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Run Because You Can

When Bieni Kohler Johnson found out in October of 2008 that her cancer had metastasized, I was heartbroken. I had witnessed her very difficult chemotherapy and radiation regime five years prior and was sure she had beaten it. She fought it like a true warrior, determined to stick around for her family, all the while remaining positive, optimistic and strong.

In a phone conversation one day with Bieni, I told her I was coming over to Oahu to run in a race, and that I would love to see her. She expressed how proud she was that I continued to run and race, which we had done together all throughout high school in both cross country and track. It was during this conversation that she said, “Lizard, run because you can.” At that point, it hit me that as she fought for her life and was not able to even consider going out for a run, or even a decent walk, that she was absolutely right, I should run because I can.

Life, as we all know, takes us on unexpected, twisty, curvy turns which sometimes, as in the case of my dear friend Bieni, are fraught with sadness and a tragic ending.She impressed upon me, with those four little words, “Run because you can,” the importance of remembering how very blessed I am to have my health. She showed me how important it is to help raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection.

As I continue to enter local fun runs every now and then, and continue to add in what my muscles and joints consider to be ‘long’ runs, I encounter, as all runners do, the infamous fatigue that makes me want to say, “Forget it,” and throw in the towel, if even for just that particular run. It is then that I hear Bieni’s voice echoing in my head, telling me to keep running, because I can. Her words and the memory of her vibrant spirit, her gigantic smile, our thirty-one year friendship and all of the crazy things we did together as kids, keeps me going, moving one foot in front of the other, because I can. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, a runner or a walker, fast or slow, just do it, put one foot in front of the other, because you can.

--Liz Noetzel

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