Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Taste of VQ Week Six

So my time on the trainer this winter and spring is starting to near an end, and I feel like I'm finally starting to reap the benefits of all of the strength and threshold training I've been putting my legs through for the last 12-plus weeks. The sad part is twofold in that my Taste of VQ sessions are nearing an end--only two classes to go--and I think that I have to credit part of my elation from this last class to a seat adjustment, not my legs.

Part of the reason my Taste of VQ recaps have drifted off is due to my own sense of failure (plus I missed two classes in April with travel) when we started focusing solely on threshold work. The time in the saddle was leaving me feeling inadequate on the bike rather than reassuring me that I'd be strong enough to hit the pavement with the coming of warmer weather. As the threshold intervals increased, my legs couldn't handle the pressure so I didn't want to repeat myself week after week with words like mission unaccomplished or failure to launch. Think more self preservation for a battered ego than anything else.

But after Monday's class, I seriously feel like I'm floating on air and no longer dreading next week's class (which usually happened while fearing the return of failure during the threshold challenges). And if I had to pick one word to describe it, rejuvenation continues to stick in my mind when I think about Monday. Total trepidation when I saw the workout on the computer screen--10 minutes warm-up increasing from roughly 50 to 100 percent of our threshold, then five minutes easy before starting two 20-minute threshold blocks with a 10-minute break--and guesswork in my head for when my legs would give out on me. But rejuvenation, redemption and a breath of "Thank God" when I survived.

I waited for my legs to burn and start to give out on me--that's how I left my last class when we only had to do 15-minute blocks--then watch my cadence drop with no chance of picking it up to recover from the slip. But it never happened. And I'm totally not trying to brag with this accomplishment, I'm just chalking it up to a bike adjustment. Bike fit is imperative to cycling prowess--just check out a story I recently wrote for Windy City Sports about some fit basics--but I never expected it to make that much of a difference indoors on a trainer. It makes sense but I always figured I was tired from spinning for two hours the day before VQ, not that my seat height was impeding my pedal stroke. I'm no expert, but it seems to be the only logical conclusion. To prepare for the outside season of riding, I went to have my bike tuned (learned my lesson last year on the importance of a tune before riding, but more to come on that another time) and begged for some fit adjustments. I was fit properly on my bike last June when I bought it, had someone else watch me ride in January who insisted on making some adjustments, and spent the winter wondering if the lower seat height was the right move as I struggled through my indoor workouts. After dull hip ache that left me worrying about the return of a running injury, pain from sitting on the saddle just for an hour, and beginning to think I was squatting on my bike again (the main problem with my old bike), I was convinced something needed fixing. And I was right: with some videotaping, measurements and analysis, my lower seat height was wreaking havoc on my hips and making them jiggle more to cycle through each pedal stroke. Raise the seat and it's more fluid and I'm looking less cramped with each leg movement.

I know it's only one week in the saddle and my legs could always give out next week, but at least I've given myself some self confidence the next time I start riding. But I'm definitely hoping I've found my place on the bike--it's been a long time coming if it is indeed here. Posted by Kate

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