Jeffrey Eggleston Makes Sense in His Own Crazy Way
Five marathons in a year. FIVE MARATHONS IN A YEAR.
by The Trailer
TUCSON, Ariz. – Yeah, you’ve heard of Jeffrey Eggleston.
He’s the guy that rabbited the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon, stuck around after 18 miles, and won.
He’s the guy that raced The Woodlands Marathon (2:15:41, March), the Pittsburgh Marathon (2:14:26, May), the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon (2:13:13, June), and the Chicago Marathon (his PR 2:12:03, October).
And he’s the guy running the 2012 California International Marathon on Dec. 2, with the rumors swirling that he, with occasional training partner and 2:11-marathoner Nick Arciniaga, is gunning for the course record of 2:10:27.
There’s only one explanation for all this: Jeffrey Eggleston is f*cking crazy. But talk to him long enough and he starts making his own kind of sense.
The first thing you do when you interview Eggleston, 28, is make sure you haven’t missed a marathon—when someone races that much you want to make sure an odd race doesn’t slip by. But the next logical question is why.
“Each one has a different purpose,” he says. For instance, The Woodlands Marathon, which he won by almost six minutes: “That’s not a race; that’s a specific long run. It was good training, but very much under control.”
And Pittsburgh? Obviously he was going to defend his title from 2011 (he was second this year). There was no purpose in running fast; it was just going for the win. It was all tactics.
San Diego was semi-serious: “I was beginning to feel like I needed to get a good time in,” he says. He went screaming through the half in 1:05:20 and faded to 2:13:13.
“Some people would say, ‘Aw, you missed your PR by a second [then 2:13:12 from 2011],’” Eggleston says. ”I’m like, well, the next time I get out there I’m going to run something a lot faster.”
And that’s just what he would do.
These marathons aren’t much different from training, he says: “What’s the difference in running 45 kilometers progressively fast at 7,000 feet versus going to The Woodlands Marathon and running 2:15? They’re the same. They both fit into my training.”
But Chicago was different. It was his first World Marathon Majors race, and for that, just like any other marathoner, he backed off from races that would detract from his performance. And that makes him surprisingly similar to his marathon peers who race one or two quality races a year.
Call it maturity; call it whatever you want, but Eggleston is changing.
“In my career I’ve run a bunch of marathons, and I’ve done pretty well with them,” he says. “But at this point I really want something more out of it. I think the focus is shifting to try and get a good, quality effort.”
There’s the parlor trick of running multiple marathons, to “prove you’re durable,” Eggleston says. But that’s not where he sees himself: “I’m in pursuit of that other skill, which is to really knock one out of the park,” he says. “I’m not going to nickel and dime by running 2:13 or a 30-second personal best. I think there are more substantial improvements to be made.”
So, to clarify: a 2:13 is nickel-and-diming a marathon at this point.
“Yes,” he says.
All this doesn’t mean Eggleston is indestructible; he pulled out of the marathon trials in January because of a nagging knee injury, and he almost pulled out of the 2012 Chicago Marathon because of a persistent knot in his quad. The armchair quarterbacks are quick to jump on it and say he’s just doing too much.
“Point taken,” he says. “I’m trying to get into the position where things are less risky.”
Eggleston’s placing in Chicago should open up a few doors, and when those doors open he’ll need to take on less races in order to survive. But what you really want to know is how his body can handle it. How can he take the pounding of concrete with each race. How he can turn around after a 2:12 PR two months ago to gun for a minute-and-a-half jump at CIM. That’s just doesn’t seem possible.
Or, that’s just f*cking crazy.
Maybe. But one way or another you’ll be hearing more about Jeffrey Eggleston.
Jeffrey Eggleston recently move from his longtime home of Flagstaff to the milder climes of Tucson. How does he feel living around so many old people? “That’s a really good question. You’ll have to ask Bernard [Lagat] and Abdi [Abdirahman].” His website is better than yours, and he Tweets about birdwatching.