Race day cheerleaders should you bring them? I read a race recap post recently from Better LIVIN whom I follow and that sort of inspired this post. It sounded like she had a bit of a rough time with her cheerers that race and once or twice honey hasn’t been totally over the moon excited to cheer me on either. But when there are there when you cross the finish line it rocks! But if your person is going to drag you down it might be best to leave them home. Instead of a basic pro con list I’ll be doing point counter point, debate style aiming to actually argue each side.
Point: Hold this, meet me here with water, pick up my sweater or park once I start. All options that you have if you have a cheer squad. If you have a great cheerer they can take care of a lot of the mundane or irritating things for you. Holding the car keys, your post race sweater and your bag of extras can be great, sort of like your own personal sherpa. If your race is longer you can even have your special person resupply you mid race. I always drive myself to races except this year’s Bluenose. Parking downtown in our small city can be a major challenge, so I knew that would be a great perk to have. But just being able to focus on my needs during that hour lessened my nerves a lot. Another great aspect is that you can potentially show up a but later with all that support, catch some extra zzzz’s and shiver in the cold for less time.
Counterpoint: Sure some things can run a little smoother but relying on some one else is risky. If you just plan on receiving support from the race you can count on it. Triathlons expressly forbid it as does the official rules of many road races and it’s usually illegal if you are trying to qualify for a bigger race. In a triathlon if your cheerer yells, “Your ahead of schedule,” that’s grounds for disqualification for reviving pacing from outside the course.
Race day nerves
Point: Having someone to hear your obsessive neurotic pre-race thoughts makes them all the more real. They might even come up with a few what if’s you never thought of. This year I mentioned to my mom and honey in a joking manner that I’d see them in about an hour unless I fell. My mom took it seriously and then kept telling me to be careful. Then I spent the first 11 minutes of the race thinking that I’m over due for one (I never have), but I fall a lot in life. Is jinxing really a thing? Remember how we all called my friend scab nose when she fell running. OMG don’t fall! And road rash is the rash that takes the longest to heal.
Counterpoint: That’s all well and true and having extra people can make race day nerves worse but then they give you a hug and wish you luck! They might drive you and cater to your needs and lessen your nerves too! Maybe just skip bringing the friend that reminds you of Ally McBeal.
Point: What you’re likely to hear is a chorus of the following:
- You’ll do fine
- You trained for this
- You can do it, you already know you can run 20 km what’s 21.1?
- If you want to quit just text me and I’ll come get you
In my case you might have to say that over and over again for like an hour on the drive there and it might include the reassurance that I’ve never pooped before so it probably won’t happen today. Plus hugs!
Counterpoint: Is it even reasonable for a grown up person who does this particular exercise all the time to require this level of hand holding? Who are you asking to do this? Grow up, put on your big girl panties and just get it done girl. PS: You’ll be fine this is what you trained for! Sorry couldn’t help it.
Another set of needs to manage
Point: This idea is really what got me thinking about this post. I read a blogger’s race recap and couldn’t help thinking that she would have been better to leave them at home. Now I have a couple of examples too but trust me I’m reaching, hard. Overall having Richard or my other family there is AWSOME!
Probably my biggest complaint… that’s not the right word, maybe realization after the fact had to do with my first half marathon. It was pouring, like post tropical storm warning, raining that morning. Richard waited the two and a half hours plus pre-time, my mom came around half way and my sister, brother-in-law and tiny new born niece came for the finish line. I was concerned with their needs like getting out of the rain and my tiny premature niece that I didn’t take the time to fully enjoy it. In hindsight I should have made a point to be more me focused in that moment and have a list of finish line must do’s thought out before hand. I should have factored in being tiered and wet. Not that any of this came from them or they would have been even slightly annoyed if I took a bit more time. Learn from my mistake!
Now it was only for them that I did slow down and take a few pictures since they were encouraging me. But I should have hugged my firefighter, since it was a lady’s race firefighters hand out the medals. And a good looking firefighter is not lost on me. I should have insisted on a few re-takes and overall have been present a bit more in the moment. Both my mom and my sister were teary so I held mine in to not make it worse. Plus it was the first time all three generations of ladies in my family did something together. It was amazing they even came out to cheer me on and they wouldn’t have begrudged me an extra minute or two.
