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Syracuse 70.3 Race Report

September 18, 2011

As I was driving home this afternoon I listened to the Buffalo Bills Post game show. Moments before I held my breath with the rest of Western New York as the final 6 seconds rolled down and the Raiders made one last attempt.

INTERCEPTION.

SCREAM!

Oh.My.God.

The Bills had just pulled off the greatest comeback in history since…. well the comeback and it sent every Buffalo Bills fan into a frenzy.

See, I am a Buffalo born and bred girl. Specifically Orchard Park, home of then Rich Stadium (now Ralph Wilson). As an adult I appreciate the presence of two major professional sports teams (Bills and Sabres) in a city that you can drive through in ten minutes. As kids Sunday’s revolved around football games in every house in Buffalo. I have been through the four Superbowls, the Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly years.

Wide right.

Not to mention the Sabre’s infamous NO GOAL in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that entered all of Buffalo into a deep depression.

I am used to being the underdog. I know what it’s like to be in a slump. We Buffalo folk….. hell we invented it.

So as I was driving home, listening to the post game show……  I was full of hope for a number of reasons. Not just for football, but for myself. My future as an athlete. I can identify with this team. I have been through hell and back twice. I know what it’s like to look to the future and believe when no one else does, that yes…..  yes you can.

Chan Gailey (coach of the Bills) said something like this…. “Every win helps. Every win gives these guys a little bit of confidence. They believe in themselves a little bit more. And that’s what they need”. Then I listened to the players describe the game. They spoke with humility, passion and incredible belief that their best day was yet to come. They acknowledged there were harder days to come, that every day would not be a winning day. They said they would continue to work hard and savor the good moments while learning from the hard ones.

I felt like they were speaking to me. These guys, they know how I feel. They had been beaten down too, through some rough times. We put one foot in front of the other, and we allow a little luck to come our way. We take what we learn from the failures and we savor the successes. Nothing, absolutely nothing worth anything is ever easy. Nor should it be.

I was granted two strokes of luck today. Actually three.

1. Syracuse 70.3 fell between the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and Kona so the field was smaller.

2. The pro I offered my bike to didn’t accept (his has fractured during his morning drive…. long story)

3. It was freezing.

My time was not a time that would stand up in a world championship. In any larger race I would have likely never hit the podium. I had one thing on my mind today and one thing alone  (once the pre race insanity trans WNY three cities in one day, gluing tubular on in strangest of locations….. you don’t even want to know).

Execute the plan even if it meant my finishing time was 6 hours.

You see, after I spoke with the Wizard last evening he sent me an email. With an attachment. The email read “Tomorrow, don’t let it look like the attached.” And the attached was my Eagleman run analysis. Which resembled a kindergarten fingerpaint project. I smiled when I saw it. That bastard I thought. He just figured out how to hit my big red button.

I am a hard girl to fire up. Competitors in the race or age group don’t fire me up. Specific time goals dont’ really fire me up. Slots to Vegas don’t fire me up. I have been there done that. I smile on the course. I giggle too much. I high-five too much. I have a habit of being too laid back. That… fired me up.

I knew it was sent intentionally. They don’t call him the Wizard for nothing.

I thought about that run file the whole race. No matter what I would hit those targets regardless of the times they brought. Even if I was D.F.L.

I’d show him.

Turns out I showed myself instead.

The Syracuse 70.3 course is a stunner. It’s also no joke. That ain’t no easy course. It’s hilly, it’s gorgeous, but it’s funtastic in every single way. The swim was great, I had awesome girls in my wave and got just a bit hung up in the previous waves. That’s the deck you get though and part of the game is navigating it. That’s life.

Onto the bike the cold was perfect for me. I wore gloves and that was it. Every single 70.3 I do I spend the first hour cursing the Wizard, hoping if he’s out training it hits him in side stitches. Thoughts of hate go through my head….. what does he know, my heart rate is huge, he’s such a jerk making me ride so damn slow….. by the turn of the first hour it changes. I then begin speaking to myself in third person (like any mentally stable athlete) hold the heart rate Eggers. Right on target with HR and power. Hit the nutrition…. good good.

No women passed me the entire ride. I knew it’d be a slow ride for me, but it seemed somewhat odd.

As I came into transition I put my garmin in my mouth. That always seems to freak spectators out. It’s the only way I won’t forget to yank it off my bike. It would kinda sorta be funny if I choked on it one day. If I am going to go I’d prefer to go in style.

