Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Yesterday’s Ironwoman

This past September I finished an Ironman triathlon, which is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run (in one day). I trained really hard and was in great shape last summer. Then from September to December I did…nothing. I had lots of good excuses- it was cold, dark, a busy year-end at the financial firm I worked at, I needed a mental break, holiday desserts come just once a year, and I had to get my gear ready for this massive five-month trip to Africa. You’d be surprised how long it can take just to pick a tent! Imagine my surprise when I hopped on my bike in Egypt and Sudan ready to zoom along the Nile, and got passed by not only many of the other riders, but also a camel!

The first two weeks of cycling across Africa have been mentally challenging for some, but for me it has been relentlessly physically arduous. Things are hurting that have never hurt before (knees and butt), and I am scared to admit this, but I’m 26 and I think I’m starting to age! My apologies to everyone older than 26 laughing at me right now…but I can feel myself recovering more slowly than in the past and the easy vibrancy of youth is losing some of its natural elasticity.

The point is, whether you’re biking across Africa or just trying to get away from your busy life and out the door for a jog, fitness, wellbeing and personal challenge are tough work. Just because you achieved something last year, last month or yesterday doesn’t mean you can automatically do it again. Just because you’ve never set a huge personal goal before doesn’t mean you can’t start now. Even former Ironwomen have to do the hard work again, and again, and then again, and it gets tougher as you start to age like me 🙂

At first this sobering thought demoralized me around 140k or so of a very hot bike ride through Sudan’s Nubian desert this afternoon, but when I crossed today’s finish line, I felt inspired by the fact that I would pick up where I left off tomorrow. Each day in Africa offers the rejuvenation and challenge of both a new start and finish line…literally. Its 110 degrees in the Sudan right now, we’re all starting to get sick and we’re grinding through six or seven hours every day, but I’m feeling stronger, happier and more iron-like with each push of the pedal. I hope you are all building on yesterdays successes with new ambitions for tomorrow in your own ways…and that you at the very least have air conditioning 🙂


7 Responses to “Yesterday’s Ironwoman”

  1. Er,
    Yesterday we woke up to -10 degrees and this morning -4 degrees. As you are hot and sandy remember those cold,windy days you have experienced at home. We are wishing for a little warmth (not 110 degrees). Keep up the good work. I am working on sending you that care package. Be safe. Love you MOM

  2. Erin,

    While you were biking in 110 degree weather, I was skiing on an open golf course and it felt like -20 with the wind chill. I was wearing four pants of pants, two long sleeve under armor shirts, a windproof warm up jacket, my parka, two buffs, a hat, mittens, and sun glasses. And I was still cold.

    Love you!

  3. Erin, I’m so proud of you and inspired by you every time I read this blog. LOVE the stories from the road. Keep smiling — you are going strong! Much love from New York, Maya

  4. Er- I totally agree with you. I went for a walk/hike up the Berkeley hills yesterday and felt dead when I got back. As I walked I saw people zooming up the hills on their bikes and wondered where the leg muscles I used to have to bike up such hills had gone. Keep pedaling! And don’t forgot the sunsceen 😉 love mo

  5. Erin,
    Wow! You should write a book after this extraordinary adventure. You are truly an inspiration to many people. We are all doing well here in ABQ. Weather has been unseasonably cold here. Kevin came home this past weekend to celebrate Uncle Jimi’s birthday. It was a surprise and we enjoyed having him home even though it was for a short time. Everyone else is well. I look forward to your next entry. Have fun and be safe. Love you
    Aunt Mary Ann

  6. Er, dude, you are NOT old. The world’s best triathletes and ultra endurance athletes are much older than us. It’s taking you longer to recover because you’re biking 100 MILES everyday through 110 DEGREE HEAT, lol, now how can that compare to a puny 8 mile tempo along the Charles, or a 90 mile IM bike workout in LP’s temporal climate, for that matter. This is taking “Erin is a stud” to new levels. You won’t start to feel the aging effects for a few more years, as long as you stay active (um, which doesn’t seem a problem at the moment:-) Become obsessed with physiology lately (after all, Joanna Zeiger is coached by one of the world’s leading physicians, and is an MD/PhD from Hopkins herself…) Let’s add aging and how long it takes for fitness to deteriorate to the list of like ten billion things we are talking about during our LP training weekend together.

    I love how most of your rest days are taken up by consuming as many calories as possible! I feel the same way with IM training (i think i’ve already eaten 4500 calories today, SICK of food, all food), lol, so I can’t even imagine how you have the energy to consume as many calories you need.

    Be sure to take plenty of electrolyte tablets, and keep up the good work!


  7. In September 2009 I started training for my first 5K. I had never run before and my first time out could barely run the 1 minute walk 1 minuted. I ran my 5K and have never felt anything like that (except for the birth of my children). Similar to your Erin things took over and I have not done anything since the run, which was the end of November. After reading your blog I am going to strap on my running shoes and get back on the road! Thanks for inspiring me! Debbie Meier

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