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 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.

That was big, guys.

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.


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