Monday, November 30, 2009

coaching files; the mental game

Have you ever noticed the words you say to yourself during a training session and / or in a race? It's pretty amazing to realize that most athletes speak kinder to their spouse and their children than they do within the spaces of their own skull. It's even more amazing to take a step back and see with eyes wide open, the paradigms that we exist within, ourselves and how that directly relates to the outcome of our training and our competition. It's truly the one thing that can make or break the entire deal. Months worth of excellent training can be completely ruined or completely enhanced by the conversation that we have with ourselves.

During the 2008 Beijing games when Michael Phelps was swimming fly, the infamous touch out that sealed the deal for the winning of eight gold medals. As he was swimming down that final 50 yard stretch, what do you think was going through his mind?
A. Oh man I am too fat to do this.
B. Oh my god I hope I win
C. _____________________________
I would bet money that it would be option C. It's not that nothing was going through his mind, it was more likely that he was hooked on a feeling so to speak. He existed only in that present moment. He was not thinking about his start or his turn, or even the finish. He was 110% present as we like to say in yoga.
After listening to yet another terrific lecture from Bobby McGee I felt so full of weaponry as I sat and absorbed the themes. It was about the mental tactics that we use and how they both help and hinder us in performance.
He reminded me that we are driven my our internal dialogue. We choose what happens on race day. Looking back on my run in Clearwater I can see where I fell into this trap. I came off the bike to legs that didn't feel so hot. While I did not engage in negative self talk, I let myself off of the hook. I knew that if I just ran I would come in under 5 hours. I still had that feeling of being so happy that I was actually running and not vomiting in a race..... that I gave myself permission to run slow.
So even though I didn't speak badly to myself during that run..... I was thinking much too much.
That's not me. My best performances are when my brain shuts off, I latch onto a feeling, a sensation...... I put my focus in front of me and I just go.
My biggest limiter in the past few seasons is trying to get into my head a little more. Thinking too much during. Realizing that now..... I know how to get out of that space.
Bobby McGee calls being in our heads like having our heads up our butts. It's dark and scary up there. He also gave some terrific tips on how to improve mental game:
1. Race 2 feet in front of yourself. There is no fear in having your mind literally two feet in front of you, on the asphalt. In the water. Get out of the space between your ears.
2. Speak to yourself in the 2nd person, in an instructional mode. Give yourself things to do: Okay Mary you are running well, feel the feeling, feel the feeling, keep leaning from the ankles, atta girl..... be instructional, be positive.
3. Don't try to change your paradigm, replace them. Instead of I suck at running...... lay a new one right over it...... I am a runner.
4. Doing everything right is not enough. Make the luck, make the break.
5. Thoughts are permanent: neurochemically each time we have a thought.... we create a molecule in our bodies. Waste space with the good stuff, if you know what I mean.
6. Allow results: if you get out of your own way the results will be there. If you are working with a coach realize this: your coach takes away what is not performance. They help you get out of your own way.... let them.
7. Let go of perfection. The biggest killer in our sport is trying to be perfect. If you are still breathing then you are still in the game. It is never over until you are 10 feet past that finish line. Stop putting yourself in positions of not being able to succeed... because you won't then. Have a healthy fear of failure.... we grow from that, but lose the desire to be perfect. There is no perfect race.
7. Problem solve Einstein style: Einstein stated that the problems created within a certain paradigm can not be solved in that paradigm. Involve another great mind..... like your coach.
As you begin to work towards your 2010 season and spend time on developing biomechanics and zones and improving nutrition, don't' forget to look up. To your head. That right there is your greatest strength and limiter in achieving the goals you have set. Thinking about it more is not the answer...... being open to shift paradigms is.
And remember: we must be open to change to allow it to happen. Where we are open in our minds there are opportunities. If we resist it, we will miss it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The new header is from Musselman..... 07 or 08. I can't remember. I am sitting at a press conference with some pretty incredible triathletes (one of these things is not like the other). In this picture I am cracking up at some joke Mr. Rhodes is making about water (I think I'd crack up at anything the man said).

Saturday meant running. Which also meant some running drills. Which meant jump roping. Which then led to my discovery that I am one excellent jump roper. Yes! It's true, watch out. If you see some girl skipping merrily along during the next 70.3 that just might be me. Finally something related to running that I am pretty damn good at.

Why jump roping? For a variety of reasons, that in a minute.

First of all..... feet. I get a lot of questions about what I wear for shoes because of what I do. Because of the amount of time I have spent barefoot since tearing my Achilles a few years ago I have very strong feet. I never wear socks. Only to work. I don't wear shoes or socks in the house, I teach yoga, and the only time I wear shoes is when I am working, or training, or just out.

Since I have instituted that rule I have saved a lot on matching socks in the laundry and I have also developed very strong feet. I also attribute that to yoga itself. The muscles in our feet become week when we leave them to depend on the support of shoes. They also become weak when we wear very bad shoes.

I wear
Dansko shoes at work, and in leisure. I wear these very cool Keene shoes the yogui model. These shoes are my shoes of choice because they allow your feet to become strong. The Keenes are better than a Croc because of better support, but not too much support. If you are a nurse Crocs are quite possibly the worst shoe that you can wear.

So I have worked to make my feet strong. I think that is incredibly important not just for running but for life in general. A strong foot is a healthy foot!

Back to jump roping. I am trying to change the way that I run. Jump roping drills are a great and fun way to do the running drills outlined by Dr. Romanov.
Check out this video. I jump roped for 15 minutes and aside from a few catches in the rope I found myself to be a darn good jump roper. If I don't' say so myself. If we could get that to count for something..... it will.

Why even do running drills? Romanov says it best:

Why do we need to do drills in running? The main point of drills in running is to develop or heighten our perception. Strength and agility are biproducts of the exercises. Our main goal is an acute perception. Like many of our runners ask, do we always need to do drills in running? The short answer is yes, the long answer is because we need to continually sharpen our perception like the edge of a knife. Think about a runner wearily flopping away to the finish. That is where most of the damage occurs, why? Loss of perception due to fatigue. Our drills help us maintain our perception despite the many outside factors which could deprivate our senses. So today, go ahead and do some drills and improve your running day in and day out!

There are some coaches who believe that drilling in any sport is a waste of time. They believe good technique naturally just happens. Well, I have been running a long time, and I haven't accidentally fallen into better technique. I should have done this a very long time ago, but better late than never. In fact, the timing feels perfect! Not only are we pulling apart this run.... we are pulling apart the bike. Powercranks..... here I come!

There are a lot of things I will be back to the basics for. I feel like we have the luxury of time right now. I have an entire 11 months before I toe the line at IMFL, so we have a lot of time to do the most proper healthy and purposeful season.

I spent 2009 getting back on my feet. 2010 will be about much more. I have one week of unstructured training. I am on the TRX, doing my running drills and working on my new run technique. I am coming back to the core and I am getting excited as we look forward.

The best seasons are still the ones before me!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coaching Files: Running form Part I

I get to start training again tomorrow. It has been a full two weeks off. And I mean off. Aside from some hikes while on vacation I did nothing. Nada. Zip and zilch. I also hated every single moment of it. I also followd instruction and went off the core and that was an utter disaster.

I never felt the urge to eat anything and everything. I had some bagels and toast and some of the high glycemic foods I had given up. And they made me sick to my stomach. The side effect of eating clean is that eating dirty makes you feel like sh*t. The two indulgances I did engage in were Diet Coke and Coffee.

I know. Someone call the police over my wild livng.

