Reflections Ten Days Post-Ironman

This past year, I have been a member of a Facebook group that was set up by the


I spent one of my recovery days just walking around Girona, Italy. If you ask me, THAT is what living life is all about.

Ironman brand organizers for people who registered to do an Ironman for the first time. Can you believe that about 70% of the participants in Ironman Barcelona 2017 had done an Ironman before? The more I have spoken with people, the more I have discovered that lots of people get hooked on the race. Some people do more than one Ironman race in a single year!

The Facebook group was really helpful. Being a complete novice, it was helpful for me to see how other people trained, what their plans were for what to wear during the race (one piece vs two piece), how they planned to go to the toilet (stop at a port-a-potty vs peeing on oneself while cycling/running…yes, that seems to actually be quite common), what their nutrition plans were for the race, etc. Once people in the group participated in the various Ironman races around the world, many posted reports on how their races went, most of them successful but some not. It was as inspiring to hear the stories of those who crossed the finish line as it was to hear the stories of those who did not. In both cases, a tremendous effort was had, sacrifices were made, and strength and determination shone brightly. There was so much to learn from every story.

As my race day neared, my nerves began to fall apart. During the major part of my training I was able to keep my mind focused on getting through one session at a time. I didn’t need to think about “the race”. I just needed to get through a training session. I could do that. Tapering began three weeks before the race. I started feeling fatigued. The race was also suddenly becoming so much more of a reality, which frightened the heck out of me.

It was around this time that someone in the Ironman beginners’ Facebook group wrote that he finished his race, but he wasn’t feeling, like others had expressed, that he had done something absolutely amazing. I think lots of people took that in a negative way. But when I read his post my immediate thought was, “I want that! That’s how I want to feel about this race!”  (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 17: Culture Shock

I had it all planned out in my head. Today’s blog post would be titled, “Vive la France!” with an exclamation point at the end, of course. When I saw the sign indicating I was crossing into France, I might give a little cry with tears then right about it in the post, then I’d take a picture of the sign and post it too, with me feeling all glorious and triumphant.

But Spain was having none of it and neither was France.

I always check the weather reports the night before and the morning of a cycle. Always. I want to know what to expect; partly to know what to wear and partly because if I know to expect bad weather I’m mentally prepared for it.

I checked the weather reports as always for Girona, Spain, my starting point, and Perpignan, France, my destination for the day. Both cities were to have partially cloudy mornings and it would drizzle in the afternoon in Perpignan. I’d want to try to get there early, I thought. Might as well avoid the drizzle if I can. I also checked the wind. I could have sworn I checked both cities and that they both had very minimal wind today. I was relieved. I now suspect that I checked the wind in Girona only. (more…)

Cycling Europe Days 15 & 16: Ole! Ole! Ole!

I did not organize this trip as a sight-seeing trip. I did some very basic research on each

The exhilarating road to Barcelona.

The exhilarating road to Barcelona.

city I was to pass through, copied some notes into an excel sheet, and barely read any of it. I knew that to save expenses I would need to camp frequently outside of cities and that my priority would always be to rest and eat to be ready for the next day’s cycle rather than to go see the sights.

That’s why I’m usually quite surprised when I do get to stay inside a town and I find it a wonderful place to visit.

Getting into Vilanova i la Geltru on the Mediterranean on day 14 was a big landmark day for me. I cycled from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean in two weeks! Vilanova was a lovely little quaint resort town and I stayed in a small hotel on the sea. Nothing could beat that.

The next day, day 15, I cycled on a twisting cliff-side road just over the sea. It was

My camp in El Masnou, just outside Barcelona. Shut up! I framed the picture to show only the good parts!

My camp in El Masnou, just outside Barcelona. Shut up! I framed the picture to show only the good parts!

exhilarating. I was like a child in a candy shop when it came to cycling through Barcelona. I’ve visited the city many times before but it never loses its magic. That is, until the traffic gets to you. It took FOREVER to get from one side to the other. There were too many traffic lights that turned red too many times for too many cars, busses, motorcycles, and taxis. It reminded me of Cairo’s traffic, just a bit more organized. If I were to choose one reason for never wanting to go back to Cairo again, it would be the traffic. I’m serious.

I eventually made it through Barcelona, happy I chose not to stay in it as that would have meant navigating through morning traffic the next day. I eventually arrived at my camp in a town a few kilometers outside Barcelona called El Masnou. (more…)