Monday, 20 August 2012

ITT Provincials

Yesterday, I took part in the Alberta Time Trial Provincial Championships. It was not really on my race calender and more a spontaneous idea to test and see where I am with my training. The moment I signed up for it, I knew it will be hard especially because my legs are very fatigued from the training program I am on (see previous post). That being said, I mentally prepared myself to only treat this race as a hard training session in which my goal was to hold 360 watts steady over the 38km. Since my theoretical functional threshold power (FTP) was 353 watts (see here), I thought it might be possible even though my legs are pretty tired. So, I chiselled 360 watts in my mind and was only thinking about this, ignoring the other competitors and also ignoring other aerodynamic benefits such as racing wheels etc. Essentially, I rode my bike in a training set-up but with an aero helmet.

The race course was nice and relatively flat with only a few turns. So, a perfect location for power testing. During the race I felt very strong and was pushing close to 400 watts consistently. I knew I was riding above my theoretical FTP and was hoping I will be able to hold this pace all the way. After the turnaround point, it started to feel a little bit harder and it definitely took more effort to keep the watts high. During the last 2 km, I was able to stay above 400 watts and I knew I would have met my goal to average 360 watts. In the end Brian came in first (pretty awesome performance from this guy), second was Josh (strong as always) and I finished third. It kind of reminded me of the Devon Grand Prix in which the three of us finished in the same manner.

Here are the stats of my ride:
Time: 51:39 min
Average watts: 374
Average heart rate: 173
Average cadence: 89
Average speed: 43.6

New functional threshold power: 367 watts, which represents an increase of 14 watts! Thanks to Jesper Bondo Medhus! Your training plan is working well!

And here is a screen shot of the ride:

With this results I am very motivated to hit the last week of hard training before next weeks down week (which I am really looking forward to). Then, I will have another 2 weeks of hard training before I start tapering (or peaking, a term which I like better).

Yes, I am almost there! Kona is around the corner!!


Monday, 13 August 2012

A quick update on my progress

Finally, after submitting my PhD thesis, I did find some time to get some good workouts in during the past two weeks. Although I couldn't train the way I wanted during the last months, my form is coming!

My cycling program is really working well and I can feel and see how I am improving. After the first 4 weeks, I was able to average 306 watts with a heart rate of 143 over two hours and felt very strong. Yesterday, I finished a three hour bike on my trainer with an average of 284 watts and 135 bpm. Both rides however, included some intervals at higher intensities meaning that without those I might have felt even better. But I also have to say that the purpose of these workouts were not to discover my 2/3 hours maximum power output. The wattages I mentioned are just the result of general 2/3 hours workouts that included intervals and rest periods in order to lift my critical threshold power. Nonetheless, these values tell me that my Ironman race pace will most likely fall between 280-300 watts.

In general my legs are very tired though. The training plan is very challenging and takes up all my mental strength to complete. Especially the VO2max intervals are killer! Whenever I ride my commuter bike, my legs feel so empty that I start to wonder how am I going to finish the next workout?? But so far it has always worked somehow :)

I also started to cycle with a higher cadence. On average, I am now at about 92-94 compared to 88-90 before I started the training plan. I guess that's a result of pushing the big gears with tired legs. The only way to get up to watts beyond 340, while having tired legs, is to pedal quicker and becoming more efficient.

Despite my tired legs, I also had an awesome 32 km run last Friday. I finished the workout in a time of 2h 25min, resulting in an 4:31min pace per kilometre with an average heart rate of 143. Since it was quite a hilly run through the river valley of Edmonton, I am very happy with the result.

I also feel that I have developed "2 sets of legs", one for cycling and one for running. Whenever my cycling legs feel empty and tired, my running legs are still ready for a fast and long workout.

Swimming has moved a little big in the background, which doesn't mean I am neglecting it though. I switched back to the Swim Smooth Ironman Training Plan. This plan has served me well for my race at IM Cozumel last year and I totally believe in it. I only need to do what needs to be done, without spending to much energy thinking about it.  If you haven't checked out their recent book yet, you better should! This book is priceless!

Although everything seems to work well (given my current situation), there is still a lot of work to be done during the next weeks. But generally speaking my training results tell me that I am on track for a 9:00h Ironman time. I am hoping to swim an hour, finish the bike in 4:50 h and run a 3:10h marathon. 

So long,