Rest in power fit feminist, friend, philosopher, fashionista, fellow dog walker, and yogi Cate Hundleby

A friend and feminist philosopher died suddenly and unexpectedly of a pulmonary infection over the weekend. I’m heartbroken and shaken up.

I first met Catherine as a graduate student at Western. She was part of a cohort of feminist philosophers of science supervised by Kathleen Okruhlik. Catherine went on to career at the University of Windsor and contributed a ton to feminist philosophy community building, and a ton to her department, and to Philosophy at Windsor, in addition to her own research and teaching, which was also a lot and significant.

You can read more about Catherine’s work in philosophy here.

In recent years, after my move to Guelph, we became closer friends as Guelph is Cate’s hometown. We met up for dog walks a lot. We talked about philosophy (of course) but also about body positivity, families, feminist community, and university politics. We loved talking about clothes and fashion. We schemed about retiring together in Guelph and I always had a sense that we had lots more friendship in our future. Now we don’t and I’m very sad. I can’t even imagine what her family in Guelph are going through. I’m thinking about her mother, her sisters, her nieces, and her dog Chloe.

I’m Cate’s memory, I’m going to share some of Cate’s blog posts here at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

There are other Cate posts and you can read them all here.

Sam, Cate, and Cheddar on one of our many dog walks in Guelph

Happy birthday new knee!

August 29, 2022 was new knee day

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my left knee.

My left knee is now almost one year old, on the inside anyway. It feels pretty good. Certainly, it’s working well. No knee pain, and I can walk some substantial distances.

It doesn’t feel exactly like it felt before. There’s no pain for one thing. It’s not quite as flexible as the original joint was either. It also still feels a bit alien, like when I touch it, it still doesn’t feel quite like mine.

But I’m walking a lot and pretty soon I’ll be dancing too. I rode my bike 40 km recently in the Pedaling for Parkinsons ride.

Happy Birthday new left knee! Let’s keep up with the physio and keep moving.

Happy Birthday!

To listen, read, and watch on the weekend, #ListenReadWatch


Wiser Than Me with Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Louis-Dreyfus wants to know why the hell we don’t hear more from older women, so she’s sitting down with Jane Fonda, Carol Burnett, Amy Tan, Diane von Furstenberg, Isabel Allende and Fran Lebowitz (and more!) to get schooled in how to live a full and meaningful life. Join the Emmy award winning-est actress of all time on her first-ever podcast where each week she has funny, touching, personal conversations with unforgettable women who are always WISER THAN ME™.

We listened to the interview with Jane Fonda on a recent car trip. Loved hearing about her life, her views about death, strength, love, and fitness. Also, she talks about aging, sex, and her favorite vibrator. I’m looking forward to hearing more interviews in the series.


Unpacking the invisible, gendered labour of women coaches

“Despite a positive shift in sport culture towards prioritizing athletes’ mental health and well-being, the crucial work of coaches in supporting athletes — and the resulting emotional toll — remains taken for granted.

Referred to as emotional labour, this often-overlooked part of coaching requires coaches to manage their emotions in order to influence or mediate the emotions of their athletes.

This situation is particularly pronounced for women coaches, who are consistently striving to establish themselves in a male-dominated space driven by competition and mental toughness.”


10 minutes of balancing breath work with Adriene

challenge · charity · cycling

Sam Pedaled for Parkinsons and Now Wants a Nap

Thanks to blog followers, family, and friends who sponsored us in this year’s Pedaling for Parkinsons ride in Prince Edward County. Our team, Spinning for Susan, raised nearly $5000.

Next year, we hope to do it again with a much larger team of fit feminist bloggers and friends and make a Prince Edward County weekend of it.

This year, it was just Sarah, Emily, and me again. Our team was small but mighty. I was nervous. It was my longest ride since knee surgery.

The weather started out cold and threatening rain. It was also a very, very windy day. Luckily, the sun did shine eventually, and we had the tailwind on the way home.

You can check out all my achievements on Strava. Thanks tailwind!

Thanks also, Sarah and Emily! I did a lot of drafting on this ride.

Here’s our team:

See you next year! It really is a great cause, a beautiful route, and though we did the 40 km this year, I’m hoping that next year I’m ready to tackle the 75 km.

But for now, what I want is a dip in the pool, an afternoon in the hammock with my book, and possibly a nap. I was laughing at my Garmin’s estimate of my energy levels, body battery=5/100. Definitely nap time!

fitness · Guest Post · race report · running

Running does not have to be an achievement journey (Guest post)

by Stacey Ritz

If you had told me one year ago that I would run a 5K race this summer, I would have laughed in your face. But on Saturday, I ran the Burlington Butter Tart 5K.

