Friday, September 05, 2008

World’s Best Spectathlete

By now you’ve realized my annual training plan has significantly changed. After feeling jaded by training and racing I have decided that spectathlon is where it’s at. Yes, folks, I am training to be the world’s best spectathlete.

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.

It’s on.

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.

Full sleeves.

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!


BreeWee said...

IT IS ON! I have a lot of built up "vrooooom" in me since I am not in Kona... this competition has my name ALL over it...

Rachel will think it was cross wind that hit her, but it will be our SHOUTS! Train hard Liz... I am your biggest nightmare!

Karen said...

I've just scared my cat by laughing out loud!!

You are providing great diversion from my "day before the race" nerves. THANKS!

Kim said...

That's it...forget the race. This spectactlete (totally not spelling that right) thing sounds WAAAYYY more fun. I don't know if I still have time to get my training in though, there's only 5 weeks, with a week of taper of course. Seriously though, my husband hasn't been training, I'm worried about his stamina, do you think you could put him on a program? Oh, and if you do try to yell "you're almost there" to me at mile 15, you better practice some football moves, I might run off course and tackle you! Happy Training this weekend! Go get em in WI!!!

Dave said...

Glad you didn't neglect the cowbell training! Meredith and I are maintaining our base by storing our IMLou bells on our coffee table (classy!) and ringing them for the US Open, email arrival, when the pizzas are done in the oven...

Terri said...

My husband attempted to be a spectathlete at one sprint triathlon. He retired immediately and decided to pursue watching paint dry instead - you can stay in one place and watch for considerably longer.

Wish I was in one of the races where you will be at the top of your game - I'm sure it will be appreciated.

Have fun!


Anonymous said...

Hi Liz,

I'm bib #1338 and my wife is the one with the Pompons. Seriously! Hate to say it but I think she's been training for a sprint not an IM.

Looking forward to HEARING you out on the course!


Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth -
Me and a bunch of my teammates will be cheering at the top of Observatory Hill on the run course. Team Tri-Wisconsin. If you feel like doing hill repeats or just having a beer and doing some karaoke, come on up!! (we were a bit innappropriate last year but the culprits are in the race this year, so it shouldn't offend!) I hope you have a great spectathlon and maybe even set a good baseline going forward : )

Flatman said...

You forgot another event. Picking up your athlete and CARRYING him back to the hotel! ;D

Also, I think you should get a cute little basket and take Dr. Nibs along on your bike, just in case the med tents are full!

Andrea said...

I am envious of your finished, and clean, basement/training facility.

Please shout out for #2105 - Gretchen Duncan - who will be at IMoo this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Who is driving up on Sunday? Are you sleeping over on Saturday night? Did you bring ear plugs? Miss Daisy is ready to roll....4am, sista!
Jen H.

Jessi said...

Between you and Jen H., Tom is getting all kinds of internet props! :) He says thanks! Maybe you guys can start a spectathlete coaching business together?

Anonymous said...

The question is, do you offer coaching on Spectathalating?

E.L.F. said...

Absolutely, it's called 'SIT' or spectathlete in training. Sit on the sidelines, sit and wait for spouse to return home after 8 hour brick, sit on ass while they work hard, sit and watch the race go by. There is a huge market for this. I was also thinking of starting a weekly spectathlete support group. We meet at the bar.

ojs said...

While I'm impressed with your training, I think you may be a little premature in your proclamation as the top Spectathlete. I've got a great reference in Beth to say I should be considered for this award also. Check out my "resume" at the end of my blog entry today. :-)

KK said...

Ummm, love the idea of the weekly spectathlete support group meeting at the bar. Alcohol is my anti-drug. Funny post! Have fun this weekend; I have no doubt you'll win the contest.

Ange said...

Great post. What a riot. Sounds like you'll be super fit for your new challenge. I wish you were spectathleting at a race I was in!!! have fun!