Don't get too excited. This post doesn't signify any return to blogging. At least I don't think so. Instead, I am using this format to create a few posts for the Where's Iron Waldo Facebook Page.
Hi Where's Iron Waldo spectators! A week back, I asked our Boulder Ironman athletes what they needed from their fans....and this is what they said:
"Your presence out there will make us smile. Much appreciated."
"Make me laugh. Cause just seeing y'all is going to make me cry."
"Just don't be eating a burger and having margaritas and laughing at us as we limp by! That would be too cruel."
"Creative signs that make you think, and forget about the pain for a while especially on the run." i.e. Math problem on the course. Sign #1: What is 56 + 35 - 11 = ? (athletes spend some time figuring this out....and are confident answer is 80). Sign #2 = 79 (athletes spend some time double checking their math, insisting they are correct, wondering why the spectators can do math). Sign #3 Just kidding...it's 80. Other sign suggestions included: "Worst Parade, Ever." "Because 140.7 would be just stupid." "Never trust a fart in an Ironman."
"Smiles, laughter...lie to me...tell me I'm looking good and strong."
"Goofy outfits" i.e. guy who progressed from a suit to speedos with the sign "run fast or I will strip."
"Cheer for People - whether you know them or not."
The following are a few more suggestions from some experienced spectators.....
Support your athlete. The week before the Ironman can be a hard time for your athlete. Respect their need to freak out, withdraw, be hyper, etc. Extra kindness, patience and understanding goes a long way to support your athlete, even if they are getting a little more nuttier than usual. Provide positive energy, pep talks and healthy food & snacks.
Be self-sufficient. Your athlete won't be able to take care of you on race day, so be sure to have maps, a parking plan, a meet-up plan with your group, cell phone numbers of the folks you are spectating with, ideas about where you will refuel, hydrate (just don't let the athletes see you drinking that margarita), and rest. Know what you will bring for yourself (cash, sunscreen, water bottle, comfortable walking shoes, hat, etc.).
Be flexible. Your athlete may give you a time goal. Understand that a lot can happen over the course of 140.6 miles. And this doesn't factor in any difficult weather conditions, like heat and wind. So understand that the time goal is just a goal, educated guess on how training went and be flexible on their arrival time. They might beat you to a designated viewing area, or they might be 30 or 60 minutes behind. No matter what, always be encouraging when you see your athlete. Asking them why they were so late or why they are so far behind is not encouraging. Don't forget to cheer for the other athletes while you are waiting on your athlete!
Know the Rules of Competition. Haven't read the Athlete's Guide yet? It's a good idea. Here you will learn that your Ironman athlete is not allowed to accept any aid other than that offered at the Ironman aid stations. And you cannot run with your Athlete. Giving aid and running with them could result in your Athlete being disqualified.
Offer to drop off your athlete the morning of the race. All athletes and spectators must take the shuttle to the Swim Start. You cannot bike or walk or get to the swim start any other way (unless you pay to be a VIP Spectator). Understand if your athlete wants to make it to the start on their own.
Offer to pick up your athlete's bike. The last thing your athlete might feel like doing is getting their bike at the end of the Ironman. You can pick up your athlete's bike between 6pm and midnight at Boulder High School if they give you their Bike Check-out Ticket prior to the race. Understand if they decline your offer, some of these bikes are rather near and dear to your athlete's heart....
Have fun. It will be a long day. So take care of yourself (hydrate, food, shade) and enjoy the many inspirational athletes you will see in the course of the day.