John 8:32 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." NIV

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spectating... harder than racing?

I have a confession: I have never "just" spectated before. Seriously, every race I have attended, I have raced.

Yesterday, a LOT of DCTri MoCo club members were racing the Columbia Olympic Tri in Columbia, MD so I designated myself "official" photographer (I really need to email them the pics, huh?). There was some mid-week drama with Centennial Lake testing at high levels of "bacteria," a.k.a. e.coli. Several email threads went out, my favorite from a Tri club member was: "I'm a Tri not a Bi"! All of a sudden on Friday it was good (after only 1 test) and the Tri was suddenly a Tri (instead of a Du).

Also, more history: this course was notoriously hilly. Like, I am SO glad I did not sign up for it, hilly, especially the run!

I have to admit, that getting up at o'dark thirty to NOT race was cool. I wasn't nervous and being relaxed in a field of nervous athletes made me feel... superior, I am NOT going to lie! At first, there was A LOT of eye candy, and I am not just talking about the hot bikes. SERIOUSLY, single women (and men) STOP hanging out at bars. At Triathlons you get to see very attractive (and a few unattractive) athletes and their age is on their calf. You know right away how old they are. I mean I saw some spectacularly HOT guys and was uber surprised that their calf read: "66" or "57" Really? REALLY! Don't worry... there were equally hot ones that read "27" and "35".

Where was I... oh, yes, Spectating. I watch as TG get his transition stuff ready, look for other members and then all of a sudden, it was race time. There were quite a few Professional or Pros here (their calf is marked with a P, fyi). As I walked with TG, E, K, and Hooker to the start of the swim, I saw a guy in front that appeared to have his wetsuit on backwards... meaning the zipper was in the front. I asked club members if they thought the same thing, and young K suggested that I ask him. So... this is where my "Pixie Green" nickname really comes in handy. I hopped (literally) up next to him and said, "Hey, I was just wondering if your wetsuit zips in the front or back." He looked down and kind of uncomfortably or annoyed said, "Yeah!" And I said, "Okay, well, I am a little new to this whole Tri thing and I didn't want you to get to the start of the swim and realize it was on backwards!" He shortly said, "I think I would have noticed it!" I said, "Okay, sorry to bother you, have a great race!"

I returned to "my" group and relayed the conversation. We were just talking and not 20 minutes later, same dude appears with his wetsuit turned around! Seriously, I saved him... well, maybe he would have noticed before it was too late, but I had done my good deed! YAY! It would have been cooler for him to have acknowledged it with a thank you, but no worries!

As Hooker and TG were waiting for their wave to start, we saw Ex-DC Mayor Adrian Fenty. Yup, I was star struck! TG offered to get my picture taken with him, but then I got all shy. I admired him from afar... and snapped a few pics! The "boyz" started to get their wetsuits zipped up and swim caps on, Hooker said, "Is it too early to pee in my wetsuit!" SOOOOO funny! TG said something witty, but I cannot remember exactly now. Dave, again, the guy that gave me the nickname "Pinkie" appeared and all of the crew was there!

They hit the corral and I started to get nervous for them. Not just because the lake looked disgusting (note: don't tell the triathletes that the water looks disgusting if you aren't getting in too - totally bad form!). I snapped a few pics and all of a sudden, they were swimming. I saw a few swimmers start off with the breast stroke and just prayed that it was Hooker or TG... save the freakout for a little farther in!

As I was waiting with K and E (who I thought started at 7:25), we were just talking about having a good time. Again, so cool to NOT be racing. We talked about the people in the water and that was when I realized if I waited for K and E to start (which was actually 7:45), I would miss the boyz coming out of the water. I wished them luck and sprinted over to the swim exit. (another note: wearing flip-flops and a jean mini skirt are NOT ideal for running from place to place!).

I made it over to the swim exit before the Green caps were exiting. And let me just tell you how hard it is to spot "your" guy! Seriously all in wetsuits with same colored swim cap = EXTREMELY difficult. I was standing next to the TNT spectators and they did an AWESOME job remembering every one of their athletes names... and spotting them. My eyes were starting to hurt. TG and Dave appeared but I never got a glimpse of Hooker - in fact, I would not see Hooker again until after the race. TG looked strong and was out of transition in no time (the same amount of time it took me to run across the field in flip-flips and a jean mini skirt) and looked stronger. Dave did not even looked fazed by the swim and was out of transition quickly. I raced back over just in time for the pink caps to be exiting the swim. K emerged and looked strong, all smiles. And then I waited. I was afraid I had missed E, but nope... she came out running. YAY!

I raced back over the the bike course to see if I could catch TG, Dave, Hooker coming in. Another spectating tip: check your watch when they start the bike so you know when to expect them. All of the bikes started to look the same and before long I was afraid I missed them and then would not have run pics for them. UGH... what to do... what to do! I waited which was a good call. Got TG coming back and Dave (although pic did not turn out). I raced back over the field to get pics of the run start. TG looked focused, Dave was smiling, and K was smiling.

I forgot to mention as I was standing watching for the guys coming back from the bike, I got hot... like, removing my light coat hot and it dawned on me... it was getting really warm and this was not good for a long hilly run.

I walked to the finish line and waited. This is when I got nervous. I did remember to look at my watch when the run started so I knew about when they should be finishing. Finally, TG crossed, soon after Dave. Then K and E. Hooker did at some point, but I walked with TG up a hill (note to race officials, don't put the food and drinks up a hill after athletes finish a Tri) to get him some food.

It was a great day. As we found most of the group afterwards, I complained that my knees hurt from all the standing around... seriously, they did. After a few remarks about me complaining and I didn't race, I started to have a new appreciation of the spectators, especially if they are following an athlete. It is hard work... but just not as hard as actually racing!
How did your weekend race go?


teacherwoman said...

Spectating is definitely different. I got a taste of that myself this weekend with the Fargo Marathon Events!

momof3 said...

I TOTALLY agree - spectating WAY harder than you think it will be!

Good tips.

And yes, getting up to volunteer at the TRI last summer at 4am... SO SUPER FUN! way more fun than getting up to race that early!

coach dion said...

Love watching races and taking pictures, but most of the time I'm running them...