Mary Eggers

Date archives January 2014

General

On ice

As I stepped out onto the ice I wobbled. I was wearing hockey skates and just not used to them. An older woman was skating around, it was just she and I for now. I made a deal with myself that no matter what I would skate for an hour. See what came back in an hour. it’d been twenty years (gosh…. likely more) since I have been on the ice, aside from a party here and there.

I turn 40 on Saturday and begin speed-skating lessons. I have been talking about doing this for years. Olympics or not…. this has always been on my radar. I have shyed away from it because of swimming in my earlier days. In my latest years it’s because I was afraid to mess up my Ironman training. Now after 20 years in triathlon I have a house filled with medals, plaques and accomplishments. And still a yearning to take skating lessons. I decided that I will no longer put off things I want to do because of X, Y and Z. At the end of the day…… I want to look back on my life and say I did everything I dreamt of doing.

In my 20’s and 30’s I didn’t have that….. that … I don’t give a f*ck anymore I am doing this my way attitude. Maybe it comes at this stage of life? No more excuses. I am going out and doing everything I feel the need to learn.

Aside from one ice performance when I was a kid I never had formal ice skating instructions, but I knew how to skate like the rest of us….. you just figure it out.  It eventually begins to come naturally.

Skated at the very edge and held onto the boards for a good 15 minutes. But I didn’t stop. Not once.

My thoughts went crazy. Oh my god. What am I doing here. I am going to die. The ice has too many ruts. I am on 4 mm blades here.

Then I thought about what my husband said. “Just go out and feel the ice.”

So I pushed off the wall. Glide. My thoughts completely stopped and I began to feel it. I just let go and began skating. I was able to push side to side and step forward. I found the inside and outside edges of the blades again. I totally and completely relaxed.

By now we had been joined by some other skaters. A guy practicing his hockey moves. A teenage girl who was practicing figure skating. A grey haired man who looked like he was also on skates for the first time in many years. A couple of college kids, some new, some not. Everyone smiled and greeted one another. The hockey guy gave the new college kid some advice. The figure skater girl twirled in the center. The grey haired man found his blades again.

And that woman I was started skating with said “Wow.” to me.

I wasn’t throwing down triple axles….. but it came. Bit by bit through that next hour it came back. One of the billion benefits of being an endurance athlete is that endurance is never an issue. I skated non stop for an hour and could have gone for two easily. The strength work I have been working so hard on showed up in the form of being to handle the lateral movements without getting sore. My issues revolved around skill. Skill, with a lot of hard work and practice….. I can learn.

My goal was to get on the ice before my first speed-skating lesson on Saturday. I simply wanted to feel the ice. What happened was so much more. In no time I was flying down the ice, still shaky on the corners (but I will be back at it again today). My heart wasn’t racing but it was full. There is a feeling I just can’t articulate. Freedom. Exhilaration. Purity. That feeling when you throw open your arms, look up and scream because it feels so awesome.

I don’t’ know the right word for that.

At the end of the hour I had to pull myself off the ice. I had to go. I am going back today. The rink time so oddly falls right at the right time for me. The two hours I have before I pick up Luc are actually…. strangely open for me. And the rink is down the street from his school. So I am headed back today. I want to feel that again. The ice beneath me. The inside and outside of my blades. I want to feel the speed, I want to work on my corners and my hockey stop. If it came back that fast in an hour, what happens if I give it another hour? And then maybe another?

Time and time again I am reminded that… when we let our heads just be quiet…. real magic happens. When we just let go we fly. When we are open to learning new things and even old things….. they can.

“Eggers you make every sporting event a spiritual experience.” One of my friends said to me. Nah…. but I often let it become that. I am an athlete at my very core, and I feel these experiences so deep. I learn lessons constantly.

These aren’t lessons I will keep on the ice. It’s a lesson that I constantly bring back to the water, to my bike, to my run.

Let go and let it flow.

