I had a 4 am run this week…
I cursed the alarm and rolled out of bed, then staggered down the stairs into the bathroom where I stuff my contacts into my eyes.
I look at my reflection.
I look haggard.
All I want to do was crawl back into bed for another hour.
I pull on my running clothes and look in the mirror again, my hat pulled down over half of my face, the high collar of my running coat covering the other half.
My face is no longer visible.
That looks better.
I start my run under the occasionally working lights of Caratunk, headlamp off but strapped around my head. I throw on my reflective vest as an afterthought.
Mentally, I am still in my warm bed, snuggled under the covers.
This is just hard.
I step out the door.
I start running south towards the darker end of town (where the lights generally do not work). I shiver as I hear the haunting howl of a pack of coyotes. I hear this all the time, but they seem closer than normal this time.
I snap on my headlamp, the yellow light bouncing on the pavement somehow giving me a sense of comfort and safety amoungst the nearby pack.
I think to myself, at least I am not a wounded deer.
I hit the turn around and head north, running past the coyotes again, this time they are further off.
But it is still dark, it is still cold.
I am still alone in this, my second journey to Ironman.
I shut off the headlamp as I get away from the coyotes and I notice that there is not a soul up in town yet.
I am not only the only idiot out here running back and forth before the sun rises, I am the literally the only one in town who is awake.
Hope the coyotes don’t know that.
I actually had the thought “I can’t wait until it starts to get light in the morning so I don’t have to do this running in the dark crap anymore.”
That is when it dawned on me that for this entire season, I am going to be running in the dark.
Because the sun doesn’t even get up at 3:45 am for a 4 am run.
I think that in another month I might get to see the sun rise as I finish my run, which is somehow encouraging, so I push on.
The thought of a future sunrise gives me a pick up as I run by the coyotes for a second time. They now sound more dispersed and further away, as if a party is almost over and guests are saying their last guoodbyes.
By my 6th pass, the coyotes are gone, and lights start to turn on in the houses that I pass.
Ahh. Signs of life. It is 5am.
I finish the run, 6 miles run on a 1 mile road.
I step inside and strip off my sweaty hat and jacket. I am shivering again – this time from the chill of sweat.
I head into the bathroom and turn on the light, and check my reflection.
I don’t look haggard, or hidden…I look pretty happy.