Archive for April, 2011



April 29, 2011

 Thursday’s ride brought things to a new level. Theoretically, physically and mentally. The same tempo intervals, at zone 3 this time. If you are not a QT2 athlete you need to understand that our HR zones are defined differently. We have zR, Z1, Z2 and sometimes Z3. All you need to know is that Zone 3 is hard. Like real hard. 

Not only did I have to hold that for 20 minutes I needed to hold it twice for 20 minutes. 

I do these types of efforts on the trainer. One; because I ride early. Two, they allow me to fully focus on the effort at hand without worrying I will become a hood ornament. It gives me complete control over what is happening. When this workout comes around again the conditions will be the same.

One of the keys to this is not taking it to the wall in the first 60 seconds. While the effort is hard the mistake of hitting the wall at 1 minute is that you hang on for the next 20. It takes me 3-4 minutes to take it to the wall, and then I hang on for dear life.

What goes through my mind? Not much. I am engaged in the effort 100%. I get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If I wanted comfortable I would have taken up knitting. Yes it’s hard. If I wanted easy I would not have gotten out of bed. If I wanted easy I’d DNF every race. Not only is it my choice to be here, it’s my privilege to be here. No one forced me. This was all me.

Nothing worth having or attaining comes without a price. I don’t call it sacrifice….. sacrifice is donating a kidney. This is commitment to me. That price for me is pushing beyond what I think is my threshold. Pushing beyond what feels good and comfortable, pushing way beyond the place where I feel safe.

How hard can I go? How much can I raise and sustain this HR and these watts. If I take those watts to XXX then I need to prove it by not only keeping them there but beating them on round 2.

I remind myself to embrace it. I can do anything for 20 minutes. In my head the second one doesn’t exist. I will begin to prepare for that one during the recovery. No need to think ahead.

Right here. Right now. This pedal stroke. This beat of my heart. A heart that once stopped. How many people can say that? So keep going Eggers I tell myself. You were pitched back, what did you learn from that??? You learned to embrace every opportunity to be better. You owe it to those who saved you to be this strong.

No one is here to help you. In fact no one gives a rat’s ass at this moment. There is only one thing that will make it feel better and that’s stopping. And no one will care.

But you will. And disappointing me is worse than being last. And I have been last. And I have DNF’d. And I have lost. Trust me; disappointing me is worse than any of that.

I won’t allow it, I go harder. When it hurts I push harder. Treat pain with pain but it’s the good kind of pain. The kind of pain that when it’s over makes you smile at the new depth, new level, new threshold you found for yourself.

There is no medal. There is no tape to break. There is just a training log for me to fill in. A great job or instructions on where to tighten it up from the Wizard. I hit submit and there it goes. Another deposit in the bank. Another bale of hay in the barn.

When it’s over I disengage from the session. I put it in my memory and focus on the task at hand. A little boy to make breakfast for, to send off to school, to welcome back home, to prepare for a spelling test with.  

The important stuff.

The spelling isn’t easy, but the writing is harder. Faced with fine motor skill deficiencies is not like a threshold interval. It requires patience; it requires slowing down not plowing through. But it does require perseverance. Belief that we can do it, belief that with enough practice it will come out legibly on the spelling test.

Maybe it isn’t that different.

All I know is that those 2 X 20 minutes at Qt2 HR zone 3 is gone, filed away, absorbing into my body. I totally disengage from them.

We practice the word land over and over and over. Until the letter a sits on the line and the n looks like an n and not an h. With a lot of patience. With a lot of practice. With a lot of focus.

“I got it mom!” He cries when it comes together on the tenth try. I cheer. It wasn’t the tenth one that brought it all together; it was all the attempts that went before it that brought it together.

One pedal stroke at a time. One heartbeat at a time. One letter at a time.

That is how it happens.


Two hundreds

April 27, 2011

I love cultivating swimmers. Or helping them cultivate themselves I should say.

