Mary Eggers

Date archives November 2017

General

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

I went into the Philadelphia Marathon curious.

I wanted to know if I would still love the pursuit. I wanted to know if I would still cry at the starting line when the National Anthem was sung. I wanted to know if I would find the random stranger who I’d never forget. I wanted to know if…. if I could still handle mile 20. I wanted to know if I even remembered what mile 20 felt like, and whether I would say …. screw it… or I LOVE THIS.

I found the answers to all of those questions. Everything went just fine. Smoothly in fact. I loved every single moment of those 26.2 miles. I loved how all of it felt. Dare I say that it felt short? After so many marathons that came after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112, running a stand-alone marathon felt so incredibly good, doable, and yet amazing all in the same breath.

I loved the pursuit of this goal. After spending so many years training 15-20 hours a week, running 40 miles a week with a little swim and bike felt…. again….. doable.

At the beginning of the race, when they played our national anthem, I cried. There I stood with 30,000 runners, feeling so privileged, so happy, so excited, so PROUD to be standing where I was standing. A man put his arm around me and I leaned into him (finding my random stranger right away). When it was done we hugged and wished one another the best of luck.

I loved the course. We ran through the downtown streets of Philadelphia for the first half of the race and I was never alone in terms of runners, and in terms of crowds. The cheers, the music, the atmosphere was exhilarating, deafening, beautiful.

I wanted to grab a random spectator and shake them and cry out “Do you know how excited I am to BE HERE???? I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS AGAIN.” and I would bet my last dollar that the random spectator would be JUST as excited as I was.

The second half of the course turned onto a parkway and towards a town whose name I can’t remember but whose spirit I will never forget. Mile 20 was the furthest point of the course and this section allowed you to see the runners already on their way back. I was fortunate enough to see the overall female hauling her way home. I was extra fortunate enough to find friends and give them a shout, and the same happened for me.

At mile 18 I felt it. That feeling. The marathon feeling. That ache deep in your legs that isn’t muscle pain, it’s just a grind that oscillates between feeling like your legs will give out on you but at the same time the feeling of strength beyond words. This was the biggest reason I was here. Right now. Right here.

Would I face it with irritation? Anger? Dread like I used to feel?

When I realized that feeling was happening I felt …. pure happiness. To get HERE, to feel THIS, means I had to get to a certain place in my training, and more importantly in my mind. If mile 18 was a hug I would have wrapped my arms around it and held it tight and said “I am so glad to see you old friend.”

That feeling, that pain, that’s what I freaking live for. You straddle the line between giving up and rising up. It’s the place where you realize you are going to make it but you have to get through 8 more miles. This is the place that allows you to stand toe to toe with yourself, and you learn what you are truly made of.

I felt amazing. Absolutely amazing.

At mile 20 I was in the thick of the party, wall to wall people just partying, and us running through it. Captain America handed me a beer and I took it! Luckily for me, I remembered that I don’t even drink, and a beer at mile 20 was probably a bad idea, so I tossed it!

When I rounded that cone at mile 20, just a 10K stood between myself and a line across the road. I stayed positive, I walked a little, but the miles came easier than I expected and my mind stayed ridiculously positive.

When I came to that finish line it was bigger and louder than I expected. Curt and Luc stood 50 yards from that finish line and I got a little emotional as I high fived them.

The rest of that finish line was slow motion. I felt like I was stuck in a moment and through the past week I keep reliving it. It was amazing. Totally amazing. And I ran one minute faster than I thought I would!

Five days later I remain on the marathon high. I have been resting and thinking ahead as I fill out questionairres for this next adventure and trying to answer the question: what is your goal?

My goal for this Ironman doesn’t yet have a time or a placing. I don’t know that it ever will. I want to race Ironman Lake Placid to the best of my ability. I have been away long enough to not even know what that looks like.

But I am hungry for the pursuit. I am hungry for the easy days and I am hungrier for the harder days. The long ones that no one sees, that I choose to execute, where we go into that dark place. I love that dark place like I love mile 18 of the marathon. It teaches me about so many things. It’s a place where I find clarity and I find strength.

It’s a place I have not wanted to visit in several years, and now I can’t wait to find.

I am so glad that I took the step back from all of this. As I have said it was nerve wracking. I knew it might not come back. I knew that if it was meant to be, that it would. I am not interested in chasing the past, I am interested in creating the future. This time, with a level of health I have not had in years.

This time…. I am curious. On this mile 18….. what will I do?

 

 

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!