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Steve Wagner / Forum Communications Co., Published January 01 2012

Wagner: Winter run offers a moment for reflection

Bemidji, Minn.

Out for a long run on a perfectly still morning, a hazy fog filled the gray Saturday sky.

My footsteps scrunched into the newly fallen snow as I contemplated a new route.

Opting to head down a road I had yet to travel, the contrast of the country landscape against the sky and snow left me satisfied.

The next day, out for an afternoon run with my dog, I again found myself on a rural road before hopping on a snowmobile trail. Again, the light left an interesting hue over the countryside as the wind howled and snow flew by. If there’s one benefit of running in winter for me, it’s the effect of the light bouncing off everything.

Both scenes seemed so idyllic to me, and my memories drifted back to a high school art class. It’s like I’m running inside some watercolor painting.

And then I regret not having brought a camera so that perhaps one day I’ll sit down and capture one of these moments on canvas.

Mostly, though, I think about how lucky I am to enjoy running – sometimes with friends or my dog – and all that it offers. Sun or snow, heat or cold or wind – the sport gives me a constant reminder of the freedom I enjoy.

For several months, I’ve been planning marathon No. 13, now scheduled less than two weeks away. And while training hasn’t gone too well, and I’ve struggled to attain the fitness and mileage I’ve come to expect heading into a race, this marathon isn’t about speed or personal records.

Without an adequate number of long runs during the mileage buildup, it will likely be a painful experience. And I’m OK with that because I know there’s something to be learned and gained from completing the race.

It will provide a kick start to 2012, which will bring new running routes, goals and friends. It will provide a foundation for doing something extraordinary in the year to come. And more than anything, it will be a reminder that running should be fun and memorable.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com.