It sounded like a good idea at the time.
I knew I’d be tired from two days of
herding cats chaperoning 56 eighth-graders around Washington D.C., but I didn’t want to skip training all four days of my trip. I’d gotten a grand total of ten hours of sleep since we left Saturday morning, so when I woke up just before 5am to meet my friend J for a run, I looked at my Garmin, (which informed me it was 3:55 Central time) and I was reeeeeeaallllly tempted to crawl back in bed.
But I only get to see J a couple of times a year, so despite the early hour, 29-degree temperatures, and increasing exhaustion levels, I bundled myself into my warm running gear and headed for the hotel lobby.
I didn’t try to pretend I knew where we were going. I had a vague understanding of where my hotel was and that she’d planned to make a three-mile circuit, but I had no solid map in my head. Instead I focused on
not tripping landing smoothly on the uneven sidewalk.
At home, I do most of my training runs in the evening in a suburban neighborhood, so a pre-dawn trek through the city was a somewhat new experience. I decided I liked urban traffic lights because they allowed me to catch my breath from trying to keep up with J, who was, sadly, already running waaaaay below her usual pace to accommodate me.
About halfway around the loop, my stomach started feeling a little queasy. Under most circumstances this would not be panic-worthy, but the day before, two students had acquired a short-lived but rather violent stomach virus. We quarantined them and sanitized everything (including the other 54 kids) and we thought we had contained the outbreak. But with this many teens in such close quarters, we feared it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped. So when my stomach sort of lurched, I thought with no small amount of dread that perhaps that moment had come. Nothing to do about it but cross my fingers and keep going.
A half-mile later, nothing worse had befallen me–and considering the illness had struck my students so suddenly, I began to hope that I was in the clear, my funky stomach just a casualty of too little sleep and six meals of restaurant food. We continued on, running through a neighborhood of Colonial houses, a gentrification project slowly overtaking a section of mom-and-pop stores, folks waiting for a bus, a guy who must have been running to the gym down the block (or was from the Arctic, considering his lack of cold weather clothing), and some road construction, before heading back to the maze of hotels in this area of Arlington.
It was a slow, hilly three miles. Yet because we had started so early, by the time we returned to my hotel, it was still dark. And still 29 degrees. But seeing my friend > sleep, so it was worth it.
I took a hot shower and headed down to breakfast. The kids were up, and we had another full day at the nation’s capital ahead of us.