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Finishing Ironman 70.3 Oceanside without me…

I recently was unable to attend one of my husband’s races.  In all the years he has been doing triathlons, I have been to almost every single one, seriously.  There were several local races in the early years that he went to with his first coach and good friend and I stayed home. But since then, I’ve tagged along as cheerleader, shoulder to lean on, hot bath preparer, co-expo shopper….You get the picture.  Not going this time, however, made me think if it always is a good idea or necessary to “tag along”.   Barring health issues or other serious reasons, under which circumstances is it okay to stay home WITHOUT feeling guilty?  So, I sat down and came up with a list of reasons for going and not going.  Maybe this will get you thinking, too…..


  • Someone is available for emotional support (they do love to hear words of encouragement on the course & to keep them company & calm before the race) and to help with gear (obviously how the term sherpa came about).
  • You’re both newbies.  The first is always the best and so memorable.  I still remember Lake Placid and the swim start every time I hear Clocks from Coldplay.


    Ironman Lake Placid swim start.

  • Depending on the location of the race, you do get a vacation.  Don’t just look at the venue;  look at the surrounding area and research if there are things for you to do.
  • If it’s a full-distance race, they could have physical and/or mechanical problems and could use some help after the race – good to have you there or if not you, a proxy.
  • This is totally dependent on the ability of your age-grouper, but if there is a high chance of them doing quite well at a race, you should think about going.  You don’t want to miss the PR, a chance at being on the podium at the awards ceremony, or the thrill of qualifying or a roll down opportunity for a World  Championship slot.

  • They don’t know anyone else at the race.  It’s not a lot of fun to go an event like this all by yourself and not have anyone to share it with.  That REALLY is part of the experience.  It’s certainly that way from the spectator’s point of view.
  • You have kids and someone will stay home and babysit while you and your triathlete get some time alone and away together.
  • You love this lifestyle as much as your triathlete.
  • You get to catch up with friends that you only see at races.


    Jodi and I got to catch up at Ironman 70.3 St. Croix

  • You just might make new friends…..


  • If the location is really NOT someplace you care to go to or the accommodations are not up to your standards.  My trihubby and his coach went to a local race (5 hour drive) a few years back and the conditions were so poor, they turned around and drove home.  They had booked a room at a “B & B” that turned out to be a farmhouse with a few rented bedrooms.  Actually scared them a bit.  Think Motel Hell (look this one up if you love horror movies – so worth it)…..
  • If you are on a budget, races are expensive.  Entry fees, travel expenses, and expo purchases will eat into it, especially if you’re taking the whole family and have to fly.
  • There may be a lot of races in the year and you only have x amount of vacation days from work.  You’ll need to prioritize which races to attend and those to ditch.

  • They are going with other triathletes, a triclub, or a coach.  No need to tag along here, unless you really want to.  I’ve done this and have felt out of place, especially if no other partners were present.


    No need to tag along when with 2 good friends

  • If you have kids, you need to consider their ages, activities, school breaks, etc.  This is where balance comes in and if one of you has to be there for one of the kids’ activities, we know who that’s going to be.
  • You have been involved in this lifestyle for many years and your triathlete really doesn’t care anymore if you’re there or not and you’re happy to have some alone time.  (Ouch).

As I said, there will be times/circumstances that dictate whether or not you can travel to a race.  If you just don’t WANT to go, you should just say so and not feel guilty.  It can be difficult to be the spectator out there and you pretty much take a back seat to your triathlete.  I actually once heard – THIS IS ABOUT ME – and I guess by writing this, still remember it…..