As I sleepily stared at the live webcam feed of Stankowski Field on my laptop in my dark room at 5:30 a.m., I felt like the homicidal sociopath preying on my next victim at the beginning of "Criminal Minds." Then I reminded myself of my future profession as a journalist, which is basically the same thing, so I felt better.
The sun had not yet risen, and it wouldn’t for more than an hour, and I kept thinking to myself, “Well, of course no one is out there running, it’s still dark and 40 degrees outside.”
Thirty minutes later, I saw a green flash across my computer screen. Unless my tired eyes were deceiving me, a lone dedicated runner was circling the track at 6 in the goddamn morning.
I started running to Stank to see if I could catch up with him and possibly get an interview out of this clearly insane person. I didn’t make it past the Student Recreation Complex before I was gasping for breath and had to walk the rest of the way. That was the first bad sign.
I eventually caught up with Billy Jivetti, a Kenyan doctoral student who runs six mornings a week. Of course I would have to keep up with a guy whose country of origin is known for its Olympic runners whilst I hold a recording device and think of questions to ask him at 6 a.m. (second bad sign). God clearly has a sense of humor.
“I spend a long time sitting,” he says. “I’m a grad student, and I’m working on my dissertation, and it’s a boring thing to be doing, and so this gives me the strength to sit down for a long period of time.”
Working towards a Ph.D. in rural sociology, Jivetti says running is his primary release method.
“It has become like my medication,” he says. “If I don’t take it, I won’t be able to be productive during the day. It’s like waking up early and not taking coffee for me.”
Apparently running is a stronger medication than cocaine, because Jivetti claims to wake up at 4 a.m. every day without an alarm clock.
When I asked Jivetti what he thinks about while he runs, he spoke with the calm air and wisdom of a yogi.
“I isolate myself from the pressures I feel from the day and try to meditate and give myself some motivating thoughts,” he says.
On Saturdays, he ditches Stankowski and takes to the MKT trail for a couple of hours. Sunday is his only day of rest.
Unlike normal Americans who reward themselves for performing physical activity with a trip to IHOP, Jivetti says he rewards himself with two liters of water. And this is before he starts the rest of his day thinking of ways to promote public health in his rural hometown in Kenya. The heinous glutton.
“I began (running) just when I had finished my undergraduate program in Kenya,” he explains of his bizarre desire to run in circles at ungodly hours of the morning. “It’s something I’ve been doing for the past 10 years, so it’s become a passion. It just became a lifestyle.”
Do not get me wrong, I am all for alternative lifestyles, but Jivetti’s take on life just seems too obscene and radical for me to join anytime soon. You can have the track all to yourself, new friend.