Mary Eggers


The first time, again

I’ve always told athletes “there is only one first time” when it comes to races. Especially Ironman. I was wrong. You can have that moment again. That’s what happened to me at nationals, I had my ‘first time’ again, but it was absent of the insecurity that comes with trying something new.

Since I have returned home and have settled into training with a new coach, new goals and a newfound love for something I have done for so long, I have found that subtle yet laser focus to training again. The kind that doesn’t feel desperate or rushed, or worrisome. The kind that feels trusting, loving the moment and the plan, and patient.

The feeling of riding my mountain bike through trails canopied with trees, with skies as blue as blue can be with those clouds that seem painted up there…. That fills me. I don’t feel like whipping the camera out because it can’t capture what I can feel when the wind is blowing against my skin, and sound of dirt is beneath my tires and the warmth of that sunshine is on my face.

Or the feeling of pushing off the wall in the pool, and making peace with that black line again. Absent is the comparison of intervals and sets, here is the feeling of discovering the water again. Honing this, developing that.

How about the feeling of running down that same trail, different time of day, different scene, new dreams. Instead of looking back, looking forward. Feeling the “what if” again.

My husband is finally coaching me, I had to wait a long time for a spot on his roster. Coaching spots with him are difficult to come by, and just like anyone else, I had to wait. I also had to wait until I was really ready. The long drive to Omaha and back gave us so much time to discuss and dream and when The Monday came around when it was “go time”…. I have never felt more ready.

I have always been very coachable. I don’t question or microanalyze. I especially don’t attach meaning to one day (a good or bad day), and I don’t need constant reassurance that I am good enough. My sense of self is strong and not dependent on a metric that dips in either direction.

I’ve watched Curt excel for 20+ years without illness, injury or burnout. I’ve watched what he’s done with our athletes since he’s taken over so much of the program design with them. He’s been the missing piece to my coaching all of these years. I feel so fortunate to not only be his wife, but to have the opportunity to have his guidance, formally. For us it puts no strain on our relationship. I yield to him as my coach and I have no problem doing that. Between us there is no ego struggle and for that, I am so grateful.

I lead a busy life and for me, that’s been what has saved me. For a long time,, my sole focus was triathlon as it’s my passion and my business. I have been able to step to the back burner of the business and let Curt really shine. My work as a nurse and in nursing education has brought me perspective that not only ground me….. But truly inspires me.

I am not inspired by social media feeds of half naked selfie taking athletes. I am inspired by the incredible students whose education I get to be part of. These students are chasing their dream of becoming a nurse, some under circumstances that I can’t fathom surviving much less enduring as a student. Any day that I feel tired or like I don’t feel like doing something…. I look to them and what they’re doing. I know full well that a workout or a race would be something they would love to have the ability to worry about.

I have always felt that being an athlete is a privilege and not a right. Never have I felt that more strongly than I do right now.

Want to inspire people? Do something  that’s bigger than a selfie in the pool. Make a difference to the people you want to inspire. Get behind them in their cause rather than in front of them. Love what they are traveling through, not the fact that they look at you. Believe in them and their cause, not your abs. Make a difference in their lives in some way, however you aim to inspire and help.

At the end of the day, it’s rewarding and beautiful to have had a part in someone’s journey. To stand on the side of the stage at our students’ graduation, and watch them in their nursing whites as they walk across the stage and get pinned (our college does a very formal ceremony, it’s beautiful).

I challenge you, I dare you to find THAT in your journey. Whatever journey you are on. Find THAT and you will find great meaning, purpose, and drive. Try it for a week. See how it feels.

That feeling I had at nationals awakened something within me that I really thought had passed. But this time, it is a fire that’s more personal, more meaningful and inspired by people who have no idea they are inspiring.