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 Feb. 27, 2019.

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This weekend I finally rode my new bike outside and it was *fast.* And also I got chased by dogs. Because, you know, that’s what happens on random farm roads. But now it’s back to pouring rain here and feeling like winter, and I don’t know if it’s ever going to not be gray again. Then, Sunday night, I went to the Justin Timberlake tour, and all I kept thinking about was what it must be like to be him and how different looking at someone’s life is v. living that life. So.

Oh, you’re injured? That’s nice

For two weeks I haven’t run. I finally am testing my hip again, but it’s a little touch-y, a little still touch-and-go.

There’s not much to say or do about an injury. You take the time off and troubleshoot. You try to solve the underlying problem. You regret not having tackled this when it was just a niggle on the edges of your periphery. And you hope it tilts back towards simply resolving itself instead of tilting towards season-ruining.

But even at the same time it encompasses your entire life, your injury means almost nothing to anyone else. 

And I keep coming back to that. To what it’s like to perceive someone’s life v. live it. When I think about people who have been injured, I don’t remember how they were injured or the details. I don’t think about the months of rehab they went through, the crying. Instead, I think: What happened to her, she disappeared for awhile and then killed it at that one race? Or I think: Oh, there’s always something happening with her, whatever it is. I don’t remember the specifics.

I can list a long history of my injuries, but I also can barely remember now what it was that one summer that almost crippled me. Was it my calf, my foot? Was that the year I tore something or just had a mysterious pain? It’s hard to remember later — unless it becomes the defining injury, the one you never forget. And no one wants that.

Sprint for the Super League

The photo above is from the sprint finish between Katie Zaferes and Cassandre Beaugrand. It was, by all accounts, one of the most exciting finishes ever. And if you look at the time-lapsed photo finish, I’m not convinced it shouldn’t have just been a tie. But still. Isn’t this what sport is supposed to be about? Isn’t this how we create fans and stars and a league? Racing — racing for something on the line — is why we watch.

Around in circles

I also watched the USA Track & Field Indoor National Championships this weekend. (Which is a mouthful.) I watched it because it was on the TV and all I had to do was click on the channel I wanted. But I also watched it because it was weirdly exciting? The hands-down, best race of the weekend was 16-year-old Athing Mu not letting herself get passed — and then running a world indoor record for the win. Watch it. Second best: Colleen Quigley held off teammate and super-closer Shelby Houlihan to take her first national title. Which, guys, aww, it’s just nice to see someone close the deal after being so close for so long. (BTW. If you want to keep up on women’s racing, the Fast Women newsletter is actually becoming one of my new favorites.)

It’s only crazy…

Plus, if you weren’t laying on the couch watching TV between training sessions, or if you don’t go on the internets, then you might have missed the new Nike ad. It’s worth a watch. Arguably, it was the best thing that aired during the Oscars. But here’s why I like it: Because it’s messy, it’s female athletes who aren’t all plucky go-getter and good role models, it’s women being bad sports and angry, it’s “controversial” and hard, it’s not an easy sell. It’s everything that being a female athlete actually is, and only a little bit what Instagram makes it seem like. It’s ugly and crazy. And, in a way, that’s what makes the ad work. “It’s only crazy until you do it…”

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  • Kikkan Randall talks about what it’s been like having breast cancer. (And she was on the Ironwomen podcast.)
  • The 2024 Olympics — that’s the one in Paris — announced it’ll let regular runners run the marathon course. Uh, at some time later and not on the same course really as the pros. But still. And also they might include breakdancing.
  • This whole thing with Mary Akor fighting it out for the Austin Marathon win is just weird. Super weird.
  • This bike trail all the way across the country is also weird, but amazing if it actually happens.
  • What if how many push-ups you can do is the best indicator of heart health?
  • The best exercise is high-intensity non-exercise.
  • How do you design a P.E. class that actually achieves what it’s trying to do? (Trick question: It’s harder than you think.)
  • Strava shows us a lot of things. One of them being the segregation built into running routes. 
  • Welcome to a world built for men — everything from crash test dummies to office thermostats. So THAT’S FUN. 
  • California is trying to encourage more people to hunt
  • At the Grand Canyon, there were just paint buckets full of uranium sitting in a museum for years. Because that seemed like a reasonable place to store that. 
  • Who killed Tulum? We did. We *all* did.
  • ___________

    Comments & thoughts

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

    Both Sara and Rachel said my use of “eh” was confusing for our Canadian readers. Eh mean ehhhhhh, meh, boring, whatever. Sorry, will translate next time.

    Jess and Lisa sent us voicemails on last week’s podcast. And remember, you can always send in voicemails by emailing us a voice memo. But no more voicemails about make-up.

    And Laura pointed out we need a governing body (that isn’t a for-profit company) governing the long-distance side of the sport…

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