Tomorrow I get to run. As you know I have become a student of running form as both a coach and as an athlete. I am excited beyond belief to put into practice what I have watched, read and listened to.

There are three running coaches who in my opinion have the corner on running:

Jack Daniels

Bobby McGee

Nicholas Romanov

Over the past several weeks I have read what they have written, watched videos and footage of runners that have been coached by them or that they are critiquing, and have watched several seminars thay all have given. The three of them seem to focus on some common points:

1. Running with a forward lean from the ankles (not from the waist)

2. Cadence of > 180 (this is counting both feet)

3. Driving the knees forward rather than focusing on the push off. In fact in one of his seminars Dr. Romanov demonstrated how he believes there is no push off in running.

There are several points on where I should not say they disagree but differ. One points out that a midfoot landing is critical while the other points out that the midfoot would mean the arch, which does not touch the ground. Rather than focus on those kinds of points I think it is really important to focus on where these three agree.

These three seem to have vast experience working with runners who are causal, marathoners, elite distance, triathlon, all kinds. All backgrounds. All shapes and all sizes.

Dr. Romanov in one of his seminars pointed out that there is really no standards of running form, like there are for swimming and for cycling. Often times running form has been left alone. Yet it is the sport that seems to garnish the most injuries.

In 2006 the Runner's World Guide to Running (or whatever it was called) made a statement of this effect (and please know I am paraphrasing)......

All but the luckiest of runners will experience an injury at some point in their running career. So you have to be prepared to expect a niggle of some sort at some point.

Wow. That's a statement of doom and gloom. Welcome to running, expect to be injured sucker! Doesn't it interest you that the sport with the highest injury rate (last year it was estimated that 85% of runners sustained an injury?) is the one sport that really requires..... no equipment? It's something to think about for sure. Did cavemen have these injuries when hunting down their food? Or did they just run naturally?

Here is an interesting article from Dr. Romanov on why he thinks the shoe companies are to blame for poor running form.

Biomechanics are certainly something to look at and consider as we try to improve running. In the pool and on the bike we spend hours and yards and miles to perfect our form. Get the most of our swim stroke, establish the best fit and aerodynamics on our bikes..... yet when it comes to running we are very afraid as both athletes and coaches to correct form.

A person who runs a 17 minute 5K will not be open to correct biomechanics. They truly believe that in order to go faster they must train harder. That might be true, but a peek at how they run could give them that extra bit they need to break the 17 minute barrier.

To change anything.... you must first be open to change. If you lack openness, you deny yourself opportunity. I have noticed that runners in particular are very defensive about their form, and their shoes. Swimmers and cyclists seem much more willing to make changes. Running for some can be riskier.

If you are like me..... looking to hit your absolute best potential in 2010, maybe your openness to making changes is greater. I by nature am not a great runner. It's something I ave worked hard at especially with my new coach. While I made great improvements, those improvements did not come forth on race day for several reasons. One of the biggest reason is that I have never had my running form critiqued.

Swimmers by nature bring barriers to running. We have excellent plantar flexion and terrible dorsiflexion. Those with a breaststroke background are in the worst scenario with their externally rotated hips. Swimmers tend to have bigger shoulders and chests and therefore run with the chest pulled high and back. Here is a great articles about the importance of proper body alignment.

My first foray into new running form is drill work. And a lot of it. Getting me to lean forward not from the waist but from the ankles. Allowing gravity to help pull me forward rather than be so upright that I have to work against it.

We have brought my running cadence up to about 93, so on that front I am doing well.

The third thing we will work on is landing more forefoot and decrease that heel strike. Take a look at your race photos and see where you land. You may think you are on your forefoot but.... NOPE!

That's purely the beginning. We have lost to correct and with a year to go, I am very hopeful that I can crack my running ability.

So take a look around that the different resources. Get your run form analyzed by someone who knows what they are doing. It will never hurt to have it looked at. It can mean the difference between snapping an Achilles to break 17 or correcting a few simple flaws to get there. We were meant to run, made to run.

And remember: the willingness to change must be there to even attempt it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

planning stages

I am finally home form what it feels like a whole lotta travel. The best part was taking a shower in my shower! We loved Tempe. Curt is thrilled with his performance, 45 minutes slower than his goal time but one of his best efforts. See, he's never had to deal with GI issues, never had to deal with that kind of stuff. Looking at his even run split it showed that he could keep his pace well throughout the difficulty. He knows he is capable of better.... so we are coming back in 2010!

Throughout the trip I have been filling my brain with lectures from some really awesome coaches and really breaking down the mechanics of running. I have an upcoming run analysis and I am learning how to sight run flaws in myself and in others.

In one of the lectures some really good points about running form were made. We work very hard on our swimming and cycling techniques, but no one ever wants to touch running. Running is probably the most difficult one to change..... but easy if you are willing to change it.

A 17 min 5K runner who has terrible bio mechanics will likely never be willing to change how they run. Yet they will deal with injuries and buy shoes to help this and help that when to avoid all that and become faster they could do it biomechanically. Running mechanics are described as being just like chiropractics, the change is immediate.

I was especially interested to learn bout running shoes and how they do more to diminish our perception than to help us run. The pronation issues that we believe we have are not necessarily true..... an analysis of running biomechanics can fix that better than a clunky shoe.

I am fully embracing what I need to embrace to become the runner I need to become to achieve the goals I have set for 2010. I have a meeting with Jesse next week where we will break down absolutely every single goal and the plan of action I will take to hit each one.

My biggest goal is to go as close to 10 hours as I can at IRonman Florida. Quite obviously the amount of work that will take is not a small task. The focus it shall require will be above and beyond anything I have ever done before. It will especially require more refinement to my body composition. I say 20 pounds, Jesse says 10. Next week we will know for sure.

It means a complete and I mean complete overhaul of my running mechanics. It means I have to work at swimming. It means I will be on Power Cranks. It means I have to commit to going further that ever.

Now we can look ahead at the year and wonder.... will I do it? Will I make it? That big long term goal is important but what brings us closer to earth are what we call the performance indicators. There are certain indicators that I need to shoot for every 6 weeks or so, in swimming, cycling, running and body composition, that will bring me closer to the big goal I wish to achieve.

So rather than wondering for a year ..... each training block we aim for the performance indicators, from there we can say..... these indicators will yield this result. Are we on track?

I like working through goals that way. As far as races are concerned the races I will focus on are:

Long Horn 70.3
Musselman 1/2 Ironman
Pumpkinman 1/2 Ironman
Ironman Florida

There will be 5K races and other races sprinkled in there..... but these four are the biggies.

Once I have this meeting with Jesse I will share all of the goals with you. Some people wonder why on earth I would share this kind of detail...... won't my competition get the inside scoop and take that info and .... blah blah blah......

OMG get a life, is what I say. People are freaking head cases out there. I know people who won't reveal who their coach is because they believe people are just that interested. What I have for performance indicators and body composition are nothing to be secretive about. Who is my competion anyways? A woman whose cheated on her husband and blew apart her family and has zero else to make her feel good except winning? Someone I don't know from Utah who is targeting to beat me? Someone who views me as some kind of threat?

I don't care who my competition is. I don't care if you develop your entire plan around what my season is. I will think you are a complete psycho, but if that is what drives your performance and helps you to become a better athlete and helps you to achieve your dreams..... as psycho as it is..... then have at it.

It goes back to what Cathy Y and I talked about on the beach in Clearwater...... we've been in this sport so long that the false elevating satisfaction of beating Mary or Cathy, gets old. As we mature and grow older and more experienced at this it becomes more about the personal satisfaction.