I felt that this morning as Matt and I were swimming in the outdoor pool at Midtown (Have I mentioned I have been swimming outside in Upstate NY since April 1st? I have!!!!!). Over the past 18 months I have watched Matt’s swimming develop, from a fresh faced newbie triathlon kid to hanging right with me, and even pulling ahead.

It’s so cool to see someone embrace the pool like this. You don’t see these kinds of improvements that often so when you do, you soak them up. I was lapping Matt at this time last year. Now…. he’s the wingman. Beat me by a full body length in Miles of Misery.


This morning was the famed set of QT2 descending 200’s. One of the hardest things to learn as a swimmer is to feel the pace. If you grew up in the water you know what I mean. In swimming all you have is the end of the 200, or whatever distance you are swimming. There is no mid 200 time check, you can’t don’t  look down at your watch to check your time….. you really develop the feel.

There is a certain way to swim a 200, and there was a certain way to swim this particular set. The first time I did it I set the interval and pounded out 15 X 200 as hard as I could. Then I’d get a slap on the wrist from the Wizard. There is a certain way to swim this set, follow the instructions. This isn’t swim practice, this is Ironman training.

The set is set up as follows

5 X 200

4 X 200

3 X 200

2 X 200

1 X 200

The idea is to descend the set by 20 seconds. By the time you get to that last one, it’s all out. In my swimming days I would argue that it was better to do them all on one pace as hard as possible. That helped me in the 1,000, but it wouldn’t help me in a 2.4 mile open water swim.

Those first 5 X 200 were tough. We wanted to go faster. matt swam right next to me and we kept stroke with one another. When he pulls ahead I utilize my flip turns (not done in the fashion of my beginner video the other day! Much tighter and faster) to gain the time back.

Set by set we descended by 5 seconds. Then we hit that last one. I wondered if Matt knew how to swim a 200. If not, he’d learn right now.

We took it out strong. real strong. When it came time to go….. if you are a swimmer then you know what that is…… I went. He matched stroke. I went harder. He matched stroke. The centimeters I pulled ahead he was right there on the wing. Right there. We dropped that time so far down that the next time we do this set we have to begin the whole thing 10 seconds faster.


It’s been great swimming with Matt, as I have been swimming solo this season, to work Jesse’s swim progression. I like the results. I am ready to hit the ocean next week and I am hoping that water is rough. If you know how to surf then you know exactly how to ride those waves. Luckily, I do.

Swimming question of the day:

Question: Mary, will you have any open water practice before your race next week? If not, how do you prepare for an open water swim like that with no practice?

Answer:  I will hopefully have one 20 minute recovery swim in the ocean but truthfully I have been at this so long I don’t worry about it. Swimming is swimming. I have done so many ocean swims that not even the salt water change affects me. In my opinion the real difference between open water and pool swimming is mental. So don’t worry about it! You know what you are doing!


Random Monday

April 25, 2011

I have a serious case of the randoms this morning……..


The Core Diet partners with Train-This!!!

 While at camp Jesse approached me about the possibility of the QT2 / Core Diet bringing a nutrition component to the athletes we coach at Train-This. I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to offer my athletes the program and support that has literally changed my life. While that sounds like an infomercially thing to say…. I can’t stress enough how The Core Diet restored my health. All of our athletes now have the option to add this nutrition component to their programs, which is unreal. It’s a huge honor to be offered this by Jesse and the rest of the QT2 gang. It’s something I believe in more than I can express. To be able to bring it to our team here is awesome.

Click here for more details.

Flip Turn Post:

Thanks for all the great questions about the flip turn post! A few things I would like to point out…. if I were a swim coach looking at this video from the standpoint of competitive pool swimming, I would be horrified. I am two inches too far from the wall. I take too much time, I am not tight, I don’t kick off the wall. In a swim meet I would do something completely different with my arms. In a swim meet a race is won or lost right there.

 Remember that the purpose, was to show beginner triathletes how easy it can be.

Specific questions:

My lead in stroke was taken before I hit the T, that’s how I arrived at the end of the length.

Am I too far away from the wall? Yes. In a swim meet this would  be bad.

