One week down.


Weight: 238.4 pounds (108.14 Kg)
Resting HR: 54 bpm
Resting BP: 112/68
FTP: 175 Watts
VO2MAX: 38.4 mL/Kg/min

I was congratulated, yesterday, for completing my first week of coached training. It’s much like being congratulated for getting off the flight in Nepal, when the entirety of Everest still darkly looms in the distance.

I do appreciate the support, naturally, but it gives me pause to think that I need to be congratulated for completing a WEEK of physical activity. Granted, I’ve been training longer than a week, but I don’t think my supporter knows that. Have I become so obviously sedentary that I have to be congratulated for getting off my ass? Congratulate me in six months, please!

So there it is…one week down. Coach has diverted me from my scattergun approach to focus on long intervals below threshold and endurance rides. My VO2MAX test showed that my legs were NOT my limiting factor…they felt great at VO2MAX, even though I was drowning in my own carbon dioxide. I need LOTS of work on the engine itself, the heart and lungs driving this hot mess that I call a body. Basically, I need an aerobic base.

One week of coaching, but I’m eight weeks into the routine, and have seen few pleasant changes. My resting heart rate has plummeted, as has my early-morning blood pressure. My weight has been WEIRD. I’ve bounced between 237 and 241 for over a week, and have yet to see a trend. It could be muscle-gain and body composition changes, but I want to see the scale go DOWN. Yes, yes…I feel better and I know I shouldn’t care, but I want to be stronger, fitter, and LIGHTER, too. It’s about power-to-weight, right!? This morning, I was 238.4 pounds, but my weight will probably spike at the end of the week, then dip down again around Tuesday of next week. It seems to be a pattern that I suspect has something to do with exercise and water retention and the “Super Burrito” I had at El Jalisco and the Monday morning coffee-poops. (Too much information?)

On Saturday, the rain that set in at the end of the week didn’t leave North Florida. The clouds kept it a little warmer than expected, so I pulled on a long-sleeve jersey and slipped out early into a light mist that changed, within miles, to a steady drizzle, then into a serious pisser of a rainstorm. I was a little irritable about the mud sloshing into my bib shorts, but eventually committed to being wet and then…had an epiphany..

…I remembered the race at Chickamauga Battlefield where the rain pelted us on the mountains and the water washed gravel across the fire roads, popping and spitting from beneath out tires…

…I remembered the training ride, years ago, when my college girlfriend and I laughed and sprayed each other with the water from our tires, constantly sprinting and swerving to get each other wet…looking for bigger, deeper puddles and washes to ride through…

…I remembered the summer thunderstorm that sizzled the air around me as I pounded the pedals, fully expecting every strike to be the ONE….

…I remembered how much I LOVE riding in the rain. I remembered how much I love RIDING. My training plan was a nice Zone 3 ride. Yeah…I went a little hard for that and ended up with a 381.8 TSS for the morning’s ride. Funny how things like fatigue and time slip away when you’re having fun.

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Fat guys breathe…

…sorta.

Went to Brady Irwin over at Science of Speed, who was kind enough to poke, prod, and torture me test my blood lactate and VO2 MAX.

The test was conclusive; I’m old, fat, and slow. Apparently, this corresponds to a VO2 MAX of around 38.4 and a lactate threshold at a heart rate of 155bpm.

I’m a fan of American Flyers, so I expected a cheering crowd, a surprisingly amazing performance, and an invitation to a pro team. (Thanks for going behind the screen to chuckle, Brady.) Instead, I spent twenty-three minutes lurching at the pedals of a Racermate Velotron while Brady flashed back to the Twilight novels with regular bloodsucking from the fingers on my left hand. Pedal three minutes, the power goes up, and here comes the poky-blood-thing. In between bloodlettings, I attempted to eat the plastic apparatus that so lovingly collected my breath and rather-copious drool. Twenty-three of the longest minutes ever.

Afterward, I was allowed a break, which meant I should hurry up and pee, then get back on the bike and spin some more. I did well at part of this, but it didn’t affect my score.

Then, it was more drool-collection. Unfortunately, without the incentive of the pointy stick, I did not pedal as well. Brady showed me a timer that taunted me with eight minutes. Eight. I can ride for eight minutes…of course I can. David beat 23:14 and he was on a TREADMILL. Eight minutes.

Eight minutes is a LONG time.

Every minute, the power went up. Surprisingly, my legs felt fine. Brady said I could stand if I needed to, but I remained seated. The clock ticked by.

At around 6:30 (325 watts), I noticed something was broken. My legs were going, no problem. Breathing IN was easy. Breathing OUT was tough…damned tough. I was drowning in my own waste CO2. Nothing I did would get it OUT of me. I kept gasping more IN, but the breath just stuck inside me. I pushed and shoved it out…6:45….6:50…

I gave up at a couple of seconds after seven minutes, when panic set in. I’ve never felt that sort of panic before. I was fine, moving strong, legs feeling good, but everything inside of me suddenly stopped, turned to look me in the eye, and said, “You’re going to DIE.” I stopped, a minute short of the goal I KNEW I would hit.

I ripped off the mask. My legs felt FINE, but the rush of cool air…IN….OUT…IN…OUT…just heavenly.

Brady was awesome. While I stumbled around in an endorphin-haze, he printed out my results, made some calculations, and spent a good hour with me, analyzing the data. It was enlightening, encouraging, and educational, to say the very least. The personal attention provided by Brady and Science of Speed was exceptional. Everything about the procedure was professional and impressive. I walked away with LOTS to think about, including new goals and aspirations, plus metrics to help me get there. It has helped me develop appropriate, attainable goals for my cycling and overall fitness, something that I have rarely ever been able to quantify.

Unfortunately, I was no David Sommers; I did not amaze anyone with my untapped athletic potential, and I only have a Hell of the West Leader’s Jersey because I bought one. That said, Brady DOES sort of resemble a young Kevin Costner.

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My steed.

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I will be playing this instrument with the Tallahassee Swing Band, next Tuesday, in place of my trombone.

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Even my back is fat.