Mary Eggers

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General

Ready

Maybe it’s because I am not new to all of this. Maybe it’s because I am older, and so much wiser. Maybe it’s because my sense of self… which has always been strong… is stronger than ever. Maybe it’s because I knew enough to take the break. Maybe it’s because I worked to overcome the overtraining issues that I allowed myself to dig deep into when I walked away.

Maybe it’s just because.

A lot is different this time around. I didn’t write a script for the chapter where I unretire from a lifestyle I retired from, swearing it was for good. Then again we don’t really get to write the script. We aren’t always in control of the narrative of where our passions and hearts lead us. Maybe we just have to stop placing barriers and blockades in front of paths in our lives that are emotional to travel or have broken us to the bone.

Remember that sport is a metaphor for life. How we do small things is how we do all things. If we say “never again” to a path in sport, what are we saying in terms of our lives?

I am just about 5 weeks out of the first marathon I will run in 20 years that is not preceded by a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike. My goals for this marathon were very simple. Get back in shape. Build to 40 miles a week. Long run of 3:00. USe RPE. See if I fell in love with it again.

Check, check, check, check.

I have done all aerobic effort runs, some flat, some hilly. With the exception of a few events, I have done zero speedwork. This marathon, it’s a celebration or me. A supported long run with thousands of other people. I never attach time goals these days, that’s an outcome. I can’t control outcomes, I can only control the process. I am guessing I will run it in about 5 hours and have a little too much fun along the way.

Come December 1st though, the script is going to flip. If I am doing another Ironman, I am doing another Ironman. No pussyfooting around. I still don’t care about Kona, but I do care about having the best possible day I am capable of.

When I said that the other day I thought…. holy hell….. fire lit.

I got really excited. I wanted to somehow capture the moment that I felt “it” again.

I stopped myself. “Hold on Eggs, hold on. This one is for you sister.” (Am I the only one who talks to themselves???). There is no need to selfie it up and share it on Instagram. That doesn’t capture the feeling. Instead, I walked out onto the back deck, took a deep breath in, and closed my eyes.

There it is. That’s the feeling. Right there deep in my heart. No hashtagged picture is going to capture that, only I can be the one to feel it. It doesn’t take “likes” to make it real, it takes me feeling it.

I’m going to protect that feeling fiercely. In a world where I love to share and connect I suddenly feel the need to cover that flame and guard it. I can’t photograph it but I can express it as I express things best. Through words. So you can expect some good Ironman journey stories to come right here.

Each day that I head out to run I either see the sunrise or the sunset. Monday night I stopped for a moment on that one hill, by the light pole. The one where I can see the entire skyline of Rochester. It’s next to that farm with the white dogs. Each time I run by that farm those beautiful white dogs run along the fence with me. I don’t know what their names are but I call them both buddy. I always say hi. I wonder if I am as familiar to them as they are to me.

Right at the light pole I stopped, and I don’t even think I stopped my watch. The sky was breathtaking. Against a setting sun, those clouds were streaked across the sky like someone has brushed a paintbrush across a canvas. They were illuminated with the softest pink hue. And there that feeling was again.

As I continued running I thought to the course of Lake Placid. Lake Placid feels to me like many feel in Kona. There is a magical breathtaking feeling the whole time. Everyone out there realizes it and knows it just as much as you do, that’s why we are there. There is no piece of technology that can capture that feeling and that sense of community, it’s just something you feel inside of your soul.

That’s what I will protect, I won’t let that piece of me get clouded or fragmented. It’s true that when you have the courage to step away you might never have the desire to come back. But you might. I was willing to take that chance. For a long time, I didn’t think it was coming back.

Then in one fell swoop, it did.

Marathon in 5 weeks. Then shit gets really real. It’s been years since I have said that without dread. But talk is easy. Stating what you want to do is easy. Announcing grand plans is easy. Instagramming your fall hero status is the easiest. I am ready for the work part. And this time I am ready for it to be mine.

General

To feel

Somewhere around mile 14 I stopped, for just a moment. I was on that road that the farm is on, you know how it runs along both sides of the road? The corn is so high you can barely see over, but you can  see over, and there is that tractor in the distance, just below the horizon. And the wind is blowing just so, and the sun is so bright and so warm that you can feel it from head to toe. And your legs feel amazing here at mile 14, with just 3 to go of the third 17 miler.

I never thought I would ever run 17 miles again. Or that I would want to.

It was in that moment I got a little emotional, I tend to do that. I am an emotional athlete, I cry at finish lines, I smile the whole way through ten-hour races. I have been known to just stop and hug people I don’t know.

I am just so grateful for this. Right here. Right now. Sometimes it bubbles over and I just have to let it all out. I thought I walked away from all of this, I really did. I didn’t think it was possible for me to find or even feel this again.

I have gone over the edge with all of this before and it took me years to get back to here.

I stepped close to that edge this weekend, but sometimes you have to get close to it, even look over it, to know it is still there and you still have those tendencies and you still need to be careful. And you have to listen when people you trust call you out on it. You have to believe them, and that they know your soul and that they love you enough to be honest. You pull yourself back, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the edge is kind of like your drug. Alluring yet disastrous at the same time. You have to know where that line lives.

And then you turn around and you look up at that sun, and you feel how it lights the whole world without compromise. Without hesitation. Without reservation. And man you feel that deep in your bones.

There are people in this country piecing their lives back together and here I stand, on this hill, by this farm, and it is not lost on me what a privilege this life is. I won’t waste it by staring into the past or regretting anything. I will keep doing what I have always done. Look forward and live as big as I can possibly live. Every single second of every single day.

It feels to feel so good again. It feels good to feel so strong again. We are sitting 9 weeks away from this marathon and just the thought of it makes my heart flutter. Not because I am nervous, not because I have afib, but because I can’t freaking wait. As a kid, my Dad used to tell me to put the butterflies into¬†formation and let them fly.

I can’t wait to do just that. This time it’s not about the time or the podium. It’s about the experience of experiencing 26.2 miles without a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike in front of it. These are the races you meet people you will never forget, yet you will never see again. These are the races where you realize that all you thought you should walk away from was really beautiful. Walking away would have denied you what you really love.

These experiences let me feel and they let me feel deep, and I love it. They crack me wide open and let me feel what I can’t articulate and breathe deeper than I otherwise can.

I finished those 17 miles with the biggest smile on my face, and that old ache in my legs…. it wasn’t there. The places these legs and this body has taken me….. I wish I could somehow capture it all. It’s more than traveling around the world, it’s more than ascending mountains.

It’s the sunsets I have seen. It’s the beautiful people I have seen them with. It’s the many hands I have gotten to hold in mine. It’s the many times I get to wrap my arms around the good souls of this world, and the way they hold me.

That’s what this all means to me.