Texas preview

Written by Mary Eggers. Posted in General

In seven days I will be riding my bike on an island. Water will be on either side of me. The wind will howl. It might rain, thunder or the sun may scorch my back. I don’t even care.

When people say … go to your happy place…. for some reason Galveston is it.  This trip in particular is much more than about racing. Racing is the gift. And while it’s not technically an A race for me I will race the best I know how. See where I am at. See what needs to be done for later in the season.

It’s coming together with friends I completely adore. All of us live in different states, and this race… at least for me…. is a celebration of the friendships I have made throughout the years in this sport. This is my version of a weekend away.

Training has gone well, I am happy with the progress I have made over the winter. My power on the bike steadily climbing. Watt by watt. My pace on the run descending, one second by one second. I have set my season up so I peak In September. Very often we can set up the season so athletes can peak 2-3 times through 2-3 cycles. It really depends on the athlete. I am still making my way back…. from an issue in 2011-2012 that I am elusive about (sorry but some things needn’t be broadcast to the world. It was just a physical issue, now health is GREAT!). I have gone through 2-3 cycles in previous years and I soon will again. This season I have set up one cycle. I have a five year plan that builds one year to the next as I am in this new age group. I like to look at where I will be by age 45 and what I aim to accomplish.

Remember:

Short term gratification impairs long term achievement.

This season I am not chasing world championship spots or even Ironman. I am returning to a distance I have always felt suits me very well. This season I am aiming to get intimate with it again and if all goes well my best performance comes in September.

This weekend I did develop a small niggle in my upper left calf. Not a strain, a pull or a tear. More like  a knot that forced me to shut down running for a few days, possibly longer. At this stage of the game I know not to allow that kind of stuff to worry me.

One of the benefits of having had Jesse Kropelnicki as a coach is that I know exactly how to execute his run injury protocol, how to handle this both mentally and physically, and how to use it to my advantage. I am not one to hide injuries or niggles, I am hopelessly honest about many many things. I am human too and I want you to know that I deal with these issues as well. I want you to know that there are ways to handle these sorts of things and one of the biggest keys is to trust the fitness that you have. It doesn’t vanish within a week. You have to be strong mentally and not give in to doubt. Bottom line and period. Never give in to doubt.

Doubt is poison.

To me this trip and this race is about reconnecting. With friends both new and old. With a distance I have loved since the first time I have raced it. and with the sun. Snow Meiser dumped a solid 10 inches on us last evening and I hear that in Texas…. it’s not snowing.

So here is to a week of marinating. Recovering. Packing my Quintana Roo and flying south to be on an island. With friends. With the ocean around me and the sun beating harshly on my back. I long for the wind to be in my face the whole ride. I absolutely positively adore headwinds. I don’t know why but I love it.

Stay tuned this week…. I will share some of my travel tips…. some pacing techniques I have learned…. and the fun we will have.

It’s Texas or bust!

Small doses of happy

Written by Mary Eggers. Posted in General

I opened the envelope, and cried. I sat there a good 20 minutes and just cried. About nothing. About everything.

Inside the envelope were two wooden cooking utensils, from Africa. Michael Coyle’s mom went last week and picked them up for me…. As she knows of my cooking adventures of late.

I thought about how sweet it was of her, which made me miss him, which made me realize that had he not died last summer I would never have met her. Which made me think about Heather and her family, and how I wouldn’t have known them had she not died. I thought about how I saw them both the day before they died.

And I just….. Really miss them. And I miss so many people. Family, friends…. Who I just want to see one more time.  Who I just want one more sentence with. Who I just want to make sure I say “I love you.” to.  Just once more. The tears came without warning. They just came. I sat in my car and just…. cried.

Grief and loss are so unpredictable. There is no protocol, guide …. There is just no way to neatly and gracefully navigate it. I feel like I navigate it least gracefully too. I smile and cry. I ride hard and curl in a ball on the couch. My heart feels like it has a hole so deep it just never will heal. At the same time I don’t want it to heal because I worry I will forget. All of them. Each of them. And I can’t do that.

I ride my bike hard in times like this. Weeks like this. Because it hurts. And it’s the only thing that matches the pain that matches such a deep hole in my heart. I ride hard and I reach for those who have some way to brig me comfort. I don’t always make sense when it happens but I don’t always need it to.

Then the little things happen that restore my faith again. Like receiving the wooden utensils. They remind me of the connections we have in this world and how every connection is healing.

Then the call from Wegmans confirming my sub order for Luc’s drama club tonight. It’s dress rehearsal and I volunteered to feed 45 kids without knowing what that would entail. I said to the woman on the phone “Oh my God I don’t know what I am doing.” And I was really referencing this week and this grief and this feeling like I am stumbling…. not the subs. It’s something that is not a big deal at all but just has me a wreck this week. A this too shall pass kind of a thing.

“Don’t worry.” Her voice reassured me. “We got this. We are here to help you.”  And I exhaled. It wasn’t the subs. It was the gesture of kindness. That…. hey I don’t know what’s going on but we got this…… that sometimes you find in complete strangers.

When I went to pick up the subs I set the trays down on a table and sat down for a minute. For absolutely no reason. An elderly man walked by me and put his hand on my shoulder. I looked up. I didn’t know him. He didn’t know me. But he smiled. Like he could read it on my face.

“Thank you.” I said to him, not even knowing why I said it.

As I sat in the car and cried holding the spoons….. it wasn’t about the spoons. It wasn’t about my week. It was just about ….. I don’t even know what. We carry around our lives. We have our own various crosses to carry. My life has been so extremely wonderful that often I wonder what I did to deserve this.

After it was over I looked up, and out my windshield. In the tangled mess of vegetation on the god awful trelace at the end of the driveway (Which I have been meaning to take down for 13 years now)….. was a single flower bud. Purple.

It was this single purple flower bud in a sea of dead everything, as it is at the end of winter. It was the only piece of color anywhere. I dried my eyes, got out of my car and walked over to it. Standing closer it was…. like someone was telling me something. Go ahead and cry Mar….. everyone does. Everyone should. We don’t even need a reason.

Like someone was reminding me to keep looking forward. Keep smiling. Keep dreaming. Keep living.

I walked into my house with those spoons in my hand and I felt grateful to have this connection. To the past, for the future. From a land far far away. Through loss I have been blessed in many ways. Through loss I have learned to love. Through loss I have learned to appreciate. Through loss I have understood that we never truly get over things. We just get through them.

Through loss I have learned to appreciate things like spoons, kind words, a reassuring touch. I have learned to make eye contact and to not look away. I have learned to always say what I feel. I have learned that we do have one another to lean on.

I have learned that grief and loss aren’t graceful. Aren’t neat. We will stumble. We will fall.

But we can pick each other up again, by giving one another small doses of happy.

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