Hell Just Froze Over

Even the Gargoyles atop Notre Dame didn't see this coming. Paris photo '12

Reasonable people stay asleep at 4:30 in the morning.

Most of my workdays, weekdays, weekends, and vacation days start around 4:30 a.m. I don't need an alarm clock, regardless of time zone, country, hotel and prior night's bedtime. Consciously, I tell myself I would rather be sleeping. Unconsciously, I have no idea what I tell myself - one more reason to keep studying psychology and behavior!

Here's my routine: 4:30 a.m. -  I open my eyes, get out of bed and start my day. Some days, far too many than I would like, I head off to the airport to catch an early flight. Other days, I leave early to beat traffic or set up shop at my home office. Whenever I can, I ride my bike or go for a swim, while most of the world around me sleeps.

This time of year, it's dark and cold in the early morning. Sometimes it rains. I follow a few guidelines to create a safe experience:

  • Ride and swim with lights
  • Dark - OK to ride. Wet - OK to ride. Cold - OK to ride. Wet & dark - go swimming
  • 40F Degree rule - when the temperature at my house drops below 40, go swimming - there's black ice where I ride
  • Stormy weather at the South End and no pod mates - round trip sauna

Green safety light firmly mounted to swim goggles 

Through the years, I've been treated to amazing sunrises, swims, rides, endorphins as well as found friends and communities of people just like me. My family considers my early morning adventures as part of a secret and mysterious life. Of course, photos and GPS technology prove otherwise. 

When I return home from a ride or swim, everyone is usually still sleeping - weekdays and weekends alike. Once they wake up, they have to deal with the energy from someone who already swam a few miles or biked more than a few miles, not a tired, half-awake coffee clutching zombie who just rolled out of bed.

Nowadays, my millennial son joins me for early morning weekend rides. We meet at 0 dark thirty, sometimes near Donut King. We solve the world's problems as we pedal and the sun rises. 

Here's the part of the story where hell freezes over. 

My teenage daughter values her sleep - as she should. Value would be a significant understatement - ravenously craves might be more appropriate. Last night, she announced she would be getting up for an early morning spin class. 

Rumor has it hell's going to freeze over again tomorrow! 

The Farnsworth Gap can be like passing through hell. Photo by Sarah


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