Mary Eggers


Testing…. Testing….

“Wanna run a version of that 500 free set tomorrow? Or wait a few weeks?” Coach Brett, one of my awesome swim coaches, posed the question Monday night. We had just driven 10+ hours home from Chicago, I was jacked up on caffeine and it was past my bedtime. My first reaction was oh shit, a test set and I am going to feel like ass in the morning.

“Let’s do it.” I responded before I could think. The easy way would be to postpone. “If it’s ugly, it’s ugly.”

You can’t wait for the stars to align for test sets and races. You have to just do them. If I can gut through it feeling like shit on overcaffinated lack of sleep and everything that comes along with travel, then imagine what I can do on race day. Put me in, beat me up, let me fail before I succeed. Even race day is never perfect, it’s about working with what you have and being able to rise above.

I arrived to the pool in the morning tired but eager. I again told myself… if you can hit the times tired then when the day of the big dance comes you can handle anything.

It felt good to be back in the water after a few days in Chicago and in the open water. My teammates were there and game for the set. One of the things I love about swimming is that… it’s a solo endeavor yet it’s a team effort. It’s the best of both worlds.

I knew my time from a few weeks ago when we first did the set. It’s a set of 50’s that progresses throughout the season. Now… I don’t like to share workouts that my coaches write, whether it’s a triathlon coach, swim coach, or strength coach. I don’t know why. I feel that it’s their work, it’s their art. There is a certain way Brett designed this set and it’s his. So just know it was a set of 50’s.

Last time I swam this I was one second off what I would need to hit my goal 500 time next April. Being one second off was promising, I honestly wasn’t sure if I would be ten seconds off. I don’t know if my goal is a pipe dream or something I am knocking on the door of.

This time I was dead on and for a few, under. My effort wasn’t all out. I loved how it felt. I kept hearing my teammates say something in between each one. Hold this one back. Surge on the second 25. Clean up the walls. Brett’s starts and stops us and gives us our splits to the tenth. I don’t know how he does it. His subtle way of coaching gets you to reach though. The set is designed to progress through the season in a certain way so that on the day of the big dance we are ready.

So I reached. I didn’t see the green room. I didn’t go too hard. And it was right there. One second that eluded me last time. Can I take it under? I do. I hold it. I am smiling. If I can do this today, then on the big day this just may actually come together.

We can’t shy away even when given the opportunity. We have to look it in the face and accept the outcome. My times are not connected to my self esteem. If I had been slower I would have put the card in the deck and worked with it. As the months come there will be times I am way off. I have to have faith that when the day comes the work will show it’s own result.

Monday morning I as I stood in Lake Michigan in Chicago…. I had the city on one side of me and the world it seemed, on the other. I felt it. I felt the line draw itself. As I have been preparing for this swim focus I have been sort of easy on myself. The goals were to get in some consistent swimming, work on strength, bike and run at will. I knew the day when I needed to announce to myself that it’s game on … would come. I just needed it to come on its own.

Monday was that day.

As I switch to my swim focus I have a lot to figure out. We are slowly increasing yardage. After a few weeks off running to heal from my surgery I am back to running. I think it’s crucial for swimmers to develop their aerobic base on land, by biking or running or whatever they love. My years in triathlon have afforded me the time to develop a big aerobic base and I need to continue to hold that through this swim focus.

I am a distance swimmer. My 500 splits in my 1000 freestyles were always faster than my stand alone 500. The thought of swimming the 500, 1000, 1650 and 400 IM may seem daunting but to someone who has done races that last 2-12 hours…. it’s not daunting. Can I use that to my advantage and do well in all of those events?

I don’t know. Time will tell. One or more of those may get dropped or I may find myself in the 200 fly again. I don’t know. I know that I get faster as I go longer, and running helps that fitness develop. Biking will be in there as well, but those disciplines are there to build the base. In the pool is where the priority is.

So the line is drawn in the sand. Systems are in place. I will outline those as we go along.

The easy road would have been to tell Coach Brett .. let’s wait a few weeks. But if we wait until the day where everything feels great, then where will that get us? Jump in. Get dirty. Let it be ugly. Understand that times are separate from who you are as a person. If you aren’t happy with results, use that to raise your bar. If you are happy with the results, pat yourself on the back… and then set a new bar.

