Mary Eggers

General

The Road to Omaha

“The road flows like a river…. and it pulls me around every bend.”

That’s a line from Ani Difranco: Shy. I swear Ani got me through my late teens and early twenties with her “I do what I want” attitude. Her music played a big role in my recovery (from my eating disoder) and finding the strength to get on my own two feet.

That’s how I felt as I took two wheels to the road again. Granted… it was my mountain bike and I didn’t ride much road, I rode the old rail bed that goes on forever. But it was two wheels and it was outside. If you have been around here for the past few years you know that I … like many…. have been through some loss. That loss has involved friends on bikes.

In 2012 Heather was killed on a Sunday morning,by two drunk drivers.

A month later in 2012 Gary was killed during a race, on his bike. It was a race I typically announce but was not there due to Luc being sick.

In 2013 Mike was killed during a race as he rode into a parked car that should never have been on the race course. I was announcing.

All were parents to young children. All were the kind of people you admired, wanted to be like. All were spouses, children, brothers and sisters.

Their loss forced me off the road for the past few years except for races. I solely ride my trainer and thanks to the invention of the Wahoo, Trainer Road and Zwift…. I have done just fine. I have known for a long time though…. that I need to get back out there. I don’t need to ride outside  every day. Once a week on the roads is fine. I am allowing fear to dictate what I will and won’t do. I have turned down opportunity after opportunity to ride with friends in amazing places.

 

If you know me .. you know that I am a strong cyclist, you know I have spent hours and miles riding through beautiful countryside with friends. One of my favorite things to do in Lake Placid is ride through the mountains.

I know that Heather, Gary and Mike would be very disappointed in me if they knew that I was afraid because of what happened to them. I also knew this would take time, and it was okay to take that time.

So last week I grabbed the mountain bike and headed out.

Just like THAT, it all came back.

My passion for this sport. My LOVE for the training and the process. My desire to want to get out there again. All of my wandering during the past year made sense. My desire to other things hasn’t wavered, don’t get me wrong. All who wander are not lost. All my wandering brought me back to the sport I love. I have not raced since last August. Last season was mostly aqua bike due to my surgery. I still plan on this step back from triathlon as a competitor this season.

Except for one race.

On Mother’s Day, Luc and I were out running. He’s grown up in this sport, he’s watched me build two successful coaching businesses. He’s seen me win, he’s seen me DNF. If anyone (besides Curt) understands our life and how it intertwines with swim bike and run… it’s Luc.

I had received a letter from USA Triathlon a few months ago, with an invitation to 2016 USAT Nationals. Because I earned an All American status for Aquabike last year, it automatically qualified me for Nats. We are headed to Omaha anyways… Curt is racing. Luc asked me if I was racing.

I told him no…. I am stepping back this season. He became upset. He told me that if you have the chance to go to nationals then I should take it. No matter what. He knows it’s what I have always wanted to do. It’s the one thing in this sport I have never done.

I told him I would think on it.

Last Sunday during our long run he brought it up again. He said “Mom, you are a coach, a nurse, a teacher…. you help everyone. What about you?”. After joking that I was a martyr…. I realized he was right. He wanted to know why I helped everyone else achieve their dreams but I was going to give up on my own.

It’s kind of crazy when your kids have insight like this. Yesterday weren’t we just discussing the lessons of Lightening McQueen? Then again….. I suppose he WAS listening when we were. As he is growing up we are realizing that Luc has some pretty amazing gifts. His insight and his depth of character are absolutely beyond his age.

I conceded. I had nothing to respond with. He was right. 100% spot on. So we made an agreement. A pinky promise, and he reminded me that pinky promises can’t be broken.I am going to take my spot at Nationals. I am going to panic train for the next 12 weeks and I am going to be in some shape or form…. ready for Nationals. I am not going to give up this opportunity, I am not going to allow another goal to fall away because everyone else must come before me. Win lose or draw I am not going to put Nationals off for one more year.

Today summer break began. Last week I began officially training. I am in good shape but nowhere near race shape. Who knows where I will be in August? Not injured and hopefully somewhat ready. regardless it’s the platform I am launching off of. I have always wanted to spend a few years focusing on short course and Nationals. I have talked and talked and talked about it. Luc has shown me however that there is no time better than RIGHT now to get this game on.

As I rode my mountain bike along that rail bed…. it came back. The love. The feeling. The reason why I began this whole thing in the first place. It’s going to take me some more time to get comfortable on the roads again. I will always do most of my miles on the trainer. But I owe it to the friends I have lost… to live. This is what they would want me to do. They’d want me to “take it back”.

summer2016-3

Luc has mapped out my track workouts, and gotten himself a stop watch. I was actually searching for a possible coach a few weeks ago, and then realized….. everything I need… I have.

