The 2014 slogan of the Boston Marathon is “We Run Together” as the Boston Athletic Association announced earlier this year. After the horrific tragedy, the terrorist attack at the finish line of our beloved race; a stretch of pavement where the world comes together in peace every Patriots Day in Massachusetts, we are more determined than ever to rally and demonstrate precisely what we mean by the words #BostonStrong.
Perseverance. Resilience. Determination. Strength. All words of profound impact that any runner knows deep within his or her heart; and what she defines with each foot that drops in front of the other on every single run. On April 21st, 2014, #weruntogether as athletes, volunteers, fans and spectators to demonstrate the meaning of these powerful words; you, me, the Elite, the newbies and everyone else in between.
There’s the question: Why do I run?
Why do I run? The simple answer is because I can. However, running is something that brings me right back to my twelve year old self, when it all started. As a seventh-grader, I decided to try track at my little Oklahoma school because everyone just did it. I discovered I liked running during my soccer team days when I could outrun the boys easily. My coach put me in the mile run as I had no clue what event I wanted to do at that young age. Placing 3rd with a 6:21 finishing time in that mile, in my first track meet solidified that my running days were just beginning for me.
Why do I run? I will never forget my arrogant self at the age of sixteen lining up for the Annual Christopher’s Pub 10k road race in my now hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts and noticing a man next to me who was going to push his son in a modified wheelchair type stroller next to me. I was impressed that this man was going to push that extra weight for 6.2 miles, but I figured I would run faster than him without more than a second thought. Little did I know that man was Dick Hoyt and he pretty much blew my socks off, despite a fast sub-40 minute finishing time for me. Every road race that I encountered Mr. Hoyt’s presence at thereafter earned him the great deal of respect he deserved and I relished in the joy his son, Rick, displayed by running with his beloved dad as a pure testament to determination.
Why do I run? I will never forget being part of an All-American Cross-Country team that ran in Germany. Imagine being fifteen years old and warming up in the Olympic Stadium in Munich for a 10k race around Olympic Park. Knowing the history of the 1972 Olympics and what awful events transpired on the property before I was born; and yet, being able to represent my country alongside of countless other countries in my race was resilience. Eating a fresh, homemade bratwurst after hearing chants of “USA, USA!” while I finished my race is a priceless memory forever tucked in my book.
Why do I run? I will never forget my high school and college teammates asking me if I would get electrocuted as I quickly whipped my hearing aid out in countless rainy practices and long runs in the elements (I quickly asked them where I was plugged in, what source of electricity would shock me from my battery operated hearing aid). Losing my hearing at age four and being told I would not play sports afforded me the resilience necessary for adaptation in what could be a cruel world. As bullying ensued about my hearing loss, I simply showed them I could run faster and harder. You tell me I cannot and I will show you I can.
Why do I run? I will never forget the day I was told I had breast cancer while fourteen weeks pregnant with my third child. Somehow I got very much caught up in making a living and I was forgetting to live my life. My cancer diagnosis and my unexpected third child forced me down a path that I had not planned for and new limitations were being doled out; whether by my medical team or the very treatments and surgeries that saved my life. I lost control of my health. I run to regain control of my health. I push myself through physical limits afforded by long runs, hilly runs, cold or hot runs, and wet runs to show myself that limits are meant to be pushed and broken through. I endure through my Crossfit workouts because it allows me to continue to push those limits and it makes me a better runner. I run for each of my beloved friends who have succumbed to their cancer. When I start to break down and feel like I cannot do it, I simply remind myself that Cara cannot or Jackie cannot, so I better get my act together because I CAN!
Why do I run? I will never forget April 15, 2013. I will never forget the pain in my heart once I read the breaking news that our race in Boston was bombed. I will never forget the confusion, the disbelief and the suffocating fear I experienced as I came to realize the act was of terrorism and how many people were killed, injured and impacted that very day. I immediately started following the stories of Roseann Sdoia, Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, Jeff Bauman, JP and Paul Norden, and the Martin Family. Watching as these survivors employed every ounce of perseverance, resilience, determination and strength in the ten months that have followed since last year’s Boston Marathon.
Why do I run? Because I can. I may shuffle through many of the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. I may endure blisters, cramps and more discomfort. I will not break any speed barriers. However, I will cross that finish line and I know I will have run with my heart (despite what my legs may try to say).
Perseverance. Resilience. Determination. Strength.
I am fortunate enough to have earned a number for this prestigious race by being a part of Team Eye & Ear from the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary. Mass Eye & Ear not only treated many of the injured from last year’s race, they are on the breaking edge of treatments for those with hearing and sight impairments from many different causes, including head and neck cancers. I was incredibly intimidated by the daunting fundraising goal Mass Eye & Ear set for me, but I knew that with some of the traits I inherited from my own ordeals of adversity, I would seek out to blast past this fundraising “limit”. Thanks to so many of YOU who wish to take this epic marathon journey with me, I am at mile 23.4 of my epic fundraising goal. Yes! I not only met the original goal set by my Team, I have surpassed it and I remain a mere 2.8 miles from my monetary finish line. Because of your belief in me, because of your determination in helping me cross that beautiful finish line on Boylston Street, we will be changing the lives of so many that come through the doors at Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary. Because we can. http://www.crowdrise.com/teameyeandear/fundraiser/rebeccasoulliere
Why do I run. Because I can. Won’t you join me? Because YOU CAN.
#weruntogether (Yes! That’s Dick Hoyt and his son, Rick, still running together nearly twenty-four years after I first encountered him on the streets of Leominster!) http://youtu.be/VWIafnuZ9JY
Here are some beloved “Why Do I Run, Because I Can” memories: