Thursday, August 13, 2015

Quest for Sufferlandrian Knighthood (Damehood)

I'm not really sure where to begin.  

IWBMATTKYT - if you don't know.....

Several years ago I started incorporating Sufferfest videos into my training regimen.  At some point I noticed early on that there was a challenge.  Complete 10 videos, back to back, and achieve Knighthood.  If anyone reading this has ever done a Sufferfest video, coupled with the Trainerroad workout, you'll know that this idea lies squarely between insane, stupid, inspiring and determined.  Maybe a little bit of all four...

Either way, the idea rested on my bucket list between "maybe someday" and "man, I'd really like to accomplish that."

About a week ago, in a conversation on facebook, another cyclist posted that he was going to make an attempt to century on Zwift - an online game and gaming community for cyclists forced indoors for one reason or another (okay, cyclists that are addicted to the game).  The conversation that ensued convinced him to make a bid for Knighthood.  I decided that it was time for me to cross it off the bucket list as well.

Two days ago, I got up at stupid o'clock in the morning, and got on my bike...

But I'm skipping ahead.  

After Ironman Texas this year, I wasn't really happy with my performance.  In looking over my records, I realized that if I wanted to play the part of a fast athlete, I was going to have to start acting the part.  I needed to give myself the foundation to be what I want to be and see where things go from there. So, after conversations with two coaches that I highly respect, I increased my training hours.  I changed the structure. I started getting up crazy early and knocking out workouts so I would stop procrastinating/skipping workouts.

When I decided to make a bid for Knighthood, it didn't really scare me.  You know that "Ah hell, I have a race in a week, what the f$^& was I thinking?"  It wasn't there.  I kind of felt like "okay - just a really long training day..."  I planned to start as early as possible (yaaayyyyy 4 am wake up...  NOT) and just hammer out what I could before the minions woke up. Fortunately, one minion spent the night with our amazing friends and their son, and the other minion is old enough to do summer homework while mommy does crazy stuff.

So I got up, got changed, got some red bull over ice hydration and nutrition, and got started.  First up, Revolver.  This video is my absolute favorite.  Less than an hour, short insane intervals, and great video with snarky comments to go with it.  I started at about 80-90% of the recommended normal intensity.  Doable.  I used Zwift for scenery (and dammit man, I wanted that imperial century jersey) and Maximum Trainer rather than Trainerroad to track the ride - there's a rather nice integrated heads up display that I really like (BOTH are very excellent programs, but they seem to occupy slightly different niches for the end users.  I'll review both programs at a later date).

Video done.  YAYYYY ME!  Still felt good.

But I realized that I *might* need some moral support for when I hit those dark places.

So I posted in the Zwift Rider's group on facebook:

And holy hell did the community respond.

Still feeling good

Next up, Angels.  Another great workout.  During this one, I figured that I'd use the effort level x 25 watts to keep myself honestly suffering but able to continue the workout.  That put me at roughly 80% of recommended intensity for the workout.  After two hours on the bike, I was tired, but still moving. 

And an incredible amount of support was still pouring in.

I had to update my list of videos - when I started, I didn't know what order or which videos I was going to do...  I guessed I should probably figure that out sometime soon.  

Running Sufferfest, Zwift and
Maximum Trainer

Then I fired up Downward Spiral.  Considering this is where I started really feeling the fatigue, it's appropriate.  This is where I stopped taking notes of how things were going.  Fortunately, the Zwift community on facebook kept an eye on me virtually (you can see other riders in the game, their distance, their power...  Think of it as virtual cycle stalking).  Two great friends - one in Houston, the other on the east coast - kept messaging me to make sure I was still alive.  Even when I started growling through messenger at them.  So to Tami and Julynn - thank you - you guys kept distracting me.  At some point Julynn message me to let me know that I had blown up facebook, and everyone was pulling for me - I responded "I can't give up now - too many people supporting me."

At some point in the next video I updated the list again:

Nutrition - Infinit Custom Mix
And Base Salt

The next video was A Very Dark Place.  Also very appropriate.  By this time I was hurting and miserable.  My butt hurt, I was getting queasy and felt weak, and just wanted to get off the bike.  I always use liquid nutrition, and an Infinit Custom formula is my nutrition of choice. After this video, I used my break to locate my Base Salts (no, not bath salts) to see if it would help with how queasy I was getting.  Fortunately, during There is No Try my stomach settled down (okay, this was also well timed...  Yoda kept telling me "Do or do not," and I really hope that's in the soundtrack to the video, because otherwise I was hallucinating.)

