Ups! January ends on a high note! I’m writing this post somewhere warm. I’m riding my bike in Florida. Whee! Last year it was Clermont. This year it’s the nearby town of Mount Dora. Here’s our very cute cottage rental and me amid the lush shrubbery.
This very cute Florida town is home of the Mount Dora Bike Festival though we’re not here for that. The festival is in October and we’re here in January hoping to make good use of their route maps for the rides. Later in the week we’ll be taking on that classic Florida climb, Sugarloaf.
Earlier in the month I was at a conference in Arizona. That was fun too. It’s an excellent conference. But I missed having my bike. There are so many cyclists in Arizona many of them from Canada. Instead, I did Yoga with Adriene in my hotel room and went for walks in the nature trails around the resort.
Downs! These are just January initiatives that weren’t as successful as I’d hoped they’d be. They’re not serious downs or failures. I tried to do Yoga with Adriene at home. I should have done it in my office! I just don’t have room at home. Here’s Cheddar “helping.”
I started out doing the bike everyday in January thing, #31DaysofWinterBiking. I managed commuting by bike lots of days but not all of them. I rode inside some of the time–loving Zwift!–and now I’m spending the last week of winter biking riding in Florida. That hardly counts. 🙂
Caitlin closed up shop last year and I still miss her presence on the internet, both on Facebook and her blog. Tracy and I used to say that it felt like was our cooler, faster, younger sister.
Now we’re celebrating 15,000 followers.
What’s so great about that? I mean other than it being nice to be liked…
It gives us a bigger audience for our blog posts. When we look at where blog traffic comes from almost all of it, with some very rare exceptions, is Facebook. Shares from that page are a big deal for us. Occasionally I think about Facebook and its misbehavior and think about leaving but it would mean significantly scaling back our quest for changing the way people think about fitness. I’m not sure what the answer is but I don’t think feminists should be the first to leave.
It’s not just blog content that’s shared there. I also share a lot of things there that are likely of interest to blog readers. Disagreements occasionally happen and then I draw on our largest blog community to help me moderate. Thanks all!
If you’re a Facebook user and a blog follower, go like us there if you want more feminist fitness content in your newsfeed.
Look what I got for Christmas, a beginner’s guide to goat yoga. Hey, I’m not a beginner. I think I’ve been three times. I’m a fan. But still, it’s a fun book. Thanks Mallory!
We’re currently heading to Florida to ride our bikes for a week. But it won’t be all bike riding. We’re thinking of going here on our rest day, Dancing Moon Goat Yoga. We’ve packed our yoga mats for Yoga with Adriene. After 20 hours driving, with one overnight stop, we’ll definitely need it.
The last time I went to goat yoga I didn’t want to give the baby goat back!
Me, I’ve never been a word of the year person. I’m not sure why. Does it seem too “woo” for me? Too new-age-y?
That’s the thing. I might say that but I have chosen words. On my very first blog, way back on in the days of Friendster, I wrote a post called “My 40s are for FUN.” The theme of my 30s had been FAMILY, I said. Later, I planned my 50s to be about FITNESS. Enter this blog.
I’m also seeing a massage therapist who asks each session if I want a word for the purposes of focus. Last week after way too much time in conference chairs and airplane seats it was SOFTEN. He repeats the word while working out all the knots in my muscles and makes my knees just a little bit happier.
But this is my first time assigning a word for the year. I tried doing it during my stint with Precision Nutrition but it didn’t feel right. But this year a word struck me and that word is FOCUS. (What’s up with all the F’s? I don’t know. Sorry.)
Why FOCUS? Well, it’s a challenge for me. I like to juggle a lot of different things. I often read three of four books at a time. Watch a couple of shows. Have lots of different writing projects on the go. And I’m that way with physical activity too.
But this year I need to focus. I have one goal in mind which is getting ready for total knee replacement surgery next year. It’s not going to be easy. I have to keep up the physio, stay active, and do everything with knee health in mind. There’s no wandering off in pursuit of other goals. Everything has to be about my knee.
I need to practise saying things like, “that’s not the best thing for my knee and right now I need to give priority to my knee.” Focus.
I need to not do things, like certain yoga poses, that I can do but that hurt my knee. Focus.
I need to walk the right amount to help the joint but not enough to hurt it. Focus.
I’ll work out hard but then I need to carefully plan enough rest and recovery. Focus.
After I’d chosen my word, and written this post, along came Adriene. Perfect.
Watch “Home – Day 23 – Focus | 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene” on YouTube
Malindi Elmore, from my home town, smashed the Canadian women’s marathon record on Sunday, running a blistering 2:24:50. Canadian Running observed that it has been a spectacular year for Canadian women runners. Twenty records have fallen over the past thirteen months. In Houston, as Malindi was crushing the marathon, Natasha Wodak became the first Canadian woman to run the half marathon in under 70 minutes.
