Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sufferfestukah 2014 - Day 6 (the final day!)

DAY 6: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Webb: Day 6 of Sufferfestukah was so tough, it's taken us a few days to post this blog entry. The first five days were fun in that accumulating fatigue sort of way. Angels, The Wretched, Half is Easy, The Rookie and Nine Hammers all led to ISLAGIATT. Four climbs of 15:00, 20:00, 20:00 and 8:00. Each is different and none are real grinders. They are like real climbs with pace changes, stem-chewing tempo and, of course, some big gear work.

This workout began with some difficulty. I opened TrainerRoad and saw that it still could not find Elle's ANT+ USB stick. We had this problem on Day 5. She rode Nine Hammers blind to power, relying only on her speed and cadence on her Garmin, you know not old school, older school. Meanwhile, TrainerRoad Companion worked fine for me. Except on this final day when TrainerRoad Companion could not find my ANT+ USB stick either.

It turns out that Elle had installed the new Garmin Express which causes problems with the ANT+ USB communication. The real issue is that it runs in the background all the time. It is an easy fix to shut off that feature in your system settings. Garmin Express now no longer lurks in the background so TrainerRoad works fine. I figured this out after ISLAGIATT which might have been a good thing.

For the first five days I set TrainerRoad to 80% and came out of each workout increasingly more tired but never crushed. It felt great. I decided to ride ISLAGIATT hard, maybe not 100% hard, but testing myself nonetheless. The plan was to ride at my honest RPE and if I faltered, to continue riding at my RPE, even if that meant my watt output decreased as the workout progressed. That definitely happened. Afterwards, I compared my distance to the last time I did ISLAGIATT in June (when I was in shape). That time I had ridden at 90% and only went about 1/3 of mile farther. That feels pretty good.

Elle: Holy lava snow, Batman! Ok, so this day was hard. Real hard. Super hard. Didn't know if I was going to make it. Really. But I turned my brain off, closed my eyes, and accepted the 2-hour cloak of misery that was about to consume my life. But instead of focusing on all the ways this workout is awful and painful, I'm going to list my 5 favorite things about ISLAGIATT:

Elle's Top 5 Favs for ISLAGIATT
1. Synchronized nose swipe!
2. The minions can't stand Gloworm. No one can.
3. Trying to count all the logos on Billboard. You can't! There are just. too. many.
4. At 55:15 minutes in, a spectator off to the right takes a big fall down a hill. Ha! Probably a Couchlandrian...
5. Hurtado-ing. Lots and lots of hurtadoing.

Webb: I will add to the list the moment where the music, video and workout come together perfectly. It is not only my favorite singular moment of ISLAGIATT but of all Sufferfest workouts. There is something about the tempo riding up the mountain with an increasingly anxious techno-chamber music, the drop below tempo as the music also settles down, then back into the climbing and again a short respite. The music begins to subtly build once again as you climb at RPE 6.5 then just as the electro-bass drops Team Sky comes around a turn in a pace line. It is impossible not to drive the pace yourself.

Elle: Hope all had a happy and healthy Sufferfestukah, see you all at the end of January for the Tour of Sufferlandria!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Suferfestukah 2014 - Days 4 and 5

Day 4: The Rookie

Webb: This is new one. The plot: After winning the Tour of Sufferlandria you garner the attention of Team Giant-Shimano who gives you the opportunity to make the team. The workout: Three "races" where you need to show you belong. Good luck.

Elle: I've made a huge mistake. Even though I tried not to be cocky and to start out the holiday conservatively, I clearly did not do that. Well, this morning my quads had a message for me:
"Too much! Too fast! And now you will pay!"
Oh the pain. But it was day 4, and the suffering must go on. So 'The Rookie' beat the hell out of me today. And at 80%, no less! I can't wait until I'm fresh to do this workout properly.

Webb: Meanwhile, I'm feeling tired and confident. This was my first full experience with The Rookie. I attempted it shortly after it was released when I was definitely out of shape and stupidly trying to hit my inflated FTP targets. I bailed after the first race. This time I once again set the effort at 80% and plodded along. The difference is that I made it to the end and hit all the targets. Confidence swells once again.

The Rookie literally cracked
my dork disc!
Elle: This video has everything: an exquisite display of cyclists acting, Kittel's flawlessly gelled coiffure, super pumpin' music, and possibly the best interval of any Sufferfest video EVER: dropping Jens freaking Voigt!!! Is that a polka I hear?
It's hard not to get caught up in the action during this workout, right in the middle of the peleton, all the action, all the yelling. So much excitement! So much suffering! It was all too much for my 'dork' disc, which I found in pieces on the floor when I got off my bike.