Got my race bib on, waiting by the lake for the start.
(alt-text: a woman wearing a blue hat and a black “Slow AF Run Club” tank top with a red numbered running bib pinned to it, with Lake Ontario in the background)

I have never been a natural athlete. As a kid, I remember resenting the Canada Fitness Award Program, where I don’t think I was ever able to meet the Bronze standard for anything; in fact, the Program was discontinued in 1992 because it was viewed as “discouraging to those who needed the most encouragement,” which reflects my experience of it to a tee. The worst part was when we’d be sent outside to run a lap around the school perimeter. I always seemed to get a stitch in my side, and was always one of the very slowest ones (and sometimes dead last). All of my memories about running as a kid involve shame, embarrassment, physical discomfort, and envy of the kids who seemed to lope effortlessly around the school.

I tried running again during grad school, when many people in my lab were running. I found a training plan in a magazine for non-runners to get to a 30-minute sustained run in 10 weeks and decided to give it a try, absolutely determined that I would not quit before completing the plan. My friends assured me that by then I’d love it, but that didn’t happen. In week 10 I went out 3 times and ran for 30m as scheduled, but hated every bloody second of it, and I got home, took my running shoes off, and never put them on again. I figured I had given running a fair shot, and it just wasn’t for me.

So what on earth made me take it up again 25 years later? In early October 2022, I met a friend for dinner at a conference, and she told me that she had recently started running using the Peloton app, and was really loving it. Now, my sisters-in-law had been singing the praises of the Peloton app for quite some time, but they are both exercise lovers by nature, so their endorsement didn’t do much to convince me. But when my friend told me that she, too, had previously hated running, and using the Peloton app and springing for a good pair of running shoes had changed her mind, I decided to give it a try. She sent me a 60-day free trial for the app, and I went home and I bought a pair of Hoka running shoes.

I started by going out once a week, Saturday mornings, using the Peloton Outdoor walk/run workouts. I think part of my ultimate success was the pure dumb luck of having selected exactly the right workout for someone who was a true beginner. One of the things I find frustrating about the Peloton app is that it doesn’t provide much info about the detailed structure of their outdoor running workouts, so I was fortunate to have chosen one that had short running intervals (30 to 60s) separated by a couple of minutes walking. If I had chosen one marked “beginner” that had 3- or 4-minute running intervals, I think I likely would have quit; it was a few months before I could sustain 3 minutes of slow running comfortably.

By February, I had been going out consistently every week, and one day, to my great surprise, I discovered I was actually looking forward to my next run. In March, once the days had started to get longer and it was still light out when I got home from work, I started going out a couple of additional times on weeknights as well. In April, I happened across an advertisement for the Burlington Butter Tart 5K (where you get a butter tart at the end), and the idea amused me so much that I signed up for it.

Running this time around has been an interesting and thought-provoking journey for me. I had a particularly significant a-ha moment in February when I was out for a run and thought “I wonder how long it will be before I can just run continuously without taking walking breaks,” and then, my next thought: “it literally doesn’t matter if I never get any better at this. Even if I do walk/run intervals forever, even if I don’t extend the length of my running intervals, even if I never get any faster, it doesn’t matter at all.” That was an utterly transformative moment for me, and I’m still feeling the reverberations of it.

We are often such an achievement-oriented culture that it’s easy to fall into a pattern of thinking that we have to always be moving toward a goal of some kind to make our efforts worthwhile: to run faster, run longer, lose weight, whatever the achievement is that is supposed to motivate us. For me, rejecting that achievement mindset was paradoxically motivating: just getting out there and moving at any pace is worthwhile. I like the way I feel after a run; although I’ve never experienced the classic ‘runner’s high’ (even many elite athletes don’t, and there may even be a link between depression and not getting a runner’s high), I do get a diffuse sensation of a sort of spaciousness in my body for up to a day or so afterward that feels really good.  I also enjoy the little ritual I’ve built around my runs. And I feel positive about making a good investment in my health: I don’t give a rat’s ass about losing weight anymore, but I know that building stronger bones and muscles will be a valuable asset to me as I age (I turn 50 next year).One of the things that was helpful to me was following some non-archetypal runners on Instagram (I’m a particularly big fan of Sandra at @bigfit_i_run and Martinus at @300poundsandrunning), who helped affirm that there is nothing wrong with being a slow runner, and that running with walking breaks (also sometimes called jeffing) is a totally legit way of being a runner. In fact, a growing amount of research shows that running slower has some specific benefits that aren’t associated with more intense workouts.

