Mary Eggers

General

Team Coyle

The Musselman is an event near and dear to my heart, for so many reasons. I began my journey with this race in 2004 when I was lucky enough to win the very first 1/2 Ironman there (4:48 #glorydays). I feel like I have grown up, lived, cried, celebrated and mourned at Mussel. Now I am lucky enough to announce the race which is an honor….. I can’t even put words to (and they pay me to talk!).

Through the past three years Musselman has become a celebration of life, specifically Michael Coyle’s life. He was taken from us three years ago here. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but you know how grief and loss are. It never feels better, just further away. You don’t get over it, you try to get through it.

I will never forget the last time I saw him. I remember it clear as day. I can still feel the wooden railing under my hand, I can remember exactly how loud it was and for some odd reason…. I can remember exactly where I was on the staircase when we passed one another. I was heading up to packet pickup. He was heading down he stairs. I had thought I spotted his beautiful wife and darling two daughters at the bottom of the stairs and as I was ascending the stairs I had thought “I think I just walked by Mike’s family and didn’t say hello….”. The next second Mike was coming down the stairs. We paused to say good luck, but it was really loud so we just waved. I stopped for an extra second …. and I was going to comment “Your hair is all black.”. He was known for coloring his hair crazy colors and donning mohawks. But his hair was black. But again it was crowded and noisy and we went along our ways.

Through the loss of him…. we gained the incredible honor… and honor isn’t even the proper word… I need a word much bigger and with more gravity…. we have all been graced by the entire Coyle family. There are A LOT of them. Their way of celebrating his life was to become involved. Each time you come to Mussel you see Team Coyle growing, and growing up. They all come.MWC There is never good things that happen when we lose people. But the chance to be able to know all of them…. has been a gift.

So I now eagerly await Musselman, knowing they will be there. So often you lose someone and something disappears. With Team Coyle…. they get bigger and more daring and more…. more awesome. Their answer to loss is to rise up, with holes in their hearts yet giantdoses of courage and grace. They let the tears fall but they smile through them. They came together like no other family I have ever seen.

And like I said…. it’s an honor…. to be able to wear Team Coyle each year that I announce.

If there was a way I could somehow talk to Mike right now…… I would tell him all about it. I would tell him that each time I see his daughters in a photo they resemble him more and more. I would tell him that his wife is the most beautiful courageous and strong womanI have ever seen in my entire life. I would tell him that his mother is all love, and she’s got her arms around this family. And his Dad….. he’s the Dad of this clan. His sisters and brother…. they teach me to throw my arms open and run straight after my dreams. The kids…. oh man the kids. They are just amazing. They are growing, they are daring, they are creative.

I know Mike would be proud of what he’s left behind. He made all of us better. He helps me be better every single day. That’s a legacy.

None of them want to be in this position, but can’t change the fact that they are. I don’t know that if I were them I could do what they do. They are the most amazing family I have ever known. It’s such a privilege to know them. I can’t wait to see them all this weekend.

It’s my Christmas Eve tonight.

Team Coyle….. I hope you are ready for me… because I am definitely ready for you!!!!!!! And I am pretty damn sure … that Mike is still laughing his ass off when he learns his brother is swimming!

General

Coming back

I plotted out my final build to Nationals. As I finished it I smiled. My heart fluttered. It’s an actual structured block of training, with intervals and purpose and structure. It’s not going to go exactly the way I planned it …. but that isn’t what has me giddy. It’s the fact that it’s the first real structured block with such incredible purpose that I have had in a long time.

Don’t get me wrong, what I am doing now is structured. But it’s been base training essentially. I am putting this whole thing together in a short amount of time, and I have no illusions about how Nationals will go. They will go great, because I will be there and I will be engaged. There are a few things I hope for in terms of time….. because I am all about dreaming of things bigger than myself. I think that is what performances are made of.

Will I hit the podium? I am not unrealistic about my ability in that arena…. right now. Throughout my 20+ year triathlon career I have qualified for this race annually…. and I have never gone. NEVER! This race will mark the beginning for me. It’s also my only triathlon this season (I have just booked myself solid with announcing and travel, before I made the decision to compete).

But…. for the first time in so long…. I am excited about the process again. I officially miss the grind, the feeling of nearly vomiting after a hill repeat or a 400 on the track. I officially crave the feeling of being turned inside out as I aim for wattages I am afraid of. I am loving being back IN it.

Last week I got a touch of that. Realistically to hit the podium at Nationals I need a whole lot more of that. I may show up on that starting line so much less fit and ready then the rest of the field…. but I can guarantee you this. I will be the one with the biggest heart and smile to match.

My last triathlon was in May of 2015. My last Aquabike was August of 2015. I haven’t raced. I am so so so so glad I stepped back because as I re enter all of this I am met with the excitement of a beginner and the wisdom of a veteran.

The hardest thing to embrace is the lower volume. Each time I plan a block of training I find myself itching to hit the 20 hour mark. For sprint triathlons I don’t need to. And my health…. hell I just got it all back so my health and my body don’t need to go there right now, if ever again. Until you fall so off kilter you don’t know what it is like to be on kilter again. It takes so long to go over the edge and so long to come back from it…. it leaves a scar that you dance with. Tempting it isn’t somewhere I want to go right now. Or soon.

Part of me can not believe I almost walked away from all of this, everything this sport brings to my life. The other part of me knows that it took almost walking away to find my way back. This sport is my family in more ways than one, and I am sorry for almost turning my back. Thank you for welcoming me home.

In a little over one month I will toe that line…. God willing. A good amount of work has been done and I have a good amount of work in front of me. For the first time in AGES I can’t wait. Gone is the feeling of deep deep fatigue that I can’t shake with a good night sleep. Gone are the low hormone issues and the sky high cortisol, and the deep ache that I couldn’t understand. I am healthy, I am fresh and I am ready for this new chapter. My way. My plan. My expectations. Self sponsored. Supported by myself my family and friends.

The way it should be.