Mary Eggers

General

Adventure

“Are you buying a hard board?” My husband asked me, as I told him about demo’ing race boards earlier that morning. I had no answer. Because I don’t. What I know is that when I stood on those race boards… that feeling came over me again.

You know… that one. The one that seeks adventure. The one that doesn’t run from but towards. The one that has this thing about trying new things. All the damn time.

My husband is the ying to my yang. He’s the reserved and cautious to my daredevil explorer. He keeps me from being reckless yet encourages me to fly. He listens to my dreams and helps me reach for them without being nuts.

Well, being nuts is likely debatable.

When I turned 40 I learned how to speed skate. I bought a snowboard and with my son, learned how to snowboard. I can’t help this side of me. It delivered me to the finish lined of 8 Ironmans, led me to a surf board and refuses to be perched up on a branch watching life go by.

Our son has a learning disability. Technically he’s speech and language impaired, he sits somewhere along the spectrum…. and to be very honest I don’t give a damn where. Diagnoses do nothing except get him classified and place him in a box. What we do is support him where he needs to be supported. I have learned through the years that no diagnosis, no teacher, and no plan can nurture the way we can.

He is very cautious, he is very observant and he is very inquisitive.

When I got pulled off the course of an Ironman in an ambulance he wanted to know about it. What did it feel like to DNF? What did it feel like to get hurt?

He wanted to know what it felt like to win, he wanted to know what it felt like to lose, he wanted to know everything as if he was getting a preview and could somehow prepare himself.

I justify the adventure part of my personality with it being teaching moments for him. When I got the SUP this summer he listened while I told him how I would fall, get back up and fall again. He wanted to know why I got back up. He wanted to know if I was embarrassed to fall. He wanted to know if it hurt. He wanted the details.

When I had him on the lake he was uncomfortable and he fell too. I got him back on the board. He didn’t want to and I reminded him that we have to fall to stand. When I assured him he was safe and that I was right there he got back on.

It’s important to me that he sees me pursuing the adventure. We watched a surfing documentary the other night instead of saying the surfers should wear life vests he wanted to know what it was like to be thrown around in the waves. What it was like to be underwater like that.

Fortunately for him…. I have spent a LIFETIME getting thrown around by waves, unsure of which way exactly…. was up. If there is one thing he has watched me do it’s always reach. Always try new things. Seek adventure.

I want him to know that this world should be seen through his eyes not though a screen or a magazine. I want him to know that there is beauty in each breath and the countryside holds views he will never see from the highway. I want him to see that you can get thrown to the ground, get carried off the race course in an ambulance and still get out of bed the next day.

I don’t know where this comes from but I know I have this deep burning desire to experience this world 100% . Our time here is short and too short to not be grabbing every opportunity that we can to give chase to the adventures that light us up.

The pool…. lights me UP. You may see a black line to nowhere but what I see is the deep dive into a dream. Into finishing something I should have finished 20 years ago but at the same time realizing that the black line…. is sometimes blue. Sometimes red. Sometimes tiled and sometimes solid.

In 2004 they recommended he live in a group home. It might not surprise you that I ignored them. They can all F*ck off to be honest. You are a doctor of what? No doctor on this earth who even has the ability to assess a stone should be able to tell that to a parent. Based on an hour of testing. Hells to the no.

I am not afraid to be blunt. I am not afraid to speak my mind. I am not afraid to get on my damn hands and knees to spin this world backwards to make sure he goes to school where he should go to school, that he is an independent human being contributing to this world…. and that he NEVER allows anyone to write his story.

EVER.

You should have seen the story they tried to write for ME 20 years ago.

Good thing I didn’t listen.

Through my own adventures I can see it coming along…. his desire to find his own adventures. He has snowboarded, skied, played tennis. I want him to be unafraid to adventure and I want him to know in his heart that when he falls that he WILL still get back up. I don’t think he learns much from seeing me on top of a podium as he does when he sees me chasing new adventures.

I can tell him all about it. Or he can see me do it. When he sees me doing it….. he gets closer to the edge. He asks about it. Then he will dip his toe in. He will inch his way along while I will kamikaze jump right in. Either way I want him to reach. For anything.

This swim focus and aim for USMS Nationals has him intrigued. He’s asked about the times and what cut offs mean. He’s asked me what I would do if I make the cut, and what I will do if I don’t make the cut. I am trying to teach him…. because I have missed cutoffs before…. that the journey yields far more important lessons than the time or the spot on the podium. Those can be important, yes but they are the icing on the cake. If I fail to make the qualifying time the journey doesn’t get negated.

Later that day Luc asked me how I liked the racing SUP board. I told him I loved it and why I loved it. He asked me if I get that feeling when I race. Any race. That feeling? Yeah, I told him. I get that feeling all the time.

It’s kind of cool. He said. Bingo.

