Today, on the Eve before Thanksgiving, is a day for thinking about gratitude. Running has brought so many positive things into my life and this is a time to reflect on how much I have changed because of running.

I am grateful for the ability to run. My body doesn’t feel good every day. Not every run is a good run. But I am so lucky that I am physically able to run. I can run 26.2 miles without injury. I have had injuries along the way – stress fracture in my foot, various minor injuries and minor illnesses – but nothing that affected my ability to run for more than a few weeks. Every time I don’t want to run or my run is difficult, I need to remember how blessed I am to be able to hit the road. So many people have been denied the opportunity to run and I need to remember that it is a gift.

I am grateful for my family – both my biological family and my running family. My mother, may she rest in peace, was my biggest running fan. Not a week went by without her asking about my training. Not a blog post was written that she didn’t read. She watched me run my first race and my first marathon. My dad and my siblings continue to cheer for me. I had the opportunity to run a few miles with my older brother while I was in France this past summer. My sister and her husband (who is a Boston qualifier) always check on me before and after big races. My other brother and his wife (ok, mostly my awesome sister-in-law) are always posting about my races (usually something about the early hour and the bad weather…). My other sister-in-law asks about my running all of the time. My dad and his girlfriend are joining me in Disney in January to help with the kids so I can run with Dopey Challenge. Amazing support from my biological family!

My running family is truly a gift from God. The friendships that I have formed through the running community have changed my life. People who have never met me in person will text me or message me to check on me. I get text messages during long runs and races from people who might not even recognize me on the street. And when life gets difficult, I can’t imagine a better group of friends. Supportive, encouraging, unparalleled. During Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k the other weekend, 2 friends who had never met my children helped me by running most of the race with them. And then one of my friends made sure that I was able to finish the 5k with all 3 of my children holding my hands. I am grateful for friendships that know no limits and the ability to share running with my children. In January I had the joy of running with a group for 26.2 miles (plus a bit extra due to on course antics and fun). I still can’t believe I was invited to join such an amazing group of people for that race. Running with friends is a life-changing experience and I will forever be thankful.

I am grateful for the feelings that running brings. Some days running brings escapism. Some days running brings clarity. Some days running brings invincibility. Some days running just lets me cry until I don’t feel sad anymore. And that’s just training runs. Races bring excitement and adrenaline. And crossing that finish line brings a sense of accomplishment second to none. Exhilaration. Pride. Joy.

Although I have struggled a bit to get out the door recently, running has been an amazing addition to my life. It’s sometimes hard to remember that I only started running in early 2010. What a gift I’ve been given!