What a difference two days make. On Monday, I promised that I would ride hard on Tuesday. I am not sure if I rode hard or it was simply a hard day at the gym, but I had a hard time. The meat of the workout was four 12-minute threshold-level intervals, first half of each done as a 4-person paceline; 20-second pulls at 29mph with rest intervals ridden at 26mph. That was followed by 6 minute threshold levels at 28mph. Three or four minutes of rest between the 12-minute intervals. Honestly, I was done after 18 minutes. I rode next six minutes in zone 2. I managed to ride paceline intervals at threshold level, but at 26mph, and was happy to have hung on even for that. I sweated my biggest puddle ever in class and my clothes were absolutely drenched. It was a very humbling experience.
I went back to the club on Wednesday to keep the streak going in a recovery ride. I rode 40 minutes in a tiny gear with almost no resistance and enjoyed it not a bit. When I got off the bike, I was dreading the Thursday class a little. I worried that I wouldn't recover sufficiently to have a productive class. I talked to Kate after I got off the bike, and she said that Thursday class would be easier, but that I should go down at least half a zone from what's prescribed, maybe as much as a whole zone. OK, I'll try it, but I worried that even that would be too hard.
I came to class on Thursday feeling not so great. I was going to start conservatively and see how I felt. The warm-up was an inverse pyramid of four 30-second intervals with two-minute breaks between sets of four. We started with zone 5 and progressed over six intervals to low zone three. We recovered for four minutes, then built up from low zone three to zone 5. That was OK, but that was just the warm-up. We took another four minute break, then launched into four sets of three 30-second zone 5 intervals. The first set had one-minute long rest intervals, the second had 30-second rest intervals, the third had 20-second rest intervals, and the fourth had 10-second rest intervals. I started in high zone 4 and that was almost comfortable and I did two sets there, bumping up a bit for the second set. Those went so well that I did the third set in low zone five, then bumped up a bit. The last interval of the fourth set, I did at 310 watts (my zone 5 starts at 260 watts, so 310 was a big deal). It was hard, but not awful. A big difference: it was an easier workout and I had three fans blowing on me instead of one I that had on Tuesday. Combined results: a smaller puddle, drier clothes, and a feeling of optimism.