The Beauty of 5:00 am

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Growing up, I was never a “runner”.  I was the girl who fainted after having to run a mile in PE class.  Then, just before my 30th birthday, I was inspired by a little boy named Caleb Nehring to give it a try.  Caleb was battling cancer and his dad was getting a group together to run a Webster Groves 4 mile race.  4 miles seemed impossible but in comparison to what their family was enduring, it really was nothing.  So, we started training.  10 minutes at a time… many, many walking breaks… and slowly but surely I began to build my endurance and increase my distance.

Unfortunately, Caleb passed away shortly after our training began.  Though we were not able to compete in that 4 mile race, I kept running.  Caleb became an inspiration that, to this day, continues to drive my passion for running.  And, what a gift that has turned out to be!

I believe in redefining impossible.  – Nike

For the past several years, I have been part of a running group made up of other working moms.  Our 5:00am runs are filled with discussions on every topic you could imagine – and they are uninterrupted by children!  This time together has allowed us to build really meaningful friendships.  We see each other through good times and bad.  We yell, complain, laugh, cry, fall down, get back up, challenge and support each other.  No topic is off limits.  Sometimes, my friend, Kyle, is brave enough to join us.  I’m sure he’s been able to garner all sorts of insight into how the female brain works!

And, yes, I did say 5:00am.  The beauty of the 5:00am run is that the children are still asleep.  We can quietly slip out of the house without making anyone breakfast, getting anyone dressed, or attending to anyone else’s needs.  No one has softball practice or piano lessons at 5:00am.  No children are hungry at 5:00am.  No chore needs to be done at 5:00am.  We often discuss how the “buddy system” is the key to climbing out of bed at such a seemingly unreasonable hour.  Knowing your friends will be there waiting and relying on you to show up is a powerful motivator!    We run in the freezing cold, in the rain, in the humidity, and sometimes when the weather is just right.  We are each exhausted and tired as we drive to the designated meeting spot for the day.  The first mile is usually a little rough but then we hit our stride. Experiencing the world as the sun rises, in the peaceful quiet of the early morning, running alongside some of the strongest women I know (and sometimes Kyle) is a truly amazing way to start the day!

Running has become something I need.  It keeps me sane.  It keeps me grounded.  Finding the “zone” is the most amazing feeling in the world.  It’s that point when you feel like you could run forever.  It’s a feeling of strength, peace, and drive all melded into one over the course of several exhilarating miles.  I used to think that running was something that couldn’t be learned – you were either a natural, or, like me, you weren’t.  Now with countless 5k’s, 10k’s, half marathons and even a marathon on my list of accomplishments, I know running is definitely something that anyone can learn to love.  It’s great for the body, great for the soul, and a fantastic way to build amazing friendships.

Cheers to all of my running buddies and to the beauty of the 5am run!  And, a special thank you to little Caleb Nehring for being the inspiration for this positive change in my life.

There’s a closeness about people who run together.  We become better friends, athletes and better women by the company we keep.
– Kristin Armstrong