Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gaining Momentum

Quakerman 2008 Kid's Race. Luc is the second in from the left of the girl in the red shirt. I am the one in the water. Obviously!

First order of today's business: Kerri W was hit by a car in Colorado yesterday, Kerri you are in my prayers and I am wishing you a speedy recovery!

Hip Hip Hooray! Or as they say in Texas..... Yeee-Haw!!!!

Slowly but surely the head is getting better. During some intervals this week each time I hit a certain power level my head began to hurt. Nonetheless I have gotten in some good solid training. I should be cleared to road ride on Sunday, however I may not be cleared to race at the Summer Sizzler.

Which bumms me out because I looked and looked and the next race is the Finger Lakes Triathlon at the end of September (That I can get to) Silver lining: I will jump into some 5K's and enjoy training with some speed..... hopefully beginning next week!

Let's not tell the doctor I have been out on the mountain bike. On a flat crushed stone trail (come on!!!) That can remain our little secret. Okay? Good.

Every day Texas is getting better and better. Kevin, also known as the Wev has found us a house near the good stuff in Austin, and far enough from the bars..., although you'd better believe that on Sunday night post race I will be on a mechanical bull. With a seat belt. And a Helmet. And bubble wrap wrapped around me!

And we've potentially got another cowboy on board. Ken from the Stud lane is looking for a fall 1/2 Ironman to do and needs just a little more convincing..... come on.... come to Texas with 2 people you know and 3 people you don't! Hey fly with us, at least you are not flying with me before I overcame my fear of flying...... back then you'd have nail marks up and down your arm (just ask Curt).

There are a few things you might want to know when traveling with Cow Girl Mary. Just a few.

1. I often wear the same clothes for days in a row. Just ask Ashely and Marit how many days I wore my red board shorts in Florida. With luggage fees these days you can guarantee this!

2. I can live with or without the Internet. Believe it or not.

3. I can assemble my bike and yours. No problem.

4. I get up early. But I won't make you get up. You may find me on the front steps or balcony waiting for the day to unveil. What can I say every day is like Christmas when traveling!

5. I tend not to brush my hair on vacation. Yes, I only consider it a vacation when I am racing.

6. I can go with or without the shower. Don't care. You might.

7. I am in charge of coffee. Period.

8. I don't care where we eat out but please take me somewhere specific to the area. I don't' want to go to Applebees...... when in Florida I go to Dirty Dicks.... when in Texas I want to eat whatever Cow Boys eat and wherever they eat it.

9. I can sleep anywhere. Couch, middle of the road, in your bed. I don't' snore and I don't care if you do. You can set off a nuclear bomb next to me or lay your feet on me and I won't wake up. Call that a special talent of being a nurse.

10. The afternoon before a race I east spaghetti and meatballs. Every time.

The only 2 real requirements that I have aside from racing my heart out is that I need 2 bona fide cowboy hats. One for me and one for Kari M. And of course the mechanical bull.

So just when Western New York is hunkering down and gearing up for fall..... just when the leaves are continuing to turn the beautiful colors that they turn..... just when the triathlon season comes to a close.....

This Clan has out salt licks ready and we've got lots of excitement. This Cow Clan is taking on Texas and we will be ready. Turn up the furnace or really treat us and turn up the Texas chill. No matter what it brings to us we've got one thing that's damn unbeatable.....

We've got each other and we've got mojo. With that combination....LOOK OUT AUSTIN! And wait till you see the cool house we rented!!! Near coffee, Austin and most importantly Lance's Bike Shop!

Look on the bright side......

Ashley and I the morning of Gulf Coast 2008. Photographer.... Marit!

Routinely I am asked how it is possible that I am so positive. People lurk and wait..... there's gotta be a day when she's down, or that positivity must be medically induced. No one is that positive. No one.

Well I am.

How is it possible? Is it medically induced? Am I just showing one side of myself and carefully censoring the bad days?

Nope, nah, nada, sorry to disappoint.

Censor the bad days? Have you not heard I didn't finish IMLP? That was a pretty darn bad day. Yet.... oh no positive spin..... it still wasn't the worst day of my life.

I spent much of my childhood being pretty sad. In particular ages 10-20 when I battled Bulimia. I remember those years as being dark, horrible and sad. You couldn't pay me to return to that life.

I remember as I embarked on my recovery..... in the hospital..... I remember making the choice to be happy. To instead look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. Does it always work? Well eventually. I might react and then have to take a few steps back...... because if there is one thing I have learned in this life I have learned that no matter what.... there is always a silver lining.

When I got married and became a mother I set some basic rules for myself..... I would live in a house without screaming (I grew up in that house), I would always show my son the positive rather than the negative.... and that I would be his example.

We all know those people who are incessantly negative. They drag you down. In my world if I ave nothing positive to say then I will remain silent. Most of the time ;-).

Do I have the recipe nailed? No. Am I perfect? I just choked on my coffee.

I am not striving to be perfect. I am striving to be positive. There's so much in life, the big picture that we can look to when things are not going right. There's always the silver lining.... if you take the time to look hard enough.

And whatever hardship I happen to be facing..... in someone else's world they are facing something so much worse.

So give it a try, just for a day. If you find yourself staring down the glass of the half empty look to the sky. That silver lining is there. Look hard for it. And if you are patient enough you just might even see the rainbow behind it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back to the Start

Hamburg, Germany ITU Professional Race... World's 2007

If you'd have asked me 2 weeks ago what I would be doing the second week of my Ironman recovery I would not have told you than I got a good long run in, a great swim and on deck is a sweet spot bike ride.... I would most likely have told you I would have been sitting by the pool with my feet up.

Not so much!

In some ways I am waiting for the sting of the CNF / DNF to hit me. The more time passes.... the longer it doesn't. I am still waiting. Perhaps it is that I have had my tears and it's time to move on.

I am good at moving on. In most things I am.

Maybe it is just that in the grand scheme of things I have been through worse things.

Maybe it is just lurking around the corner.

As it is still summertime I am still taking some downtime, as this little head injury has not at all healed yet. There is still a lot of pain and some vision changes. I know this can last a long time and I just have to wait it out. I am learning to sit on the couch and sitting on the side edge of the pool while Luc swims his little heart out.

And every day I dream of Texas.

