Updated: February 26, 2020 11:21 PM
Created: February 26, 2020 11:09 PM
(ABC 6 News) - For the last 10 years, Mary Wirtz has trained religiously.
She runs anywhere between five to 22 miles a day and 65 to 85 miles per week. Her training is all with one goal, or in this case, one finish line in mind. She wanted to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.
At the end of January, Mary had one more shot to qualify for her decade long dream at the Houston Marathon. She finished just under two hours and 45 minutes, which is what she needed to qualify for the trials. On Saturday, Feb. 29, Mary will compete at the trials in Atlanta, GA.
"I'm so excited," Mary said. "I'm so excited. It's going to be amazing. For 99% of the field that's their goal. For the other 1% it's the professional athletes, that's their full time career is running at the professional/elite level. That's just not me. I'm a full-time dietitian, I'm a full-time mom, and I'm a part-time runner. I'm just happy to be there."
But there's a piece that makes her story all the more inspirational. When Mary qualified, she had just given birth five months prior. Mary said she felt good throughout most of her pregnancy and was able to run consistently until she had her second daughter Laney. However, she did reduce from 65-85 miles a week to 55.
"I did decrease my volume and I decreased intensity," Mary explained. "There were some days where I was very tired and I backed off. I went easy or I cross-trained, but I listened to my body."
Six days after having Laney, Mary worked out for the first time. But she added, "it was very easy, it was marginally work out, more for enriching and mental sanity at that point."
Now a mother to two beautiful girls, Ellie, 4, and Laney, six-months old. Through parenthood, Mary said she has learned to prioritize her family and running above other things.
"It's a lot of effort and really cool to see," Mary's husband, Chris, said about all that his wife does. "I try to help as much as possible, but Mary being Mary she definitely doesn't like giving up some things."
Many things fuel Mary, but one hangs right above her toaster that she catches a glimpse of every morning.
"It says, 'it's only a crazy dream until you do it.' It's still a constant reminder of all the hard work that I've put in. Not only the last year, not only the last 10 years, but since i was 14 and started running and training."
Mary is constantly trying to find a balance between all her jobs and she often wonders if there even is one.
"It's easy to lose your identity cause you are providing for others, other individuals, more than just yourself," Mary said. "When you're caring for others and it's so incredibly demanding and again with working full time, I always joke around that the marathon racing isn't the hard part. The hard part is the parenting on top of the marathon training."
It's something most parents can relate to, but having a team in your corner can help keep life on track.
"Finding that support system, that motivation to get up and train in the morning," Mary expressed is an important factor in this proces. "If you're able to surround yourself with people who often believe in you more than you believe in yourself that speaks testimonies to be able to amplify your training."
So, after 10 years of training and dreaming, it has led Mary to this week. The trials are in sight as is the finish line.
"It's a very hilly course unlike Houston," Mary said about what she's had to adjust training wise for Atlanta. "I've included a lot more hill training the last month in preparation for that. Though I'm excited, I'm pretty wiped, but I'm ready to go."
Chris, Mary's husband, will join her in Atlanta to cheer on his wife as she checks off a longtime dream of hers.
"Just surreal, to witness her running in the same field as professional runners and seeing all the professional runners around us when we're going to be in Atlanta," Chris said with a huge smile on his face. "It's a dream come true for her and it's really cool for me to be able to step back and watch her live her dream."
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