Sunday, 17 May 2009

Milestones and Benchmarks

Yesterday was my birthday and I've now hit that (magical?) 35-year mark. Halfway to 40, a "veteran" category runner, and apparently I should be starting now if I want to have kids someday. A lot to think about! Of course I benefit from aging up to the 35-39 category for my Ironman, and I get to use the excuse that the girls who thrash me soundly in my cycle races are young enough to be my kids (not that I was much of a sprinter when I was their age regardless!) In the sense, I should be glad to be aging, as not only am I genetically more inclined to the endurance side, I've got nearly 20 years of base-building behind me to support it. Put them in a 6-hour race against me and I'll win every time, right? So why am I racing those one-hour crits again?

Otherwise I've had a reasonable training week, getting over the cold I had last week and setting some new benchmarks and best times:

  • Tuesday: a hard clockwise lap of Richmond Park on the road bike, setting a new best time of 19:31. Had I really wanted to set a big PB, I should have ridden the other way to have the wind at my back on the long draggy climb up to Richmond Gate, but mostly I wanted to get a 20-min baseline power level.

  • Wednesday: my first ever 10-mile time trial, a low-key event put on by my club every other week. It consists of riding 5 miles as hard as possible down a divided highway, turning at the roundabout, then riding the same 5 miles back (again as hard as possible). I put down a respectable 25:33 time, not bad considering I've never ridden the course and I was on my road bike with no aero bars. I wanted to get a baseline wattage from the Powertap so I could compare and contrast with later TTs on my TT bike (alas I'm still waiting for my Powertap 650c Hed wheel to be built).

Interesting to compare the 2 sets of data (taken from WKO+). The peak 20-min power numbers were also fairly similar (250NP/240AP for Richmond Park and 247NP/242AP for the time trial), though the shorter effort had a higher VI as I was resting in the 30 seconds immediately following the 19:31 effort!

Club 10-Mile TTRichmond Park lap
Duration 25:31 (25:37)19:30 (19:31)
Work 369 kJ283 kJ
TSS 41.8 (IF 0.992)32.4 (IF 0.999)
Norm Power 248250
VI 1.031.03
Pw:HR 5.48%-0.6%
Pa:HR -1.37%6.07%
Distance 16.121 km10.834 km
Elevation Gain 274 m294 m
Elevation Loss 290 m289 m
Grade -0.1 % (-17 m)0.0 % (5 m)

Power 0519 241 watts0 397 241 watts
Heart Rate 118 182174 bpm146 180 169 bpm
Cadence 50 114 97 rpm62 150 96 rpm
Speed 2 52.8 37.9 kph14.5 54.1 33.3 kph
Pace 1:08 30:00 1:35 min/km1:07 4:08 1:48 min/km
Altitude 79 119 100 m3 57 30 m
Crank Torque 0 64.1 23.8 N-m0 43.6 24.1 N-m

Judging from my data in the power distribution chart in WKO+, my FTP is around 250 watts, though I have yet to formally test it on a good, rested day. Both the efforts above run a little low if my FTP really is 250. However, I felt during both of them that I "could have gone harder but just couldn't" if that makes any sense. On Tuesday I was still feeling the effects of my cold, as evidenced by my low average HR, and on Wednesday my legs felt a bit tired from Tuesday. Still, it's good to set some numbers as a baseline.

My plan for next week is to complete two 20-min efforts in the park with a two minute rest between, to try and get a solid idea of my peak 60-minute power or FTP for training purposes. I'll probably do this on Tuesday after a reasonably easy Monday. The next club 10-mile TT is the week after that, when I'll (hopefully) have my tri bike PT wheel finished, or if not I'll pop some clip-on aero bars on my road bike and reverse the seatpost to approximate my TT bike position (not sure how much effect it will have on my wattage, but it should make me a bit faster!) Then at the beginning of the taper for my Ironman I'll do a 25-mile TT to get my real and current 60-min FTP to set my race wattages for IMLP accordingly.