This morning it was back to Masters and back to outdoor long course. I had to take it easy but I tell you this.... I swam a bit with a helmet! No joke! Grimm brought me his kayak helmet and we did get pictures.... with a camera that had film. Who uses film? Not to worry the photographer Rauni, promised to have them developed quickly.

It was actually quite a buoyant helmet and not uncomfortable. Flip turns were a little weird, and there was not enough coverage in the back of the head, but hey it is a start!

And sometimes that's just where we need to begin, at the start. New goals, new workouts, new ideas. A season that goes past September and allows me to run in the fall..... I love to run in the fall.

So as we continue to work from the start I am relishing in the feeling of having an extended season doing what I love to do!

The Cause of Death in Recent Triathlons

My friend Karen Wilson is a talented physician at The University of Rochester, and she's also an avid triathlete. She sent me the link to this really interesting article from the NY times:

Recent Triathlon Deaths Have Experts Searching for Answers

The most interesting point she made was this:

I don't think they autopsy the brain routinely, and sudden head trauma may not show up that quickly anyway. It doesn't even appear that CHI is a consideration

Now does this mean that everyone who dies in a triathlon has been hit in the head? No. But say I was killed at Ironman Lake Placid. The most likely place a medical examiner would have looked to would have been my heart.

I could have very simply been knocked out, and with 2000+ people swimming over me, well you know the rest.

Plus think about this...... feel the back of your head.... that big lump right in the back. Now move your hand down your neck to where you feel that second bump, that vertebrae at the top of your back. That's unprotected area.

We've heard of the lacrosse player around here who was hit right there with a ball and died. And the softball player who took a hit there and died. It's a rarity, and it takes the perfect hit, but get wailed there and you are done.

So there letter has been written and has been sent to various people. When a swimmer complains about a swim people tend to listen. Listening is all I want. Will there be change? I don't know. But as you take a look at the profiles of the people who have unfortunately died in a triathlon, they are not people who should have problems with their heart. As Karen pointed out, a head injury isn't going to manifest quickly enough for an autopsy.

Are we overlooking something? Are we overlooking the head?

While my accident is certainly a combination of being in the right place at the right time for three separate blows to the head (if I could only be in the right place and the right time for the lotto), it doesn't discount that another cause of death could be completely overlooked.

Monday, July 28, 2008

On Strength Training

Before we begin..... CNF= Could Not Finish.... which Missy so graciously pointed out! And.... stay tuned.... Dawn from Splish is designing a cool Texan suit for me, as soon as I have the design I will let you know! I told her any color, anything.... just make it Texas.... with Eggers on the butt of course! How else will I meet my creepy Internet friends????

As training for Austin has begun I have happily returned to some strength training. There is a lot of debate amongst coaches and those who consider themselves to be professionals in the exercise science fields, as to whether strength training hinders or helps multisport athlete. While I am in agreement that to become a faster swimmer, biker or runner you need to swim bike and run, I do believe that strength training has its place in our programs.

In recent years I have stayed out of the weight room because it is very easy for me to bulk up. With my anatomy I would likely have been a better bodybuilder than triathlete, so the actual weights are something I tend to stay away from.

Yoga has been my mainstay for a few years now, and if you don't think yoga involves great strength.... come on over to Breathe and we'll just see about that. In addition to yoga one of the best purchases I made was the Vasa Trainer. In college I spend many many hours on this awesome piece of equipment and there is so much more that you can do than just work your swimming form. You can do just about anything on this machine, which enables me to use cords and my own body weight to build strength.
I also am a huge fan of surgical tubing, stretch cords and stability balls. Functional Strength Training is a term that's become increasingly popular over the past few years and is essentially what I am a fan of. I took a seminar with Chuck Wolf a few years ago and his approach caused me to absolutley fall in love with this mode of training.
There's research to support FST and there's research to knock FST. There's research to support strength training and flexibility and research to debunk it.

I personally believe that a stronger muscle is a more durable muscle. I believe that it is essential to strength train especially after the age of 40 when it is believed that you begin or continue to lose muscle mass each year (depending on what you read).

I like to make it simple... if you have the time a few sessions of strength training per week can't hurt you. If you are trading swim / bike / run workouts for a 60 minute stability ball session then I'd raise an eyebrow. As long as it is additional in my program, I do it about 6 times a week.

For me a typical session is a mixed bag and is never the same. I find 20-30 minutes, which during the day is easier to find than one might think. I see what I am in the mood for and either break out the cords, ball or hop on the Vasa. I hit the major muscle groups, I hit my core and then I call it a day.

I don't' do muscle groups A on day one, B on day two and C on day three. That's how body builders train. I like to hit the whole body, allow the muscles to work in tandem because essentially that's how the body functions.

I don't ever only just use my biceps. I don't ever only just use my shoulders. Everything operates together and that's why I love FST.

I have some athletes who hate FST, they feel their best work is done with free weights or on machines. I have them do what they like to do (imagine that!) and what they can get done quickly and without interference.

I think the best mode of strength training is the one that doesn't detract from your normal swim / bike / run grind, and is something that is easy to remember, that you enjoy doing and that is fun.

So if strength training is something that is important to you, take the time to figure out which mode fits you and what you are looking for. Keep it, fun and keep it simple!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

10 Weeks

There are ten weeks until Texas and I've got week one in hand. I feel excited again, like I have something brand new to chew on for a bit. This week's nothing too special, a lot of frequency and the return of my beloved sweet spot trainer rides, a long run and a long bike... but nothing lone like I have been doing forever.

It feels great to have a new focus. A shorter faster focus. It feels fresh.

I keep expecting the pain of the CNF to hit me. It still hasn't. Maybe it won't. Right now I really feel like I have been there and done that with Ironman. It's definitely time for a break.

Suddenly the season I thought would be over by now is in a way just beginning. The trip is coming together quicker and cooler than expected. Five of my awesome athletes will be traveling with me. And they are as excited as I am.

Don't tell my doctor but I rode outside last evening. On the mountain bike, on a flat trail. It's strange when you have an injury that prevents you from road riding not because you physically can't, but because of the possibility of something happening.

As careful as I can be I can't say that someone else will be just as careful. I have been promised road riding by Saturday on my Cervelo, that makes me really happy. Perhaps being grounded from the bike is then short lived. Hooray!

