At a coffee shop several months ago, in an unusually long line for my Americano, I struck up a friendly conversation with a table full of middle aged men in a mish mash of commemorative race day shirts/hats/pants: clearly a serious group of runners enjoying a post run coffee.

I ended up joining them at their table with my steaming mug, shooting the shit for a while before it was time to head off in our various directions.  I now affectionately call these men “the pirates.”  I don’t really remember why, but I think it had something to do with the fact that they meet daily at 5:30am to run together, guided by starlight.  Also perhaps a few of them were rather surly, and I seem to remember an eye patch in there somewhere.

Well, the pirates invited me to join them one morning.  “You’ll be the only girl, so you’ll have to be willing to put up with some crass language and behavior, but we’d love to have you.”  Clearly an offer I could not refuse, I promised to join them when I returned from six weeks at altitude, on a morning when I was feeling particularly spunky (what?  when is anyone that spunky?)

This morning was the day.  I dragged my sorry butt out of bed, hours before usual, and somehow drove myself safely to Gary’s Coffee Shop without remembering a minute of the journey.  One little mistake though…I had remembered the meeting time as 5:45am, so when I showed up 5 minutes early, I was actually 10 minutes late, and they had all left.

Yeah, sucky-ness factor was high on that one.

I got out of the car and admired their marathon bumper stickers, shivering in the freezing dark morning air, a street light buzzing above me as I mulled over my options.  I had dressed in all black (mistake #1) and didn’t have a headlamp since I planned to rely on the group to light my way (mistake #2).  I didn’t even have a hat to hide my blonde ponytail under to make my femininity less conspicuous when running along (mistake #3).  But I said F it, and started running.

I’d like to say the early morning captivated me and the thrill of being awake before everyone else pulled at me like a drug, making the time fly by.  But the reality was that I was butt tired and a little skittish of the vagrants, and every minute crawled by like I was sitting through a foreign documentary next to a smoker who hadn’t showered in a week.  Yeah, it was that bad.

But on the drive home, the sun started to come up, and the air became crisp and refreshing, rather than freezing.  Things took on the beginnings of color, and I felt revived.  6:45am.  Now that would be a great time for a morning run.  Too bad the pirates have day jobs.