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4 Reasons for Gratitude This Year & Every Year

Finishing the Marine Corps Marathon with the Marines!
Alison O'Brien
Written by Alison O'Brien

You can never say – or hear – ‘thank you’ enough, and that hit home for me on October 25th when I had the honor of running the 40th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC.

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While November is the noted time for giving thanks, I believe gratitude is something we should concentrate on every day throughout every year.  You can never say – or hear – ‘thank you’ enough, and that hit home for me on October 25th when I had the honor of running the 40th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC.  Here are things for which I am grateful – I hope you will share yours.

Stick with me for a day and you’ll hear me say, “Thank you” quite a bit.  I thank the bus driver who gets me safely to New York City, the random person who holds the door open for me at the store, and my in-house “Chef” Chris for making sure I am well fed.

I am appreciative of the little things, and try to recognize them as often as my busy brain remembers.  This hit home for me when, on October 25th, I had the honor of running the 40th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC and was reminded of many of the reasons I am grateful.

Giving Thanks For…

Family

The night before the race, a group of my college friends-turned-family hosted a pasta dinner to celebrate.  When we all met 25 years earlier at Syracuse University, we were a bunch of youngsters whose biggest responsibility was getting to class on-time.  Now, for the majority, the biggest concern was the new, littlest members of our gang – their kiddos!  Seeing my friends with their families and watching the kids bond over stickers, the “Frozen” princesses and chocolate cake made the night unbelievably special.

Friendship

Throughout the months and many, many, miles leading up to race day, I had the privilege of training with wonderful friends, Greg and Kandi to name a few.  We arrived at the start – still in the pre-dawn darkness – and were already giddy with anticipation at what the day would bring.  Running into another friend and Kilted Warrior, David, made the morning even more special.  I am grateful for their friendship and the chance to share in these spectacular moments.

Freedom

I feel we are beyond blessed to have the ability to feel safe running with 30,000 people throughout our nation’s capital.  And after running the 2013 Boston Marathon and being stopped a mile short of the finish, I think I appreciate that feeling of security even more.  But, I don’t have to think about that every day, mainly because our servicemen and women – military, police, and fire – think about it for us.

One shirt I ran behind for a mile or two read “Freedom is not FREE”, and I was especially reminded of that when we came along what is known as “The Blue Mile”.  The stretch between miles 12 and 13 honored the fallen – photographs of Marines as young as 19, fathers smiling with their children, people in their prime of their lives lined the sides.  Kandi and I ran silently, hearing the occasional sigh or “So young, so brave” from the crowd.

After the photos, flag bearers stood – family members of the fallen standing in respect of their loved ones.  Children, parents, spouses and friends – we thanked each for their loved ones service and were given a “Thank you for running” in return.  A lot of tears were shed that mile.

Physical Fitness

Completing 26.2 miles – whether you are running, walking, skipping or, as my friend Laura likes to say, frolicking – is no small feat.  I am grateful to have health that allows me to do what others may not be physically able to, and the mental fortitude to even attempt it in the first place.

Finishing the Marine Corps Marathon with the Marines!

Finishing the Marine Corps Marathon with the Marines!

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I accept that opportunities don’t always ‘knock’; you often have to be willing to go out and drag them to your door.  I am a better person because I seek out, and am willing to take, chances.

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

As I said in the article above, I am extremely appreciative that I am physically able to take on these endurance challenges.  I work hard to stay fit, but good health is not something to take for granted.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

The 2015 Marine Corps Marathon was my 19th 26.2 mile adventure.  On May 1, 2016, I will run my 20th, in celebration of my 10th Anniversary with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.  I plan to enjoy every step, remembering those for whom I am running and the decade worth of personal milestones.

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?

I am too often impatient with myself.  I want to do everything I do to the best of my ability and sometimes get down on myself when I do not meet or beat my personal expectations.  I need to cut myself some slack and I’ll be less stressed.

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?

Family and Friends!  They are wacky and wordy, friendly and frenetic, but I do love that they are mine.

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About the author

Alison O'Brien

Alison O'Brien

How a Pair of Running Shorts Spurred on My Second Career.

As a veteran television producer and novice athlete, I decided to train for my first marathon in the hopes of finding and funding a cure for the cancer my friend was bravely battling. I spent the 26.2 miles finding fault with the ill-fitting, dysfunctional and certainly unflattering running shorts I was wearing. Seven years, thousands of miles, and even more running 'bottoms' bought, I decided that if I couldn't find fitness fashions I liked, I'd make them myself.
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