Mary Eggers

Date archives September 2015

General

Flowstate

Curt and I have been settling into a great flow with our Valor Triathlon Project Athletes. Having him come on board has been nothing short of amazing. I am lucky. Our athletes are lucky. I think that together we are able to provide a unique, dynamic service for those we get to coach.

We discuss every single athlete all of the time. It’s been really great to bounce ideas off one another, share ideas and create workloads together. Curt does most of the planning of the physical workload. He creates the annual training plan, he has designed some really amazing sessions, and before we plot out weeks, we talk about how that would play into each of our athletes’ lives. I am someone who takes feedback and criticism quite well (ask ANYONE I work with), and fortunately, so does Curt. It helps that we also know how to give that criticism. It’s all in the delivery and when you are receiving it…. if you can remove your ego from the equation….. it helps you grow.

I can tell myself I am awesome all day long. What helps me learn and grow is learning where I can learn and grow from. Feedback, is a gift.

I have been segwaying a bit more into the mental aspect of training. It’s something I have always had a passion for, since my high school and college swim days. Anyone can plan a physical workload, the magic comes in learning who your athletes are, what their struggles are, how to help them grow and how to help them develop the right mentality to achieve their goals.

Focusing on the mental side of training doesn’t mean becoming your athletes’ therapist. Long ago I fell into that trap. It’s not the trap of listening, it’s the trap of trying to fix someone else’s life. It’s draining and frankly, who am I to tell you how to live your life.

I am not the expert on your life. I don’t have a 5 step process to fix what’s wrong. What I do is offer insight. Another point of view. As it comes to athletics I constantly educate myself on ways to help athletes turn their mental game into their strongest assets.

Interestingly…. I am in my second year of Grad school. I am working on my Masters of Nursing Education. A big focus of the coursework is understanding students’ learning styles. We teach nurses. If you know anything about a nursing program it’s very different than any other sort of program. It’s not definitions. It’s not regurgitation. It’s an entirely different way of thinking. It’s learning how to be the calm in the middle of the storm. It’s learning how to decipher, based on your situation, the best action for your patient, even though all the answers are right.

A lot of my coursework has been and continues to be the psychology of learning. Understanding how to read between the lines. If a student is struggling understanding why they are. Anxiety impeding test performance? Not really and truly believing that you can?

Sound familiar?

The similarities between athletes and students is incredible.

If you think about it, we are all students of our sport. My job in the coaching arena is to understand what makes you tick, what drives you, what you are doing this for. When it comes to race day I create a race plan for our athletes that sometimes focuses on numbers, but I like to focus on the mental side. Anyone can execute numbers. The mental game is what gets you on the podium. Just watch what happens in Kona in a few weeks.

It’s an area I am passionately studying. I have found insights from all over the place. Some of the books that have guided me: Burn your goals, By a fraction of a second, Relentless, The Vision of a Champion, Developing resilience to name a few.

I have a 45 minute commute to the college each day and I have filled that space with podcasts and audiobooks. Rich Roll’s podcast is a good one, Michael Gervais is my new favorite and the Science of Running offers some great training thoughts.

I stand back and just observe. I observe what I read and hear. I observe our athletes. I read every training log, even the “stretch and roll” ones. There is value in even that feedback. I listen to how they talk to themselves. I am developing some tools to help them see where they can strengthen their self talk, their mental game.

The onus is not on me to fix anything or to develop THE plan with our athletes’ mental game. It’s on them. I want THEM to take the nuggets, and apply them. I like to offer insights such as “Okay…. you’ve listed the negative, how can we use that to guide the race?” And so often they have an ah ha moment. It’s nothing I did. It’s just guiding them into a different line of thought.

I am not always successful. There are some cases of pre race anxieties that are beyond my expertise to crack. That I think go deeper than just being about performance. Those are the ones that hurt me. On one hand I would KILL for pre race butterflies like that…. because I thrive on them. On the other hand it hurts me to my heart to see someone who I know has deep potential, have this emotional blockade in front of them. And I can’t kick it down.

To quote Sean Hutchinson, former Olympic swimming coach:

“I care about helping people do things they didn’t think they could do.”

and…..

“[People] are so much more capable than what they live their lives as”

I truly believe those two things. I think we all are capable of so much more, but our ego or insecurities get in our way. When I see students and athletes get out of their own way, I see magic happen. I see that for myself as well.

It’s been an exciting few months of growth since Curt has come on board. It’s brought a whole new level to our marriage, being business partners. We have to communicate explicitly clearly. We have to keep our egos in our pockets. We have to properly provide one another feedback that will help us grow as a team of coaches, that will help our team of athletes and that will keep the two of us strong. I am proud of that. I am really proud of that. We’ve kept that as our priority.

As we continue to evolve we will get the model down. It’s evolving, it’s in a flow state and it will never be rigid. But it’s been awesome, that’s for sure.

General

Race report: Bay Creek SUP CUP!!!!!

I am desperate to latch on to every single moment of summer I can. Saturday morning I received the email that allowed it to happen. The Bay Creek SUP cup, originally planned for that morning, had been postponed to Sunday! I run our nursing lab on Saturdays, so I would have been out.

But now…. I WAS IN!!!!!!!!!

