Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stepping out

This week I had a bike power test scheduled. It is designed to give data to help me set training zones as I head into the spring and begin some serious bike training. I read the workout over and over again and kept thinking "No problem, I can nail it." But as I got closer to actually doing the test, it's another story. The whole workout would last an hour, but the two key intervals that count at a 5 minute super hard effort and then another 20 minute effort that's not quite as hard as the 5 minute.

I brought my iPod down stairs and some water to get me through. I loaded a Tour de France DVD and picked the time trial to watch. I figured if I was watching other cyclists do a hard effort, it would help me. Once my warmup was complete, I reset the powermeter, put on some fast music, put my head down and pedaled furiously. My 5 minutes had just begun. I was surprised at my cadence. I was spinning faster than I thought I could. Every few moments I would look down to see how much time I had left. The sweat began to pour off my face. I was grunting the last minute of the effort. I could see my heart rate was pinned way up for cycling. I haven't seen a number that high on the bike in quite some time. The last 30 seconds I just focused on maintaining my pedal turnover.

I greeted the last 10 seconds like a New Year's Eve countdown. I might have even counted out loud, I don't really remember as it was a blur. I stopped the computer and made sure I saved the data. Now was the cool down and preparation for the 20 minutes. 

The 20 minutes was harder than the 5 minutes. Even though my effort was "lower," it was still super hard. I kept thinking "20 minutes isn't so bad." But as I looked down at the computer, 3 minutes elapsed. Holy crap, 17 more minutes. Sweat was coming off my head like it was coming out of a faucet. I knew I just had to make sure my power numbers stayed up. It was a hard effort and took everything I had to hang on. I looked down again and was only halfway there. It was at this point I thought "Why the hell am I doing this?" 

The answer came quickly. I need to push myself if I want to get better. I spent a good deal of time in the offseason working on my running and getting out of my comfort zone and it has paid off big time. My times are dropping and now it's time to focus on the bike. I don't want to maintain the status quo. I am tired of being stagnant. It's time to push the envelope and get to the next level on the bike.

All that thinking took about 2 minutes. I still had 8 to go. Oh brother, the legs are burning now. I turned up the volume on the music, dropped my head and dug deep. Gotta keep the numbers up. My legs were turning over the pedals fast and furious. 

The final countdown was a welcome sight. I was grunting and spitting like crazy. My head was dripping everywhere. 10.......come on, hang on......9........pedal, circles......8.........keep working......7......only on 7?.........6..........almost there.........5......maybe I can stop the computer now..............4.........don't cheat, you can do it............3.......someone kill me please.........2.....seriously, end this........1..............DONE!!!!!! Next thought was "I never want to do that again."

I saved the data and then completed the rest of the workout. The hard work was done and I was way out of my comfort zone. First step on the road to improvement.

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