Halfway through.  And the entire Zwift community was pulling for me.

Nine Hammers.  Nine painful intervals.  By this time, I had adjusted my power downward again - 20 watts x effort level.  Considering that 10 is right at ftp for me, I was still working hard, and staying around 75% of recommended effort level.

Everyone says this is where you make or break it.  Once you get past six and seven, it's all downhill (not really )from there.  I don't know that I've ever, in my entire life, looked at 3 hours remaining on a bike and thought "Yeah, only 3 hours left - I'm most of the way there!"  

First time for everything I guess.

Next up was Violator - as far as placement, this was wonderful - lots of short hard intervals, and for the most part, lots of recovery intervals. This is when I posted in the Sufferlandrian Quest Planning Committee group on facebook - and they responded with quite a bit of support and advice as well.

Then came Fight Club.  At this point, I didn't have much for the many sprint attacks.  I focused on not dropping my power and keeping that effort up.  My legs were burning, my back was hurting, my, uh, saddle contact points were screaming.

Two. More. Left.  I wanted to quit.  I grabbed another red bull from the fridge and just put my head down.  The caffeine kicked in and I felt stronger - more able to push through the tough intervals in The Rookie.  By this time I realized it wasn't going to be a full ten hours and I panicked:

Tami and Julynn both checked for me - that the list of videos was acceptable according to the rules.  Then I started The Wretched.  While not a great choice to finish with - I thought the irony to be quite funny....  Or maybe that was my hypoxic, hypoglycemic state.  I'll admit that maybe I was in tears from pain or from joy, who knows.  My power was failing in my legs and it was all I could do to keep spinning.

My oldest minion came back with a big cup of ice water (she'd been my water girl for the last four videos), and told me we were out of ice.  The entire damn ice box was empty.  

 Finally....  That moment.  I'll never figure out why the last 10 minutes of ANY race or event feels like it lasts longer than the entire event up to that point, but it does.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I was done.  And leave it to the amazing support on facebook to chamois dance for me when my legs hurt so much that standing wasn't easy.

The link to the garmin data can be found below

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

101 Thoughts I had while on my bike trainer

1. Hey this feels good to get the legs spinning.
2. Getting. Bored. (Turns on Planes: Fire and Rescue)
3. Cute movie
4. Probably a bad idea to call a firefighter "Mayday." You don't want your entire fire team evacuating every time you try to get his attention.
5. This workout sucks.
6. This REALLY sucks. May have to dial it down a bit.
7. No. I want to see how much I can do. How much my athletes can do. Better leave it alone.
8. Omg. I hate my coach.
9. Crap. I wrote this workout. I hate me.
10. Ugh. My athletes are going to hate me.
11. Finally. A rest interval.
12. I want waffles.
13. (Rewinds the movie) ugh I missed ALL of the movie so far.
14. This workout is NEVER going to end.
15. This really sucks.
16. I would rather be feet up watching blacklist.
17. I wonder what my coach would say if I did this next threshold interval as a zone 2 interval.
(Rewinds movie again)
18. Oh okay. Fine. FINE.  I'LL DO IT.
20. (2 hours in) Why the hell am I doing this?
21. I want ice cream.
22. I hate this.
Omg I love this rest between intervals
23. These shorts suck. Forty something years of triathlon and the seams on the chamois are still in the most undamncomfortable places.
24. I'm 2:15 in.  That last hour isn't really *that* important.
Ugh I can smell my shoes.
25. I can finish this later. Can't I?
(Rewinds movie again)
26. Okay. 55 minutes.  Less than an hour.
27. I may actually make it.
28a. Ugh. 52 minutes left. I want to quit.
29. I don't really need that last 45 minutes.
(Forgets the movie and just starts some music on pandora)
30. Sooooooo cloooooosssse....
31. This. Is. Never. Going. To. End.
32. OMG 19 minutes!
33. Omg. 14. Minutes.
34. What the hell is wrong with me?
35. Yay! 10 minutes!
33.  Oh f@$#! This workout is longer than I thought it was!!!
D. I'm going to cry.
Ff. This interval is never going to end.
Z. I suck at this.
Whatever. I'm never doing this shit again.

That spot on the floor looks really nice to lay down on.

I want froot loops.


This floor feels amazing.

Someone is going to have to find a mop to get me out of this puddle off the floor.

My athletes are really going to hate me.

Want pizza.

Think I'll play a few levels of candy crush until I can feel my legs again.