Until then I am dreaming about Austin and enjoying the new life that is being breathed into my season. On August 9th I get to race a sprint triathlon.... and I can't wait to test the snap that I hope to have!

So here we go, rather than the end..... we have a beginning. Now I just need to design the perfect suit!

Here is what I have so far, but remember I have a brain injury so my creativity is imparied.......


Friday, July 25, 2008

Texas or Bust!


I am headed to Texas this October. It's official. I am officially registered for Texas Longhorn 70.3. I told my coach I had three goals:

1. Sub 5

2. Qualify for Clearwater 2009 (I did this race in 06 and vowed I'd never go back, but I have a head injury.... what do I know???)

3. Ride a mechanical bull.
Coach assured me that I would have trouble with only one of those goals. You can imagine which.

So Train-This is headed to Texas and I couldn't be more psyched. It's going to be one interesting weekend. As long as hole doesn't blow into the belly of our plane.

There's much work to be done between now and then. Monday is the new start date for all of it too. The greatest thing about last weekend is that I did not forge ahead and I did get pulled off the course. Because I have legs fresher than even the winner of Lake Placid 2008. And now I've got a whole rest of my season that I didn't expect to have.

I've been focusing on 140.6 for so long I haven't had the opportunity to work on my 70.3 issues. You see it was a long time before I slipped up and started heading above 5 hours. Then I had all sorts of issues and I kept landing back where I didn't belong. If that sounds cocky I don't intend it too..... it's just the truth about me. We've all got that time we belong at..... and I know where mine is.

I am anxious to go fast. I've never said that before.... and I'd better be careful of what I admit!

I've selected a plethora of races, some good running races to get me back into the running swing. There's no more 6 hour rides.... there's no more 2:30 runs..... hip hip HORRAY!

So the Ironman and I had a nasty little breakup. He kept asking me if I thought he was fat and I got tired of it, if you really want to know the truth! I mean come on!

As of today, which I am led to believe is Saturday, the pain has decreased even more. I attended the Friday night lake swim and my friend Dave Soule (who did a 10:40 last week!!!!!) gave me his motorcycle helmet to swim in. Even in the lake I was worried about getting hit. I am giving a swim clinic in Sept. at this lake and I will be speaking a lot about etiquette and swimming straight!!!!!

I thought I would be emotionally broken after an Ironman DNF. I really did. Now it could be that I will have a delayed reaction and break down next week.... but today it's just fine. Monday I cried and by Tuesday I felt really grateful. Had I not stopped I would have finished that race, slower than I was ready to and I would have trashed myself for any remaining season.

I am so grateful to the man who stopped me. I had actually passed the aid station and stopped at the hockey net where we throw old water bottles. So this guy had to run over to me and I was about to clip back in.

Whew. I got lucky.

So as we prepare for Texas there is a flood of excitement coming our way. I have a whole new schedule of races..... check it out here..... and I am really excited. I am most excited about one thing.... going fast. I know I can go long, it's been a while since I went fast.

So bring it on Coach T! And I promise not to ride the bull until after the race, and with a helmet!





Thursday, July 24, 2008

On Recovering

Here is the IMLP swim, actually this section looks pretty tame compare to where I was, there are spaces in the water between people and people have their heads up!


I treat concussions all the time in the Pediatric Emergency Dept. I have even had a concussion before. But never a grade 2, and never one like this. I have a whole new appreciation for those who suffer from migraines.

If I had broken my arm I could ice it, elevate it. But I live in my head. I am not used to noise hurting, lights bothering me and just being in pain.

It will get better.

My memory has improved. My speech has improved. Things are improving.

I gave myself Wed as complete rest. I didn't do much but lay on the couch. In some ways I just tuned out. Thursday I returned to yoga, which heals anything that ails me.

Friday I plan to swim in the lake. When I was in Placid being in the water was the best thing for me. Maybe it was the quiet of the water, just easy long wetsuitless swimming. I felt like I was free and like I was floating.

My thoughts have drifted to Monday, which is when the bus starts up again. A few weeks of high frequency and low volume should do me just right. 2-3 weeks there and a race or 2 and I will be ready to make a great big push to Texas.

The Texas trip is gaining some momentum. Kitima, Kevin, Kelly B., Kim and even possibly Steve have jumped on board. I feel like we should make a great big sign and strap it to the back of the airplane .... a sign that reads..... "Train-This does Texas!" It will be really fun to travel with my team to a place we've never been and a race we've never done. It's for a few of us who wish to redeem ourselves from races of this season.

But as I begin again I am learning just how careful I need to be. The problems associated with a concussion can last up to 2 months. I have to be very careful about intervals, especially in the water. So I shall listen to my body, and to my head. Anything that hurts I won't do.

I feel like a great big chocolate cake that's been baked, and now I am cooling. I just need some good chocolaty icing and I will be on that starting line in Texas with excitement, with happiness, with my full health and with dreams of riding a mechanical bull. With a helmet of course!

From Here

A few side notes before we begin today's DNF therapy session:


Mer..... I did IMFL as well last year and I thought that swim was great! In fact there were times I was swimming alone and I was terrified (sharks).... probably one of the few times I wished I was in a crowd!!!! HA HA

Mark.... Now I do remember talking to you, but I don't remember if it was on the out and back or the last 11!

My friend Jason took my wetsuit off and I have no memory of it. Then one of my athletes found a picture of that exact moment of wetsuit strip.... a never-to-be-published-photo!!!!

Thanks everyone for your amazingly kind comments, I can't tell you how very touched I am!

**********************************************************************************
Yesterday I got this amazing card from an amazing young lady:

I started to cry. I was so immensely touched. That Kari would take the time to write to me was such a statement about who she was, and who she is being raised to be.

I began to think about what's next. If I am to be a role model of some sort, what am I to do next? When my son and Kari see me get knocked down how can I teach them that in life we get knocked around? Sometimes we don't wear a swim helmet and sometimes we get hurt.

At that moment, when we are laying on the ground on our backs and looking up at the sky we have 2 choices. Stay down or get up.

So I have asked myself a series of questions. I decided my first instinct would be the right choice:

Do I need a break?

NO.

Do I want a break?

NO.

Do I need a break from the Ironman.

YES.

Do I want to go into an early off-season and rebuild for 2009?

