The chill in the early morning air is palpable, so I pull the sleeves down on my shirt to keep it at bay a little longer before laboriously manoeuvring my feet into a pair of well worn shoes. It shouldn’t be such an effort, but it is 6am and Finlay was up a few times through the night needing to be fed. I’m not feeling particularly alert, my head is fuzzy, and I’m only huddled here on the doorstep because my wife instructed me to ‘get up and get it done’.
I start my watch and ease into a gentle trot down the short stretch of road and into the valley. The cold air still bites, and so I take a steep route to begin with, hauling myself straight up the opposite side of the valley and hoping that this extra early effort will warm me up a little.
I pass the tree line and notice immediately the change in the light. There is a dullness to my surroundings that belies the rich and vibrant greens I usually enjoy lining this section of singletrack. There is no pale blue sky peeking through the trees. The ground is darker and indistinct under the shade of the canopy. Tree roots that I know are lurking, waiting to trip, are not immediately apparent. It occurs to me that in a week or so I will need to be making these efforts with a headtorch just to stay upright. For now it is enough to stimulate my weary senses and focus on keeping my ankles intact.
I finally start to come alive, and feel my body relax and fall into the familiar rhythm that defines my morning routine. It feels good to be out and putting in the work before much of the city has woken. There is nobody else in the valley but still I pick the most remote lines as I chart a route up to the head of the Porter, more out of habit than curiosity. The whole ascent has a quiet, alpine feel.
As I top out at the viewpoint, the sun finally makes a fuller appearance. I pause for a moment and contemplate the changing of the seasons, and the changing nature of these morning runs. A little discomfort seems a small price to pay for getting out and witnessing these subtleties first hand, the true value in breaking down singularity of purpose from a long term fixed goal to the day to day routine of training. The real joy to be found in the daily practice whilst quietly, unobtrusively, bringing that ultimate goal tangibly closer. With some trepidation I allow my thoughts to wander further forward, dawn raids without a dawn, sub zero temperatures, only the movement of my breath in the light of a headtorch for company.
Not yet. For now a cold serotinal morning is enough. I turn for home, my family and breakfast, and make a mental note to find my headtorch.