Saturday brought an early start, a drive through the dark of pre-dawn hours with a zillion stars lighting the sky. The sun began to rise, and along with it, the fog:
Our destination was a small Virginia town built along the banks of a winding river. We were there so my husband could run a race and so I—training for my first half marathon of this illness- and injury-plagued year—could do a long run.
Shortly after we arrived at the start area of the race, the sun and fog began a dance. The trees and the river played spectator and stage to the dance. I immediately regretted bringing only my cell phone for a camera.
As I alternated between taking pictures and fumbling to put gloves back on (it was in the mid-30s, and I had not brought the right gloves for my “smart” phone), a thought struck me. The autumn combination of fog, sunlight, trees and water is probably my favorite of nature’s glorious offerings.
And if it weren’t for running, I’d have missed this beautiful morning.
If you had told me two decades ago that, one day, I’d rise early enough on a Saturday during vacation that only the stars would be up, I would have laughed at you. I have never been a morning person, and the idea of routinely giving up the one day a week I could sleep in would have never crossed my mind before I took up running.
Yet here I am, more than ten years into a life of running, and Saturdays have become synonymous with race day or a day to run long, especially on vacation. Not every Saturday, mind you. Just more than I ever would have guessed in my pre-running days. You know what? I’m glad for that change.
Running is a gift that gives all runners something we might not otherwise have. For me, those gifts include stunning vistas, an excuse to get outside regardless of the weather, an improved sense of direction, greater wanderlust, better health, and, yes, more time with the obsessive runner in my house. (Don’t worry. He readily admits his obsession.)
This morning, I ran with my dog who spent our vacation lazing at doggy camp. She didn’t drag as she sometimes does. She was full of energy, and so was I. At one point, she bounded along next to me, changing gears to match my increasing pace. She looked up at me, her ears streaming behind her, and her gaze said, “This is what I’ve been missing. Running along together like this is bliss.” I’d be lying if I said all running days are blissful. But sometimes, as with today and Saturday, running is bliss.
So while I may not always (or ever) greet the Saturday alarm with enthusiasm, I am grateful for the time and ability to run. Especially on the crisp fall mornings when the sun and fog dance along the water and among the trees.
What makes you feel more alive and get you out of bed in the early dark of Saturday mornings? For you runners out there, what is the greatest gift running has given you?