I have a love/hate relationship with FTP tests

markusspiske / Pixabay

I often say to my coworkers that I don’t understand how they get so much done during the week.  I feel like I go to work, I workout, I shovel food in my face, and I sleep.  Meanwhile, some of them are raising kids, doing all sorts of fun activities, and one is off building furniture.

Then I realize that I’m doing two hour long workouts.  Add to that getting ready for the workout and showering after and I start to realize where my evenings are going.

(The coworker who builds furniture and takes care of her family though, I’m fairly convinced she has a time turner.  Or doesn’t require sleep.)

This isn’t a complaint.  I enjoy my two hour long workouts, plus indoor workout time is also my tv time, so I get some quality entertainment at the same time.

Last night, I had yet another FTP test.  My goal over the winter was to raise my FTP, and I wasn’t sure I was succeeding in that goal.

Wait, let’s backup.  For you non-cyclists, FTP probably means File Transfer Protocol.  I’m not uploading anything here.  FTP is also Functional Threshold Power, and it’s a measure of the maximum power you can sustain for an hour of riding.  Thankfully, testing doesn’t mean killing yourself for an hour on the bike.  Instead, you ride as hard as you can for twenty minutes, then take 95% of that to figure out your FTP.

What’s it good for?  Well, it’s a good measurement of your fitness level, but there are also a lot of great FTP based workouts, where you do intervals at varying percentages of your FTP.  So ride for 20 minutes at 75%, then 10 at 50%, then 5 at 95% or whatever.  (Don’t do that workout, it’s probably not good.)

Wednesday’s FTP test had the potential to go very poorly.  The night before, I had swim practice, where the coaches tried to drown us with tabata drills.  So much kicking.  Which is awesome, and I love a good hard swim workout, but it meant I was coming into the FTP test a bit more fatigued than normal.

Well, it turns out that didn’t matter.  In fact, it may have helped.  This FTP test was an improvement over my last.  That’s awesome – I’m getting stronger!  I’m becoming a better cyclist!

Of course, this also means that my workouts will now be scaled up, so insert sad trombone here.

Seriously though, I’m pleased.  While I don’t necessarily feel like I’m working that hard, clearly I am.  I think it means that I’ve found that perfect balance between hard work and enjoyment.  I’m not pushing so hard that I’m burning out, but I’m also not going too easy on myself either.  Now to just remain in this sweet spot for as long as possible.

 

Coeur Team Kits are Here!

I got some awesome mail last week.  My Coeur Sports team kit arrived!  This is my third year on the team and each year, the design of the kits gets better and better.

If you love the design too, don’t worry, it will be available next year.  Because of the love for these team kits, they are team exclusive for one season, and then the next season, they’re available for purchase (without the sponsor and other team specific info).

These kits get better and better.  I’ve done a review of the kit before, and I still love them.  The chamois in the shorts is amazing.  Zero issues with chafing, even during my 70.3.  But now, they’ve added 8″ shorts to the line (I’m happy in the 5″, because I have short legs, but I know that 5″ is too short for some people) and they also have tops without a built-in bra, since many of us still have to wear a bra under our kits.  I don’t find that the built-in gets in the way, but I’m looking forward to trying a top without the built-in.

I’m also simply looking forward to racing with this team again.  The Coeur Team is filled with awesome women.  If you see any of us out on a race course this year, be sure to say hi!

 

 

Coeur Half-Century Swim

This weekend, I did something crazy.  One of my Coeur teammates set-up a challenge – get together to swim 100×100.  Now, there was no way that I was going to be able to do a full century swim, but this event was totally friendly to all ability levels, and we were all encouraged to set our own goals.  There were over 30 people there, which was pretty impressive.  I felt bad for the regulars at the pool – they just kept looking for an open lane and figuring we had to be done soon.  That said, we were only taking up 4 lanes.

I set my goal at 50×100.  5000 yards in the pool.

When I was setting my goal, I wanted something that was challenging, but also something that I could achieve.  I’m honestly not sure what the longest swim I’ve ever done was, but I’m betting it was somewhere around 3000.  That said, I’m doing the 4500 swim at Fort Ritchie Swimfest at the end of May, so I wanted to see just how much training I need to do to comfortably be able to complete that swim.  But even the night before, I was debating whether or not I wanted to drop my goal to 4000.

