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Steve Wagner, Published September 23 2012

Wagner: Beautiful fall sights reaffirm love of running

Bemidji, Minn.

Frost-covered wild grass filled the ditches along a country road during my early morning run last week.

Riley, my run-loving golden retriever, stopped to explore and sniff some scents in the tall blades. Every few minutes, he’d race past me in a torrid sprint, stop for a sniff again and repeat the same game of leapfrog. When he lingers behind too long, I’ll circle back and look for him.

As we trekked north on the blacktop, the sunlight slowly unveiled the landscape before me. Still below the horizon, though, a mystic fog hovered above the wetlands and other low-lying spots. The multi-colored blaze of foliage from maple, oak and birch trees filled my view.

It is mornings like these I kick myself for leaving my camera or phone on the counter. Those views, imprinted in my memory, will simply stay in a place only I can retrieve them. Those views will be my motivation for the next time I look for an excuse to stay inside and play the debate game about whether to head out for a run or stay inside – a self-defeating argument that can only result in delaying what I love to do.

The fall means more to Riley, too, as he finally is allowed to frequently run with me again. After sitting out much of the summer due to warm weather, the consistent running turns Riley more playful and energetic.

In the fall, I’m almost always running with friends, Riley or both.

It is fall mornings like the one last week that make the sport fun, energizing me physically and mentally with cooler temps, grand vistas and a reminder that seasons change. And as the seasons change, so does our running.

While fall’s arrival assures us that a cold, hard winter awaits, it serves as a time of renewal and affirmation. A renewal of the human spirit and the love for running, the affirmation of toiling through hard workouts and hot weather to prepare for a fall race. As the seasons change, so do the effects and meaning of our running – with moments of pure joy and times to recover and regroup for the next big challenge.

Bemidji 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.