If We Were Riding’ is a weekly triathlon-ish newsletter written by Kelly O’Mara and produced by Live Feisty Media. Subscribe to get it in your inbox every Wednesday morning. You can also read past issues. This episode is from June 13, 2018.
This weekend I ran the Dipsea. It was my 8th year running the second oldest and always craziest race in the country. It’s 20 minutes from my house and is a local phenomenon around here, but it’s also just one of the most insane races you’ll ever do — handicaps by age and gender, shortcuts through bushes, sprints straight down the side of a mountain. While there are lots of videos out there, this short Instagram one is, well, short and to the point. (If you need a full explanation, this Sports Illustrated story is decent. And I heard a New York Times columnist ran it this past Sunday, so expect another round of mainstream coverage coming up.)
Really, though, it’s hard to explain why you do the Dipsea. You do it because it’s a little bit fun to run full-speed through trees you’re not supposed to run through and fling yourself over a ledge hoping it’ll work out. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but that’s OK too. It’s the Dipsea. It’s not supposed to be smart.
P.S. In other potentially stupid things I’ve gotten myself into: Don’t worry, I think I’ve found a new partner for Swimrun. Sara and I will discuss this Friday.
What even *is* athleisure?
If you’re at all the same demographic as me, then I’m guessing you’ve gotten so many Facebook ads for Outdoor Voices that you started to think you need to buy a pair of their leggings just because everyone’s doing it. Well. I found myself thinking about this in-depth profile of Outdoor Voices CEO Ty Haney a lot this week. (Weirdly, yes.)
Haney’s premise is primarily that she wanted to make clothes not for athletes but for regular people who just want to “do things” and feel good and look good. OK, fine. But it’s not like she’s alone. I buy my work clothes from Athleta now and I lounge in my workout clothes and where even is the line anymore.
While I find some of Haney’s arguments odd, “athleisure” (or whatever we want to call it) has quite a few larger social arguments built into it: Is this a pivotal shift in how women view their clothes and are viewed or is it simply a trend? Are we finally serving women’s needs or are we just creating exercise-inspired fashion, which isn’t necessarily bad either? Basically, are companies simply throwing the word empowerment around and, even if they are, does it really matter if it we end up with more options?
I wrote a thing a few years ago about why female apparel companies are on the rise and I gave a talk at an improv show about how (and why) sports-ish companies are trying to attract women. I’m skeptical, but I also think there’s something probably accurate in the academic fashion theorists who point to the kinds of clothes we used to wear and the kinds we wear now as an evolution of sorts. It’s hard not to think this larger shift in what we wear has to mean something…
The “most” anticipated IM debut
This weekend, the race I found myself pressing refresh on over and over was Ironman Cairns, the Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia. Partially, it was just a damn good race. But mostly, it was Javi Gomez’s Ironman debut. The 70.3 World Champ and Olympic silver medalist went sub-8 and took second (and secured a Kona spot), but he ultimately got beat in the end by Braden Currie, who was able to create a gap and not look back. Will be interesting to see how both those guys compete over the rest of the year. Will also be interesting to see how women’s champ Teresa Adam becomes a force to recon with. (And she was on the Ironwomen podcast, btw.) Mirinda Carfrae made her Ironman return post-pregnancy with a second place and Beth McKenzie came back after her two-year ban for third. Like I said, it was quite a race.
Injured, sick, or almost fast?
Everyone is injured these days. And I mean everyone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s a fine line between hurting ourselves and trying to be the best. And it’s not always healthy, it’s not even always going to make you the best, to tightrope that line.
A lot of people sent me this story about the next great female high school distance running sensation. Can she avoid all the pitfalls that have stopped so many next great female high school distance running sensations before her? Which, per the writer, seem to primarily be: being female and hitting puberty. This seems, in no small way, problematic. It doesn’t seem accurate to suggest that the only way a high school female runner can be good is to stay looking like a skinny little girl. It seems like there are real weight-to-power ratio issues in running, but also that we know so so so so much about how problematic eating disorders are in running and how much they will ultimately screw your career up, give you stress fractures and injuries and illnesses, not make you faster.
Show me the money
In case you missed it: Forbes published its list of the highest paid athletes in the world. Originally, you could filter it by gender, but since there are no women on the list that was sort of unnecessary. And also sad. You might be surprised to learn there are no triathletes on the list either. It’s mostly basketball players, baseball, soccer, football, and boxers. Floyd Mayweather was on top with $285 million. By comparison, Katie Ledecky’s record-breaking TYR deal (reportedly, the biggest in swimming history) is supposedly worth $7 million.
- It was another big weekend of racing. At the WTS Leeds race, which Flora Duffy skipped with a foot injury, Vicky Holland took the hard-earned victory. Ironman Boulder sounded hot as hell and Chris Leiferman, who won, said the new bike course was crowded. (Where have we heard that before?) Canadians won at Eagleman 70.3 and there were a whole lot of other races too.
- In other things that happened: Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell set a speed-climbing record up the Nose (on El Capitan in Yosemite).
- Relatedly, a new climbing grief fund is being set up to help climbers who have to deal with death.
- Thorsten released a full 60-page report for Challenge Roth, just like his Kona report but different. Did you realize, by the way, the full-distance Challenge Venice didn’t pay?
- USA Triathlon inducted four new people into their Hall of Fame: Hunter Kemper, Mike Reilly, Donna Smyers, and James Ward.
- After our talk recently about what pro athletes do after retirement, I thought it was interesting the US Olympic Committee is putting on a Pivot Workshop for retiring athletes.
- I also didn’t realize that Major League Triathlon had international teams? They added a Team Mexico this week, which I think means that team comes here to compete in the relay events.
- There’s a petition in Australia to force cyclists to ride single-file. This is a terrible idea, besides being annoying. Having tried to drive past a long line of single-file riders this past weekend, I can say it would have been easier to just pass them in one go if they’d all been in a clump, instead of trying to get by a long stretch on the narrow road.
- What will farmers in California be farming in 20 years? Place your bets.
- ESPN has a long list of athletes who have been burned by social media, though I can think of some who are missing.
- Is body positivity just another way to sell us stuff by making us feel bad about feeling bad?
- Maybe you should visit a face gym.
- What if Lyme Disease is a feminist issue? (Which, yes, we talked about on the podcast.)
- The We Are Triathletes documentary is finally here.
- In case you were wondering what it looks like, by comparison, to run a 2:00 marathon.
- In fun things from the NCAA championships: how did USC even come back to win this race??
- In less fun things: “Hey sceptics, my wife is my coach, not a kind of glorified cheerleader.“
- And, just because we’ve failed girls for years (and are starting to fix that) doesn’t mean we should keep failing boys.