Saturday, September 22, 2007

Final numbers!

OUCH. That is my main memory from yesterday's test! Doing a VO2 test is about as pleasurable as taking the final for a class you have not attended all semester!

However, it is done, and my final hard effort before Worlds is complete. Now I am just trying to relax and have as stress-free a trip to Stuttgart as possible.

I did some analysis on my numbers from the test. First, I looked at the variables that had changed since the previous test:

1) temperature - Monday's test was done at 62 degrees, and Friday it was 74 degrees--that is a big difference! My legs definitely felt hotter (especially inside on the trainer) during Friday's test.

2) classes - having to scramble around all week to get to classes, learn things, get forms signed and faxed to the UCI, spend hours on my feet in lab, etc. is not an optimal recovery strategy in-between tests!

3) new shoes - my old shoes had been held together with duct tape since Downer's Grove, and these new ones were a bit loose, but they feel great.

After I took into account these variables, a couple watts lower average seemed entirely plausible and within the error limits of the SRM. However, I do know one thing: the test on Friday was MUCH harder mentally than on Monday. Why? Pacing! When I began Friday's test, I knew I could do 377 for 15 minutes. That is a big number, and I was pretty nervous before the test yesterday--I had to beat my best?!

Thus I started out too hard, then between minutes 8 and 12 I was suffering like a dog. The end result was that I could barely bring my power up for the last two minutes. This is in sharp contrast to Monday's test, where the first 2/3 of the test were done below my average, and then I really hit it hard the final few minutes. The problem with Friday's pacing strategy is this: my heart rate jumped right up to 174, and then much of the test I was sitting at 177 or 178 because my legs were almost about to drown in lactic acid. On Monday, my legs were allowed to simmer for most of the test before reaching a rapid boil.

Then I looked at the data to see if this conclusion was actually what had happened. Sure enough, when I broke it down into three 5-minute segments, the data did not lie:

Monday Friday
Part 1 373 377
Part 2 373 373
Part 3 384 375

One could make the argument that I was more consistent on Friday than on Monday, but screw consistency! I think it is better to feel really good for the last few k's of a TT than to want to end one's life from halfway out. This also makes good tactical sense for Worlds because the final 2k are all uphill, climbing a total of 250 feet--no mean task after the previous 36k at threshold! I think many guys are going to be losing time hand-over-fist right here, and that is where I want to really keep up the speed and roll in strong. The top time-trialists in the world are almost never the fastest through the first or second time checks, and there is a reason.

Now I am just getting my stuff ready, my bike packed, and my loose ends tied before jumping onto the "dirty" New Jersey Transit train to Newark International and flying over the pond to the mecca of cycling that is Europe. SWEET!

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