Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - Stages 5 and 6

Double-post!  With about 10 hours separating the end of Stage 5 and the beginning of Stage 6, we had to consolidate. Enjoy!

Stage 5a: Extra Shot 

Webb: Normally, Extra Shot is meant to be additional suffering. Oh, HHNF was only kinda hard for me and my super fitness, I need moooore. I'm not one of those guys. GVA decided in this year's Tour that it would be prelude to the filthy The Wretched. So before we got into that bit of grueling business we had to make our way through 20 minutes of roaring women in Flanders and the World Champs in Copenhagen.

Elle: There was some confusion on the interwebs about this stage. Can you do the videos in the opposite order? Can you split them up, one in the morning, one at night? NO! The Tour Director has laid out the stage, it must be ridden as prescribed!

Webb: After Stage 4 I was feeling more energized than fatigued (like, 55% to 45%). I could feel the snap coming back into my legs. With ebullient confidence, I decided I would hit The Wretched hard - not Extra Shot and The Wretched, just The Wretched. Instead, Extra Shot would be an extended warm-up. I tucked myself into the pace lines and pelotons and cruised along awaiting my impending misery.

Webb is truly Wretched.

Stage 5b: The Wretched

Webb: No intervals. One hard 35:00 segment with three KOM sprints and a final race to the finish line. 

Elle: Pain. Suffering. That is all.

Webb: It was time: 100%. Rubber Glove smashed me to bits and I needed the last several days to recover.  After the Box Hill warm-up, I was geared up and ready to go. About 3 and half minutes later I was already beginning to calculate how much time we had left. Not a good sign. I cracked on the first KOM sprint. My legs were definitely not as ready as I thought. I tried to recover and did an acceptable job hanging in for the second KOM. Going into the third climb I knew I was in trouble. Going for KOM #3 I cracked again. Damn. Unrelenting, I told myself I could pull it together for the final run-in. Wrong. I popped almost immediately. Although I came in fast, there was no sprinting. 

Looking at the data, there was clear discrepancy between my power and heart rate zones. They need to be going in opposite directions! That is why we are here. Put the work in today for honor, glory and victory tomorrow. IWBMATTKYT.

Elle: So Webb, not feeling so fresh anymore, huh?! I won't even attempt to describe to you the sounds he was making at the end of this 2-video 'fest. And now we had only a limited, precious number of hours to eat, sleep, and get back on the trainer for, gasp, AVDP in the morning. Where's that ibuprofen...

Stage 6: A Very Dark Place

Webb: My favorite. A common occurrence among Sufferlandrians is that their favorite workout is the one they just did. I have certainly fallen into this trap many, many times. That said, this is my favorite. I like power intervals. The footage motivates me more than the others and the final song is hands-down the best.

Elle: This is one of the best Sufferfests, true. But every time I do it, I desperately want to pull over during the second recovery interval and chill out at that cafĂ© on the left side of the road. Especially considering what's about to happen for the third working set. Every time the screen says Stand!, I want to yell, F-you!  (But always in a loving way, of course). And then there's the two best placed songs in all of Sufferfest: 'When the Hammer Comes Down' and  'Romina Arena - Ricordi' at the end. Brilliant.

Webb: I think the hammer came down on me last night. From the countdown my legs were worthless. Even at a comical 70%, it took a lot to find a rhythm and keep them moving. By the time the third interval came up I was feeling better. Better as in, I could continue at that effort and not a watt more. Then came the fourth. My favorite segment of my favorite workout. Spartacus. The God of Thunder. L'Enfer du Nord. I always find I can dig a little deeper on the cobbles. This time was no different. To be sure, my wants were still very low, but they were higher than in 1-3 or 5. That is just how it goes.
Webb doing his best Horgan

Elle: After we finished stage 5 we took a well deserved trip over to Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe so Webb could order a breakfast of champions and view the Red Sox 2013 World Series trophy.... Go Sox!

