How Sitting on the Bench Helped me Discover My True Passion
I have watched the Boston Marathon for the last ten years. This year, instead of watching the runners, I was one of them.
To sum up the last 22 years of my life: soccer. That’s pretty much all I did (seriously). I was a Division I athlete for four years. They were the most challenging but also the most rewarding years of my life thus far. I say challenging because, for the majority of my time as a DI athlete, I was injured. I felt like I spent most of my college career competing with myself to get back to where I used to be.
I always knew there was a bigger picture, I just wasn’t sure what it was at the time. Over the years, I realized that sitting on the bench taught me so much more than any minute on the field could have. Soccer is just a sport, but I thought it was air. I ate, slept, and breathed the game. Everything I did revolved around it. When I was forced to think otherwise, I found that soccer was not what I really loved most. Turning the love I had for the game into pride and encouragement for my teammates, this was my real passion. I played for the friendships and all of the memories that came with those relationships. I was not meant to be a big impact player on the field at Northeastern. Instead, I was brought to NU to help my team in any way I could – and every day I did my best to help and support them. I found a passion for helping others and being part of something bigger than myself.
Running the Boston Marathon was another way to get involved in doing something for a greater good. While I was on a six-month co-op with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute last year, my life completely changed. My time with the DFCI team reminded me of my soccer career. Sports are about teamwork and working together in order to reach the full potential, both as individual players and as a group; I think that life is similar. We are here on this earth to help one another and to bring out the best in each other.
When I am asked, “how was the marathon?” it usually takes me a couple of seconds to answer. My first thought is always, “how do I even begin to explain this?”
The 2018 Boston Marathon. It was a cold, windy, sopping-wet day. It was the most difficult mental obstacle I have ever faced. It was the best day of my life.
Lining up before the official starting point in Hopkinton was awe-inspiring. Thousands of people from different parts of the world came together to conquer a feat in the city of Boston. It didn’t matter whether you planned on running a six-minute mile, if you wanted to stop along the course to take a break, or if you were just hoping to make it out alive.
Striding with the echoing words of the crowds as they lifted your spirits was moving. The cheers for Dana-Farber reminded me why I was doing this in the first place. I still get chills when I flashback to someone shouting at me, “you are running for me, Dana-Farber!”
Hugging my family and friends along the course was breathtaking. These people came to support me while I supported others; I never knew a hug could mean so much.
Crossing the finish line was overwhelming. As I turned that legendary left onto Boylston Street, I felt like I was floating on the words of the spectators and stepping one foot at a time with the loved ones who were written on the back of my singlet. I knew right then and there that I had figured out what the bigger picture was.
The light always outshines the dark. There were cancer survivors who took the course and conquered 26.2 miles. War veterans who have lost their legs took the course and conquered 26.2 miles. All runners who stepped on that line at Hopkinton were in for hours of brutal weather, but to be honest, it seemed like no one cared. Many people had smiles on their faces, enjoying the moments and embracing the circumstances. Some had tears of joy and sorrow. Some spoke words of encouragement to fellow runners. Others whispered motivational sayings under their breath to themselves to stay focused. The goal was to run 26.2 miles, and each mile meant something different for everyone. What a truly beautiful thing. With the help of over 120 friends, family members, colleagues, and even strangers, I raised over $10,000 for Dana-Farber Cancer Research. You never realize how much of an impact we all have when we come together and unite for a common goal.
So, to answer the question, “how was the marathon?” I would say, “it was life-changing.” Boston, I’ll be back.
Author: Kimberly Slade
Kimberly Slade is a Division I student-athlete graduate from Northeastern University. She studied Communications and Health Science during her time at NU and finished on a high note after running the Boston Marathon in April 2018. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, spending time with family and friends, and finding new things to challenge her. Kim hopes to pursue a Masters in Sports Leadership this fall and find her niche in the sports industry!