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Steve Wagner / Forum Communications Co., Published July 22 2012

Wagner: Early morning runs can be inspiring

Bemidji, Minn.

Five miles into my run, I reached a river crossing to find an expanse of sky opened up among the tower pine, elm and birch.

Steam rose off the water as the early morning sun lit the underside of a few low-hanging clouds – giving them a fiery hue. Critters rustled, just out of sight, in the trees and forest along the road.

It is one of the great rewards of rising while its dark and striking out on a long run before most of the rest of the world is awake. These runs allow us to see and experience things that most people simply read or see in books.

While running brings its own joy and rewards, this added connectivity to nature helps satisfy my love for the outdoors and a spiritual connection to the natural world. It brings me a sense of peace, sparks my imagination of what’s possible and brings a level of simplicity that often is lacking in the hustle of everyday life.

Runs like the one this past Sunday also will fuel my return to marathon training, helping inspire those early morning weekend long runs in an attempt to beat the summer heat and settle back into a routine.

My first triathlon

The day before, I headed down to the Lake Bemidji waterfront, where I snapped some photos of the Paul Bunyan Triathlon for the newspaper. It served a couple of work-related purposes – getting a picture to print and giving me some experience with a camera.

But I had another reason for going.

My biggest interest was watching these athletes for mental notes on how they start and handle the transitions between the swim, bike and run segments of the event. I walked away inspired by their efforts, but also realized that virtually anyone can – and does – participate.

The experience as a spectator will help me Saturday as I look plunge into the water for the Chase the Police Triathlon in Walker, Minn. It will be my first triathlon – but after watching one – it definitely won’t be my last, as I am excited to learn more about swimming and biking while mixing all the disciplines.

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.