  • Saturday: a long ride with Jim into the Surrey Hills to tackle a couple of our favourite climbs (my first such ride with the Powertap). I managed to get up the nearly 1km 10% Whitedown in a new best time of 4:00 flat, average watts 281, knocking nearly a minute off my previous fastest. Since my peak 5-minute power is 294, I think there's room for improvement there too (and I'm already wincing at my next date with Whitedown, that's gonna hurt!)


Probably part of why I was a bit tired on Wednesday was that I did some hard 1-mile running intervals earlier in the day. I've recently become a paying member of Endurance Nation again, as I felt I needed that extra little push in doing my best at Lake Placid. According to the Vdot calculator, I've got a Vdot of 48 these days (not having done a 10km race for ages, I had to use my most recent 3-mile club handicap for the calculations). According to EN's formula, my running paces are as follows:

Run Zones
ZoneHRPace Mile/km
Z1/EP < 151 8:49/5:28
Z2/MP 152-161 7:32/4:41
Z3/HMP 162-170 7:14/4:30
Z4/TP 171-177 7:05/4:24
Z5/IP > 178 6:39/4:08

Most of the workouts in the EN plan call for longer intervals at Z3 and Z4 pace, not a whole lot at Z5 (intervals of five minutes or less). Lo and behold, my mile repeats were exactly at Z5 pace which more or less confirms my Vdot zones, so that's useful. Thankfully I can now do the lion's share of my running at the more reasonable Z3 and Z4 from now on!


Erm... nothing to report here yet, but I will be tackling some outdoor swims at the Princes Club on Monday evenings from now on. Apparently the water is a balmy 15 degrees Celsius, just cold enough to make me want to swim pretty hard, wetsuit or not! Yikes. Fridays I'll be hitting either the indoor pool in Kingston, or the heated outdoor pool in Hampton.


As I've been writing this, the Grand Prix criterium at Hillingdon was taking place (i.e., an hour of pain and punishment at the hands of the country's elite female crit riders and sprinters). I'd signed up for it, but once I found out the course was going to be run backwards from what I'm used to -- meaning the normal uphill finish becomes a flat tailwind sprint -- I decided not to bother going, in favour of getting in that 90-minute run I never did this week. I went through a major review of my training schedule the other day, and with only 10 weeks to go before Ironman Lake Placid, I think running today is infinitely wiser than racing a crit, from an IM training point of view. So today's run will include two 15-minute intervals at Z3 in Richmond Park, which is a great ipod pace for my first post-35th-birthday run.

10 weeks to go! Holy @#$%!


Ade Merckx said...

Hi Maryka, don't forget FTP is your best TT effort for 60 minutes and not 20mins. Hence most people get a proxy of their FTP by multiplying their 20 minute wattage (250w) by 95% (which rules out the anaerobic component)to get FTP. Or you could always find out more accurately by doing the 3 lap challenge again ;-)

maryka said...

The 3-lap challenge, now that I've got past the idea of trying it, is going to become a staple of my training/testing diet I think, probably once a month or so. So handy to have Richmond Park nearby! Between that and my club 10 mile TTs, I should have a good set of data throughout the summer.

Interesting about the 20 min vs FTP thing, as I'm fairly lousy in anaerobic/top-end power, and quite strong at the end of long rides -- compared to most people I ride with, anyway. So I wonder if my 20 min power is slightly higher than 95%. According to the Seven Deadly Sins post, a 10 mile TT is 96% +/-3% of FTP, depending on the person.

The 3-lap challenge I did at 235 watts in TT position (which was 94% of my 1-lap NP done in road position), so we'll see what that position gets me in my 10 mile TT tomorrow night. For even more punishment, I'm going to do a 25 mile TT in July, early in my Ironman taper to see what a non-hilly one-hour is like. Looking forward to it!