Waking up before the sun

What’s your morning like? Alarm, shower, wake up the little ones, search for something wrinkle-free in an endless closet, toast with jam for you, toast with strawberry jam for the kids, comb hair, and then out the door? You rev up the engine while in the garage since it’ll be idle while eastbound on Hwy 26. Or better yet, you scurry along the sidewalk to your local Max station—another five minutes away. You’ve missed the early train by about three minutes.
There’s still another chance to catch the Blue Line so you can clock in at 8:00 a.m.. Time isn’t on your side most mornings.

How many of you extend your nights, whether on the phone keeping up with friends or finishing that borrowed mystery novel before its pending due date? Regardless of how long you put them off, mornings come too soon and they’re just never long enough.

Well, I’ve got a remedy, a quick fix. But, you’ve got to get up before the crack of dawn. Ugh! I know, you already feel the pain before any mention of the word exercise. Continue reading. I promise you won’t break out in a sweat.

I get up at 4:30 a.m. four days out of my work week. Sometimes I hit the five-minute snooze once or twice. That’s okay as long as I’m out of the house by 5:00 a.m.

I groggily walk around the house: a morning pee, quick face wash, a dig in the dresser drawer for a clean sports bra and ankle socks. My mind is blank, full of sleep. I bend and twist and reach over to grab my toes. A ten-minute stretch should do it. Ugh! It’s morning. It’s early. But I’ll feel so much better after an hour-long power walk and jog around the schoolyard. That’s seven times around the same two and a half blocks. Boring? Not quite. My morning begins after my second lap.

I know who to expect coming up the block out for his morning walk. Some days he has a black pullover with yellow reflectors. Other days it’s powder blue with silver reflectors. He expects me too. We wave and nod. A shared moment of morning workout camaraderie.

Thirty minutes into my walk, that familiar late model Ford Mustang rings around the corner. Its smooth body reflects the glare of the lone streetlight above. The Mustang seamlessly glides by regardless of who’s keeping my beat, U2, Gypsy Kings, or James Brown.

A few minutes later I encounter the mini Nissan pickup, its driver competitively leaning over the wheel. His workday must start at the school at precisely at 5:45. It’s a race to see which of us can make it around the block first. On occasion he has to wait for me to cross the schoolyard’s entryway. That’s when I win. Then again, he’s a courteous driver, unconscious of his right blinker rapidly signaling to no one.

Farther down, a seven-foot high National Rent-A-Fence keeps trespassers out and a gutted school gymnasium in. Rumors say it could have been renovated into a cultural arts building. I suspect that the overnight security guard and three member construction crew that changes guard by 6:45 a.m. all consider the chain-link an effective way to keep politics out and their job security in.

Sometimes I get distracted from the action. A sign says the elementary school offers free weekday summer lunch to children until August 14th. Neon markings leave quite an impression, an active gas line here, a major water line there. I ponder hungry neighborhood kids and gas and water field crews taking their jobs seriously.

Then my eyes dart upward. There’s the woman whose three dogs take her for a walk. It must be ten ‘til seven. Two of her friends are wolf hybrids—I asked one morning—and the other is a black Lab. She winds leashes on both wrists, tightening them as canine ears perk with the jingling of the keys in my pocket. She pauses, but the dogs don’t.

I swish by them with my usual, “Morning! Got your hands full?”

“Always!” she replies.

It’s my final lap. I walk this one. My fingers crawl up on the outer side of my neck. 30-second pulse check. A cyclist zips past since there’s no confusion at the four-way stop. I cross the street and lunge up the driveway, my cool down stretch to the door. Made good time, it’s 6:57. I’ve got an hour before the early bus hits the stop, and if I make it, a breakfast bun from Maggie’s before I clock in. Delish!

I prefer to battle my mornings before the sun wakes up. It makes my day that much easier and, if time is on my side, tastier too.

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