Mary Eggers

Date archives June 2015


19 Walls

“There are 19 walls in the 500 free.” Coach Mike called to me from the deck (I was in the pool), “there are 19 seconds right there.”

Referring to my long breath coming into my turn, I knew he was right. I smiled. In college Coach Alexander used to call walls “Walls of opportunity.” And that means I have 19 walls of opportunity.

Done right the flip turn is the most crucial part of the race. When racing I can get off the walls quick. I treat them like they are hot. I am off those walls first. I make sure of that.

Details matter.

I love this article by James Clear. In it he talks about the 1%. In it he states:

“It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis. Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time.” 

He’s spot on. It’s easy to set the goal. It’s easy to make the commitment. It’s the small things, the 1% as he calls them, that add up to the big gains. It’s getting enough sleep, fueling properly, taking care of the strength, the flexibility…. the starts and turns. The streamline off the wall. The thoughts between your ears.

All of it matters. All of it adds up to big gains. As I am preparing for my push to USMS Nationals I am focusing on those. I am dreaming about swimming again. I am visualizing my flip turns, I am not breathing into the walls. Hell I am BENDING my LEFT ARM! And …. Ken… sit down for this…. doing fly.

We have had a coaching change on our Victor Masters Team. It happens in swimming. Especially Masters swimming. I have been lucky in my Masters career, actually in my whole career. I have never had a bad coach. I have only swam for the best of the best and trust me… Shane is one of the best and I do hope to swim for him again one day.

In the mornings it’s now Mike Murray and Brett Leader. Read about them here. They’ve got some 2016 olympic trials qualifiers under their guidance on their age group team. They have brought an interesting and intriguing dynamic to the team…. and I love it. I loved what we were doing before, and I love what we are doing now.

Monday Coach Mike invited me to partake in the age group team’s dry-land training. I spent an hour with some of the nicest, most gracious, great kids (they are like 16-18…. I call them kids) doing plyometrics. I even got to throw the medicine balls around with the young lady who has qualified for trials…. and I can’t say enough about how happy and healthy these swimmers are. I was so happy to have kept up!

But that’s part of the 1%, the dry-land. As athletes we are only as strong as our weakest link. I can put in as many yards as I want to all day long, but unless I take care of the 1%… the core, the flexibility, the shoulder mobility…. nothing will come out of it.

There are 19 walls in the 500 freestyle. That means there are 19 walls of opportunity. Not breathing into a turn, not swimming within the flags…. those are the 1% focus points, that make the difference between 6 minutes and sub 6. Remember: “Many small decisions over time” .

Brett and Mike don’t think I can break 6 minutes again. They believe I can break 6 minutes again. Which caused me to believe. Which caused me to start focusing on the 1%. Which began me falling into the rabbit hole of that 1%.

I didn’t finish my high school swimming career. I didn’t finish my college swimming career. I got sick. At this present moment I have the team, the coaches and most importantly the desire to take aim. Can I do it? Who the hell knows. Right now I am loving the process of finding out.

“19 walls of opportunity.”as Coach Alexander used to say. Time to grab it.



Our 2015 Valor Triathlon Project Camp was hands down, our best one yet. For photos check out our Facebook page here.

I have held camp in Lake Placid since 2003, minus the few years I coached with another company. When we designed this camp it was our intention to give athletes four days of coach supported training, in an amazing location, including lodging, and with clinics and more. We did that for $400. Again, including lodging, as we rented two houses right next to High Peaks Cyclery. This was our way of giving back.

We coaches got our training time in, but were were focused on our athletes. 20 athletes got to step out of their regular lives and be an athlete for four days. It was amazing.


I learned you don’t want to show the selfie stick… IN the selfie!


camp wetsuits

Nothing says “triathletes are here” like drying wetsuits!


Our camps…. have cookies.

camp beer

Our camps, also have beer.


And yoga.

Jennie and Tina did workshops for our campers, Curt did a clinic on running drills, and we supported them every step of the way.

Each time we do a camp there are breakthrough moments. From people you would not expect. This email came through to our team after camp was over, and brought tears to my eyes:

There is nothing like the camaraderie of triathletes who don’t care about your speed or distance, only that you are dedicated. I feared that I would be jealous of IMers but instead I found myself happy for their accomplishments and discovered that I’m really content to do the amount I do now. And that everyone else is cool with that too.
Triathlon is an inherently selfish sport, in which we spend inordinate amounts of time navel gazing. This weekend lets you do that without feeling shitty about it (really, everyone needs a weekend to do a thing they love without others who don’t love it quite as much). The truth is that I found myself again this weekend, after a few years of not knowing why I continued to race if I couldn’t do it as well as I once did. But it turns out there’s a triathlete in me that doesn’t always get the attention she would like, and while she’s a bit jealous of the mom and wife in me, she’s a lot closer to being happy with the whole package. 
Camp, while not really life changing, can be attitude changing, and I needed it. Bad.
Also, Mary drank alcohol everyday and Ricky claims he doesn’t wear short shorts but I know the truth.
In short, go to camp.
That is the kind of thing I live for.
That is what camp is for. People come and find things they didn’t know they were looking for. They realize how hard the IMLP course is and at the same time, they learn exactly how to ride it. Friendships and camaraderie develops here. Lifelong. Just from a few days at a training camp? Hell yes.
I was able to get in a good amount of training. I have ridden this course hundreds of times in training and in racing. I have smashed it, I have been smashed. I have ridden totally happy. I have cried my eyes out. Almost every time I ride this course I flat on the descent. Front wheel.
I flatted twice at once while riding with Joe, Blake, Darren, and Ricky…. and showed them that girls can change flats with their bare hands!!!
This year I learned to be patient. As I continue to recovery from surgery I feel inherently weak, yet stronger every day. I set a heart rate cap and I stuck to it. I swam and listened to my body. I am running but well over 90 seconds slower per mile of my aerobic pace.
Very serious doubts crept in about my ability to go to Nationals. My husband, being the loving ever protector he is….. gave me an out. When he gives me an out I can feel like he doesn’t believe in me. But he does, more than I can believe in myself. My husband is fiercely protective of me, he does not want me to feel hurt or disappointment. Every time I go to Placid he begs me to ride the course the other way, he doesn’t want me on that descent. Again, not because he doesn’t think I can ride it, but because he’s protective.
I am not taking the out. No way. No how. I will show up on that starting line as prepared as I can be. I may be well off my game or in the next 6 weeks my game may come around. Surgery took a lot more out of me than I anticipated, but I am going. I need the experience. I need to show up, and I need to finish this. When my husband understands that I am “all in” … then he is unwavering in his support.
Placid does that for me. It helps me find what I am looking for. The majesty of the mountains calms me, and the strength our campers find inspires me.
I can’t be more grateful to our amazing coaching team, and our amazing campers for making this weekend so amazing. I learned to much from all of you.
Onward we go…..