My good friend KR from Syracuse is also competing at IMFL with me, she was in Clearwater also, and we are the kind of friends that root each other on. Whether one wins over the other is not important..... we support each other on the journey. I can not wait to race this race with her.

So that's where we are at..... time for planning, goal setting, taking a very honest look at form and composition and what I am going to accomplish this year. I am very happy with 2010. I got back on my feet with the help of an awesome coach. Now we get to start from the beginning.

Upcoming coaching file topics:

Nutrition, swim, bike and run form, and how to plan a season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ironman Nutrition Thoughts

Ahhhh, the last day in Tempe. We went miniature golfing and walking around town and hiking in some mountain things. Luc swam and we ate pizza and yogurt. Big fun. Tempe kid of reminds me of Austin in some ways.

I have been thinking a lot about IM nutrition ad the lessons I ave learned about it through the years.

Ironman nutrition is the biggest enigma and by far the most difficult part of the training program for many athletes. As I watched athletes come off the bike and make their way through the run course. yesterday .... it was quite evident that GI distress..... as it always is...... was the number one reason for "failure to reach one's goals". Including my husband's.

I don't coach my husband, I'd say I consult on his program. There was part of his Ironman nutrition plan I worried about, and although I voiced that concern.... no one knows him better than he does, so I have to let what works for him work, and what doesn't doesn't. He has been at this much longer than I have.

Now I am not a nutritional expert. I am an RN, coach and athlete who has spent years of her life barfing and experiencing all sorts of GI distress issues on courses. Which has launched me into a very long and extensive study of nutrition and distance events. In addition I get to work with one of the best coaches out there.... Jesse Korpelnicki who really sealed the deal on nutrition and taught me much more than I could possibly imagine in this area.

As I was in the merchandise line this morning I overheard a conversation between two guys ahead of me, and ones tale of GI issues during his race.

Guy 1: dude, I think it was all of the sugar that I had yesterday that really shut me down.

Me in my head: Probably not. I wonder what this guy had for breakfast and has eaten for the past 3 days.

Guy 1 continued: I had a HUGE coffee at starbucks with starbucks oatmeal and a packet of sugar. I think that packet of sugar totally F-d me up.

Me in my head: Nah dude, it wasn't the sugar. You had a giant cup of strong coffee..... plus you are nervous, you just added beats to that HR which slows digestion a bit. Then you had a bowl of oatmeal which is full of fiber, which slows down your gut. Without knowing the rest of his am routine I would then assume this was where his GI issues began.

Guy 1 Continues: Then 5 min before I got into the water I chugged a powergel and like 2 sips of water and got in.

Me in my head: Man, step two on your GI debacle. with your caffeine induced high HR and nerves, you down a gel 5 minutes before the start with not enough water. Plug number two of your GI system in place.

Do you see where this is headed? Most issues relating to GI distress in an Ironman happen before the gun ever goes off. In the days leading up to the event we carbo load, this should mean eating easy to digest things such as bagels, pasta,focusing on good proteins and doing everything possible to rid your system of potential irritants. Believe it or not this includes vitamins, and roughage. Think simple, easy to digest.

Your race day breakfast should be the same. Jesse taught me that the breakfast of oatmeal and peanut butter will slow your gut down on race day. He taught me they are great for daily nutrition but on race day that can serve as the first "plug" to your GI system. Assuming that you ate simple and easy to digest foods up to this point........ now you have set the GI slowdown in motion, and the gun has not gone off yet.

The next thing I see time and time again is failure to execute race day nutrition in training. A lot. I practice my race day nutrition every single long workout I do, including breakfast. Race day..... there are no surprises. Believe it or not, we have even removed coffee from the morning routine. Why? Again another Jesse lesson. More on that another time.

repeatability counts for a lot.

I also see athletes just have too many things on their Ironman menu. In my experience working with Ironman athletes, those who complicate the menu tend to have a lot of GI issues. People are terrified to be hungry so they choose a lot of items to combat boredom, fear of being hungry, etc. Keep it simple/ Make it stupid proof. Repeat it in training first.

Another area... calories versus carbohydrates. Many people calculate their needs using calories, but they are not all created equal. Carbohydrates are really the important thing here, and that as anything else is highly individual.

These are all just random thoughts that I will spend time developing over the next few months. In the past 5 years I feel that we've been able to nail nutrition with our athletes. I feel like I know my Ironman nutrition well, I welcome to questions and the collaboration and the things I can learn.

The biggest point: one size never fits all.

Now onto Curt.

The reason curts plan failed is a good one. This is very simplistic, and variable to the individual. The numbers i use are just for example. not for actuality.

Blood takes fluid to keep it's consistency, and fluidity. When we sweat we lose fluid. blood becomes thicker, the heart works harder to pump it through the body. To correct this and keep blood perfusing vital organs, it will slow GI function and pulling water from the gut to restore the consistency of the blood. This GI slowing and fluid pull leaves us in a state of reduced digestion. Now the stomach has less fluid to digest with. Then it stops digesting. The nutrition you take in backs up, sits there, causes pain and bloating.

Adding insult to injury Curt takes in GE + Carbo pro. GE itself is a perfect isotonic solution. The perfect balance. By adding carbo pro he creates a hypertonic solution. Now he needs more "fluid" to help balance that. The stomach tries to pull fluid from the system, that is pulling from it. Stomach loses.

It worked in Florida because it was not hot. AZ was hotter, and that includes the dry heat,

If he took out the carbo pro he would have been fine. He may have had to add more water to that plan. He could have tried to correct this situation by using water only for a while, but by that time it was probably too late!

So realize that if you have GI issues during a race, the issue was probably set in motion before you ever put on your timing chip. Spend some time this season researching and practicing. Just like you put the time into training..... put it into your nutrition.

You won't be sorry!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ironman Arizona

Man I love the Ironman. It sometimes just grabs hold of me and wake me the heck up like never before. I blame the damn finish line and the cascade of emotions that occurs as a year's worth of emotions and training come to one final 30 second stretch. for a few the day goes as planned. For most it becomes plan B then C. For some the day falls apart and the victory comes in an entirely different form.

For some, like Rudy Garcia..... I don't even to continue with that. If you know the story of Rudy then you know exactly what I mean. I know that you know that we know what he knows.

The Ironman is not easy. It's a privilege and not a right.

we dropped Curt off at the race at 5am and came back to the hotel. The plan was to take the metro down sometime after the start. I am sensitive to Luc's age and his interest in all of this. I won't be one of these parents who forces him to be there all day. But this morning he surprised me.

"Mom we have to go because we have to help Dad." I didn't know what to say.

30 minutes later I had coffee in hand, we joined Rich and were watching the swim from the bridge. Ironman Arizona is the most spectator friendly swim ever. The water was cold, 64 degrees. Perfect for us northerners. Not perfect for the 50 folks who didn't make it out on the bike due to hypothermia.

Somehow I spotted Curt..... I know this man anywhere. I can spot him a mile away in ever discipline. He looked great. after we sent him on the bike we parted ways with Rich for a bit and stumbled on a great discovery.

The Kid Zone. It was the first of it's kind, a concept developed by a local woman who saw the need for families to be cared for at the Ironman. for a pretty good price (not cheap) you enjoyed a VIP tent. It included 3 meals throughout the day, buffet style, coffee, drinks, snacks, a kids area where there were DVD's, a nap area, toys and crafts. Couches, flat screen TV's with streaming Ironman TV from the course. Laptops everywhere for checking in on your athlete. Come and go as you please, real bathrooms (not porta potties) and clothing check. First class all the way!

