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 April 24, 2019.

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I’m still having a bit of a life crisis and am not totally sure how I feel about triathlon. But I am going to race St. George (why not) and I am sure I feel super grateful to all of you who have subscribed to our new Patreon campaign. And I don’t want to let you all down. So.

When the ‘fuck it’ moment comes

These are photos of two very specific moments I still vividly remember going dark, like super dark, in the middle of the race. The one on the left I got through by repeating “do not stop running for *any* reason” over and over until I was done running; also I promised myself I could lay down and drink all the ice cold water I wanted after the finish line. (Which actually was probably not a good idea.) The one on the right I didn’t so much get through as I simply started running again after projectile vomiting because a girl going by told me to keep running, and that seemed like a good enough reason at the time.

I had to give a talk at a local tri shop on Monday and we ended up talking about how to get through that moment, the ‘fuck it’ moment — the one when you start thinking: ‘Why am I doing this? What’s the point? Why don’t I just slow down a little? I don’t need to be in this much pain; this is all optional. I could do something else with my life. I’m a smart person, I’ve got options. Fuck it, I’m out.’

We all have that ‘fuck it’ moment and I think, separate from all the logistics of training, what we do at that moment is probably what determines everything about the race. Sara and I talk this Friday on the podcast about how to get through the dark times, but here are some tips in the meantime:

  • Know that bad moments pass. (So do good moments.) Let it wash over you.
  • Focus on the present, one step at a time. Break things up into each minute, section, goal. Do not think about the whole overwhelming thing in front of you.
  • Recenter and focus on some physical cue — your breathing, your cadence, relaxing your shoulders.
  • Practice. You have to practice mental tricks and tools before race day. And then you can think back, in the bad moment, to all the other times it was bad and how you got through those. And you can do it again.
  • Remember your why. Why did you want to do this in the first place? What’s your reason for being out here?
  • Eat. Most of the time your problem isn’t actually that you need to re-evaluate your entire life at mile five of the run. Most of the time your problem is that you just need calories or water or electrolytes.

What other tips do you use to get through the dark moments? 

Stop, drop, listen, and repeat

At Sea Otter this weekend — the big mountain bike race in California — there was a controversy about the announcers. But before I even knew there was controversy, I had heard complaints about some of the things being said and not said about the female racers. Evidently, there was then a moment when an announcer did a weird accent that (to more than one person I’ve heard from) came across as at best super weird and at worst slightly racist. Ayesha McGowan called it out, and then had people jump down her throat to explain why it *wasn’t* offensive.

Here’s the thing I always come back to when someone wants to argue about if something is racist or sexist or homophobic: There is no one authority on this. It isn’t like if this one person weighs in, then we’re done. And if someone feels shitty or excluded because of something you did or said, you can’t argue them out of feeling shitty or excluded. All we can do is listen and learn.

A follow-up on a collegiate controversy

We talked before about another controversy, this one at collegiate nationals. Quick recap: Queens University won the mixed team relay and would then have won the overall title, but were DQ’d after the fact for having one member who wore sleeves on his uniform.

The DQ has now been overturned and Queens have been retroactively declared the winner and the national champion.

In the world of collegiate triathlon social media (which is a thing), there’s a lot of shit-talking going on. And there is evidently some behind-the-scenes powwowing going on among coaches to resolve future issues. But the gist seems to come down to: Some club teams have scholarships and fancy coaches, as the sport sort of transitions to NCAA for women, and some (lots) of club teams really don’t. Which way is right?

How much should the pros share?

A landmark was made last week when the fastest marathon ever recorded on Strava was run by Scott Fauble at the Boston Marathon. He ran a 2:09 for 7th— which obviously makes it clear the top top people aren’t on Strava. But I also wondered why this was so marveled at: His watch probably just auto-uploads, like mine, so what?

The so what is because apparently this is abnormal. It’s the whole question about how transparent, how accessible, do pros need to be. And there’s a huge school of thought that in this age, as sponsorship dollars get cut and social media makes entertainers aggressively accessible, you have to be more than just fast. You have to connect to your fans.

Cool, fine. But. An author I liked one time basically said he wanted to be a good enough writer that he didn’t have to be on Twitter. And, somedays, that’s how I feel. If you can be interesting or fast, I’d choose fast.

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  • Ironman Texas, the North American champs, is this weekend and Ironwomen will be Facebook and Instagram Live-ing the whole thing. U.S. season fully underway now? (Facebook)
  • Ironman also announced that they’d be announcing which of four finalists will be the spot for the new Ironman race in the U.S. — Des Moines, Fayetteville, Tulsa, or Memphis. I’m not entirely sure why they’ve decided they need to keep doing big promos announcing their announcements. I’m also not entirely sure how another U.S. race makes economic sense in an oversaturated market either, but clearly no one asked me. (Ironman/Facebook)
  • Ironman Santa Rosa and the 70.3 allegedly bring in $20 million to the region. So that’s why the cities want the races. (The Press Democrat)
  • The IOC pledged $560,000 to help rebuild Notre Dame before the Olympics are in Paris. And, you know, spend your money on whatever you want to spend your money on, but since Olympic athletes make, well, less than $562,000, there’s been some criticism of the spending. (NBC Sports/Twitter)
  • Andy Potts had criticism of a joke on the TV show ‘Blackish’ about buzzing cyclists. He’s not wrong. And drivers are the fucking worstanyway. (Facebook/Outside)
  • Sarah Crouch started the Boston Marathon with a stress reaction in her femur. It fractured during the race. She finished in a disappointing (for her) 2:48, but she finished. Was that tough or stupid(Canadian Running)
  • Speaking of tough or stupid: Here’s Killian Jornet’s acclimation plan for his double Everest ascent(Outside)
  • Turns out even ten years after an exercise plan, the benefits still persist(The New York Times)
  • Why don’t female athletes get the same comebacks as male ones? And, no, the entire article doesn’t just say, “Because sexism.” (The New York Times)
  • At the outer edges of long (looong) endurance events, women are beating men(Outside)
  • A look inside the world of female soccer fans in Iran(The Guardian)
  • And the thing that’s personally making me stress out: The coming glut of IPOs in San Francisco, because what we need is definitely more millionaires driving the bubble up even more(New York Times/The Atlantic)

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Comments & thoughts

– A lot of you sent me personal messages after last week’s wallow telling me to keep my chin up and that you’re all rooting for me. Alexis said, “Sorry it sucked. Enjoy the wallow. We’ll be here when you decide to leave the cave again.” Thanks guys.

– We also answered Karmen’s question about racing pro v. AG on the podcast.

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