This post originally appeared here on MRG on July 28, 2010. So much of this still rings true for me, especially this week. -Heather

When the alarm went off, at the too-early time of 5:30 a.m., I thought what we all thought when we’re jolted into consciousness from a hard, hard slumber: No. Just No.

I knew it would be brutal, this waking-up thing I’d planned a mere five hours before. I was up too late (yet again) and said yes to meeting up with running partner J against my better judgement. Who in their right mind, after all, deliberately gets up any earlier than they have to the morning after arriving home late in the day having driven 1,234 miles in the two days prior — solo and with three children, I might add. Who indeed, I ask.

Apparently, I do. And, well…you knew this was coming…I’m glad I did. Getting out of bed is the hard part, whether we’re coming off a vacation or not. After getting dressed and actually getting out the door, though, you’re happy you did.

So I’m a grateful runner today. I’m thankful for all that running brings into my life, even if it does mean dragging my butt out of bed when my body is shouting at me to stay put. And I’m proud to call myself a runner even if it means I’ve had to pretty much say good-bye to pretty summer toes (black toenails are our badge of honor, right?).

A short and sweet running gratitude list:

Knowing I am part of a strong (mentally and physically) tribe of people. I read this amazing post yesterday on one of my favorite blogs, and again I was in awe of the power of running. I was reminded, as I am over and over again when I stumble upon these kinds of stories, that running can bring it all into focus — whatever your “all” may be. You may have gone through something traumatic and life-changing, a single defining moment perhaps, or maybe a series of subtle events over time that ultimately altered your thinking and approach to your world. Running can be your salve, a way to sort through it all. As one person who commented on this inspiring post said, “I feel like I’m meeting myself for the first time when I run.” That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

Pretty cool running scenery ~ Cathedral of St. Paul on Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN

Have sneakers? Off I go. Thanks to terrific hosts and cooperative kids, I was able to fit in not just one, but TWO, runs during our time in St. Paul this past weekend. I took a literal walk down memory lane as I ran streets and saw landmarks I’d once seen on a daily basis. It felt like a gift, not only because the friends with whom we were staying are also runners and therefore get the importance of runs as sanity savers, but also because when I laced up and headed out on Fairmount Street and crossed Grand Avenue to historic Summit Avenue, I felt at once both foreign and at home with myself. Foreign because I wasn’t a runner all those years ago when I was a newspaper reporter fresh out of journalism school and living in a big city for the first time. But also at home, because I loved this midwestern metro area — still love this city along the Mississippi River — and felt nothing short of alive at having the opportunity to join the other bikers and joggers out running the streets of St. Paul on a sticky summer morning.

Something to look forward to. I’m sooo excited about running my first race out west, the Eugene, Ore. inaugural Women’s Half over Labor Day weekend. I love having this on my not-too-distant horizon, not only for the race itself but for the adventure it’s sure to be since Juliette is joining me. It’ll be my first time traveling that far west, so we’ll be soaking up the race activities as well as exploring what I keep hearing is a pretty cool and interesting area of the country. I’m also hoping to get the chance to meet a couple of my favorite cyber running buds, including the fabulous Laura McClain who is behind Run Momma Run. Speaking of which, if you haven’t checked out her cool running t-shirt and accessories, hop over to her site pronto. I ordered her super cute and comfy brown T and love it. I wore it to a beach party yesterday and got lots of comments on it.

Wearing my new Run Momma Run t-shirt.

What does running bring to your life? What are you thankful for today?

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