Have you ever considered running a night race? You should. At 1:50 this morning, I ran in my first race since 2015. Yes, you read that correctly, 1:50 am.
I knew when I started running again back in September, that signing up for a race wouldn’t be far behind, but I wanted it to be a special race. When I heard about the Time Traveler Pi-miler race, I couldn’t resist. The race coincides with the time change, so the hook is that you will finish before you start. That is cool, but the draw for me is running in the dark.
My first experience with running in the dark was several years ago when I was training with a friend for her first half marathon. The summer heat was killing us, so we decided one day to train in the evening. The sun went down before we finished our run, and we were forced to run in the dark, with no lights. In retrospect, I recognize this lack of preparation as stupid. It was a bike path away from streets, so we at least didn’t have to worry about cars. Running by moonlight was so much fun though. Our last mile flew by as we laughed the entire way.
Since that experience, I have done a Halloween themed night race and the Disney Wine and Dine (back when it was held at night). Night races have their own set of pros and cons.
Night Race Pros
My favorite part of night races is the feeling of freedom. Night races tend, in my experience, to have smaller turnouts (Wine & Dine being the exception). I am a mid to back of the pack runner depending on the size of the race. Once you get past the start, people spread out and it is just you, the sounds of the night, and bobbing headlamps spread out in front and behind you.
The volunteers are usually about as delirious as you, so they tend to be pretty fun.
The weather. Why run with the sun beating down on you? Enjoy the cool night air.
The decorations. It is amazing the configurations of glowsticks and other glow-in-the-dark products people show up with.
The after-race treats. Where else can you find pizza and hot chocolate right next to each other?
Night Race Cons
My regular bedtime is 10:00 pm. Unless I fall asleep on the couch before then. It was a struggle to stay up late last night. I had planned a nap yesterday afternoon, but the time came and I wasn’t tired. By 11:00 pm, I was propping my eyelids open. I drank a lot of hot tea. Once I got to the race and was around other runners though, I was good to go.
Figuring out your hydration and fueling strategy for the day can be difficult. Before the night half marathon, I ate an early dinner and planned on having a heavy snack a couple of hours beforehand. Unfortunately, I wasn’t hungry then, but by the time the race started, I was. And bananas and gel packs didn’t cut it. I didn’t feel very well afterward. Last night I had dinner a bit later and usual, and lots of water and hot tea. I felt fine during the race.
Since you are relying on a headlamp and whatever other light sources you are carrying, I tend to find that my pace slows a bit due to the decreased lighting. This doesn’t really bother me as I will never be a competitive runner. I run races for the fun of it.
This was a great race to get me back into the habit. I’m not sure what my next one will be, but I will keep my eye out for night races.
What is a unique race you have done?