You might be wondering what it takes to be a spectathlete. That is a good question. Having not completed a spectathlon before I am not sure what it takes. So I have been reading blogs of other spectathletes, spouses and poor souls sucked into standing on their feet for nearly 17 hours to see their loved one pass by at most – what – 3 times?
From this I have concluded that spectathloning requires:
Endurance – check.
A really loud voice – check.
Arsenal of witty, peppy things to shout at people – oh this is so checked.
Ability to lie through teeth in face of desperate athlete, ie.“it’s not that far”, “you’re almost there”, “you look great” – working on this.
By the way, did I tell all of you how great you look today?
Today marked my first serious day of training. I know earlier this week I said I was tapering for my spectatorship at Ironman Wisconsin but I’ve made a change to the training plan. I’m training through it. I’m going to use Sunday as a long training day that will build huge fitness.
As long as I don’t leave zone 3.
This afternoon I went into the hurt shop to do my first mega spectathlon brick. Here is a picture of my hurt shop. You will notice my heart rate strap hanging from my bike. Very important in spectathlete training for you must be sure you do not get too excited. You will also nearly be blinded by the reflector tape my husband secretly installed on my rear cage. Are you kidding me? I guess one goes from professional athlete to riding a bike with reflector tape quickly around here. Atop my saddle you will see a cowbell. Very important equipment for spectathloning.
My mega brick started on my bike. Warm up 30 minutes of easy spinning @ 100 rpms. So far sounds easy, eh? Let me introduce what you do at 15 minutes into the ride. Start singing Suddenly I See at the top of your lungs to develop ability to cheer while jumping up and down. In theory this sounds easy. In fact I got the idea after watching a show on MTV about finding the next Elle Woods to start in the Broadway version of Legally Blonde. The try-outs were sitting atop spin bikes belting out lyrics to a song. If they can do it, I professional athlete super fit, can do it too. In fact, I am so super fit I will do all of this while remaining in zone 1.
Suddenly I see ... gasp gasp
This is what I want to be ... big noisy inhale
Suddenly I see ... hypoxic set here, burn setting in so bad...until.....
Why the hell I’d rather just compete ... and then I nearly pass out from lack of oxygen
Dammit! (once I catch my breath again)
I check my HRM: I was way into zone 3.
Being dedicated to my goals, I reboarded my bike to repeat for remainder of song. Like anything in sport, the more I stuck with it, the easier it became. So easy I decided next time I could take it up a notch - complete exercise in zone 2, zone 3, zone 4 and only under medical supervision – zone 5a. I'm gonna need a doctor around here. Anyone have The Bachelor's number? He's a doctor, right? I know, forget it. Put a doctor's hat on Boss (got a paper plate?) and call him Dr. Nibs.
Ordinary spectathletes can handle the challenge above. However, if you are aspiring towards the gold medal in spectathlon you embrace this challenge: put IPod on shuffle and sing whichever song comes up next. Depending on your playlist that could go a few ways. I mean, if the lyrics start with...
That’s great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes an aeroplane, Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
You better take a deep breath.
Next mainset, hop on rollers. Hold CP.2 for 3 x (5 x 15 - 30 seconds max effort anaerobic capacity threshold attacks). This type of workout is what separates “I will watch the race” from “I will be the world’s best spectathlete”. The purpose is to simulate zipping around the course to see your athlete on race day. In other words, you know they are approaching mile 22 so you have 15 - 30 seconds (depends on how fast they are) to zip over to that spot to cheer for them. Sounds easy but again - not. You will have to zip while avoiding other spectators, staying off the course and weaving around traffic cones. The third set is performed while talking loudly into your cellphone to simulate how you will provide updates to your family about where your athlete is at.
There is a strong risk of crashing during that set so it is best to put your helmet on. Even indoors. I am still convinced you can launch yourself from rollers and ride right through the basement wall. If you are concerned about flying through the wall as quickly as possible - put on your aero helmet. Besides, when you are training to be the best, every second counts - even in spectathlon.
After that, back on the trainer hold functional threshold for 120 minutes. What is functional threshold? It is the threshold at which you can no longer function. How do you know when this happens as a spectathlete? When you lose your voice.
Or hit a traffic cone.
No mega brick is complete without a transition run. Hop on the treadmill. Run at 10 mph while wearing backpack, ringing cowbell and holding cell phone. Every 5 minutes insert 10 positive statements for competitors alternating with talking on cell phone. At 20 minutes into run begin a series of 5 x 1 minute hill repeats at a 16 percent grade. Why? Because you realized you left your camera in the car and it’s parked a top that hill. I’m not kidding. There is this one parking lot in Kona that literally has a 16 percent grade hill. Back me up, Wee.
But wait - there's more. You might think the run is the last event. Not in spectathloning. The last event is actually the ringing of the cowbell. Pick up the bell and ring it steady for 8 x 30 second repeats. Repeat this entire set 3x. There's a good chance that after this training day after I might have carpal tunnel and tinnutis in my ears.
But it's all worth it in the name of spectathloning.
Now, since I’m training to be the best and plan to unveil my spectathlon skills in Kona – I did all of this training today in my basement while wearing my wetsuit.
All joking aside, I will be at Ironman Wisconsin this weekend. If you are competing, please let me know your number and I will cheer for you. If you are spectating, I challenge you to a cheer off by the run course.
Bring your pom-pons bitch. I’ve been training. Have you?
P.S. - the word "spectathlete" was coined by the spouse of one of my readers. THANKS for sharing!