Almost a year ago, after last year’s 70.3 World Championships, I sent a test email—we called it “pilot/ep. 0″—to 15 friends. Trying to see if this triathlon-ish newsletter thing might work.
A year later, there are over 600 of you who read this email every week. And a reliably high number who email me in response. It’s almost as if we might actually talk about some of these things if we were riding together. It’s like virtual cycling, but without having to buy an expensive trainer.
Battle of the Champions
(Honestly, I couldn’t decide between the above photo of Jan and Javi fighting it out—from Talbot Cox—and this one, of Daniela coming down the chute for the win. They both captured different emotions and moments, both of which made the race weekend what it was.)
If you didn’t watch the women’s 70.3 World Championship race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday, the good news is you still can. This is the first time I’ve really gone to town with Ironman’s new Facebook Live coverage—watching it live on my TV—and it was almost like a real sports broadcast. At least until the feed started going out in the rainy weather during the men’s race. [Watch: the women’s race and the men’s race and additional video interviews with the men’s podium (?) on the IronmanNow Facebook page]
First: The Women
– Daniela Ryf did what might be, in some ways, hardest to do: win when everyone expects you to. She’s now a three-time Kona champ and four-time 70.3 world champ. And she did it with the zipper on her aero top broken and the jersey billowing out around her. (How many minutes do the aero experts think that was worth? I’m guessing three. I’m also thinking everyone should just wear their aerosuits/tops all the way zipped up during the swim, instead of having to pull them on post-swim and risk tearing.)
– After leading from the start, Lucy Charles stuck to Daniela and took another world second. Just three years ago, she picked up an 18-24 age group win at the 70.3 world champs and now… If no one’s yet written the defining profile on Lucy, then I would like to volunteer.
On to: The Men
– It’s hard to imagine a race that was more hyped up or that more lived up to the hype. You had Olympic two golds and a silver, and more world championship titles that I can keep track of: Jan Frodeno, Alistair Brownlee, and Javi Gomez. And all of them went all-in, fighting back and forth right to the line. If you had the TV feed and the advertising, you could have turned that into a real legitimate televised sports event.
– I’ll admit, even though Jan is the two-time Kona champ, 2008 gold medalist, and a previous 70.3 world champ, I thought he’d get run off the back of Gomez and Brownlee’s feet. I was wrong; he ran away from them in the end. It’s the year of the Frodo Redemption Tour. (Also, maybe we should have all learned not to count him out when he came out of nowhere to win the Olympics eight years ago.)
– The one lesson I really took away from watching the meeting of the titans was how smart and savvy they all are. It doesn’t mean they all have the same strategy, but it means they try the things that play to their strengths. Jan came back on Alistair by opening it up on the downhill; Javi was steady all day until he was sitting on Jan’s feet; then when Javi went through a bad spell (and stopped to stretch out a side stitch!) Jan made a move and never ever looked back; Alistair saw his moment and went by Javi and Javi dug deep to stay with him. Basically, we could all learn a lot watching that race. Like: If you want to win, you’re going to have to run a 1:06:34.
A note: I thought they were going to switch the men’s and women’s races every year—so that the women go first one year, men go first the next year. Apparently, they’re not, but it’s still a better idea.
One last note: Among the front pro packs, there were none of the super crazy, super new, super expensive, super bikes that have premiered in the last few years. Certainly, that’s partially because some of the companies (Cervelo) dropped most of their pros. But it also has backfire on them a little if we all realize you don’t need the *most* expensive bike to win.
Here come the tourists
Flights are cheap, travel is easy, internet is everywhere and tourism is up. In fact, it’s up so much that many places in Europe are passing laws to limit tourists. As all these visitors flock to the same boutique spots and hidden gems they all read about on the same websites, they’re overrunning infrastructureand destroying what they came for in the first place. Not to mention, a lot of outdoors tourists are wildly unprepared—showing up to hike the Alps in jeans. I’m not sure I have an answer for how to resolve this conflict: We want more people out in nature, but too many people threaten to ruin the nature. But I do know we need to consider the ways we’re engaging with the places we go (even when that means not geotagging locations on Insta). Otherwise, what’s our end game?
Running while female
For a brief period in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the trails I run on regularly were home to a series of gruesome murders—mostly of women, some involving rape, all committed by a man who (it turned out *shock*) had previously sexually assaulted, raped, and kidnapped other women. It’s almost as if these things are warning signs, you know?
And, yet, I don’t typically feel threatened on these trails. Instead, I often feel concerned running in places I don’t know, in new towns or on empty trails when I don’t know if they’re empty for a reason. The possibilities start to play in the back of my mind because I just don’t know what I don’t know, if I should be concerned, if this is the well-known drug dealing location, if there are signs that I’m missing, if the math in all my calculations (the ones we do regularly without thinking about it) will be wrong.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about running while female, what it means that Mollie Tibbetts died while running. Not that being a woman running is more unsafe than being a woman anytime. But it’s made some guys think about what this must be like, always calculating in the back of our heads how nice we have to be when we say, ‘leave me alone‘ — knowing sometimes there is no good answer, sometimes we don’t even realize we’re subconsciously tracking the guy jogging up ahead of us in the dark until we round a corner and he’s nowhere to be seen and we don’t know if this it, if this is when we should be really scared; knowing that sometimes it goes bad no matter what we do. What is that like?
- For those of you looking to qualify for Kona: Well, first listen to our pro picker’s tips on last week’s podcast, but second, know it appears the formula for allocating the number of slots per age group at a race has changed slightly. No, this formula isn’t public—which I think is weird and counter-productive—but it can be gleaned through obsessive analysis. According to those who pay attention, the formula has changed a bit to be slightly more proportional. This should help the age groups that are big (40-44 men) and slightly hurt the medium-sized ones (since the tiniest ones still get the one slot per age group minimum).
- There was another massive huge ultra endurance event this past weekend: UTMB—in which a series of circumstances led to a lot of DNFs.
- Last week, we mentioned that endurance sports might just be an outlet for the mentally unhealthy. Maybe another way to say that is: a place to combat middle-age.
- At what age are you the best (athletically, not morally)? This was also the topic of a good story in ESPN’s Body Issue. Conclusion: there’s a sweet spot between age and experience.
- News that will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s trained for an Ironman: When we exercise more, we tend to do less the rest of the day.
- News that might come as a surprise to some: Case Study: Long-Term Low Carbohydrate, High Fat Diet Impairs Performance and Subjective Wellbeing in a World-Class Vegetarian Long-Distance Triathlete (The athlete in question was Eneko Llanos, in case you were wondering)
- Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL has gotten the OK to move ahead. Plus, Nike put him on the face of their anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign. Which, honestly, is just a smart business move (no, really).
- Lizzie Armanto became the first woman to complete a 360-degree vertical loop.
- In other videos that are mesmerizing: The rising and falling of LA as groundwater is pumped in and out.