That perfect day is once in a lifetime. Wait for that, and you’ll learn nothing.




Hello from Chicago!

We are here as Curt completes his USAT Certification while he finishes making the transition from corporate world to coaching with me at Valor. Luc and I tagged along for a few reasons: family trip, see some friends and most importantly for Luc to navigate another city. He’s got Boston and New York under his belt, so it was time for him to take the full charge and plan a few days for he and I in Chicago (while Curt learns!).

Our son is on the spectrum, I have written a lot it in detail in the archives and one of these days need to do a recap and update. So many of you have traveled this journey and given us incredible guidance, and it’s my dream to one day help families of kids on the spectrum.

Where on the spectrum? I don’t care. We stopped the testing ages ago because he doesn’t fit into anything neatly. It doesn’t change the plan anyways.

Luc just attended a social skills program at his school for 2 weeks, that we hope grows in the summers to come. The program was designed by his school psychologist and focused on how these kids navigate the world. They held a lemonade stand to raise money for a childhood cancer organization. They went to the mall and had to find certain items, work together, and more. They went to the public market and so many places and focused on asking questions of employees, handling money, and self advocating. It was a perfect bridge to Chicago.

We have always put Luc in many social situations that he’s had to figure things out and learn how to get around. He knows how to use the metro in both Boston and New York. He can get himself around Times Square. He knows how to get himself through the door of an airport and to the plane alone. Many kids his age can’t do half that stuff. We make him do EVERYTHING. He even does his own laundry. He works with Score This !!! in many roles. He volunteers with horses too.

I charged Luc with planning 2 full days of activities in Chicago. And then I sat back. He did a great deal of research and came up with a fantastic plan. The first day he got us to Navy Pier, and chose where we had dinner. On Friday he elected to jump on a double decker bus tour, the kind where you can hop on and hop off, and chose some sights he wanted to stop at. He found places for me to swim and he’s mapped out running routes.  At the last minute and the suggestion of a friend he chose to jump into something pretty neat, I will give more detail on that tomorrow. (we’ve got lots of photos up on Facebook too, check those out if you’d like!).


He scheduled us to learn how to square dance at some free dance thing in the park! WHAT!

When you buy a television you get a manual. When you have a baby you get a hug and a good luck. When you have a child with special needs, you have a whole new level of making it up as you go along. You learn to trust your heart and your gut and like never before you have to guide them without sheltering them.

He will be an independent man who contributes to this world. In another post I will tell you why that’s my mission in this life, but the short story is that when he was 4 we were told he’d end up in a group home.

You don’t put a limit on a child. And you sure as hell don’t put a limit on MY CHILD.

Hold on a second while I calm myself down. Inhale. Exhale.

This trip it’s been awesome to stand back and watch him. He’s calculating prices, figuring out directions with his iPhone and a paper map. He’s being flexible with the schedule, when he’s normally very rigid. He’s stumbling at times yet he’s figuring it out. It’s hard to stand back, but I am doing it.

There are a LOT of revolving doors in this city and he’s been struggling with them, of all things! But he’s getting them down!

It’s been good for me to stand back, but stand by. It seems like he.. maybe with the help of Curt… has set this trip up so I can relax and unwind. “I got that Mom” he keeps saying. I am enjoying that, and I am enjoying the way he is taking charge in a big city and putting together how it all works.

I hope I am doing right by him. We want him to know how the world works, to be able to get himself through any city, to not be afraid to ask for help, to figure it out. He does so many things that “typical kids” don’t or can’t do. (He does his own laundry, have I mentioned that!!!!!!) I don’t know what is right or wrong with all this stuff and frankly I don’t care. I know what is right for us.

It’s fun. It’s fun seeing him become this young man. It’s fun listening to him tell me what building is what before the tour guide does. He told me all about the Chicago fire (I didn’t even know) and told me the history of certain monuments. He did his research.

(Take that stupid psychologist who tried to limit him! Kiss my ass you rat bastard!)