This morning, I did something that I have done at least once and often four or five times a week for nearly 30 years; I went out running in the dark. This has been a particularly challenging winter with tons of snow, and, more important, lingering ice on the street, but I have my secret locations where the streets are well plowed, the sun hits them hard during the day, and my two dogs and I are safe at 5:30AM from oncoming traffic. As with all runners who prefer the outdoors year round, I share some loose screws, but we adore the quiet and, yes, the dark. When people ask me if I am scared, I have answered, both defensively and slightly illogically, that nothing bad has ever happened, so no, I am not scared. As for the cold, I am fine above 15 degrees, as long as my hands and feet are warm, and much prefer 40 to 70 degrees. I wore shorts today because the temperature was above freezing (I know, low threshold), at 35 degrees. I am one of those runners whose total wardrobe is so carefully calibrated to the elements that it changes with every other degree.
I like starting out in the dark and noticing the emerging light. Perhaps because, as an adult, I have led a busy, non-solitary life, with a husband, four children, and multiple work colleagues, I appreciate being alone, not talking, and hearing very little noise. I never run with music playing in my years, although songs go in and out of my head. Today it was Pharell Williams’, “Happy,” a catchy tune that I like but can’t erase even when I’ve had enough.
It amazes me that almost anywhere in the world, including the most populous cities such as New York, Tokyo and London, if you run in the pre-light hours of the morning, particularly in their beautiful parks, quiet envelopes you. As I have passed through innumerable cities and locations worldwide, for business or pleasure, I experience them from peaceful miles of their coastlines, park trails, roads, and fields. Often, there seems little relationship between the unpopulated places I have traveled by foot and the crowded streets I may drive through later in the day, but I always am pleased to have encountered them before the multitudes descend.
I see the same people for years, walking or running at the same places, on a schedule that coincides with mine, and when we don’t cross paths, literally, I worry and we’ll remark “nice to see you” the next time. This morning, I ran for nearly 45 minutes before I saw anyone- a young man also with a dog (but not two). The reservoir around which I jogged a few times was flat and very clear, reflecting the trees and houses around it. When I started out, the sky was navy, and when I finished, it was a grayish blue. A few birds, who winter in the north, were singing.
Other than my dogs, who do I run with? It’s not easy to find people willing to meet at 5:15AM for a jog. Forget about easy; it’s almost impossible. I had two early rising friends who ran with me for years. One was a young woman who was so good she got to start with the elite runners in the Boston Marathon, and she ran with me as a warm up to speed work she did after I headed home. Caroline moved to London about 6 years ago. My other long term running companion inconveniently (for both of us) got into some legal trouble and has spent the past five years at a Federal prison. He’s getting out in two months, and I hope, but I’m not sure, that he’s in decent running shape. I don’t mind, even like, running alone but it’s nice, once in a while, to have company.
I do some of my best thinking on these runs, which, admittedly, might be a low bar. Today, my mind kept returning to the Supreme Court decision to lift the limits on campaign contributions. Although I can’t figure out, for the life of me, how spending money to help elect a candidate is the equivalent of “speech” that deserves First Amendment protection, I started thinking about how this ruling affects my business, the investment field. If rich donors can, effectively, give unlimited sums to the party and candidate that shares their preferred agenda, it seems obvious that money will support causes that benefit the rich, such as lower taxes on earned and fewer corporate regulations, all of which are good for the stock market.
However, as I turned the corner of the reservoir, I remembered that the market anticipates so much, that it might have already known the likely outcome of the Supreme Court vote, meaning that the market, instead of moving higher, would sell on the good news. But, then I argued (internally) there was some, if not much, doubt on that final outcome, so the good news would not have been fully discounted. I decided to sort that one out later.
As I ran toward the path leading home, I thought of what I heard years ago from one of the men who walks early every day at a Boston College Reservoir. As I jogged by him for about the third time one Sunday, as the sun was just emerging and steam was coming off the water, he put out both arms and exclaimed “it doesn’t get much better than this, does it?” At first, I cynically thought about how he might have spent his whole life in Boston but I had traveled and run all around the world, hiked in the Alps, stared at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and watched a herd of wildebeest migrating in Botswana. However, I reconsidered. He was right; it doesn’t get better than this.