During the race on Saturday, I completed most of it by alternating between 90s of slow running and 30s of walking. I can run for longer intervals than that now, but I tend to run a lot more slowly when I’m tackling longer stretches, so that 90s/30s strategy actually improves my overall pace. However, when I came around the final corner and could see the balloon arch finishing line in the distance, I pushed myself to run as hard as I could for the last 600m or so. In my head I felt like Usain Bolt, but the video my son took proves that I was really moving at what can only be generously called a hurried jog. I finished the race in 42m 53s. There are plenty of people who would not be even remotely impressed with that time (the winner of the race finished in 16m and change), but I didn’t do it to impress anyone.

Although I’m glad to have done it, I don’t think I’m going to run another 5K any time soon. One of the things I realized while preparing for this 5K race was that I don’t actually like running for more than 25 or 30 minutes at a stretch; I persisted with the 5K distance because I was determined not to back out of the race, but now that it’s done, I think I’ll go back to doing 20 or 30 minute outings. I also found that when I was preparing for this specific event, I tended to slip back into the goal-oriented mindset (maybe I can finish in under 40 minutes, if I train more maybe I can do the whole thing without taking any walking breaks) that my February insight had helped me escape from. Now that the race is done, I’m really looking forward to going back to that headspace where getting ‘better’ doesn’t matter.

Crossing the finish line at the Burlington Butter Tart 5K. In my head, I felt like I was sprinting at top speed, but video footage proves that it is more of a sort-of-hurried jog.

(alt-text: 4 runners approaching the finish line of a race, marked by a yellow, beige and brown balloon arch. 3 of the runners are blurred out to protect their privacy; the author is wearing black shorts, a black “Slow AF Run Club” tank top, and a blue hat.)

Stacey Ritz is a faculty member at McMaster University in Hamilton, crossword fan, and is a strong contender as the Canadian record-holder for most repeated viewings of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

post-5K.jpg:  Sinking my teeth into the race’s namesake after the finish.
(alt-text: a woman wearing a blue hat taking the first bite of a butter tart)
cycling · fitness · season transitions · swimming

Oh, August. Can we panic now?

There are first day of school photos in my social media newsfeed already. People! Geesh. Why do Americans start school so early?

But then there’s my own life. My 59th birthday is fast approaching. It’s the last day of August. My September calendar is getting pretty full. I’m thinking about a back to school haircut.

Yes, I’m on vacation this week. But the week after is a senior leadership retreat at the university, where retreat doesn’t mean we go anywhere. But it is a very big serious meeting about plans and priorities for the coming academic year.

I’m starting to have that panicky feeling that the end of summer is very much in sight. Ack!

Tonight sunset is 8:28 pm.

Now it’s normal to feel this way in August, especially for a university professor. I won’t tell you about all the writing I haven’t finished. That’s another story.

But this year, I feel the end of summer panic especially intensely. This year has been so much recovery from surgery and so much physio that there’s lots I haven’t done. Between work and physio, it’s been a very busy serious few months.

What exactly haven’t I done?

‣ I haven’t ridden my bike very far at all. No century rides for me this summer.

‣ I haven’t been out sailing in our Snipe. No Snipe racing for me this year.

‣ I haven’t gone back county canoe camping.

‣ I haven’t spent even a single day at the beach.

‣ This was also a summer of no European conferences. It’s been a while. First, no travel because of the pandemic and then no travel because of knee woes, knee surgery, and recovery.

‣ This is connected to the first point, but there’s also been no bike trips.

‣ And there are so many friends I’d like to hang out with on patios, but I am already saying, well, maybe next year.

Summer time flies by so fast.

And I haven’t even mentioned the weather and how much rain there’s been. The poor drenching wet bike rally!

Here’s three positive thoughts though.

First, focusing on my knees has been successful. I’ve been a dedicated physio patient. I’m back in the gym. And recovery is going very well. So it has been a summer of big effort and discipline but in the long run that will serve me well.

Second, summer isn’t over yet. My mum and I have a day trip planned for this week, and Sarah, mum, and I are taking all three dogs for a weekend away to visit my youngest child, Miles. It’s warm enough to enjoy the outdoors well into September and October. The very warm summer weather means that fall may be well be the best season for riding bikes.

Third, I think this year it’s okay to be making plans for next summer already. They say to allow a full year for each knee to recover from surgery. Knee #2 was April 10. So next spring and summer, I’ll be good to go knee wise. I’m hoping to travel and see a bit more of the world.

How do you feel about August and end of summer anxiety? What helps you cope?

fashion · fitness

Come on, Barbie, let’s go party! (Or ride bikes?)

Pink glittery helmet

I’ve written before about owning the femmiest bike helmet on the planet.

