Well, I am still alive and able to sit awkwardly to type my thoughts and feelings about yesterday’s attempt at Knighthood. So while it’s fresh on my mind (and in my muscles), I’ll share. First, if you have never heard of The Sufferfest, check them out here. Also, even though I was with two other people suffering along with me throughout the day, I will not assume or mention their thoughts or feelings, as I’m sure we have different opinions and experiences.
The requirements of Knighthood are as follows (summarized from their website): You must complete 10 Sufferfest videos (which you must own) back-to-back with no more than 10 minutes off between each one and provide proof/documentation. You should raise money for a good cause (we chose the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease as our charity). You must *Suffer.
Going into The Attempt, I was skeptical of myself. I hadn’t had time to adequately train for what I knew was going to be a grueling, arduous, and taxing day, both physically and mentally. The hardest part (or so I thought) was going to be sitting on the saddle for 10 hours. I was not going to put myself through the pain if I couldn’t handle it, so I told myself that it was alright to quit at any point of The Attempt. At least we were raising money for charity, and I could say I tried. But that is not the mentality of true *Sufferlandrians and that was not the purpose of this experience.
After tanking up on calories and carbohydrates the day before (approximately 3,200 calories and 420g of carbs!!!), I felt as ready as I was ever going to be. Donnie and Kendall had everything set up and ready to go, so at exactly 8:00am, with our *Minions readied, we churned our first pedal stroke (of approximately 47,120 on the day!!!). I set my FTP at 75%, and completed the first three videos working at that level and feeling great.
And then, I hit the wall. Video 4 was the longest, and at an intensity at which I could not hold. I felt terrible. (See the difference in my expression in my collage photos later in this post.) I thought this would be a good place to quit…I could be support for the other two and not Suffer any longer. But, after 10 minutes, I got back in the saddle for video 5, and backed my FTP% down to an attainable level. Better.
The decision to stay on the bike came during video 6, after the following comment was made by a fellow *Sufferlandrian on our Facebook page: “Only two more and you’ve completed the magic number seven…Why is number seven important? Because you’ll never want to do seven again, but you’ll still want to do ten…and if you stop, you have to do seven again to get to ten! So, if you only do three more after you do number seven, you reach ten. AND you never have to do seven again! (It’ll all make sense AFTER number seven…trust me, I’m a Sufferlandrian).” And the comment from my mom was rolling around in my head: “Keep going, my dear! You can do this. It’s only temporary pain, you will heal, but those with Parkinson’s suffer every day.” So on I rode…seven…eight…nine…ten. During the last three videos, I had to put myself in that mental state of focus where I block everything out and focus on moving my legs. Nothing like the first three videos! I tried not to think about how badly my saddle spot was. I tried not to think about how sore my legs were. I tried not to think about the pain in my left foot (although this is the pain that had me in tears more than once during The Attempt). I tried not to think about what time it was. I focused on each interval and rest…stand, sit, faster, slower, gear up, gear down. I focused on the face of my father-in-law who is coping with Parkinson’s. I focused on the encouraging comments, photos, messages and posts of our social media supporters. I focused on the names of everyone who had donated money to our cause. I prayed. I spun. And I finished.
I think this is the second-worst my body has ever hurt (next to child birth). You wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been through a similar experience. When we got off the bike for the last time, I sat in a camping chair covered in blankets while I enjoyed some hot, freshly baked chocolate-on-chocolate cookies and a cold beverage. I couldn’t move (except hand-to-mouth, haha!). I was parched and my lips were cracked. I cried. I got so cold my whole body shook until I got warm in the car after we loaded up our stuff. When we went to pick up Brennan, I didn’t think I could make it in the house because the cold convulsions were so intense. After a hot shower, I got in the bed and tried not to move. When I woke up, it took me a minute, but I was able to get out of bed and function. I think it will take a few days of rehydrating, rest and recovery before I say I’d do it again! (No. Never. Again.)
All-in-all, the time passed quickly. We had visitors from time to time, and Kendall’s wife and daughter were huge supporters and helpers throughout the day. We had tons of food, and went through nearly an entire water cooler of water. I had one large bottle of water each video, and alternated plain water with a GU Brew water. I ate something during each 10 minute break. I did a complete clothing change three times. Here are some things I learned: I learned that people can drive me more than I can drive me. I learned to appreciate The Sufferfest even more than I already had. I learned that 10 minutes is like the blink of an eye. I learned that two chamois are better than one. I learned that nutrition is just as important as training. I learned that eating and drinking for an event like this is actually hard work. I learned that mind can conquer body. I learned that I need to figure out what’s up with my foot. Most importantly, though, I learned not to doubt myself…that I really CAN do things I think I cannot do…to never give up, even when the negative starts to overshadow the positive…to be proud of my accomplishments and not compare them to anyone else’s, because they’re MINE…and to give myself credit when credit is due.
Just keep spinning, just keep spinning…
*PLEASE, if you have not yet gone to The Sufferfest GO NOW! Or else you will be so confused about these terms.