Scared of My Own Shadow

Me and My Shadow

Me and My Shadow

Miles run yesterday: 10

New pair of running shoes bought yesterday (post-run): 1

Time I wake up to run three times a week (Saturdays, we run later): 5:15

Two things I will tell you about running at 5:15 a.m.:

1. It’s cold.

2. It’s dark. After Daylight Savings Time started, super-dark.

Always a staunch supporter of Daylight Savings Time, I am now a hater. Well, a disliker.

Of course, I’ve done training before in the early morning. I trained for my very first half-marathon several years ago with 5:15 a.m. runs, back when my husband left early for work, and my kids were tiny. My husband ran after work, and I got the before-work slot.

That time around, it was a June-December training cycle, and early morning was definitely the way to go to avoid ghastly 98-degree heat.

But this time, did I mention that it’s dark and cold?

And sometimes, I’ll be running along, doo-de-doo-de-doo… minding my own business, and I pass under a pinky-white streetlight in my neighborhood… Psssst! Darkness!  No more light. Poof!

It’s unnerving.

Here are the people awake when I am:

1. Tired parents of middle and high school students who attend school far away. They sit in their cars with the headlights on and the engines running until the bus squeals to a stop along the main thoroughfare.

2. Tired but devoted dog-walkers.

3. People still in their pajama pants who have thrown on a fleece sweatshirt and just started sleep-walking down the street. They do not wave.

4. The occasional runner wearing a bobbing, laser-pointer light thingie.

5. Me.

Perks to running at 5:15 a.m.:

1. I never have a problem crossing a street. Never. Not once.

2. I don’t have to wear sunscreen.

3. I don’t have to breathe in car fumes, extending my lung life by .6 years.

4. I don’t have to worry that my shirt isn’t tucked in right or if my hair is sticking out.

5. Like so many people in America, I might have been sleeping way, way too much. There is no worry about that now. No sirree.

So anyway, one day in my first week of running in the middle of the night, I was rounding a corner near my favorite grocery store. The stoplights in the intersection behind me were flashing from red to green. I was on fire. Well… I was plodding along.

When BOOM! A large shadow loomed out of the towering bushes in front of me.


Heart palpitations, sucking in of breath, fear.

Yeah. You may have guessed:

It was my own shadow, looming towards… myself.

Boy, did I feel stupid. And it brings to mind so many existential, high-brow questions…

Am I afraid of myself?

Do I have anything to fear but fear itself?

Why am I out running at 5:15 when most God-fearing people are tucked up in bed?

If I run a 9-minute mile from here to home, what time will I eat breakfast?


I have learned so many things about myself from my early morning runs. So many important, life-altering things.

Mostly: I like warm weather. And light.

And also: I still love and need to run.

What about you? When you’ve made a major life transition, what have you learned about  yourself?


Coffee and the Absence Thereof


Cups of coffee I have per day: 2

Cups of coffee I have per day when my husband isn’t here to make it: 0

On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad those days are: 9.5

Our coffee machine is a diva.

Don’t be jealous. Our very same, 12-cup Cuisinart has starred in several movies and TV shows, including Two and a Half Men. I couldn’t tell you the other shows, but I’m sure my husband could.

Here we are, watching a TV show. Is the villain going to pay someone to kill the hero? Is the soccer mom going to get a parking ticket? Is the kid going to steal a Twinkie from the cookie jar?

I wouldn’t know. And I might never know.

My husband: Oh my gosh!

Me: What?!?!

TV: I’ve never loved you, you robot zombie, because you cheated on me with…

My husband: There it is!

Me: What?!?!?!

TV: You didn’t! Why did you withhold that vital piece of information? It was a clue that would have helped us solve the…

My husband: Wait for it… OK, behind the… there it is…

Me: Shhhh!

My husband: Our coffee machine!

TV: Scrolling credits.

My husband is obsessed with our coffee machine. I procure the whole beans (Sumatra or Verona), then he grinds them, puts them in the filter, fills up the water, makes… enough for both of us, and voila!

Except when he doesn’t.

I kind of only notice when he doesn’t. Unfortunately, my kids do, too.

See, he has this science-y job where he sometimes makes coffee at 4:30 in the morning, then disappears in a flash of smoke cute car, leaving me with… cold coffee. Because our coffee machine is such a diva that she only works for two hours a day. She doesn’t even get out of bed for a one-cupper. And by 6:45, when normal humans are emerging from beds across the world, she has switched to “off”, and there is no drink-able coffee.

Or my husband travels to cool places that usually have better weather than here, and he calls to wake us up with some kind of bongo drum and conga line in the background, and I realize that this is yet another day when good coffee will not be brewed in our household.

These are not good days.

My BFF running partner asks what you might also be wondering: Why don’t you make it yourself?

To which I reply: It doesn’t taste good.

BFF: Haven’t you ever watched him make it?

Me: Yes, and he does tricky things and is probably lying about the measurements so I will have to stay married to him forever.

But really, because it is a day where the coffee was not made for me, these responses come out sounding more like: Mmph. Errg.

My children see no red lights and hear no dripping noises and walk around me in wide, avoidant circles, giving me lots of space.

This is because I am like a woman who has been body-snatched on Non-Coffee-Days (NCD).

I usually only drink coffee once the kiddos have left for the bus. Then I pour some, drink it and go running. Or pour some, drink it and sit at the computer to work. Or pour some, then pour some more.

Because I am on automatic pilot on many days, if I miss the coffee part of my routine, I sometimes forget that I haven’t had any. This is very bad.

The low-grade headache starts when I am working. Then I keep doing things and try not to notice.

Then I do more things and pick up groceries and interview people and try to be nice to neighbors and dumb stuff like that.

And then the whole world starts annoying me.

Maybe I even try to make coffee, and it’s really bad, and it reinforces my feelings of the world being pretty darn annoying.

By the time the kids get home from school, I look like a normal person on the outside, but inside, my brain has been snatched.

Sometimes on those days, they ask very nicely, “Ummmm… Mommy? When is Daddy going to be home?” They Skype with my husband at work or on the road and hold up the empty coffee pot with fear in their eyes.

Then my husband is home, and the Cuisinart 12-cupper gets order restored in a jiffy.

I like to think that I keep the house in order, but my husband and the coffee machine beg to differ.