Webb: mmmm blueberry french toast.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - Stage 4


Stage 4: HHNF

Hell hath no fury like Elle scorned.
Ffiona is also slightly furious.
Webb: Stage 4 brought us a four stage road race: Hell Hath No Fury. The first stage lulls you in with easy pack-riding. The next two stages batter you with breakaways, chase groups and climbs all in an effort to take the leaders jersey. And when you are sapped of everything, the final stage puts you and your teammates in a team time trial to secure the top podium spot. Good luck.

Elle: I was really just trying to keep up with the ladies on this one. And don't let the cute, blond hair fool you, they're fast.
Oh god, my legs hurt!
My extreme body soreness from the Bootcamp class I did last night really enhanced the suffering for this stage. Then I have Webb giving me time-stamp updates letting me know how many minutes of suffering were left.
This info was not appreciated.
But some good news: I finally got my heart rate belt working (aka got a new battery). So there's that. And feline Ffiona showed her solidarity to the female cause by staying next to me (in the laundry basket) for the whole workout. Strength in numbers!

Webb:  Yeah, I'm pretty tired. That whole not working out thing from November through December dug me a nice little hole. A hole filled with all kinds of treats like cake and Klondike bars.

I love HHNF. I'm partial to longer efforts. In fact, I think HHNF is my favorite, that is until I do AVDP. I took this workout at 75% as I continue to use THE Tour as a training camp to find my legs again. Afterward, I was definitely tired, but not smashed. You know what that means? Time to wring it out with Extra Shot + The Wretched!

Elle: However, I'm starting to get a slightly crushed by this Tour. But we will prevail! We will represent Sufferlandria with Honor! And Glory! But right now I think I'm going to go find some ibuprofen...

Up Next: Stage 5: Extra Shot followed by The Wretched. Take that Couchlandrians!

Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - Stage 3


Stage 3: Revolver

Webb: Revolver, the clinched-teeth gut-check of the library. Fifteen massive 1-minute efforts followed by paltry, inadequate 1-minute so-called recoveries.

Elle: You'd think after having done this video for a couple of years now that I would have remembered how it just full on guts you. And it all came back so horribly quickly. Stand and Deliver? More like cower and vomit. In fact, I think most of Sufferlandria would agree with me when I say this is probably the most vomit-inducing workout of them all. The Vomit Fairy was circling me early on this morning.
This is all the excitement I could
muster at 6:15am this morning.

Webb: Rubber Glove for Stage 1 necessitated a Stage 2 recovery effort for ISLAGIATT. Would I be ready for a 100% effort this morning on only 10 hours rest? I thought I might. When I awoke in the pre-dawn darkness I decided that was crazy; I would take on Revolver at 75%. Totally do-able, right? Holy yak $h!t I struggled. I had to will my legs through each effort. 

Elle: One of the beauties of this workout is that it just gets harder and harder. And harder. And then you puke. Just kidding (or am I?)  My brain goes pretty much numb, all I can think during the working intervals is, "GO! GO! GO! EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT! EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT!"
Then during the rest (which I look forward to like a little kid looks forward to Christmas morning), my brain is too tired to think, until there are 8 seconds left, then its: "Hands back on handlebars", and at 5 seconds left: "Gear up".  Then it's back to: GO! GO! GO! SUFFER! VOMIT!

Webb: I noticed something pretty cool this morning amid the suffering. Even though my efforts were at 75% (or a little more at times) of FTP - and definitely never at the prescribed ALL OUT effort - my speed was right around my all out efforts three years ago when we first did Revolver. I was hurting this morning due to fatigued legs and yet I still hit my old numbers while keeping my heart rate below threshold. Plain and simple, these workouts produce results.

Elle: We are definitely in it now. The Tour is on! And those precious body parts (you know the ones I'm taking about) are starting to feel sore. Is there enough Chamois Butt'r in the world to save a cyclist who attempts the greatest, most difficult, most prestigious Grand Tour of a mythical country in the whole wide world? I guess we'll find out. The hard way.
"Pobrecito, pobrecito...."