No, I am just not done yet.

What looks good to me?

Some local races, maybe some 5K's and heck….. I am beginning to dream about Texas. I have never been to Texas! Now with the gang that is threatening to accompany me, I am even getting excited about it.

Texas.

Yes.

Texas in October?

EVEN BETTER.

After spending so much time aiming for and completing 140.6…… 70.3 seems just awesome. And that Coach is on board is even better.

So it's time to get back up and do something with this Ironman fitness. We need a little speed, a little wizardry, a little hurt box….. call it what you will.

But Mary Eggers is really good at one thing kids….. getting back up. I think of all of the times in my life I have been knocked down, and I have gotten up each and every time. My passion for this sport is burning. I have no desire to retreat and find a career on the Golf course.

That's not me.

What is me, is looking myself straight in the eye and dealing with what I see.

I've always told my team that I have just as much of a chance of a DNF as anyone else. Because I've done 4 IM's doesn't take me out of that. In my entire life I have never been one to say that I'd never DNF…… I have DNF'd 2 races in my life and both for medical reasons.

One I could have controlled and this one…. I just could not. Never say that you will never DNF a race. It will eventually happen to all of us and you need to have enough humility to accept that. It's just a fact.

2 DNF's in 12 years…. pretty darn good I think.

So this week I am dusting myself off. Rumor has it that at Masters yesterday Erik Grimm did in fact bring me a swim helmet. Not to worry, I will wear it next Wednesday morning and of course I will have pictures.

One thing I vowed to myself when I started this blogging business is that I would hide nothing. I would sugar coat nothing. I would be honest about my goals in this sport and I would be just as honest about my successes and my failures. The only thing I have ever hidden are some health issues, and I imagine you can understand that.

If one person out there can identify with me, whether it is a weigh in that's waaaayyyyyy too much, a bike crash, a concussion in a swim, a DNF in an Ironman, a victory beyond possibility, overcoming obstacles, if one person can find something in these stories….. then it is worth it.

There will be people who read just to see you fail. Or to see just what you are up to like a spy. I have no use for individuals like those. That says enough about those people and those kinds of people are not in my life and will never be.

Not only am I human, I am really human. I cry, I laugh, I get upset. I have disappointments, victories and I lose just as many times as I win.

What's important is what we do with each of these things. We don't become invincible and we don't just lie on the ground. We take the lessons from each of these experiences and we use them to help us become better people.

So it is really, really important that I get back up and I follow my instincts and I get back out and race again. Not just for me but for Luc, for Kari and for anyone who can identify with being human like me.

So thank you Kari, for not only teaching me that you are a girl of immense kindness, love and integrity. I promise you my head will heal and we will keep moving forward. And when I go to Texas I will bring back a cowboy hat for you too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Litte Plastic Castle

Training for the Ironman and a concussion leave you feeling much the same. Like you are a goldfish in a bowl swimming happily. Each time you see the little plastic castle you think.... wow, a castle........ wow a castle....... wow a castle!

We so sadly left lake Placid late yesterday and I frowned the whole way home. Not because of the Ironman, because I love Lake Placid. I still love Lake Placid. I am glad we stayed a few extra days. The hoopla quieted down and we could just hang out.

It was nice.

The pain of the DNF is healing quicker than I expected. But then again I have a head injury....

This morning things are not much better in terms of pain. Yesterday I had trouble speaking, getting though to word, but that passed. My eyes hurt and my head..... did I say that still hurts? I sometimes forget things.

I am so incredibly proud of my Ironman team. For the fifth year we enjoyed a 100% finisher's rate (do I count? HA HA!). When I said goodbye to Ed yesterday I almost lost it. But he is in the TT family forever.

If there was ever a day I would have PR'D in an Ironman it would have been Sunday. Rain is my weather. Actually, a little more wind would have been better. As I saw those raindrops begin to fall I began to rub my hands together and lick my lips.

But I am living to fight another day. This morning I am even laughing about it.

And so life goes on in the world of Iron...... but I no longer need to say the world of Iron. You see the Ironman and I..... we've had a good run together. It's time for us to take one of those "relationship breaks." for at least a year.

Which gives me plenty of time to design the swim helmet, and believe it or not, we have tons of orders!!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Texas Hold 'Em

First of all thank you so very much for all of the incredible words...... I can't thank you enough for everything. A few days post Ironman have helped things settled down a little bit, in terms of emotions.

Honestly if this was my first Ironman I would be a wreck.

The more time passes I realize how lucky I am that I was not the one who crashed her bike and broke her clavicle. I did not pass out from the hit, and swum over. I still can walk, breathe and live and I won't be out for all that long.

Damn was I lucky.

Bob M got me thinking about writing a letter to anyone who would listen, because I do believe that the Ironman swim has got to change. Being a strong swimmer I almost feel like it's taboo to admit that a swim isn't safe. Likely I won't be able to change a thing. I do believe that responsibility does somewhat lie with the race director in creating a safe swim start. But it also lies within the athlete.

What are we doing to each other? What does this say about us? I've thrown my fair share of punches in the water, what has that done to the guys I have been guilty of hitting?

There have been deaths in Ironman and other distance swims. Healthy athletes who have no medical history. I am beginning to wonder if they take a hit and go down.... have they simply been swum over?

Is the time trial start like Ironman Louisville had last year the way to go? All of my athletes who did that race reported a great swim and no problems. So the finish clock time isn't quite right and you aren't sure where you are in the race........ but you make it through the swim without an injury.

Have we actually gotten so wrapped up in the rest of it that we have forgotten that we are so lucky to even be here? Sure we are competing for Kona slots and knowing who is where could be important.

But at what expense?

Just questions I am pondering at the moment. And how does one person make that big of a difference?

It's Tuesday in Placid and the Iron Folk have gone home. My head is not that much better which means Thursday I am likely headed for a CT scan. They don't do anything for concussions except watch and observe. Unless there is a bleed of which I likely do not have.

I stood in downtown Placid yesterday and spoke to Joey and Travis and I could not remember who they were. I have periodic episodes of immense pain and confusion. But I have my body functions.

They kept asking me why I headed out on the bike. I had a head injury and my mental status was already altered. So clearly I wasn't clear to make any judgements. Duh!!!!!!

