Mary Eggers

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Together

Things are getting real around here, as preparations for Ironman Lake Placid are beginning to take shape.

We still have 10-11 weeks to go, but the long rides are long and the long runs…. well they are long too. This time around I find myself more in love with the process of preparation more than I ever have been. It’s more testament to the fact that taking a step back is sometimes what is necessary in sport. I am not sure I have ever enjoyed a 5 hour ride on the trainer in fact!

Zwift wasn’t around for any of my other Ironmans, but computrainer was. I expect the transition to be the same. I just get so much more quality and constant work in on that thing. I don’t get hit by cars and I still have the benefit of riding with friends. It’s amazing.

With several trips up to Placid coming up, I will be rolling on the roads soon enough.

This Ironman has a very different feel. With all the hubaloo that went on with Ironman Texas, the times, the drafting, etc., Lake Placid still feels special. Protected almost. This is the 20th anniversary of this race, and one of the big reasons I am racing it.

No one comes to Placid for a huge PR. The bike course isn’t ‘fast’. You can definitely go for the fast split, but your run split will equal what you ride. The weather in Lake Placid can sway finishing times up to an hour either way. Just look at some of the past results. In 2007 the wind was coming UP the descent. We had to pedal HARD down it! It made for an amazing tailwind the last 11 miles though, which are the ones that make or break you.

I chuckle though when athletes get talking about Ironman PR’s and things like that. Each race, each venue, is so different. Some Ironman races are actually shorter than others. I don’t do races that have heavy drafting anymore, because I walk away frustrated. One of the many reasons I have never accepted my Kona spot is because of that. Why pay 10K to travel halfway across the world to sit in a pace line all day? I can do that at home, and have a new kitchen. Or I can pick a course where I don’t have to worry about that game.

Ironman Lake Placid is a tricky race, mastering the game is a big part of executing this one. It’s a race where the air is cool in the morning and it gets sneaky hot in the afternoon. False flats on the bike have you wondering if your tire is rubbing or if you have a flat yourself. It’s not hilly as in obvious climbs, but sneaky climbs that are seemingly laced together in such a way that if you get greedy, you will pay on the marathon. Wherever you are on this course, all you have to do is look up for inspiration. The mountains, they will carry you.

Ironman has changed drastically over the past 20 years. Our friend Graham Fraser started this event in 1999, with Ironman North America. Now WTC runs all the Ironman branded races, and WTC is run by an overseas entertainment company. If we expect it to be like the good old days, we are mistaken. I don’t live in the past, I work toward the future. I think there are some ways things have improved.

But I am not here for the Ironman brand. I don’t have an M dot tattooed on my body for a reason (Did you know by the way that the M Dot is the second most popular branded tattoo people get now? Do you know who is first? Harley Davidson.).

I am here for what it means to me.

When you and I are out on that marathon and we high five and exchange words of encouragement, or a big scream… that’s why I am here. I know you have, and you know I have been through some epic shit in our lives. This is our way of healing, and of moving forward. Getting to this starting line involves an incredible amount of work. The days aren’t what you see on instagram. I can’t tell you how many days I have spent sitting on a roadside curb, drinking a coke mid long ride. Wondering what the hell I am doing here in the first place. I can’t tell you how many times I have reached out and grabbed a training partner’s arm just to say “Oh my God. We are doing this.”

So many amazing moments happen without words.

We are getting through hard days. The hard days in training are the easy ones.

Sport is a metaphor for life. We stick together, we put one foot in front of the other, and we move on. You want to find out what you are made of and who you are? Sure you will do it by mile 20 of the Ironman marathon, but it happens well before that. It happens on a Sunday morning when you are at mile 18 of your long run. When you are alone, and debating whether you should lay in that grass over there and call for a ride home. When no one is around. No one is cheering, and the finish line of the Olympic oval is weeks away, you are in GI distress because you played your nutrition wrong, the sun is blazing and you really just want to stop.

But you keep going.

That is where it happens. That is when you learn who you truly are. That’s when you are peeled like an orange and you give up or go on. When no one is watching.

That’s what I love. What do you do in those moments? What propels you forward? What is it and where does that come from within you? That’s what captures me every damn time. That’s what ignites me. That’s what inspires me.

That is why I am out there. Every damn day.

The final weeks are upon us, and with those final weeks the sun has come out. Spring has arrived. Soon we have open water swims and long rides in Placid to bring us together.

The beautiful thing about all of this? To the outsider it looks like we are just obsessed with a lot of swimming, biking and running. And we are. Let’s be honest. However it’s a lot more than that. It doesn’t make us special, it just makes us…… us. We are in this journey together.

General

Medved Madness Race Report

This past Sunday morning I finally had the chance to compete in one of the most talked about races in our area. Medved Madness 15K is a trail run in Mendon Ponds Park, near our home. Medved and Goose Adventure Racing has a knack for designing unique courses and their equally unique post race parties. They both somehow combine competition, community, within an atmosphere of family. And when I say family I not only mean family….. but the running family in our area. #TrailsROC is also a huge piece of this community and they were out in full force volunteering and competing.

