JW 1 larger

On the mornings that I run I can “sleep in” till 6 a.m., but I forgot to reset my alarm so it went off at 5:30 a.m., which is my going-to-the-gym wake up time. I hit snooze, and laid back down, but then Dan came in with his phone flashlight on, looking around for his work truck keys.

He was swearing at this point, and he doesn’t usually swear, so I decided I may as well get up and help him look because, I mean, he is a man and I’m just saying…..

Did you check your pants from yesterday? Did you have a coat on? A hoodie? You were in the garage when I got home. Are they in the garage? On one of the outdoor tables? In the ignition? 

Yes. No. No. He checked all those places.

I scan the kitchen and dining room with my eagle/mom eye. I can spot things out of place pretty quickly, which is funny because nobody else in my house seems to notice the couch pillows askew or stuffing from the dog toy littering the carpet, or cups on the end table. But, I digress…

I go out to the garage. Again, scanning every surface he might have set the key on. Nothing.

“I found it,” he finally yells from the back porch. “Oliver was sitting on it.”

I laugh. Leave it to fat boy to park his furry, ample rump on whatever is on his favorite sleeping spot — a padded bench by the door.

things - curled cat

Since I’m up, I get my running clothes and reflective vest on and head out early. It’s brisk — cold even — and clear. My all-time favorite kind of running weather.

I start running in my driveway and don’t even make it to the neighbor’s house before the sky stops me in my tracks.


I pause my music and my run and stand there staring up, awestruck. It’s so dark and there are so many stars and it’s so clear that I can see the Milky Way.

I try to take a photo, but it’s just black, of course. I can’t capture and save it. I can only experience it in the moment.

I open Snapchat and tell the girls to go look at the sky, if they are up.

Fifteen minutes later, Lauren snaps me back: “I’ll have to go look.”

I type back “Too late, you missed it. Too light out now.”

I’d have missed it, too, had I left fifteen minutes later. Had Dan not tossed his keys on the bench. Had the cat not napped with nary a care right on top of them.

I read once that feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness, and having been on dozens (hundreds?) of awe-inspiring runs, routes, etc. over the past two decades, I have to agree.  While I used to run to achieve certain goals or lose weight (keep it off), now, after all these years, it’s really about two things: being with friends (when I can) and being in nature. I won’t run on a treadmill or on an indoor track. If I can’t be outside, I’m not going.

I’m forever making my running friends stop and appreciate some tree or bird or landscape or sunset/rise or insect/reptile/animal.

“Guys, wait….look at that line of trees with the snow on them.  Look, you can see fish right there. Wait…what is that? OMG, look at how big that grasshopper is!” 

For me, running is no longer about the run itself, but about the journey and what I can learn, think about, see, or discover along the way.

I’m grateful for the opportunities running presents me with to be awestruck. Makes all the sweat, blisters, and lost minutes of sleep worth it.

milky way


About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.