Getting Up at 5:13AM
Three days a week my alarm goes off three times. I typically dream through the first two alarms. Sometimes I also dream through the third one. If the third alarm does manage to wake me up, my first conscious sensation is never a pleasant one. I consider myself a “morning person”, but 5:13AM is just too early. Yes, I have timed my mornings so that I have the exact amount of time I need to arrive at 5:45AM.
Once I am conscious, I lay in bed for a few minutes while I have a debate with myself. I rack my brain for “legitimate” excuses to not get up: I went to bed late, I have a headache, I need to be productive today, my left pinkie toe hurts… The majority of the time, I push the excuses aside and I get out of bed. I move at a snail’s speed as I perform my minimal routine. Even putting on my shoes is a struggle, although honestly, as a Floridian, shoes with laces are always too much work.
Finally out the door, I turn up my music as I drive to downtown in an attempt to wake up. It is eerie driving the empty streets that are normally full of life. There aren’t a lot of people awake and commuting at 5:30 in the morning. Atlanta is infamous for its traffic, but at this time the lights are all green and the trip takes less time than Google maps predicts.
After parking, I join a group of people. We are a diverse group in age and appearance. Some are wearing fancy running clothes and have accessories like reflective vests or wings for theirs shoes; others (like myself) look like we never changed out of whatever we wore to bed. We chat until everyone has arrived. We then form a circle and warm up. We do jumping jacks and stretches and then put all of our hands in the middle. We say, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” We cheer and then divide up based on mileage (2/3 miles) and speed (walk/run). We decide on our question of the day –what is your favorite thing about fall? Krista* passes out routes, and we begin.
John*, Jeremy* and I use the beginning of our run to catch up. John just started a new job, and as he puts it, “It’s no dream job, but it pays the bills.” Jeremy is going to school for accounting, and he laments the long hours of studying. I empathize. We fall silent as we pick up speed. I call good morning to the individuals we pass. Jeremy directs us, because John and I aren’t wearing our glasses. At one point, I fight the urge to wretch as the smell of urine fills my nose. We run in the heart of downtown, and the air is not always the cleanest.
As we near the meeting place where we began, I feel a rush of endorphins. Jeremy asks me to write his name and mileage down, because he needs to leave early to get ready for school. John and I join the runners who have already returned and wait for those who have not. Once everyone has returned we circle up again. We share our favorite things about fall and reminisce about previous autumns. George* then asks us, “Who are we?”
“Back on my Feet!”
“How long are we going to run?”
I feel a rush of happiness that is not caused by endorphins alone. I get up at this ungodly hour to run with this group of people, because it means something to us. It means something to me. About half of the runners are residential members at the homeless shelter that we meet in front of. Back on my Feet works to fight homelessness through running. Residential members at the homeless shelters are invited to join us. If they run with 90% attendance and a good attitude for a month, they are able to apply for grants as they continue running with us. These grants are to help them on their journey. They are used for things like a laptop, a driver’s license, or a bike. The idea is that running is healthy, and it teaches discipline. Running with other people creates community. Community and discipline. The sorts of things that you need to get back on your feet.
As much as I hate getting up at 5:13, I love this organization. That’s why I’ve pledged to raise $180 for our 180 Campaign. I know that the money I raise will go towards helping people like John and Jeremy. People who are living lives and dreaming dreams similar to mine. Interested in helping me? I would love it if you did :). Click here!
This year’s campaign theme is tacky sweaters, and some of our runners are ready!
*I have not used actual names.