I truly believe in the motto "Wake up with determination and go to bed with satisfaction."
So with this in mind, I wake up at least five days a week at 5 a.m. to go running through the streets of my community, Franklin Square.
Now, according to my husband, who has participated in numerous marathons, what I do does not constitute "running" but "jogging," because I do only a 10-minute mile. But whatever you call it, I am out and about early.
During this past harsh winter, nary a soul joined me on the dark and dreary side roads. I usually ran down the center of the streets because the snow and ice still covered sidewalks. The only other living beings were cabdrivers whose taxis sat idling at the Rath Park tennis courts, waiting for early morning airport runs. The newspaper delivery people were everpresent, slowing and tossing, slowing and tossing. The Franklin Square Post Office, which is nestled among single-family homes, would get its early mail delivery from a tractor-trailer, but employees working outside always spoke in muted voices knowing the neighbors were sleeping.
Then in March, after we changed our clocks for daylight saving time, the dawn arrived earlier and by the end of my run I was witnessing the sunrise over Polk Street Elementary School. What a beautiful sight. I loved not just the spectacular pinks, blues and lavenders of the sun breaking, but the feeling of renewal and rebirth that makes spring such a cherished season. Instantly, my steps got lighter with hope that winter was finally over.
March flowed into April and April into May. Daylight arrived earlier each day and the sunrises never got boring. I had started out the year wearing thermals, hat, gloves and jacket. They morphed into long sleeve shirts and then T-shirts.
Lawn sprinklers spritzed to life, sounding like hordes of cicadas. Some mornings the water froze on the cold walkways, some mornings it caught me unaware and left me dripping wet.
Changes took place throughout my neighborhood. I was no longer alone on the suburban sidewalks. Seniors walked their dogs leisurely down by Rath Park. A man in a military cap would tip his head and offer a pleasant hello while telling his collie to behave. One day toward the end of my run, another man leaned out a second-floor window and told me to, "Keep your arms swinging!" Good advice.
I don't know where all the traffic was during the darker months, but now I noticed people in large pickup trucks heading to construction jobs. Bakery trucks making early morning bread and bagel deliveries sped by me. Some car-pool drivers sat in front of homes waiting for friends to emerge with their coffee mugs.
A few weeks ago I started seeing a tall blond woman running quickly with two large pit bulls on leashes.The spring had come and my workouts improved. Now thoughts of getting faster will propel me through the summer. Maybe I can keep pace with the tall blonde? In any case, the workouts certainly help me "go to bed with satisfaction."
Reader Beth Zalackas lives in Franklin Square.