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Published May 16 2011

Wagner: Marathon day is a chapter in the life of a runner

The smell of fresh-cut grass lingered in the air. Nearby, a grill, full of who knows what goodness, filled my senses.

And in an instant I realized it would be much easier to finish my drive home from work on a Friday evening, on arguably the nicest day of the year to date, and soak up the outdoors from the comfort of my patio.

But there was one important agenda item for the week left unfinished: the longest training run before the Fargo Marathon.

The signs of spring have been few and far between. Sunshine has often hidden behind clouds, the wind has howled and both rain and snow have made it difficult to comfortably do what we runners do.

But we do it anyway, uncertain of what race day will bring but knowing we must be prepared.

Inclement weather, even here in the nation’s toughest weather city, seems all too common, even if we don’t like it. When the signs of spring do arrive, and budding plants and trees promise warmer days, we convince ourselves it was all worth it.

We run – and we find satisfaction in our effort.

At week’s end, when more than 20,000 people gather on the streets of Fargo, we will find meaning in our training, too. Months and months of preparation, dedication and determination will culminate in a few hours of inspiration.

Each race and milestone can serve as a celebration of our hard work. For many, the races at the end of this week, in one of the biggest events Fargo hosts each year, will not serve as a destination. We’ve traveled too far on our personal journeys for the story to end there. It’s simply a chapter in our autobiographies.

For hundreds, probably thousands, the events this week will mark their first or longest race. Others will be running for a cause, raising money for charity or pushing for personal bests, not knowing whether they’ll reach their goal until the finish.

Along the way there will be bands, volunteers and thousands of spectators cheering. At the finish, there will be rewards of medals and food, hugs and smiles and tears, and stories to share for years to come.

It is a time to celebrate your hometown race, your accomplishments, the thousands who are sharing the moment with you – and the next chapter in your life as a runner.

Inforum searchword: marathon

Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@forumcomm.com.