Athlete Journal: Andrew Read, Entry 22 – Good News All Around

It’s been a great week – positive news about my calf and the new bike getting here. Training has been great as well, with over twelve total hours for the week.

Click here to read other journal entries and articles by Andrew Read, and look for his new journal every Monday as he trains for Ironman Melbourne.

Journal Entry 22 – Good News All Around

Reading back through my Ironman journals so far you’d be forgiven for thinking that I am bipolar. Each week is a bigger roller coaster ride than seems possible – from the highs of a single good run and the possibilities it brings with it, to the lows of sitting waiting for an MRI to check out what I’ve done to myself this time.

This week marks week one of twenty-three of my actual Ironman specific training. I know it seems odd but because I had zero running base to begin with, and looking at how many issues I’ve had, I’m glad I started early. My actual plan was originally twenty weeks, but I have a few weeks where I am unavailable for portions due to running courses both in Australia and overseas so I added three weeks to make up for that lost time.

This week has two big things:

The calf. I am so sick of my stupid calf. While it’s been pain-free, it has this odd habit of tightening up at the exact same point on every run. Without joking even a little bit, I have the exact same feeling in it at a point on my run loop that is within 20m each time.

Because I am so worried about it being torn again, I always stop and walk the small distance home. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was impossible that a muscle would tear so punctually each time I was out running. Luckily I ran into the doctor who treated it while waiting to get massaged today and he told me that it was normal that it would feel tight and lumpy. While I appreciated the advice, I wish he’d told me when he originally treated it, as I’ve spent the least two weeks mortified that I’d done it all over again.

The second thing for the week is that my new bike is here. I have to give a big thank you to Leon at pro-Motion Cycles in Ormond for helping me out. The Giant Trinity he has organised for me is as rare as hen’s teeth at the moment. This bike is literally the last of its kind in Australia that hadn’t been sold.

As much as getting his hands on the bike was a miraculous feat, he needs even more thanking for the set up. I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden 180km before but if your seat isn’t the right height, your cleats in the right position, the cranks the right length, the handlebars positioned just so, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. It’s one thing if you ride the 180km then get off and have an ice bath, but if you plan to run a marathon afterward then it becomes even more important.

Tiny little things make big differences when magnified over the length of the time you spend on the bike. I remember adding a 5mm spacer for my handlebars prior to the 1000km ride I did for the Jodi Lee Foundation at the start of the year. That 5mm difference saw my neck go from painful and tight to pain-free overnight. This week we made a tiny change to the position of the cleat on my right shoe and the outside of that calf is less stiff than it has been for weeks. The adjustment was so small, if I showed you a before and after you wouldn’t even notice it.

And this is why having someone experienced like Leon in your corner helps so much. Bike fit is as much science and biomechanics as it is part voodoo magic. While there is a general guide as to what you’re looking for, the really experienced guys can see subtle changes in the way a rider looks and how smoothly they pedal.

We spent around two hours getting things just about right in shop, even going so far as to use some custom-made brackets that are proving an underground success amongst ultra endurance racers in Melbourne. I say “about right” because there will always be little things to change on a new bike. As I get used to the new riding position, we will need to tweak little things here and there so that I am as comfortable as possible while being as fast as possible. From the outside looking in, I think Ironman is about being as relaxed as possible to conserve as much energy as possible. Having the right position on the bike, where I’m going to spend the majority of the day, is therefore vital.

It’s been a great week – positive news about my calf and the new bike getting here. I’ve really felt like I’ve trained well this week too.

Totals for the week –

Swim: 9000m (4.5 hours)

Run: 18km (2 hours)

Ride: ~180km (6 hours).

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