I balked at the price at first, but it was worth every single penny. Luc made friends...... he got to play, watch a movie, he at well at an Iornman. I met some really nice folks as well. I was sitting on the couch with one older man and we were watching Jordan Rapp as he led the race. We began talking and I commented on his bike fit, how he seemed to be born on the bike and his helmet seemed to blend into his bike.

"He's pretty good." he said.

"I think it's his day." I said. Then he told me he was Jordan's Dad. He was really proud. He was really nice.

After our break at the VIP tent we headed out to the bike course. We saw our friends and athletes come through and they all looked great!

We caught Curt a few times on the run. He was having GI issues. Coming into this race I knew his nutrition plan. It worried me but it has always worked for him. The difference today was it was hotter. I will explain more about this later..... but he gutted through it.

He came down that finishers chute with a smile and high five-ing the crowd. I love when he breaks loose and does stuff like that. The Ironman is like this. It's fun. It's high five-ing, it's a celebration of life no matter what the time.

Luc was so completely into the finish line antics I was amazed. Dancing his little self out!!!

Curt's happy with his efforts, he admits it was hard. really hard. The Ironman is hard. I am so proud of him!

Afterwards we sat at the VIP tent and enjoyed the heaters, the food, the couches and the people. It was a good crowd there at IMAZ. It was fun, it was relaxed, it was special.

More to come gang! Time for some rest!

Ironman Day

Good morning and welcome to Ironman Arizona Day! The guys are all ready to go! Its a perfect day and there will be some fast racing down here!

Join me over on FaceBook for updates all day long, pictures pictures and more pictures!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tempe day 2

Day two in Tempe was awesome. It began with the kids race, where over 1,600 kids ran a mile, best organization of a kids race that I have ever seen! Luc ran one awesome mile. As I stood there and watched them all come in through the finisher's chute there were tears in my eyes. Smiles so big, so bright, the kids all had so much fun. Heather Fuhr was placing the medals around the kids necks.... Roch Frey led them on a mountain bike. It was beautiful to see all of these children have their moment. Their 15 seconds. That finish line was bigger than Kona.

After he was done Luc grabbed my arm and said in my ear.... "Mom I was crying at the end of the race." Fearing that he had been crying because he did not have fun.... did he felt pushed into it...... was this the right thing to have him do..... his words made me so proud..... "I cried because everyone was cheering for all the kids. It made me feel special. I did a good job. I did my best!"

May each of those children always feel special. Luc's words were the very best finish line statement I have ever heard in my life. May every single person tomorrow, from Sam McGlone to the very last finisher..... experience that kind of happiness.

We continued the day with a hike, Rich is here and he met up with Luc and I for a hike up one of those mountain things. Curt got some much needed time to rest and pack his bags. On the metro I asked a local what the big dirt hills were called.

"We call them mountains." she said to me. Told you these people are smart!

The hike was awesome. Steep, but short and it was an amazing view of an amazing place. I can only imagine the riding possibilities that exist in the mountains beyond the borders of the city. Mountains and sun..... sounds good to me.

After that we did a little tooling around Iron Town and grabbed some lunch. I caught up with Mark, and Cathy (stalker). Everyone looks ready!

Then we grabbed Curt and brought him back for bike check in. Where we spotted Rudy Garcia, the double leg amputee who we all got to know on the cover of Road Runner Sports when he was 12. Feel like I have grown up with this kid. We will be cheering for you Rudy.

After bike check in was perhaps the most exciting part of any one's trip. America's Best Contacts and Eyeglasses! Oh yes, even Rich came along for that fun! In the morning I tore a contact. Normally I travel with both my glasses and extra contacts. I even race with extra. But they were in my Florida bag. Yeah, great! A quick call to America's Best and less than an hour later I can see again. Which is a bonus when you are at an Ironman.

I like this race venue. I like the swim venue. I like the scenery. I like the atmosphere. I love running into old friends. Ed is here with Triabetes and I got to get a big hug from him..... we will be seeing him tomorrow ( we will have that beer!).

As for Curt..... the man is ready. I am honored to be able to give him the same support he gives to me. He's rested, carbo loaded and ready. The only thing he races with is a watch. No power, no speed, not even a bike computer. I feel like hes the last of the old guard in so many ways.

I am so excited for tomorow I feel like I am going to burst!!! It will be a great day! Sun and Ironman. Together as a family and with amazing friends!

See you on the other side of this finish line!

Friday, November 20, 2009

touchdown Tempe!

Greetings from Tempe Arizona, home of Ironman Arizona..... stop #2 on my whirlwind trip across the world! I have 2 athletes and 1 alumni racing here in Tempe, and all are set and ready to go. In addition we've got a boatload of friends from Buffalo here and word on the street that Cathy Y. is stalking me around the country. ER has also warned me that a random chick might run up to me at any time..... so I am on guard! Ed is down here as well meeting with Tribetes and I promised him..... like I got to share with KR last weekend..... we'd have a beer.

2 beers in 2 weeks. You know this can't be good!

The trip down was terrific, as far as air travel goes. As I exited the airplane in Cleavland Ohio the pilot stuck his head out of the cockpit and said "Mary Eggers! I read your BLOG!"

Not during flight I hope.

I regard pilots very highly, they are so in control of something that is so impossible. Flying a three ton bird through the air. That's a lot. So to be told they read my silly words.... that is nice.

I spent the flight from Ohio to Tempe completely immersed in Bobby McGee. He's an absolutely amazing running coach and sports psychology guru, I have read so many of his things, I watched three DVD's of him speaking on various topics. Because of school I never get to immerse myself in these DVD's and webinars like I dream to, so this weekend I am. I only have 2 weeks of school left and I can dive back in.

The mental game, structuring training, running form, etc. I love the way he thinks, I love the way he teaches. In those four hours I learned a lot. I need to process all of it, I took so many notes, the guy in the seat asked me what the hell I was doing!

Being a sponge.... I told him.

This is all the shot I need as an athlete and as a coach. So look for some good posts on these thoughts soon. I was going to write about swimming next but we need to remain broad before we get narrow. Stay tuned.

Curt and Luc picked me up at the airport and I fell in love with Tempe. I have never been here. It's warm. There are like these random mountain like things (smart people actually know what they are called) and palm trees. I like the bridges. I like the college atmosphere.

We didn't even need to rent a car (but did). The metreo goes door to race site.

Curt bought me the M Dot pendant I have been begging for.

We ran into K Dub, the Buffalo gang is confirmed to be here. Ed texted me that there was this shining bright thing in the sky....

THE SUN ED! IT'S THE SUN! I got to see it 2 weeks in a row.

So all is well here in Irontown. I could get used to this traveling from event to event week after week. I could get used to seeing new places all the time. I could get used to palm trees.

The difference between an Ironman and a World Championships is that here the atmosphere is more like a party. While game faces are on it's a game face that says... brother I will see you out there, let's have a great day.

Time for bed. Luc is running the Iron Kids 1 mile race tomorrow. He's carboloading on animal crackers. His T shirt is ready to go with number pinned on. He ice bathed in the pool. Kid's ready to go.

And Curt.... you know him. He's just the man!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

a thousand eyes

A thousand of you stop by this blog each day.... for whatever reason. Thank you so much for that. We all have our reasons for reading blogs, I hope you can identify with something I write, and know that we are all just regular people who are stumbling through life, being passionate about our passions, and living.

