me wanted to know what that blood-red liquid was. (And if it turned out to be blood, to call the police, of course.)
My phone happens to have a powerful light in it, and while I didn’t want to draw attention to myself with a bright light if I was in a freshly minted crime scene (there was a dark van parked in the lot nearby), I told myself I was being silly and that it surely wasn’t blood.
So I figured out how to use the light on my phone, and I bent over the liquid to see if I could make out what it was. And I could.
It was pasta sauce.
What pasta sauce was doing looking so freshly spilled on that bit of sidewalk at that unholy hour of the morning, I couldn’t say. It was quite liquid, and it hadn’t been discovered by the local fauna yet (no lap marks, no red paw prints nearby). But it wasn’t blood.
As the weather cools, I won’t have to start my morning runs so early. That means I probably won’t be running most of my miles in the dark and certainly, by the time I reach this park on the trail, I won’t be coming in without being able to see everything clearly.
They say runners find the bodies. I hope that never happens to me.