Mary Eggers

General

On the Podium with Amy Farrell

I originally did this interview for another website, but I am not sure if they will be publishing it. It’s too great a story to not get out there! So here it is!

If you were around in the 2000’s you might remember Amy Farrell as an aspiring young pro with some great results. Then she seemingly vanished. She started teaching, got married and had a daughter. Aimed for Olympic marathon trials, and it all led her back to her roots, triathlon. Recently she won the top amateur spot at Eagleman 70.3 punching a return ticket to Kona and to 70.3 World Champs. In 2013 she was 4th in 35-39 in Kona, and she’s aiming to take that higher.

Without further adieu, here is my conversation with the one and only Amy Farrell:

 You competed as a professional for several years prior to you stepped out of triathlon for. Tell us about your professional days and what led you to walk away.

My senior year of college I finally started to reach my potential so I knew my athletic career was far from over. I had always been intrigued by triathlon so I was chomping at the bit to get going when I graduated in 1999. I had a couple of great mentors that helped me get started and set some lofty goals (Kona in season #1). I started working with Martha Grinnell in the fall of 1999 with the intention of qualifying for Kona at my first real triathlon. Martha was a perfect fit for me as she had been exactly where I was just a few years earlier and we had the same sort of crazed work ethic. She gave such great advice and I was so lucky to have found her! She got me to the point where I felt comfortable stepping up to the pro ranks. In my first pro season I had a nice series of podium finishes at Half Ironman California, Eagleman and Ironman Lake Placid. I was teaching full time and coaching but didn’t have trouble with the balancing act as a single girl with just a dog who could run all day. A couple weeks after Lake Placid I got married and moved to Lake Placid. That winter I trained like crazy, snowboarded like crazy and worked about 4 part time jobs. At Half Ironman California I just didn’t have it on the bike, despite all the good training I had put in. I thought it was the hillier bike course not complimenting my winter of computraining and snowboarding or switching coaches, but about a week after returning from California I realized I was pregnant with my daughter Ruby! Ruby did a sub 5 half ironman before she was born! I barely swam and biked after that and spent most of my pregnancy running with my dogs to my hearts content! I started teaching in Tupper Lake the fall before I had her and my plate was officially full!

 During your 11 year absence you didn’t just sit on the couch, you almost qualified for Olympic trials in the marathon, had a daughter, began teaching and took over a hotel. Tell us a bit about what those years were like.

Sooo busy! I started helping out with the Tupper Lake Cross Country team when I was pregnant with Ruby and I’m pretty sure the head coach, John Waldron, and the kids thought I was nuts as the belly grew and grew and I was still hitting the trails with them. A few weeks after I went back to work from maternity leave I was right back to coaching in addition to teaching, so running was my sanity! Even if it was snowing or raining I was pushing that baby jogger with 2 dogs in tow! When Ruby was 2 or 3 we had an inspiring group of kids on the XC team and I convinced John to train with me for the Philly Marathon and pace me to an Olympic Trials time. I missed the time by 56 seconds but was given the opportunity to try again a few weeks later at Rock n Roll Arizona. They had the Brooks Hansons guys come out and pace us but my body was pretty pounded from Philly and I couldn’t hold it together over the last couple of miles and that time I missed by 70 seconds!
I took 2008 to try and get my body back in order and in the spring of 2009 I read about the 70.3 world championships and the wheels got turning that it was time to give triathlon a go. Martha helped me out again and I was able to qualify at Rhode Island 70.3. I won my age group at Clearwater that year and Duathlon Nationals in 2010 then tried to race pro briefly. I also bought a small motel that year and the business sort of ate up my summer.

Along the way I collected a few more dogs and also started coaching the most cheerful older gentleman I have ever met-Stu McCullouch. Stu had lost well over 100 pounds in his quest to become a triathlete in his early 60s. Coaching him and watching him doggedly pursue the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid got me really inspired about triathlon and Ironman again. First I enlisted a great friend of a friend, Julio German to start me back at it and I gave him 4 weeks to prep me for Rhode Island to qualify for 70.3 Worlds in Vegas. Day one was 10×800 and I knew he wasn’t messing around! I put in a good summer of training and had an ok race at Vegas and it left me very very hungry and ready to set my sights on Kona!

