Better to race on your own or bring support?

I’m used to racing by myself. Not that Steve doesn’t go to most of my races – because he does – but I’ve done enough races that plenty of them have been by myself. Get up, drive, set-up, race, go home.

Doing races by yourself is totally fine. There’s a fear of it out there. So, let me just say: it’s totally fine. In fact, in plenty of cases, it’s preferable to dealing with other people’s weirdo pre-race issues. I’m super picky about who I go to races with now, because I can’t deal with all y’all. There’s the standard fact that the night before most people want to go to bed at 8 p.m. to get extra sleep, which is idiotic, because I don’t usually go to sleep until 11:30 or 12, so what am I going to do, lie there for four hours and stress out? Then, there’s the stress that lots of people bring. And, of course, there’s the more extreme ‘oh my god, I picked the worst person in the world for this 10-hour road trip.’

But, the problem with going to races by yourself is that sometimes it ends up looking like this:

Me carrying everything, biking to the start of a triathlon from where I'd been camping by myself.
Me carrying everything I own, biking to the start of a triathlon from where I’d been camping by myself.

It can be a little hectic, trying to get transitions set-up, get your ducks all in a row, get to the start, get warmed-up, and, most importantly, NOT FREAK OUT when you’re all by yourself amid the crowds. I’ve gotten better at it. I’ve also gotten used to knowing enough people at triathlons that I can generally bum some help or a pump or an extra pair of goggles when mine break. But, marathons aren’t like that. There’s too many people and if you know four out of 40,000 that doesn’t do much good?

So, Steve was supposed to come with me to the Boston Marathon. But, a super big work meeting got rescheduled from March to April 15. And, now I’m without a race sherpa.

Here are some good tips for being a race sherpa or helping someone who is racing. My favorite is don’t yell “Are you ok?” The one I always get from Steve that means I must not look good is: “Just hang tough.”

I have (almost definitely) convinced my friend Brian to come with me to Boston after promising him a hotel and a good time. Hmm. He’s already asked if I’m going to win and if I’ll wear a GoPro so he can make a sped-up video. I told him yes to both. Hopefully, he doesn’t hate me too much and we’ll like party hard in Boston after the race.

Guess that means applications to be my Boston Marathon race buddy are closed.

6 thoughts on “Better to race on your own or bring support?

  1. I love this, especially that you have a pic of you carrying all your crap one time. I got used to racing by myself in ultras (relatively easy with the drop bag system), but triathlon is another beast because there’s just so much gear to carry. And if it’s point to point an even bigger headache. The key west weekend was a test for me before Los Cabos (also going to sans crew, also point to point) and I think I learned a bunch, so that’s good. I’m glad you were able to get a sub crew for Boston! I usually find I can trick friends into helping once, it’s helping again after that where usually they know what they’re in for and won’t do it.

    1. Ooh, Los Cabos. I have another friend doing that. It sounds like it’ll be fun, though honestly I never have the ‘oh my god, awesome, we all hung out’ race trips that so many people seem to have.

      I’ve actually convinced two friends to come now, so I have a back-up 😉

  2. I always feel guilty know my wife, family and/or friends are waiting around for me while I’m out warming up or cooling down. It’s easy to go solo for running races, as you know. I’ve never even attempted a tri or a bike race.

  3. Great post! Even though I have had support at every tri I’ve done, I always prefer being alone the day/night before. Packet pickup, the right pre-race meal, etc… it’s all so much easier when you’re not having to pull someone else though the process. Just the same, though, those inspirational posters always pop up in just the right moments, and in a triathlon with a single common transition area, it’s easy to see your loved ones a few more times than in a running race.

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