16 October 2011

Can anyone suggest a good Spectating Training Program?

I start out with the best of intentions and a great plan. I get my maps memorized. I even ride my bike so I can cheer from multiple spots. I get everyone's bib number and write them down. I review pictures of my friends so that I really know who I am looking for.

I just can't seem to get the hang of it.

Back in July, I went to watch the San Francisco Marathon and Half-Marathon. Two of my Nuun Platuun-mates, Cupcake and Tonia, were running in it and I was super excited to show my support! I made all those preparations outlined above. And I missed them both. To make things more embarrassing, they both saw me...and hollered at me :P

Today was the Nike Women's Marathon and Half-Marathon. Held in San Francisco and billed as the largest all-women (and a few good men) running event in the world, a whole lot of local runners I know from blogs and in person were running. So I busted out the bike, printed up my map, wrote down numbers and headed over to the Foggy City by the Bay.

The day before, I had gotten awesome text messages and tweets and Facebook messages... all encouraging and supportive!

"You can do it!"
"Go XL!"
"You've got it this time!"

Stuff like that. Stuff you'd tell a friend who was running...not so much to a friend who was going to be spectating. But they're funny like that :)

I arrived at what I thought would be a good time to what I thought would be an excellent location. I whooped and hollered and whistled and clapped really loudly for a while. This part I am really good at :) Then I realized that either they had passed right in front of me or my timing was off. So I went to another spot a bit further along in the course where the same thing happened. I headed to the finish line. For sure I'd see them cross it, and I would be redeemed as a spectator!

It was not to be.

I arrived at 1:50:xx and eagle-eyed what I could see of the chute until 2:08:xx... I saw no one I was looking for. I was so bummed. I knew they were fast, but wow! In this crowd? was what I kept thinking.

I am a really crappy spectator for my friends... but I did take this picture at the finish area so I could prove that I did, in fact, try!

Joan Benoit Samuelson was at the finish line, helping the San Francisco Fire Department greet the finishers... they were graciously shaking hands, high-fiving and smiling while saying "good job" and "congratulations" and stuff like that. I could hear them. I really, really was there. I swear it.

While I didn't find my friends...


I did discover something really cool...there is an archery range in Golden Gate Park...

And did you know that they use about a million school buses from all over the Bay Area to move the tens of thousands of athletes from one end of the San Francisco to the other...

No fancy tour buses, the whole roadway was full of economical yellow school buses...

I guess when they give out Tiffany necklaces to all 30,000 finishers, they need to cut corners somewhere

What should I do differently? Anyone have foolproof pointers for spectating? Maybe I just need to try smaller races?


  1. All you people, you just think you can wake up one day and *BOOM* be an awesome spectator. Nah, the shiznit don't work like that. You can do a plan if you want - I'll sell you the downloadable version of my "Secrets Of Spectating" plan for $99 bucks and you'll master it in about 15 seconds.

    But wouldn't you rather put in the work and earn the right to be called an awesome spectator, just like the pilgrims did? It's way more fulfilling. And between now and then if you mess up a few times and miss your runners, who really cares? Just lie and say you saw them. That usually works.

  2. I haven't spectated much but I usually pick a spot and stay there. Then again I went to the finish line of my friends' race and I almost missed both of them!!

    Oh I totally want to do that race...if even just for the Tiffany's and fire fighters!

  3. too funny! You know what? Your whooping and hollering probably shaved seconds off other runners' times! You know we like encouragement even when we don't know who's doing it...Keep up the good work! =)

  4. ok, I was going to say that this could happen to anyone until I read the part where the runners you were looking for at the last race were actually yelling at you and you still missed them!

    You might need to invest in Patrick's training plan...seriously! :)

    The runners you did cheer for probably appreciated your effort. There's some good juju for getting out there for sure...

  5. Spectating is hard! I think the easiest way to start out ahead is to see them off and then try to get to multiple locations - always recalculating their pace/time. I've spectated a few marathons...when my cousin ran Chicago last year I saw her about six times and her entire support group saw her about eleven times! We completely dominated, but it took some serious planning and I did get a little bossy a few times - "we need to go, NOW!".

    But hey, you encouraged the other runs - at least you whooped and cheered for everyone! :)

  6. I'm not trying to be mean but I laughed so hard at this post. I loved how they waved and yelled at you and you still didn't see them. That reminds me of when you meet people at the movies. I always hate walking into the theater b/c I KNOW that while I'm staring aimlessly around the room for my group they're waving at me like I'm an idiot :)

    lol I have no tips I just don't know how you can plan that it's hard!

  7. You are hilarious!!
    I always tell my spectators that I run on the right hand side of the road. It's so hard to see in the congestion! And of course I always wear something bright and colorful (sparkle skirt!)
    When watching, I usually try to stand later in the race where the pack has spread out a little... and gotta admit, I'm kinda an eagle-eye! And I always hold a FUNNY sign. Runners are talking to me non-stop! I love it...
    Best of luck on your next attempt! LOL

  8. This is hilarious. And the reason my husband refuses to come and cheer for me at any of my races. Like giving a gift, it's the thought that counts, right? :)

  9. Can we puhleeeze go to the archery place!!!!!?


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