But to the surprise of many, especially my parents, my former roommate and my wife, I have spent a majority of the past two years hitting the sack early and hitting the pavement (or trail, or treadmill) well before dawn. That’s right, five days a week for the past two years, I have taught this ol’ dog a new trick. A trick that involves finishing most of my runs before the family even wakes. No, really. Stop laughing, it’s true.
I was thinking about this today as I started out shortly after 5 a.m. My thoughts actually moved from disbelief in how easy this has become, even on weekends, to considering what I really enjoy about this time of day. My list includes:
- The Quiet. It’s a different quiet than midnight. The dark is not filled with the sounds of cicadas and the random dog bark, but of the birds starting the day, and if you’re lucky, the occasional rooster crowing. Other than that, it is quiet. Especially in winter when pre-dawn is extremely quiet.
- The first “Good Mornings.” Mostly, there are the regulars. The ones that you see along the route every Sunday morning. You pass and you say good morning. Realizing that to the casual onlooker it might seem more obligatory than sincere, I can tell you that within the regulars it is definitely a sincere tip of the hat. And you know, a lot of people go deep into their day without a “good morning.” On some days, I collect several dozen before the sun rises. That’s a pretty nice feeling.
- "Rabbits and Deer and Skunks .... Oh, MY!” My early morning wildlife encounters are well documented in this blog. I still enjoy every single one of them, and I still encounter them on every single run. Stay at this long enough and you’ll see a lot of critters up close and personal. Don’t tell anyone, but I might have even started telling some of them good morning.
- The Moment. It only lasts for about 10 seconds, but it occurs every single time. There is a moment at sunrise when the light hits a certain level and your body says, “Ok, the day is here.” I suddenly feel even more awake and my pace naturally quickens. I love it. And I have found that the longer I have been running in the dark that morning, the more drastic that moment seems to be.
So, if you haven’t yet made that conversion to early bird, I would encourage you to give it a try. Attempt it for three weeks and you’ll be hooked. Anyway, wow, look at the time, it’s almost 9:00 and I need to get to bed! Goodnight, see you early in the morning.