Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Early Mornings

A few times a week, I get up early to run before work. I am not exaggerating when I say early: I meet with my running partners at 5:00 a.m. at the local Y. I wake up at 4:30-ish to take the dogs out and then throw on something reflective before I drive 10 minutes or so to our meeting place. It's quite the groggy situation.

Most of the time I'm whisper-yelling at these two hooligans to stop it with the butt sniffing, already:

It's a losing battle, let me tell ya.

I have the ultimate love/hate relationship with the early mornings. I love slipping on my running shoes before the sun has started to peek over the horizon. I adore that I'm doing something productive while the rest of the world is still asleep. The roads are almost empty. Things are quiet, dark, and peaceful. Best of all, it's cool and (sometimes) breezy. Pleasant, even. We get to watch the sun rise, an opportunity I almost always miss the rest of the week. I smile as I drink my coffee and drive to work knowing there is already a major accomplishment under my belt. It's like I have a little secret that no one else understands.

Let's be honest, though: waking up that early really sucks. Truly, that's the only word I can choose to describe it. {Sorry, mom.} It is a brutally tragic situation when my alarm sounds at 4:30. In the most dramatic way possible, I really and truly hate every second of it with every last shred of my being. I go to bed the night before thinking about how much I do not want to get up early. Then, I mentally flip through all the potential excuses to go back to bed when my alarm sounds. Every cell in my brain urges me to just go back to sleep. Nothing would make me happier, actually.

But, I don't.

I get up and put in the work because it means something to me. For me, running is no different than any other relationship in my life. It takes commitment, it's not always easy, it can be painful, and sometimes it feels like work---but it always gives back what exactly I put in to it. Most of the time, people don't understand it. I tell people about getting up that early and receive rolling eyes and shaking heads in return. Sometimes it feels like what I'm doing is crazy.

But, it's not.

I wish I could explain to the eye rollers and head shakers what those early mornings feel like in words they might understand. I never feel more alive than I do when I'm running on those early mornings. My feet hitting the pavement in time, the rhythmic orchestra of my lungs and heart beating, the sweat on my brow, the cool air on my face---it's awful and tragic and beautiful all at the same time. 

And, perhaps, just a bit crazy.

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