That feeling of butterflies, that feeling of adrenaline. I don’t care if you find it at the starting line of a race, at the top of a cliff you are about to dive off of, or on the first day of high school. Instead of shying away from it…. seek it. Look for it. Search for it. It teaches you so much about everything. THAT is what I want him to learn.

“Are you getting the hard board?” Curt asked me again last night. I wanted to deny my desire for it. Hell it’s less than a bike, right? It’s not about the board, it’s about the adventure. A life without adventure ….. what kind of fun is that?

Maybe Luc isn’t the only one who is inching closer to that edge.

SUPboards

General

Progress

It was one of those practices where my forearms hurt, only because that was the last place on my body that wasn’t hurting.

While I have been swimming for 38 of my 41 years on this earth, I can honestly say that I have never loved swimming more than I do right this very minute. I can honestly say that I haven’t done this kind of work in years, and 20 years ago when I did this kind of work…. I didn’t appreciate it.

I appreciate the hell out of it today. And I am appreciating the hell out of our coaches Brett and Mike. They are freaking gold. SOLID FREAKING GOLD.

It’s exciting that after 38 years of swimming I am learning new things. I never use a pull buoy anymore. I never…. EVER…… EVER band feet. (I cringe that I have ever done that or even coached that, the banding, not the pull buoy). These days my main swim toys are a snorkel, fins and occasionally…. paddles. I am relearning butterfly (and swimming more of it than I swam as an age grouper), and learning the nuances of breaststroke.

And for the first time in 20 years….. swimming hurts.

In triathlon I haven’t had to work too hard for my swimming results, so I haven’t done the kind of sets we are doing now. I have forgotten what it’s like to feel so absolutely spent, with your forearms hurting, feeling like you might actually drown, and come up smiling.

I have forgotten the camaraderie of lane mates. The ones that can make you laugh so hard during a 25 of breastwork.

I have forgotten  …. that swimming is hard.

There is no other sport that uses your body like swimming does. Once you forget about the easy aerobic sets with banded feet and paddles and get swimming….. holy good lord. When I was trying to get leaner for triathlon I often struggled. But when you swim, like this…. it begins to fall off of you.

I haven’t retired from triathlon, and I won’t. I get in a bike or run before I hit the pool every morning. I work on skills, I work on mechanics, I work on keeping those disciplines aerobic. But the primary piece of every day is the time I spend in the pool.

Our first meet is 5 weeks away, and there is much work to be done.

There are starts, and turns, and your underwater work. Your underwater work off each wall is critical. These are the kinds of things you can let slide when you are a triathlete, but that become the things that can make or break you as a swimmer. In swimming nationals cuts are decided by lengths of fingernails. Every little piece counts and I find myself visualizing those pieces as I fall asleep at night.

The swim focus has been full on. I am 100% in. No stone unturned. From swimming to nutrition to recovery to strength to …. everything it’s on. When people suggest I relax and have fun they don’t understand that this is how I do that. I am in bed early because it’s fun for me to have 100% at practice. I say no to ice cream (most days) because it’s fun for me to put everything forward to reach a goal.

It’s fun for me to have a goal that I am willing to put this much effort towards. It’s been a long time since I have had that. I am all in 100%.

From the outside looking in it appears this all comes easy. But I assure you, nothing is easy. If I get on a podium I have put in three times the work of everyone else. I don’t not run for weeks then… oops! Won a 5K! Not me.

Nothing I have ever done in my life has ever come easy.

I wish I could bring you on a journey of my day, what I do day in and day out….. to show you just how hard I work. At everything. Being a mom, a wife, at work, as a coach, as an athlete. What you see are the things I post on social media. You don’t see the sweat, the early mornings, the long drives to the pool and to work.

I can assure you, nothing, absolutely nothing comes easy to me. Not even laundry.

What drives me?

That process. Of mastering what’s hard. The process of putting in the work. Feeling my lungs burning on the 6th dolphin kick off the wall. Knowing that at the end of the day I am a step closer to something I chase.

I will chase something forever. When I achieve one thing I find another to chase.

Right now it’s USMS Masters Nationals. That is my chase. When the chase is on, all bets are off.

I am loving swimming more than I ever have before. Maybe it’s because I spent the last 20 years being an ex swimmer, a triathlete and swimming represented everything that I did to myself in high school and college. Maybe I love it because for once in my entire life the work feels good, and I am healthy as a swimmer (I have never been a healthy swimmer before). Maybe I love it because my coaches are the best I have ever had, and who knows how long we will have them? Maybe I love it because I am learning new things again.

The rest of yesterday my forearms ached. While I paddled, while I worked, hell while I drank coffee. It was one of those days where that swim wrecked me for hours. I love those swims. Where you go to hell and back in your mind and you pull swims out of your ass because you are just too spent to care so what’s a little more pain?

It reminds you that you are alive.