Yesterday, I woke up at 4:45 am to go for a run. Most people who don't run think that's insane. And whenever I tell someone I got up early to get a run in, I inevitably get one of two questions: why or how do you do that? Both questions have the same answer.
Sometimes when I wake up, I have this overwhelming desire to get out there and tear up the pavement. I have the feeling that I can run a 7 minute mile (and the fastest I have gone is a 9:30), or that I can run forever without stopping just because I want to. On those mornings when I run, I always start out strong, ready to accomplish whatever running fantasy I dreamt up in my morning haze. Eventually I have to laugh at myself mid run because reality hits me and I realize that I may not be able to accomplish the goal without being in a dream state (or without drastically changing my training schedule). Even so, I push myself a little harder on those days because runners believe in the possibilities. The possibility of being fast, the possibility of the mind being stronger than the body, the possibility that a body can sustain peak performance mile after mile, the possibility that the legs can carry the rest of the body for at least one more mile when the lungs feel like collapsing. And for runners, possibilities become reality.
Last winter I thought it might be possible for me to finish a half marathon. I wasn't fast and I certainly didn't run the entire 13.1 miles, but I finished. And from a girl who two years ago couldn't even run a mile without collapsing, that was amazing to me. I used to think running a half marathon would be impossible, but it's not. And I'm beginning to wonder, what else is there that I've always thought was impossible really is possible? Now I've become almost addicted to going to races, and for me running a race isn't just about challenging myself anymore.
Being surrounded by other runners before the start of a race is inspiring; almost everyone is in a fantastic mood. I've never met someone rude or nasty at a race. Even the elite (okay, I only know 1 elite runner and she's my trainer, but still...) and amazingly fast runners have been kind enough to offer me advice and to help me settle my nerves before the start. They all understand each runner is on his or her own path and they don't judge the slower runners (which would be me!). Everyone seems happy just to be there and in the moment. And everyone starts with the hopes of attaining a personal record. Because runners are eternal optimists.
So back to my original point: why and how do I get up so early to run (or why does any runner for that matter)? Not only do I feel the rush of adrenaline after a run, but I also feel the possibility of the future. And even when it's rainy or still dark, I have a sunnier outlook on my day.
So that's the way I want to start my teaching year. A sunny outlook. I don't want to think about what bad things might happen. Just like running, anything could happen. I might get hurt-- I could fall and sprain my ankle, or I could pull a hamstring-- but I'm not going to stop running for fear of what could happen. Instead, I will think about the amazing possibilities of this year. Something great could happen. I just have to wake up and get out there each morning.