It was barely past 5:30 a.m. and a large group of runners had gathered inside the store.
For the few dozen there, Marilyn offered up motivation, wisdom and positive thoughts for the challenge ahead: the longest run of the training season so far.
This long run, with the Fargo Marathon just 5 weeks away, would provide both a challenge and reinforcement for developing fitness. Courses had been drawn out: 10 miles for half marathoners, 20 miles for the marathoners. Tricky footing, made slick through snow and freezing rain, proved an additional challenge.
Aid stations, stocked with water, gel and orange slices, were set out to give nourishment.
A few weeks ago, I had run 16 miles around Lake Bemidji. Three weeks ago, I climbed 18 miles across a desert mountain trail.
But it had been since last October since my legs had carried me 20 miles in one workout. Without the company and conversation of good friends, forged strong through miles and shared experiences, Saturday’s run would have been a much more difficult endeavor.
Instead of a single long run, used to forge better fitness and garner the satisfaction of a tough morning, I’m hoping it will have done something more: catapult my training to a new level as I ramp up training for Grandma’s Marathon. It might even give me the boost I need to sign up for the marathon in Fargo.
The next several weeks will be much like the past few months: unsettled from the transition of leaving one job to start another and looking for a new home. At least running will help me discover and learn more about my new hometown, and keep me grounded as it takes time to settle.