The Golden Hour


The Golden Hour

by Patrick Reed

Often it is the case these evening afternoons that I look up from the dinner table across the lake to the broad mountains which grace us here in SLO-town, California — and pose the question to my wife.

“Honey, what would you say to my—“

Before the words are out of my mouth, she finishes the question and answers it for me — in one loving sentence: “Go get your shoes on — get outta here!”

I do my best to help the kids for bed. Get them that coveted bowl of ice cream, lay out their toothbrushes, give them kisses goodnight and promises that I will look in on them when I am back from my run during ‘the golden hour.’

As a photographer, I am well-acquainted with the sublimity of the hour of light which casts golden-rimmed shadows a 100 times the length of their illuminants. I have come to adore the bright amber glow of the model’s skin and the inky silhouettes surrounded by deepest blues and purples and yellows which are the hallmarks of the golden hour. And there also comes a quietness, a stillness — a cessation of the hustle-bustle wind and the deep breath of nature which has worked another day. The magic hour – which has so often called me out to see with my camera – also beckons me to run. Last night I got my chance.

I remember that as I left the kids room to roll out onto the hills for my second run of the day, my wife glanced down at my feet. I had on my Nikes – from my first run. She nodded happily, and I threw back the door and got my effects together for the run. I was going sparse tonight: I would bring my iPhone and headphones, more for safety than anything; I had my Garmin Forerunner 10, to mark the course for perusing tomorrow; and I pulled off my Nikes, and slipped into my Luna Leadville’s. These sandals are the perfect complement to this perfect hour. Oh yeah, I left my lights at home — if I ran fast enough, I could make it around the mountain, in and out of the verdant thickets, careen around the countless dusty curves and corners, scrap nimbly down the scree slopes on the back side of the mountain, and find my way to the hard asphalt that marks the course back to my front door — all before last light. No light and Lunas simply added to the excitement, the challenge, the dynamic nature of a run at the perfect hour.

And so I found myself coursing around my favorite turns, dust and thorns and pebbles and stones clouding around my tempo-ing strides. The long grasses of the mountainside nearly swaying in the soft breeze. Slowly, the sun cast lower – shadows, which stretched across a valley seconds before, now quietly disappeared as the sun found a hiding place, a resting place behind a cornice or even a monolithic mountain. But then, when I swooped around another arcing uphill turn, I was confronted again by the gently blinding soft gold of the last rays of the day. The air was cool, not cold – and my feet felt free. Now and then I stopped to take a picture with my iPhone. Afterwards, I would lean down to pull up the backstraps of my sandals, to be sure they would hold to my heels on the undulating terrain ahead. For that hour and 15 minutes, little else mattered. I was running free and loving it.

Though I had run a difficult course earlier in the morning – a thousand foot climb in the harsh sun, up up above the fields where our daughters enjoyed their soccer camp… Though I had spent myself on that climb — now I was rejuvenated and reenergized — happy to push to the last light of day, circumnavigating my favorite mountain—

Why do I run? To move mountains. Often, I am the one moved.

Find your golden hour,

~Coach Patrick

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