Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fear Factors and Functional Thresholds

Two major Ironman training-related things happened this week: (1) I saw a promotional video of Ironman St. George that scared the living daylights out of me and (2) I did a retest of my cycling FTP (Functional Threshold Power). These two things seem unrelated, but people like my husband Jim would have you believe that they are cosmically intertwined. Let's just say it was a random coincidence that they occurred within 24 hours of each other.

First, the scary thing. I got the link for this video from one of the athletes I follow on Twitter - he blogged it. I am now blogging it because, in it, Ironman St. George looks like the perfect follow up to the series of race disasters that has been my Ironman quest. The CompuTrainer real-time video makes the bike course look easy compared to this video. And I've been told the run course is even worse. This video was supposedly shown at the pre-race banquet at last year's inaugural race - can you imagine seeing this for the first time knowing race morning is almost upon you? This video may have been directly responsible for the Ironman race nightmare I had the night after watching it:

As if that weren't enough, I did more damage to my mental state by once again checking out the course profiles on the IMSG website. To reiterate:

The bike course profile
The run course profile
Yeah. That's the same thing I was thinking. Nothing scary about those, right?!?!?! J-Team member J3 likes to say: "At least the swim will be flat."

I'd like to add this: "At least the scenery will be spectacular." Because I fully expect to be out there for a very long time.

Once the fear factor had taken hold, I needed a pick-me-up so I did my Functional Threshold Power time trial yesterday morning in hopes of having some good news.

In January, a 20-minute FTP time trial indicated the following: an FTP of approx. 196 watts (for me, that's 3.45 w/kg). Since then, I've completed three months of focused FTP work on the CompuTrainer. It was supplemented by three weekend long rides of five hours each, one 100-miler on the trainer and two outdoor 100-milers. I've been spending 3-4 days per week with about 8-10 hours per week on the bike. The results from yesterday's time trial: an FTP of 207 watts (3.65 w/kg).

The increase in FTP was less than 6%. And it was a huge disappointment. I worked exceptionally hard and thought my bike training was solid this winter, but apparently I'm still not doing something right.
Because of all the climbing in St. George, that w/kg number is the very thing that will matter most on race day. On hills is where increased power-to-weight ratio makes a difference, as opposed to on downhills and flats where the most important variable is my aero position (and I always get blown away on the downhills).

My focus for the next three weeks will be to get my head in the right place to accept this and teach myself that I need to stay in control of my effort on the bike leg so I can save as much as possible for the run. At this point, that's all I got.

1 comment:

  1. Woo-Hoo !! I've been quoted !! That makes me darned-near famous. :-)

    Seriously, I watched the video and got a lttle teary. If I could clone myself in 3 pieces, I'd be there.

    This race will take patience. Lots. Of. Patience. However, I believe that you are more prepared than you think you are and that you will surprise yourself.

    Your secret weapon in all of this is simply... You. You are a smart racer. Your strategies are sound. You are dedicated and focused. You find ways to make things HAPPEN !!

    Keep your eyes on the prize. And the prize smells like a macademia nut !! :-)