I did swim, which felt GREAT. I did a very short run, which did end in a walk. I ran because I needed to, not physically just emotionally. I ran around Mirror Lake. It always makes me feel good.

Last night I shot an email to Coach T, I was poking around on the Ironman site and I noticed Texas Ironman 70.3 was still open on Oct 5th. It intrigued me. I have all this base, it's like a chocolate cake has been baked..... it's ready...... now it just needs some icing.

To my absolute surprise he thought it was a good idea and told me I need to race ASAP. As soon as I have medical clearance I need to race.

I smiled.

I might be down but I am certainly not out. How lucky am I to have this easy of an injury? I mean Marit broke her freaking sacrum. I took a brain bruise. I'm not that bright to begin with so big deal ;-)

The infamous Kelly B is threatening to come along. And one of my athletes Steve.

So I shall take my recovery. And then I am getting back up. They don't call me Miss Mary Sunshine for nothing. I am ready to get back on that horse, this time however I am going to do so with a cowboy hat!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Swim Helmet

I have been inspired by my sister to invent a swim helmet. It will be a big seller at Ironman races. I will make a billion, buy myself an island and live happily ever after. I will host Camp HTFU twice a year and we will swim in the ocean.


But don't forget right now that I have a head injury so I might not remember this in 5 minutes. Just remind me of this fantastic idea. And please forgive me in case I repeat myself a few times.


Why would I want to invent a swim helmet? Well because contrary to reports..... my injury occurred in the least likely of all places. The one place where I feel 800% at home, where I spent my life.


In the swim.


Who gets injured in the swim?


It would have been evident if you know my regular swim times. I've done IMLP 3 times and have never swam over an hour. So when I line up in front it is because I belong there. I lined up yesterday after a morning that went fine...... in the front. This year I chose a spot very wide. I wanted to avoid the dogfight that this swim is.


Here is what the Lake Placid swim start looks like.


It's about 50 yards wide and all 2,500 people start in the water together. Over the years this swim has become more and more aggressive. There is a line you follow under water if you can get to it, and it's twice around a rectangle.


I knew things would be ugly when at 6:50 the men were already pushing and shoving and dunking others as we were treading water. A group of about 10 of us girls huddled together and vowed we'd stay together. Pink caps unite. All of us had swim times under 1:00 so we were in the right place. By the looks of a few of these fellows..... they wouldn't be under an hour.


At 7am the cannon sounded and we were off. Even at my wide right spot it was awful. The girls stayed together and suddenly I was surrounded by blue caps.


About 2 minutes in..... the event occurred.


When you swim in a triathlon you are prepared to take hits. especially as a females swimming in the midst of guys. They hit and punch you. They dunk you. They are not kind.


I took three hits one after the other. It wasn't the force of the hits as much as the timing. I got hit in the right temple, left temple then as I picked up my head to sight I got nailed in the back of the head.


It took less than once second for me to get all 3 hits. Had I had one small second in between each, if I had just enough space for my head to move with the blows I would have been fine.


My sight immediately went blurry and I saw stars. If I had passed out I would have been dead. The rest of the field would have swum right over me without a single care in the world. That's how vicious this is.


I got myself to the outside of the pack and slowed down as I felt such pain and incredible nausea. I was dizzy but I gave myself time to pull it together as I swam. I cruised the first loop and the second loop went much better. I swam 5 minutes slower than I typically did. But that was about to be the least of my problems.


As I exited the swim I continued to feel spacey, but that's normal in an Ironman swim. They stripped my wetsuit off and I barely remember the 1/4 mile run to the transition. I do remember having a hard time deciding on whether to wear sunglasses. It was pouring rain.


I hopped on my bike and I felt okay. I began to throw up at the first climb, but it didn't worry me. I was still able to take in my nutrition and salt and I felt like I was hitting my calorie goals.


The pain continued to worsen and vision changes began to occur. As I approached the 10K descent I was literally seeing 2 roads in front of me. Somehow I convinced myself my contacts were screwed up (denial)..... and I aimed for straight down the middle .


Throughout the first loop of the bike I was nauseous, had vision changes and occasionally vomited. I stayed under my power goals just to try to pull things together. Even with vomiting I kept my nutrition goals.


I rode through town and through the amazing crowd and I don't remember too much of it. I ascended Cascade hill and vomited again and started to see double..... again. As I was still trying to convince myself that it was my contacts I stopped at the aid station to try to shake my head and bring myself together.


The medical guy at the aid station came over and asked if I was okay. I told him I was. He asked me about my nutrition and I told him it was fine. I told him I had gotten hit in the head in the swim and was having a little trouble with vision. Then he asked me my race number.


In the Ironman your race number is to you, what your social security number is to you in college. You are defined by it. It is also written on each arm and each leg. And on your bib. I couldn't remember my bib number. But in all fairness before this race began I was having trouble remembering it.


He asked me my name and it took me too long to remember. The next thing I knew I was being strapped into a gurney and I watched my bike get loaded into the back of a truck. Someone screamed "Eggers" from the course.


Apparently there was a girl on a Cervelo like mine who crashed in the descent. Which was why people thought I had crashed.


The ambulance brought me to the med tent and I was questioned again about nutrition.


"I had 300 caloires an hour for three hours." I told them. "I had a 341 salt tablet every 15 minutes for three hours." They were impressed by this.


"Spell the word WORLD backwards." The doctor told me. One of my athletes, Kitima was also working as an MD. I looked at her.


Oh boy.


It took me quite a while to spell WORLD backwards.


She had me tough my finger to my nose then to her finger. I did it. She wanted me to do it faster. I couldn't.


My body temperature had dropped to 95 degrees. They packed me with saline. The pain in my head was so severe I wished they would have just cut my head off.


Now poor Curt wasn't quite sure of what was going on. The house we were staying at was on the run course which was completely closed to traffic. Even in an emergency. I refused to go to the hospital because I knew I'd have no way home. So he was pacing back and forth waiting, hearing some conflicting reports, knowing something was wrong based on my times..... finally Kitima got a hold of him.


Essentially that's where it ended. Here is my absolutely gorgeous finisher's photo:




Part of being an athlete is taking this kind of risk. I am still a four time Ironman finisher. I still own a sub eleven finishing time, which was truly my life long goal. I still have my medals. This would have been much worse if it was Ironman #1. In life we have disappointment and we have amazing achievements. I realize that making it to the starting line of 3 Ironmans in a year is amazing in itself.


