Mary Eggers

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General

Starting over

“I am embarrassed to tell you that I fell of the fitness wagon again” the text read.

This was a text from a friend who claims he has begun his fitness routine at least 17 times over the past year. Nonsense. There isn’t starting over. Those 17 times were 17 times he chose to move over the past year (and there were many more).

I don’t believe in a fitness wagon, and when people tell me they keep starting over, I applaud them.

We start over every single day in our lives. There isn’t some magical wagon that carries us through and keeps us on some mythical fitness, education, nutrition, career path and when we finally get on this amazing wagon, everything is smooth sailing. Life is all about rolling with the pop ups.

You know the game whack a mole? That’s life. That’s real life in my opinion.

I see athletes decline to sign up for races or wait until they are “ready”, or sign up and never show up because they don’t match some preconceived idea of what ready means. Get out there. It’s not always easy to toe that line, but toe it. I have raced plenty of races I wasn’t ready for and some of those races were the best ones in my life (and by best I don’t always mean fastest).

This notion of ready, I think it holds us back. I am not saying go race an Ironman you haven’t trained for, I am saying go be part of the game. Some game. Because it feels amazing to be out there and to celebrate life and hell, haven’t we done enough sitting around and moping these days?

Put yourself in the mix of people who are like minded. Who celebrate life the way you do. Maybe that’s a triathlon (maybe it’s a book club, who cares what it is). Get out there.

I told my friend that “starting his fitness journey over” 17 times in one year shows he has persistence. I challenged him to not be embarrassed by that, but for one day act proud of that. God’s honest truth, by the end of three days of that mindset he realized he was viewing this whole thing will wrong.

There is no magic state of ready. We are life ready and I promise you that’s enough.

Magical things happen when you cross finish lines. Be glad you aren’t the one who balances their self worth on their time or placing, it’s a terrible place to live.

It’s not really the finish line that will bring you that feeling of accomplishment, it’s the journey towards it. The days you nailed the sessions, the days you didn’t nail them. The days you got them in despite those moles popping up, and the days you missed everything entirely because well, life blew up and your teenager needed to talk about prom. The line, that just represents one moment on one day.

It always feels good though.

I told my friend, start over 39 times this year if you have to. Erase the notion that this is a wagon at all. Every day ask yourself “Did I move today” and if the answer is no, walk around the block. If you have time for ten minutes on Facebook, you have time to take a ten minute walk (the walk is much better than an online debate anyways).

As your friend I will cheer you on for every time you start over. I don’t give a rat about stopping and starting. All miles are good miles. All movement is good movement. All progress is great progress.

Life is to be lived forward…. not backward.

General

Starting line

All week I was eager to race the 50 freestyle. All week I was focusing on racing against Maggie, she was such a good swimmer and my times were equal, I had just never raced her. I couldn’t have been more than ten years old, it was the summer swim league.

We belonged to a club called Hickory Hill. It suited me perfect. Tennis and swimming. Twenty five cent bomb pops at the gatehouse (we can’t call them bomb pops anymore). Those days consisted of getting dropped off for 7am swim practice. Then heading down for tennis practice or matches, then back to the pool for afternoons filled with sharks and minnows and the dreaded pause each hour. Adult swim.

I knew that it was dinner time when the Dad’s started showing up with the coolers. All the Dads used to carry those green Coleman’s on their shoulders, then they started getting little rollers for them. Such a Dad thing to do.

The local swim clubs competed against one another, and it was a big deal. Some clubs were swankier than others, I was a Hickory Hill kid through and through.

I remember being so pumped to race against Maggie. It would be a big meet, our teams were comparable. It was the type of meet that would come down to one or two events. We would cheer and scream and I swear you could hear that ruckus for miles.

I distinctly remember the flutter in my heart and the hunger within me as it got closer to meet time. I was ready. I was fired up. Tonight was my night in the 50 free.

Then I got the news. Maggie was out of the meet. She burned her eyelid on a curling iron and couldn’t swim. I vividly remember feeling horror, was she alright? Visions of her losing her eye started popping into my head. But she was fine. Just a little burn.

I was so disappointed. I wanted to race her so badly. I wanted the chance.

When my Dad got there I told him she wasn’t swimming. He looked at me and said “So?”. But DAD! I was so ready to race her! I know I can beat her or at least come close!!!!

“That shouldn’t affect your race at all.” He said to me. “We don’t race others we race ourselves.”

Isn’t it funny how your parents can say something so profoundly simple, that they don’t even remember it, yet it is one of those moments that shapes you forever?

I went on to swim the 50 free that night and I was able to secure a ten and under victory. Even now I can remember how different that felt.

Dad would always ask me two questions after my races: “Did you have fun?” and “Did you give 100%?”. To this very day after every race I do, whether it’s a 5K, an Ironman, anything. He still asks me those questions. Those have been my lifelong guiding questions for more than just sport.

Later that night we talked again. He taught me that who I was competing against never mattered. I would never have control of who showed up to race me, but I would always have control over myself and my race. That evolved over time into: “You can’t control life all of the time, and you can’t control other people, but you can control how you react and handle things.”

I don’t know if I ever did race Maggie, and from then on I never got focused on who was in the field. I was never one of those competitors who studied start lists and got nervous or confident depending on who was listed there.

During the years that I didn’t have fun and couldn’t give 100%, I stepped back.

The season is coming and I have some hunger to satisfy. I love racing to race. I don’t care what my placing is or what my time is because at the end of the day it’s all variable. I don’t get caught up in PR’s, every single course is different on any given day. I have never been one to attach my self worth to a time or placing anyways. They are what they are. Hillier course times and flatter course times are separate categories. Factor in heat and wind…… I take each race and day as it stands for itself.

Here is a secret, it’s a lot more fun that way.

It never matters who is on that starting line. What matters is who is within you. That transcends sport. Whenever I am talking sport trust me, it really applies to life. We can’t control who is on the starting line with us on every given day, but we can work with what it within us. How we handle any given situation, how we treat our fellow competitors, loved ones, colleagues, that’s within us.