A Season Of Gratitude. A Season Of Giving Thanks.

Written by Erin Mink Garvey, 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon Ambassador

Erin Mink Garvey has called herself a runner for most of her life and is absolutely stoked to be running the Berkeley Half Marathon this year, her first half since giving birth in early August. Since 2007, she has run 25 marathons and more than 30 half marathons and loves the running community and the sport’s transformative effects on people’s lives. When she’s not running, you’ll find Erin spending time with her husband and two daughters; writing on her blog; or cooking and baking vegan deliciousness. She and her family recently relocated to San Jose, California, after living in Chicago for more than a decade, and she is looking forward to meeting more CA-based runners and exploring all the beautiful running locales this fine state has to offer!

running-gratitude-familyFor many people, anytime after Halloween – and late November, in particular – marks the beginning of the holiday frenzy. It’s easy to forget that November also signals the season of gratitude – of giving thanks. With this in mind, perhaps it’s apropos then that the Berkeley Half Marathon race weekend is a mere few days before the singular day of the year when we all give pause to the busyness of our lives and reflect.

Though I’m stating the obvious, as runners, we have a lot to be thankful for. Not only our desire to run – to lace up our shoes day in and day out, putting ourselves out there as we strive to go after the goals that we’ve set before ourselves – but also our sheer ability to run – to put one foot in front of the other, hundreds of thousands of times – are both attributes that not everyone in this world shares with the running community.

The fact of the matter is that because we both can and want to move our bodies, we should give thanks. Really, it’s a necessity that we must. It’s often not until we can no longer or choose to no longer run – because of illness, injury, or simply because we’re feeling burnt out and need a break – do we realize how incredibly lucky we are to run at all.

To our bodies that put up with our mileage habit, the bodies that we test over and over again, the bodies we’re constantly working toward discovering and tapping the depths of our athletic potentials – thank you.

Beyond giving thanks to our bodies for being the incredible workhorses that they are, November and the Berkeley Half Marathon weekend also gives us an opportunity to be thankful for all of the people “behind the scenes,” the folks who enable us to be able to run as we’d like. Though we might like to think otherwise, none of us are little islands unto ourselves; that is, our running affects more than just us. Many of us are not only runners but also significant others, parents, children, employees – the list goes on – and consequently, our running hobby impacts all of these circles of our identity.

BHM---running-and-gratitude

 

We can’t run without the unwavering support of those around us, so here, too, is a reminder, or another opportunity, to express gratitude toward the many folks who support us. Many of us, myself included, say that running allows us to become better versions of ourselves and therefore allow us to be better significant others, parents, and children.

To those who have our backs – the folks who enable and encourage our running so that we can pay it forward and be better human beings in return – thank you.

I’ve run thousands of miles over my lifetime, and one reason I continue to run and push myself is because running gives me limitless opportunities to reflect on my own mortality. That’s not to say that each time I run I am thinking about how or when I’ll die – it’s not that at all, really – but instead, running, and its concomitant moments of solitude and reflection, remind me of both the sanctity and brevity of life.

It is so easy to get bogged down in the “micro” of running – our splits, paces, elevation gains, and whatever else we’re tracking – that many of us, myself included, totally forget to remember the more important “macro” side of things – that we are both able to and want to run in the first place.

Running gives all of us endless opportunities to see and experience the world differently, as well as numerous occasions to give thanks in ways that might be lost on us otherwise.

As you toe the line at one of the Berkeley Half Marathon races just a few days before Thanksgiving this year, remember to take an extra moment this season to convey your gratitude for running: for being able to do it and for all the people in your life who support you. And finally, after the BHM weekend has come and gone and you’re knee-deep into the thick of the holiday frenzy, when running might feel like one more thing on your never-ending to do list, a “have to” not a “get to,” try hard to not allow the “micro” running minutia cloud your “macro” gratitude.

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