My footfalls were muted on the leaf-strewn trail, and my breathing seemed loud in the still air. Within 15 minutes, I could barely see the paved trail ahead. The naked branches of trees were barely discernible against a dark violet sky, and the cool, blinking lights of a radio tower in the distance was the only illumination. I was completely alone.
I pressed on. "Damn it," I thought. "I need to work off all that chocolate I ate."
By the 2.5 milepost, the velvety darkness had completely enveloped me. I seemed to be in a dark, dense wood, like in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Every once in a while, I heard an animal (or at least, I hope it was an animals) rooting around in the underbrush. News briefs on people getting attacked on trails rolled through my head. I realized I didnt have any ID with me.
Slightly spooked, I turned around and headed back, quickening my pace. I couldnt see the ground beneath my feet, and I prayed I wouldnt slip. After another 5 minutes, I almost ran into a man in a puffy parka and hat was walking down the trail. I didnt see him until I was about a foot behind him.
"Sorry," I muttered.
He didnt say anything. I ran faster.
At milepost 1, I crossed a bridge over a 4-lane road, and ran by a McDonalds. I never thought Id be glad to see fume-spewing cars and fast-food joints. I ran into the heart of Bethesda, whose boutiques, businesses, and even trees were gloriously lit-up with holiday lights.
I ran to the office, and finished up my run on an incumbent bike, pedaling furiously for 10 minutes, before calling it a day.