The femmiest bike helmet ever

I had a fun bike ride home from work this week. First, fun because I took the long way through the beautiful Arboretum. Second, fun because three different women commented on my helmet saying how much they liked it. Two of them yelled praise from car windows.

Leave a little sparkle wherever you go

I got home and told the story on Facebook, speculating that the Barbie movie was responsible.

My friend Alison commented, “It’s a Barbie moment in history. All the people who like pink and glitter and fun girly clothing are just going for it right now. It’s Barbie’s world, we are just living in it. 💖💃”

Another friend, Connie, added, “It’s like the Barbie movie allowed women to suddenly support and hype each other. I’m here for it! 💖”

Wait until they see me wearing the pink helmet while riding my pink bike!

Sam in pink with her pink Brompton

Sam’s first 100 km ever, where it all began

This morning’s post, about letting a summer go by without a 100 km bike ride, got me wondering about when it was that I started doing century bike rides. Surely it was after I got my first road bike?

My first road bike was a 2005 red Cannondale, an aluminum bike with some carbon bits. It’s the only road bike that I’ve bought new from a bike shop. It was a bike shop in London’s east end that sold bikes in the summer and snow sport equipment in the winter. Remember the name? Was it All Seasons? I think I bought it in 2006. And I rode my first century in 2007.

For the age curious reader that would put me in my early 40s.

Here’s the bike:

A red Cannondale

I bought the bike when I decided to train for a triathlon. I had been running for a few years and bike commuting to work. I’ve always been a recreational swimmer. My colleagues included a number of serious cyclists and once I started running, in addition to bike commuting, there was some joking that it was time for me to buy a real bike.

I went to the bike shop and choose the bike above.

I liked that the local bike shop I bought the bike from had group rides for new riders a couple of times a week. They taught me to shift and to clip and unclip. I think that’s a terrific thing that more bike shops ought to do. It teaches you to use the shiny new thing you’ve bought and helps get you started at building community. Of course, it also bonds you to the shop and when you need a new thing, like gloves, you’re more likely to buy it from the shop after a ride, than from the internet. (I’m not sure I was buying things from the internet back then.)

Next I joined the triathlon training group at the Running Room and went out on their training rides. It was love at first pedal. Right away I could tell that I was a better cyclist than I was a runner. I passed a lot of people and I was riding with people I couldn’t run with. Hi Martin!

I think my first ride with them was about 40 km. I remember that we drove to the edge of town and parked our cars in a strip mall parking lot on the north edge of London.

From there I started to ride with more experienced cyclists who took me out in the evenings and taught me to draft, how to get through intersections without losing the group, how to drink water and put the bottle back without stopping pedaling, how to slow down without braking, etc. I also rode a lot with my friend the triathlete and German mathematician, Martin, who I met on that first triathlon training ride.

Okay, I accidentally dropped him–he said he was stopping for a nature call beside the road and would catch up to me. It never occurred to either of us that he wouldn’t be able to catch up. 😃

Once I acquired some skills necessary for group riding, my serious cyclist friends suggested I join a local cycling club, the London Centennial Wheelers, which I did. The first club ride I did was 80 km but after that, the weekly rides ramped up to 100 or more. The longest ride I’ve ever done was with LCW, in year two or year three of riding. It was supposed to be an imperial century, 100 miles or 160 km, but we got lost on our way home (pre-cell phones with maps!) and ended up riding 176 km instead of 160. There were some grumpy people at the end of the ride.

There’s no record of these early efforts because for me it was pre-Garmin and pre-Strava.

I did a lot of group riding in those years, a little bit of racing, and even started riding at the velodrome over the winter. I started to feel like I had 100 km rides in the bank. Like, I could start out the year riding 100 km and it wouldn’t kill me.

After a time I upgraded to a fully carbon red Cannondale and took that bike to Australia on sabbatical in 2012. Here’s the fancier red bike. I bought that bike second hand, over the internet, from a woman who raced.

A new red Cannondale

The years between now and then and have involved many 100 km plus rides. There’s been Gran Fondos and MS Bike Tours in which we did the full distance in one day rather than spreading it out over two days. There were also Friends for Life Bike Rallies and Newfoundland cycling trips.

I’m happy to be getting back to it. I’m also hoping that when 100 km gets to be too much, if not now then later, that I’m okay with that too.

I recently enjoyed reading this piece, How to Grow Old Gracefully As a Cyclist.

