I am not an early morning person.
Never have been.
Probably never will be.
My husband, who jumps out of bed singing the praises of morning and sipping coffee as the sun peeks above the horizon, is my opposite.
Ideal waking time for me is about 7:00 (AM not PM, in case you are wondering).
If I am pushing it, I can handle 6:30 pretty easily.
I know. I can almost hear all you early risers laughing. And yes, I am a wimp when it comes to those early hours that others are filling with their early morning accomplishments.
Notice I said “ideal.” I can wake up earlier. And have. And do. But my preferred wake up time is a few minutes before 7:00 AM.
I can wake up early to catch planes. Start trips. Be on time for appointments. Greet babies and young children. Get to work. And other commitments. It’s just not ideal for me.
But as my mom likes to say, “Life is not ideal.”
And I can testify to that.
When my teen son signed up for cross country at his high school, I was surprised to learn about a whole other side of early morning that hummed and buzzed in our town. And all while I slept blissfully unaware in my warm bed.
At first his practices were at 7:00 AM. As we lived 10 minutes from the trails where practices took place, I was in my comfort zone.
Remember I said 6:30 is very doable and a time I can easily meet?
Then just before school started, I received an email from the coach. She outlined the running schedule for the season.
This must be a typo, I thought, re-reading one of her sentences. “Practices will take place Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings at 5:30. Arrive at the trail head by 5:20.”
5:20? 5:30? I re-read the sentence. Then re-read it again. I wasn’t even sure the sun was up at 5:20.
There’s gotta be some sort mistake, I thought.
Surely, she meant evening. Not morning.
Or maybe she had accidently gotten her 5’s and 6’s mixed up. I have mistyped numbers before.
She couldn’t really mean 5:30 AM. Could she?
Surely, she wasn’t expecting them to run in the dark.
After the next morning’s run, I approached the overly cheerful blond coach.
“I think there was a typo in your email,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
I laughed nervously. “Surely you didn’t mean to type 5:30. I mean who is up at that time of the day. Even on a school day.”
“It’s not a typo,” she said. And while she said this, I noticed not the slightest curve at the corner of her lips was exposed.
“But it’s not even light at 5:30.” I protested. “I mean who is running on the trails at 5:30?”
It turns out I was ignorant of the underbelly of our town. And she took great joy in educating me.
She assured me that, no it was not light. My son would need to wear a headlight so he could see the dark woody trails and sidewalks he would be running on. And if I had ever managed to pull myself, and here she paused and looked at me, (she didn’t say “lazy body” but it felt like she had), out of my comfortable bed, I would know that a large group of serious runners and bikers converged on the trail at 5:30 in the morning. All with headlights. All in the dark. And when Cross country was not in session, she was one of them. Here every morning at 5:30.
Feeling chastised, I went home and told my husband that since he was a morning person, he could take our son to Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning runs. I would handle the runs after school.
My son, who takes after me and doesn’t like to leave his bed before necessary (about 7:00 AM), had a hard time getting up on mornings he had early morning practices.
Okay, hard is the wrong word to use in this instance. Let’s just say it was a struggle, or an outright bed hugging war, to get him out from between the sheets and into the car. I’d tell him it was time to wake up, and he’d ask to snooze for 5 more minutes.
This was my job. Getting him awake, dressed, and in the car with his headlight.
A job which was many times harder than driving him to practice. But one that allowed me to go back to bed and sleep until 6:45. Which was a good consolation prize, it turns out. And one I needed after literally wrestling and conniving said son out of bed, then making sure he got into the car wearing his running clothes.
Things were bumping along.
Then husband went out of town. And it was my job to wake up and take said our son to practices.
And yup, the coach was right.
There was a large group of runners, bikers, and walkers gathering at the trail head at 5:30. Wandering the parking lot with headlights. Checking in with a designated checker who made lists of who showed up and who didn’t.
I watched that first morning, in the relative safeness of my dark car, as they checked in, broke into groups, and swish they were gone.
First off were the cross-country kids, than the larger groups of townspeople who were braving the dark and early morning to exercise before work. Crunching gravel sounds receding in the darkness, and then silence.
There might have been 75 townspeople that first day I watched.
It looked like the coach was not the only crazy morning run-in-the-dark people that inhabited our town.
Don’t ever say, never. As in, “I will never get up and run in the pitch-black dark.”
Because fate will conspire to make you eat your words. To make you look silly and do exactly what you said you would never do.
I know, you are probably thinking I took up running at 5:30. That I saw all those happy and chatting runners milling around in the dark illuminate their gravel path with their headlights and said, I want to be one of them and have some early morning fun just like they do. Day in and out. Sun through snow.
Well, I didn’t.
But I did join another mother and 2 occasional other ladies and start walking and jogging on mornings that my son practiced.
And yes, I had to buy a headlight. Because a trail at 5:30 AM that is lined on both sides with trees is pitch dark. No moon light even gets through the leaves. When an owl starts hooting and the bushes start quivering with movement, you feel a tad bit safer with a tiny headlight. But only a tad bit safer.
The first time I heard the owl’s screech pierce through me like a jolt of frozen water, I almost tossed my headlight and myself into the bushes lining the trail.
But I didn’t.
Probably because my headlight was wrapped three times around my arm. Why my arm you ask? Well I couldn’t stand the pressure of it on my sweaty forehead (where everyone else wore their headlight) when the humidity was 85% and the temperature the same.
There I was there on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, struggling to flail myself out of bed at 5:00 in the morning. Stumbling to dress myself. Attempting to get son up and out of bed and out the door with his shoes on his feet. All within 10 minutes total.
Sometimes my husband was already awake and well into his morning routine, when the alarm went off. I’d see him smile with amusement as I struggled to keep myself in a forward motion. Clearly, he was not used to seeing me up so early.
I may have been half asleep when the other mother and I started walking at 5:30, but I was wide awake by the time we finished an hour later.
Relief was a lesser emotion I felt when cross country came to an end. My early morning forays in the dark with other townspeople was doing me in.
Let’s just say that son and I did not complain about sleeping in, once cross country stopped.
And no, I continue the habit of rising at 5:00 AM.
But I did learn a few things about myself.
(Because isn’t that what life is about? And what I know about myself keeps changing.)
I do like walking in the early morning. So now hubby and I often walk at 6:00 in the morning. Which means at 5:55 I slip from my warm bed and into my clothes. Which is doable.
Somehow 5:00 AM and 6:00 AM are totally different cousins in my bio-clock.
I also learned that I don’t like walking on tree lined gravel paths where no lights shine, and one needs a headlight to keep from tripping over large fallen nuts scattering the path. No. I prefer open streets in our neighborhood where you can see the sun rise and walk by the glow of porch lights and streetlights. No headlight necessary.
Turns out I am embracing a new side of myself. That what I thought was a mistake helped me learn something new about myself.
Turns out our 6:00 morning walks in our neighborhood for an hour are just the way to start the day.
At least for now.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
Join the Discussion: What new discovery have you made about yourself? Or side have you learned about?