Denise broke her toe two weeks ago. It knocked the steam out of my running. I'm used to having her around for the first few miles or, sometimes, the last few. I've kept my fitness alive on our treadmill, which I haven't used in years. To me, running is training but also reconnecting with the universe. We can't connect with the universe in a climate-controlled bubble. We must be immersed in it, whether it's comfortable or not.

It's not uncomfortable out there now. 31F, roughly an hour before sunrise. It's not raining yet, though it will be by midday. I can't say that I feel that the predawn beckons me. But Denise is fortunately very supportive of all my training, so I have no excuse other than inertia and, perhaps, sentimentalism. So I have my cup of coffee, a small bowl of black beans, brown rice, and a teaspoon of olive oil to settle my stomach and ensure early morning energy levels.

Typically, I call this a "time of bats to time of birds" run time. It's getting a bit late. In winter, the birds will be mostly silent. But it is New Year's Day. Since 2005, the year of my first marathon, I have maintained a tradition of running first thing in the morning. I try to paddle against the flow of the indulgences society is giving itself after a night of often drunken revelry. I know that Denise will have a warm, welcoming breakfast waiting for me on my return. It's reason enough to get out there and do it.