The last sunrays of the day kiss the horizon, the city is being embraced by the twilight. The languorous and heavy air is gently pierced by a soft breeze. Everything seems to lounge in peace and quietness.
The downtown, however, is busy. It buzzes with the professional and amateur athletes nervously waiting to pounce into the city night run and leave everything they have at the field of competition. This tension-packed environment makes feel anxiety, have a good cup of espresso as a perfect tonic and beat a path to the washroom.
Running under the moonlight feels different from during daylight hours changing the perception of the route, speed, efforts, spectators. Everything.
My mind is inevitably devoured by hundreds of various thoughts. They hit me like a tidal wave. Time moves forward ruthlessly.
It’s high time to bury the ghost of the doubts and jump over the mental hurdle.
Competitive juices are stirred. Here I am at the start line, in the third row, ready to run like a scared rabbit. The gun is fired, and we start running into the grey under the moonlight.
I feel the electricity rushing through my body and enjoy the tunes in my earphones. The first meters are broken through. We whisk around the central park, where I’m lucky not to stumble upon the bicycle parking stand while running into the light. I continue at the same speed passing by numerous spectators.
They stand among the frenzied crowd. I can hear them clapping to cheer me up. “My team”- I wave at them, give a “thumbs up” sign and make a stride forward. Another piece of the distance is covered.
I rush through the narrow street with the flickering lights. My nostrils are tickled with a variety of specialty coffee and gourmet bakery aromas flying in the air. Out of the corner of my eye I see people conveniently settled in their chairs, chatting, laughing loudly and watching runners.
Soon their images disappear, music in the earphones still plays but goes sullen. I can only hear my heart beating and start huffing and puffing.
The next step is my secret rendezvous with the mysterious hills I have to tackle in the pitch black. “One, two, three, four, five… One, two, three, four, five…”- I count desperately and keep going with all my efforts to catch the group of the fastest athletes. Turning point. “I’m coming back home” – I venture accelerating downhill. It takes a while to kick back into gear, but I don’t allow anything to infiltrate my mind. Like a night owl I keep hunting for the target.
Some male runners pass me by, and I follow them. I see other runners still heading to the turning point and realize I own control over my pace.
The race still brings me entire enjoyment despite fatigue and tiredness, with the wind washing through my hair. The same buildings, lights, road signs, benches, cafes, faces come closer to me. “Almost there”- I salute silently.
Finishing gate. I catch a young lad, and we fight toe-to-toe for the last meters. I arrive at the finishing line with my personal best record.
I punch the air with joy. I’m sweaty, drained but drunk with happiness.
This is where I am.