Wednesday, November 12, 2008

3:30am

That's what the clock reads and the forecast is being read starting with "overnight temps in the low 30s..."...it's so early that they're still speaking as if it's Tuesday night, not Wednesday morning. I stand up, stretch, confirm in fact that it is 3:30am and time to get up. (There have been times where I didn't confirm this and I still got up, just to find out later it's 1am.) I wandered slowly out to the kitchen where it is quiet and dark, except for the dim light over the oven. My arms STILL feel as if their filled with lead from my return to the bench press and heavy bag on Sunday. All I need is some espresso and I'll wake up and get the blood flowing...that'll make it feel better. I open the cupboard, pick out some fresh ground Italian Lavazza espresso, grab my espresso pot, fill it with water, pack in the grinds, and fire up the stovetop for 2min of brewing. Ahhh, the fresh smell of espresso...just the aroma is nearly enough to fire up the engines. After the pot starts bubbling and the brewing has completed, I marry it up with a packet of Splenda and presto, my pre-run jump start has begun. Next, in order to not be rushing at 6:15am when I need to be hitting the road for Canton, I figure I'd better make my lunch BEFORE I plop down in front of the life-sucking computer to check e-mail. Let's see: whole wheat pasta with feta cheese...got it. Low fat cottage cheese mixed with Bush's Dark Red Kidney Beans...got it. A giant Fuji apple...check! A baggie full of Kashi crackers and a Kashi cookie, plus a Kashi fruit bar...got it. So, I think: "How cold is it out there?" The thermostat reads 35F but I wander to the front window and peak through the window to look at the flag on front of the house. Old Glory stands at attention with not a hint of movement...perfect, calm morning. I also notice light outside...that being natural light from the sun being reflected off of the full moon. "It could be one of those perfect runs today," I think. OK, time to check e-mail. Nothing much is new, but I did read Red's blog post...dang, she cracks me up. I really do think her thoughts literally spill on to her keyboard. Next up, I balance out the checkbook online....yikes! Thank goodness payday is soon! "OK, what do I wear today?" No wind, crisp air, starlit sky...the verdict is: tech tee, vest, Sporthill pants, Mizuno Breathe-Thermo headband, headlamp, Smartwool socks, Smartwool gloves, and my free Brooks shoes from the Akron Marathon. As I sneak out as quiet as possible, as not to wake anyone in the house, I realize my goal for the run: a 4:30am run with no headlamp. The moonlight is so bright! I head out, feeling on top of the world and head towards the most serene place in Rootstown for an early morning run...an area with no traffic, few homes, and farmland. As I slip out of my neighborhood at 1/2 mile, I enter into darkness but covered in a veil of a starlit and moonlit sky. I'm highly cautious in this first mile as just 2 days ago, I got spooked by a screaming cat scrambling up a pine tree. (Imagine the worst screaching cat you can imagine...evil, just plain evil!) Mile 1 checks in and no spooks yet and I'm fully warmed up so I pick it up for a bit until the next stop sign...ahhh, the cool air feels good pumping through my lungs. Fleeting thoughts are now skipping through my mind about yesterday's awesome experience at the elementary school talking to 12 different classes about Veterans Day while in uniform. I also keep thinking about the decisions those little ones will have to make some day...whether to serve their country or not...I wish them the best regardless of their choices. I get to the stop sign and hang a left and begin a series of rollercoaster hills. The moon is now full uncovered by any clouds and next to me, runs my shadow. "How cool is it to see your shadow before 5am?," I think to myself. "Thanks, Mr. Moon." Mile 2 clocks in, I turn the corner and run by the very old St. Peter of the Fields church, and approach the 3 mile point. UGH!!! A dead opossum lays on the little bridge just past the church...I just hate roadkill during night-time runs. At 3, I decide 6 is just not enough so I continue on with the plan to turn around at 3.5 when all of a sudden, I'm spooked...some 'ol man in his sweats is out to get his morning paper. At first, I think he shines a pen light at me but I soon discover via my sense of smell, it's his morning cigarette. Smoke on, friend...smoke on. I carry on....but soon discover that my Garmin reads 3.6! RATS! Now, I'm going to have more than 7!! I just don't like decimal points in my running log! Oh well, I'll have to even it all up on Friday on the trails. I head on back, tracing my steps, being sure to avoid the roadkill on the bridge. As I enter the rollercoaster hills again, the moon shines bright...but I notice an approaching ridge of clouds at a 45 degree angle at its lower left...slowly approaching. "Can I get back home before I lose my light? Can I keep this lamp off?" The race begins. Nothing like some speed in these hills. As I pass by mile 5, the first car of the day shines from behind. I move far over to remain safe and disappear as I crest another hill. This Honda Odyssey nearly goes airborne as it crests the hill...it HAD to see me before as my back had to light up with all the reflective piping. Still, in true Rootstown fashion, they care nothing for me nor my safety. I just closed my eyes and prayed they weren't driving on the wrong side of the road. I was nearly falling in the ditch just trying to stay as far away as possible. By it went...cruising to the unknown. As I made my last major turn, I turned to the moon only to see that rift closing in fast. My light was threatened and I needed to move...and move quick. Mile 6 passed and darker it became. As I neared the main road, bustling with morning traffic and semi's, I turned to see the moonlight fully snuffed out. Luckily, the artificial light within my neighborhood guided me in. As I ran up the last ascent to my home, I felt thankful for such a great run. "Thanks, Mr. Moon...thanks for lighting my way today. Run again, sometime?" I arrived home only to find the lights extinguished just as I had left them. I looked down at my wrist: "58min 27sec, 7.2 miles. 1098 calories burned." Sweet...

4 comments:

Jim said...

I was also a 4:30am running rat. The moon did make a big difference!

Mike said...

my favorite line: I just don't like decimal points in my running log.

I feel that....

Very nice post.

Sensationally Red said...

Someone that regularly gets up as early as me!! I don't feel safe running early in the morning though...I miss it. I'm forced to run in the late afternoon when I have no steam, but better than getting mugged. Watch those country drivers! Nice of you to talk to the elementary kids about Veterans Day. Sure their teachers enjoyed having a "man in uniform" around for a little workday...diversion. ;-)

Clara said...

Nice post- I enjoyed it.

I'm like Sensationally Red- sometimes it stinks being a female. I'd love to run outside at 4am but it's too dangerous, unfortunately.

This morning I drove in to work at 3:30am and all of a sudden I jumped because I swore I saw a huge truck coming at me in the road. There was, of course, no truck or anything that halfway resembled one... I can't imagine what I would start to hallucinate if I was running in the dark alone. Random creatures and what not.