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!