On a less intense note at a couple of early morning no-big-deal 10k’s honey was woefully under-cafinated on the way and I felt like I was pumping him up. For one such rainy race, he waited in the car for an hour and a half he wasn’t super motivated to get out of the car. That kind of messed with my mind at the start of the run. I had to ask him to take my picture before when dry and he missed my finish, mind you I was faster than I expected.
Counterpoint: Not taking someone else’s needs into account makes you pretty self centred and kind of a jerk. Your cheer squad is likely getting up earlier than is reasonable on a weekend. Perhaps when your packing your race bag and making that mental finish line list find a way to show your cheer squad you appreciate it. Extra drinks, cookies, umbrellas and maybe a thank you card for them while they wait is a nice way to do that. Get your cheer squad captain to hand them out while you’re racing.
Point: A little different than moral or support or logistics is comfort. Your squad can pick up a dumped sweater or stand there to collect a drenched running skirt if you need them too (I didn’t). They can get you a cold drink to hand you while your racing from a gas station. If you bring someone with you they can hold the car keys since they always seem to poke you at some point. It just gives you more options that you just don’t have if you’re on your own. I could imagine having someone pick up your standing there sweater at the start, perhaps your tee at the halfway point and handing you a snack and some water during a full marathon would be amazing.
Counterpoint: This can cross the line into almost cheating, sort of if you push it too far. You can defiantly push the comfort factor to the point that you are obnoxious to other racers. Most if not all people will be receiving all their support from the race, water, gatorade and gels. It’s one thing to drop off a piece of clothing at the start finish point midway if it’s a two lapper but… If you have someone meeting you every three km for a long race other racers will likely not love that. However if you have certain medical conditions having someone for support throughout the race can make the impossible possible for you.
Post race meal
Point: If you have a cheer squad you can all go out to eat together after. They’ll likely tell the server all about your accomplishment and one time this even led to free desert for me! Plus wearing your medal while eating in public is way less weird if your in a group. And… once the runger sets in you can eat from more plates the bigger your cheer squad is. “None of you are going to eat all of your toast right?” It’s pretty fun to bring your cheer squad out to eat after and even though they have clearly done enough they’ll probably spring for your meal too, bonus!
Counterpoint: There isn’t one, free meal, no eating alone plus so much toast and peanut butter!
It can be a big ask
Point: Depending on the specific race asking someone to come with you can be a big ask for someone. It might be an hour long drive each way and start at 7:30 am. With waiting and registering time that can mean your asking someone to get up at 5 am on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Plus depending on how long your race is they might not be free of you until the afternoon. They are pretty much on the hook for going out to eat after and talking about your running for ALL of that time, whether they care that much or not.
Plus standing in bad weather is SO SO SO much worse than running in it. When the Frostbite Five Miler proved that it was going to live up to it’s name I insisted Honey stay home. Plus they are giving up a big chunk of their day and weekend to your cause. That takes them away from what they would normally do. Maybe lounging in bed, brunch with friends or church so think about that too. Plus if you have to get up super early on a Sunday you’re pretty much committing them to starting the next work week tiered.
Honey gets major props on this one he always goes with me and stays until the end. But as long as it’s not so far away consider letting would be cheerers know when your expected across the finish line and just showing up for that. Not only is it less of a time commitment but parking might be a bit easier too unless your one of the first over the line.
Counterpoint: If someone really and truly wants to be there to support your big accomplishment let them. You probably put at least 20 up to as much as 100 + hours into training for this race. It’s pretty much the only way they can show their support if they don’t live with you. If they do live with you they might have also made you veggie burgers which you ate in the tub after a long run or is that just me? If someone wants to come let them, it’s amazing to have them there on the day. This past year I realized that my mom for example really does want to show up and show her support for my running by attending my races. She came to my half last year and my regular appearance at the Bluenose 10k this year. Without putting too many words in her mouth I think she finds it a powerful experience. I know that having her there for the odd race has been powerful for me in moving to a better place in out relationship. The times I’ve went by myself I know I missed having a cheer squad.
What’s your favourite part of having a cheer squad? Or do you tend to skip it? What’s the best moment you’ve had from your cheerleaders? Or when did you wish you left them at home?