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 Aug. 1, 2018.
There was a day last week when Facebook hit an all-time low on the stock market, losing more money than it ever has, and I thought, “Yes! What if it just goes away!” As long as these things exist, you have to choose whether or not to engage, with all the costs and benefits that come with needing a social media account for work/brand/life. But if it just went away? Then we’d all get a free pass. Downside: We wouldn’t be able to watch Facebook videos of Alyssa’s FKT attempt or any Ironman coverage at all ever. I’m still up and down on my Ironman + two 70.3s recovery. Some days I feel normal tired. Some days I have to sleep for 13 hours. It’s a mixed bag. If we were riding — which I’m definitely not — then you’d get a ride on my emotional roller-coaster.
Where your squad at?
A year or so ago, Alyssa Godesky, who hosts the Ironwomen podcast, and I were talking and I told her I didn’t think Ironman was right. They think fans only care about huge names and multiple-time Kona champs, like Chrissie Wellington or Jan Frodeno, but I don’t think that’s right. I think people actually care a lot about the regular pros too.
I thought about that this weekend when hundreds and hundreds of people were following Alyssa’s attempt to cover the Vermont Long Trail in the fastest known time (FKT) for women. All these people were following her on Instagram and Facebook, asking the crew for updates, rooting for her from around the country. Even the woman who’s record she was going after was cheering for and congratulating her.
Spoiler: She did it! Alyssa finished the 273 miles in 5 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes — setting a new record for all women. It was tough. (I think that’s an understatement. There were crazy storms and rain and it looked like the last 24 hours were ugly and hard and rough and involved falling asleep in some ferns, but we’ll have to wait for her version of events.)
It also looked like it took a village.
There was a 10-person crew that came from all over to make this happen, friends coming in for support, mom and dad. There was a Project Wandelin bible and two kids along for the journey. Do you have that kind of squad? I’m not sure I do, or that most of us do; it’s a big commitment. But I’d like to think if we called on each other for a once-in-a-lifetime effort, we’d be there. NOW GO REST ALYSSA; YOU DID IT.
Sara, who was part of the crew squad and shot all the videos, will give us the full version of events on this week’s podcast.
Less than luck
This weekend at Santa Rosa 70.3 the swim was canceled. Due to freak thick fog on the lake. Then, in Germany, the swim at Ironman Hamburg was canceled because of unseasonably warm weather led to high levels of algae.
What bad luck, everyone says, Ironman just can’t catch a break. It’s been one bad weather incident after another the last few years: drought, fire, snow, flooding, fog, bacteria.
Except, thing is, when something keeps happening it’s not just bad luck anymore. It’s a pattern.
It’s time to acknowledge and recognize what has been an ongoing topic at race director panels for more than a few years: climate change may be one of the most challenging things races will need to grapple with. If you can’t plan for weather, then you can’t plan. Things aren’t going to get better — I say this as we enter another “worst fire season” in California — and there will only be more races canceled, more record numbers of athletes going to the hospital for extreme heat or extreme cold, more modified courses. We’re going to have to start recognizing this is the new normal; not bad luck.
- The Crossfit Games are one of my favorite things — I did say on the podcast my BIG goal post-triathlon is to make the Games — and my absolute favorite part of the Games is the first day surprise endurance challenge event. (Watch the year they did a mini-triathlon.) This year takes the cake: The first day of the games (today, Wednesday) will include a cycling “crit.” Watch on Facebook Live or check out the video of their training lap from Tuesday if you want to get a full sense of how amazing this will be.
- I’ve been messing around looking at the Ironman calendar and might add this Middle East expansion to my list: Oman 70.3 announced.
- The July deadline for Kona qualification was this past weekend and invites went out to the top 40 men and 28 women. As Thorsten Radde points out, it’s unclear if Terenzo Bozzone will be accepting his slot after his bad accident, but let’s all cross our fingers for him.
- Apparently, someone threw tacks on the Santa Rosa 70.3 course this weekend and caused more than a few flats. I also heard from at least one person that they were stopped during the bike for a train crossing. So, you know, triathlon?
- Here’s some really top-level insight anyone who’s ever raced knows: You do better when you play to win than when you play to not lose.
- Collegiate triathlon has been around for a long time, but people are starting to pay attention: Train hard, party hard.
- Another reason to read Triathlete Magazine: My story on ITU champ Flora Duffy is on this month’s cover. Pick it up.
- I don’t think Serena Williams is really the “most” tested athlete — like at all — but she seems to think so. However, this doesn’t negate congrats to her on losing.
- Why is there no women’s Tour de France? Thirteen women rode the route anyway a day before the men came through.
- Lance was on the Freakonomics podcast. He does some soul-searching and also has some ideas about how to dix doping. So.
- Bike racing is weird even without the drugs. Two guys made a deal at a U23 national championships decades ago. It changed their lives.
- Co-ed leagues are never really co-ed.
- And places most known for their natural beauty tend to be the least diverse. Why.
- Dawn Patrol, Outside Magazine‘s subscription newsletter for women’s gear, is shutting down rather quickly. Is there really not an outdoor market for women or is there something else missing?
- The sherpa of New York.
- This big NYT Magazine story is nominally about Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop lifestyle brand, but it’s also about what women chase when they chase wellness. And it is a very good story. “The minute the phrase “having it all” lost favor among women, wellness came in to pick up the pieces…Wellness was maybe a result of too much having it all, too much pursuit, too many boxes that we’d seen our exhausted mothers fall into bed without checking off.”