I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: 5:30am is an unholy hour. The season doesn’t really help matters. Autumn in Northern Illinois means running in the dark. Running in the dark is an added layer of bullshit. Ipso facto, a 5:30am run during Autumn is premium grade nope wrapped in tender strips of fuck this noise.
There are advantages to early morning autumn runs that nearly compensate. When you run tethered to a meaty little pit bull, running before the ass crack of dawn means few small and fuzzies are out to chase and kill. Not none, mind you. But few. And if you’ve ever had your arm nearly dislocated because a squirrel tried to commit suicide-by-dog, you’ll take what you can get, and you’ll be thankful.
Then there’s the air. When everything’s right, it’s so cool and dry this time of year, you can just run as fast as you want until hell freezes over or the sun comes up, and you’ll never, never overheat. It’s bracing but not so cold that you have to start worrying about frost bite or layering or any of that happy horseshit.
The stars are out still too. This time of year, you can see Orion, bright as fireworks in the West. The moon is nowhere close to setting. The sky is vast. You are miniscule.
Fifteen minutes of that, watching your breath fog out before you, feeling the blood course through your veins and lungs like liquid fire, it’s just about possible to forget that just about all the house lights around you are still out, and it’s because well-adjusted people are still sleeping. Also, the weather in Northern Illinois is usually overcast and/or drizzling steadily, so if you could see through your glasses, it would sort of just look like the back of your eyes anyway. And then there’s your body, which feels like it should be asleep still and not dealing with your particular brand of tomfuckery.
Do I like running before dawn? Umm, like may not be the right word. There’s a satisfaction to be had in mortifying that soft, comfortable side of my personality. When I do it I feel a little more present, a little less like those small, shivering things my dog likes to kill and a little more like, well, the creature preying on them. The world comes into sharp focus. That’s probably not something you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth.