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 March 27, 2019.


I’m in Seattle right now (for life stuff, not triathlon) and a little busy, so there are a lot of little things this week and nothing big. If we were riding, I might have some thoughts about the stuff playing around in my head — what is a meritocracy anyway, and how taxi companies can make mock Uber ads, and why my plan for a restaurant called Bananas isn’t crazy — but mostly I’d just be too tired from all the training to say anything. So let’s roll through this shit.

The Live Schedule

The above photos are of Radka Kahlefeldt-Vodickova and Sarah Crowley winning Davao 70.3 and Taiwan 70.3, respectively, this past weekend. I’m pretty sure.

I’ve been wondering if we (ie. this newsletter) should cover more of the specific of triathlon races and products, nitty-gritty. Who wins, who to watch, stories to follow, all the details of the Cervelo P5-whatever launch. That’s the hard news and we don’t do hard news so much. Should we be more insider triathlon? Is that a thing? I feel like there are other platforms already doing this and Ironwomen’s got plenty of race coverage on its Facebook page anyway. But everyone always says triathletes are into the nitty-gritty, obsessive details. *shrug, I dunno, I’m not?*

Ironman finally announced its Facebook Watch schedule of races for the year too — complete with tongue-in-cheek promo video. Like we said on last week’s podcast, this is mostly good news for the sport, but it also solidifies Ironman’s position as the only game in town. They’ll primarily be at the big Ironman distance races with all their cameras and commentators. Which is a bit of a shame for 70.3 racers — who are also VERY GOOD. So maybe there is actually still room for more details and coverage and nitty-gritty. Or something else.

Brain Damage Depression

In light of cyclist Kelly Catlin’s suicide following a bad crash last year, her parents are donating her brain to concussion research and speaking out about concussion recovery. And, now, more cyclists are coming out to talk about the depression they’ve struggled with. A common factor for many of them? Bad head injuries.

I know there’s still lots we don’t know about what happens when we hit our heads really hard. But I also know after I woke up on the floor of a shower stall last year (food poisoning, guys, not exciting), I had months and months of feeling miserable and down and everything going wrong and nothing going right. And, sure, some of those things were things actually wrong in my life, but a lot of them were things that just seemed wrong even long after my head looked likeit had healed. It’s not a broken bone or an easy-to-diganose injury, which only makes it harder to know for sure that it *is* an injury.

Where are the women’s sports books?

One of my new favorite newsletters, Fast Women, posed the question this week: Where are the inspirational good women’s running books? She even went so far as to wonder why there’s never been a women’s equivalent of Once A Runner. Which is something I’ve wondered too. I even wondered it so much that I began writing it. Is this something the world needs? The other thing the world needs is more inspirational triathlon books. The triathlon equivalent of Rocky just doesn’t really exist. Triathlon doesn’t quite lend itself to the same romanticism as cycling or running or boxing I guess. Maybe I should write that too. (A reminder: Here’s our previous round-up of fun triathlon-ish books, movies, and TV.)


  • The Youtube shows are back: Talbot appears to be filming the Tim and Rinny show (which may include Tim O’Donnell’s bad crash last week); Gwen’s new episode is all about why she’s running and not triathlon-ing, so stop asking (also shot by Talbot); Lionel Sander’s just out there this week with some thoughts on being Lionel. And, honestly, with so many people writing columns and launching shows and sharing on Instagram, it’s hard to keep track. Molly Huddle’s writing about avoiding overtraining and Holly Lawrence is writing about maybe accidentally overtraining. Tommy Zaferes is all over Twitter and Insta. When people say athletes just don’t put their own stories out there enough, I’m not sure what internet they’re on. (Instagram/Youtube/Runner’s World)
  • It’s also training camp time. And on Insta it can start to look like everyone’s at some team camp somewhere. From what I gathered from people posting from the new Suunto team, their camp also included classes on contest creation and how to give interviews. Good idea or kinda weird? (Instagram)
  • In things they probably don’t teach at any camp: There’s been wild speculation all week over the latest doping ring scandal. The facts are that 21 athletes appear to be implicated in blood doping across five sports and multiple continents, at least one time in Hawaii — though that also appears to have been during the Honolulu Marathon. It’s all tied to a doctor who has worked closely with many top athletes, which brings us to the speculation part. There may be more news coming and it may come within the world of triathlon. (Cycling News/Twitter)
  • Totally unrelatedly, is Team Sky’s new acquisition bad for pro cycling?(Outside)
  • The L.A. Marathon was this weekend and there were some decent stories — including how Weber State is pumping out so many good women and how Lindsey Anderson came back to be the top American post-taking a break to have kids after competing in the steeplechase at the 2008 Olympics. Instead, though, I saw a segment on my local news that was mostly about the design of the medals, complete with some B-roll footage of middle-of-the-packers and interviews with randos. It was everything wrong with how we cover endurance sports in 60 seconds. (Weber State/Fast Women)
  • Caster Semenya will be able to compete in the world championships this fall, even if the IAAF case doesn’t go her way. (It was postponed until next month.) I also read an entire science-y thing about why we *must* draw a line between women and men in order to stop transgender athletes from taking advantage of women’s sports — which to be super super clear, is not about Semenya at all, though the arguments over her having too much naturally occurring testosterone get all mixed up in here. Yet, even after all that science-y stuff, I just keep coming back to: If we draw a line, anywhere we draw a line, and we say on one side of this line there are men and on the other side there are women, then all evidence suggests there will always be people who naturally don’t fit these definitions and I don’t feel good about forcing them back across any line. (The Guardian/The Science of Sport) 
  • High school phenom Katelyn Tuohy is aiming for the Olympics (and possibly the national championships this summer). (The Journal News)
  • Mikaela Shiffrin is getting used to being the new face of U.S. skiing. Now that Lindsey Vonn is gone. (New York Times)
  • Shalane Flanagan is talking about her spring goals. (Women’s Running)
  • Why doesn’t the U.S. have Parkrun(Outside)
  • There are two new tri series that have caught my interest: Brett Sutton and his athletes (Daniela and Nicola Spirig) are pushing the new Spirit Multisport series — which will include the Alpe d’Huez race and three other crazy intense weird-distance European events. Then I got this email yesterday advertising the Triton World Series, with each sport taking place over three days. Both series promise expansion in the next few years. We’ll see… (Spirit/Alpe d’Huez/Triton)
  • The most important triathlon news, though, is the email to pro athletes for Oceanside 70.3 said: There is NO MORE STERNUM RULE!! This is very exciting and also unclear if it’s across all races or just this one?
  • Being a referee isn’t easy. Especially during March Madness(New York Times)
  • The New York Times‘ Voyages is amazing. Read about traveling across the country by train just because, when a kayaking trip went terribly wrong, and who is Rick Steves(New York Times)
  • With technology making everything cheaper, opting for human interaction has become a luxury item(New York Times)


Comments and Thoughts

Some thoughts, emails, messages and notes from listeners and readers this week.

– Colleen says, “This newsletter is my favorite read of my week! Thank you!”

– Sara stressed out all her athletes by sharing a story about one of them on the podcast.

– And Christina thought maybe some of the ideas being debated on Slowtwitch deserved a more comprehensive understanding and discussion. Which is maybe always true.


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