Next up:  Stage 4: Hell Hath No Fury, so glad we'll have about 36 hours to recover ...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - Stage 2


Webb: Sundays are for long rides, or so was GVA's thinking with Stage 2. Coming in at just under two hours, ISLAGIATT is the longest workout. It is your responsibility to bring HONOR, GLORY and VICTORY to Sufferlandria in the Giro d'Italia. GVA has determined that in this particular stage you must win Most Aggressive Rider. Not an easy task when you have four climbs to summit, including an erupting Mt Sufferlandria. 

Elle: We had just done this workout a couple of weeks ago, so it was fresh in my mind. I like doing this video (especially in the winter months) because you can get in a couple of hours on the trainer and it goes by A LOT faster than if you weren't racing against Bluebell, Big M, Gloworm, the Columbian and Billboard. OH Billboard! So many logos! So many, many logos.

Hey Elle, I have an idea!
Webb: Rubber Glove nearly ruined me. As it should. I took a conservative approach to ISLAGIATT with the goal of turning it into a active recovery session. Well, it seemed like a good idea. Looking at my power numbers on afterwards, I spent only 20% of the time in active recovery and 65% in the endurance zone. 

Elle: This is a challenging workout, but with everything going on, it keeps your mind off how long you're suffering on the trainer. And I made the decision, considering the back-to-back days ahead, to do this one at 75%. There's still a lot of Tour left, and I don't want to crack early on and not be able to finish strong.

Webb: Notwithstanding my inability to control myself and stay in my active recovery zones, does an excellent job interfacing with videos. My favorite part was hearing my phone alert me that I received an email as I was unclipping my shoes. I hobbled over to my phone to see that TrainerRoad had congratulated me on finishing Stage 2. I wasn't even off my bike yet and they were already patting me on the back. Thanks guys!

Next up: Stage 3 - Revolver, with just 10 hours to recover ...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - Stage 1

The 2014 Tour of Sufferlandria

Webb: THE Tour is upon us again. "The Tour Down Under," you ask? No and not the Tour de San Luis either. I'm sure both have their moments and may see some aggression here or there. I'm talking about the The Tour of Sufferlandria. Nine days of heart-pounding, sweat wringing, chamois-shredding suffering. Over 2,300 riders have signed-in on to test themselves.

Speaking of tests, Stage 1 of the Tour is a power test, aptly named "Rubber Glove." The purpose is to determine your FTP (functional threshold power) or heart rate zones, if that's your thing. Neither of us have taken the plunge to buy a power meter so we use and their virtual power. Basically, we love it. It takes your Sufferfest suffering to a whole new level.

Elle: This is supposed to be a pretty tough workout, so I was a little nervous going into it. But Webb read to me a good article (by Joe Friel) about how to attack this thing. Easy warm-up, the first 5 minutes go at your estimated target, and then increase or decrease effort from there. I followed those instructions and ended up with a pretty good test.

Webb: I bet Grunter von Agony and his collaborators at Digg Deep Coaching are pretty proud of themselves. And they should be. "Rubber Glove," has a great footage (Belgian Spring Classics - a subtle reminder this test will require you to HTFU) and great music. Even though I read the Friel piece to Elle prior to the workout, GVA provides plenty of on-screen instruction, tips and <ahem> encouragement. All that you have come to love in a workout.

With many tests there is a pass/fail element. You can really only fail this test if you a) crack because you went out too hard, b) left too much in the reserves leaving you thinking, meh, I could've gone harder or c) didn't go into it well-rested. Failure simply means you did not get an accurate measurement within a reasonable margin. (Uh, yeah, I don't know what a reasonable margin is.) Follow GVA's instructions as best you can. More importantly, do it often (every 4-8 weeks) and you'll get better at pacing yourself.

Passing this test also means you feel like rubbish at the end, regardless of your FTP score. If you are like me, then you have about 15 seconds after you acknowledge Yay! I raised my FTP before the rooms spins and you think you are going to pass out. Nothing beats the feeling of a job well done, right? (vomits).

Elle: Not much else to say about stage 1, except that I felt oddly spent for the rest of the day. So much more suffering and agony to come...stay tuned. (fyi: I'm Al)