I mentioned to you all before that I finally purchased a power meter for my bicycle. This new toy is supposed to help me become a better cyclist. Of course, this isn’t some magical item that turns my legs into those of a Tour de France sprinter, but one that may help me train better and work a little harder. Ultimately, a power meter is just a tool, I still have to do the work.

Lately my Garmin 910 (what Keara calls a dinosaur) has been acting really goofy. I’ll hit the reset button and it’ll delete my data. It will turn off randomly and then turn back on. If you’ll recall it did this repeatedly at my Alabama triathlon. I tried to call Garmin one evening and was on hold for my entire 30 minute commute home so I gave up.

Since I’ve been dying to get this FTP test done and out of the way, I decided I’d just give it a shot on Saturday and hope the watch did what it was supposed to do. I met my friend Hugo at 7:30 AM at the one flat trail that wasn’t flooded (thanks to that hurricane) and that I felt most comfortable at (see: it’s flat).

I selected an FTP test from the array that Coach Jon provided. It included a warm up, two little intervals of about five minutes, and then two times 20 minutes all out. Yikes. I admit that I was scared looking at that workout. Can I ride a bike all out for 20 minutes? And then do it again for another 20 minutes? I mean, sure in a race I ride hard, but even then I’m never going all out.

After our warm up and short interval sets, I dove into my first 20 minutes all out. Hugo stayed nearby but didn’t ride right behind me. It was nice having him there and at times I used him to see how much I could push to get away from him. (I’d like to point out that he’s a great cyclist and I couldn’t drop him.) By the time I got to 15 minutes I was forcing myself to stop looking at my Garmin. It was hard! I definitely began thinking that I could not do that again. And maybe I should just tell Hugo that was enough for me.

But, I didn’t.

In the back of my mind a little voice said, but then you won’t get your data. And then it said, what if you give this workout to your athletes and you can’t do it yourself? And then finally it said, quite logically, remember how your brain lies to you about the need to quit when really you can totally give more?

So after a five minutes of easy spinning, we hit the 20 minutes all out again.

I had snot running down my face, I choked on some Gatorade at one point and was spitting it everywhere. I’m sure I looked insane to any cyclists coming toward us. My mouth was hanging open and I could hear Jon in my brain saying, “Empty the tank.” So I pushed on and tried to empty the tank. It was tough. But I finished the second 20 minutes.

As Hugo and I stopped to turn around to head back to our cars, a very long six miles away, my Garmin began it’s wacky dance of off and on and off and on again. Ugh. I told him I’d just let it do it’s thing and hopefully when we got back to the cars it would calm the frack down. My legs were toast and that was a seriously long six miles back to the car! I probably whined more than was necessary. Hugo just laughed at me and we discussed upcoming ironman events and how his two sons are doing.

At the cars, I hit reset and the standard 3..2..1 count down occurred. And then….nothing. Nada. Data gone. All it showed for the history was the date and big, fat goose eggs. I was upset that I would have to do this test all over again. It was so hard and I mentally had to prepare myself to do it. Twenty minutes is kind of a long time to ride your brains out. (I know there are other longer tests, but this is a first for me so let me whine!)

I know you are asking, uh, so okay Beth, if you don’t have any data, what exactly did you learn from this failed FTP test? Well, quite frankly I don’t think this test was a fail. This test was a big win for me. I may not have the data, but I do have the reward of knowing that I pushed through a workout I desperately wanted to quit and that scared the hell out of me before I even started it.

Your mind is a liar. Every single thought that you have isn’t necessarily truth. Your brain wants you to stop because it’s hard wired to go into preservation mode far too soon. Don’t listen to it. The next time your brain says it’s too hard, don’t give in. Push a little more.

What are your thoughts on pushing through when your brain says stop? How do you fight a little more?

P.S. I’ve since re-contacted Garmin and have a refurbished 910 on it’s way to my home for the low, low price of $99. Ballin’ on a budget.