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

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