I'd like to share with you the best blog I have ever read in my life (thanks Jen N for posting this). It's especially for those of you who tend.... to forget that there is more to this life than what is written on the computer screen that sits between you and I. There is more than being on a podium. There is more than the sport we all love so much. I am very fortunate that as a Pediatric emergency nurse I get to experience that reminder every single day.

This is by far the most important blog I have ever seen in my life. Please stop here to meet the most inspiring woman on the face of this earth:

Paul and Amy's Amyloidosis Blog


A little break in the Coaching Files today.... a few minor things to report on! First of all thank you so very very much for the amazing and abundant comments surrounding my Clearwater Race Report apparent controversy. I have decided to not publish comments.... because I think they are private messaged between you and I, and I really respect the kindness. I am so overly touched that I don't know what to say...... so I want you to know I have received them, and thank you so very much. So know that if you do leave a personal comment I probably won't publish it and that I appreciate your friendship more than you know!

What a busy week we've had, the boys leave for Arizona today and I join them tomorrow. I am so excited. Ed will be there, over 40 from Buffalo will be there.... so many will be there I can't wait to hang out, get some sun and cheer on the man!!!

In the space of a few days I feel like I have experienced so much that reality brings with it. Life, death, diagnostics, prognsotics, waiting.... waiting.... waiting. The beauty of people. The warmth of a smile and of love.

I feel so lucky in so many ways.

I got an email from The Wizard yesterday morning to which I replied "I'M ON VACATION FROM YOU!". He's putting me on power cranks for a bit. I've never worked with them, but I have a friend ho is kind enough to loan me a pair, which should be fun. I love trying new things, I love experiencing all of it.

That's what's so fun about life. Opening up, expanding, growing.

All right, back to studying and packing, and resting. And drinking more coffee than I should. Tomorrow it's back to the sun and to the fun of Ironman.

Tomorrow we will be back to the Coaching Files..... topic: improving your swim!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the coaching files part III, to coach or not to coach?

Click here for the Clearwater Race report

Tomorrow I send the boys to Arizona ahead of me so I can take an exam on the renal system. Makes me want to pee myself right here and now. Luc promised me that when he gets there he will turn up the sun as hot as it can go. Good for me, Curt rolls his eyes. Curt's doing great in taper week...... he's rested, he's giddy (I know.... mister sunshine is giddy!) and his bike is in Arizona. I am so excited for him. It's Ironman time baby.

Curt is the prime example of being one of the few athletes who can successfully self coach. I attribute this to be because when he began the responsibility was on the athlete to figure things out. Through trial and error and a lot of reading Curt has coached himself through World Championships, and Ironmans better than anyone else I have ever seen do it. The man knows his body, he knows what it takes to get himself to a PR at just about any distance.

Many of the things I have learned about coaching..... I have learned from him.

Coaching is an interesting business. It's a luxury for sure. Hiring me won't feed your family. I have always loved to work with a coach. I have had the fortune of working with some really talented ones, right now being the absolute highlight. The amount of learning that has taken place for me in the past 6 months is absolutely amazing.

People are a little funny when you ask them who their coach is and if they have one. Some people like to keep it a secret.That's my favorite. I think that there are really 2 people in this world who people are interested in knowing who their coach is: Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander. Beyond that..... we are just regular folks.

What is not important is who your coach is. Or if you even have one. What is important is that you have a good solid plan to follow. AS they say, failing to plan is planning to fail.

How do you go about finding a coach if that is what you are interested in? Kind of the same way that you go about goal setting. Determine why.

Why do you want to hire a coach?

We live busy lives. Hiring coach saves us time. They become in some ways the manager of our training. Figuring out what works for each athlete takes a lot of time. Hiring a coach gives us someone to collaborate with on the journey to achieving our goals. Hiring a coach gives us objective feedback. Two days after an Ironman you are putting in a 4 hour training day? A good coach would slap you silly.

A coach can help you keep in line with your goals. Steps back and sees the big picture, will be honest with you that a four hour training day after a big race is not the way to move forward. They will have the honesty and objectivity to tell you that.


I have seen some ridiculous pricing on either side of the coin when it comes to coaching fees. I have seen people with relatively little experience coaching charge the same amount as someone who coaches the pros (and is successful at it). You have to decide what your budget is and then work from there. Many coaches will tell you.... it's only XX dollars per day..... are you not worth the investment in yourself?

Losing your house is not worth the investment in yourself.

On the other hand, athletes also need to understand that while many coaches work online and from home..... time is money. Trading coaching for free T shirts, coffee, the works just doesn't add up.

Bottom line about cost when choosing your coach; make sure you can afford it without denying your child their field trip because of your habit.


The way that the Coaching Certification is set up is so that any human being can sign up to become a certified coach. Many of the good coaches out there aren't certified. What a certification does is give you that recognition within a governing body.

When looking for a coach look at their credentials of course..... but look at their coaching experience. If you take a look at many credentials of coaches they list their athletic achievements first. It's nice that they have won races and have been to Hawaii..... that experience is valuable to them coaching of course...... but just because you won your age group in a national race doesn't make you a good coach. Paul from Life Sport seems to have a pretty good track record with his athletes.... but I don't even know that he's ever competed in a triathlon. Does it matter if he has or has not? I don't think so.

My father has always been and continues to be the greatest coach I have ever had or will have. Not only has he never completed a triathlon, I don't think I know if he knows how to ride a bike. He's never run a step in his life except to chase me down the hall when I was bad :)

Through the years he has studied swimming. He'd sit at swim meets and time each 25 and each flip turn during my 500 and 1,000's. It was he who pointed out that if I slowed down my first 100 I could negative split the race. He began doing this because ... he was bored. Ever sit at a swim meet? Then you know. That, through the years has transferred to triathlon. He came to my first Ironman, but now prefers to sit at command central, follow on IM live and watch splits.

He has the ability to analyze, to watch, to observe.

Look at a coaches athletes. Talk to their athletes. Ask them to speak to 3 of their athletes and get their feedback. In all honesty I think this is the big key. DO their athletes come down with a lot of injuries? Do they consistently have good performances? A good coach will share that with you, I think it's a sign that they are comfortable with their coaching.


If you wanted a stock plan you can buy a cookie cutter stock plan. A coach should individualize your workouts to fit you and your life. Their are different protocols that they / we follow, the trick is to adjust them to fit the athlete we are working with.

While I have my particular system...... as an example we alternate functional strength and weight room training this time of year. I have one athlete recovering from being hit by a car, her program is different than one who is recovering form surgery, whose program is different than one of my guys who is 38 and healthy, whose is different from the young guy who is 23. The protocol might be the same, but there is great individuality in their programs.

My girl who was hit by a car.... we develop her weight training program with her Physical Therapist. Right now she is most comfortable working with free weights and redeveloping her functions are priority. Another one of my girls who is recovering from surgery is a Physical Therapist, so she can review the plan and say yay or nay to specific exercises.

The point...... your coach should individualize your program. I know that Cait Snow and I both ave the same instructions for our Endurance runs.... yet how that is configured into the week is different.

You can only write a workout so many different ways. There are only so many workouts in the universe. The saying my old coach Doug liked to use was: there are no new workouts. Again, how they are applied to you is what is important.

Self Coaching

What if you are not interested in a coach or right now it just doesn't fit into your budget? First of all, don't let the coached group try to make you feel inferior for it. It is more important to put that few hundred into the children's college funds. It is important to pay your mortgage.

So what do you do?

You do what Curt Eggers did. You read. You research. You look at plans, you look at yourself. You learn yourself. You learn your body. You become successful at becoming your own coach. You develop the plan and set those small mico goals along the way. You check in with yourself each week and track your progress, Track it, don't let be up in the air because in 2 months you will wonder if you have made improvements. Know you've made improvements because you are accountable to yourself.

