First and foremost, sign making is a must. This is how your evening should look the day before a race:
Signage must be bright and involve glitter, and if you are getting up before daylight on a weekend you owe yourself a glass of wine.
Do not use standard signs. Customization is a must.
Our first attendance was a Mother's Day race, thus we thought it'd be funny to pretend she was our mom.
Standard "Fan Club" signs are OK if they have glitter.
Signs that involve alcohol get comments from other racers as well. One we received: "Can complete strangers get a mimosa?" Uh- yes! But only if you hurry because Marissa and I are good drinkers, there may be none left.
On the way to the race, get coffee. A lot. You are going to need it and you'll kick yourself if you think you can wait until after. You cannot.
Do not follow the directions for parking a half mile away. Whatever! Do YOU look like a triathlete? No. Leave the exercise to them and drive into the neighborhood next to the event and park on the street.
You are going to be waiting around a lot, so your best bet is to bring a friend.
Generally, you hurry up to get to the first part (swimming), see the racers and then wait for the next section (biking or running). You might get to see them going for the transition, but the best idea is to get to the point where they'll be coming out on the bikes. They're going to need the encouragement to get going. Yell, jump and act a-fool to get them going. Their faces should look something like this:
The goal is laughter on their way off. But if you get this:
It's OK. She's just trying to figure out #1: WHY she puts up with you and #2: WHY she signed up for this crap.
After they are off for round two you wait. Find a comfy spot, sit down, and get out your cooler.
Don't bring a heavy one because you need to be mobile. This one's perfect- has handles, keeps things very cold and has a pocket to store stuff in. It's also monogrammed, so that helps.
Be sure to bring water, because you're going to need it. Conceal any alcoholic beverages inside the cooler. You're probably somewhere that open containers aren't allowed. However- I recommend bringing the alcohol. It really helps when you're kicking yourself for being awake.
While you wait, people watch! You will be surprised at the people who participate. You have a few of what you'd expect: buff, steroid-ed, crazy people going all out. But a lot of the people are just doing it for fun (???) and there's a lot of older men with beer bellies. Who knew?
Every good triathlon needs a bag pipe player in a kilt.
In the mean time, keep an eye on the people coming in from the current leg of the race. You don't want to miss your person! A good tip is to watch the numbers on their arms. It'll help tell you what wave they are in and you'll get an idea of when your athlete is coming. When you see them coming, be sure to start creating a huge ruckus. Jump, leap, yell, cheer! Glitter should be flying from your sign, folks. Just be careful, if they're coming in fast on their bike they're about to have to dismount. Wouldn't want to distract them so much they nearly miss the jumping off point and fall (Sorry Allyson).
While they are transitioning RUN (this is the only exercise you get, it's OK) to the next starting point (biking or running- whichever hasn't been done). To be a good fan, you HAVE to be there to cheer them into the last leg. Commence acting a-fool again.
This little girl is a good example of how you might feel after watching hundreds of people run around as the sun comes up.
Make sure to run at your athlete, yelling their name, after they finish. This is a nice touch. Also give huge hugs, regardless of sweat. I mean, come on, they just swam, biked and ran. They earned it!
Honestly- I have really enjoyed the two I attended. It's a lot of fun to cheer on a friend and you can nap later.