Dawn’s rosy fingers stretched across the Cumberland Valley in a chilly embrace of the day after Black Friday. My watch bleated quietly then died, which was fine because it had done what it needed to do: wake me up. Actually, I was already sort of conscious since I lingered in that place of knowing that I needed to rise early but not knowing if it was too early. In point of fact, I deed not “need” to rise early, but I had made plans. People were expecting me. I could not let an Episcopal priest I had never met and the non-compensatory Mayor of Monkeyville down.
Not even when the coffee was flowing all over the counter. I had thought that there was a pause-n-serve feature on the fancy brewing machine in my father’s house, but when I pulled to carafe out, watery coffee and grounds flowed all over the burner. When I put the carafe back in, watery coffee and grounds flowed all over the burner. My pre-caffeinated brain could not process what was happening, but later witnesses testified that the original set-up was faulty and that my actions had not had a material effect on the outcome. Fortunately for me, no black box recording survived to recreate my verbal responses to the situation.
Having gotten less than the needed share of go-juice from my source of choice, I made a swing by a Kwik Sack for some Red Bull and a water bottle with a sports top. (The “sports top” is that kind of a pop-up top that is normally found on the type of water bottles that cyclists use. It can be open and closed with one’s teeth and makes Nissan Armada drivers hold on to the last shreds of their connection to the first half of the term “sport-utility.”) Apparently, no one in Bellevue, Tennessee drives a Nissan Armada because there were no water bottles with sports tops.
The only option was a ten-ounce bottle of “Belly Bubbles” replete with a dinosaur cartoon on the label. Fine. Whatever. I left my regular bottles at home so this is what I get. Untwisting the top, I poured about half on the ground for my homies who had gone before and diluted the rest of the high fructose corn syrup with water. Since we were planning to run 11.2 miles, I figured I could use the extra carbs. Oddly, my two companions had arrived at the starting point without similar provisions. One even lacked long pants in this below-30 environment. I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.
This was not, however, the time for such questions. That time was March, when I began to run again. Back then, my question was more along the lines of “why am I not running more?” I sort of knew the answer. A back injury had taken me out of the running for a while, and the incipient weight gain had me convinced I would never really be a runner again. For six weeks or so starting in the spring of this year, I was prone to agree with those negative Nancy voices. So why keep going?
The only explanation I have is that I’m crazy. Or stupid. So I have two explanations, crazy or stupid. By the law of Monkeyville, I am the latter. “Running is stupid” the mayor says. He says this as we turn towards the highest point in Percy Warner Park. We share a collective grimace, the gasp at the view of Nashville below. I used to see sights like this all the time, when I would get up and run. Now, thanks to the company and impetus of these two fellow idiots, I saw them again. That’s why I do this. There’s no other way to see the morning.