Eggers chokes to death on garmin 310XT.

On to the run I had only one thought in mind. HR 165 No.Matter.What. I’d show The Wizard. I’d show him. I didn’t care if it meant I was running 5 or 12 minute miles. I was going to hold that as instructed. And hold it I did. I loved the run course. It’s a lollipop on a stick and you run the lollipop twice. It’s hilly through mile three and turning and rollers the rest of the way. What goes up definitely comes down.

I kept waiting for the usual….. the women to pass me. But I passed one in a different wave right out of T2. Me? Pass a girl? Holy cow. This was new. Don’t get excited Eggers. The only two women who passed me loop one were some of the pro women, looking fantastic and strong. By the second loop more girls came by but I am not the type of athlete to ask “Is this loop one or loop two?” It wouldn’t have changed anything. I was sticking to the plan no matter what.

I’d show him.

Nutrition came easy. There is a reason for that, I shall divulge this week. Pre race I did cut down on coffee, so when it came time to hit each aid station I happily cheered “Double Latte Please!”. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Double caffeine makes me happy.

I felt incredible on the run. I watched pace but stuck to that heart rate like it was my damn job. Nothing would peel me from it. I was happy, smiling, cheering, giggling. Joking with fellow competitors. Good Lord Eggers….. I thought…. the Wizard would kick your ass!

As I came down the stick of the lollipop I felt incredibly happy. Eggers (third person thing again)…. see if you can jack that HR up…… hit 170 (I know, I live on the wild side!). And I did.

As I crossed the line Kelly C. was there and I told her right away….. this race file is a damn A PLUS!!!!!!

A phone call to my Dad confirmed I was in third place in my age group. really… ME? Good lord. Then I heard an announcement for Vegas slots. Vegas? I looked to see how many spots were in my age group. Three. I was third and there was three. Okay.

A quick phone call to Curt (who opted not to race)…….

Do I take the spot?

Yes. It’s a world championship.

So take it?

Yes. It’s a world championship.

Okay. I will take it. OK?

OK.

(enlightening conversations always happen between us, I promise)

In a bigger race my time wouldn’t have me on the podium, or the map. I am VERY well aware of that. Karma threw me a bone though, and I am biting on it. With all my teeth (even the newly restored ones. He never said anything about chewing on bones with them).

As I hopped back on the Thruway to meet my Dad in Batavia for dinner and to exchange Luc, I cried. I cried for a good half hour. Trust me they were tears of happiness. Tears of gratitude. Tears of chance. Hope. faith.

You see, as I said I have been through hell and back with my health. Some know, some don’t. My performances have declined due to it. I never explained, I never had to. People judged me, laughed at me (even to my face), and they called me “over” in a thousand different ways. I smiled and took it like a champ. Because I knew what was going on, and trust me I have been so honored to still be in the damn game, even if I wasn’t on top of it.

When I began working with the Wizard I had to accept and understand that this would all take time. It would take a physical overhaul seven ways from Sunday. I have been patient. I have stumbled. I have fallen. I have been frustrated, elated, but I never stopped believing.

I did not have the fastest time today, but I executed that race to a damn T.

That right there, allowed me to slam the door shut on the past. close it up and close it tight. It’s time to move on.

I am heading to Vegas in 2012. My mission until that time is to earn that slot, and hold this bone I have been thrown with everything I’ve got. The first part of the plan has been laid out. Now we just fill in the blanks. I have a boatload of work to do but something got lit within me today. Something deep and permanent. I knew when that feeling would be back and back for good.

Tears filled my eyes as I listened to that post game show today. If you are a Buffalonian you know what I mean. Things give us hope. It’s like we all hold our breath when that football is thrown, we lean….. we scream at the TV…… you know what I mean…. that feeling. We will do it boys, we will do it. I know the feeling of behind the underdog. In fact I prefer it. They never stopped believing and nether did I.

The Buffalo Bills and I have something in common…… we kept the faith. We both got thrown a bone, and the road……. it’s all ours to come back on.

The season is done, two weeks of rest. Then we begin a full on run focus. And much much more. Until then I am going to sugar myself silly with mallowcreme pumpkins and as much coffee as I can drink. And work on my game face. Because in the world championship it can’t be a smile and a giggle. Well…. it can still be a smile.

