Wednesday, June 17, 2015

5 Tips for Spectating Triathlons With Kids

It's no surprise if you've read my blog for a while that although my husband wishes I was a triathlete,  I am just a triathlon spectator and I refuse to join in on the fun.  I've been watching him compete in triathlons since we were dating, (yikes, like eight years now?)  from small sprints to a couple of half ironmans and even a full.  I'm very proud of my husband, and sometimes a little annoyed, for spending so much time training for such grueling events.  And even though I'm not saying that being a spectator even compares to doing an actual triathlon, it's not the easiest of sports to support on the sideline, and especially not easy once you do it with your kids.

I quickly learned after a couple of races how prepared a spectator needs to be to enjoy watching your triathlete. Now that Triathlon season is in full gear it's the perfect time to share some tips.

1. Pack your Tri Gear:  Just like your triathlete, you also have gear to pack. Here are some of my musts for race day.
  • Small blanket: It's the most versatile item you will carry and a must for sure. If you're watching a long race, there may come a time when you want to sit and relax.  Especially during the bike.  If you have kids, this is perfect for playing or eating lunch and snacks.  If it happens to get cold as it does most mornings in the early tri seasons, you'll want to cover up and get warm. Saddle up, tri days are long.
  • Water:  Chances are that you'll be able to find someone to sell you water at the bigger races.  Some of the smaller local ones don't.  You really don't want to get stuck without water when it's hot and you're running around.  
  • Milk: Water is nice for kids, but young kids or babies like milk.  Instead of bringing just one sippy full which will never be enough, get an empty gatorate bottle or two and fill them up.  They fit nicely inside your bag.  They are heavy which sucks, but the longer you're there, the more they drink.  The more they drink, the less you have to carry. 
  • Snacks: This goes without saying, but maybe it doesn't.  You will get hungry.  Bring snacks.  Even for a sprint.  If you're spectating anything longer, think about lunch.  A couple sandwiches and a bag of goldfish are easy to carry around.  If you have toddlers even consider getting snack containers so things don't fall out.
  • Fully charged phone.  If you have a nice one with a camera, skip the camera.  It's not worth it unless you're a professional and that's your jam.  You're already carrying enough.  If you think you can't make it all day on one charged phone, pick up a portable charger.  That should do the trick and they are really small so you wont even notice you have it.
  • Make sure you're diaper bag is stocked with diapers and wipes before you leave.  You don't want to get stuck with a diaper full of poop.  Enough said.  If you decided not to bring your diaper bag, which I think is totally fine depending on the age just don't forget to throw those items in your tri bag.  Overstock the wipes too!  They're not just good for poop.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches get pretty messy when you're eating them on the go.
2. Wear Proper Clothing: You're going to a sporting event.  Please dress like it.  I kid you not I have seen people in sun dresses and heels. I cannot imagine if you want to support your triathlete properly by moving around triathlon locations, you will want to do that in heels.  Sometimes there are hills and long distances that you will have to walk.  Wear comfortable shoes. Dress in comfortable layers and...

3. Check the Weather:  This will impact not only your clothing choices but maybe even your activities and also what other "special" items you bring with you on race day.  Do you need an umbrella? How about a rain coat or rain cover?  If it's super hot, maybe a hat or sunscreen.  Will you need more water?

4. Plan your day ahead:  Check in with your triathlete before the race.  Not just a half hour before but like the day before or even two.  Ask them for their bib number and especially race times.  You want a time range, not what they think they will complete.  For example, a swim time from 16 minutes on the best day to 22 on the worst. Do the same for the bike and run.  That way you can get there early and not miss them since you'll really only get a couple of chances.

5. Bring a stroller:  Unless you have older kids, you'll want a stroller.  I bring my jogger and I love it.  It has a ton of storage on the bottom which is where I keep either the diaper bag or a triathlon bag depending on how much stuff I need for the length of the day. If you're anything like me you'll be running around dodging people and weaving in an out of crowds.  Running through gaps in fences and jumping puddles.  Bring your rugged stroller if you have one.  The little ones just don't cut it.

One last final tip: Go with the flow.  It's so much harder to do than say.  I'm a notorious worrier when it comes to Noah.  I want everything to happen like it does at home but it just doesn't happen on tri day.  Most of the time you're waking up way early and Noah naps whenever.  I hate it.  It's just the way it is.  Learn to let go.  If they nap on the go, that's ok.  If you need to bribe them with goldfish to sit in their jogger.  Do it.  If you're the mom changing poop in the middle of a crowd and you're getting weird stares... who cares, I've done it.  I don't have time, nor want to go back to the car, and I'm not missing my husband pass by for those ten seconds. Enjoy the day.  Spend time with your kids and run around like a mad man.  Oh, and don't forget to cheer!

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