Time to get to work. The road to Omaha…. has begun!

General

Traction

The past few weeks I have been able to gain some traction as the weather has begun to blossom, race season has begun again, and summer is less than a week away (#academia). The time I took this semester to cease burning the candle at both ends, gain control over my health and step back from competition (and the mindset) is something I wish I would have done years ago. No time like the present!

I have really enjoyed sharing this experience, and I will continue to share it. It’s a blessing of a “problem” to have, but these are challenges  many of us in the multisport world have felt so strange about. In a world of half naked social media posts bragging about 800 mile rides in hurricane winds…. there is a lot of shaming that goes around.

But only if you LET it shame you.

We all live actual lives behind these posts and I am more than willing to share the reality of struggles. I know I am not alone in this, but I do want to share that this is…. life. Life HAS ebbs and flows. Life HAS good and bad days. Don’t get too excited about the good ones, don’t get too devastated by the bad ones. Learning to ride the even keel and be good to yourself, is really the true art of navigating a life.

Self care has been the theme of my past few months. Without trying to sound like a martyr… it’s something I historically haven’t been good at. I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a nurse, I am an educator, I am a coach. Nothing in the personality trends of those titles entails “putting yourself first”.

A few weeks ago I shared some of the things I have been doing, which have made worlds of difference. I wanted to try to capture them in a list again and add on some more. This journey has been absolutely fantastic in terms of the exploration of it all, the process, and most of all, the results.

It’s interesting….. self care is a magnet. You start by taking small steps, whether it’s sleep or nutrition….. and the result of those small steps is feeling amazing in your every day life. That result….. becomes the magnet for why you get good sleep, why you eat good food. Nothing on earth compares to that feeling of feeling awesome. The better I feel these days the more I realize how I stretched myself so thin before. I am better in all of my roles because of the small steps I take, to take care of myself first.

1. Sleep first: When I plot out my week of training, my week of life…. I actually prioritize sleep first. Now remember who you are talking to. I used to beat my chest about how my 4 hours of sleep per night was all I needed. I worked 12 hour night shifts and rode 100 miles afterwards more times than I want to admit. Getting proper sleep is actually the biggest and most important thing I have done to regain my health this semester.

I recently listened to a great podcast featuring Arianna Huffington and he sleep movement. Click here for it and show notes. I had to work to put aside the fact that she’s a billionaire businesswoman who the world revolves around (almost literally). Once I did that I thought her message was excellent and her research into the topic of sleep was solid (I am a bit of a PubMed geek).

I don’t track my sleep with any devices. I know how well I have slept based on how I feel. I don’t bring devices into the bedroom, no screens, no phones, no nothing. I refuse to utilize a sleep tracker because I don’t need technology everywhere in my life. I don’t care how LONG I sleep, I care HOW I sleep and I have finally learned the environment I need to achieve that. It’s actually simple. I am a nurse, I can sleep on a highway.

2. I dialed back training: I did this a few months ago actually. I am averaging 10 hours of training per week in a mixture of 3 swims, 4 bikes, 4 runs, 4 strength training sessions. Most workouts are around 30 minutes each, which is a giant step back from what I have been doing for years. My running volume is increasing however as I am working on that this summer. I am getting back to some road racing starting in August. This step back…. has been crucial for me.

3. Nutrition evolution: I have been in recovery from Bulimia Nervosa for about 20 years now, but I can never ignore that part of my history. I was really sick when I was active with it. I have always focused on very healthy eating, I learned to cook a few years ago. I have experimented with Paleo and plant powered trends of nutrition. I won’t ever be super strict with what “camp” I fall into in terms of how I eat, but boy people LOVE to argue over it.

Think about this: if I tell someone I am going to go out and get drunk I will get celebrated. If I tell someone I eat plant powered they FREAK out about my protein intake. Dr. Garth Brooks is one of my favorite people on the topic of protein (click here for a great podcast and great show notes about his work). If you do your research you will discover that you can easily satisfy any protein macro with fruits and vegetables. In my entire life I have only ever seen ONE classification of people who are truly protein deficient. People who are suffering from famine. Trust me no American is suffering from lack of protein. Do your research.

With that being said I am not strict in either camp. I feel better when I trend to a more plant based diet. At the same time I am ever so careful not to fall into a strict regimen of disordered eating. That’s as much of an issue as binging and purging is.

This all goes back to, the better I fuel the better I feel. I am addicted to how good I feel therefore I fuel my body really well.

It’s been a really great journey. As a 42 year old athlete I feel like I am reinventing myself, rediscovering the good things in life and my dreams are evolving. I am aiming to get back to competition in August (with running) and my heart is leading me back to triathlon. Maybe this fall, maybe next spring. I am working towards it.

This season off has been amazing and it’s just getting started.