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Test Week: The 2014 Baseline

As I wrote previously, I finally got my Quarq Elsa installed this week. Now that I am back in power measuring land, and it’s the beginning of the January OS in Endurance Nation, there was only one thing on the training agenda this week: TESTING.



For the newbies, testing means basically running a 5k TT and riding a 40 minute TT. Doing so gives you an idea of your current fitness and a basis on which to set your training paces on. Let’s recap.

5K Test:

Okay, my goal this year is to be right on with the training zones. So I chose a reliable method of testing that I could repeat during the Montana winter. As our roads and tracks are covered with ice and snow, that meant one thing: dreadmill. On Tuesday, I grabbed a bunch of yellow sticky notes and covered up the speed and pace displays on our gym’s Woodway. I won’t lie; my treadmill looked like the ultimate walking desk after I set it up. After a ten minute warm up, off I went at 2% grade. Overall, it was a good and smooth effort. I was hurting, but not terribly. Final time came in a low slow 23:28. This gives me a vdot of 41. Here are my new paces. DON’T LAUGH.



At first take, one may wonder why in the world I ran a marathon this December if I was going to end up with a vdot of 41. But this score makes perfect sense to me. My marathon training added durability to my legs, not speed. I barely ever trained below 7:45 pace while getting ready for Seattle. And while my test was slow, it was a stable and smooth slow. I felt in control of my form. I think I am in a good position for finally making some changes upward in my vdot plateau.

2X20 Test

Okay, time for the bike. I picked up my new gleaming, installed crank from the LBS on Tuesday after my 5k test, and I spent Wed calibrating everything and testing the connections with my Garmin 910xt and Trainer Road. I am happy to say that there were no hiccups at all. The meter paired with both devices on the first try. After a night of rest, it was time to test out the new shiny during lunch today.

"Why do you test?"

“Why do you test?”

I booted up the scripted 2X20 test on Trainer Road as I like its warm up. And yes, I know there are shorter testing protocols, but I like my good old 2X20. It has proved reliable to me. Maybe it is all in my head, but the first thing I noticed was how smooth my new Quarq is compared to my old crank. Pedaling a Quarq made my old crank feel like I was sanding wood with my legs. After getting my legs opened up and starting up the Matrix on Amazon Prime, it was time to roll. Here’s how it played it.

The big picture.

The big picture.

Nitty gritty. I like the new power balance data.

Nitty gritty. I like the new power balance data.


Overall, this was one of the best feeling tests I have ever done. It was painful, but similar to my 5K test: a controlled and smooth pain. I played it conservative for the first 20 minutes and then opened it up for the middle ten in the second 20. Garmin has my NP at 228w and TR recommended 230w. Both are close enough, but I took the Garmin number to be sure. 228w is where I start.

I am actually greatly pleased by this. While training for Seattle, I hardly ever rode my bike. For weeks at a time. So I was expecting to be way lower than my all-time high FTP of 235w. Yes, I have been riding for about two weeks, but I still was expecting to be somewhere like 220w or 215w. I am very pleased to be starting my torture at this level.  Of course, maybe there is a difference between my old and new power meters, but I will never be able to tell. To boot, I may have been able to give some more as I still got in a easy 3.5 mile run today. I like this new durability.

Alright, time to get this party started!


Ok, now that both Christmas and New Years have passed by, and I have eaten enough cookies and Turkey to feed a small nation, I can finally get back to this blog and the world of triathlon.

A lot has happened since the marathon in Seattle. First, despite abducting the Muffin Man while he was walking on Drury Lane and waterboarding him, I was not able to get any information on the whereabouts of Gingerbread man. It looks like my revenge will have to be directed at him for the next year photographically.

One image to make all the miles pending for this year worth it. :)

One image to make all the miles pending for this year worth it. 🙂

In other news, with the switch to 2014 I have decided to move onward from racing with the Trisports Champions group. I have had nothing but great times with that crew, and they are still my go to place for gear. But this year I want to focus more on raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research. So it will be a switch from red and white to teal this year. If you would like to donate some money for ovarian cancer research, just click on my donation webpage here.

Also in the spirit of switches, I also am taking a look at the Endurance Nation plans again. It’s been a while since I was with them, and it’s interesting to see what they are offering. In the past, the plans haven’t worked too well for me, so I will be certainly be mixing things up for Boise.

Perhaps most exciting for me right now is that I have made some big gear changes. Despite my doubts, my infamous red PowerTap wheels got scooped up on eBay. In their place, I picked up a Quarq Elsa at a great price. At this very moment, the LBS is installing it on my P2. I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t be more excited about riding my bike tomorrow even if it was somehow rigged to dispense draught Pliny the Elder. I’ll do a whole post on the switch experience this weekend.

HUZZAH! 165mm crank arm length, 50-34.

HUZZAH! 165mm crank arm length, 50-34.

As for training, things have shaped up nicely after Seattle. First two weeks was certainly tough. I focused mainly on getting on the bike as much as possible and running just to keep loose. For the next two, I started the Sweet Spot Base plan with Trainer Road and kept up about 30 miles of running a week. I’ve also been hopping in the pool to boot. I even made to one “masters” type swim; that was certainly humbling, but that is something everyone needs in their triathlon career. At the end of this last week, my body was certainly feeling it after a treadmill ten miler, but the pain I felt was nothing compared to the fun I was having being a triathlete again.

Okay, as long as my LBS doesn’t explode overnight, (and I can get over another virus) I should finally be able to see my watts again tomorrow. If my FTP is 180w, I’ll just blame it on a faulty meter….Can’t wait!

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