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Pitch Black

This morning I did the longest run of my marathon training, notching 20 miles. The group I run with (Fleet Feet Flyers) has various themed runs around Pittsburgh, and for today it was “Stones and Bones” with a tour of the city cemeteries.

allegheny-cemetery-2009-10-04-b-01Allegheny Cemetery (via Image via

Well, I knew I was doing a few more miles than most due to my marathon training schedule, so I got there about an hour and a half ahead of the group and headed out on the route just after 6am so I could meet up with a few at the end and get home. However, I failed to think far enough to realize that CEMETERIES DON’T HAVE LIGHTS! So I got to run 2 1/2 miles of my run through the Allegheny Cemetery in pitch black conditions with only a small LED light I use to make sure I can see the sidewalk in front of me when I run at night.

The start of the run was surreal with only the street lights in the distance, about 5 feet in front of me, and my breath in the cold obscuring my light. It was like something out of a bad scary movie. Supposedly there were painted markers in different colors that are used as guides around the cemetery, but I couldn’t see anything. I struggled to tell the difference between asphalt roads and the grass.

Oh, and the Allegheny Cemetery has lots of mausoleums and obelisks, and the white ones were visible as a very dark grey. Very spooky, but not in the sense of ghosts and zombies, but more of a “I hope a homeless man isn’t camped out here and tries to stab me” sense.

As I continued along the dark paths, I made several wrong turns, but when I made one in particular, I was greeted by two glowing sets of eyes reflecting the faint light of my LED light, but far enough away that I couldn’t see what accompanied those eyes. I froze, began to turn away hoping they weren’t something that might try to chase me, and saw the sihlouette of a deer scamper off.

After several more wrong turns, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to find my way out of there, and I finally saw the getehouse in the distance. I still had another 16 miles ahead of me on the day, but I was very thankful at that moment.


Allegheny Cemetery (via Image via

There are clearly some beautiful monuments there, but in the future, I’ll stick to viewing them in the daytime, and thinking through my future runs more carefully.

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  1. You definitely need to invest in a decent headlamp! I am an early morning (i.e. up at 4AM) runner, so I spend 6 months with a headlamp on … totally essential to alert drivers and keep safe!

    But I also laughed because while we were staying in a hotel for a few days in East Stroudsburg PA earlier this year when sending our older son to Europe with American Music Abroad, we were right next to a cemetery. So when walking the dogs it was convenient … but for my runs I chose to head through town instead 🙂

  2. Greg Nilsen Greg Nilsen

    Yea, already started checking out the headlamps at Fleet Feet yesterday. I just have to figure out what works best.

    For me, the only time I’ve felt more anxious running in the dark, it was along a golf course in Florida with lots of lakes and there were even street lamps. Ghosts ain’t got nothing on a big ol’ gator! Even in a gated community!

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