I am so glad I didn't give up.  Maybe my coach isn't so evil after all.

I programmed that workout. Yeah. I'm still evil.

Soooo....  Next week, I guess.  Same bat time, same bat channel.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Body Image

Just a thought -

I love Meghan Trainor's song All About That Bass. But it highlights something that something skinny women aren't allowed to talk about.

I have experienced more body shaming as a size 4 athlete than as a 200+ pound woman. Yes. During 2007 I weighed more than 200 pounds. I had taken pregnancy as an excuse to eat my kitchen. Then go out and eat more. There were other factors contributing, but after the baby came, I discovered that childbirth doesn't come with an immediate 90 pound weight loss.


So I started running again. At first was because I just loved to eat. Then, as the weight started coming off, I found my joints didn't hurt, I wasn't as exhausted all the time, and I didn't avoid the mirror as much.

As a fat woman, I'd gotten called a bowling ball at one point. There were people who didn't recognize me as a super size version of the person I had been and said so. But the insults didn't come that often. The only steady stream of "you might want to consider being a smaller size" came from the media.

By then I got really active and started racing and found my passion. And when I came to the dark side (triathlon) and added cycling and swimming to my regular workout routine, I dropped all the weight I had gained since I had left my teenage years. 

Not everyone was supportive. Even family was "concerned that I was losing too much weight."

I heard things like the comments listed below from everyone - friends and strangers alike.

"You really need to eat a cheeseburger."
"Real women have curves."
"I hate the way athletic women look because their boobs always suffer."
"Are you okay? You've look like you've had cancer."
"You can gain more weight if you put some more protein in your diet."
"You really need to stop worrying about your weight. If you get too skinny, it's unhealthy."

Then social media started in with memes. Some said things like "Bones are for dogs, meat is for men." 

How is this acceptable? If someone fired back with something against heavier woman, someone would have gotten offended, facebook would have removed the photo and possibly banned the person who posted it. 


First of all, my body is NONE OF ANYONE'S BUSINESS except mine and my husband's. And he has loved me at all my different weights and compositions.

Second, a good, positive, self body image is not dependent on putting anyone else down.

Third - the second a "skinny bitch" does say something about the body shaming she receives, someone tells her to eat more and gain a few pounds. That others are just jealous. So that makes all the snide comments about not being a "real woman" okay.  The message we're sending is that it's okay to target thin women for cruelty and body shaming while society and social media fights to protect women who aren't thin.

Here's the deal: we don't know each other's stories. We don't know their defeats or their victories.

So do what my mama said "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

 Besides - the things you say to others say more about you than it does them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Triathlete Candy Hearts

I came across this in my daughter's leftover candy hearts from valentine's, and had a good laugh.  What would your favorite candy heart say?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Playlist Thursday

There are two songs on my playlist from Katy Perry that when they come on, I feel inspired all over again.  The first is "Part of Me"

Running is a part of me.  It is healing when I feel broken, inspiring when I need a lift, and time when I need a break.  This song coins those emotions perfectly.

The second is "Roar"

Another song of growth.  Most adult athletes start somewhere they don't want to be.  This song reminds me of how far I've come.

Want to add them to your playlist? Check here: Roar and Part Of Me

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ironman Texas 2014

Now I lay me down to rest
Tomorrow I will try my best
To beat the heat and enjoy the race
And to set down a smoking pace
And if I die before I wake
That's one less gel I'll have to take.

Good luck to all the amazing athletes tackling Ironman Texas tomorrow!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

One day at a time

Last year was a pretty rough year.  It was amazing, inspiring, filled with people who were supportive and fun and encouraging.

But it was rough.

I got sick three separate times within two weeks before races.  In April, I broke a finger, which got me stuck on the trainer for five weeks...  During the build for Ironman Texas.   After five hours on a trainer,  I wanted to chuck it out the window.  After Ironman Texas,  I wound up with an abcess in my armpit. I had hit my race weight in March, but was unable to stop losing weight.   In November I had a medical issue that keep me from the sport for six weeks.  

Which means I've been back at it now for just a few weeks.

Oh my.  The last few weeks have been more demoralizing than anything ever in my athletic career.  My running speed has fallen so much I can't even begin to approach what I was doing in October.   My weight has climbed,  and as a former fat girl,  the terror and depression that this invites is horrifying. It was only in the last few days that I found some groove in the water again. After that swim,  I was so exhausted that I pushed back a long run so I could get a rest day.

