A night of insomnia; wordless dreams from which I wake often and forget nearly immediately, only to be plunged back in when I fall asleep again.
The alarm rings much too early. It’s set to the local classical music station to ease my wake up, but today it doesn’t matter. I only have the energy to slam the snooze button, hard. So, so tired. I do not want to get out of bed.
But my mind is awake. It moves restlessly; I’m focused on the number of miles I want to run this week and how I’ll juggle everything I need to get that accomplished. I won’t have another chance to run in the morning – the best time, given the heat and humidity – for another three days. When the music starts again, I turn the alarm off and get out of bed quickly, not looking back in case I’m tempted.
Once in the bathroom, I change into my running gear and put my contacts in. Within minutes I’m downstairs, sitting in the dark mudroom, lacing my sneakers.
It’s dark outside; I have yet to hear birds, but the drone of the insects is soothing somehow.
I strap on my garmin and head out; the sky near-black in front of me, but getting lighter behind. Impatiently, I wait for the watch to establish the signal with the satellites so I can start my run. When it vibrates, I start down the hill to the main road, stiffly at first.
The first few minutes of a run always feels like I’ve forgotten HOW. My legs move, but my cadence is off and I feel awkward and stiff. But I know it fades once I warm up, so instead I look around and breathe in the morning air.
This early, there are very few people up and around in my town. I run down to the river and cross the street, barely looking over my shoulder, since I hear nothing but the insects and my breath, and wave to the town cop parked across the post office. I turn and head over the bridge.
Mile 1 comes before I know it, and my legs are fully warmed up. The humidity is making me breathe a little harder than what I’d like, but I keep on, even though it is starting to hurt. I know that if I just keep going, it’ll get better.
It’s always in the beginning of mile 2 where everything settles down; my breathing is deep and regular and my legs have found a good rhythm. I find that place where there is nothing in my head except my breath.
In and out.
In and out.
In and out.
I can run forever like this. The morning, the river on my left, the insect droning. I’m warm and strong and happy and relaxed.
It, of course, doesn’t last forever. Because the rolling hills at the end of mile 2 always hurt.
I tell myself, out loud, Nice and easy to the top, then a recovery. You got this.
I don’t always believe myself, but today I actually AM able to run all the way to the top, recover downhill, and power up the second hill. I know all I have to do is make it to mile 3, which is close, and I get a good downhill for a long time, where I can really roll.
Thank god, mile 3. I take a minute to recover, and then I let my legs go, following the downhill. My breathing hitches a bit, but I focus on my exhale. Breathe OUT. Breathe OUT. I keep going.
A slight incline to the bridge again, and I’m only .25 miles away from the end of my run. That’s a 400. I can run a 400 in less than two minutes. I lean forward just a bit, pumping my arms a teeny bit more, because I want to finish this run STRONG.
And then it’s over. As I walk back to my house, I can see the sun warming the sky in front of me.
I feel so good.