Mary Eggers

Date archives November 2015


Swim meet!

Growing up, after every swim meet my Dad would ask me two questions.

Did you do your best?

Did you have fun?

Yesterday… I can answer those questions with a resounding YES. I swam my absolute heart out. I gave 100%. I had a ton of fun throughout every single event. I loved the meet. I loved being with my teammates. I loved the events I swam and … I loved it.

I can also say that I did not meet any sort of performance objectives. By a long shot. Not even close. In fact I looked at all of my finishing times with surprise, knowing that during in practice I swam better. While I wasn’t rested nor tapered I don’t give that much weight to those as reasons. Unrested I should have performed better. My head was in a great place, my heart was in an even better place. I just….. I just didn’t hit it.

In terms of training over the past 12 weeks I asked myself if I have done everything I could have done. I think I came darn close to it. I trained. I slept. I ate well. I rested. I was consistent in the pool. I stayed positive when I got to the bad segments of training. I strength trained. I stretched.

I do know that my turns were horrific. I could tell on each wall. Back in the day I was hot off the walls. Yesterday I was just slow. Stuck. There is at least 1/2 second per length right there. Yet still….. it’s hard to say where I could have turned the dial much more.

I am honest about my successes. I am also honest about my failures. I have had a lot of failures. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to talk about them. I missed qualifying times. That’s not being negative, that’s telling the truth. I did not perform. That’s not being negative, that’s telling the truth. My self worth is not attached to my times, thank god. In earlier years it was. But it’s not. My self worth remains unaffected.

I think we live in a world where we are told that we have to always feel good. That we should never feel disappointment. Feeling disappointed about a goal not met doesn’t mean I am not grateful for the chance to be an athlete. It doesn’t mean I will hate myself. It doesn’t mean I don’t love the journey, and that I don’t relish in the opportunities I have earned throughout my life as an athlete.

To feel happiness we need to know what sadness is. To truly feel success we must know what it feels like to hit rock bottom. If someone tells you they have never failed, never come up short? They are lying.

For me…. disappointment becomes the greatest turning point there is. When we feel enough pain… some of us at least….. we become motivated to change. Or we just spin our wheels. I……. get motivated to change. To work harder. Smarter. Different. I get motivated to turn the dials more, to step back and see where I can tighten things up. Switch this…. adjust that.

I never get tired of that. I have been an athlete for a hundred years and I never get tired of learning, backtracking, figuring things out.

I have not figured myself out as a Masters athlete yet…. that is something I am working on. I am learning through trial and error. That is a dial I need to learn how to adjust still.

I let myself FEEL disappointment the same as I allow myself to FEEL success. I think both emotions are critical. For a million reasons. You can’t walk through life only feeling happy. ONLY feeling grateful. ONLY feeling good.

Having emotions and experiences on all sides of the spectrum doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for your life, the opportunities and the chances you get to have. I did not swim as well as I wanted to. That spurs me to dig deeper. To explore training, to explore my goals….. and yes, that’s a first world problem. Actually…. it’s not a problem at all. It’s a privilege as I always say.

So now what.

I am not sure. There are a few paths I could travel. I fear that if I delay the start of triathlon training to put more focus on swimming, that I won’t be ready for the 2016 triathlon season. I fear that if I don’t dive deeper into swimming that I will never hit the cut. I wonder if 2016 was realistic for hitting the swimming goals or if I need more time? I do know that logistically the time I need in the water to hit near college times….. right now… in my life…. is more than tough. Can I dedicate that time to the water?

None of these questions have a clear answer. These are just the questions I must personally ask of myself…. and through the next few weeks I will be the one to answer them. They all come with wonder and curiosity. None of them come with guarantees. But I don’t like the safe and sure answer. I like to wonder….. what if… and then figure out what I need to do to find that answer.

RIT meet

Thank you to Alex Tong of the Ascend Collective for this shot!

I am not afraid of success as equally as I am not afraid of defeat. I don’t gain a huge ego when I win and I don’t suffer embarrassment when I lose. My career has had plenty of both and I have learned through the years that neither determine your self worth. They only strengthen your resolve.

In its entirety the swim focus hasn’t been going on that long. But I have high expectations of myself. I don’t get tired of that and I don’t get knocked down because of that.

I get hungry because of it.

Failing hurts. It actually burns. I stand in the middle of that and I feel it. I feel that hurt and I come out of it stronger. Succeeding feels amazing. I stand in the middle of that as well, and I let myself feel it. On that side though…. I am careful because ego is the most dangerous consequence of success.

At the end of the day yesterday, I was spent. I swam 6 events and 5,000 yards including all of the warm ups and cool downs. I fueled and ate still was wrecked. Our 15 year old son came to see me swim and was so amazing. In all my life…. in all my meets, triathlons, 5K’s…… in all of it…. I have never had someone manage me like Luc did.

He had the meet sheet hi lighted. He had my warm ups and sets written on an index card. Before my events he would say ‘Time to warm up mom.” and after I got out of the pool he walked me over to the cool down pool to cool down. He reminded me to eat between events and to stay hydrated and loose. I have never had someone do that for me. And this was my SON. Who did it….. unprompted.

I was stunned, and grateful beyond words. That in itself was honestly one of the most special experiences of my entire life.

Where do we go from here? Great question. I need a bit of a swim rest this week (don’t worry gang, Tues and Thurs is still ON!) I want to spend the week on Zwift (I will be riding at 0445 Monday, catch up with me) and in my running shoes. I want to step back and think about all of the afore mentioned questions. Honestly, isn’t that a great problem to have?

