My phone was vibrating on the nightstand. An almost silent alarm, it turns out, I didn't need. I was already awake and squeezing into a third skin-tight layer.
I had pulled back my hair, pulled on an extra pair of socks, and had tied one sneaker before hopping out of the bathroom holding the other by its dangling laces to finally make the infernal buzzing sound stop.
“You are not actually going out in this, right?”
My husband, still snoring away, wasn't the culprit.
I just snorted, unsure which part of my anatomy questioned my sanity, but I certainly wasn't going to reward such a rude question with an answer.
Of course, I was going out. It was Saturday, and I had 15 miles ahead of me.
Fifteen miles? In single-digit temperatures? With thirty-mile-an-hour winds?
Did I mention the hills?
At least it wasn't snowing. Or raining. Surely there would be places along the way that would be sheltered from the wind.
See … It's possible to have positive thoughts before you spend nearly three hours doing something you love to hate.
It's all part of the plan: A six-week training schedule designed (by someone else) to ensure readiness for an early spring half-marathon.
I was just following blindly and looking forward to the pancakes at the end of the road. Please let there be pancakes.
Eight miles here. Ten miles there. This run was overkill, but apparently necessary.
Half-marathon turned out to be the fastest growing distance among road racers. According to Runners World magazine, in 2014 there were more than 2 million finishers of the 13.1-mile distance in the United States.
Although complicated plans include intervals and tempos and carefully calculated pace targets, the purpose is pretty straightforward: Build up endurance slowly and try not to get hurt.
Go the distance and try not to break, snap or pull anything important. This tact seems to be wise advice because as hard as it is to run as fast as you can on race day, it's nearly impossible to get your race fees refunded.
Anyway, you can probably guess that I am stalling.
Pretty soon a small gathering of other half-crazed runners will gather in the town square. They will head off without me if I am not there. I will not be able to catch up, and I haven't memorized the route.
I know how to get where we're going by car. But I always take shortcuts. This will take us the longest way possible. One wrong turn could change the coordinates from only "half-crazy" to a full-on marathon-level insanity.
If I am to keep up, I have to leave now.
I have my balaclava, my mittens, my hat, my sunglasses. I strap water bottles around my waist, even though I know the liquid inside them will freeze.
I am ready. And even though the first five miles of windchill feels like being tortured with sharp knives, I don't entertain the notion of turning around and going home. In a few more miles I'll be more than half way there, anyway.
It's all downhill after here. Not literally, sadly. But figuratively.
The rewards will be self evident: This week there will be pancakes with real maple syrup, and next week there will be a taper.