This was an awesome event to be a part of.  There were people of a lot of ability levels participating, and there was zero judgment in the slow lane, or from anyone in the fast lanes.  We were all out there challenging ourselves and getting it done.

I definitely wasn’t attempting to swim 5000 without any breaks.  There were chat breaks at the end of the lane, bathroom breaks, snack breaks, water breaks.  Whatever it took to get through the workout.

I definitely hit a bit of a wall somewhere around 3000.  I couldn’t believe that I was only 3/5ths done.  But once I pushed through and hit 4000, doing an extra thousand didn’t sound so bad.  For me, it’s all about breaking up a big workout into manageable chunks.

And while the company was clearly the best part of the workout, the second best part was the delicious Honeymoon Ice Cream sandwiches afterwards.  YUM.  I’ll do just about anything for good ice cream.

2016 Accomplishments

Image via lumpi / Pixabay

There has been a lot of talk about 2016 being an absolutely terrible year.  And to be honest, a lot of not so great things have happened.  And it never helps when the year is capped off by the deaths of beloved celebrities.  But there have also been many awesome things that happened this year.  So I thought I would go through my list of accomplishments.

I completed my second year on the Coeur Sports Ambassador Team and was welcomed back for a third year.  I absolutely love being on this team.  Obviously I love the products that Coeur makes (if I could live in the joggers, I probably would) and I would be racing in their gear regardless of my affiliation with the team, but I truly love the beliefs behind this company.  Their kits are made in the US.  They support athletes of all shapes and sizes and are working to increase their size range.  They aren’t just about the elite triathlete or the age grouper who ends up on the podium time and time again.  And the team is made up of incredible women.  At first, I was intimidated because I’m not a fast racer, but it quickly became clear that it didn’t matter.  It’s about what you bring to the team.  Sure, it’s great to see Coeur up on the podium, but it’s even better to see ladies in Coeur cheering each other on and being a positive force.  Being part of this team has made me a better athlete and a better person.

Race bib number 1810Of course, the big accomplishment of the year – Augusta 70.3!  I completed my first half ironman and it was everything that I had hoped and more.  I spent the summer training like it was my job (well, not really, since I had an actual job to do so I could pay for my racing habit) and the work paid off.  I beat every single one of my time goals, and know that in better conditions, I could race even faster.  It certainly wasn’t a perfect day but I have no regrets about how I raced and I’m proud of what I accomplished.  More importantly, I had family and friends come down to cheer me on, and that made those last miles even more incredible.

I also raced a few great half marathons and pushed through some less great triathlons.  Now that I think about it, my triathlons this year were all in not-so-great weather.  Let’s hope for a change in 2017.

My niece was born this year.  So really, that trumps everything.  And I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family.  I think I saw more of them this year than in many previous years, something rare since I moved 700 miles away.  Not sure if I can make that work again in 2017, but it’s always fun to try.

 

Reframing

During a conversation with some of my Coeur teammates, we were talking about back of the pack racing and I went back to look at some race results to figure out if I had ever actually been the last finisher in a race. (The fact that I didn’t know shows you just how much I care about my placement.)  But in doing so, I also went back to read my recap of my worst race this year, the General Smallwood International. This race was technically the slowest paced, though in my mind, it was the worst because of the weather.  It was cold and rainy and just miserable.

But I also remember being pretty miserable about being so far behind in the pack.  The run was a looped course and on the second loop, I didn’t see anyone. Just me, running through the woods all alone.  At least by then the rain had mostly stopped and it was just insanely wet.  I remember wanting to quit, but being much too stubborn to quit.  After all, it wasn’t like I was hurt or sick.  I just wasn’t having fun.  That’s not a reason to quit.

When I went back to look at my race report though, I was blunt about how disappointed I was in myself for how I had performed in the race.  Before I read that, I just felt proud that I gutted it out and still finished.  And I’m still proud that I finished.  I haven’t forgotten the misery, but with time, I’ve been able to reframe that bad race.  The conditions were terrible.  I stuck it out anyway and I finished.  My splits weren’t that bad given the weather.

So while it’s definitely still my worst race, I see it differently than I did in the days following the race.  And I guess the lesson is that time does heal and reframing your situation can always help.  Maybe you had a bad race.  But did you stick it out and refuse to give up?  That’s what counts.  (Of course, if you’re injured, please stop – doing the smart thing and knowing when you’re risking worse injury takes a lot of guts and it’s worth it in the end.)