“Above all, the most important thing you can do for yourself right now is to diversify your riding. Accept that not every ride has to be epic, and that shorter rides can even be more enjoyable than longer ones. Wardrobe often informs your mindset, so if you’re riding in Lycra all the time try dressing down every once in awhile, or even riding in jeans. Explore the wide world of bikes beyond what the mainstream companies market: steel frames, upright bars, singlespeeds, vintage bikes. Build a cycling portfolio that allows you to enjoy yourself on a bicycle even if you’re no longer able to hold onto the wheel in front of you, ride on technical terrain, or maintain an aggressive position.”

charity · cycling · fitness

How to feel about missing things

Or, alternative title, this is the first summer in a very very long time when I won’t have ridden 100 km on my bike and I’m not sure how to feel about it. (Actually, that’s not quite true, there was the first pandemic summer when I was very apprehensive about riding big distances. It wasn’t because I worried about catching covid-19 or giving it to anyone else, but I was concerned about hospital capacity, and even the small risk of a crash seemed too much.)

But before that, it wasn’t since my Australia and New Zealand sabbaticals in 2017 and 2012. I did a lot of riding in Australia and NZ and even some regular racing (thanks to Women on Wheels and the Vikings) but because of all the hills, people didn’t tend to regularly ride big distances. Or at least the people I regularly rode with there didn’t ride long distances. There were endurance cycling groups but that community seemed different than the racing cycling clubs.

In my world, a century is a kind of cycling landmark. People talk about their first century ride, for example. I’ve given advice here on the blog about how to prepare for your first century.

In my early years of cycling my first century ride, 100 km, came early in the cycling season. I have very fond memories of riding to Port Stanley and back to London in late spring, early summer. See, for example, A feminist fitness bloggers’ century ride to Port Stanley. I’m afraid Tracy’s memories of her first century ride are less fond. Sorry, Tracy.

In 2018 Sarah and I did our first century of the summer on the day of the 1 day version of the bike rally. While not our best choice, we survived. I think that might have been my latest ‘first century of the summer.’

But this year I won’t make it at all and that makes me a little bit sad. Just like missing the bike rally.

Someone said recently, well maybe that’s the new normal for you post knee replacement–50 km rides instead of 100 km rides. And maybe it is. If it is I think I can accept that. I’ll still love riding my bike and I’ll focus on getting faster.

But it is also just four months since total knee replacement surgery on my right knee and just under a year since surgery on my left knee.

Patience. It’s early days.

I am setting myself the goal of riding my age in a day, so that’s 59 km in a day by the end of August. I am also taking part in the Pedaling for Parkinson’s ride in Prince Edward County and that’s 40 km on August 19. Our team is Spinning for Susan and you can sponsor us here. Meeting my goal might cheer me up!

camping · cycling · fitness

I miss you so much bike rally! ♥️

One of my favorite stretches of the bike rally

What’s the Friends for Life Bike Rally?

“The Friends for Life Bike Rally is the only volunteer-led ride, that brings people together for an inclusive, supportive, and life-changing challenge that inspires much-needed help for people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto, Kingston and Montréal.”

It’s a 6 day, 600+ km charity bike ride, from Toronto to Montreal.

I won’t be doing it this year. I missing the 25th anniversary year because it’s too close to my second knee replacement and I haven’t been able to train or ride those distances yet.

For many years training for the bike rally, fundraising for the bike rally, and riding the bike rally has shaped my summers. The Friends for Life Bike Rally was the big event that marked, for me, our fittest by fifty challenge that launched the blog.

I’m not going to give the full list of which summers I rode and who I rode with but it feels like the rally is part of the rhythm of my summer. There’s a partial list here, I think.

Last year Sarah and I rode the full thing and our friend Rob came along as a rubber maid rustler, helping to get the containers full of riders’ tents, clothes and sleeping bags off the trucks that accompany us along the route. I did it pretty much right before knee replacement surgery.

It’s a meaningful and importance cause. It’s also a community I care very much about. There are friends I only see every year at bike rally training rides or at the ride itself. Hey friends!

Today, Saturday, is packing day for the rally and my newsfeed is full of friends’ stories and photos of what they’ve forgotten this year and in years past. Tomorrow, Sunday, is departure day and I’ll be following along to see how my rally friends are managing, both in terms of kilometers ridden and dollars raised.

My Facebook newsfeed is also full of memories of past rides.

Sarah and Sam in their bike rally jerseys

Here’s more rally memories:

You might be wondering, “What on earth can I possibly do to make Sam feel better about missing the bike rally?” That’s easy. You can sponsor a rider who isn’t me here.

Or, you can sponsor me in the Pedal for Parkinson’s ride, which I am doing this summer here.

I’m hoping to ride in the Friends for Life Bike Rally next summer, either the three day or the six day ride, though I worry about our changing climate and heat and thunderstorms more than about my fitness.

See you there!