Last February, when I brought my National Junior Honor Society students to Washington, D.C., we stayed in a hotel near J’s house. So one morning she met me in the lobby and we ran exactly 5K before the sun came up. We called it our Asscrack of Dawn run.
This year, NJHS stayed at the same hotel and we therefore arranged the Asscrack of Dawn Run II, which I desperately needed. The tour company schedules our meals at food courts and all-you-can-eat buffets: great for the 14-year olds but not ideal for
older people with slower metabolisms. I will pay dearly for four days of large portions, restaurant food, and a steady supply of coffee.
So our run is almost perfect–a relaxed 5K with my friend, a brief respite from chaperone responsibilities, and a bit of exercise to offset whatever the hell it was I just ate. The drawback, of course, is the time. Breakfast is at 7 and we are on the tour bus by 7:45 every day, which means in order to run, I had to set the alarm–three days into a trip where I’m lucky to sleep for six hours each night–for 5:15 A.M. Not only that, the area is somewhat hilly and I’d only run once since the Austin half, so I wasn’t exactly in peak form. Neither was J though–since the Army Ten-Miler, she’s been rehabbing an Achilles injury and this was only her second foray back into running. But none of that mattered because I needed this run–and time with my friend–both physically and emotionally.
I met J in the lobby at 5:30 and we headed out.
A few days earlier, the DC area had been covered in about a foot of snow. This morning, though, the temperature hovered just above freezing and most of the snow had melted. We both wore our Army Ten-Miler shirts, tights, and gloves, and except when the occasional frigid gust of wind stung my cheeks, I felt comfortable.
I found myself breathing heavily at first, which made me wonder just how quickly a person can lose fitness while taking a few days off after a strenuous distance race. But I got it under control and fell into step behind J. We chatted, laughed, and dodged road construction and slushy snow remnants. We passed her house and and looked for lights to indicate whether her family had awakened yet. She pointed out the coffee shop I visit when I stay at her house. We looked in the gym windows and felt
superiority pride for braving the cold. We cracked up at an inside joke. It was just what I needed.
Before long, we arrived back at my hotel. I went to stop my Garmin and realized it had never actually started, even though I remember pressing the button to start it when we began. J assured me it was exactly a 5K. I wasn’t concerned with the specific distance though–I just like having each run’s data and map recorded in My Garmin. But as it turns out, the distance would be significant.
Inside the hotel lobby, J produced two medals from her pocket. The front side said “Victory” and the back was engraved:
You know what this means, right? Not only did we get medals for our little 5K, we also each won our age groups!
I love this medal. I love that this early-morning run, before the city wakes up, is important to both of us. And I love the time I got to spend with her in the middle of a whirlwind trip.
I’ll need to run a lot more than 3.1 miles to atone for my culinary sins these past four days. A couple of pounds is temporary though. My Icecrack of Dawn medal is forever.