I have loved my first season of SUP racing. The atmosphere of these races reminds me of what triathlon was like when I first began. No technology, low key, and grass roots. I crave that atmosphere.

Sunday morning I did a quick bike / run and headed up to the lake. The weather was beautiful and I was eager. I wanted to be out on the board racing… one more time this season. SUP racing has been so much fun, it’s something so completely different and completely awesome.

Plus, I love to race.

I love the butterflies. They make me feel like I am ALIVE. I crave them, I look for them. They remind me that I care. For a long time while I was doing Ironman… they went away. When I stepped up to my last Ironman finish, they weren’t there. That’s when I knew I needed a change.

When I got to Bay Creek I ran into Laura and I was SO HAPPY. I haven’t seen her in YEARS. Sometimes you don’t even realize how much you miss someone until you see them again. She’s someone I have always admired not only for her athletic prowress but for her parenting. I don’t think she knows how much I learned about being a mom from her. Locker room conversations, things she’s said over the years…. she has really taught me a lot. When I saw her I felt so grateful. At 50 years old she’s a complete stud, and she surfs. For real.

Ken at Bay Creek put me on a RACE BOARD for this event! I was SO stoked. I rode a Starboard 12’6″ which was 30 inches wide. I loved this board!

starboard

It felt SO stable and SO sleek. I was so eager to get out there.

The folks at these races are just so awesome, and I ended up running into Dennis who was kayaking, Gordy who is also a new SUP’er and a whole bunch of people who just made the whole event feel so right. I felt at home with all of these folks.

I raced the women’s long course, which was 5 miles. I wasn’t sure how many were in the race total, but there weren’t many women. We need more of you ladies to get into this. As an endurance athlete the endurance part of this is quite easy. It’s the skill that we need to work on.

I often forget and take for granted the things my endurance allows me to just…. jump into. I am so grateful for it.

The horn went off and we were off. My goal was to stay near Laura and as close behind the first girl as possible. For half the race the first girl was within reach, I just couldn’t get ahead of her. She was also half my age!

The air initially was cool and the water was actually warm. The course was from Bay Creek to the Bridge and then back. The wind was in our face on the way out, and then I was hoping it would be behind us on the way back!

SUP race

The whole time I smiled. I felt so good. My stroke is coming together (and at the same time needs SO much work). I was racing yet another race on a board I had never even been on before, and all I could feel was happy.

I alternated between long strokes and smaller strokes. I tried to read the water. I never realized how shallow the Bay was! Once we rounded the bridge the first place girl pulled ahead more and Laura was right behind me. All I wanted to do was stay in the mix of these two awesome athletes.

As we got further from the turnaround I turned my head and Laura wasn’t there. For some reason having her right on my shoulder had given me great comfort. She’s an experienced athlete and paddler, this was her third time at this race. She knows how to legitimately surf in REAL waves, and she’s…. just someone I admire.

I turned to see her, and got a little worried. Later I found out that her board came to an almost complete stop as it got grounded in the weeds. That made sense. Once you lose momentum it’s tough to get it going again. It was another reminder that the Bay was shallow. The shallowness seemed to be what was tripping some athletes up more than anything.

As we headed toward the finish line the wind we were hoping for, the tailwind… seemed to die down. It felt like we were going nowhere. I was sweating bullets.

I took some ribbing over on twitter for stand up paddle board racing…. it’s a totally new thing around here. I can assure you this ain’t SUP yoga. It’s an all out freaking race here. You are going as hard as you can, paddling and paddling and paddling and there is no room for error. One fall, once getting grounded in weeds, and you lose time. There is no coasting, there is no breaks…. it’s just awesome. It’s the kind of difficult you don’t expect but that you welcome and love. If you are like me that is!

The whole time I just felt the waves. Felt the rhythm. Felt the strokes. I did want to stop once…. just to hold onto the moment. I wanted to hit pause, because I felt like I was stealing more summer and I don’t want this to end. I want to preserve it forever.

I was able to finish as second woman, in between Caralie (the 20-something) and Laura. I was so happy. I loved being on the race board, I would like something more narrow. Ken is helping me find the right one and I am giving it time.

Afterwards we all just hung out. I loved commiserating about the course and listening to some tips and stories. I love that atmosphere after races. That’s my thing. I didn’t realize how many people in Rochester SUP and I can’t wait for May so we can meet up and do it again. Or how about April?

It was such a bonus to be able to race in the Bay Creek SUP cup. I got a really cool technical shirt as a prize. I got more experience, I reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I got to race.

I love to race. I don’t care what we are racing. I will race knitting some day I am SURE OF IT!!! I love butterflies. I love getting into the green room. I love coming face to face with the only competitor that will ever matter to me.

Me.

I love coming to toe with myself. I learn so much by doing that.

It’s been a great season of SUP’ing. I have three boards and a race board in progress. There is so much more to learn in this sport and now that my Ironman days are behind me, short course triathlon affords the ability to dabble elsewhere a bit more. SUP’ing is perfect for us multisport  athletes. AND CHEAPER!

Thank you Bay Creek for putting on such an amazing event. Thank you to everyone who was out there competing and for those cheering today! And a HUGE thanks to Caralie and Laura for allowing me to compete with you, you both have grace and attitudes that I am so grateful to be able to learn from. Let’s do this again, sooner rather than later!