Fingers crossed, Malindi will run for Canada in Japan this summer, and I know the Kelowna running community will be glued to the live stream when she races. The success of our home-town superstar reflects the achievements of a larger group of amazing women runners of all ages and stages. Liz Borrett, age 80, ran the Boston and London marathons back to back last April, winning her age group at both races. Christy Lovig was the top Canadian woman at the New York marathon in November. Diane Leonard, age-group winner of the 2017 Boston, was declared Grand Master of the Maui marathon the same day Malindi broke the tape in Houston. Kelowna is home to Cindy Rhodes, six-time winner of the Victoria marathon.
I have often speculated that there is something in the Okanagan water that makes for such greatness. But having run with the Kelowna Running Club for the past two years, I’m pretty sure it’s about the running community, a community that has fostered women’s running for decades, even when running—especially the marathon—was all about men. The loneliness of the long-distance runner is well documented, but in this place, everyone has your back, whether it’s Park Run or Boston that you want to race.
When I moved to Kelowna, my friends in Ontario warned me: “Those people out there, they’re not kidding.” And it’s true—they aren’t. They race to win. And racing to win is not for everyone. But the joy of racing, at any level, is the about the joy of testing your limits. And for me, testing limits and gaining confidence in the face of adversity (currently, the fresh hell that is the marathon), is part of the feminist work I undertake as a daily practice. The women of Kelowna push me forward when I want to step back. Of my half marathon performance in the fall, a running friend observed, “I thought you would do better.” When I say these words to myself, they are part of a language of self-criticism and defeat. When I hear them from a friend, they motivate me to reach the standard she has set for me. The same is true on a long run. When a Boston veteran tells me I had better pick it up for the last five kilometres of a 20 km run, you can be sure I get my ass in gear. I run harder because the women of Kelowna believe in me, even when I don’t believe in myself.
On Sunday, while Malindi was chasing her PB in Houston, I was running a half marathon in California, and Diane was running her full in Maui. I thought of my fellow Kelowna women as I ran, knowing that all three of us were suffering. As I reached mile ten, a woman came up on my shoulder. “Let’s pass these guys,” she said, nodding at the men in front of us. In that moment, I remembered what is distinctly feminist, for me, about racing. Women prove, by their efforts, that they have great strength, strength that often goes unrecognized and unrewarded in our culture. We prove that we are determined to overcome the barriers we encounter. We prove that we will get to the finish line, one way or another, with the help of our friends and allies. Approaching the end of my race in Pasadena, I saw a young woman in front of me struggling. “You’ve got this,” I said as I came up beside her, and she took off. I kept her in my sites as I ran for my PB. I was doing my thing, and she was doing hers. But we were doing it together.
I’m staying at a beautiful resort in Tucson, Arizona. I love it here in the desert. I’ve come here twice to ride my bike in the winter. See here and here.
But this year I’m not here to ride my bike. I’m here for the annual Workshop in Normative Ethics, hosted by the Philosophy department at the University of Arizona. It’s a great conference and it’s at this very lovely resort/conference center. Thanks Mark!
From the article, “According to a new study, wealthy men and women don’t only live longer, they also get eight to nine more healthy years after 50 than the poorest individuals in the United States and in England.”
“In both countries, wealthy women tended to live 33 disability-free years after age 50 — eight to nine more than poor women, the study found. Wealthy men tended to live 31 disability-free years after 50 — eight to nine more than poor men.”
Wealth mattered more than education and more than social class.
I guess I’m not shocked. Here in Arizona, I was struck by the very fit seniors staying at this resort. I listened in on their tennis lessons while reading some conference materials outside. Nice to have a keen coach giving you advice on your serve. But there’s not just tennis here. There’s also golf. And swimming. And biking. And hiking trails. And a gym.
The other thing that’s got me thinking about wealth is my knee replacement. I’m waiting nearly a year and a half for it in Canada. I know people in Canada who don’t wait. They travel south to the US for joint replacements. I even looked up prices. It was easy to look because I’ve posted so much about it on social media that there are many ads in my newsfeed for American hospitals marketing their wait free services to Canadians. $49,500. Wow. Guess, I’m waiting.
The knee replacement will be covered fully by my province’s health plan when it happens. Note though that none of the conservative strategies–injections, knee brace, physio–are covered by that plan. Instead my workplace benefits paid for that. I’m very grateful.
But if I were an American without health insurance or if I had benefits didn’t cover the full cost of knee replacement and I was trying to juggle launching three twenty somethings with my own pain and lessening activity levels, chances are I’d wait for surgery longer than the wait here in Canada. Waiting means, for most people, being less active.
I’m wealthy by most measures but I’m not “fly to the US and pay out of pocket for joint replacement” wealthy. I am “knee brace and physio” covered by workplace benefits wealthy. But it all seems very clear to me that in terms of staying active, wealth makes a difference.
And I guess I’m not surprised that wealth means both more years of life and more healthy years but the number of years did surprise me. Colour me naive. I know. Also, I’m curious to see what the results would be in Canada.