I do not want to set the alarm, I do not want to get up early. I do not want to run in the dark anymore.
But the alarm goes off and I stumble around in the half-light pulling on clothing that I carefully laid out the night before whilst telling myself that I did not want to go for a run in the morning. Bleary eyed I exit the house the sky is a beautiful shade of pre-dawn blue/black, and there are people around, and dogs doing what dogs tend to in the morning all over the pavement.
A half-moon hangs over the woods as I fumble and stumble around, trying unsuccessfully to run with my phone in hand. I’m still messing around with the phone when I nearly run into another dog walker and her two dogs who take delight in a quick game of chase, It is getting lighter by the second, I decide to go the full woodland circuit, no head torch but there is now plenty of light to see by even under the tree canopy.
No woodland chills down the spine this morning, the suns rays are starting to set fire to the mesosphere high above me, chasing the monsters that reside in the dark away to the horizon, begone you sprites. The bird song is a deafening soundtrack that just keeps building all around me. Another dog another early morning walker followed by a flash of high viz yellow as a fellow runner bursts by. So many people out this morning.
I hear laughter and immediately assume it’s directed at me. I’m now fully self conscious, I’m not used to having this many ‘normal’ people around, It has been me, the dark and a few fellow hard-core runners exchanging out of breath hello’s through the murk, the light has dispelled notions of monsters in the shadows and replaced them with monsters in the mind.
Who knows what the laughter was about, but it shakes me, I hope it’s not about how I looked, or how I ran. My mind goes back to the runner in yellow and how in the instant that we past we had no idea about each other, we were both in a comfortable stride, but I had no way of knowing how far he’d run, nor him me.
I had been climbing up a shallow gradient to the highest point on the route, and after a short level stretch I turned off the main path and started the plunging decent to the river. The shrill birdsong was dying away being replaced by more melodic lower toned calls, restful and peaceful, my pace slows to match the tempo as the path turns and runs alongside the river.
The sky is now ablaze, moments to go before the sun breaks the horizon, the river runs loud, the sun rises in silence. I stand and watch as that great ball of fire and energy rises into the sky.
I leave the park and head home, mixed emotions, I feel fat, useless, slow and hated being self conscious, but I have enjoyed running in the blue-black light of pre-dawn to soundtrack of birdsong, and I’m so ready to say goodbye to the dark. As I open the front door I’m met with a wall of sound, the boys are awake and hungry, coffee is made, the day begins.
May the road rise with you.