a freak out

This was supposed to be a super cool post about the lactate testing I did early last week with Matthew Rose from Dynamo Multisport...

but now that I have the results from that test I'm having a freak out...

first, a little bit about the SUPER COOL testing though :-)

Testing protocol:
So the way the test works is this:
- my bike on a trainer
- I'm hooked up to a heart rate monitor
- I start riding with trainer set at 100w, just cruisey cruisey for about 10 min
- Once the test starts, every 3 min the watts increase by 20 and Matthew takes a blood sample (simple finger prick, squeeze, type thing)
- a meter reads the blood sample and displays lactate levels in my blood

Okay, now I know you can't pass or fail this kind of test, it just tells you what's happening in your body, nothing more, nothing less. That being said, I was feeling like I was going to get some numbers that would back up my belief in my abilities and tell me that I can go faster, I just have to push myself. (Let's face it, I didn't make a suck it up buttercup wall because I thought I was working TOO hard)

Psyched for Failure

I was also ready to get some good old fashioned suffering going on... the test was "to failure" and that sounded really cool to me, just where would "failure" be for me was something I wanted to find out.

The definition of failure for the purposes of this test would be when I couldn't sustain higher than 70 rpm or I hit double digit lactate.


So I settled myself in for some pain fun. The warm up was fine, I just kept pedaling and talking to Matthew about all sorts of random stuff, but mostly asking him about world cup soccer. I was feeling all easy breezy and I kept waiting for him to tell me to change gears and then I noticed things are getting a little more difficult, I looked down and my power meter was reading 160w, and that's went I realized the wattage jumps were being controlled by the trainer (duh.) I felt a little silly. So I just kept pedaling, watching rpm and focused on keeping it at 90. As I mentioned before, every 3 min Matthew would prick my finger and take a blood sample.

Just when I feel like I'm getting in a groove, Matthew says just give me 1:00 more. I'm thinking...only 1 more min... that doesn't make sense, I feel fine and my rpm isn't anywhere close to 70, it's still at 90. My next thought is, "oh, he's just tricking me, like, one more min, and then when that min is up, he'll say just one min more" then I thought "should I tell him I feel fine? that I don't need the encouragement yet?"

Then the one min was up and he said I could stop.


It took me a second to realize that I must have reached "failure" of double digit lactate (in fact I had - 10.4 at 240w). But I was really confused because I hadn't been in pain, not at all. I wouldn't say I was super comfortable, but it certainly wasn't anywhere close to what I would guess "failure" would feel like.

In fact I have a test from MONTHS ago that shows I can push 244 for 5 min and 211 for 20. So how can 240 be failure?!?!

The difference... that test was just me going as hard as I could... this one measured actual lactate levels.

My Freak Out

So let's forget the blow to my ego here and just get the numbers out...

based on the results of this test my Z3 starts at 150w and z4 starts at 180. The difference... I've been training with my zones at Z2 160-180, z3 180-200, z4 200-210. Matthew has been great, and asked me to send him all my questions, which I will... but first I'm having a private (well now public once I hit "publish") freak out.

The difference between these zone numbers is, well, CRAZY... and now I'm looking at 12 weeks to FullRev to move my bottom of Z3 number higher so that I can not only finish the bike in a reasonable amount of time, but have the fuel necessary to run well off the bike.

Two questions that are most prominent in my mind:
1) Can I move that number in 12 weeks?
2) If so, by how much?

And I've got one more question that's driving me crazy...

Why don't I feel like I'm working hard? How is it that "failure" just feels like I'm pushing it? Am I some sort of freak of nature?? and if so, how do I capitalize on it? :-)

Maybe I don't need a suck it up buttercup wall...

Maybe, I need I zen master wall, patience is a virtue and all that jazz.

Unfortunately, I don't have time for patience.

(why you need to wait to talk to the professionals before freaking out)
Spoke with Matthew, turns out there were actually TWO differences between my percived exertion test and actual measured lactate test...


Once we calibrated the tests to my power meter, the zones are almost exactly the same. Matthew is running the numbers right now, but it looks like there is about a 25 w difference between the two meters. I don't know why that would be, but no one involved is surprised by it, so I'm guessing it's typical.

And now we breathe a sigh of relief... I'm not some weird freak of nature that can ride for 4 hours in Z4. ha ha


  1. I'm not going to even bother pretending that I can answer a single one of those questions.

    All I have to say is that don't get caught up in the numbers. Data is great and all that info will help you with your pacing and nutrition for Cedar Point, but don't forget to just listen to your own body and stay within a range that you know (by feel) that you can hold for 140.6 miles.

    You've got this thing nailed Jill. Don't get in the mindset of thinking you have to cram in tons of more/different training between now and Cedar Point. Maybe some minor tweaks based on whatever you hear back from Matthew, but don't go throwing out your whole plan.

    You had KILLER races at Knox and Quassy. You have to be doing SOMETHING right. Luck was not a factor for you in either of those races.

    Close your eyes.
    Breathe deep.
    Keep at it.

  2. It is ok that I didn't understand a single thing you talked about in your post? :-)

  3. Phew! Glad to hear it was "old powermeter excuse" difference. :)

    Seriously, that is a HUGE difference, good to find a real reason for it.

    I did that same test in 2007 and just remember having very sore fingers (and completely dead legs) the next day. Good luck with the next 12 weeks.


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