Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Miracle on Lake Natoma

What's that calculation again? 220-age?

As indicated in my last post, I have been pushing my max HR, and monitoring fatigue, to see how far I can push for threshold power, where the aerobic and lactate thresholds edge into anaerobic lactic acid spikes and extreme muscle fatigue. As Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's trainer noted, pushing into Z5 created so much fatigue for Lance when first recovering from cancer he was not able to ride again for days. I have noticed the same thing is true for me.

I have done 2 rides since the Mt Hamilton ride on June 13th, because after training from mid November 2008, more or less with no breaks, I needed to take some serious R&R time. Last Saturday, July 4th, I did a short 28 mile climbing route with a couple of guys I hadn't ridden with in a long time. They really pushed me, and actually handily dropped me on the short, but super-steep climb. When I got home and uploaded my Garmin 305 to Training Center I saw I had spent 24 minutes in Zone 5. The next 3 days I was pretty tired, so lots of fatigue.

Since high altitude climbing is so demanding on the cardio system, this is an important unknown I would like to nail down, not only for the Death Ride, but for cooler mid-summer rides in the mountains, and for sprinting and general threshold power. Pushing back and forth across your aerobic threshold is also how you increase your VO2 Max. For all of these reasons I am at a point where I really would like to know how hard I can push a bent ticker.

I got my answer, or at least a big part of it, much sooner than I anticipated. On a ride Sunday night with the Feisty Fun & Frisky Fitness Meetup.com group, I was doing a little racing along the west side of Lake Natoma, pulling at the front of a draft, when I had to fall back, jump on the back of the peleton and then sprint up a short 3-4% hill. At the beginning of the ride the very dry air dried all the moisture from under the HR strap, and I got a few false readings in the 170s, so I dismissed the audio alarm with an annoyed glance and pushed on in spite of a reading of 173. Only later did I realize the readings were correct, or at least I think they were. (I will definitely repeat the experiment, but didn't see the kind of flaky readings going from 175+ to 120 or so in 2 seconds)

As you can see, I spent almost double that, 44:44 in Zone 5 Sunday, and no ill effects. Aside from general rest there are two things I suspect are helping me - Acai berry and CoQ10. I had this same experience 3 years ago with CoQ10, but stopped taking it when my peak HR returned to it's expected peak at 220-age. Almost on a fluke I started taking it again about a week ago, and given my past experience, this seems the likely reason for my heart's rather miraculous performance. I had no chest pain during the ride, after, or since. I am a little freaked out, and pretty excited. Taking my HR up from 166 to 176 should give me a 6% increase in cardio capacity. WOW, I'll take it!

Can you spot the guy who showed up without a helmet?

Pre-miracle grinning!

Photo credits to my friend Jeffrey Thorne


Anonymous said...

You know your numbers well. It would be great to be as analytical as you are and I've started taking in your advices. Thanks so much for all your useful comments - really.

Btw, looks like you're into blue these days!!!

Grey Beard said...

You're welcome, Steph. Yeah, you start buying stuff to match the bike, more or less, and the next thing you know, **poof** you're color-cordinated. I see I should have worn my blue socks too! Those socks go with my RED mode.