It wouldn’t really be a reach to say Veronica Eder has been getting ready – whether she knew it or not — for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon since she was a youngster.
And now that the 2024 26.2-mile test is nearly upon us, it’s almost a dream come true for the Doylestown native.
When she stands at the starting line in Orlando, Florida the morning of Feb. 3, a lot of thoughts will be crossing her mind.
>How much her father, Jim, also a great long-distance runner, played a major role in getting her started in this worthy challenge.
>A hope that all those training miles, including weeks of up to 100 miles, will pay off in something around a sub-2:30 clocking.
>Keeping a positive attitude if it’s an overly warm day with a runner-unfriendly starting time of 10 a.m.
So she knows she has the speed, especially after a 1:13 half-marathon at age 28. It’s just a matter of keeping it all together.
“I started running when I was in fourth-grade,” she explained in a telephone interview. “I was doing gymnastics, it was expensive and there was a lot of travel. The other option was CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) running and that was like 50 dollars for cross country season so my parents (Jim and Karen) kind of encouraged me to quit gymnastics.
“Both my parents have been really supportive about my running. They’ve come to all my races.”
Her running really blossomed during her college years at Auburn University, where she ran the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, finishing 14th and 19th respectively at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2017.
“My dad and mom helped me through the recruiting process,” Eder recalled. “It can be overwhelming. I appreciated their viewpoints and they kind of guided me in the right direction.”
After college, many runners often lose some of that will to compete, which is where her dad’s input proved invaluable. He was training for the marathon himself, with the intention of running a sub-3:00 at age 51 (which he did).
“He stepped in,” she said. “I had been training with the Roots Running Project (Boulder, Colorado) but I was doing it all by myself because I stayed in Alabama. I was getting my MBA at Auburn. So I was training remotely.
“But the grind wore me down. So I sort of stopped running for a little bit.”
With dad’s support, they ran a marathon together.
“I just had a good time,” Veronica told the FastWomen website. “Running for fun was a new concept. He (her dad) got into running just to lose some weight.”
As it turns out, they both qualified for Boston and that pretty much sealed the deal. Veronica was going to get back into it full-time.
Former Central Bucks East runner Tracey Sawyer admires what Eder has accomplished.
“Veronica is a gifted athlete who makes hard work fun and rewarding,” Sawyer wrote in an email. “She is diligent, focused and committed to success in all she pursues. Veronica is also humble, down-to-earth and family oriented.”
A hip injury slowed down Eder’s recent comeback but eventually she regained her health and even entertained the notion of qualifying for the Olympic Trials.
Now she’s on her way to Florida and the idea of perhaps finishing in the top 50 is not out of the realm of possibility.
“My biggest concern is probably the weather,” she said. “If it’s going to be 80 degrees, then all bets are out the window. I just want to come in around the top half (of the field), top 50 if I can.
“I think it’s going to be tough to know where I am in the race. I just want to be competitive.”
No doubt on race day she will be thinking about how much her parents helped in getting her to this goal. Some of her thoughts will be about her mom, who has been enduring symptoms from Alzheimer’s disease.
“In the summer of 2019, my mom got diagnosed with the early onset of Alzheimer’s,” Veronica said. “For a few years we had known something was wrong. When I got home from Auburn, I kind of knew this wasn’t normal behavior for my mom.”
Mrs. Eder is now receiving full-time care and the quality of life has greatly improved.
That’s been somewhat of a relief for Veronica, along with her brother, Ian (25 years old) and sister, Claudia (23); although Ian (residing in Pittsburgh) and Claudia (Penn State grad, currently in Brooklyn) live farther away. Veronica lives in Manayunk, not far from the offices of Vanguard Company (Malvern) where she works as a marketing analyst.
“I just try to go home a couple times a week to help my dad,” Veronica said. “Do what I can so he doesn’t have to take it all on.”
Her current marathon training is supported by the Liberty Track Club, which she started with Penn graduate Carey Gosselin. The group has upwards of 25 runners and provides good training opportunities.
“If it wasn’t for the Liberty Club, I would not be running nearly as much or as competitively as I am right now,” Veronica said. “I’ve been running my whole life but meeting her reignited my love for the sport.
“I had thought my days of super-competitive running were behind me. But meeting her changed that. We wanted to have a team of people who were able to train with us and provide an option for runners after college. They don’t have to end it after college. There’s still more to give.”
Bucks County Roadrunners Club Winter Series Honest Abe 4.6-Miler, 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown/Richboro. Contact www.bcrrclub.com