 

 

General

Edge of Glory

The Olympics are almost here!

Did you know I was an Olympic Torchbearer for the 2002 games? Part of my Glory Days syndrome t keep bringing that up.

The Olympics are my favorite. Winter, summer, I don’t care. It’s two weeks of inspiration. Two weeks where we stand up as the ski jumpers take flight and we land with the figure skaters. Where we lean into turns with the lugers and we pull the trigger as we watch hockey.

In each Olympics we get a snapshot into the lives of the best of the best,… but just for a few days. We see them in Olympic glory…. we see them at their best. What we don’t see are the hundreds of stories each athlete comes to the game with. We don’t see the 4am drives to the rink. The hours in the weight room. The rehabbing through injury. The personal… and financial commitment of an athlete and their family.

We don’t see the hard work. We just get to see the result.

In each Olympics there are the stories that stand out.

Skeleton driver Katie Uhlaender. (Photo taken from Popular Science).

Katie Uhlaender2

This young athlete has been through a lot in her young career. She has coped with the death of her father… which to me is one of the most difficult things a person can overcome. She’s had a lot of injuries most recently a concussion that left many wondering if she’s make it to Sochi. From what I have read this young lady has one hell of a head on her shoulders, has emotional resilience that likley has allowed her to become who she is right now.

When I see an athlete like her, overcoming the struggles she has faced…. and let’s be honest…. anyone competing in Skeleton is just plain badass…. I want to know what drives from within. It’s easy to give up. She’s had good valid reasons to give up. Maybe it was her undying belief in herself that has brought her here. When the odds were against….. when everyone may have said “It’s done” she seems to have never ever given up on herself. No matter what.

I can relate to that.

What about an athlete who didn’t make it to the games? 57 year old Bruce Connor (Photo taken from his blog: Faster as a Master). This guy intrigues me.

Bruce cnnor

This guy competed in the Olympic Trials last month (in speedskating, obviously). Age 57. He also made trials at age 53, 49, just count back every four years for a bit and he’s on the list. He’s an airline pilot and a Dad. Competing with athletes young enough to be his own children. He has a book coming out in February (order it on this site).

His inner drive, from what I read…. seems quietly strong. 100% belief in himself and what he can do. Couple that with his meticulous approach to training and the ways he handles being a masters athlete. His confidence when he steps on the ice.

How about Mikalea Shiffrin?( Photo from the US Skiing website).

mikaelashiffrinbiopic

Replacing Linsdey Vonn on the US Ski team she’s got different skills than Vonn, but as the youngest member of the team… she’s got talent and skills beyond her years.

What will be said at first is that she’s replacing Vonn. Then I predict she will fully step into her own. I think it was incredibly gracious of Vonn to step aside and let this young lady have a shot at gold. I wonder if she knew that would happen or if it took her by suprise? What does it feel like to have that spot?

This is a young lady whose career I am excited to follow.

You ahve two weeks of motivation before you. Of learning sports that have intrigued you yet you never had the oppertunity to look further into. Get ready because we aren’t going to sleep. We are going to DVR and TIVO she shit out of these games. The online coverage will be amazing. We will see amazing stories of agony and defeat. We will see athletes rise to the occasion. We will see a long shot grab a gold.

Who will it be? What is their story?

History is about to be made. Don’t let this pass you by.

What makes them tick? What is their story? What have they faced in their life that in the end… has helped them get to where they are now?

Stay tuned. We will find out.

And as I turn 40 on Saturday…. I am trying my hand at a new sport. My husband got me speedskating lessons. I have four lessons, weekly. I know how to skate. A little known talent of mine. Happens when you grow up in a hockey family. I am tired of wishing I tried something and not doing so. Because of the Ironman has been my biggest excuse.

I have walls full of medals and plaques. But I have always wanted to learn how to speedskate. I am done putting off until tomorrow what I can learn now.

Do I have time to get ready for Sochi?