Eggleston heading to Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach fresh off a marathon PR.
At last month’s Gold Coast Marathon in Queensland, Australia, Jeffrey Eggleston entered into a new realm in the marathon. The Boulder, Colo.-based runner clocked 2:10:52 to take second in that race. It was a significant milestone for Eggleston, a PR, and proof that the 29-year-old may be the new face of American distance running.
But everything hasn’t always fallen into place for Eggleston, who will compete at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon on Aug. 31.
Growing up in the Rochester, New York area, Eggleston, like many distance runners, discovered the sport after playing soccer. He was a midfielder and realized that he was a much more talented endurance athlete than soccer player. He then decided to run cross country and track and admits that his times back then—a 4:25 mile and 9:25 for 3,200 meters–were “pretty good, but not standout.”
Eggleston then attended the University of Virginia, running a few track seasons there. After college, in 2007, he turned pro, but admits he didn’t have any business considering the career path. But he went for it anyway. “I just continued to improve,” he recalls of that time immediately after college.
At that point, Eggleston says that he took a completely different path than most pros, and has gone as far as describing this marathon journey as “quixotic” on his webpage bio. “I didn’t train with a group. I was entirely on my own,” he says.
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Other than a brief stint with legendary coach Jack Daniels, Eggleston has been entirely self-coached and continues to do all his workouts alone. “My path wasn’t the conventional one, but it’s worked for me,” he said.
Eggleston says there’s a reason for his solitary training. “A lot of the big decision-making moments in a race come when you are running by yourself, and so you have to learn how to push yourself on your own,” he says. “It helps me when I’m racing, because I experience these moments on a day-to-day basis.”
In 2010, he debuted with a 2:14 marathon and placed second at the U.S. Marathon Championships. That next year, Eggleston won his first title at the Pittsburgh Marathon in a thrilling race. Brought on by organizers for pace-making duties through 18 miles, Eggleston decided during the race to keep on running. He reeled in straggling Ethiopians and Kenyans to break the tape.
Spending many years in Virginia, Eggleston says he’s tickled to return to race. “It’s really cool, because I haven’t had that many opportunities to return there,” he says. “Virginia has a great running community. It’s really runner-friendly there.”
Fresh off his marathon PR in Australia, he is setting a slightly lower bar for the Rock ‘n’ Roll race due to where he is at with his training and racing schedule.
“I just want to get in a good, hard race effort in Virginia Beach,” he says. “I had been building up for the Gold Coast Marathon, and so I’m hoping to just get my feet wet again with the half marathon. I’m not going to worry about running a specific time. I could certainly run a fast race there, but the conditions might be a challenge.”
Regardless how his race unfolds, Eggleston admits that he’s going to have a blast in Virginia Beach. “I have a great history with the Rock ‘n’ Roll series,” he says.
Eggleston’s Rock ‘n’ Roll debut was the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon back in 2010. “I had just started my career and was really grateful at everything they did for me in that race,” he says. “I really like the Rock ‘n’ Roll events. I have so much of an appreciation for them. All those opportunities have helped me in my career.”
After Virginia Beach, Eggleston says he’s come to the conclusion that he’s at a crossroads in the marathon. “I can either enter into more gold-label races that are competitive or I can focus my training to simply run faster,” he contends. Regardless of which way he goes, Eggleston’s trajectory is steep. He says he’s got a lot left to do in the marathon. “I didn’t set my lifelong goal with a 2:10, but this is definitely a great checkpoint along the way. I want to make some progress and continue to improve.”