Archive for February, 2007

h1

Until Sunday

February 26, 2007

I shall apologize to the three of you who check in each day, that my posts are about to slow down a bit to bi weekly or weekly. The big focus has begun and part of that is writing less, storing it in my head more, and finding that quiet time to reflect on the journey.

I stand here at the beginning of the big build, feeling really good. I am savoring how good I feel now 🙂 There were three words on the schedule that made my heart skip a beat with both excitement and nervousness.
Four Hour Ride.
We all remember what happened at the last four hour ride, so he’s shown up again. And I am welcoming him, Thursday we will join forces and ride. There will be moments of challenge, testing, prodding, but that’s what this whole Ironman gig is about.

What can I endure, how long can I endure it, and how can I remain patient as the process takes shape? Why am I here, what is my purpose? What can I withstand and how will I handle it? Will I bend or will I break?

Is my WHY big enough to make the HOW easier?

And at the end of it all, what are the lessons that will help make me stronger?

Ironman training is so much more than the physical. It’s even more than nutrition. The great Karen Smyers once said that the furthest distance you have to travel on Ironman day is the distance between your ears. I once thought that I had that aspect conquered, and I learned there was more I needed to do.

So here I am. Wide open, ready to be pried apart, ready to be peeled and exposed.

Until Sunday……..

🙂 Mary Eggers

h1

5 Months To Go

February 24, 2007

It came through on the Train-This Yahoo Group titled with my favorite expression, and it was form Sarah……

“WOO HOO!”

The message read “5 months from today.”

Any we all knew what she meant. 5 months until Ironman Lake Placid. My heart fluttered like a child on Christmas Eve. Yes, 5 months. The deposits in the Bank of Iron are accumulating and fitness is building.

I was a very good girl in recovery week. I rested, and I even sat in Curt’s “Man Chair” with my feet up. Luc was on winter break so we really had some fun together. We watched movies, went to the library, went to Cracker Barrel every morning, sledding and swimming. He’s getting his freestyle down nicely.

I had to warn my husband that in the next four weeks I would be dropping 10 pounds (the last 10!!!) and not to be worried. I am about to embark on my first 40 mile per week running block, and when my running mileage gets above 35, the pounds drop whether I want them to or not. The trick will be slowing them down.

But things are coming together. The swim, the bike and the run are beginning to blend as fitness is building. I feel terrific. I am not nervous about my Achilles. I am not nervous about speed, hell, I am not nervous at all.

I woke at 4:30am on this Saturday morning eager to complete my first bike test, and I was thrilled with the results. The wattage, the heart rate and the cadence came togther as I hoped it would. All of those superspins were finally taking shape. I am equally as eager for tomorrow’s test.

The next block is laid out and I am revved to go. The week after next I begin a series of twice weekly brick workouts. March 12th I begin teaching spinning at RIT. I have to write a syllabus and I have to grade! WOW! It allows me to get in a terrific 1:30 ride and then head to their most amazing collection of treadmills for 1-1:30 runs afterwards. I have been able to stay off the treadmill most of the winter, but at RIT they are too easily accessible, so it becomes time to take advantage of them.

In April, 6 days apart I have 2 distance road races. The Spring Forward 9.5 miler is on April 1st and the CATS 1/2 Marathon is on the 7th. Originally I wanted to peak for both of these events. But as we took a look at the grand plan it made better sense to use them both as tempo runs. The Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman is on May 12th, having 2 down weeks around these road races would throw off the build and taper for the 1/2 Ironman. So I had to choose. Be an April champion or shine in the races that I want to shine in? Obviously I chose the latter. At mile 20 of Ironman Florida, no one will give a rats ass about my CATS 1/2 Marathon time in April.

So…….. 12 weeks till Gulf Coast
14 weeks till Weekend At Placid
16 weeks till Eagleman
20 weeks till Ironamn Lake Placid.
and months will Ironman Florida.

It will all be here before you know it. Then planning, the creating, the data collecting, it is all underway and evolving just as I do. Strong days, weak days, up days, down days. It’s all part of the package.

🙂 mary Eggers

h1

Sweet

February 23, 2007

Our masters swimming team is called the RAMS, and I have been swimming with them for 6 years now. I used to swim in the boomers lane, which was the middle of the pool. Here, 100’s were done on 1:15-1:20. This season I swallowed my pride as leader of the Boomers and stepped to the back of the Stud lane, where 100’s frequently depart on 1:05-1:10. Most times I hit the wall, take a breath and then go again. It’s bringing my swimming game up a notch for sure.

