Mary Eggers


How to do it all

I am the first to admit, I thrive on burning the candle at both ends. I don’t always have it down perfect, but I am really good at rolling with it.

I had the whole summer off work yet I have spent much of it putting time in Pediatric Emergency, getting my clinical skills back up to par to take back to campus with me (and I am LOOOOVING IT). I am a Mom to an amazing teenager. I am wife of the DECADE! I coach at Valor Triathlon Project with my husband and awesome friends. I am in grad school, including summer, and I am a triathlete, priming for a swim focus and a brand new aspiring stand up paddle board racer girl.

More on that later.

I thrive on being busy. Here are my tips for “doing it all”.

1. Memorize this.¬†The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” has changed my ENTIRE life. In fact, this is my screensaver on all of my devices, if I had to describe who I am in one picture, this…. is it.


Like the manifesto says, it’s not that you don’t give a f*ck, you just have to realize where to spend those f*cks. I figured out who to spend them on, and where to spend them. GAME CHANGER.

2. Just show up: We are in a society that loves to compete. We compete in how many hours we train, how busy we are, and how much sleep we don’t get. We are so busy being busy and spending Wednesday thinking about Saturday, that we skip over the moments in our lives that matter most. When it’s Wednesday… I show up on Wednesday. Yes Thursday is coming, I have sh*t to do that day too, but I don’t think about it. This was another game changer for me. Show up in all of the events of your day and show up for those only. Just like I show up for Wednesday, I show up for swim practice and swim practice only. Then i show up for dryland and dryland only. Then I show up for hang time with my family and that time only. Then I show up for my work in Peds ED and that alone. Show up and be there. Don’t even let your mind wander to what’s coming. It will come. And if it doesn’t….. then we are dead and it doesn’t matter anyways.

3. Love what you do. Unicorns shitting rainbows isn’t reality. Every day isn’t going to be the master of awesome. Many days absolutely kick my ass. Sometimes I am just freaking tired. As rotten as a day can be I ¬†spend every single day doing what I love to do, so even a rotten day is spent in good things. I love coaching. I love being a nurse. I love being in nursing education. I LOVE BEING A MOM. I love being a wife, I love being an athlete. I love being in grad school. So while I might have a crap day, at the end of it I get to do what I choose and that’s better than being in a factory.

4. I get enough sleep. For some odd reason, people are fascinated with the hours I keep. I could win the Nobel Peace Prize and someone would ask me “What time do you go to bed?” or “HOW do you get up so early?” I could cure cancer and that would STILL be the #1 question.

I don’t worry about the AMOUNT of sleep I get. I get great QUALITY. I am a nurse, I can sleep in the middle of the damn thruway with construction all around me. I can sleep on command. When I am out I am out.

I am WIRED for early mornings. I grew up a swimmer. That is how life went. I love the morning. I don’t drag ass out of bed and you know what? On the rare morning I do….. sit down for this one… I sleep in! I know! Can you imagine???????

I don’t watch TV (I am not over LOST being over…. slight scarring from the end of that relationship), I go to bed by 8:30-9 on most nights (sometimes I work later, gasp!). And I fall asleep within 30 seconds of hitting the pillow. I don’t judge my sleep on the amount, I judge it on how I feel the next day.

5. Eat well. All I can say on this one is, eat like shit, feel like shit. Period.

See? it’s not that complicated. The first one, is the most crucial!




The rabbit hole

I sat on my back deck this morning, drinking coffee before morning practice. A million thoughts going through my head. I am on the edge of a rabbit hole. That rabbit hole is called swimming.

As you know I had surgery just over a month ago. Admittedly I was overambitious in my recovery. Like…. way overambitious. Returning to training has been slower than anticipated. Biking came first, then swimming, then running. Running isn’t actually all back yet. There is some lingering pain due to the rotational nature of running that has me only running 30 min at a time, and nothing fast.

I have hopped into a few aqua bike races coming up, and the writing is on the wall for USAT Age Group Nationals. I just haven’t quite admitted it yet. Putting in so much work this season to have a goal not realized isn’t something I am ready to fess up to. But it’s coming.

I’ve been swimming, a ton. I am swimming times I haven’t swam in a long time. In a test set last week I am one second away from the time I need to hold in an indicator set to hit my 500 free goal at USMS Nationals next April.

Between you and me…… swimming is consuming me, which both excites and terrifies the absolute HELL out of me. Swimming is a rabbit hole I have been down before, and it didn’t end well either time. But that was 20 and 20+ years ago, when I was a whole different person and a whole different swimmer. I had an eating disorder most of my swimming career and I allowed myself to be so completely consumed by it, that I wasn’t able to achieve the dreams I dreamt before I went to sleep at night. I have been recovered for 20+ years and I am rock solid within it. I am all grown up now. I am a wife and a mom and so far from who I was then. My eating disorder shaped who I am today and while I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, I know it was crucial to my life and the path that I am on.