Should I push off on my side? No, on your back….. to get to your front you must first get to your side, if this were a swim meet I would initiate the first stroke on my side with the hand on the bottom and I would not breathe until the second stroke off the wall.

Where do I take my last breath before the wall? Last stroke before I hit the T. Watch the video again and hold your breath the whole time. You can do it!

In a swim meet I would use my arms differently.

Remember: think big picture. All of these little details are important for swim meets, not for the beginner flip turner. Focus on the big picture not the details. The details are why athletes won’t learn them to begin with! Until a flip turn mechanics will help you navigate 3,000 people in an open water swim….. don’t worry about them. If you are swimming in a  meet, worry about them.

Speaking of swimming, here is an absolutely terrific article by The Wizard on swim mechanics. With video. My son Pat Wheeler is in the video.


I am super excited to be riding with power off the trainer again! While I relied on the Computrainer for my wattages throughout the winter, I am riding with power on the roads now, thanks to the Quarq powermeter. The gang at the Geneva Bike Shop took really good care of me, they always do. They had it on in no time, and this thing is literally as easy as plug and play. I was surprised at how well it synched up with the computrainer, which double confirms my numbers are accurate.

Block 6

I had a recovery week coming out of camp and I was glad to know that I was not the only campee who was tired. The strange thing was, we were not peripherally tired….. as in sore tired, we were all systematically tired. Asleep on our feet! When I took a look at the next block I was glad it had been recovery. The next six weeks …. which include Gulf Coast…. are not to be taken lightly. I have a lot of work ahead!

Gulf Coast!

In a week I am heading back to Panama City Beach for the Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman. Panama City Beach is my sanctuary. I got to finish 2010 and I will begin 2011 at the Ocean. I am so excited to be racing here again. How many times is this now??? It’ll be a short taper into it and a day off after it, but I will make the most of the heat and the rough water swim, and the sun. I love this place. It’s the ocean. I am an Aquarius you see, the water is soothing to us. How I ended up landlocked is beyond me.

I think that’s all for now! I hope your Easter was wonderful, that you spent it with family and friends and celebrated what this great day is really about!


How to do a flip turn

April 23, 2011

Flip turns are easy. If you can blow your nose, you can do a flip turn. No, you don’t need to do a flip turn in triathlon, in open water there are no walls. I do however see benefits in learning how to do one.

1. Because you are afraid to. When I hear someone justify their not learning a flip turn because they are afraid, I encourage it even more. You can’t let  fear hold you back from doing things, especially things like flip turns. Learning to do something that you are afraid of is more than just learning a flip turn, it’s a metaphor for life. Do you not eat Easter Candy because you are afraid you will develop a cavity? No. Do you turn down opportunities in your life because you are afraid…. that’s what I am talking about. Sport often serves as a catalyst for life. You will be in that situation, somewhere, someday….. and feel that feeling of fear. Then you will say to yourself….. wait a second, I learned how to do _________ I can handle this. Yeah, just from a silly flip turn.

2. Body awareness.  Triathletes will often tell me they don’t kick because they don’t need to, they have a wetsuit. I then educate them on why the kick is important. When triathletes tell me they don’t really need a flip turn, I partially agree. You won’t do one in open water. What a flip turn does is help improve body awareness and breath control.  Swimming is all about body awareness, understanding where your body is in space. I have a friend who swears he has a good streamline, yet when we video him his hands are wider than his shoulders when he really believes he is touching his hands together. Poor body awareness (Moreland!). It will also help with breath control, which in some rough open water swims, becomes important.

3. It’s fun. Nothing claims you as a “real swimmer” more than a flip turn. Athletes tell me all the time. The only thing that stands between you and becoming a “real swimmer” (someone please define me the difference, I really have no clue, a swimmer is a swimmer)….. is actually the space between your ears. If this helps, go for it.

Here are four easy steps to a flip turn, the key here is that flip turns are easy.