Right now I will allow the disappointment to wash through me. I won't lie and say that the pain isn't great, it really really is. It hurts so very much. In a few days that will begin to subside. I have to allow myself to just experience the pain instead of avoiding it. Walk through the fire, you'll get to the other side.


I didn't sign up for 2009, and I am glad that I didn't. The Ironman will be here forever and I have had my run..... for now. I have this great big fitness base that I didn't blow yesterday by plugging through a race I shouldn't have.


My attention will return to the 70.3 distance for sure for 2009. I am not sure what's in store for the remainder of 2008. Part of me wants to hit August hard and rock out some good sprints in Sept. Part of me wants to shut down and run all fall long.


Part of me is so unsure.


I swam in Mirror Lake this morning. My neurologist friend evaluated me on Main Street in Lake Placid and said I was ok to swim and run. No biking for 2 weeks, as this is not my first concussion. I have been passing people on the street and forgetting their names. I am on a delay in my response to people. My husband won't let me drive the car.


When I was swimming I felt much better. Like the fog is lifting and the healing has begun. Life is going to go on. I have no desire to quit my sport and I am not all that pissed off.


There was a reason that what happened yesterday.... happened. I won't know it for a while but there will be a day when I say..... that's why.


I am so very touched by the amount of emails and phone calls that I have received. Thank you to Kevin and Kitima for taking care of me. Thanks to Rich, Melissa and everyone in the tent for hanging with me.

That you respect how important this is to me, and you allow me to have my grief.... is so heartwarming. One of the rays of sunlight in this is I feel so supported. And supported by people who understand my passion for what I do. Who don't discount this as just a race.


My yoga teacher Cyndi asked me if I could just allow myself to be human. That really stuck with me. I can. I can allow myself to be human. I can allow myself to stumble and I can allow myself to fall.


Because we get back up again.


So keep your eyes on the 2009 fashion line. The Mary Eggers swim helmet will be available at Interbike 2009. I am pretty sure I can get Lisa Bentley or Desiree Ficker to model it for me, or why not myself?


Because in the next 2 weeks if I do anything that causes me to hit my head again, and I god forbid sustain another concussion, I will have a serious problem. Then I will be wearing the swim helmet forever.


And if you are one of the first 200 people to order the Mary Eggers swim helmet, I will paint your name on it..... for free. If you are very lucky enough you will make the list for camp HTFU on Eggers' island and don't worry, with the sales of the swim helmet, your trip to camp will be on me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not Okay

Hi everyone.... thanks so much for the many emails, texts and phone calls. I am not okay. I am not okay at all. I am not sure if it is my head or my heart but I feel like I have been shattered into a million tiny pieces.

I left this bike course in an Ambulance, unable to recall my race number, spell the word world backwards, to touch my finger to my nose without difficulty. I have a concussion and a broken heart and I don't know what hurts worse.

I'll send out the details later Monday.

I was ready for this race. More prepared than I have ever been. A DNF right now is completely devastating to me. I am shattered. Absolutely shattered.

In better news my entire team finished. Sarah pr'd with an 11:53 and took 3rd in her age group. Ed did amazing. Everyone persevered on a day that brought torrential downpours. I am so proud of my team.

Even though what happened today was beyond my control I am not proud of myself.

Thank you so much for all of your kind words.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Super Duper Saturday

Family signs on the run out and back!
Transition

Saturday in Placid means bike check in. I did something I swore I'd never do. I duct taped garbage bags all over my wheels and I dreamt of having the bike tarp. I always mock those out who cover their seats, but suddenly I was in need.

You see I am riding the Bontragers and remember that time the back wheel filled with water? It's supposed to rain tonight. So I duct taped garbage bags to prevent the rain from filling them. I don't know if they would but I am taking no chances.

Race day is looking perfect. 73 degrees, 5-8 mile winds and rain about 2pm. I wish it'd rain the whole day but I can't be picky.

It's funny because in a way I dread this swim. It's such a damn dogfight and I will start wide tomorrow yet inevitably get sucked right into it. We shall see.

You just never know in Placid.

Bikes are racked, bellies are full, and my kidneys are happy. I am so looking forward to race day and I shall report back after midnight on Sunday!

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING ALONG AND FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Very Long friday


I am very well aware that we have a very serious issue with my hair. I have not brushed it, I don't plan on brushing it. At mile 18 no one will give a shit and I just might even cut it in T2.... except that'd take too much time. Until then I am doing my best to be the mountain girl.


Today was the longest darn day of my life. A day off, the Ironman looming, the bike is ready, taper is done..... now just waiting. Rain, thunder and lightning seemed to follow us around wherever we went, which was really not anywhere.

We had a team meeting this am after some of my athletes sampled the water. Everyone is ready. The only glitch is that Ed has emailed and done everything to try to contact the medical director for weeks now, and he can get a hold of no one.

No one.

You see, he needs to test his blood sugar after one loop of the swim. When you are diabetic, especially a new diabetic, you realize how delicate blood sugars are. We have check points during every part of the race. But during the swim he can't wear his insulin pump. So he needs someone to hand him his meter between loop one and loop two of the swim. We need a volunteer. No response from the medical director, and Ed is stalking him at the athlete meeting right now. Worse comes to worse we will have his sister stand there and wait. It's outside assistance but we have a case. We have countless emails and phone calls and attempts. Nothing in return. NOTHING. We followed NA Sports directions to a T. So I am worried about that.

We've got an attempt plan tomorrow. We will work it out.

The girls are at the athlete meeting. I've essentially been at the house since we left early this morning. In town Lake Placid is where I will not go today. Insanity. Pure insanity.

Instead my time has been spent sitting on the screened porch in the middle of the woods. Listening to the birds and the lawnmowers. Reading, sleeping, stretching, planning. Getting ready.

Saturday brings a short early workout. 2pm bike check in. Late afternoon dinner. Then to sleep. I'm lucky that I can sleep the night before an Ironman. Hey I am a nurse, I could sleep in the middle of Main street on the yellow line without a problem.

Until tomorrow....... we wait.

