The scent of freshly cut barley wafted through the early August evening as the brilliant hues of the landscape shimmered beneath a cloudless sky.
With the thick July humidity absent, the air filled my senses. All these signs of the season serve as hope for the promise of the coming months.
A tightness in my left leg proved to be the only reminder of the hard miles already drilled into my daily routine. But the real work lies ahead. All of the previous miles serve as a base for the final two months of marathon training.
The preparation and determination of running each day are a prelude to the big miles to come. Now all that matters is August and everything after.
Four days earlier, Coby and I headed to Leech Lake, where I had spent so many summer weekends training for most of my marathons. This trip would be different.
This was going to be a time to reminisce and play.
Time and again I chucked a ball into the wavy waters while Coby gave chase.
On one retrieve, I stood knee deep in the cool water and pulled out a plastic baggie. Slowly I poured it’s contents into the water and watched. It had been years since I stood in this same bay with Riley and played fetch. Some of the dust drifted on the water, other contents sunk to the sandy lake floor.
It was fitting that part of Riley would always be here — at the lake where he loved to swim, mingle and fish for sticks and rocks.
Coby and I didn’t stay long. Just enough for him to cool off on a warm day and romp around to burn off energy for the 2 1/2 hour drive home.
In the morning, the first day of August, my steps took me to the gravel roads south of town. A newly arranged play list brought surprises and variety along the way. Unexpectedly, the theme song I picked for my St. George Marathon training came near the halfway point — right when I needed it most.
Hundreds and hundreds of miles remain. But August is here — and now everything after will begin to make sense.