27 days in… training update

The new Quarq Riken power meter on my road bike!


Scrolling back, I realized I never even wrote about my December 1st FTP test and the start of training for 2015.  It was such an embarrassing effort that I guess it wasn’t worthy of remembering, until today when I did a follow up FTP test since I’ve had my Quarq Riken power meter installed for a week.  My test today was almost just as embarrassing, but at least I netted 5 more watts in amongst all that mental-failing.

I’ve read somewhere that “your mind will fail long before your body,” and it’s oh so true.  I don’t know what to say about my last two FTP tests.  Sometimes for no reason at all I just stop pedaling in the 8 minute block where I’m suppose to, you know, keep pedaling as hard as I can.  Sometimes I get the crazy notion that my heart will explode, never mind the fact I’m riding under my typical heart rate for a 40 minute cyclocross race, and really… who has heard of a 31 year old female cyclist having her heart explode whilst riding a trainer during a FTP test?  Right, no one because it won’t happen.  Sometimes I just can’t put a finger on why I stop.

December 1st’s FTP test was a hot mess that garnered me an end result of 193… my FTP in April was 217.  I almost cried.  My coach flat out said “well that explains your cyclocross season” and told me I’d get back to where I was and beyond that.  Still didn’t help.  But I felt strong during my intervals, sometimes doing efforts into the VO2 power zone because that felt “better.”

With my newly installed Quarq and a few weeks of intervals and heavy hours and miles on the bike I felt ready to redeem myself.  Then I work up and weighed myself and saw the heaviest weight I’ve seen on a scale in many years.  I lost a bit of motivation.  I sat on the couch for an hour and so.  Then decided to shovel a path in my backyard to my trash cans so I could take out some cardboard boxes and recycling.  With blood flowing through my muscles I felt ready.  I swung my leg over the bike and felt good through the warm up portion of the CTS 8 Minute Test.  When the first 8 minute block started I was rocking out to “Bartender” by Lady Antebellum and felt strong, pedaling at 230-245 watts.  Then just about 4 minutes in I cracked.  I stopped.  Just like that, stopped.  The remaining 4 minutes were filled with stops every 30 seconds to a minute.  My legs weren’t screaming, they weren’t burning.  My knee was feeling ok, and so was the bunionette on the other foot.  Part of it might’ve been the 185bpm heart rate, but come on, a typical cross race sees me racing for 40 minutes with no recovery at 190bpm.  I was pissed off.

10 minutes of soft pedaling for recovery and then the final 8 minute block.  I decided to try to see if I could just hold 220-225 watts.  Nope.  Constantly stopping.  I managed to finish up the last 45 seconds at 240+ plus but otherwise it was a disgusting mess.  I held my breathe as TrainerRoad popped up with my new FTP.  198.  OK, so I didn’t get worse.  5 watts gained.

Imagine what it could’ve been if I could’ve turned off my brain.

It’s becoming more and more of a phenomena that only happens on the trainer, and more so during FTP tests.  I’ve gotten pretty darn good at turning my brain off outdoors.  Heck, last weekend before the snowstorm I climbed for 47 minutes straight from the Blue Sky parking lot to the top of Horsetooth Mountain on Southridge Trail without stopping.  I chugged along and randomly thought of random other things as I turned over the pedals.  Surprised the crap out of myself, but I did it!  I thought I had reached the turning point in my mental toughness.

But I suppose I can’t dwell on the numbers.  A FTP is a fraction of a moment in time, and in no way the judge and jury about what type of cyclist I am, especially for mountain biking when skill plays a big role as well.  My technical skills are coming along in a very awesome fashion.  During the Four Seasons of Horsetooth Challenge a week ago I rode most of those trails for the first time so I walked down some things, but rode other things I never thought I would, like a staircase down Sawmill.  I’ve never ridden down a staircase before, and I did it on the hardtail with 80mm of travel and the shock set to full firm.  😀

And about my weight… I suppose I should feel “lucky” that I made it through the holidays with only 3 pounds of weight gain when “they” say the “typical” American gains 10 pounds over the holidays.  But it’s a disheartening feeling.  Over the past few weeks I’ve become more acutely aware about how my eating habits are getting out of control.  I’ve always been on the “see food, eat it diet,” but lately it’s been spiraling out of control.  I’ll make soup in the crock pot and proceed to eat it ALL in one sitting… or when I eat a can of soup/pasta (hey now, Spaghettios are still OK to eat!) I cook 2 or 3 cans.  I eat a whole Tombstone pizza in one setting.  My lunch bills at my work’s cafeteria are often $10-11 and my tray is covered in food – the cashier has accused me of having eyes bigger than my stomach.  I’ll sit at my desk at work and eat a whole bag of snack size candy bars.  I think I painted a decent picture… for so long myself, and many others around me, justified it as “well, you’re/I’m a cyclist.”  But how can an hour trainer ride justify binge consuming thousands of calories?  I’m not riding in the Tour de France for pete’s sake!  I’ve never been one to worry about my body image, I’ve always been quite secure with it.  However, the past couple of months I’ve started to notice I’m chunkier than a lot of girls I’m competing against… a skinsuit and camera don’t lie.  When you feel like you’re the only one on your cycling team ordering large bibs, it can start to gnaw on your conscious.

I know a big problem of mine is a combination of boredom and dehydration.  Instead of drinking water I eat.  And since I spend a lot of my time idle, I tend to eat to kill some time.  And at work I munch on stuff to keep my hands busy because I sit at a desk for 8 hours a day.  I eat a lot of food because I can get “hangry” (hungry angry) when my stomach starts to growl.

What a downer of a blog post… First world problems, eh?  “wahhhh, I gained weight and it makes me slower on my expensive mountain bike.”  I don’t mean to be all woe is me, but I’m not waddling along in a pool of misery.  I’m just realizing I have some self defeating habits that are getting worse, and since I now have the crazy idea stuck in my head that I WILL go pro in mountain biking in the near future, I want to start getting healthier in all aspects of my life.  First up I am going to work on portion control with my food.  I already bought a bag of petite carrots (way smaller than baby carrots, ha) to munch on when I get that “I must put something in my mouth” feeling.

And the FTP test?  It’ll get better next time 😀


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