A Morning Run with Star (3 miles)

Between having to leave the house at six each morning during the week and helping watch Nat on the weekends, I don’t get out for many early morning runs anymore.  Thanks to being raised by a father who believed sleeping in past 7 on the weekend was one of the seven deadly sins and my own natural “morning person” disposition, I love heading out for an early run.  I also I don’t think I’d count anything later than 8 a.m. as “early morning”  When we lived in Washington Heights and my commute was a 15 minute bike-ride over the Harlem River, almost all my runs were done in the morning; M and I could even squeeze in an 8 mile run before work if we headed out at six.  These days, most of my runs are either done on the way home after work, or after Nat’s been fed, chased around the house, dressed, half-undressed, dressed again, changed, and then finally bundled into the jogging stroller.  Either scenario is not happening before 8.

I’ve tried running before work, and even pulled it off a few times (read: exactly twice).  I like to perpetuate the image that I’m a slightly hard-core, somewhat crazy health-nut, and many of my habits and life-style choices confirm that (at least in the eyes of my friends and co-workers):  I run 17 miles to work during the snow for fun, I buy lots of bulk beans and grains, I don’t drink soda, I drizzle flax-seed oil on things, I skip free pizza lunches during PD to eat my tofurkey and hummus sandwich with sprouts with avocado on sprouted whole-wheat bread.  Still, convincing myself to roll out of bed and into running clothes at 4:55 am and then head out the door for a three-mile run is a lot harder than just getting dressed, pouring myself a mug of coffee, and stumbling the 6 blocks to the dog-run.

Which is why I’m neither quite as hard-core nor as crazy as some people think I am; as of yet I just can’t get myself to hit the sidewalk that early with so little time to wake up.  I’ve set out my clothes the night before a dozen times, but only twice have I actually gone through with it and done a three-mile run with the dog rather than just the morning walk.  Both times I’ve actually loved it; sure, the first half-mile or so was an incoherent blur, but once the fresh oxygen hit my brain and my muscles warmed up it was brilliant.  Maybe it will be easier to do now that the light is returning to the world, so a 5 am run won’t entail stumbling around in the dead of night, but something tells me it won’t be easy any time of year.  If I just had a little more time in the morning — five-thirty sounds do-able, six sounds perfect.  Five, however — that sounds crazy.

All of this is a lengthy preamble to the fact that I took Star out for a morning run today.  Not a “five-am-oh-dear-God-tell-me-that’s-not-the-alarm” morning run (I am on vacation after all, and this is the weekend), but a perfectly sane, “slightly-after-seven” morning run.  I was trying to figure out when I’d fit in a short run today, and since I have to go out with the dog for a half-hour every morning anyway, figured I could just take him for a 3 mile run instead.

The weather this morning was almost North Western — a damp, gray over-cast that makes the work much chillier than it actually looks — so once again I was back into my tights, jacket and gloves.  It took about three-quarters of a mile to warm up, but from there on out everything felt great.  Today seems to have been a turning point in my heels recovery, and I’m cautiously declaring myself better, though intend to increase my milage very slowly and remain diligent with the ice-packs for a while yet.  I followed the route I took with Nat when I had 3 mile runs during my marathon training: west down Putnam until it ends at Fulton, then north along St. James to the corner of Pratt’s campus at DeKalb, then back home along which ever streets and avenues fit with the timing of the traffic lights.  The sidewalks in the Clinton Hill neighborhood should really count as trail-running: they consist of large, ancient slabs of slate that have buckled and cracked over the years and demand constant attention if you don’t want to catch your toe on an out-cropping and end up flying rather than running for part of your outing.  As long as its not dark out, they actually lend something to a run, as I find the active involvement with the terrain and forced mindfulness of footing to be engaging and entertaining.

Star was fine on the run, though honestly I don’t enjoy running with him, as he’s a source of focus that is not part of my run.  I have to constantly make sure he’s not trying to eat chicken bones or getting in someone’s way, or else he’s pulling to hard to get a head or dropping back to smell something.  He certainly is up for a three mile run, as he can settle into what looks like a fast walk to keep up with me, so I don’t have to worry about whether he can keep up.  Still, I like to loose myself in my runs, and that’s not something I can really do with Star, at least not in this neighborhood.  I didn’t time the run but it felt good; not too fast, but certainly not slow, and it was a chance to get out and run early in the morning.  Hard-core or not, I’ll take what I can get.

Distance: 3 miles          Time: not recorded

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About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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