We practice at a pool in the Harley School complex. Our pool is being renovated so we have now moved over to Monroe Community College, which has given us an extra lane and 15 more minutes in the water. This translates into 2 X 90 minute practices, which then translates into much more yardage. Just what an Iron Girl in training is needing. I have found my happy place.

Our new venue allows me 15 extra minutes in the am, enough for me to squeeze a good hour on the bike in. When I arrive home at 0730 I have 2.5-3 hours of training in, and I am smiling.

So it’s been a wonderful recovery week. I began a series of bike testing, which will last through the weekend and the next 3 weeks. I save my running tests for the beginning of the week at the beginning of the next block. And I do this for a few reasons.

Recovery weeks need to be recovery weeks. I see a lot of athletes hammer themselves with very intense “testing” when they should be recovering. I save my bike test to the end of the week so that I arrive with rest under my belt. Bike testing is not as demanding as running testing.

We all know that the body becomes stronger when the body is at rest. It is when we train that we develop microscopic tears in the muscle. At rest the body repairs itself and in turn builds a stronger muscle. The next time the muscle is stressed it is stronger.

I place the run test at the beginning of the next block to ensure I have taken the proper rest, which means I have endured physical and nutritional recovery. This is the system that I have been scheduling my athletes for as well, and the results have been terrific.

When I schedule a long or hard ride to some it might seem hard. But it is when they see the word rest, that their blood pressure really rises. But that’s the missing link of so many programs. Finding the balance is hard and it is through trial and error that you find the right method for you.

I am looking forward to the subsequent bike sets that I have on Saturday and Sunday, but for now I will be in Curt’s “Man Chair” with my feet up and resting!

🙂 Mary Eggers

h1

The Evolution of You

February 22, 2007

Yes, I create the training plans, analyze the data, help analyze nutrition, heart rate zones, etc, etc…. but my athletes do the work. They do the training. When they thank me, I have to remind them that it honestly has very little to do with me, I am just the drill sergeant. It is the athlete, the person who must do the work, face the demons, endure the triumphs, I am really just the guide.

I have been so blessed to work with a tremendous amount of people, through teaching spinning, yoga, coaching, etc. And it never ceases to amaze me, to watch each person evolve. They begin their cycling career, yoga practice, whatever it is with a degree of uncertainty, doubt. They are humble but eager. Some believe they have what it takes and some won’t believe it if you hit them in the head with it.

I get to sit back and watch them peel away the layers like they are peeling the layers of an onion. First to disappear……. doubt. It comes from the first milestone whether it be a downward facing dog or the finish line of a 5k.

Have we spent so much of our lives not believing in ourselves that when we crest the milestone we are actually surprised? When did doubt begin and the innocence of childhood end? When we thought we were ten feet tall and bullet proof. When the world was open and wide and good.

The world never changed…… we did. Through circumstance and life and whatever that entailed for us.

So we begin a journey of whatever kind. In my world it is an athletic journey of sort. But an athletic journey is an incredible metaphor for life. If I can climb this hill, if I can hold this balancing half moon, if I can just ride 5 miles………. then what else could I do?

One success leads to another, small or large and we have this energy that builds up inside of us. It begins to bubble and at times we have difficulty holding it all in. Like we are a shaken soda bottle and the cap has not yet been released. Like we are just ready to shine for all of the world to see.

And then we might feel guilty….. I don’t want to seem conceited, I don’t want to seem like I am bragging. But…. is it?

When did reaching for the goal, when did putting yourself on the line, when did believing in yourself become a bad thing?

Somewhere on our journey we began to believe it was.

So strip back those layers, reach for the starts as they say. Pull of the mask and let that bright light that is within you shine so brightly that even you are surprised.

That isn’t walking around saying “I am the best in the whole world!”

It’s quiet. It’s personal. It’s within. Once that light begins to shine from within, people will begin to notice a change in you, that they can’t identify.

Something seems different about you.” They will say “But I don’t know what.”

Because you have finally removed self doubt, self loathing, self hatred. And you have replaced it with someone who takes care of themselves, someone who has grown into their own skin, and someone who throws open their arms and allows the world in.

🙂 Mary Eggers

h1

The Zone

February 20, 2007

I am reading a terrific book called The Road map to the Zone. It breaks down the mental side of athletic goal setting, training, and performing to your highest potential. This is my favorite part of training, and I really believe it to be the most important part. We spend money on bikes, coaching, heart rate monitors, travel, yet we tend to be afraid of and neglectful of the place that can make or break us. The space between our ears. This book helps to break down the barriers that stand in our way, the barriers that we construct ourselves.

