Mary Eggers

General

Butterflies

All of a sudden there they were. They caught me off guard, it’s been a few years since I have felt them. I felt them in my soul. The butterflies you get before a big race.

When I was still an 8 and under swimmer, I didn’t know what to do with that feeling. The butterflies flew around within me totally out of control. My Dad picked up on that and said to me:

“Put those butterflies in formation, and let them fly.” 

His words forever changed the way I approached any athletic event, and actually, every situation that would bring them up.

It’s been a few years since I have felt them though. My last Ironman in 2013 I felt excited but I didn’t feel the butterflies. For me they are a good thing, they show that I care. They raise me to that great state of anxiety, not the crippling state but the performance state.

I am one week out of the Philadelphia Marathon and feeling just awesome. Since April I have slowly built my running from 10 miles a week to 40. It’s been almost a decade since I have been able to run 40 miles a week without some sort of injury. I have none.

I trained at a pace that all calculators would call a recovery pace, but I don’t care. My goal in this marathon is not to qualify for Boston, not to PR (most of my marathons have been during Ironmans anyway), but to run the marathon healthy and happy. I am anticipating it will be a 5 hour day as that’s truly how easy I have trained.

I am going to sign up to run with a pace group that’s realistic for where I am at (not where I want to be) and see what happens. My nutrition has gone well, my mindset has been spectacular. The thing I have paid most attention to is my sleep and recovery, as that’s what sent me into the hole of getting really really sick before.

I truly can not wait to run a marathon in a big city with so many people… without a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike preceding it! It feels like the true privilege that it is, and it feels like a true gift. Being an athlete for 40 years has been just that, a privilege, never a right.

Ironman was never on my radar when I signed up for Philly, that kind of just happened! After all I was pretty confident that 8 Ironmans was enough, right? Something about it pulled me in. I have gone from “I am going to do Ironman as a fun relaxed day” to “I am all freaking in”. Amazing how something can reach inside of you and grab you like that. I have missed that the past few years.

Starting Dec 1st I am going to be working with Liz and Jen, which I am REALLY excited about. The opportunity to work with two amazing coaches, who I have known for over a decade, who know and understand me, is truly one of those once in a lifetime chances. I am excited beyond belief and I am ready to get to work. I have a LOT of work ahead of me, especially in the pool (although being a swimmer I know it will come back!).

These days I am pretty much excited about everything. I thought I retired from this, I thought I closed the door. Last summer Tim Yount said to me “We never retire from this Mary, we just take breaks”. I didn’t believe him then, but I believe him now.

So here goes nothing. The butterflies are there, and I welcome them. They make me happy, excited, appreciative, and grateful. Next Sunday morning I will do what my Dad has always told me to do. I will put them in formation and let them fly!

General

Storm

Driving rain, wind so strong I had to lean into it. It was cold but not freezing. There was something endearing about it all, something that didn’t cause me to dread stepping out into it, but rather something that drew me towards it.

After all these months running doesn’t hurt anymore. I have kept it so easy and allowed my body to just come along on its terms. Every step feels like the privilege it is. It feels so good not to be chasing something that has happened. It feels so good to be moving forward, it feels so good to be this close to being back in the game.

There was this moment in that driving rain and wind, a sudden moment. Where the trees ahead caught my eye. The one on the left was bright bright orange. The one across the street from it a deep shade of red, somehow framed by the yellow and red that stood behind it. The brightness and the beauty was a stark contrast to the grey that surrounded all of it.

I can’t help but smile in those moments. Experiences like this are the biggest reason I am out here. The treadmill would have been easier today for sure. The rain isn’t always the safest option. But had I chosen to stare at the wall for these miles, this is what I would have missed.

I don’t think much about running when I am running. I don’t think about too much at all actually. I feel. I experience. I absorb what’s around me. There are so many moments when I find myself… toe to toe with myself. It’s not about who has to win. It’s not about who is stronger. It’s answering the question….. in the dark moments am I able to be with myself? Am I able to trust myself? Am I able to like myself? When all else has fallen away, can I sit with myself?

The answer is yes.

In those moments I realize that I am stronger than my storm.

We all have a storm. I am not interested in comparing whose storm is stronger. Whose storm is worse. Whose is the most traumatic. When we compare what we’ve been through to others we are just getting into a silly pissing match that no one gets to win. Our storms are our storms, and they are deep and real to us. Rather than compare and compete about it, reach out your damn hand and help one another.

You realize in those moments that all that truly matters is just to see each other through it.

I realize in these moments when I could have chosen to stay safe and to stay inside, that it’s really not about running. In my life, I tend to head towards the difficult stuff. I like to dive into the middle of it. It’s never pretty, it’s never easy but every single time…. it’s worth it.

Had I stayed inside I would have never seen the colors as I saw them that day. Had I stayed inside I would have never felt the perseverance as I did that day. I would never have realized how far I have come since last spring. I would never have had that realization that I am in fact, strong again.

Running, sport, it’s all just a metaphor for life. Or maybe, life is a metaphor for sport.

Either way…… I know that I am wired to head into the belly of the storm. It’s just how I operate. One hundred percent of the time…. I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see, I hold hands I wouldn’t otherwise hold and I feel gratitude that is impossible for me to feel when I take the easy route.