Tales of Suspense From Pre-Dawn Running!

I’ve been working out very early in the morning lately. My schedule and my waistline necessitates it. In the past few weeks, as the weather’s warmed up, my cardio workouts have been mostly running. I’ve been running off and on for 13 years now, and I know it’s good for me because I hate it.

Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, it’s usually still pitch black when I go out for my run, which is always unsettling. When you go out to run at dawn, you feel energized and accomplished. When you go out to run pre-dawn, you feel creepy. Especially if you’re doing the routine I currently am, which is to sprint very hard, then jog, then repeat. So to the casual observer, it looks like I’m running from some terrible crime, but I keep getting winded. “I really need to get away from the scene of this jewel heist I just pulled off, but…man, just gimme a second…”

So I get a weird vibe on any given morning I run, but this morning in particular felt more odd than usual. I can’t explain to you why, exactly. It was just a feeling I had, a sense that something was off or something was in the air that things weren’t quite right. I went off on my run regardless, feeling uneasy but knowing I’d feel worse if I didn’t go.

To combat the feeling, I decide to take a route through some more residential streets, thinking this would feel safer than my usual route around a local park. But the feeling persisted, possibly because it was pitch black, and possibly because it feels even weirder to sprint past people’s houses while they’re fast asleep. Especially the quaint little Tudor-esque houses that can can be found in my neighborhood, which look very charming during the day but gnarled and sinister in the dark of night. And when the occasional person did show their head, stumbling toward their car hanging onto a coffee mug for dear life, they looked as nervous and suspicious as I felt.

So I changed my route, heading toward the more industrial parts of my neighborhood, where trucks were already loading and gassing up for the day. This was more familiar to me, and yet I still felt that something was wrong, and I realized there wasn’t a whole lot I could do to get rid of that feeling.

However, it didn’t become much more than a feeling until I neared the end of my run. I was jogging an overpass that fords the LIE, which was already jammed to the gills with traffic in both directions. I reached a sprinting portion of my routine. And as I did, I got the sense that something else was running behind me. Gaining on me. I didn’t hear anything apart from my own footsteps, but I was certain of it.

So I ran faster, but this thing, whatever it was, kept pace with me. I craned my neck to see what it was, and it turned out to be my own shadow, cast by one of the huge lamps that lines the overpass. As I continued to run, it caught up with me, loomed over my head, then overtook me and disappeared as I neared the end of the overpass exit ramp.

This was when I thought to myself, “Wow, this movie about my life is terrible.”