A giant thanks to my Coach…. Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 systems……. my amazing QT2 systems Team, the athletes of Train-This, the amazing people of Score-This, to Kroe and her family for treating me as part of theirs….. to Jeremy Clay of Bike Loft East for welcoming me today as part of their team…. to my amazing husband Curt Eggers for being the MOST AMAZING MAN IN THE WORLD, to my unbelievable son Luc….. for being my daily inspiration, to my Mom and Dad for watching our son today so I could race and Curt could have a day of rest, and for dinner, and the toll! To the companies that support me….. they are all listed to the right. I realize I have more support than some of the pros, trust me that is appreciated more than words can say.

And to you…… for enduring what we have endured……. together.

Every win helps.

Thank You.

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13 comments

  1. awesome day my friend i wish i got to see u. so proud of u. im a work in progress as well, but that course was no joke and my garmin 310xt wasnt capturing my hr, oh well lessons learned


  2. AAAHHHHH!!! (that is the sound of me screaming because I am so excited for you right now!!!) If my kids weren’t asleep, I would be doing it out loud instead of just typing it!! SO PROUD OF YOU!! Congrats!


  3. that is so awesome mary! you deserve that slot. congratulations!


  4. It was great to see you out on the course. I think I posted on FB a painful fun 70.3 and was so happy hearing about the Buffalo Bills “W”! Great post, congrats and see you next year. Thanks sharing. Tim


  5. Wow! Congratulations on hitting the #s! And of course on Vegas! Very happy for you! I’m sure Jesse had a big smile with your results… and your blog.

    Mary, I could say the same thing after every one of your blog posts… LOVE your writings!!! So informative, so engaging, so personal… You really paint the picture and keep us reading. When I first met Keith Manning (and you – 2010 LP weekend, for some QT2 training) he told me to be sure to follow your writings – they’re that good. He wasn’t kidding.

    Keep up the great work (training, racing, coaching) and great writing. I for one (as I’m sure many have told you) find your words inspiring!
    Thanks
    Paul


    • Thanks all, and Paul it’s not fair to make me cry again! HA!

      I remember we were sitting at that picnic table in placid and I think you thought I was NUTS when I told you the muscle stripping was FUN! HA!


      • Yeah, unfortunately I not only still need to muscle-strip but now need to fat-strip as well – haha! On to 2012… !!!


  6. Great job,Mary and congrats on the Vegas slot!

    Hoping my caffiene withdrawal helps me out on race day, too 🙂


  7. Mary — Stumbled across your blog tonight in my post-70.3 high. I heard you speak on the Musselman webinar and recognized your name on the sidebar of another triathlete’s blog I was reading. And what a treat it was to read your superbly well-written, heartfelt story. It resonated with me so much you had tears in my eyes by the end. I too grew up outside Buffalo–one town over in East Aurora. I too recall Wide Right all too well. I too happened upon the last minute of the Bills game after the 70.3 yesterday. I too somehow managed to make it into a third place finish yesterday. I too didn’t expect there was a chance after a month-long struggle with bronchitis allowing me no ride over 20 miles in that time. Now my 3rd was only in a relay, and I’ve never done a full 70.3 (Musselman Aquabike is the closest I’ve come) but this was only my 3rd tri ever (Skinnyman was my first last year but had to miss it this year due to illness). Stories like yours inspire me.

    I will be cheering for you on your way and at Vegas. I look forward to reading about where your determination takes you!


  8. Ashley we must have been neighbors!!!!!

    You have a beautiful story sister, amazing race, to do that after bronchitis (is there a more important piece of the body than the lungs for this????? ) AMAZING. I am honored to share the field with you sister, HONORED!!!!!!!

    Thank you so much! Stories like YOURS…. Inspire ME!


  9. Crazy Irongirl! everytime I read your stuff it makes me want to put down my beer and bag of chips! I’m happy for you and super thrilled to have been part of Train-This. Now lets have some fun in Lake Las Vegas!


    • Dude, if I could be as fast as you I would eat three bags of chips and two KEGS per day!!!!!!!!! Thanks to you, for being a part of it!!!! Sniff sniff!

      I am learning how to play blackjack online!


  10. Congrats missy! I bet that felt so good to nail your race as instructed. I think it can be tough to stay within parameters, but when it all pays off…..
    so proud of you!!!!!



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