We’ve invited members of Team Stonyfield to share moments of their personal journeys to the 2014 Boston Marathon. Team member Meredith Hein shares her experience with the highs and lows of training for the big event.
This year’s journey to Boston has been an exciting, exhausting, leg-tiring, blister-popping dream. I can’t say I have loved every minute of it, what with the 4:30 wake ups and the rainy Saturday mornings spent, well, out in the rain, but as much as my legs might protest, as much as my throat screams for water, as much as my feet beg me not to put those damn shoes back on, there is something fantastic that makes even the most painful steps on the most painful days completely worth it.
Don’t get me wrong—running is my favorite part of the day (except for the moment when my dog, Ruthie, wiggles her butt in excitement to see me first thing in the morning). Escaping the world, having time to think and pray or to talk with my husband, and getting rid of all negative energy, simply because it takes too much effort to hold onto all of it, all of these things make running so much more than a form of exercise. But to have that extra motivation to push the mileage up, to get your times down and to get out on the road or track or sidewalk when you would otherwise want to sleep—that requires a little something extra.
That thing is the finish line. Even just thinking about that sight of hundreds of cheering spectators in the crowd is enough to bring up a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes (seriously, I am writing this at my desk at work and I just had to wipe my eyes and sniff…best to keep my face averted!).
The last mile, when your calves seize up and you feel the bottoms of your feet tearing against your shoes and your butt has a cramp in each cheek (which, at least, provides balance), is the most painful, but you don’t really notice it, because you are about to finish the race for which you have been training for months. And in those last steps, in the rush of the cheers as you step across the line, all the pain goes away.
I cried at the conclusion of my first marathon, not because I knew I wouldn’t be able to take another step without wincing for a week (which was literally the case), but because I knew that all those hours, those early mornings, those days spent out in the rainiest and windiest conditions, it was all worth it for this moment. It’s a high, and it lasts even longer than the pain in your legs, and the drive to get that feeling again is what pushes you through the worst days of the training.
This year has been particularly difficult. I began training in September for a race in February. After completing that race, I took one day off and jumped right into my schedule for Boston. My body has been tired and beaten for six months now, but it doesn’t even matter to me, because I know that the finish line, so like gravity, is pulling me in every step of the way.