Next up: Nine Hammers (shudder!)

Day 5: Nine Hammers

Webb: Another new workout! Nine Hammers released just a few days ago. The Knights and Dames have been hotly anticipating it. One of the perks of gaining Knighthood is being mocked early.

Elle: There's always an air of excitement and anticipation whenever a new Sufferfest is released. What will the music be like? How many intervals will there be? How much climbing? How much sprinting? Only one thing is certain. There will be suffering.

Webb: Will you be the hammer or the nail? This one hour workout features nine intervals structured as three sets of threshold, V02max and V02max with recoveries between each. I'm not gonna lie, I was intimidated and now that I'm done, I'm still intimidated. Once again I set TrainerRoad to 80% and took the workout one pedal stroke at a time. The time will come (next month) when I'll ride this correctly at 100%. It will hurt badly. I will feel like the nail. But I will succeed and in so doing feel kinda like the hammer too.

Elle: There's a nice sense of humor sprinkled into this workout amidst the suffering, which is nice. It's always fun to watch pro cyclists push each other around. What I really wanted to do was hand that BMC rider a drink - seriously, how long did that dude have his hand up?  I especially enjoyed all of the comments by the cyclists and motorists on the cols during the rest intervals (oh, that pesky hamster!).
Oh, and something that both Webb and I have been doing for pre-workout nutrition are these super tasty stropwafels from Rip van Wafels. I highly recommend getting your hands on some. In bulk. Seriously. Webb has a subscription with them.

Webb: Next week I am going to plan out the first three months of my training. Right now, I think I will put Angels, The Hunted, ISLAGIATT, Blender and Nine Hammers in the rotation. Hills and endurance with that nasty threshold and V02max workout.

Next up: ISLAGIATT (ugh.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sufferfestukah 2014 - Days 2 and 3

Day 2: The Wretched

Webb: Let's kick this post off with a quick plot summary of the The Wretched. It is sooooo appropriate given my current state of fitness. Here it is: You had a good season and got a little cocky. There were donuts. And laziness. You became wretched. Now you are in the Tour de France based on qualifying points earned when you were strong and fit. Not surprisingly you have not shown well, so on this final stage of Le Tour, your only attempt to bring honor and glory to Sufferlandria is to bring home the stage victory.

I can relate. My FTP in TrainerRoad is inflated. If I did Rubber Glove right now, I don't know if I could finish it. For this reason, my goal is to attempt to complete each of the workouts at 80% (based on my out-of-date FTP). This might be a bad plan. Angels went well on Day 1. I felt good (i.e., not totally wrecked). Tonight with about 15 minutes to go in the 35:00 set I began to waver mentally. Thankfully, I had the typically great visual and music to help me push through. Of course, it is also easier having my suffer-buddy spinning along next to me. Especially when she decided to up the ante right a game time.

Elle: I wanted to be smart, and so I planned to be conservative about this workout. But you know how it goes, you get all wrapped up in the excitement of suffering, and I basically rode this at 100%. Although I haven't been doing many Sufferfests in the past couple of months (known to triathletes as the 'Off Season'), I have been keeping up with my weekly BootCamp and Spin classes. So I'm not totally 'wretched' at this point...

Day 3: Half is Easy

Webb: Here we are the morning of Day 3, some nine hours after unsaddling ourselves from The Wretched. Oh boy. With the full authority of the Scheduler's Prerogative, I chose Half is Easy knowing Thursday morning was going to be tight on time. A 40-minute workout would be preferable for both of us if we intended on making our jobligations. I foolishly thought I might still be able to squeeze in Extra Shot. That did not happen.

I was under no illusion that it would be easy. Any Sufferlandrian knows "easy" is only used with sarcasm, as in ... The Other Half is Not. Forty sprints with forty paltry recoveries: HR up. HR kinda down. HR up more. HR down less. Even at 80% it took me the first five sprints to find my legs. I won't talk about the last five. Suffice to say that in the beginning and end I wasn't sure I would finish and yet I did.

Elle: Ahhh, the early morning Sufferfest. I was absolutely feeling last nights workout in my legs, which felt a little bit like lead. Although I started the video at 100%, that didn't last long. This is one heck of a heart rate spiker. I gave it everything I had, which declined throughout the workout, as I lost my will to live power. Thankfully, we have a full 24 before the next 'fest to rest up and prepare for more glorious suffering.