Disclaimer: The suit is a grab bag Splish suit. $19. Plus this week it’s the royal wedding. Get in the spirit! If only they made a Buffalo Sabres suit!

Click on the pictures to see the detailed instructions……..

Step One:

 When you come to the T, push both hands to your hips. You will not hit the wall with your head. See the picture below, look how much space I have! While executing the somersault, initiate the movement from your core, and exhale out of your nose. BLOW YOUR NOSE IN THE WATER!

Step Two:

Leave your hands where they are, and flip “Into a chair”. Now it takes practice to know where to begin the flip. For me, who is 5’10” the T is where I start, you might be further, you might be closer. Practice. Notice, when my feet hit the wall I am on my back, looking up at the sky. If you can blow your nose, you can get to this point.

Step 3.

Put your hands together. They are already in the right place. Now as a side note, my legs are a little low on the wall. All a flip turn is….. is jumping off the wall. Because of my feet position being behind my knees I won’t get as much power off the wall as I would if my legs followed the red line. Now note, I am going to push off the wall on my back.

Step 4:

Push off the wall on your back. Slowly rotate to your side then front as you are jumping off the wall. A great way to practice this is by doing 50’s…… 25 free…. flip turn into back stroke. If you can’t do backstroke then push off the wall, and kick on your back for 1/2 length. Then rotate to your side then front.

Below is the full video. Special thanks to Train-This Uniform and event coordinator and athlete Kim Ammon for her videography skills!!!!!


QT2 Camp, just stuff

April 19, 2011

Home. I am finally home. My body feels awesome after camp. How on earth did I ever work nights? A little lack of sleep had me lugging around the coffee dispenser from Starbucks all day. I left the cup, took the big steel thing. It has wheels.

I do need to put to rest one rumor that seems to have grown like wildfire from camp. Patrick Wheeler is not my illegitimate son. Yes, I had to carry him in the baby bjorn (rear facing) for one of those camp runs, but I would have had to been 11 years old. Sure it’s possible. Sure the resemblance is uncanny. I understand the confusion. I mean, look at us.

It’s like we are twins separated at birth. You can see it in our faces.

Here is a picture of some of us about to head out for a ride. Note Wheeler is standing next to me. I carried this boy through the whole damn camp.

One of my favorite camp pictures…….


I will have some more pictures and real closing thoughts on Wednesday. Stay tuned to Xtri as well. As I looked at the picture of the Wizard here I had a flashback to the Saturday swim where he bombed the pilot….. and I need to go get in the pool. We have a swim off at Lake Placid and I will have revenge!


QT2 Camp Day 4

April 18, 2011

Sunday was the fourth day of camp. Each morning I got up early and was in the lobby by 5, with a coffee. Writing. It’s my favorite time of the day. Always has been. This morning Donna, Maris, Duff….. found me early. They were heading out for their ride early as their flights were sooner than ours. 

I smiled as I saw them, realizing that just a few days before we all arrived here as virtual strangers. Now it felt like I was hanging out with family. This is what happens when a team forms. 

At 6:30I had a massage with one of the best massage therapists on earth. Courtney. While she’s Pat’s wife, she’s her own soul. She’s got incredible hands. She’s an incredible girl. I brought her a coffee and she got to work. My body held up ridiculously well throughout these four days. She got me ready for the last four hours of training, that’s for damn sure. 

At 8amthe rest of us were ready for our final camp ride. A 2 hour easy ride, we decided it’d be around the lake. As we set off I smiled yet again, amazed at how well we all gelled together. With so many people and personalities there was an absence of ego from the age groupers and from the pros.

  I learned by watching Jacqui and Cait what the true meaning of professional was…. and it had zero to do with placing and speed. It had everything to do with attitude and how they conducted themselves. If I were a business owner I’d be damn proud to have these two ladies represent me. You can’t say that about every athlete who calls themselves a pro, but these two you sure could. Later on I realized….. at this camp not one person talked about what races they had won, how many times they have done Kona…. not once. Not Cait, not anyone. We were all just athletes together.