During this off season take a good look around. What fits your life, your budget, your style? Don't be afraid to ask questions, in fact ask a lot of them. If a coach is what you are seeking.... then take some time. This is an investment that you want a good return out of.

After all, it's your life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the coaching files part II..... goal setting and coaching

Please click here for my Clearwater Race Report!

With races filling up at mach speed these days it has changed the way we go about seasonal goal setting. It's come down to needing to set goals in terms of 2-3 seasons in advance rather than sitting down in the off season and asking yourself "What do I want to accomplish this season?"

Cathy Y. and I talked at length on our Sunday beach walk about our longevity in this sport and how that has changed how we go about setting goals. Through the years we both agreed that our drive to have that knock down head to head competition.... that drive to win win win.... has been replaced by the desire to set "personal challenge goals." .... meaning...... what do I want to accomplish rather than who do I want to beat. Which way is better? The one that motivates you to get out of bed at early o'clock.

So first you need to determine if you are extrinsically motivated (motivated by something outside of you) or intrinsically motivated (motivated by something inside of you).

Goal setting

When I am working with an athlete I ask them a series of questions which help me determine that, and also help me to determine what they want to achieve this year. Typically it comes in the form of a race, most often it's "Finish the Ironman." Excellent, we have that on the table, now let's get to the real stuff.

Where do you see yourself in one year?

What area do you want to make the biggest gains?

What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

Through their answers..... sometimes it feels like a psychological assessment...... is how I go about helping them tighten up their goals.,

So we have the broad goal, finishing the Ironman, that's like the umbrella under which we will work. I caution athletes not to stop there because it is so broad. So we delve a little bit deeper.

We set the smaller goals underneath the umbrella: I want to improve my running, I want to improve my swimming. My job as a coach is to figure out how to do that, but if you are self coached then it is your job to figure that out.

To recap:

Broad goal: I want to finish the Ironman

Micro Goal: I want to improve my running

Now we need a specific goal and a plan of attack. In order to improve my running I need to find a system to do that, either a coach or myself. More on that in a minute. Now it's November, you are just beginning to consider coming out of the off season..... the Ironman is in 10 months.... along the way set markers for tracking improvement.

I like my athletes to use 5K races, mostly because they are fun. Racing is fun. You have to be a very secure person to jump into races in the off season. I know many athletes who will not compete because they are terrified to have a slower race result in print. Get over yourself..... that's a stupid reason to deny yourself some 5K fun.

On our team we have a series of performance indicators that we are working with this season, for swimming, biking and running. Everyone cycles through these tests every 6 weeks or so. This season we have an inter team contest, the person who makes the most improvement percentage wise will carry the yellow jersey for the month. It gives us incentive, something to have fun with in the winter, something to shoot for as we move through a dark winter.

You run your 5K every 6 or so weeks. Why 6 weeks? Generally the body will make physiologic adaptations in 6 weeks. For some it's 4 weeks, for others it's 8. We take the 5K time and we track it through the season while working through the progression of run training.

To again recap:

Broad goal: finish the Ironman

Macro Goal: improve run training

Specific goal: I will follow X running plan or hire a coach, I will track my running improvements by running a 5K every X weeks, I will have my gait analyzed, I will have my body composition assessed.......

In the specific goal section is where we address the nitty gritty as mentioned. Body composition, gait, the things that we can work on daily.

If you step back and you look at the broad goal: it's safe. Finishing the Ironman. Most people who just follow an Iornman training plan will finish the Ironman. By delving into the broad goals and the specific goals we now become accountable, we now get specific and we now have purpose.

This is all a very wide range of the goal setting process. Here is a great article by my coach on how he likes to do it.

Do I need a coach? This is actually tomorrow's topic, but lets take a quick look today.

The hip thing these days is to have a coach, and not only do I have one, I am one. With increasingly busy lives it's more than helpful to have someone to work with to help you achieve the goals you have set out to achieve. I say with..... because I collaborate with my athletes, I don't dictate. Your coach should have the ability to sit back and always take into account the big picture rather. You should have trust in the athlete / coach relationship. You should be able to work together on your season to bring out the best in you.

Here is a great article by Gordo, on getting the most from your coach.

Anyone can attend a USAT Certification and slap the title of coach on themselves. What I have learned through my years of coaching not only triathletes but swimmers..... is that as a coach your eye does need to always be on the big picture.

In the grand scheme of things how will this run impact this athlete's life? In the grand scheme of things how will this injury affect what we have set out to do? That's important because as athletes checking boxes off the list of the wee we don't always step back and see the big picture.

The number one mistake I see athletes make:

They set the goal
They hire the coach

Then they fail to commit to the process. They don't fill out their training logs, they don't become accountable for their nutritional habits on and off the field..... and they wonder why progress has not been made.

A coach helps you to stay accountable but you also have to give that percentage of the relationship. You also need to find a coach that you trust.

My coach is Jesse Korpelnicki from Quantitative Triathlon Systems (QT2). When I went to him I had gone to four of the coaches whom I admired most in this sport (one was actually offended that I did not come to her). Jesse is very direct, straightforward and honest. So was my ob / gyn, so is my Masters swim coach.

I respond best to the hard line, the hard honest truth. "Just make it happen." I have been told several times throughout the season. On the other hand.... when I do not hit the goal that we have set, such as we did on Saturday in Clearwater.... it was my first time not hitting a goal with Jesse and I was a little nervous about how that conversation would go.

I learned that Jesse likes to have answers, likes to find out the reason why.... will look over everything with a fine toothed comb and figure out what went wrong. In the case of Saturday I was content chalking it up to a bad day. Jesse..... pinpointed the reason. I like that in a coach.

We will talk more coaching tomorrow.

Until then..... start dreaming. What do you want to do this season? What are the things you aspire to achieve? And then we will figure out who you need..... and maybe it's yourself..... to get there.

Monday, November 16, 2009

so now I...... am offended

Greetings from 32,000 feet.

I have the need to clear something up...... it's come to my attention that in my clearwater race report I implied Jen Harrison drafted..... really?

Those of you who know me really think I'd out that on a blog? Really?

If I thought Jen drafted..... I would have said HEY JEN YOU DRAFTED. To Jen...... not to a blog audience.

What I was trying to say........ is that when we were riding this giant group of men 40-44 came upon us. She was able to stay ahead of them and I got sucked in. If you actually read what I wrote...... I said that the men 40-44 and their eight billion friends were drafting.

Thanks Jen for bringing it up to me. I can definitely appreciate the friendship that I have with her, that she would come to me. Thanks Jen, my apologies to you that it was misinterpreted that way. Thank you for pointing it out. You think people know you....and then you realize their true story.....

Harrison didn't draft. Don't read into what isn't there.

the coaching files part I, the off season

Please click here for the Clearwater race report.

Before I forget..... thanks to all of you in and on the sidelines who commented on the blog! Every time I turned around I was asked "Are you Mary? I read your blog!" Thank you for saying hi and thanks for stopping by!

Yesterday I spent the day at the beach. I walked the beach about 80 times, I walked with Cathy Y. I went para sailing, kite surfing and rented a jet ski. I rented a skateboard on Saturday and skateboarded around. I watched 2 sunsets and I ate some burgers. My father said I sounded the most relaxed I have sounded in ages.

Maybe I needed a vacation.

But there is more vacation ahead. I have a quick trip to Rochester first.

