Mary Eggers

General

The patient road back

One of my favorite quotes from Gordo goes something like this: Fitness is like a styrofoam cup, it takes a long time to turn it inside out. Do it too fast, and it will rip. You are the styrofoam cup.

There are may times in my career I have ripped that cup, sometimes it was physically and other times it was emotional. It’s ultimately what led me to a 15-month retirement from this sport to begin with. I was just plain…. ripped. I think that’s common for many athletes. Don’t be ashamed of it, don’t regret it. The lessons in there are just too valuable to feel anything but grateful for. I promise…. triple promise you that if you do step back….. if it’s meant to come back it will come back. And by stepping back I mean letting fitness GO. Like GO. I wasn’t riding my bike 20 hours a week, I was riding 3 times a week for 30 minutes. I was hiking, I was skiing. I was SUP’ing. When I am telling you that I am rebuilding…. I mean I am rebuilding an entirely new base of fitness.

It’s awesome.

After 20 years of pounding down hours, the rebuilding is humbling and so amazing all at once. I started running regularly in May and four months in I am continuing to just chip away at building mileage. You forget what it’s like to be sore after a 60-minute run, or a lifting session, but this time around I am savoring it. I never want to forget that again.

I am working with my husband Curt, as my coach this season. Honestly, I have been begging him to coach me for YEARS. As he’s grown into his coaching career and seen the results of his work, he’s finally agreed. For him it was confidence. I have nothing BUT confidence in him.

People question whether you should or should not work with your spouse as your coach. My answer to that: it depends and I think it is important to understand whether it is good for your relationship, or it isn’t. That understanding is more important than whether you should.

We’ve been married for 16 years and if you know us, you know that we truly respect one another. I have no problem handing him the reigns. I have seen first hand what he’s done with his own career and the athletes he guides, so it’s very easy for me. I don’t question anything. In fact, he’s been amazing at pulling me back. Daily he reminds me that we are still in the rebuilding phase. Get the flow back. Get the feeling back. Sleep is more important than training. I am aiming to be trained not tired (thanks for that phrase Ericka!), and to have fun. Mountain biking over the trainer when possible, and technique in the pool.

I have even given Curt control of my swim. In the history of my triathlon career, I don’t think I have ever given a coach my swim (except Masters). In the pool is where I have made some strange gains. I am purley focused on technique right now and swimming some intervals I haven’t seen in YEARS, without working. But that’s where I really should be in the pool, with my background. Historically my swimming decays when I work too hard for it yet comes around when I feel for it.

I think because of just how we are with one another, the coaching relationship works. I have no problems deferring to him. I do what he says. To me, he’s a proven athlete, coach, and most importantly human being. I don’t think I respect anyone on the planet more than him.

So thus far, it’s been incredible. I am lucky in more ways than one.

My work with InsideTracker continues, and next week I will run through the next piece of discovery from my blood work. Working with them has been a literal game changer. When you truly start to understand what is happening in your body and you do the work to repair it….. everything else falls into place. But more on that later on. I am aiming to retest in January, and I have to admit I wish I could test weekly because I feel really REALLY good and I want to see what my bloodwork has revealed. As I have mentioned I was not in bad health, as many athletes are I was in this purgatory of unwellness that many athletes find themselves in, that our medical doctors aren’t always in tune with. They are educated to treat the ill, not the unwell. This work has inspired me to go on after my Masters concludes next summer for my Post Masters FNP, because I really want to expand my ability to help athletes in this category. More on that later!

Yesterday I got to run here and stopped on a bridge for a moment to soak in this view. Moments like this give me pause, and fill me from head to toe with gratitude for what I get to do in this life. I realize the privilege (not the right) so deeply that it makes me ache.

mendon

The road back…. the true road back… it takes time. It takes a giant amount of patience. But like anything if you truly love the journey you are on if you truly want to achieve what you state your goals are, if you have an answer to “how bad do you want it”…… it will come. In time. You can’t rush the process, you have to respect the process. My self-esteem and self-worth have never been attached to podiums or times. Being around so many people for whom that is the case, I again realize my fortune.

