Bottom Line Senior Access Manager and “Team Go Far” marathon runner, Michelle Easton talks about preparing for this year’s marathon and why she runs for Bottom Line.
Bottom Line Senior Access Manager Michelle was stopped short of the finish line last year.
Why are you running for BL?
I got the idea in my head after hearing about the experiences of a few co-workers who ran for Bottom Line back in 2011 and 2012. Once I finished my Master’s degree, I decided that Boston would be my next challenge, even though I was not a regular runner at the time. I committed to running and fundraising for Bottom Line because I believe so strongly in the work that we do, and because I wanted to spread the word about our mission. Though I wasn’t able to finish the 2013 Boston Marathon due to the events that unfolded, I decided the same day that I would be back in 2014.
Do your students know you are running? What do you hope your own perseverance will teach them?
I haven’t spoken about the marathon with my students yet this year, but some of my students from last year knew that I ran. I honestly feel as though being forced to wait another year to cross the finish line has taught me something about the tenacity and persistence of my students. This is the hardest I have ever worked toward a goal, and I will be reaching it a full year after I had originally anticipated. Every year I meet with students who have hit one roadblock or another that has kept them from attending their first choice school, or from attending school at all. This experience will definitely change the way I talk to students about these obstacles when they come up—you can sit around and complain that things are unfair, or you can dust yourself off, make a new plan, and work twice as hard to achieve it. It’s easier said than done, but I have a whole lot more respect for students who have worked their butts off for an extra year to get where they want to be.
What does the Boston Marathon mean to you?
I grew up watching the marathon and I have lived a block from the marathon course in Natick for five years. I’ve seen the way that the community comes together to cheer on runners—not just the elites, but the moms and dads who are out there raising money for charity. Running a marathon, for me and for so many others, is about proving to yourself that you are capable of more than you ever imagined. It is the ultimate test of grit, perseverance, and hope. I imagine that running Boston is one of the big things I will remember about this stage in my life, something I will tell my kids and my grandkids about. I imagine that running the 2014 Boston Marathon is one of the most important and memorable things I will do.
Tell me about training, what has this process taught you about yourself?
You can’t train for a marathon without seeing yourself at your very best, and your very worst. I’ve learned how to take things one step at a time. When I started this crazy journey I hadn’t run more than 5 miles. During training, we added on one mile each week, and somehow my body and my brain learned how to do it. At our 18-miler last year, I realized for the first time that I could imagine making it through the rest of the marathon, and that was an incredible moment. When I talk to people about my training, almost everyone says something to the effect of, “Wow, I could never do that,” and I want to say to them, “You can! You just have to decide to do it, and do it.” It makes me wonder what else I may be capable of that I previously thought was impossible.
What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced over the past few months?
The weather and resulting sidewalk conditions. There is nothing more demoralizing than stepping onto what you think is hard-packed snow and feeling the immediate chill that means your shoe is now full of slush. Especially when you still have 4, 6, 10 miles to go. I also think I am finding it more mentally challenging to train the second time around. There is some value to naiveté and a blank slate in marathon training, and I think I put a lot more pressure on myself to run faster and to feel better at the end of a long run because I’ve done it before.
There is also definitely a fear factor in this year’s marathon. There is definitely some lingering anxiety about what might happen this year. Whether or not we talk about it, I think it’s in the back of all of our minds as we prepare.
What helps keep you motivated during training?
I think about all of the work I have put into my goal of crossing the finish line on Boylston Street for the last two years, and that makes it much more difficult to let myself slack off or skip a day. My teammates also keep me honest and motivated—during the week we all post updates on Facebook, and it’s hard to say, “Boo, it’s too cold to run,” when I can see that two of my teammates already did the run an hour before I got out of bed. When my alarm goes off on Saturdays, I’m not thinking about the fact that I will be cold and sore after running 16 miles in 10 degrees; I’m just looking forward to hanging out with the other Bottom Line runners during the 2+ hours we’ll be out on the course.
What are you most looking forward to about crossing the finish line?
Because I was stopped just short of the line last year, this will be an especially meaningful finish for me. I get emotional every time I think about it. Most of all, though, I can’t wait until the “second” finish line, which will be arriving at the Marathon Coalition after party a few minutes after crossing the line and celebrating the collective victory of all of my teammates. I grew very close with a few of the Bottom Line runners through our training and collective trauma last year, and I know how much this finish will mean to each of them, as well. Bring the tissues.
Click here to learn more about Bottom Line’s 2014 Boston Marathon team or contact Liz Hood at firstname.lastname@example.org