Father and son greet the dawn

My son is learning the joy of getting up before the sun to go running.

OK, that’s stretching it. My sleepy-headed, 14-year-old is not an early riser. He loves his bed. He hates his alarm clock.

But starting this week, his high school cross country team is holding summer training to help the runners get a jump on conditioning.

My son has decided that if he wants to run with the big dogs this fall, he better get back in shape before the real training starts in August. That means getting up before the roosters, three days a week.

I told him that was a good idea. And I agreed to get up a little earlier than usual and drive him to practice, which runs from 6 to 7:15 in the morning.

So at 5:30 a.m. today, father and son stumbled around the house, blinking and yawning, getting ready to greet the dawn with a run.

I made coffee, got dressed, and set out water bottles, towels and a change of shirts. My son put his head down on the breakfast table and groaned.

Fifteen minutes later, we got in the car and set off for practice, squinting through the darkness.

“Dad, this is crazy early,” my son said.

“You’re a runner,” I said. “You’ll get used to it.”

It’s a big change for Mister Sleepyhead. For the past three years, he ran cross-country in his middle school. The practices were all held after school, from 3:00 to 4:30. The meets took place in the late afternoon, and sometimes on Saturday in the late morning.

But now Mister Sleepyhead is in high school. And practice is a pre-dawn thing.

“Is this really necessary?” my son said, as we pulled into the school parking lot. “It’s still dark.”

I pointed out we weren’t the only ones to get up early. About 20 kids showed up this morning, along with two coaches and countless parents.

I watched for a few minutes, as the team did a short warm-up run and some stretches. Then I headed down the road for my own run.

Luckily, I didn’t have to run far before I hit a trail. The Monon Trail is just a quarter-mile away, via the 86th Street trailhead.

OK, the Monon is a paved trail, but it’s better than running down a busy road in the dark, or driving miles away to a real trail with dirt.

I ran south on the Monon, watching my step. The trail was littered with leaves, twigs and a few branches from all the heavy winds and storms of the last few days.

I dodged all the storm litter, stepping lightly, pretending I was on a real trail in the woods, not on this paved rails-to-trails path that runs by the Kroger supermarket.

I ran at about a 9:00 pace. The weather was cool and very humid. I soaked through my shirt in no time. Good thing I had an extra waiting in the car, I thought.

After about 25 minutes, I turned around and retraced my steps.

On the return trip, I saw a group of fast runners thundering toward me. At first, I thought it was my son’s cross country team. But as I got closer, I could see they were girls from the high school, also out for an early run. (The cross country teams are not co-ed, unlike in middle school.)

I got back to the parking lot, completely soaked but fully endorphined. According to my Garmin, I ran 4.7 miles in 42:23, for an average pace of 8:58 a mile. That was the shortest distance and easiest pace in a while, but that’s just fine. It was early for me, too.

As I changed my shirt, I saw my son finishing up his run, and then the team dropped to the ground for push-ups and crunches.

A few minutes, he came over to the car. “Man, that was hard,” he said with a big grin. “We ran the Maxi-Loop. Twice.”

Yep, the endorphins were working on him too.

We got in the car, drove home, and went back to our beds for an hour.

Mister Sleepyhead, see you on Friday morning.

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7 Responses to “Father and son greet the dawn”

  1. Samantha just signed up for XC and will have summer runs as well. they dont get out of school for 2 more weeks!

  2. He’s right. That’s crazy early.
    Have a great summer, runners!

  3. David Krahulik Says:

    I feel for you. We drop of our swimmers super early – all year round.

    You can easily get your trail fix leaving from the HS.

    I often head straight to Holiday Park. Of course you can drive to HP which I usually do – using the small parking lot on the east side of Meridian St.

    Or, for a longer run, hook up to the Monon (north side of the building just north of the YMCA). Travel down the Monon and run through Marott Park and alongside the river. Cross under the College Ave bridge and keep on going until you get to HP.

    For a shorter run, just run around Marott for a while before heading back to the HS. I know that Park Tudor has a XC course but I am not familiar with it.

    Before the construction on I-465 I could ride my mountain bike from the HS to Town Run, do some laps and ride back. Looking forward to the construction being over.

    Hope to meet you at the HS or elsewhere this year.

    David K

    • Most useful comment I’ve had on this blog ever. Thanks. I’ll check out those places over the next few weeks.

    • David —

      Also, if you’re interesting in joining me for a run, I’m planning to go to Fort Harrison on Saturday morning with a friend. We’re meeting at 7:30 a.m. outside the main gate at 59th and Post Roads. You’re welcome to join us. Look for my red Jeep.

      • David Krahulik Says:

        Hopefully some other time – we spent Saturday watching our boys compete in the Huntington Mile – an open water swim race in Huntington, Indiana. An open water mile is the swimming equivalent to a 4 or 5 mile mass start cross country race.

  4. David Krahulik Says:

    Some details – at the Southeast corner of Marott Park there is a small entry/exit trail onto Williams Creek Drive. If you run south on Williams Creek Dr. for about 300 meters it will begin to curve 90 degrees towards the west and you will be able to see College Ave. At that point, at the end of the guardrail on your right, before the fire hydrant, take a left into the woods on the trail. This trail winds along the water to the College Ave bridge.

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