I was early this morning. That really means I was on time. I'm normally last. I'm really good at by-the-skin-of-my-teeth or just being late. Today I wasn't the first car, and I wasn't the last. After the cold cold weather this past weekend today was warm. Above freezing is considered warm. And it's dark.
The car headlamps go off, and the real headlamps go on. It's still dark. Next week is the shortest day of the year. It will still be dark when we finish. As we're heading into official winter, I've been running a few mornings a week with my sole sisters and brothers. We venture onto the road or on the trail with more and more layers. And with more lights, blinkies and reflective vests.
It's a four mile start to the day. Before dawn and barely awake, I choke down breakfast and some water on the way. I have to be out and home before my husband leaves for work. In the car one of the radio stations plays old school R&B before 6 am. A little C&C Music Factory makes me smile. Once, a deer has run across the road. Drivers are not particularly fond of my slow start as they rush up from behind encouraging me to speed. I've gotten in the car so I just have to make it to the parking lot.
I'm not a morning person. I set my alarm for 5:30 am. If I don't get up right away my dogs lick their lips until I get up. They are conditioned to wake up at the first human stir. They know me well enough to know that I'll get up. They are my insurance, and the other runners are my accountability.
We travel in packs. Sometimes there are two or three packs separated by pace. We catch up on our lives as we run. There are stretches we don't talk. It's like having coffee without the caffeine and the comfy chairs. However, it does have all the rush and energizes me for the long day ahead. Today the sky was just turning pink as we finished. A beautiful sunrise to a new day.
I grab my key and shut the door. We say our hellos or grunts as we stand in the parking lot. Everyone is here, and it's time to run. I love the predawn gathering.