It is pretty similar to what Rich Straus says, finding the one thing. This book calls it the why. If the why is big enough, the how then becomes easy. A great example given in this book was a man whose daughter needed a kidney transplant. There were no matches except for her father. Her father was 100 pounds overweight and was therefore ineligible to donate to her. He’d always been overweight, and was never able to lose it. In eight months he lost 100 pounds and he donated a kidney to his daughter.

His why was big enough, enough motivation that the how was doable.

And so it is with all of us whether our dreams be athletic, academic, or career. When you set that goal, this book recommends then determining the why. How big is your why, which then comes back to the one thing.
Beyond that we identify the obstacles that tend to get int he way of our goals.

Example;

Goal: Lose 10 pounds.

Why; To get healthy (is this big enough to make the how easy?)

Obstacles; for this person, maybe her whole family eats doughnuts 8 times a day.

Then identify things you can do to move beyond those obstacles, for this person it could be ban all doughnuts from the house.

Of course this is just an example but I think it is a powerful message.

How many times have I defeated my own self in the past 2 years for various reasons. Were my obstacles nutrition and mental game? I don’t get off on getting angry or bringing hatred into my competition. I get fast by spreading my wings and flying. My wing span has been small the past 2 seasons, but I can feel the wings are healing, and the goals are gaining clarity.

So I am working through the spreadsheets in this book as if I am back in therapy (eating disorder rehab days!). I realize the key to everything lies between the ears. It lies with me, within my power. Nothing anyone else does, says, or promises will give me what I can unveil myself.

Onward.

🙂 mary eggers
h1

Week In Review

February 18, 2007

We’ve come to the end of a terrific 3 week build. Mileage and volume is right on target. I even have been successful at taking a complete day of rest each week. Strangely I have come out of this build feeling incredibly fresh. But that’s how this training stuff can work. You come to the end of a build fatigued, or fresh. It’s when you are fatigued you question whether you did enough work. Its when you are fresh you want to do more.

My desire to want more will be met this week with a lot of testing. We are beginning a series of month long test sessions on the bike as I transition into training with power. My bike will be outfitted with an Ergomo in three weeks, which is going to help immensely as we collect data from races, planning the plan for Ironman Florida. Since I will be on the IMFL course in just two months it will be a terrific opportunity to collect necessary data. Perhaps when I signed up for Gulf Coast, that was my plan? I never know what’s going on in this mind of mine.

I have come through my first 40 mile running week in over 2 years unscathed. At the beginning of the week during my long run my left hamstring was so tight that for every stride I felt it. 2 hours of Ow left hammie ow! Made me hyper-nervous. A complete day off on Wed and yoga yoga yoga……. completely gone. No tightness not even a hello. Whew.

So I am feeling very good about the upcoming running block. This week we will cover about 20 running miles through recovery and then it is into 3 X 40, rest and then we begin working up towards 50. All base training and during the subsequent block some hill work.

We attended the Hunter Allen seminar in Buffalo yesterday, and I have to admit that he completely organized my power training knowledge. It’s like I had a whole alphabet of books and thoughts and plans, and he narrowed it down to A,B,C and D. I get it. I am relatively new to training with and coaching with power, and it can really become quite technical. I found myself fascinated by the ability to train, pace, plan, and test with power meter devices.

I decided on the Ergomo for a few different reasons. And I have been considering this purchase for months. I like that I can use different wheels. I train and race on different wheels, sometimes a disc, some times a Bontrager, so I like having that option. I like the durability of the Ergomo. I like that I can use it inside and outside.

I liked all of the other power meter devices as well, but the iBike seemed senseless for me to get. Among other reasons, most of the races that I do, your bike is in transition the night before without the ability to remove it until the race. That eliminates the option of calibration race morning.

The Power Tap limited me to just one wheel. I want to be able to train with and race with this thing, else why bother at all? For me the Ergomo was the natural choice. Plus it comes in a cool silver James Bond like briefcase. I am all about the cool factor.

I think that training with power is a very personal choice, can be incredibly beneficial, and needs to be completely understood by both the athlete and the coach. I really like how Hunter Allen called it the “You suck” meter, because it is very revealing about your talents and your weaknesses.

The bottom line of all of these things, all of the tri toys out there, is that they can impact your Fun-O-Meter.

Training and competing is fun. It is 100% fun. Adding toys and such to the mix for some people can pull from the fun. Toys are technical, and they come with a certain amount of Geek Stress. Geek Stress meaning they will fail at times, they will have to be repaired at times, software isn’t always user friendly (ever see how many manuals as Computraienr comes with?) and they take a certain amount of knowledge. So be cautious as you add this stuff in, if it begins to impact your Fun-O-Meter, either causing you to spend too much time in front of the computer, or impacting the joy of riding…….

