Mary Eggers

Date archives August 2014

General

Off season so far

I am having a FANTASTIC off-season. Likely my BEST one ever.

As you may recall I shut my season down two weeks ago after a VERY disappointing DNF at Peasantman. I was using Peasantman as a tune up for Barrelman, which won’t be happening. I sustained an Achilles injury ten days prior to Peasantman and was essentially trying to wait out the season before doing any off season / rehab / break. I tore my other Achilles in 2006 and I wasn’t about to go through that again.

The first week was pretty much off. I took a BUNCH of rest. Got in the pool, and when I was allowed to… when I was pain free…. began hiking with my dog. This week I swam about 20K, rode my mountain bike along the railroad bed, and continued that hiking. The Wingman has prescribed a LOT of foam rolling, stretching, strength and I am doing the same with my PT as well.

While that doesn’t sound like much of a break…… it is. In retrospect I didn’t do this as I should have after my final Ironman a year ago. I drifted a bit and I lost the focus I wanted to have. I have been in this sport twenty years and I have been a competitive athlete since I was four….. I know when I don’t do something right and I am not afraid to admit it. I didn’t do it right last season.

So I am doing it right this season. September and October are dedicated to healing up the small niggles I have been carrying with me for a while, especially this Achilles, getting outside on my mountain bike, getting my swim on and settling in to my new job!

The new job. It’s great. I love it. I am partnered with perhaps the most brilliant nurse I have ever met to run the clinical skills lab at FLCC. I love the entire faculty, all incredible nurses so dedicated to educating the next generation of nurses. The college itself if gorgeous. There are running trails. It’s grounded in conservation, wine and has the nation’s top woodsmen team in our division. Check this video out.

My schedule is fantastic. My commute is a 40 minute drive along three country roads that take me through breathtaking farmland. Every day. I am blessed in many ways. The greatest thing this new position has afforded me to be honest….. is the opportunity to disconnect from my athlete world. Both coaching and being an athlete. 24/7 triathlon is what I am used to and it’s wonderful to step OUT of that for a chunk of the day. When I return to it, whether it be reading training logs, exchanges with athletes or getting my own training in…. it’s suddenly BETTER. SO. MUCH. Better. Perhaps some disconnection is what I have really needed.

The new pool. I have been swimming at the Canandaigua YMCA and I love it. The pool is big and bright and through the wall of windows I swim to the sunrise each morning. Having grown up a swimmer I tend to not have to put in a lot of yardage. 9K a week gives me a 1:00 or faster Ironman swim. I can skate by on not a whole lot. But as I am heading back to a career in short course…. my swim is going to count. For me that means 15-20k per week and that means some focus. So that’s what we are working on right now. Drills, getting into that groove and setting the stage. I feel like I have a new relationship with the pool. One I have blown off in recent years.

Coaching: I have cut my stable down a bit to accommodate my new job and to allow me to better focus on my athletes. I love what coaching enables me to do in terms of being able to connect with people and help them on a journey. I love them all like they are my own kids. I love what they have set their sights on for 2015. I love what they have accomplished in 2014. I closed up my stable for the upcoming season and that was hard to do. real hard. I am not good at saying no, but I am now in a  position in which I can, and need to set those limits.

Training: As I said I have taken a complete break from running and that’s proving to do wonders for my Achilles. Imagine that! A few test runs have shown that the time off has been important. ART, graston and strengthening are the new running for a bit. I will wait until this is 100% healed before we totally and completely rebuild my run. That means starting totally over, which I have never done. From drills to …. everything. I am pretty excited about this!

My mountain bike has been my godsend. I bike on old railbeds turned to paths. Next week I have a long ride planned along the Erie Canal, to coffee of course! I have jumped onto some easy trails at Dryer, as I feel that mountain biking really enhances cycling skills in general.

As disappointed as I was initially to end my season as I did….. I am now very glad. I have a new focus, a great big scary goal and I need the time to rest before we really begin to gun for it.

My husband: Curt is recovering well from surgery. His progress is in inches not feet. The past few weeks he’s allowed to swim and bike (on the trainer) and engage in some body weight strength work. His pain is improving and we take it day by day.

Our son: Is about to be an eighth grader and we couldn’t be more proud. He spent the summer in a day camp program at the Meadows of Mendon. He learned how to take care of horses from top to bottom. He learned to ride and we were able to watch the incredible skills he’s learned. There is something about kids and animals, there has been something about Luc and horses. He has expressed the connection he feels with a particular horse. I am very convinced that a summer of working on a farm did him more good than any other summer program we have had him in.

So things are going well. I am definitely where I need to be in all areas of my life and that feels good. I am excited about what’s to come on all areas. Please stay tuned as we continue to roll out our awesome results from our athletes and… we will be announcing our swim camp schedule soon!

