Athlete Journal Entry 37: The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Four weeks to go!
After such a long journey to get to this point I’ve realized one really big thing: guys who do this ultra endurance thing for a job must be made of some pretty robust stuff. Over the last twelve months I’ve been hit by a car, torn my calves six times, and suffered from Achilles tendon issues in both legs. Hardly a week has gone past when I haven’t been hurt and forced to train through it. Because I’ve had no real endurance base to work from, instead of being able to rest and recover properly I’ve had to keep working away as much as possible to build as much slow twitch power as I can.
As the weeks wind down I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as training goes. I’ve done my longest run now. It seems pretty silly to me but all I’ve got left are a few two hours runs and those don’t even make me suffer night terrors like they used. Two hour run? Yeah, I do that before breakfast on Saturday while you’re all in bed. See how ridiculous that is?
My longest ride is this weekend. I rode five and half hours last weekend. While not my longest day in the saddle (as that was during last year’s 1000km charity ride) it was still a pretty long day. At about the three-hour mark I was suffering a bit and pulled into a kiosk to buy a Snickers and a can of Coke. You can poke fun at my nutrition plan all you want but I will tell you now that the result from all that sugar, caffeine, and fat was like strapping on a jet pack.
The ride wasn’t without problems, though. I was pretty tired from two and a half hours of running plus a small 2km swim the day before and just couldn’t get my act together and get out the door. It’s not like I let my training partner down as I do these rides alone, but it meant that I left home at 8am. With such a long ride planned it meant I was out in the Australian sun in the middle of the day. By the time I got home I even was a bit sun burnt (I can’t remember the last time that happened because I’m safely tanned now). As I sat on the bed after my little run off the bike I thought to myself what a hard ride it had been.
And then realized I would still need to run a marathon at that point.
At least it made me laugh and not cry. Last week was the first week I haven’t absolutely crapped my pants at the thought of what Ironman has in store for me. Like my swim last week – I elected to go swim 4km in the ocean. They’d been reporting on the radio that Melbourne is seeing record numbers of sharks in the bay that the city is on. So I went for a swim. Like I always tell people, “Mate, it’s Australia. If you’re in the water there are sharks. You might not be able to see them but they can see you”. The water was calm and it was a beautiful day, unlike the last time I swam in the ocean. That time I got out feeling seasick and as if I’d been hit by a bat the whole time. This was just like swimming in a busy pool in terms of the little waves that would sometimes wash over me.
Somehow my Achilles have started to come good too. Whether that’s because my body is getting more used to the volume or a slight change in training I don’t know. I’ve noticed that after a treadmill run I do midweek they’re much better. Maybe the treadmill is somehow “softer” but I can run-pain free on a treadmill. In fact, after my second run on Saturday, a fast 40-minute effort I actually came away with sore calves for the first time in a long time, but my Achilles felt normal.
But the change may also be from the excellent treatment I got from long time masseur Anne Davies at Olympic Park in Melbourne. She asked if I’d be alright with her doing some dry needling on my lower legs. I told her that she could cut the head off a chicken and dance naked under a full moon if she thought it’d help and I’d be alright with it. Good needling doesn’t hurt at all. I was a bit worried when she said she was going to stick them directly into the sheath of my inflamed tendons but that was all good too. Running the next day was substantially less painful than usual.
So maybe my body will come good just at the right time. I’ve regained some of my confidence in my open water swimming, seem to be handling big rides well, my running is improving every week, and my body seems to be finally healing. I’ll be honest and say that I am happy that the event is soon. Training isn’t really fun at the moment. It’s hard, draining work that leaves me useless and exhausted every day. As a sign of how bad it’s getting, I normally write this over the weekend so I can at least have it to the editor when she starts Monday morning, but it’s now 9pm Monday night my time. The reason I’m late getting my homework into teacher? I just forgot because I’m so damn tired.
But next week we start the taper. Soon my body should flood with energy and strength I’ve felt sliding away over the last few weeks. Four weeks to go.
Swim volume for the week: 13,800m