The weather has been nothing short of amazing, and Sunday was no different. We biked along the bike path and twice around the lake. By now we knew how each other rode and we just formed the formations as we went along. I felt like I was riding with a team in every sense of the word. 

When you come to a camp like this there are worries. Will I be able to keep up? Will I get lost? What happens if I flat? What if we don’t get along? 

Every single one of those concerns was washed away on the first day. We took good care of one another. 

I didn’t want the ride to end. I had hit all my paces and zones all weekend. There was no gun slinging (except by the Wizard when he slung shot by me in the pool….. just in case I have not mentioned it……) It was like we were all put here together for a reason. 

After the ride was the long run, and I had two hours on tap. It was hot and I was glad. Every race I have is hot and I need to become the best at handling the heat. I doubled all fluids and dared my GI system to revolt. I took down gels, blocks, liquids, some were not even on the plan and I did it anyways. 

“What is that?” The Wizard asked me yesterday. I told him a gel. “I thought it was oil. I was thinking man, Mary’s tough”. Damn right I am. My gut is made of steel this season. 

I chose four 30 minute loops so I could keep up on fuel. I thought about our run analysis last evening. I felt like a rock star. After all this volume this week I felt this good in the heat, last workout of the camp. 


Everyone seemed to have run well. Everyone seemed to have done well the whole camp. No bonks, no issues, no nothing. We were eager to train and we were eager to learn. And we were eager to have fun. 

We met one final time in the afternoon and awarded Shawn the camper of the camp award for hi amazing attitude, his adherence to his zones and his plan, and his positivity. My teammate Sindy awarded me “most likely to blow a snot rocket.”  It made me laugh so hard I nearly fell off my bike. We laughed about how I coached her through peeing herself, and stuff like that. 

You don’t make friends like this every day. 

While I will have a formal write up on XTri this week, I wanted to capture the personal side of camp for you, because if you have ever thought about doing something like this, you should go for it. I was lucky my family allowed me the chance to come. I can’t tell you how glad I was to be here.

 I felt like it was what I needed. I don’t get to be Mary the athlete all that often and this weekend, I really did. I loved every single second of every workout I did. I felt strong, I felt fit, and I felt ready. I am ready to come back  to Florida  2.5 weeks and love the first race of the season. I felt great in the heat.

I just felt great.

 The Wizard and I chatted a bit before we broke camp, loosely reviewed my progress so far this season. I feel very lucky to have him as my coach, there are plenty of athletes who would do anything to take my place. What I have learned from him is beyond sport, he has no idea how he has helped me find my health again. He’s not afraid to give it to me straight. He’s objective, he’s always 100% objective and that’s what I appreciate the most. 

I’ve been working with Jesse (The Wizard)  for 2 years now, and I feel like he has a great understanding of me. The coaching relationship takes time; the process we undertake takes patience. I don’t know if these guys will ever know how this process has not only healed me, but it’s allowing me to dream and reach for things I thought were gone.

 I feel like I am in an amazing place. No longer am I reaching for performances of the past, no longer am I mourning the races where I have fallen. It’s like I am starting fresh. I have been with this team for 2 years now but I finally allowed myself to be the teammate I know I can be. 

They say there is no magic….. but that’s the magic right there.

 There are so many things I will miss about camp. I will miss Molly my roommate. We stayed up way too late just talking. She talked about her Dad, whom she lost earlier this year and I was so glad she talked about him. I was honored she talked to me about him. I haven’t stayed up late talking like that with a girlfriend since college. Where your eyes are half closed yet you keep talking anyways. I feel like she and I have been friends forever.

 I hope we are friends forever. I hope we all are. 

I hated saying good bye. We met with handshakes and we left with huggs. We will all see one another again in a few months but I still didn’t want to do the goodbyes. Like I said before I just want these people to be part of my life everyday.  Camp was special. really special. I learned more than I can explain, more than I can articulate, maybe even more than I want to share. Because it was us. Just us. All of us. Sharing life for a few days.