Big thanks to my coaches Brett, Mike, Ryan and Matt and to all of my teammates at Genesee Valley Masters (formerly known as Victor Masters). It’s an honor to swim with all of you! You make 5:30 am the best. Honestly you do.

I always come back to those two questions from my Dad, asked of me when I was an age group swimmer.

Did I do my best? I did.

Did I have fun? Hell yes. Hell yes I did!


GVM Teammates with Coach Ryan!




I was so tired that I had to ask my teammate Lisa which way we circle swim. The pool was reversed in preparation for sectionals, bulkhead pushed to the shallow end, which put us in the deep end, by the window.

You should have SEEN the sunrise.

We had 4 in our lane, which is perfect. I can swim with 20 people in my lane of all different speeds. Swimmers can do that. Pro tip: If you want a great lanemate at the YMCA: swim with a swimmer. If you ever walk on deck and I am there, I don’t care about your speed. Jump in with me. I will watch out for you.

With a meet coming up and no taper in sight I was admittedly tired. I have been. Not so tired that I am in need of rest…. just so tired that I dream that one day at practice…. we play games. I asked Coach Brett if the high school girls team he coaches asks to play games as many times as we do.

“They ask a lot less.” He said.

“They have less time on the wall.” Replied my teammate Adam.

Coach Brett comes up with some pretty creative sets. The kind that have you swimming hard and swimming in a way that targets what you need to refine in a race, and has you swimming a boatload of yards…. and suddenly it’s cool down time with 4,000 yards behind you. He’s the most creative swim coach I have ever known. I imagine him late at night like a mad scientist churning numbers and sets with small round glasses.

And an evil laugh.

But I digress.

The set got underway and this day I was leading. Sometimes I lead, sometimes Lisa, Adam or Chad leads. It never really matters and that’s what I love about swimming. Ego is at the door, or rather, on the bottom of the pool.

So I led.

The lane felt so weird, like I was in a different pool. The water felt thick and my damn left arm. I will never win in the battle of bending my elbow. We were missing walls because of the change of the pool. At the same time I felt good. I swam in a bit of fear as Adam was chasing me down. I confessed to him as we got towards the bigger harder portions that I wasn’t sure if I could keep the lead.

“I am hanging on by a thread” I told him.

“You got this.” He said. “Keep the pace.”

And that is why I love being a swimmer. That is what I have loved about it my entire life. It’s individual in that it’s you against the clock. It’s a team in that you work together towards a common goal. You push one another and fist bump when the set is over. We are in it together.

The final part of the set was a 275. 11 lengths. Somewhere in the midst of length #8 and length #10…. I lost count. When you are leading it’s your responsibility to count and I had failed. There are two choices when you lose count. Go back to where you think you are and start there, or guess.

I went back the the last number I recalled. Turns out we did an extra 50. Everyone knew I had miscounted but they went along with it. Because that’s….. what we do in the water. We hang in there for the ride.

This is how I spend most mornings. This is how I get to spend most mornings. I would not know my teammates if it were not for our team. I would not know them if it were not for the water. I would not get to spend 90 minutes of my day with them… if it were not for being a swimmer.

Those 90 minutes are really important to me. I have a busy and I dare say stressful life. I think calling life stressful is a cop out, let me be clear about that. No one’s life is without “stress”. Stop giving it so much damn power.

Those 90 minutes, all of the time I  spend training is my outlet. My break. My detachment from work, from school. Some people hike…. I train. It’s the same. It’s a privilege denied to many so it’s one I hold tightly. I am not an athlete by right, I am an athlete by choice.

I was at  Geneva Bicycle Company, picking up my bike and chatting with Jim the other night. We reminisced about the old days of friction shifting and we both concluded something so interesting. These days we often will hear athletes make statements such as “I have to go ride for 6 hours.” rather than “Oh man, I get to go ride my BIKE for six hours!!!”. We didn’t have an opinion about it aside from…. isn’t all of this sport supposed to be the great gift in life?

When did setting a goal, be it Ironman or a 5K become a chore and not an opportunity?

For me… it’s always been the greatest privilege on the face of this earth. I don’t wake up shaking because I need to train because of some oddness about me. I wake up salivating at the chance to move, the chance to spend the morning with my teammates with music loud, the age group team swimming next to us, in the glow of the sunrise. I CRAVE that feeling of pushing so hard I might throw up, of doing something I don’t know if I CAN do.

I love the feeling of learning. Of reaching. Of finding new limits. Of pushing past old ones.

If you get to the point where you HAVE to go out and do something…. holy hell. Reevaluate.

Because 8am rolls along eventually and I am in the halls of academia. Where no one knows and no one, rightfully cares about what happened in the pool that morning. And I am not one of those who advertises it. Because it’s mine. It’s like a secret we all share and no one needs to know but us.

Good God I love it.

I am at the point where I am tired. I have been there. Taper time is not coming soon, there is much work to be done. So much work that I get to do. Being an athlete? Oh man. It’s something I won’t take for granted. Ever. The experiences it’s afforded me. The people it’s brought into my life…. oh the places I have been.

We finished that set with a round of fist bumps and laughs. My teammates knew I had miscounted. “We were in for the whole ride.” They reminded me. That’s how we are. Swimmers, triathletes, runners, athletes…. people. We are in this together. For the whole ride.

And maybe someday for that surprise game of sharks and minnows.

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