Sometimes when the alarm goes off I think it’s a joke.
“No, that can’t be for me,” I hear myself say in dreamland.
But I’m wrong. It’s for me. Matt rolls over and subconsciously turns it off and I roll out of the covers and into the dark morning.
I bump around my room while putting on the shorts and tank I laid out the night before. Then it’s into the bathroom for a messy ponytail and a final pit stop before slipping on my running shoes to carry me out of my quiet apartment and onto the streets of Provo where it's still gray while the sun hides behind Y Mountain.
This is the way I like it. Except for a few other early go-getters, Provo feels like an old friend waiting to hear about the last few years of my life.
So I tell it a story while I run.
Mile 1, Mile 2: I shake off my sleepiness and wake up my pumping legs and arms. Mile 3, Mile 4: I’m in a rhythm now, even and smooth. I'm only broken by the occasional dodge of a sprinkler or overgrown bush. Mile 5, Mile 6: I’m picking it up, and I’m invincible now.
Mile 7, Mile 8: I know my conversation is almost over, so I run one of our favorite routes, me and Provo. Down this trail, my falling feet tap out the memories of who I’ve become while I’ve been here.
Mile 9: Soon this run will be a memory, too, and join my list of remember when’s once I’m gone. And where will I be running then, and who will be listening, and what kind of runner will I become?
Carterville, dirt trail, river trail, track and back, Center Street Loop, Seven Peaks Loop, going south and brick trail. All my favorites with all their variations and roads I’ve run on repeat for five years.
And despite our occasional problems, when you were too hot, or felt too long or were covered in too much snow to run, or when I was too slow, or didn’t come around much during injury, or ran only half-heartedly after tough workouts and races, you were there for all the miles and tempos and thresholds and fartleks.
For one moment I see a shadowy me just ahead: Smaller, younger, a little slower, wearing a Vacaville T-shirt and double-checking road signs to make sure I’m not lost. But it’s still me. I'm just as happy to be running, and just as hungry to be racing.
Now these roads are mine -- or were. It’s time to pass them on.
There is a whispered goodbye in this even breathing, and I know you’re listening like you always have.
Cecily is a recent graduate from BYU and is a two-time All American in cross country and track. This week she will move away from Provo after calling it home for the past five years.