So why am I posting this?  I've spent the last year focusing on the positive in my life and refusing to dwell on how hard things get sometimes. So if the positive is the only thing that I try to give focus in my life,  why am I even putting this in writing?
Because I've learned that this kind of thing happens to everyone.  Statistics indicate that roughly 10% of athletes are injured in any one year.

I'm kind of hoping that someone will read this and know that he/she isn't alone.  I'm hoping that someone will read this and realize that even at rock bottom,  you can choose to only let the positive gain traction in your mind.

As for me,  I'm working hard.   I feel like I've lost a lot,  but I refuse to let it be for long.  I'm going back to dealing with the negative but emphasizing the positive changes and events.  One day at a time,  one workout at a time.  I will not dwell in despair,  but focus on each small accomplishment, one at a time,  until they pave the way to larger goals.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Dear Marvel,  DC,  and all the other comic book makers,

And mostly to all the movie producers -

Today I was blessed to be able to see Diana Nyad complete her what-will-become-legendary swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys.

As far as I know, one news channel carried the finish live.


Is it because female superheroes are supposed to be stacked?  Is it because a woman who is strong enough to complete something so rigorous should not be hailed?  Rather,  instead, we teach our sons and daughters to fear what isn't beautiful,  and ignore the truly amazing and inspiring people that should represent what Truly Is Possible?

Or is it because we've conditioned a society to pay money to see what 'perfect' and even 'ideal'  is?

I have an idea.

Let's base a new generation of superheroes on the men and women in America whose superpowers involve selfless acts of courage, feats off incredible emotional strength, and the rarely found magic of creativity.

It is an act worthy of superheroes when someone does something amazing for someone else, then stands on the sidelines.

There are no newspaper articles.  There is no news coverage or paparazzi. There is no makeup, CGI,  or plastic surgery.  Years down the road,  someone might ask "Hey didn't you..." 

The tragedy of all this is that there is no recognition, no accolades...

No honor conferred to a task worth remembering.

You (the movie producers and graphic novel writers) don't put these amazing men and women THAT ACTUALLY EXISTED in front of our sons and daughters to aspire to true greatness.

Instead,  the news focuses on the bombers and what latest Hollywood movie we can expect.

No truth in inspiring things.

So,  in closing,  Hollywood I challenge you. Bring me a heroine that I can point to a on the screen and tell my daughter "See her,  baby? She was a real superhero. Let me tell you about the amazing things she did. She.  Was.  Strong.  In every way a woman should be.  She was inspiration." 

Hollywood,  give me a superhero that I can show my son and tell him "See that?  Powerful does not mean rich or politically allied.  It means that you always treat others with respect, and live to lift others up when they fall. But that most of all,  you are a gentleman."

True power is not a magical gift.  It is victory over incredible odds,  then taking that victory and helping others in their own struggles to achieve their own victories. Without seeking accolades.

So,  in your anticipated silent response,  Hollywood,  I will continue to find the people who are everyday extraordinary and teach my children that's what it means to be a superhero. Not some pretty boy with a team of support that turns stories into reality,  or some stuffed shirt version of the perfect woman, who doesn't do anything without screaming or crying.

I will teach my children that the real superheroes are the ones who turn reality into a story to be told to our children and our children's children. The legends in my own time,  whose faces are rarely known.

Mommy (struggling superhero to two amazing children)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pre Race Thoughts

At the risk of my post coming out wrong...  Just some thought processes going into tomorrow.

I've been worried about tomorrow's race for some time.  It's the race that I usually qualify at.  Qualification really hasn't been a priority to me, until they announced Chicago for nationals 2014 and worlds 2015.  I really want to go to worlds and be part of Team USA.  It isn't likely that I'll be able to travel to China or wherever they do worlds after Chicago, so this is really my best chance.

The first year I did the race, I placed 1st in my age group, 4th female,  17th overall, and did a 1:32 time.  Last year I placed 1st in my age group, 2nd female, and 10th overall.

So I kind of feel like I have something to defend and something to prove, even if it's only to myself.

I've definitely learned that it's more who shows up to the race at this point.

I almost didn't sign up.  I'm still trying to recover from my bout with strep this week - I'm completely exhausted.

BUT - I'm going out tomorrow with one specific goal in mind - do better than last year - even if it's only by a few minutes. That would be a great race.  It's such a technical course (garmin reports 4000 feet of gain over 16 miles on the bike, and 400 over less than 4 miles on the run.

A perfect race would mean faster splits (all 5) and defending my podium without any technical issues.

Last year's race report is here.