The Train-This IMLP Team 2008

Here is Sharon, Bill, Sarah, Nathalie and Adam (from our 70.3 team) at the Friday swim right before the lightning storm rolled thorugh!


There's not much else to do while I am waiting for the Ironman to call and invite me out for a date. Here it is, 5:30am and he still hasn't called. Bastard. I will just wait for him, again and again. So as I am sitting here on the back porch surrounded by woods and chirping birds I am greeted by a complete rest day with the instructions of "Not even a swim... I have spies."

Bastard.

The Train-This Ironman Team has arrived and this morning we have a team meeting. Each and every year I think.... how can this team get better? And it does. The group of people who comes together is simply amazing.

And here they are:

Amy Noe: I need to mention Amy because she's not going to be competing. A few weeks ago she was in a horrid cycling accident and broke her femur bone, which is the hardest bone in the body to break. Her recovery will last longer than a year. Amy is a single mom attending Law school and is an amazing athlete. I will have her name on my hand as I compete on Sunday, and we will all have her in our hearts.

Nathalie Bruneau: Working mother of 2 and wife of Scott, this is Nathalie's 2nd Ironman.

Sarah Stainistreet: Sarah is my running partner, about to enter grad school to become a teacher and this is her second Ironman. She's also competing in Ironman Arizona in the fall.

Ed Liebowitz: yes of Rung the Bolus fame. Ed is a type I diabetic who was diagnosed a little over a year ago. This is Ed's first Ironman and if you have been reading along, he's pretty freaking ready.

Sharon Maddock: Sharon is a Pediatric ICU nurse who just shaved 45 minutes off her 1/2 Ironman time! This is Sharon's first Ironman!

Bill Hariis: Bill is an Intensive Care Nurse and this will be his third Ironman. Bill is also one of my riding partners and has been witness to me falling apart a few times.

Mark Valleley: Mark is from Ithaca and this is his second Ironman..... believe it or not he is talking about his third.

Kevin Walter: Kevin has done this race 5 times and his rewards to himself for competing here on Sunday is...... Ironman Florida this fall. With the rapper name K-Dub..... this man is the human Starbucks locator.

Matt Kellman: A marathon background brought Matt to the dark side. Last I spotted him he was well on his way to becoming Captain America himself with Ironman gear at the expo! His challenge is to top his wife's perfectly paced first 1/2 Ironman last week!!! Can he pace this well? We will see!

Now there are a few others on our Ironman team who are doing other Ironmans: Kara Klassez and Andy Thomas will be heading to IM Louisville, Jay Hollister will do his second Ironman in Florida later this year and how could we forget Rena Senner. Monday she moved back to Germany after her amazing Ironman Brazil in May.

I will be sure to snag a team picture this morning at the meeting. It's all of our goals to be out of town by noon because athletes are arriving and town is a madhouse!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Few Pictures

Sarah, myself and Nathalie.... it's a little clear I have not brushed my hair in a while!!!!!


Curt and Adam at home at the mega grill!!!!!!!!!!

Bike..... CHECK!

David and Luc chumming it up!
Curt in the Rachel Ray kitchen!
Here is where we are staying. Sarah and Adam are in the one on the right!
A lot of the roads are like this in Placid, lined with trees and beautiful!

Thursday in Placid means one thing..... Lake Placid becomes IRON TOWN. Banners and triathletes are everywhere. I have decided that since they are cutting down on bringing your family with you through the finisher's chute.... people have instead decided to bring their family with them through registration.

A group of people held up weigh in taking pictures of each other on the scale. I weighted in 5 pounds too light by the way.... interesting how that never screws with my mind :-) The couple in front of me kept making out during the wait for weigh in..... at which point I was grateful to have a Centro Phone which I could read Marit's Blog (Great RACE MARIT by the way!). But the time passed quickly and soon enough I was on my way with my bags, numbers, timing chip and my shiny silver bracelet.

Coach T knew exactly what he was doing this morning sending me out to the out and back portion of the course. It was a 20 minute drive from where I was staying, but one I got on the bike, things got good. Really good. Nothing wiggled, nothing wobbled (although I did have new brakes put on afterwards..... maybe I should just buy a new bike too while I am at it?), and everything felt smooth. I have never in my life ridden anything different than a 12-23 cassette and I have to say.... holy cow! It's NICE to climb with a 26!

In one breath I felt my fear and doubt vanish. I was out within the trees and the hills and the mountains. One thing I tell my gang.... never forget to look up. This course will give you what you need, as long as you open up to it. I finished the ride feeling great. Feeling happy.

Lake Placid makes me happy.

As I do each and every year I ran into Graham Frasier at the expo. He was wearing so much red white and blue Ironman paraphernalia that I told him I'd created him the nickname of Captain America..... which is funny because he's Canadian.

I found Ed and his super cute new gal Kim, who is also racing. It was a bit like a reunion with all the folks I saw. It's like coming to summer camp and seeing all the friends you haven't' seen all winter.

In moments like this I realize what all the winter work is for. It's so I can come and have a blast here.

Back at the house things are going really well. The boys have clicked and it's been one big party. For now however they are all riding the Lake Placid / Saranac Train and I have been given some time to myself. Which I shall use for a nap.

More later tonight!!!!

Thursday Morning

Coach must have known what would happen today when he sent me out to the out and back part of the bike course. I completely calmed down. Maybe it was the quiet, maybe it was the scenery but whatever it was in one breath I felt all doubt, fear and uncertainty disappear. The bike is rocking.

Thursday in Placid.... means check in day!!!! And I promise pictures soon, I forgot my memory card in my camera..... on deck today is a new one!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday In Placid


The Bruneaus are here and the boys are all in heaven. There is fishing to be done and woods to play in, not to mention their cool toys that they are orienting Luc to. He's in his own version of heaven.

Placid on Wednesday is wonderful. A handful of triathletes were in Mirror Lake this morning where I swam sans wetsuit..... I wish all triathlons were no wetsuit swims! The water is perfect. I took the time to stop in the middle of the Lake and just feel. You are surrounded by trees and mountains.

I like to feel my way through Ironman Lake Placid, not think. The more I can stay out of the space between my ears the better. When I learned how to surf I was actually taught blindfolded. The instructor taught me to learn to feel the waves. He said you don't learn to surf by looking, analyzing and then standing on the board. You feel the water begin to rise, you begin to paddle with the water and you feel the moment when you stand on the board.

