Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Taste of VQ Week One

I survived! That's all I could think about when the clock struck 8:28 and I could stop pedaling like a maniac to wrap up my 40-minute time trial on the CompuTrainer at my first Taste of VQ. I'm sitting in a pool of sweat (note to self: next time bring a towel, a large one), reaching for my water bottle that I was too focused on cycling to fumble for during most of the ride, and silently wishing for my legs to stop feeling like Jell-O. No exaggeration.

What started off as a comfortable ride, turned into torture. But good torture, the kind that leaves you thinking that which kills you only makes you stronger. Anytime I'm struggling through a workout, a long bike ride or a marathon I remember those words in hopes that they'll help get me through the finish line. And that's exactly what I was thinking Monday night roughly halfway through my first Taste of VQ session.

Before leaving for class, I really thought I was going to be in trouble. I haven't touched my bike since September (not even on the trainer), and noticed I still had the Ironman stickers attached and some sticky Gatorade spots that I missed in my hasty wipe-down. And of course my tires were flat, but I made the mistake of trying to fix it at home and thought I almost popped a tube (I'm not very good with bike mechanics). Not to mention, did I still remember how to ride the bike?

I thought I was two steps behind when class kicked off. Everyone seemed to know one another--turned out half of the group was making up a class--and what they were doing, and I was the lone rider in the second row, desperately struggling to catch up. Because as predicted, I forgot how to ride, and thought that my gears were comfortable as I spun practically nothing and couldn't get my speed up to 27 mph as quickly as everyone else. But technology issues aside, once we started riding I got settled in the saddle and could pedal with everyone else at the steady 5 pace--on a scale of one to 10--that our coach, Dave Noda, called for.

But we weren't holding that 5 pace for long. Pretty soon the CompuTrainer screen switched displays and it was time for that baseline I had originally feared: Ride for 40 minutes, keep the effort level at about an 8, switch gears as you would outside, and pedal on the downhills even if it seems weird. And the catch: Watch your wattage on the screen and try to keep it consistent, especially in the last 5 minutes when you don't want the average wattage to drop but to increase.

Sounds simple enough, but definitely not. I'm feeling comfortable until Dave comes around and asks how I feel level-wise...and I give the wrong answer. See I missed the part about going at an 8 for the full ride and I answered 6-7. Boom, time to push harder. And I did--or thought I did--until my legs were telling me they were at 8, but my face appeared too calm to register at that intensity. Go harder, watch the number of feet separating you and the rider ahead and get closer, Dave says. I'm trying, I'm trying, just after a while I think my legs have had enough of my urging.

Ugh, but ah, this is going to help my cycling. Even if I do have the Jell-O legs by 8:30, even if my face turns beet red and I've left sweat puddles around my bike, even if I feel the need to throw up. I'm just hoping next week won't be as tough. But with the promise of core work on the schedule, I'm sure I'm in for another beating. But bring it on...I'm ready. Posted by Kate

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