Profile photo of Steve Wagner

About Steve Wagner

The distance running journey is a little bit different for everyone, and mine started long before spending time on the roads and trails. My background was rooted in an appreciation for the path less traveled and an inclination for experimentation and experiencing the outdoors. It just didn't start as a love for endurance athletics. An assignment as a newspaper reporter, on an icy spring morning at the start of the Fargo Marathon, piqued my curiosity. Unknowingly, a year later, I would trade in the weight room for the roads. The start of the marathon changed me. Running races hooked me on the positive energy and unbridled hope present at the starting line. Since then, I've discovered the running community is filled with amazing people full of the strength and determination. Many of them have their own stories of courage and triumph. Along the way, I've been lucky to meet some of them. And I've shared my passion for running with two Golden retrievers -- Riley and Coby. As a single guy, running and the dogs have given my life some purpose away from the office. My path has led me to the start and finish of marathons, half marathons and trail races. An experiment of one and this journey allows for an appreciation for the path less traveled and experiencing new roads and trails.

August and everything after

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.

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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.

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Hundreds and hundreds of miles remain. But August is here — and now everything after will begin to make sense.

A pretty good day

After a day spent playing with other Goldens in the pool at doggie daycare, Coby came bounding out the door in a gleeful greeting.

Still wet from his afternoon splash, he bit the leash and led me outside.

At the time, he didn’t know it, but we were headed for a special treat — picking out toys at the local pet store. He greeted customers leaving the store, and a few employees just inside the door. We went through the toy aisles and then to the rows of treats.

With my hands full of squeaking toys and balls, and a couple packages of edibles, I dumped the haul on the counter. Then he joined me over at the gourmet treat buffet for an assortment of goodies.

By the time we were done picking out everything for his second birthday, I carried his leash in one hand and two bags of birthday presents out the door. Since I snuck a short run into my lunch hour, he had a chance to start playing when we arrived home, where I grilled up some mesquite chicken for dinner. All in all, probably a pretty good day in the life of a Golden retriever.

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