This course is the same way. Get stuck in your head and risk blowing it all. Stay in tune with yourself, your plan, feel the hills rise and fall and feel yourself gliding. Feel the energy of the amazing people here..... I have been coming here for so long I know just about everyone by name.
This afternoon we watched the skiers at the Olympic Training Center. These young folks learn how to ski jump and complete Aral maneuvers by skiing down a jump and somersaulting into a pool. I noticed how their coach coached them. Jump from your heart.... he would say..... stay within yourself.

I took that lesson with me. I have worked hard to make my Ironman as brainless as possible. From my outfit to my nutrition to my beeping watch every 15 minutes to wattage goals and running pace. Simple simple simple. Designed to keep me from thinking, calculating, etc. Staying within myself to clear the way to the finish line.


I picked up my bike at High Peaks Cyclery this morning and eyed my shiny new 11-26 cassette. I glued my tires on and made a mess, but they're on and the valves are tight. A quick spin today confirmed that this wheel issue is now over. Tomorrow I will ride the out and back of the bike course which hold plenty of hills to check gearing, brakes, cornering, tires and most importantly shifting.

As the other triathletes begin to arrive our time in town grows less and less. Right now the boys are sword fighting in the backyard. The sound of wind blowing through the trees is complimented by a lawnmower in the distance. We are close to town but far away enough to be secluded.

As my mind turns back to those ski jumpers who fearlessly flew through the air today.... I shall aim for the same thing on Sunday. Moving from within myself, fearlessly, out of the space between my ears, nothin but net.




Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arrival

Ahhhhh...... to arrive in Lake Placid is a lot like arriving in heaven. There is just something about this place, I can't define it, I can't put my finger on it but there's something that connects me out here. We learned that the way to go around here is to rent a house rather than a hotel room. More often times it's cheaper and you get so much more. This is the second year we've done this and our jaws dropped when we pulled into our home.

Adirondack BLISS. I will take some pictures tomorrow but I couldn't believe my eyes. Hand crafted everything, wood beauty and a kitchen to absolutely die for. I can't wait for Nathalie and her family to arrive, they are sharing this house with us (it's really big enough for more!). Adam and Sarah are going to be in the loft next door, which is actually bigger than my own home. The kids will be in their element with a river for fishing, a backyard full of trees and bears and a wood fired hot tub for the adults. Plenty of room for boy themed fun.

Does it get any better than this?

We are right off the out and back portion of the run, which will be a beautiful place to see all the boys on race day. Far enough out of town that we will avoid the nervous twitchiness of Ironman athletes.

Around 5pm we rolled into town and right into High Peaks Cyclery. First item on the agenda was to pick up my new cassette (and chain Marit! :-). The kind people at HPC insisted on not only installing it for me but also giving my bike the check over. I saw the rows of bike boxes that they were already working on, so that they insisted on doing the work warmed my heart. Sure it's money in their pocket but they won't be hurting for business this week.

I always mock those who leave things like this for the last minute, and now I am the hypocrite. So my gratitude towards the folks at High Peaks is tripled. Thank you guys so very much.

We enjoyed a family dinner at the Lake Placid Brew Pub, a classic place to eat race week or any time in Lake Placid.

And so we are here, all is unpacked and we've left life behind in Rochester for a week. Tomorrow some short workouts, a spin on the new cassette, then we retreat again to our home away from home.

All smiles here in Placid, because it's going to be a fabulous week. Oh! And I have Internet!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Down to the Wire

If my coach dies of a heart attack before Sunday you can rest assure it is my fault. Not only has my wheel issue not quite been resolved, it's gotten worse. No better time like the present to add in some last minute technical difficulties to give him a little angina, right?

My tires came. Problem is the valve stems are too short. Not a big deal. I can get Valve Stems at High Peaks Cyclery tomorrow night. No big deal. I will be in town before anyone else comes in and begins to freak out.

Problem solved.

Coach emailed me my pacing goals. My top end wattage. I threw up. How will I keep my power down that low through the hills of Placid? From Ironman Florida I know I have to have a cheesy easy bike to have a good strong run. This run especially comes from a smart bike.

Especially in Placid.

I have ridden a 12-23 my entire life. ENTIRE LIFE. I have never ever given it a first, second, or third thought because it's just….. how it's always been. I have ridden Placid so many times in a 12-23.

I never communicated that with anyone….. just never thought of it. But let me tell you I do advise my athletes a 12-25 or 27 is the way to go on this course. I don't know why I do not think these rules apply to me.

That's why I have coach T. Because I am stupid. Really stupid.

So now comes the mad dash for the 12-27 or 12-25. To put on race week and ride long for the first time on Sunday.

Gulp. This is a classic rookie move. Not the move a four time Ironman finisher and Triathlon COACH should be making. Or at least something I should have addressed three months ago.

So a phone call to High Peaks Cyclery has one on hold for me, to be picked up tomorrow night. THANK YOU KEVIN!!!! And upon my arrival home the tires are still inflated to 140 PSI. Whew. Now when I deflate and actually glue them on….. I am sure something else shall happen.

That's how things will go until race day and actually maybe even into race day. Problem solving one moment at a time. Controlling and adjusting what you can at the present moment. No further than the present.

We'll get it worked out. I have a plan. As Ben in LOST would say….. "I always have a plan."
Until Placid……

Almost Here!

It dawned on me this morning..... I have been so focused on Ironman for the better part of 2 years..... that's I've somewhat lost my fighter racing instinct.

Hmmmm.

In the Ironman I don't race other people. I focus completely on myself. I stick to pacing goals, nutrition goals, because there are 2 types of people you will see pass you in the Ironman. Those who are faster than you and those you will see again.

The only thing you can control is the given moment.

But after yesterday's race I feel like I miss that fighter instinct. The one that wouldn't have let the race go. And I smiled. Because there will be life past Ironman. That instinct is going to come back. But that's a topic for next Monday.

Tomorrow at this time I will be in lake Placid. I love to leave so early because I like to retreat the week before the big day. There is something about the mountains, the atmosphere, having a house in the wilderness. The kids will play the guys will grill. I will smile at every nervous athlete I see. I will swim in Mirror Lake and dream about Sunday.

It's coming. And I just can't wait!