General

Turning off

In his book Elite Minds, Stan Beecham tells the story of a holiday visit by a family friend. To this visit this family friend brought her new boyfriend who it was learned later, was a longtime member of the Army. The boyfriend… after spending some time with the family began asking Mr. Beecham questions about his work as a psychologist and soon revealed that he was a member of Special Forces and was involved in the selecting of candidates for those Special Forces.

One of the things we look for is a person who can turn it on and turn it off.” He told Mr. Beecham. To further illustrate his point he said this (found on page 159); “A lot of men go into the Army because they want to prove that they are tough and not afraid. They want to kick some ass and then go home and tell their family and friends about all the dangerous things they did. We don’t want those guys. we look for guys who don’t feel they need to prove their manhood by taking another life. The guys we choose are not overly proud of what they do or how well they do it. They don’t get tattoos or walk around with t-shirts that say what they do. That’s what I mean by ‘turn it off’. When not on an operation, they don’t think about it, nor do they want to talk about it either.”

Later on in the same theme Mr. Beecham elaborates… “I quickly shared how this is true with great athletes and great leaders as well. While they are at work, it is the most important thing in the world, but when they leave, they don’t think about it very much either. The ability to turn it on and turn it off as the Army Special Forces member defined it, is what allows one to perform at the highest of levels. Turning it off allows one to recover and prepare for the next mission. People who are stressed and unable to recover are the ones who think about their work or sport all the time. They worry, and in doing so deplete their energies and harm their performance. This is the essence of focus or concentration. Only one thing matters at the time, and that one thing is the most important thing in the world.”

Side note: whenever I learn something from the military I immediately feel inadequate. These are people who give their lives, families and even their own freedom to go fight terror and wars that we honestly don’t know much about. They dedicate their soul to fighting for what is right…. and we run around in our bathing suits posting workout selfies all over social media. In all honesty it feels downright trivial.

With that being said there are great lessons to learn from people like this Special Forces soldier and how Mr. Beecham uses that example to bring to the world we live in. This chapter really resonated with me. It challenged me, and make me think.

Turning it on….. and turning it off. It’s something I have been working hard on. As a nurse I have always been able to do it. I have seen so much horror that I have to. What I have seen and the experiences I have had as a nurse can be dramatic exciting stories for those who haven’t been in the trenches…… but they have shattered my heart into a million pieces. So I learned to turn it off. I learned to hold my colleagues tight and process it.

But what about sport? Can we do that in sport?

Do I walk around with my Ironman T shirt all the time? How many pieces of clothing do I own that don’t say Ironman, or triathlon, or hey look at me I am an athlete, I am special?

When you are in the middle of a run in the woods….. where does your focus lie? On getting the right photo of yourself? Or on the task at hand? can you completely turn off your day and completely turn on to being an athlete? Can you flip that switch or is a piece of you drifting between the two entities?

When you are not on the field, can you let it all go? Can you focus completely on the ‘off’ times in your life?

It’s an interesting thing, isn’t it?

What I am not saying is that there is a right and there is a wrong. What I am encouraging is that you think…. that I think….. that we think…… about what we are doing. How we are doing it. Why we are doing it. Are our performances hindered because of the inability to turn on and turn off? Are our performances hindered by our need to let everyone know “I am an Ironman”?

My new job involves a 40 minute commute. The commute I drive several times a week already to swim in the lake. It’s 100% country back roads and yields the most stunning scenery. I drive through farmland. Horse farms, dairy farms. Farmers markets. There are small mom and pop owned ice cream shops, outdoor shops, tractor places. Rolling green land. Trees. There is no traffic. It’s rolling hills and so absolutely beautiful. I have been doing this drive to the lake for ten years. I never get sick of it.

Once I pulled over to get a photo of one of my favorite views. It didn’t turn out. I tried ten different times. No matter what angle though I could not capture the beauty of it.

“Maybe the beauty is meant to be captured in your mind’s eye, not on an iPhone.” I thought to myself. I put the phone down and I stood there for a moment. I felt small in such a big beautiful world. To look at it in person and not through the screen of an iPhone was freedom. Exhilarating. I go to that mental photo often. It’s ingrained in my mind. It’s not on my facebook page, or on my blog, but deep in my mind and in my heart. I feel so peaceful when I think of that view.

Now I get to pass by it daily. In person.

I am a big news radio junkie, I love to hear what is going on. No matter the personality I love to hear talk radio and be provoked into thought. But lately I have been driving to the lake in silence. 40 minutes of silence has done me more good than I can explain. I don’t think about anything. But I don’t think about nothing. The phone is unavailable and it’s just time being there. Being present.

It’s helped me learn to turn on and turn off of my sport. It’s taught me to tune in.

What if just for a day….. we put the Ironman shirts away? We put down the iPhone and we captured moments in person instead? What if we devoted all of our attention to the task at hand? What if we took quiet pride in what we are aiming to achieve?

What would happen? I bet something extraordinary would. I bet something would click inside of you. I bet something amazing would happen.

I challenge you to find out.