It's pitch black at 5:35am now, which is a far cry from the days in July when I could see where I was going at this time. I start slow, and take a detour through a quiet neighborhood with good blacktop where I know I won't trip over any large cracks while I wait for enough light to run the dirt trails.
Slowly the ridge-lines of the Catalina and Rincon Mountains materialize, silhouetted by a deep blue light. These are the first signs of dawn on my side of town. No clouds today, which makes for a cool morning but will mean 95 degrees later on in the afternoon. I continue on the Slow Down Loop, but add a few sections of the Esperero trail to give the feet and legs a bit of relief after Sunday's race.
Aside from a different temperature and dew point, it's much like it was last week, or a month ago, or a year ago. The marathon comes to mind only a few times, most pertinently when I manage to trip over a tree root on an uphill and land on my hands. It's a reminder that the knees aren't quite driving as high as usual yet, but that will change.
My love for the sport is as strong as ever, and aside from a bit of a bruised ego I'm stronger for the experience last weekend. The legs feel better than I can remember them feeling after any of my previous marathons, which is comforting for the future but gives me some pause when I think about what I left out there on the course. I did what I could on the day, but for whatever reason there seems to be more left in me.
A late start with Finn waking early before the run means 8 or 9 instead of 10 miles, and the last two find me out of Sabino Canyon and tracing my two mile loop. To the east the sun is more than midway up the peaks, and as I finish up and head west back to the house my shadow grows more defined in front of me with each quarter-mile traveled.
One last look behind me before turning the last corner finds the sun lifting and breaking free of the Rincons. It's just the end of a perfectly good run. While what's happened in the past has burned into memory and what's to come is still forming, today started with a perfect hour watching the sun rise.
Thanks to all of you for the kind comments and encouragement after the race on Sunday. I really do appreciate it.
Training: Today, 9 miles, 1:02:05, 6:55 pace
Yesterday, 7 miles, 49:51, 7:06 pace