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 Oct. 31, 2018.
It’s Halloween, which is not my favorite holiday—trying to pick a funny but cute but clever but not slutty costume is just too exhausting. And, anyway, it’s race week and that’s as good an excuse as any to not celebrate *yet.* I’m headed to Cabo this weekend for my second-to-last 70.3 of the season. And, yes, I know I’m racing late. And, yes, I’m a little looking forward to slacking off in December. But, actually, taking a solid break in August (when we Swimrun‘d) has broken the season up and made it easy to re-focus this second half of the year. Maybe Sara and I will talk on the podcast about recovery from racing all the time and the pros & cons.
The women of New York
Yes, adorable kids all over the country are dressing up as last year’s New York Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan. This photo is from a friend whose daughter and her daughter’s friend won an award in their costume contest!
Shalane will be back this weekend trying to defend her New York title. And she’ll be joined by a crazy contingent of American women: Molly Huddle, Des Linden, and last year’s surprise fifth place Allie Kieffer. [P.S. Every one of those links is a really good story—the Des Linden piece made me choke up, but I might be in taper mode. And the Allie Kieffer story is particularly interesting because of the lesson we all could learn: maybe the most conventional way isn’t always the best way, maybe sometimes stressing less and having more fun makes us faster. Though I have to wonder if Kieffer gets tired of her thing being that she’s “big.”]
Oh, and there are men racing too. Bernard Lagat is making his marathon debut at the age of 43, because, I dunno, it’s never too late?
Back on the climate change watch
In one of the more dramatic examples in our “climate change race watch,” runners at the Venice Marathon had to wade through ankle-deep water. Watch the video. And even in those conditions, the winner ran a 2:13?
Ironman Florida is also in the middle of figuring out its relocation post-hurricane. (I understand they still need volunteers in the new location.) And Waco 70.3 this past weekend was the latest race to *not* have a swim. We really should start putting together data tables predicting which triathlon are most likely to actually be triathlons. [Also: Ironwomen podcast host Haley Chura won the modified duathlon with a totally insane run split.]
Let’s talk about sex
Look, the whole debate about who gets to be a woman is going to keep rearing its head over and over until, probably, forever. And, right now, it’s back in cycling.
And, yes, it can be complicated. No, not even all transwomen agree about how much advantage, if any, they have in sports. But I just want us to remember there are real people in these debates, who are simply trying to live their lives and play the sports they love. And transgender is not necessarily the same as intersex—and it was intersex athletes at the heart of the track & field fight over definitions of female, so don’t mix up all these different people or make assumptions. Because the reality is: even biology doesn’t think sex is binary. So even if you want there to be, there isn’t a bright line between who is male and who is female.
Insider tweets of the week
We’re bringing it back: The tweets of the week feature, where we try to understand insider social media posts. Brett Sutton tweeted out, after she won Shanghai 70.3 last week, that the only person who could maybe beat multiple world champ Daniela Ryf is Caroline Steffen. It’s a weird thing to tweet since he coaches both of them? (Also, he thinks Lucy Charles may be Britain’s best hope for the Olympics.)
- The Xterra World Championships was this past weekend and it was, as usual, muddy. Check out the video of Rom Akerson winning his first title and Lesley Patterson winning her third (and first since 2012).
- Super League was in Malta this past weekend and is in Mallorca this upcoming weekend—and my understanding is they chartered a plane to fly everyone from one race to the next. The Triathlon Preview Showcovered both if you want to catch up.
- Here’s a really deep dive into the demographics of the age-group field at Kona, but the top line takeaway for me: Despite all the talk about ‘a focus on women, so many women, the increase in the number of women might even hurt men,’ it’s not happening. The percentage of women at Kona hasn’t increased, and has actually gone slightly down.
- We’ve talked before and before about the Wanda Group (which owns World Triathlon Corporation/Ironman) potentially being pushed to sell off its foreign sports assets. That rumor is back on the table this week.
- Big’s Backyard Ultra is pretty straightforward: Run as many 4.1667-mile loops around Laz’s property as you can. Last one standing wins; everyone else is technically a DNF. (The title was almost claimed by Courtney Dauwalter after 67 laps, but Johan Steene did one more lap to win after 55 hours.)
- Oh, Floyd Landis.
- Yes, I always wear a helmet, but maybe don’t be a scold about it. The biggest safety problem isn’t helmets, it’s infrastructure. (Maybe also cyclists should welcome electric scooters.)
- Are college sports just affirmative action for white wealthy students? It’s not a terrible argument.
- Maybe don’t worry about exercising too much—despite previous concerns about the effects on our hearts. (And don’t think too hard about your running form either.)
- By next week, the mid-term election will be over. (Yo, vote.) And Patagonia has gotten fully political—because our laws affect our lands, and also because it’s not bad business.
- Texas and California are both massive and not as massively different as we tend to think. This is kind of a cool dive into comparisons between the two American heavyweights.
- The craziest thing I saw this week was an intense 3D map of the world’s population. Look at the U.S. and then scroll over to southeast Asia and India.
- Another crazy thing: ax throwing.
- “I’m your spaghetti strap sports bra, and I’m here to sabotage your high-impact workout.“
- I know we talked last week about all the new first-person, behind-the-scenes stories from athletes. But this piece from Darius Miles is one of the best I’ve read in the genre.
Comments & thoughts
Here are some thoughts, comments, feedback, and questions from readers and listeners this last week.
– Gordon says, “I don’t listen to ANY endurance-related podcasts, because that just feels like more ‘work’ content, but I have begrudgingly given way to ‘If I Was Riding.’ Because it’s that good.”
– Also Taryn thinks, in light of the discussion about racing in China, that perhaps Ironman should send a translator for the pros. It’s not a terrible idea.