If We Were Riding’ is a weekly triathlon-ish newsletter written by Kelly O’Mara and produced by Live Feisty MediaSubscribe to get it in your inbox every Wednesday morning. You can also read past issues. This episode is from July 11, 2018.


After 23 hours of traveling by cab, train, other train, express train, airplane, and then car, I’m back home. (Only for a week, before it’s off to Ironman Lake Placid.) Here are a few of the things I missed after two weeks in Scandinavia: chocolate mint Clif bars, Gatorade, tampon applicators, Law & Order, burritos, menus where I know what I’m ordering, casual swearing, and credit card machines that don’t require my signature. Isn’t it good to be home?

I’m still reeling a bit from the travel and unpacking and catching up on work I dropped the ball on, but I actually did quite a bit of reading while I was gone, since I did quite a bit of sitting on planes and trains and automobiles. So, let’s get right to what we’d be talking about if I was doing any real riding at all this week.

Ryf racing, Frodeno on form

What do we think of these social cards (above) everyone seems to be making for every race these days? (Photo: Ironman) Though I’m a little over them, they do, however, sum things up nicely.
The European Championships took place at Ironman Frankfurt this past weekend. And, no, we don’t think it was a coincidence it was scheduled just a week after Challenge Roth nearby. Almost as if one company is trying to dominate the market space.

Of all the various Ironman-declared Championships so far this year, I’d say this had the most stacked field. On the men’s side, two-time Kona champ and Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno beat out up-and-comer Patrik Nilsson (who took second) and last year’s Kona winner Patrick Lange (who took third). And he did it very intentionally, I’d argue. After all the raving about Lange’s running ability last year, and Nilsson’s to a degree, Frodeno clearly used this as an opportunity to remind everyone he’s still got the foot speed. All three started the marathon together and then one of them simply ran seven minutes faster. Making a very specific statement about what we can expect in October, while he was at it.

Obviously, Daniela Ryf won the women’s race, as Daniela does. I know the three-time Kona champ and three-time 70.3 world champ has lost a few races in the last few years, but I can’t think of many. And whatever fatigue she’s shown in the past, she’s clearly on form right now.

However, it’s worth nothing that the whole women’s field has been rising to Ryf, as often happens when there is one dominant athlete and then everyone else catches up. Of the Frankfurt performances this weekend, I was actually most intrigued by Sarah True’s debut Ironman, which she closed with a 2:54 marathon (faster than Ryf’s run) for second and Anne Haug’s debut for fourth — with Sarah Crowley in there for a solid third place. We should see them all at Kona.

Also, can we just admit the ‘no zipping your suit below your sternum’ rule (except you’re allowed to race in a sports bra top, but not zip your aerosuit below your sports bra if you’re wearing one) makes no sense and no one follows it anyway?

And I’d like to nominate an insider tweet of the week that I fully appreciated: Thorsten noting the women’s Frankfurt race was going to be pretty damn exciting too.

Keep Showing Up ©

Des Linden might have copyrighted the phrase “Keep Showing Up” after winning the Boston Marathon, but obviously she’s not the only one who keeps chugging along year after year waiting for it to all come together.

Two athletes this weekend won after a long time of not winning: Stephanie Bruce *finally* took home a national title, winning the 10K road title at Peachtree in Atlanta. It took her a decade. And Lauren Brandon won Ecaudor 70.3, which was only her second pro win in eight years and the first time she’s ever gotten to hold up the tape.

After having quite a few of my own races where it doesn’t all seem to come together exactly right, it was worth knowing that it doesn’t come together exactly right for even the best people all the time.

Stereotypes of a triathlete

If I was going to create a caricature of a triathlete, I’d make him (and it would be a him) Type A and tri-nerded out, with lots of gadgets and lots of money, but not a lot of time to talk about other people. But obviously stereotypes are just that — a little true, but not completely true. In Europe, the stereotype seemed to be completely different: Triathletes were almost seen as cool? They were intense, but it was a kind of intense that seemed very European. And to outsiders, maybe all our ideas about ourselves don’t even make any sense. Emma Coburn, the steeplechase star, tweeted that Ironman participants are the nicest people and all I could think was: Really??


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