Thursday, 21 March 2013

Old Man Winter

March 20th marked the official end to winter in the northern hemisphere, and in southern Ontario this year's edition of the coldest season was a doozy.  Not that there was an abundance of crazy cold temperatures, or record-setting snowfalls, but on the whole it felt like this winter had more consistent snow and ice coverage than in recent years, and we completely missed out on the early March 'heatwave' that tends to roll through this part of Canada, getting patrons out on patios and cyclists kitted out and on the roads.

After being injured and majorly de-motivated through the end of summer and the fall, I approached winter with the hope of getting in solid work, week after week.  Starting from a weight of 80.3 kilograms (177 pounds), it was going to take some time to get the body back into fighting form (I usually race at 72.7 kilograms, or 160 pounds).  Because of the extra bulge, winter focus was on hitting the trainer four times a week on a structured plan to increase FTP while shedding some weight through frequent (but slow) running.
A shot of the batcave.
Bike testing at the start of the season resulted in 313 watts for a 20 minute test, and an estimated FTP of 296 watts; at a weight of 80.3KG (FTP of 3.7 watts/KG).  Through disciplined riding and leaving litres of sweat on the gym floor, the week of February 18th I hit 356 watts for a 20 minute test and had an estimated FTP of 342 watts at 79.3KG (FTP of 4.3 watts/KG).  In the four weeks since the test, I recorded my first legitimate 'hour of power' over 300 watts on March 5th (which was just a regular interval workout, not a full-on all-out hour) and have been consistently knocking out 10-20 minute interval repeats at 325-342 watts, substantially higher than the 313 watt 20 minute test at the start of the season.  Looking forward to firing off impressive testing numbers during the week of April 1 before transitioning most of the riding outdoors.

On top of the biking, I've been swimming 3-4 times a week and running 80K a week.  I estimate my VDOT started the winter at 54 and has worked its way to somewhere in the 58-60 range; by race season I hope to be back at my peak of 63.  Current weight is 77.9KG, so as the last 5 KG's melt away between now and race season, running pace will drop.  Currently on a strict poutine-free diet.
Winter running, Canadian-style.
Despite the terrible March weather, I've been outside on the road bike the last two weekends - including last Saturday when a mini-blizzard rolled in during the ride, which made the last 20 minutes a bit tough to navigate.  After more than four months of trainer rides, I just couldn't face three hours indoors on a Saturday, and enjoyed every minute of the slippery adventure.
Winter Wonderland Riding.
With the arrival of spring, I'm excited for bare roads and sidewalks to enable some fast quality outdoor running, enough warmth to leave the toque and gloves at home occasionally, and the return of the Morning Glory Cycling Club to the roads of Toronto.  We'll wake up and it will not only be spring, but will look and feel like it as well - one of these days.