Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Entering the Road Race Spectator World as an Outsider

Phillip's family grew up as a track-watching, cross country meet attending, road race spectating family. They know the drill. But I didn't ever attend my first race until after we were married.

There's a learning curve.

First of all, you have to know how to convert kilometers to miles, otherwise your spouse comes home and tells you they signed up for a 5k or a 10k and you won't know whether to be impressed until you Google it when no one is looking.

You'll act thrilled but secretly wonder why they pay to run, as if running was actually an enjoyable way to spend your leisure time and not the self-punishing activity that it is. But you will nod and smile because it makes you happy to see your spouse happy.

And then it's race time.

This will be totally new to you. It's a world you didn't know existed.

For starters, the men need to put Band-Aids on their nipples during long races so their T-shirt doesn't rub them off, which should tell you just about all you need to know about how weird this is going to be.

You'll arrive early so your spouse can register. The race people like to set up shop in a school, which is good because you brought your kids and they couldn't care less what's going on and just want a playground, dang it.

In the cafeteria, volunteers sit at long tables handing out paper numbers to the runners. If you're lucky, you'll be entertained by some hippy-dippy sayings painted on the walls, meant to motivate the rising generation to "think interdependently."

Entering the Road Race Spectator World as an Outsider -- There are a lot of things you learn when you marry a runner and go to your first road race. Things are about to get weird.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Entering the Road Race Spectator World as an Outsider -- There are a lot of things you learn when you marry a runner and go to your first road race. Things are about to get weird.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Entering the Road Race Spectator World as an Outsider -- There are a lot of things you learn when you marry a runner and go to your first road race. Things are about to get weird.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The volunteers staffing the event are really nice, and they even throw in free safety pins to put on the paper numbers you essentially paid $35 to receive. (Note to self: look into bronzing the numbers because they were pretty expensive as far as pieces of paper go.)

Your spouse will disappear to do whatever kind of warm-up it is that he does, and you'll corral the kids at the playground and secretly gawk at all the other runners around you doing strange things to get ready for the race: skipping, hopping, running on tippy-toes, doing crane yoga poses, and bouncing around like Rocky before a fight.

There will be a few people running in very bizarre outfits, who you'll casually take pictures of in the starting line while pretending you're just photographing your spouse. Even if it isn't a themed run, you'll likely see someone in drag. Just a heads up.

Since it's your first race, you'll have no clue what's going on. You don't know where to stand or at what points you can see best. There are no signs and no maps, you just have to follow the crowd and remember it for next year.

You'll have to learn to estimate how fast your loved one runs so you can figure out approximately when you need to be at the finish line or the other view points along the trail, and if you have kids with you you'll probably miss it anyway because you're trying to contain a meltdown over a troublesome flip-flop when your runner goes by.

People will bring cowbells to the finish line, and even though you had no idea noisemakers were a thing here, you'll still be covered because you brought your kids.

Entering the Road Race Spectator World as an Outsider -- There are a lot of things you learn when you marry a runner and go to your first road race. Things are about to get weird.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Lining up the kids for high-fives as Phillip crosses the finish line.

When your spouse finishes, you'll be insanely proud of them. But you do not, under any circumstances, want to give them a hug of congratulations or let the children touch them: they are dripping with sweat.

Next time, you'll remember to bring a towel for them to sit on in the car on the way home.

Like I said, there's a lot to learn.

8 comments:

  1. Thank heavens for Google to convert kilometers for all of us. Otherwise I know I would be sunk. I think I ought to order a cowbell now just in case we have a road race in our near future :)

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    1. Just don't let the kids find out where you're keeping it in between races!

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  2. "Think interdependently" is hilarious. I'm not a runner either, and I think these observations are fantastic. Haha! I'd totally be Googling kilometer conversions. I think it's funny how you had to learn to navigate racing terminology when you got married. That's a bit similar to how when I got married, I learned to navigate the video game world (my husband is a competitive gamer). Marriage can have the craziest effects on people :P

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  3. "take responsible risks" hahaha! Sounds like the school worries a bit about lawsuits & the like :)

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  4. Jenny, YOU are hilarious!! Glad you got to the right point in at least 1 race, so the kids could high five Dad!!

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  5. Glad to hear you are getting in the groove! I miss those days!

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  6. HA! Great to hear the other point of view on this. I grew up in a track meet watching, cross country going house and I was the runner. These are things that I thought were just second nature. I didn't ever think that people wondered where the best place to watch was. lol

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