Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - FINAL Stage 9


Stage 9: Violator

Webb: What better way is there to end a Tour than with a mad dash to the finish line? Or how about 64 mad dashes? 64! I could tell you how they are broken down. Do you really want to know before hand? You don't. Best not to ask. It is best just to do them.

Elle: Day 9. The last day of the tour. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be honest, I was glad as hell that it was all about to be over. But oddly, I was a little sad too. There was an odd magic in knowing that people all around the world were suffering just like I was. There was a sense of camaraderie, even though none of us have ever met.
Webb, representing.

Webb: I had never completed this workout before. We bought when it first came out, which was pretty close to my Knighthood attempt. It was also during a time that my back and hip were temperamental. We picked a day for me to test it out to see if it would end up on the Knighthood schedule. I lasted 30 minutes. The big power jumps and high cadence was too much for my hip. I abandoned that day with two thoughts in mind: 1) No way in HELL was that going on the schedule, and 2) I would be back for it some day. Thanks to GvA that would be Stage 9 of the Tour.

Elle: This video definitely has the best visual, on screen cues. And with a workout like this, that really helps. Another thing I like about this one - Cavendish being interviewed... "stupid fast hamster!".

Webb: I started the Tour with three new personal bests: new FTP (20:00 power), 15:00 and 10:00. Stages 2-8 saw no more personal bests as I was basically cooked. On the final day I saw the sprints as multiple opportunities to grab some short-interval personal bests. Before the workout I wrote by best watts for :05, :10, :20 and :30 bouts and posted them next to the computer. At the end of Violator, I had improved my :05 personal best by more than 120 watts and bumped up the :10 personal best too.

Elle: Wel done, Mr. Over-Achiever. Meanwhile, it was finally time to shower up and enjoy a celebratory brunch at Five Horses with fellow cyclist Natasja. We ate and drank and talked cycling. Both glad as hell but also sad to arrive at the end of the 2014 Tour of Sufferlandria. Long live Sufferlandria!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - Stage 8

Here were are: The penultimate Stage 8 - Blender

Webb: How does one describe Blender? Let's see, you start with one bag of intervals and then you add another bag of different types of intervals then you complete it with a third bag of a different type of intervals. Yay! Intervals! Damn you Neal Henderson!

Elle: I normally enjoy suffering through this workout. I like intervals. But not today. There was just so much soreness in so many places.

Webb: I know the Sufferlandrians were all freaked out about Stage 7. I get that. I was too. Stage 8 worried me more because Blender is damn hard and I could not imagine doing it the day after a double-session of Angels and The Hunted. Just to make it more difficult, we had to be on the bikes about 30 minutes after waking up. Such is the life of a Sufferlandrian.

Elle: Here we are, in the final days of the tour. Everyone is hurting. Everyone is tired. We may be starting to go a little crazy. My pre-workout nutrition was 3 full on spoonfuls of Nutella. Meanwhile, Webb had left-over fries from last night. Yeah, we're cool like that.

Webb: I dialed this one back to 70%. I was too tired from the previous seven days, finishing the double-session about 12 hours earlier and just waking up. Even at a recovery effort the legs were not moving the first 15-20 minutes. Like a sprinter in the mountains, I just kept the pedals moving and willing myself to the finish line.

Elle: I had done Rubber Glove at 100% and then all of the following videos at 80%. That made each workout challenging, but allowed me (I think) to go strong for the whole Tour.

Webb: That was a good way to handle the Tour. I, on the other hand, opted to do Rubber Glove and The Wretched at 100% and then pick and choose which videos I would scale back and by how much depending on how I felt at the time. Of course that also means I could exceed my targets on a given day if I ended up feeling better as the workout proceeded. That happened on Stage 8.

During the dreaded pain shakes - thanks again Coach Neal - something happened. The legs began to stir. By the time we arrived at the third set of shakes, I decided to climb the ladder. With each of the six :20 intervals I increased my watts. I didn't break any records, but I did break up some junk in my legs. I followed the same model for the final TT intervals. No records were harmed in this set either. Instead, my reward was sitting on my bike after the workout ended wondering how I was going to dismount.

