November 27, 2019

Newsletter ep. 115: it’s OK to be OK

This past Friday I got sick. It happens. It especially happens when you’re traveling, not sleeping enough and incredibly emotionally strung out. It was not shocking. But if you’ve been following my last few months, or even my last few weeks, you’ll understand it felt like one more thing the world was piling on me.

It’s easy to feel like that, to get in the cycle and trap of feeling like everyone is out to get you. When things start to go wrong, it creates circumstances for more things to go wrong, because you cut corners and don’t have any buffer to absorb small mistakes or issues. Soon it seems like the world is out to get you, but really the world doesn’t care. You’ve done this to yourself. That’s how it works.

I know that. And still. I was trying to build fitness to get one race in before the end of the year. Now, I’m just trying to hang on to fitness and have fun at one race before the end of the year. And then I’m going to eat all the brownies and wonder why the world is out to give me chocolate poisoning.

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What do healthy female athletes look like?

This is my high school cross-country team from my junior year, after one of our big invitationals. We were OK, not great, middle of the conference. Sometimes we had break-throughs. Once we beat the state championship team at regionals. It was a big deal. Mostly we ran for ourselves and for each other. 

I was thinking about us a lot this last week. (Which is why I made my high school BFF text me these photos.) I was thinking about our high school girls team because of all the talk about high school girls and teams and female athletes. It was starting to feel like everyone, all of us, must have had eating disorders and abusive coaches and cycles of self-mutilation and depression. It was starting to feel like the system had so screwed us that there were no healthy teenage female runners out there.

And I wanted to say: there were and are at least some healthy female athletes. It is possible.

Look, I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience and I can’t even tell you what everyone in this photo might have been going through behind the lens. Certainly there were some very real issues on our team and certainly girls dealt with all the things girls that age deal with. I’m not saying that didn’t happen.

I’m just saying I mostly ran hard, made best friends, did weird stuff that teams do — toilet papered each other’s houses or ding dong ditched cookies on people’s porches or jumped in pools with all our clothes on — and I never felt like I had to lose weight or be something I wasn’t. Some of it was because I was never quite good enough to be pressured. Some of it was my family and friends and coaches and circumstances. Some of it was just me. (When I seemed good enough to start to getting pressured, when I broke the school record as a freshman and the coach we all hated started giving me shit about focusing more, I basically dug my heels in instead.)

I’m not saying the system isn’t set up to make it hard to be OK. The system needs to be fixed so more people can have fun and race hard and be healthy. I’m just saying it’s OK if you were OK and it’s OK if you weren’t OK.

If you want an Olympian’s perspective on being OK, Jen Rhines wrote something too about her experience and Molly Huddle wrote something about what healthy competition looks like.

Now let’s go out and make triathlon OK for everyone too.

Kona never ends

The Kona cycle never ends now, it just starts again. As we’ve discussed. The pros now head to races right after the Big Dance to punch their ticket for their next dance, or however you want to mangle your metaphors.

To that end, Ironman Arizona and Ironman Cozumel both saw deep fields this weekend and Brad has the call. I don’t have a lot interesting to add except for what happened to Linsey: Apparently, she walked off the run course and into an In n’ Out. I was wondering where she got the money and my husband said probably from whoever took that photo. Which is true.

Also raises the question: What’s the weirdest/nuttiest thing you’ve ever done DNFing? (Even if there’s not a picture.)

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Comments & thoughts

– We asked what things you boycott and there were a lot of answers. Anu noted, “but sometimes time passes and I forget my boycott.”

– Most popular answers were: Nike, Walmart, Uber, Pappa John’s (?), Nestle.

– And have you seen our new cartoons of me and Sara?

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‘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 Nov. 27, 2019.

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