First Tuesday of 2014 was also day 2 of my 12 week base plan. On tap for the day was the required power test on the bike to measure where I am at this point to set up my training and heart rate zones. The test process is a genuine reality check. Being that I have a cold, am fighting a back that is out of whack thanks to everytime I cough it goes into a spasm, and just got back from skiing which taxed the legs in a different way....I wasn't really sure what to expect. I've even had to bail out on an FTP test in the middle of it before when things were not exactly perfect with regard to body, mind, and pacing. So I was guarded and prepared for anything.
I did my warm-up of 40 minutes properly and things felt pretty good. After the warm up, I got the motivational music going on the iPod (Beethoven and Saint-Saens), took a GU and sipped my water bottle with a scoop of Strawberry HEED in it. Then I set the computer to measure all the vital statistics that are needed (cadence, heart rate, watts, distance, speed, calories).
Last year's opening FTP test for 2013 was horrible (like an FTP of only 239!!!!), but I was mentally determined to fight this one. I did not want a false reading and be stuck training the first block for January at too low in the training zones. I got going and felt pretty good in the opening 5 minutes. I let my body dictate the cadence and power level that felt the most natural. Heart rate, power, cadence all felt good as the industrial strength floor fan was set on gale force to keep me cool. It really is similar to a race effort where the mind has to play a big part. I tapped into the effort and jockeyed on with a good attitude, but was careful not to blow up by pushing the pace harder. I decided at the 10 minute point to alter the cadence to a higher spin. Probably more for variety's sake, but who knows why I made that decision being cross-eyed and all at the time. After 5 minutes of that higher cadence, I said enough and at minute 15 went back to the lower cadence sweet spot that I gravitated to in the first ten minutes and felt very similar to my mountain bike race cadence. Once I got back to that cadence at minute 15, I knew I was going to make it to the end without any problems. The final two minutes of the test had me battle a smile as I was happy to have completed it. Whew! FTP TEST #1 for 2014 In the bag!!!
One gets better with these tests over time due to the pacing and experience of having done them before. In other words, you know what the pain is like and have learned to cope with it. However, it has been quite a few months since I have done one so I really wasn't sure how I would respond or where my numbers would be after tapering off from October to December with my hours and training. As I entered my 30 minute cool down phase post test, the computer spit out the numbers of how the 20 minute FTP went. It wasn't too bad for January - especially when compared to this time last year where I scored a lousy 239.
Although genetically held in check with what I can do, the FTP can be trained to a point and when combined with weight control - I can get myself into a more competitive form this year. I am already 4-5 pounds less at this point of the year than I was last year. So that is good. And my power numbers going into base are much higher than last year at this time thanks to maintaining and carrying over some of the gains I had made in 2013.
Here are my training zones to start 2014 based on yesterday's FTP test.
That's a nice gain from last year at this time and hopefully will allow me to piggy back on all the gains I made during 2013. I think if I had one goal this year, it would be rather than just survive the structured training plans from last year - this year I really want to utilize them to the best of my ability and do more than "survive" them. Just like learning to pace and perform the 20 minute FTP, I want to go a step or two beyond the base and build plans to pace and perform better. Sort of a "train smarter" goal if that makes sense.
I celebrated by cooking 8 ounce ribeyes for dinner, my famous baked steak fries with spicey kick to them, and a spinach salad.
The rest of the week will have me following the base training plan, fighting my head cold and preparing for my first ever colonoscopy this Friday. Yesterday, I picked up the beverage portion of whatever the concoction is I have to drink on Thursday night and Friday morning before the procedure. Harking back to Movember and Men's Health, I did not have this procedure done as part of my annual phsyical when I hit age 50, so the Doctor told me at this year's annual it was time to do one. Starting on Monday, I was to cut out all supplements/vitamins that I take and as each day progresses I am supposed to drop something or other until I am down to a liquid diet on Thursday. Fun stuff, but I hope to bounce back nutritionally for the weekend. Everything else checked out great - PSA, prostate, blood pressure, cholesterol numbers - all great!!!
The only thing wrong is the back and the doctor did have X-Rays taken. Her diagnosis, based on the X-Rays and my back issues is arthritis down there on the lumbar 4 and 5 area. Facet Joint Arthritis due to the articular cartilage degeneration. Sucks getting old!!! First the knees suffer cartilage issues and now my spine. I am going to have to have some follow up on that - maybe an MRI and or CT scan. It was actually feeling good this week until I started coughing with this cold. That started the back spasms again. This is not a sudden development as it has been building for years. It could be that my crash in April of 2012 contributed to the acceleration of this. Altering sleep position, some physical therapy to show me what exercises for relief, etc... is about the only course of action along with injections into the lower back area and or taking inflammation reducing oral medication. Luckily, riding a stationary bicycle with the curved forward posture is actually good for it. At least now I know why I prefer and switched to a full suspension bike 10 years ago. The back knows...