Elle: This stage hurt (obviously), but it's always fun to see Cavendish almost get clocked in the head. And then the blender shows up on the screen, and I start craving smoothies like you don't even know. Luckily Webb just bought me a Magic Bullet blender, so I made my own 'pain' shakes. Mine were way more enjoyable...

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria - Stage 7

Stage 7a: Angels

Webb: I think this was the second, maybe third, video we purchased. (Downward Spiral was the first. That was like a punch in the teeth - until we bought Revolver.) Back before we bought every video as soon as each became available, we bought this one to improve our climbing. Angels features three 8-minute climbs at LBL, Paris-Nice and the Dauphine-Libere

Elle: Everyone has their favorite. And this one is mine. I love every song, and sing them out loud (how lucky for Webb). If I could buy a CD (yeah, I'm old school) of the entire playlist, I would. And I just really like this workout. I love riding with Contador and the Schlecks (and I'm a sucker for Frank's thumbs up). And there's the lady on the side of the road in the full on, florescent pink jumpsuit. 

Webb: Hey kiddo, you can build a playlist from the soundtrack listing or just check out the Spotify link, both can be found here (just scroll down a bit).

In other news, I knew I did not have another 100% effort in me. Sure it had been 48 hours since The Wretched and about 36 hours since AVDP, still, the legs weren't there. Plus, everyone has had this day circled on the stage calendar. Angels AND The Hunted? This was going to be a tall order. I decided to try 80% and see what happened. Pain happened. The entire time I felt like my RPM and power windows were very small. If I found a rhythm at 82 RPM, 80 or 84 might be too little or too much. The same was true for power. My cadence and gears danced with each less gracefully than Contador on his pedals while I tried to find the right combination.

Elle: During the 'warm down', Webb and I had made the decision to order dinner to be delivered after we finished the next video. So while he was setting up The Hunted, I grabbed the iPad so we could easily order online and picked out a Mexican restaurant we've never ordered from before. We quickly chose a bunch of things off the menu, but they didn't have descriptions, so we didn't know exactly what we'd be getting. Nevermind that now, back on the bikes...
For your viewing pleasure:
Click here to view
How to be a road biker

Stage 7b: The Hunted

Webb: Whew! Thank you GvA! Those three climbs in Angels just didn't hit the spot. It is a good thing The Hunted has a 20-minute climb followed by a fast finish. When I say my heart goes out to you, I mean, I thought it was actually leave my body.

Elle: Aaaaaaand the party is over. Spread some jam on me, because I'm TOAST. As we suffered through The Hunted, I noticed that the room had gotten quiet. Everything hurt. No energy for speaking. So much pain. I seriously didn't know if I was going to make it. And when it was all over and I finally got off the bike, I almost started crying. Not even the 'Happy Birthday' song, which usually puts me in good spirits could save me. I was D-O-N-E, DONE.

Webb: During the prelude to the climb, I was counting myself stupid for thinking I could handle this one at 80%. Did I not just struggle through the first hour-plus? Why on Earth would I think I could do it again? Unfortunately, we were already in it and there was no way I was getting back on the bike once I unsaddled myself. I don't remember when it happened on the clock, but I remember shouting "Whoa!" when Robert "I'll throw everything at you including the kitchen" Gesink escaped from our hard tempo with Andy Schleck. Feeling GvA peering at me across the tarmac from the team car, I met Gesink's acceleration and stayed with him to the summit. And then thought every muscle fiber in my quads was going to cramp. 

After the fast downhill and recovery, I sorted myself with some pack riding. Looking at the TrainerRoad graph, I finally remembered the final five minutes that everyone has lamenting: Inverse intervals. Ugh. Best thing to do is close your eyes, go to the drops and listen to the sound cues. Don't even bother looking up.
Fish w/ red peppers

Elle: Moments after we finished the second video, there was a knock at the door. Lo and behold, the delivery guy had arrived just in time. Webb grabbed a Heddy Topper beer out of the fridge, and we went to town on our Mexican fiesta of a meal. I had order something called 'fried fish', which I thought would be like fish and chips. NOPE. It was literally a full on fish that was fried whole. That was interesting. Luckily the rest of the dishes were delicious. And we had survived what some would say is the hardest day of the Tour. Huzzah!

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 ...