 As I am writing this I am high above the world, flying home. I am homesick beyond belief. I can not wait to sneak into Luc’s room and wake him up. I promised him I would wake him the moment I got there. Of course I have a present for him.  And then I get to crawl into bed beside the one person in this world who makes everything I do possible. Not only that but loves me enough to encourage me to explore the world, explore myself, and explore possibility.

 Home sweet home.

(Tomorrow: things I learned at camp!)


QT2 Camp day Three

April 17, 2011

Day three began with a 6 million meter swim in the outdoor long course meter pool. Have I ever told you yet that back home I am already swimming outside? I am believe it or not. But yes, a 6 million meter swim. I counted every single meter. How long does it take to swim six million yards?

One day longer than forever. Which in terms of minutes adds up to be just over 80 minutes. Give or take.

I swam with the big boys and fared pretty well. ALl I remember is that we began and finished with two million 50’s. In the middle there were 6 X 400s which in Long course meters is wonderful to count. There was a small separation between me and Ray and I was able to bridge the gap mid 400 after a while. The Wizard sat on my feet. I waited a few extra seconds for him during some of the final 400’s. He yelled for me to go, but you never leave your wingman. Has he never seen Top Gun? It’s swimming etiquette.

Now I need to tell you something about Tim Snow. This boy has olympic caliber flip turns. Put he and Michael Phelps in a  10 yard pool and there would be a serious challenge. No one jumps off that wall better or faster. Add to that his good swim ability and on the last one he came hauling by us like a damn freight train. I paused a second at the wall to allow him to pass and then GASP……

The bastard Wizard rode Tim’s feet and slungshot by me.

Serious. Swim. Foul.

He rode my feet the whole time, I paused extra for him, and he bombs the pilot. No deal Wizard. No deal. He will pay for that later.


It was the first practice in a hundred years where my shoulders ached. That good I swam some serious yardage today ache.  Awesome.

We then gathered for a two hour recovery ride. It was a true recovery ride. While during our long ride we averaged between 19-25 miles per hour, during the recovery ride as a group we averaged about 15. remember: recovery efforts need to be recovery efforts. The better the athlete the bigger the spread between endurance, tempo and recovery. You might hear Ryan Hall say he did a recovery run at a 7 minute mile pace but you don’t hear that the day before he did mile repeats at four or faster. The better the athlete the bigger the spread. Learn to take the recovery as seriously as you take the rest of it and you will see gains.

I promise you will.

We rode around the lake a few times, kept it at recovery effort and kept together.

Next came a 60 minute endurance run, and it was eighty seven glorious degrees out. Heaven. Gulf Coast is on the damn sun. It went great. I am nailing nutrition during  this camp both on and off the field. I am nailing my paces. I am not sore, not stiff, the volume is perfect for me.

Later in the evening we gathered for some dinner and to watch the run videos that Jesse (The Wizard) captured during the day. In between there might have been a trip to Starbucks and a trip to the store for some wine.

Might have been. Someone has to accompany Wheeler and Hughes around and help them make the right decisions. And Charlie too for that matter. Michele and I were of great help.

I was up first for the run analysis. We last did my run video in December of 09. My rear leg extension has improved by almost four degrees. My recoil was better, not where we want it but better…. which incidentally is corrected by flexibility not by running and recoiling on purpose.

My forward lean improved by 3 degrees, and my rotation was much improved. Overall there has been good improvement in my running biomechanics.

I really enjoyed listening to the rest of the analysis, I absolutely love this kind of stuff. I love learning about things like orthotics…… here is the tip of the day……. a podiatrist might look at someone’s run gait and give an orthotic, but it is not correcting the problem. The problem might be a wear hip and the better fix to that is strengthening the hip not wearing the orthotic. Jesse has removed more orthotics and corrected imbalances by doing this type of analysis than he can remember.

Today is the final day. for me it will be a long day. Two hour bike, two hour run, final meeting, then we begin the long trip home. The weather isn’t awesome up the east coast so I am prepared for anything.

I am most prepared to hug my boys!