ironman arizona

At this last race in Arizona, I spent a lot of time chatting with the people standing next to me. Very often they initiated the conversation and almost every time, they were seeing their very first triathlon and who they were supporting was doing their very first triathlon. They were so excited to share how their daughter, friend, or husband got into triathlons and were seeing everything with such wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm. They asked me multiple questions and wanted to know my story, too. They truly put this seasoned triwife to shame…

So, while they asked me a myriad of questions and I shared tips, told them all about the TriWivesClub, and answered their questions, they really educated ME. It didn’t take long to realize just how jaded and tired (sorry trihubby if you’re reading this) I had become and was in need of some serious rebooting or a jolt of triathlon caffeine…I had come down with what I have diagnosed and coined as a case of the TDs – Trisupporter Doldrums.

Once I had this aha moment, I started observing the group of people I was with and noticed their varying levels of enthusiasm. Some stood there with bored looks on their face, texting on their phones or playing words with friends, while others were all smiles, cheering every racer on who went by. The newbies had their signs and cowbells, while the veterans stood there empty handed.


The trisupporter still in full trisupporting mode.

Me, I had my camera. One thing I also noticed was the absence of many of the “old timers”. They no longer stayed out on the course during the race, but went back to their rooms to work or sleep, went shopping or out for a meal, sat by the pool…

I wondered if I had had this feeling for awhile and just hadn’t recognized the symptoms or if it was just happening. Do others feel the same way? Is it an inevitable evolution in the world of trisupporting? And, then I wondered what exactly are the symptoms of the TDs? After pondering some more, I came up with a few that may indicate you are in a trisupporter rut:

  • You encourage your triathlete to go to a race with their fellow triathletes or you come up with an excuse to stay home.
  • You no longer take pictures at the races or just take the obligatory one or two to prove you were there. Seriously, how many bike butt shots does any one person need in their life?
  • You find other things to do on race day, like going to a spa or out for a nice lunch with a glass of wine and make up an excuse (bathroom break, couldn’t get across the crosswalk) for why your triathlete didn’t see you out on the course.


    A typical brunch for the trisupporter with a case of the TDs.

  • You no longer buy anything at the expo and just smile at all the people buying Tri Supporter t-shirts, fondly remembering when you proudly wore yours. You’ve got a really bad case if you no longer even go into the expo.
  • You stop cheering for all the other triathletes and shouting words of encouragement at races – really not nice.

Okay, so I have taken the first step and acknowledged that I have a problem. And, now that I’ve come to this rather startling and a bit embarrassing revelation, what do I do? How do I put the romance back into triathlons and become that avid trisupporter my trihubby has come to expect? I actually took some time to think about this, as triathlons and writing about them are EXTREMELY important and large parts of our lives. I need to rethink going to triathlons and supporting my triathlete as fun and not a chore.

So, here is what I’m going to do in the coming months to put the romance back into trisupporting:

  • First off, I’m not going to feel guilty for going through this phase. I’ve had the job of trisupporter for over 10 years now, so I’m allowed to have a little ennui. Most jobs start to get boring after a while anyway, so why should this be any different? That said…
  • I’m going to separate the sport of triathlon from the triathlete and the behind the scenes that come with it. Let’s face it. Once you have TMI about laundry, GI issues, etc. some of the “allure” just automatically disappears. I need to remember the characteristics that went into the making of my triathlete and why I fell in love with him and then the sport to begin with.
  • At my next triathlon, I’m going to surround myself with the enthusiastic crowd and stay away from the “Debbie Downers”. Hopefully, their enthusiasm will be contagious. I’m going to bring the cowbell that’s around the house someplace and proudly ring it, until I get a look from the person next to me that I’m being annoying…

I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that I can rekindle my love for the sport as it was once or do you think it’s possible? I think it’s probably a lot like the stages of a relationship – it’s so exciting and filled with potential when it starts; then it becomes comfortable and expected; then you may get a bit bored and the doldrums can set in; and, then, aaaah, you have a reawakening and realize what a damn good thing you’ve got and you’re back in love all over again…