We are half-way done. Next up: The Rookie.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sufferfestukah 2014 - Day 1


Elle: As some may know, Angels is one of my most favorite ways to suffer. Everything about it is
Webb prepares to suffer, Angels style.
pretty fantastic. The music, the workout (what a killer!), Contador getting dropped, thumbs up from Mr. Frank Schleck, and, as always, climbing the Alp d'Huez (shudder!).

Webb: For the return of Sufferfestukah it only seemed proper to start with Elle's favorite workout. I dig it too. Plus this is the right time of the training year to do it. Climbing builds strength, specific strength that leads to improved endurance and speed.

Elle: I tried to keep myself in check today. With this being the first of 6 straight days of suffering, it's important not to get too cocky. There's a lot more suffering to come!

Here's where I'd like to give a shout-out to Chris W., a friend and new citizen of Sufferlandria, who has informed us that he will be joining in Sufferfestukah this year. Congrats Chris, enjoy the suffering ride!

Also, let it be known that it was Webb's idea to do Extra Shot before every workout for this Sufferfestuakah. I did not necessarily agree to this. So I didn't do it today. But I will give it a try tomorrow...

Webb: There is no doubt that my fitness (and FTP) are in a reduced state. Rather than subject myself to Rubber Glove to reset my FTP, I am reducing my effort on Trainer Road to kickstart my base training for January. Right now my goal is to develop consistent training habits to prep myself for the first eight months of 2015. If I try to crush a workout, especially based on an outdated FTP, then it will only produce a set-back which also means inconsistent and infrequent training. As of right now, I think I nailed it. I finished the workout feeling tired but not devastated. One of these workouts, perhaps The Rookie on Friday, I will test myself.

Next up....The Wretched

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Return of Sufferfestukah in 2014!

Webb:  Hello everyone! We are pleased to announce the return of Sufferfestukah for 2014. Before we announce the Schedule of Suffering and other pertinent news, we must apologize for doing a lousy job of maintaining the blog. Both of us have been very busy these last several months with new and changing things in our non-training lives.

Elle: Since our last race report on Challenge - St. Andrews half-iron distance race, we competed in three more races, the Massachusetts State Triathlon (Olympic-distance), the Appleman Tri (sprint) and the Boston Triathlon (sprint). In fact, we raced the Mass State tri the weekend after St Andrews and Appleman the week after that. We won't be doing that again.

Webb: The Mass State tri was the best triathlon ever. I didn't place particularly well since it was the regional qualifier for the Age Group National Championships. It was my best because it was the closest I have come to having everything click in every discipline. Other than my swim being a little off, I executed everything else nearly perfectly. I applied a steady level of effort through the bike and run and had my best splits for an olympic. The sense of accomplishment of putting everything together far outweighed how I placed.

Elle: The Appleman sprint triathlon was a new one for us this year. The swim is in a lake (not the chilly Atlantic Ocean!), the bike is hilly & challenging, and the run was tough, with an honest-to-goodness vertical trail run thrown in. This must be a good combo for us, because it was the first triathlon where we both ended up on the podium!

Next up, the Boston Triathlon. Even in August the Atlantic Ocean is cold. We did this race last year for the first time. One of the best parts is that it is less than 2 miles from our door, so we can roll out of bed and bike on over. It was a good day, I finished third in my AG. Webb was  outside of the podium in fourth, but not so close that he could have done anything differently. (Webb: There is some comfort in that.)

Webb: And now Sufferfestukah. We decided to reduce the number of days from the original eight in 2011 to six this year (and likely for years to follow). Back when we first started this tradition, there were only eight videos. The Sufferfest catalog has since grown to more than 20 (counting the new running videos). Our decision to reduce the number of days is based primarily on keeping things a little fresher for the Tour of Sufferlandria in late January. We are confident it will still provide a kickstart to winter training.

Tuesday 12/16:  Angels
Wednesday 12/17: The Wretched
Thursday 12/18: Half is Easy
Friday 12/19: The Rookie
Saturay 12/20: Nine Hammers (to be released on 12/18)
Sunday 12/21: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Our plan is to precede each of the above workouts with 'Extra Shot' as a warm-up. As always, this holiday is about what you want it to be. Crush it if you like. Add to it if you desire more suffering or only join us for part. It is up to you. We just hope you join us.