As we head into the off season and into the subsequent on season I thought I would share some of my coaching thoughts. I don't share a lot of them on here because they are not .... they are not groundbreaking, and I typically save them for the google group that we have on the team and our team newsletter.

I have about 10-11 posts that have been on my mind and what better time to begin than in the off season? This is the time where we sit back, evaluate, set new goals, laugh at the fun we had, and let the body rest. Rest is really the key to this entire puzzle. Study the athletes who consistently fail to reach their potential and I will bet money they rest too little. Or their rest days involve 8 hour adventure hikes.

With each of my athletes I apply a completely different approach to the off season. Many of them have signed up for Placid and are itching to get going already. Some take theirs early.
Depending on the person I might not want to see or hear from them for 3-4 weeks. go have fun I will instruct.... ride the mountain bike, hike, play football with your kids. Enjoy all of the things that we don't do in the season. Lay on the couch.... sleep in.

Then there is the other group..... who are a lot like me. Who need the structure of a plan in an otherwise chaotic life. Or in my case who can slip back into things like eating disorders faster than you can shake a stick.

With this group I offer them more structure, just light on volume. some days off, some days in the weight room, etc.

It truly depends on the individual. Which is why they came to me. For individual guidance.

I think that in general it is vital to stay moving. My favorite off season activity is walking, hiking the dog. Not at any kind of brisk pace but just.... walking / hiking. Enough to get you moving and get the blood circulating.

I like to keep some type of strength training in there. This is typically core work, or functional strength: raking leaves counts. We wont lose huge amounts of fitness or strength in the off season but I think it's important to give them something to respond to.

I recommend continuing on the good nutrition path. Sure have the goodies that you don't have all season, just remember this is the body's time to rest. This is to shake off the accumulated stress and to heal all the niggles. Good nutrition gives us the macro and micro nutrients we need to allow that healing process to happen. Fill the body with sugar and when you begin again it will not have truly healed all the way. So keep the four fruits and four veggies and the 64 ounces of water going.

Many people find it difficult to sleep during the off season. You might not need 10 hours a night if you aren't training 12 + hours a week. Adjust to that by aiming for a smaller number, 6-7. If you lie in bed awake.... literally count sheep. Use this time as an opportunity to learn to turn your mind off. Get a good book, read it in bed. I hear Twilight is all the rage right now.

Use the off season as a time to prepare. Tomorrow we will talk about setting goals and looking into a plan. But don't forget about your gear. Clean the powergels off the bike, put the bike back together, get a tune up. Inspect your trainer, look at your running shoes. I recommend having 2 pairs of running shoes and alternating them. Replace when they have 300 miles on them (Training Peaks tracks this for you by the way). Does the HRM work? Does it need replaced?

Clean out the swim bag. Wash all the suits and towels and inspect your goggles. Get your swim caps together, sprinkle with some baby powder and store in a zip lock bag.

Got your winter run gear? Blinking lights? Headlamp? Gloves? Yak tracks?

When the day comes that you begin rolling again, you will have everything you need all set and ready to go.

Use the off season wisely whether you bask in the unstructured life or you remain on a path of some sort. In looking at the hours that you dedicate to what you do each and every year realize that skipping the off season is truly a recipe for disaster.

Enjoy it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

looking forward

Here is my race report....... this morning I am up too early (hazard of being a triathlete), and I have lots to do today. I am in Florida for one more day, my little end of season gift to myself. Today I have para sailing and kite surfing to do. There are only about 12 hours of daylight and I am at the ocean. The best needs to be made of it!

In my conversation with Jesse (aka: the Wizard) last evening.... I got the layout of how 2010 will go. How fortunate I am to be leaving a race and beginning an off season with mojo for December 7th. Which is our start date. We did a lot in 2009, I am in a place I didn't think I could get back to. Now I get to train an entire season under QT2. As you know it begins with an assessment. In 3 weeks.

But first.... some rest time. We have to do it, many of us hate it. The Off-season is the most important part of the season. We don't want to lose fitness, gain weight, etc. In truth we have to take our seasons in cycles. There has to be down time, even our weight should cycle. If we try to maintain a high level of fitness all of the time we will never achieve our true potential, we risk burnout and we risk injury.

On my 2 weeks off I will just walk. (In fact I just walked the beach). Nothing excessive. I used to coach an athlete who would add 2-3 hour walks into their training day. You know what that spells. Just enough to keep me moving, give me some sanity. I will practice yoga every day, but if you know me you know I have a 20 minute home practice that I do. Just enough.

2010 is going to be an important year. I have the ability to really focus on this goal I have set.

In 2009 I made some important gains. I lost about 18 pounds, I dropped my endurance run pace / e pace / zone 1 (Friel zone 2) pace from 9:00 to an 8:30, I increased my FTP by I think 15 watts, my swim...... I know I know..... a little more effort there. I promise.

Once we have our December assessment I will lay out the exacts of what we need to accomplish. The Wizard says another 10 pounds (I say 20), and I will lay out the performance indicators that we are targeting for the IMFL 2010 Goal. Times, wattages, the whole shabang. I am not one of these runners who "OOps.... how'd I run an 18 minute 5K I haven't run in 8 weeks" (That's me in the pool). I don't care if you know my numbers.

More than knowing my numbers I want you to see that I have improvement, setbacks, struggles. I want you to be encouraged to track your own numbers, to set solid goals. I want you to see that within yourself. When we take on the Ironman we all say "My ultimate goal is to finish...", almost like we are afraid to taunt the gods of Iron in aiming for an actual time or performance.

Let's set that "Finish" goal aside. That's a given. I am shooting for performances that outdo anything I have ever done before in my career, I want you to do the same. I want you to take the reach, with me. I want you to take the risk.

It's funny because as I walk around town and athletes chat about their performances yesterday it seems like every single performance is "Good...... but." But I didn't feel well, but this, but that. Hey my run stunk, and I am capable of better but ask me on the street and I say it was a damn good day. Truthfully the only person who I know that can actually say they had a bad day was Kim. She broke her damn collarbone. She had a bad day.

So let's just put all that story aside. Let's take the risk this season. Put it on the line. set some goals, some real goals. Put it out there. I will put it on my blog, you write it down and post it somewhere that you can see it every single day. Bathroom mirror. Refrigerator. Don't be afraid of it, step up to it. Go toe to toe with it. Whatever that goal might be. Have checkpoints:

By February I will have accomplished this _______ as a stepping stone on the way to that goal.

Set those stepping stones. When we hit them we celebrate, when we have setbacks we accept that yet we keep moving forward. Step by step and day by day. And we will get there. we will get there.

Until then..... I have some para sailing to do, some beach to cover, some coffee to drink, some rays to catch and some shark teeth to find. It's always here at the ocean that I find such strength and inspiration. Like I have been filled up with sunshine rays and that's what I will bring back with me.

They don't call me Mary Sunshine for nothing.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I missed my goal by 10 minutes. The run was horrible. My legs didn't show up. My stomach did. But let me start from the beginning......

In April while we were preparing to compete in the New Orleans 70.3 event, Donna, Amo, Kirsten and I attended a pre race chat with 2007 Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack AKA: Macca. Who incidentally is my Face Book friend. In case you were wondering how tight we were.

Macca has a reputation for being cocky...... so I was intrigued. What would he be like? what would he say? I learned that he is one of the most humble human beings there is. He's honest, which is interpreted as arrogant. Since I invented the school of understanding what it is like to be misunderstood, I knew this would be good.