After 11 years away you came back. What led to that decision?
I always knew I had more in me! Stu passed away after a training accident this summer so much of this season was inspired by him. He loved the triathlon lifestyle and I wanted to honor that. I wore his Road ID in Kona, so he was right there with me. There was probably a point during each race this summer where I lost it a little thinking about him.
stu

 Having been on the scene in the early 2000’s and again now, much has changed in the triathlon world. What have you noticed as having changed?
Entry fees have gone through the roof, the technology everyone is using and the price of bikes! People are fully engulfed in the lifestyle. I am the most low tech triathlete in America. Julio finally convinced me to use a heart rate monitor on my spin bike, but I will only use it on the bike. I happily rode a steel bike in Kona. I met Natasha Badmann in the massage line after the race and she told me it might be time to upgrade. Thanks to the help of Coeur Sports and Argon 18 a new frame arrived yesterday so I will be on a carbon rocket! I will still be wearing my lucky, puppy chewed cycling shoes from 2009, but I will wearing Coeur Sports attire instead of my homemade puffy painted Ruby’s Mom tops.

You came back and did well at 70.3 World Championships. This season you placed overall female at Eagleman, and 4th in your age group in Kona. What led you to Kona?
I didn’t feel like I had raced to my potential in Vegas and still wanted to prove myself, but preferably in a place that wasn’t 105 degrees. My previous Kona experiences involved a crash and a dnf. I carried that around for 12 years and needed to make it right!

 You credit your recent success to you coach. Who is he and why do you click so well?
Julio German is my coach. He runs with High Performance Training in Westchester with my tri BFF and teammate, Noga Ruttenberg. He is one of the most humble, caring human beings I have ever met. He was coaching with my friend Ed Stickles at Bronxville High School and that’s how we met. He helped Ed lose 40 pounds and finish Ironman Lake Placid with a great time. Julio puts so much into his athletes and really takes good care of us. That being said, some of the workouts he threw at me prepping for Eagleman and Kona looked so hard, like nothing I even imagined doing before but completing them felt incredible. He has great intuition about how far he can push us. The recurring feeling of the season was, “damn I’ve never felt so prepared for a race in my life!” I remember being in the water in Kona and just feeling calm (I’m not a calm type of gal) because I knew I was so well prepared. Right now we have a nice pack of speedy Ironwomen and we do whatever he says because it works. I can’t wait for Faust Motel training camp with these people in the spring!

 What about Ironman draws you back to it? How is Ironman different for you now then it was for you back then?
Watching Ironman Lake Placid every year made me long to get back out there. Stu and another Tupper Laker Bob Tebo, who is also in his 60’s and did Kona this year, were very influential in drawing back to Ironman. After the training last summer, I love the balance of triathlon for my body. I love trying to fit it all in and Ruby seeing me make it all work. Both Julio and Martha understood that I’m a quality over quantity type of athlete and now a days that is so important for me. In my early twenties I had the luxury of being able to wait until daylight or warmth to get out and ride or take naps, but now time is sparse so every workout needs to count. There were a couple of days at the end of the summer where I’d be up at 4:30 to put in a 7 hour training day and then spend the afternoon cleaning motel rooms. That may have been too much! Anyone want to buy a motel?
amy f eagleman

iv>

What are you up to this season?
I qualified for Mt. Tremblant at Timberman last August so I’m super stoked to race 70.3 worlds within driving distance of my home. I’m the baby of 6 and my parents and siblings are tremendously supportive so I’m excited that they’ll be able to see me race. Other than that the goal for the season is to be better at 37 than I was at 36! The first big race of the season will be Eagleman and then we’ll see what happens after that! 2015 might be the year I shoot for a less flawed Ironman Lake Placid.
 

 Your daughter is quite a skier. You’ve posted some video of her ski jumping. If you don’t mind sharing…. how has that been as a mom to watch her literally soar?
Ruby is something else! The first time she ski jumped she was 6 and we walked up to the jump and I thought-no she’s not doing that! An hour later she was flying off the jump! She does Nordic skiing, ski jumping, and her favorite is freestyle skiing. Last weekend was a slopestyle competition, tomorrow is skiercross. It’s mildly terrifying to see the jumps she hits a Whiteface!