Part of me can’t wait for 2017, but Coach reminds me that it’s already in progress. One step at a time, appreciating the journey so much more, will allow my dreams to become reality. I trust in that, always.

 

General

The first time, again

I’ve always told athletes “there is only one first time” when it comes to races. Especially Ironman. I was wrong. You can have that moment again. That’s what happened to me at nationals, I had my ‘first time’ again, but it was absent of the insecurity that comes with trying something new.

Since I have returned home and have settled into training with a new coach, new goals and a newfound love for something I have done for so long, I have found that subtle yet laser focus to training again. The kind that doesn’t feel desperate or rushed, or worrisome. The kind that feels trusting, loving the moment and the plan, and patient.

The feeling of riding my mountain bike through trails canopied with trees, with skies as blue as blue can be with those clouds that seem painted up there…. That fills me. I don’t feel like whipping the camera out because it can’t capture what I can feel when the wind is blowing against my skin, and sound of dirt is beneath my tires and the warmth of that sunshine is on my face.

Or the feeling of pushing off the wall in the pool, and making peace with that black line again. Absent is the comparison of intervals and sets, here is the feeling of discovering the water again. Honing this, developing that.

How about the feeling of running down that same trail, different time of day, different scene, new dreams. Instead of looking back, looking forward. Feeling the “what if” again.

My husband is finally coaching me, I had to wait a long time for a spot on his roster. Coaching spots with him are difficult to come by, and just like anyone else, I had to wait. I also had to wait until I was really ready. The long drive to Omaha and back gave us so much time to discuss and dream and when The Monday came around when it was “go time”…. I have never felt more ready.

I have always been very coachable. I don’t question or microanalyze. I especially don’t attach meaning to one day (a good or bad day), and I don’t need constant reassurance that I am good enough. My sense of self is strong and not dependent on a metric that dips in either direction.

I’ve watched Curt excel for 20+ years without illness, injury or burnout. I’ve watched what he’s done with our athletes since he’s taken over so much of the program design with them. He’s been the missing piece to my coaching all of these years. I feel so fortunate to not only be his wife, but to have the opportunity to have his guidance, formally. For us it puts no strain on our relationship. I yield to him as my coach and I have no problem doing that. Between us there is no ego struggle and for that, I am so grateful.

I lead a busy life and for me, that’s been what has saved me. For a long time,, my sole focus was triathlon as it’s my passion and my business. I have been able to step to the back burner of the business and let Curt really shine. My work as a nurse and in nursing education has brought me perspective that not only ground me….. But truly inspires me.

I am not inspired by social media feeds of half naked selfie taking athletes. I am inspired by the incredible students whose education I get to be part of. These students are chasing their dream of becoming a nurse, some under circumstances that I can’t fathom surviving much less enduring as a student. Any day that I feel tired or like I don’t feel like doing something…. I look to them and what they’re doing. I know full well that a workout or a race would be something they would love to have the ability to worry about.

I have always felt that being an athlete is a privilege and not a right. Never have I felt that more strongly than I do right now.

Want to inspire people? Do something  that’s bigger than a selfie in the pool. Make a difference to the people you want to inspire. Get behind them in their cause rather than in front of them. Love what they are traveling through, not the fact that they look at you. Believe in them and their cause, not your abs. Make a difference in their lives in some way, however you aim to inspire and help.

At the end of the day, it’s rewarding and beautiful to have had a part in someone’s journey. To stand on the side of the stage at our students’ graduation, and watch them in their nursing whites as they walk across the stage and get pinned (our college does a very formal ceremony, it’s beautiful).

I challenge you, I dare you to find THAT in your journey. Whatever journey you are on. Find THAT and you will find great meaning, purpose, and drive. Try it for a week. See how it feels.

That feeling I had at nationals awakened something within me that I really thought had passed. But this time, it is a fire that’s more personal, more meaningful and inspired by people who have no idea they are inspiring.