Running in the Dark

The alarm goes off at 5:15–way too early. But I’ve got to get up, so I get up, get dressed, stretch and am out the door. The stars are still bright in the sky, shining down and reminding me that I should still be in bed. But it’s too late now. I’m walking briskly to get to the starting point of my run.

I turn on my MP3 player. Today it is playing Forerunner Music’s Joy (live) album–a new acquisition. I approach the 4 lane road that I have to cross before I start my run. No cars–all clear. And I’m running.

I was never interested in running. It was hard with all of the pounding and all, and I’d try to run too far and too fast and would be sore and miserable for the next few days. Who needs this? But at the end of last summer, I started the Couch to 5K program at the encouragement of my wife. I thought it was too easy, but she suggested starting easy and going gradual to allow your body to get used to the pounding and the breathing.

Mile marker 1. It takes me about this long to get into the running cadence. By this time, I’ve made it to the park and am running through on a dark walking path through the park, illuminated only by my headlamp. In the distance, I see the 2 glowing eyes of a rabbit. A tell-tale sign that spring is coming.

After 9 weeks of the Couch to 5k program, I decided to push toward a local 5k race. I didn’t want to give up the momentum that I gained in those 9 weeks of running. It was a hard won battle and I didn’t want to lose any ground.  I still had a couple of months before the 5k, enough time to build my mileage and my speed.

I hit the 2nd mile. It is starting to get tougher because I’m having to run up some hills.  I find that the best way to approach them is to slow down until you can breathe again and just try to make it to the top.  Trying to keep pace up the hill is too hard.  More hills are up ahead, so I dig in.

By the time I ran my first 5K in December, I was running between 8 and 11 miles a week.  It was getting to be a regular habit and I was starting to enjoy it.

The 3rd mile ends at the top of a hill. Another 0.1 and my 5k is done.   Oh, but wait…today is my 6 mile run.  So I keep going. I’m facing east, so I can see the orange glow and the promise of a sunrise.  As I descend down the hill, my pace picks back up and breathing is easier.  The hardest part of my route is done, but I’m only half way finished.

I have found that the hard part seems to be the first 3 miles, as I’ve started running farther, I’ve found that I focus less on running and more on thinking about my plans for the day, or things that I want to do in the future.

4th mile. My legs are getting tired now.  I could run all day but for my legs. 

I also work through struggles and problems that I’m having at work as I run.  I work out anger and frustrations that I deal with.  I pray and ask for wisdom on how to deal with people and situations.  Sometimes I get revelation, other times just an opportunity to vent my frustration.

Mile 5.  That last one seemed longer than I remembered the others.  I’m getting more tired, but pushing for the end.  It is definitely lighter now, the sun still not up over the mountains, but they’re getting brighter.  It is my favorite time of morning—the promise of a new day.

I ran through the winter.  Mostly outside, but occasionally on a treadmill when the weather was too bad or too cold.  But “too cold” started not an excuse anymore.  Running outside is much better than the “dread”mill.  I’d rather brave the cold.

Mile 6. I hit the end of my neighborhood route, but am still shy by 0.2 miles to hit a 2nd 5k.  So I cut across the 4 lane road, timed in a lull when there are no cars.  I sprint up the hill for a final push to the end.  My second 5 k is complete!

Total time: 1:05, distance 6.23 miles.  Here’s my route:

image

Training for a 10k in May.

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2 thoughts on “Running in the Dark

  1. I am proud of your efforts. I never made it to the point that I could even think about anything else, and I was told today – with my back – no more running.
    Keep up the good work . Wow – 6 mph – for a whole hour. I am really impressed.

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