I am  scared…. I will admit that to you. I know how I can get when a goal like this grabs me. I haven’t felt this kind of draw in a long time. For many years I felt it in relation to my triathlon career, and I did well because of it. I have no reason to believe that focusing on swimming will take me where it took me before, especially because I’m so aware of it. Swimming didn’t cause what happened to happen. 

As I have been saying for the past few months, the swim focus grabs me. It ignites me, and excites me. I need something new again. 

This morning as I sat on the back deck drinking my coffee before morning practice, I both laughed and cried. I thought about my college coach, who died three years ago this week, and who was really the catalyst for my recovery. I thought about how he would put me in the 200 fly when my teammates wouldn’t want to swim it. It wasn’t my event and it was between the 1000 ad the 500.

I hated it. I didn’t train for it, it wasn’t my event. I would roll my eyes and Dave would say “Mary Michal don’t roll your eyes at me.”. I would roll my eyes but not complain. I trusted him. If he wanted me to swim it he had good reason. I swam it and sucked at it and hated it and just did my damn best.

I didn’t finish my college swimming career. My eating disorder was bad  and I had to come back home. He kept in touch. Every few weeks or months he would call. Just to check in. Just to say hi. Just to give me some wisdom. My recovery was rocky…. as recovery is. He would always bring up something we did in the pool, and correlate it to what I was going through. “It’s just like the 200 fly” he would say “It hurts like hell but you commit to it. No matter what do not stop.”

I swear he was the first one who came up with the phrase “Embrace the suck.”

He called before I went into labor, and told me that labor…. would also be like the 200 fly. And that I would need to embrace THAT suck (17 hours later of embracing the suck it was!). He called after all of my Ironman races. And he didn’t do that just for me, he did that for all of his biddies…. or as we later became, the Wolfpack.

Swimming brings up memories, that’s for sure. Some I was not prepared for, some I was. Am I finally facing down the demons of the past as I swim over this black line a million times? Am I doing this to achieve something I didn’t when I was sick and thought I had lost? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am in a good place. I have incredible coaches. My teammates are the freaking BEST people on EARTH. What I do know is that I need to stop being so worried about the rabbit hole I can get pulled into with swimming. It’s ok to travel down it. It’s not the same hole that landed me where it landed me over 20 years ago.

I have this horrible terrible urge for adventure. For something new to grab onto, and well…. more on that later. But this feels part of that.

As I sat on the back deck this morning, I laughed as I “told” Dave…. “I am swimming fly again.”. When I had gotten sick and went home I joked with him: “I am NEVER EVER SWIMMING FLY AGAIN.” I didn’t swim it for a LONG LONG LONG time.

He laughed. You know what he said back then?

“You will Mary Michal, and you won’t believe you are when you do.” I remember him saying that like he said it two minutes ago.

And here I am. Swimming fly. Here I am….. standing at the edge of the rabbit hole. Talking a lot of talk. Dreaming of flip turns as I go to sleep at night. Here I am…..needing to take that deep breath and just trust myself, and trust who I am surrounded by. Because as my absolute favorite spoken word poem states: “Man was raised to fear the deep but you… you’re here to find it.”

(watch it here).

I am in what I am calling my pre-swim season, because truthfully I have never done this before. I am a triathlete who is used to putting in 15-20 hours of training a week, and recovering well from it. I have been averaging 20K in the pool per week the past few weeks and despite the harder sets, I am never, ever sore. I have a shoulder stretching routine I have done for 25 years and super healthy flexible shoulders.

I complete this dryland routine 3-4 times a week, as well as TRX and Vasa…..and it doesn’t leave me sore either. I can up the ante on the dryland for sure. I am on my bike 4-5 times a week for 30-45 minute rides that are intense efforts, and running a few times as well.

I am trying to determine what workload I will need for improvement, both in and out of the water. I am not sure how much I should increase yardage, how much I should increase bike and run, and strength. I am interested to see how the years of those 15-20 hour weeks plays into swimming. It’s like I am going backwards. Most swimmers progress to triathlon and never go back. I am going swimming, triathlon and back to swimming.

Any suggestions or tips are welcome. I have good coaches as well who can help provide me with that guidance.

I have to be careful that I don’t SEEK to be exhausted and sore. That will come with time but should not be the goal.

So…. there is a lot to figure out, and that is what makes this exciting. That’s what this particular rabbit hole will be about…. because this time around…. I am a whole different athlete. These are the times I wish Dave was still around. I miss being able to call him… 20 years later…. and ask a simple piece of advice.

I stand here on the edge of this hole that I am willing to get sucked into again. The hole where I am all in. I can’t see the bottom, I worry that old habits will surface. With an incredible team to rely on…. and the support of my husband…. I need to trust this process and embrace the journey.

Or as Dave would say, “Mary Michal, dive in. Embrace the suck.”