I got back into the city from work a little after 6:00 and realized that might be my only chance to get in my long run. I set out for 18 miles at 6:30. Less than 4 miles in, the sun began to set, and the swarms of gnats were out in force.
You've seen those, right? They're common everywhere I've ever lived. A huge flutter of gnats, 2 or 3 feet across swarming around in a gnat mating frenzy. (I learned those swarms are known as "ghosts".) I don't know why they like dusk more than any other time. It seems as though they also like to congregate in a shaft of setting sunlight, but they really aren't that picky.
They make running a misery.
Saturday night, they kept flying into my eyeballs. I could feel them bouncing off my forehead and face. I imagined them getting stuck in the sweat on my skin.
And then I swallowed one. I inhaled it just past Belmont Harbor, 5.5 miles in. I nearly choked. Not only because it's just gross, but also because it lodged briefly at the top of my wind pipe. I had to pull up to cough and breathe. They weren't done though. 50 yards later it happened again. I sucked in two within moments. Disgusting. There was a water fountain nearby and I walked down to take a long drink, hacking and spitting the whole way.
The fallout lingered. I had a bad, recurring cough for most of the next 5 miles. And it was an hour after sunset before the gnats disappeared. They were still dive-bombing my eyeballs all that time.
I makes me wish I could run with my mouth and eyes squeezed shut the whole way. If only I didn't need to see or breathe when I run...