I recently recieved a few emails asking me to tell the story of my eating disorder. I wrote this after Ironman Lake Placid in 2003 for www.Xtri.com, and I think it says it best……..
Mary Eggers Recovers With Tri
By Mary Eggers9/24/2003
They always say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that would directly apply to me. As of today I am 29 years old, a two time Ironman Lake Placid finisher. In 2002 I struggled through Ironman Lake Placid to finish in 13:43. In 2003 I had the race of my life, finishing in 11:23, 4th in my age group, and qualified for Hawaii (I declined, to spend more time with my family). Since the birth of my son in 2000, I was also blessed to win the 2001 Subaru Triathlon Series, and in 2002 I was a member of Team USA for Duathlon. I can honestly say that this sport has changed my entire life.
It is hard to believe that 9 years ago I watched the Hawaii Ironman from a hospital bed. I had developed very serious heart problems as a result of having Bulimia from age 10, through age 20. I was a collegiate swimmer, and on a downward spiral. For 10 years I binged and vomited, took laxatives, etc. My parents, family, and friends did everything that they could to help me, it was of no use. I was determined to kill myself.I will never forget turning on that television that day. The Hawaii Ironman. I could not believe all of those people, traveling that far, on their own strength. I told my father I wanted to do an Ironman. He laughed, out of frustration. He must have thought “Here we go again.” Little did we both know, I was about to embark on a journey that would save my life. And my family’s sanity.
After I got out of the hospital, I started swimming, biking and running. Small amounts at a time, as I was now a cardiac patient. I joined the Leukemia Team in Training, to run a marathon. A funny thing happened as I got through marathon training. No longer could I engage in my old habits of starving, binging and purging. If I did, I could not run. On the other hand, if I made good food choices, I felt wonderful while I ran. For the first time in 10 years, I felt good! As part of the Team in Training, you are matched up with a patient with Leukemia, to run in honor of. My patient was a 31 year old man, entering his 4th year of remission. His passion for life, his pride in his remission, his outlook on life, taught me the best lessons in the world.
Here I had thrown my health down the toilet (literally) for 10 years. This man is not out of the woods, yet there is no regret, no anger, no sadness in him. I knew that I had to run this marathon for him. On a sunny day in October 1995, I completed the Marine Corps Marathon. It was a victory for me, and for my new friend. For four months I was healthy, my eating disorder felt like it was gone. A goal I had set had been accomplished. It changed my life.
The following year I did it again, and was left feeling happy, healthy, hungry for more. I entered a triathlon and did well. I joined the Buffalo Triathlon Club, and met a whole new family of people who would become just that… family. In the smaller races I was able to win overall titles, and set some course records. I met my future husband on a 50 mile training ride. My future husband introduced me to the Subaru Triathlon Series. It was here that it all came together. I met Graham Frasier, his brother Mitch and sister Sheri . I found great role models in the top women of the series, namely Lisa Bentley. Through Lisa I learned and saw what hard work and a positive attitude can REALLY do for you.After the birth of my son, on a dare I started racing in the series, as an elite. Mind you, I never won a race, but was able to hang onto the points and do enough races to win the series title in 2001. Nine months after my baby.
My husband is a two time Ironman finisher and 5 time national team member, and being able to share this sport with him, is an incredible blessing. He did Hawaii in 99, and Ironman Canada in 2001. Watching him brought me back to that age old question I had asked myself so many years ago: Can I do an Ironman?The morning after Ironman Canada 2001, I stood in line for almost 6 hours to sign up. After we returned to the East Coast, Stept 11th happened. Afraid to fly, I changed to Ironman Lake Placid. With great nervousness I started getting ready. I am a pediatric nurse, and a Mom, so I knew this would be a challenge.
My 2002 Iornman was a lot like my recovery from Bulimia. Long, hard, a lot of obstacles. I finished in 13:43, after dragging myself through 13 miles, finding enough reasons to get to the finish line. My father was waiting there, that was a big reason. I knew that when I saw him, no matter what the time, what my place, it would be a victory for the two of us. Eight years of recovery was complete. I had come full circle from that hospital bed, and the life I used to lead.After 2002, I knew I had a better Ironman in me. So I signed up for 2003.
I trained for 43 weeks, during peak times 25 hours a week. I am a working Mom, determined to never train on her son’s time. That meant 3am rides, and rides until 3am. Sleepless nights of working, then into 6 hr rides. I was determined to make this work.To make a long story short, I had a great race at IMLP ’03. My goal had been to break 13 hrs, and I came in at 11:23.44. 4th in age group, Hawaii Qualifier. All my goals had been met.
I declined the Hawaii slot, in 99 I was there to watch and loved it. Right now I think my family needs me more than Ironman does, and I can’t wait to return to short course racing. It has been nine years since I landed myself in the hospital. When I was in high school I honestly thought I would be dead by the time I was 30. Bulimia was my life, and I saw no escape.
Today I am a whole new person. I am healthy. Somehow I have no permanent damage, I consider that lucky. There are many women and even men out there who live in the same hell that I used to live in. There is hope, there is freedom, there is life beyond an eating disorder. Everyone tried to help me, when I was sick. The only person who really could, was myself. There was no one else who could do it for me. Not my parents, not a boyfriend, just me.
At the Rochester Athletic Club, I teach cycling classes, as well as step aerobics weight lifting, etc. It is my passion to bring more women into this sport. I distinctly remember what it felt like to cross that finish line for the first time. It was a victory of so many kinds. Over my eating disorder, over all the people who doubted me, but most of all, it was a victory for myself.
I think that women are much stronger athletes that they believe they are. Currently I am assisting to train a group from my gym, for a local triathlon. Daily they ask me questions like “Do you really think I can do this.” Or “What if I finish last”? I love hearing these questions, because I know when they cross finish line, they will be new women. They will be even more self confident, self reliant. They will believe in themselves like never before. Those are things they can carry over into their personal and professional lives. They will walk a little taller. They will be proud of their athletic muscular bodies. To me that is the best part of it all.In so many ways triathlon has saved my life. I have learned the most valuable lessons of all. Sportsmanship. Friendship. Passion. How to be healthy in mind and body. I shudder to think what may have been, had Hawaii not been on TV that day.