The community is strong here.

I got to team up with two amazing ladies. Allison, ultra runner extrodinaire, nursing student and mom, who I literally met over Facebook. And Katie, multisport athlete, Ironman finisher, and who has spent a long year working her way back after a long injury and surgery. Katie threw out the invite a few weeks ago, and Allison and I jumped on it.

The Babes of Mendonland we became (thanks for the name Tim!).

Babes

 

The old version of me would have never jumped into such an event during Ironman training. My excuse would have been: I have a 2:15 run to do and I might get injured.

The new version of me said: This is too much fun to pass up. Yo-FREAKING-LO.

I don’t pass things like this up anymore. I got that 2:15 run in, adding on road time before, during my teammate’s legs, and after. So there Ironman. You don’t get my entire soul this time.

We, the Babes grabbed some neon tanks, some Walmart bandanas and we made a pretty big decision. As we began to message one another apologizing we were slow, we were just coming back for injury, we stopped. We decided to flip the damn switch. We weren’t coming into this event apologizing for what we weren’t. Instead we celebrated who we ARE. Three ladies who love to be fit, who love to compete, who seem to have this affection for incredibly deep MUD, and who like to have fun.

So there traditional society. You can’t have our souls either. We ain’t apologizing for who we are. We play by our rules.

The race is a 15 mile trail run, consisting of three unique loops designed by one of the Medved runners. By happenstance my leg was designed by Dan, who also happens to be my former nursing student (and is about to graduate!!!!). I felt like that was something extra cool, and I go looking for meaning in things. Again, that falls into the ‘no apologies’ category.

I stood there for a moment at the starting line, and just paused. The sun was out. Everyone was smiling. I got more hugs than I deserved, and then we were off.

Within 1/4 mile we were crawling through mud. No joke. I employed what my son had taught me about trail running “Go through the middle of the mud mom”. So I did. When I tell you that I was solid mud up to my knees, I am telling you it was solid mud. It looked like we were all wearing compression sleeves made of mud.

For a long time I ran behind local trail running legend Mike V. He has this way of dancing through the mud, so I watched his every move and tried to copy. I didn’t copy well but I always feel good running near Mike. Mike feels like sunshine. I try to always stay near people who feel like that.

He waved me by eventually with great encouragement and I reluctantly went. I found myself landing behind all the right people. Smiling, encouraging, caring. When competitors fell everyone made sure they were ok before continuing on (this is utterly amazing to me and really unique to the trail running community it seems).

I felt strong and I was having an absolute BLAST. I smile when I run, I smile big. I can’t help it. I have been away from this for a while and the feeling of being back here is more than I can even articulate. Privilege and gratitude just don’t cut it. Happy doesn’t quite cut it. It’s bigger than that.

My loop ended and Allison headed out for hers, I headed out for some of those long run miles. I made it back to see Katie take off for her loop. Truthfully I was worried about her the whole time, but a good worry. I know her journey has been difficult, and has tested her patience eight ways from Sunday. It was my hope that she would love being out there again.

When we saw her round the corner towards the finish line, we could see it in her face. She was feeling good and for us that was the victory. She ran better than expected and was careful. I know all too well that health is something we can never take for granted.

We got to spend the rest of the morning enjoying one heck of a chicken dinner (at lunchtime), as we sat on a blanket in the grass and shared stories of mud and freaking hills. I got to catch up with so many people I haven’t seen in a while and we all just got to….. enjoy the day.

This is how things should be. This race had that competitive vibe but in a family atmosphere. I can’t thank Katie and Allison for the chance to team up, we had so much fun that we are going to be doing some more relays together. I never thought I would love the relay thing so much, but I do. I love working together to achieve. I just love it.

The day played out beautifully in the grand scheme of IMLP preparation. I have eased into my biggest few weeks of training, which I am handling so much better than I expected to. I feel strong, I feel durable and my endurance is the best it’s ever been. Body compostion is beginning to settle out, and we are hitting the 15 hour training weeks which I love.

My schedule is such that this time around I can get the sleep I need, I can make the food I need to eat, and I can really spend the time on recovery that I need to. That’s always been my achilles heel in the past. We can train ourselves into oblivion, that’s easy. The other piece of the puzzle is the hard part.

Mary

I am really excited about where things are at right now, in more areas than training. A lot of hard work has come to fruition this year not only athletically but careerwise, on the homefront, etc. These times I cherish deeply because I know they are far and few between. I have made it through a lot these past few years.

I could never have gotten through those tough times without all of the shoulders I have been so fortunate to be able to lean on. We all get through things together and always know that my shoulders are always here, my door is always open, and the coffee is always on.

I came home to my husband and son laughing, not too exhausted, and muddy as hell. Nothing is better than coming home, isn’t it?

Huge thanks to Katie and Allison, we are Babes forever. Thanks Medved, Goose Adventure Racing, #TrailsROC and to everyone who was out there volunteering, competing and hanging out. I felt like I went to a mud party, and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Up next: Buffalo 1/2 Marathon!!!!!