He made a few points that have stuck with me throughout the season:

1. If you believe in yourself, then you must reach for your goal.

2. Family first.

3. The Macca story isn't as interesting as the Craig Alexander story.

He went on to talk about Crowie, the current Ironman World Champion, one of the few who have defended the title. Crowie .... for years... maybe 10..... in Macca's words "sucked". He was the guy who always finished dead last on the circuit. Apparently people told Macca how great he was and would be...... and those people told Crowie .... dude..... give it up.

Crowie didn't give it up. He finished last. He finished last a lot. He believed in himself and he believed in his potential. He worked and he worked hard.

That race was a turning point for me. It led me to Coach Jesse and the QT2 Team, of which I am incredibly honored to be a part of. I will never forget the email from Coach.... I can help you. Mary Eggers wasn't an athlete he needed. He took me on anyways. My goals were very simple for 2009. I wanted to get back under 5 hours for the 70.3 distance and I needed to solve my nutrition issues.

Both of which we did.

In my heart I am an Ironman athlete and I so desperately don't want to be. It's a drug to me and I feel like I could do several Ironmans each year except that would ruin my family, my marriage and my life.

Some people crave alcohol. I crave the Ironman. There I said it. I love Ironman.

I want to be a 70.3 athlete. I am trying desperately to be. I am getting there. It's better for me.

(even though in 2010 I will be doing Ironman Florida. But let's chat about that later.)

Onto the race.

AT the last minute the swim was changed to the harbor side of Pier 60 and became a time trial start. BEST Decision WTC HAS EVER FREAKING MADE. I knew this would clear up congestion on the bike..... and it did. we simply filed into the water and away we went. A girl was worrying about the swim course behind me. I told her this: I always swim straight, just stay with me.

I don't have to put forth a lot of effort in training to swim well in open water. I swim straight, I swim well..... and I wonder if this is how natural runners feel. It comes naturally. In 2010 I swear I will try more in practice..... I swear I will. I came out of the water in about 30, which is perfect and right on track with the goals Jesse calculated out for me.

Onto the bike I felt great. I was nailing.... and I mean nailing my cadence + heart rate + wattages + nutrition. Jen caught up to me and I smiled. I love riding with Jen. It brought back memories. I decided to keep in contact with her.... we'd have a good ride and we'd ride clean.


Not wanting to get caught up in the cluster F*CK I dropped back and then realized that I screwed myself. They were passing on the right, on the left, screaming at me in German. I told that particular German guy.... #836....... if you are going to pass, yell on your left. NOT RIGHT.


I did the best I could, I was maintaining speed and cadence but obviously watts had dropped. No problem, this will set me up for a good run. I didn't give much energy away to the drafters. I was just once again astounded how blatant it was.

About mile 45 the refs showed up and started to scream at the Peleton. I was riding about 10 yards behind it. They began flashing the red and yellow cards.... finally.

I rode the last 4 miles alone, hitting watts and everything else and nailing nutrition. I was very hopeful to be able to run a 1:43-1:48 today. That was the goal.

The wonderful bike catchers took my bike for me and I ran through transition, grabbed my gear bag hit the tent and quickly changed into my running shoes. Out of the tent my legs felt pretty good.

Until I hit mile 1. Then something happened. I don't know if my wheels came off or what..... but I had nothing but pain in my shins, my knees, my hips. I chalked this up to being in my mind and did my best. I slowed a bit, nutrition was going fine. I knew I hadn't blown my wad on the bike. Trust me I have done that so many times that I invented that feeling. I know that feeling.

My head was there.... my heart was there..... my legs checked out.

Because I didn't start my watch I didn't know my time but I knew if I at least shuffled I could still save sub 5. Now that I am back under I do not want to be back over. I came to this race aiming and ready for a 4:40-4:48. I believe.... nah..... I know that I was prepared for that time.

Jesse is a big numbers guy. One of his slogans is: There is no magic.

The first loop I became very frustrated that my legs felt so awful. I worked for this day. I was ready for this day. Then I remembered...... that I did work for this day. I remembered the goals I set back in April. Sub five and nutrition.

I cycled through all of the things I have learned from the Wizard. Those lessons would get me through this rough patch. My nutrition..... was good, my stomach felt fine. I kept a high cadence, I kept my shoulders down, I thought about his run form instructions. Keep moving forward I told myself.

As I came over the causeway during the first loop part of me wanted to stop. I remembered when I was here in 06 competing the day after my Grandfather died. I puked on this bridge. I was so sad and I had ruined my nutrition again. That day I walked over to my friend Rich and told him I was quitting.

"Get the F**king MEDAL MARY" he had screamed at me, and I think (or embellish) that he may have pushed me back onto the course. I ran with the heaviest heart that day.

I crested the causeway and I thought of my Grandfather. He fought in WWII and he was such an honorable man. I felt like coming back here was important for some reason, for a little closure on that. I felt him nudge me along.

I knew I would persevere. I always do. I am the queen of it. Hit me hard and I hit back harder. I am your prime candidate for either the Amazing Race or Survivor. Knock me down and I get back up every single time. I make the best out of doomsday.

As I continued to crest that hill I looked out over the ocean. There was sun, palm trees and ocean. My heart stopped, my smile grew. This is what I love. Being able to be out here and doing this. So I wasn't having the day I was trained to have. I was still running. I was not puking. I'd still get my sub five hour finish. I had to play the deck I was given.

How many times has Crowie been in this position?

I asked myself three questions:

1. Do you love what you are doing right now? Yes

2. Do you believe in yourself and what your potential is? YES.

3. What do you want to do when you are done? I want to stand in the ocean and drink a giant cup of Starbucks.

I am a simple girl.

I got through that second loop. At times I surged, the legs had checked out. I smiled and I made the best of it. As I came running down that hill for the last time I thought about the year I have ahead of me.

In 3 weeks Jesse will rip me apart from head to toe. Lactate Threshold test, run form, body composition...... the works. I have a lot of work ahead of me that begins Dec 7th. So in a way........ I told myself to enjoy getting through this run.

Because it's the last time I get through a run.

The finish felt sweet. The finish always does. I saw Matt K. and his wife Karen, Chad and his wife Jen..... I learned that our friend Kim had crashed..... my heart sank. That was the last thing Kim needed this year.

I gathered my gear and walked to my hotel (not the Hilton.... you suckers!). At least a million emails awaited me. Pictures of Luc at home making pizza were there. I called Kim, she knows. She was with me when I qualified for this race. She gets it.

I showered. My legs still hurt. Deep down muscle fiber hurt.

I walked / hobbled to Starbucks. Then I went and stood in the ocean.


I am happy with this race. I am happy with my whole season. I am happy....... period. I got to compete with the World's best. With my friends. In the sun. I have made big gains this season. Gains that are setting me up for a strong 2010.

Crowie had days like this. He had 2 choices..... and look what he chose. I am on the right path. I believe in what I can do more than ever right now. I have absolutely no doubt. It has taken me longer than some. It's not easy for me as it is for others...... but when I am out there it's where I want to be.

When we cross that line in 2010 you will then know. And then you in turn will apply that to your situation. We will get there.

I have overcome so much this season. I have made progress. I have much more to go.

These days I bet Crowie looks back on those days where he had to struggle and fight and just get it done. I might bet money on the fact that he views those days as his most important days.

I have accomplished my 2009 goals. Sub five and nutrition. Now it's time for a 2 week holiday from training. I have a beach to lay on tomorrow.... coffee to drink..... and an Ironman to sherpa next weekend.

I thought I wanted to eat some ice cream and a scone. I walked down Gulf Blvd.... or whatever it is called..... and I came home with a freaking salad. Damn you coach, I thought.