Then take it off the bike or place a piece of tape over the screen. After all, this is for fun, this is for fitness. I happen to enjoy all these technical things. I have a hunger for knowledge as an athlete and as a coach.

So…. on to rest week, and some testing!

🙂 Mary Eggers

h1

The One Thing

February 16, 2007

It must be the number one question an endurance athlete is asked.

“What motivates you?”

You have to be a motivated individual to achieve anything in life, be it in sport, career, family, education. You have to find your one thing, coach Rich Straus truly articulates it best, these are his words below……….

How do you determine your One Thing?

Identify why you want to do the race before signing up. Are you doing it for you or to prove something to someone else? Be completely honest with yourself. “I’m a doing this Ironman so I can earn a unique title that is mine forever.”

One Thing = title of Ironman.

Take that One Thing and mate it with your race goals and expectations: “The title is important to me, not the time. I want to finish with a smile on my face.”

Remind yourself, daily, of your One Thing and the race goals and expectations you have built around it. Through this process your One Thing will provide clarity of purpose to your training.

When the Phunometer is pegged during a 6 hour long ride, you’ll know why you are still out there.

In your mental rehearsals before the race, visualize the conversation between Mind and Body when the Body begins to question the Mind’s commitment to the One Thing. Prepare your rebuttal beforehand.

On race day, continually remind yourself of the One Thing. Focus completely on its accomplishment. Remember, you can never disappoint your friends or family. They will be proud of you regardless. However, you can let yourself down. In the end, the best we can do is follow our commitment to our One Thing.

Time or performance based One Things

This is double edged sword, creating intense focus on the run, but potentially setting you up for major swim and bike pacing mistakes.

Here is what I do:
Before the race, I set very broad finishing time goals. This is usually a simple exercise in curiosity, as I do the math on projected splits, based on current training paces. I don’t plan to use these numbers in any way during the race.

On the swim and bike, I focus completely on smart execution. I let the time take care of itself.

I do my best to completely ignore the races of those around me, especially on the bike. I realize I create the conditions for a successful run hours before I step off the bike in T2.

Whenever I feel myself about to get stupid, I remind myself of this fact.

When I step off the bike, I look at the clock, assess how I feel, and absolutely commit to a run time and resultant finishing time.

I then put that goal in my back pocket. I won’t need it until much later. In the meantime I again focus completely on proper execution.

At some point during the run, I know the gears will shift from “running” to “not slowing down.” This is when I take the time goal out of my pocket and go to work. However, since I am usually incapable of simple arithmetic at this point, this will take the form of running to Mr. Gatorade, walking while I drink, then starting to run before I have a chance to talk myself into walking more. In the end, the time still takes care of itself as I focus on not slowing down.

Never underestimate the body’s ability to go farther than you ever thought possible. However, the body is a machine. Your mind is the driver. Prepare your mind now to drive your body on race day.

I have sat down and outlined what my one thing is. It’s something we all should do if we are serious abut where we are going. Establishing that process gives me a lot to hold onto during the months where it is not easy to get out the door.

Another little something I always try to follow in conjunction with this, is that I am always good to myself. I will never tell you that I kill myself during a workout. Think about the energy that creates. For me, stating “I am going to kick my butt on my run today”……. fills me with angry energy and that then translates into self hatred.

I lived in that bubble of self hatred for too long, and I have worked hard to get out of it. Each workout has a specific and positive purpose. Each workout is to help me become stronger in some fashion. I know there is a lot within me that can shine. and while I have trouble revealing it, I am closer than ever.

Each training session forces me to be in the present moment. I can’t think about what is ahead, and I can’t think about what’s behind. I have to be in the here and now, else those are the workouts where I get off my bike. It’s like every swim, bike and run, I am in front of a mirror. I can bend or I can break. Sometimes I bend and sometimes I break. That’s just how it all rolls. One session leads to the next, and they end up in a season compilation of hits and misses. The hits build a tower stronger than the misses, yet the misses teach me the most valuable lessons.

One thing is for sure, my success as an athlete depends on my spirituality. The incredible Kevin Moats says it best;

“There are no atheiests during the last 8 miles of the Ironman”

So I encourage you to take the journey of finding your one thing. Then write it down, say it out loud, post it on the mirror in the bathroom. Don’t be afraid to state it, and don’t be afraid to succeed.

🙂 Mary Eggers