Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sneaking up on 120

No, not Kph, I think that will be a while yet. And no, not rpm either, at least not for more than about a minute or two. I'm talking about heart rate. Now, I realize some of you pass 120 bpm just thinking the word exercise, or workout. But somewhere around 120 bpm, maybe as much as 130 bpm is where I cross the line between easy and starting to work and beginning to breath harder.

So the theory was to try the new bike fit out on the road, AND stay around 120 bpm, certainly no more than 125. That's tougher than it sounds, given the wind and hills. I thought about how far and how long, not knowing how the bike would fit, or how my legs would feel. I figured play it by ear, heading out 22X, then down 22. These are fairly moderate hills that I figured were appropriate.

The fit felt a little strange at first, especially in the legs. The saddle is much higher, and tilted a little more forward. My back is straighter, and I can see better. I was riding cautiously and a bit slower, trying to see where my heart rate was going, and I wasn't caring about speed or pace at all. At first it didn't seem to take much to get to 120, and then I'd back off. As expected my breathing was really easy. I was trying to relate how my legs felt, with how my breathing was doing, with what my heart rate was.

The first hour was feeling things out. My legs were still getting used to the new motion and I couldn't spin very well, though it gradually got better. I was able to keep my heart rate where I wanted it or even a bit lower. I turned around at Plummer's Road, which is a hair over 25 K from the house. It's right at the bottom of a hill of course. I was able to ride on my drops for quite a while, and could have kept on, where as before it was just too uncomfortable to do for more than a few minutes. My legs started to feel stronger, and I could push a bit harder while keeping my heart rate the same.

In fact, for a good part of the way back I was well below the target heart rate. However, I was getting some numb bum, since my sit bones were taking more of the weight than they used to. At the 1.5 hour mark I was feeling like I normally do at the 3.5 hr mark. I'm not sure how to describe how my legs were feeling; it was sort of odd. They felt like they were on the verge of actually working, but not quite there yet. It might have been the new motion, but they didn't feel particularly strong. It felt like warm up, I guess. Toward the end I was spinning a bit better, even though I didn't really want to be sitting anymore. My legs weren't tired, but it was like they wanted to take the next step and either go harder or get off.

All in all the fit seems like a big step forward. I need to be aware of my posture a bit more to make sure I don't slouch back into a hunchback position. I'll give the legs a few more trips to get used to it, and continue to work out the tightness in my calves. I rode nice and easy spin for a hair over 50 K in 2.25 hrs, with a max heart rate of 126 when I got a bit carried away making a left turn in highway traffic. The average heart rate was 112, though I'm not sure how accurate that is given my very slow start.

There are lots of people taking a deep breath and getting packed up to travel to IM Canada or Louisville. It's a huge day to be looking forward to, and I hope it meets or exceeds all your expectations. I'll be spectating and volunteering at the finish line between 7:30 and midnight, so I won't be able to follow you on athlete tracker. However, I'll be cheering you on in person or in spirit.

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