cycling · fit at mid-life · fitness

Kim gets out of a rut by getting back into the saddle on a spontaneous solo bike holiday

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(A grey road bike with orange bar tape and white lettering reading ‘cervelo’ set against a backdrop of rolling countryside. This shot was taken in celebration at the top of Ditchling Beacon, the great stinking East Sussex hill in the blog post below.)

If you follow my posts on FFI, or follow me on my teaching blog, The Activist Classroom, you know I’ve been a bit low lately: not resting enough, feeling frustrated with work, unsure about my fitness commitments.

I’ve had some significant change in my life over the last handful of years, but now that I’m more settled, in a wonderful new community, I’m realizing that my emotional upset isn’t just keyed to all the changes: it’s also more.

I’m at midlife, so there’s that. I’m looking into the next 20 years of my career, and wondering what it is I really want to do. I’m in a new relationship, which is fantastic but also makes for the adjustment of well-loved (and relied-upon, and sanity-saving) routines. And… and… and…

It’s an emotional cul-de-sac. And I’m in it.

Usually, when I’m not in a great place, I’m cheered immensely by getting on my bicycle. There’s incredible freedom in just rolling, sometimes punching a hill and coasting down the backside, letting thoughts pass in and out, engaging in some supportive self-talk. It’s like meditation for me.

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(Another glam shot of my orange-and-grey road bike, this time set against a tree trunk in a forest setting. I put a filter on this shot to make it look a bit nostalgic; I miss my bike these days.)

Lately, though, jumping on my bike has not been as regularly possible as in the past. I’ve made a commitment to row quite frequently with the master’s squad at my new local club, and that’s eating a lot of free time. (More on my vexed relationship with rowing in a post later in the summer. I’m still working it out.)

With up to 10 hours per week at the rowing club – and practices scheduled directly against the group rides organized by my cycling club – I just can’t find the saddle time I’m used to. And I’m really quite bummed about that.

I had a chat with Cate about all this over breakfast a couple of Sundays ago. She said: you know what? You need to do what nourishes you.

Forget about the rowing club commitment for a bit; nobody is going to die if you say you can’t make it to practice. They’ll work around you. And you need to work for you for a while.

Very shortly after this breakfast chat I was packing for a work trip to London and Belgrade. I had 10 days in the UK ahead of the conference I was attending in Serbia. I was going to just spend it with friends.

Then I had a brilliant, spur-of-the-moment, idea.

Why not carve out a couple of days just for riding? Someplace wonderful! Someplace I know, but haven’t been in ages. Someplace restful, scenic, where I can be alone and at peace on the bike all I want.

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(A black-and-white photo of an iron sign that reads “Best Kept Large Village in East Sussex, presented by the Sussex rural community council”. That’s Ditchling, my cycling home for two days in early July. And what a fine little town it is!)

I always travel to England with my road bike; I first learned to cycle properly there, and I know the ins and outs of the home county roads well. So I was always going to have my bike with me already. (NB: traveling with a bike is easier than you think! You need a good bicycle box for airline travel, but otherwise it is not that complicated.)

The morning of my flight, I sat in my garden and arranged two days in Ditchling, East Sussex. It’s a short train journey from central London (about 50 minutes), but a world away, in the rolling South Downs just over the hills from Brighton.

I have cycled there twice before – riding the “Puncheur” cyclosportif (aka, a gran fondo ride), which happens every spring in the area – and I’ve stayed at the wonderful, picturesque Bull inn too.

The Bull team told me I could park my bike in their locked shed overnight, and accommodated all my cycling needs (ice water constantly on tap; friendly faces telling me about their own cycling adventures). I arrived on a sunny Monday afternoon, dropped everything, and headed into the hills, GPS maps for my bike computer downloaded from the Puncheur’s website.

Then, the next morning, I retraced the race route I’d last cycled in 2014.

(A group of four photos from my long ride in Ditchling. There are rolling hills with parched grassland – there was a drought going on – and copses of greenery dappled throughout. In one shot we see the roadside sign for The Crown freehouse in Turner’s Hill set against a bright blue sky. In another I’m smiling into the camera with my helmet and glasses on; I look pink but that’s the filter. My kit is actually green. Oh, and there’s a sheep chilling behind me. I’m in the Ashdown Forest.)

It’s a pretty tough ride, at 101.5km and almost 5000 feet (1560 metres) of climbing, including a brutal 3/4 mile category 4 climb (Ditchling Beacon) at the end.

But hey, I wasn’t actually doing the race! I reminded myself, when things started to get iffy, that this ride was just for me, and I was in charge of how it went: nobody was watching, and nobody was timing me. (OK, I was timing me. But that’s a little bit different.)

When I saw cows and sheep in the road, in the pretty Ashdown Forest, I stopped to photograph them. When I felt drained and like I probably couldn’t go on much longer, I stopped at a public footpath to eat my lemon drizzle cake, purchased from the sweet Green Welly cafe that morning, and take in the view.

And when I got to the bottom of the bloody Beacon, really drained from a long day on my own in the sun and wind, I said: you know you’ve got this. Just spin nice and slow; you’ll get there.

And I did.

At the top I snapped some photos of the view, cheered my achievement, and noted that I had beaten my 2014 route time by almost 20 minutes. That means that, even though back then I was 4 years younger and 15lb lighter, since then I’ve obviously grown stronger, and even more able.

The lesson for me? Although things feel a little bit crap at the moment, and I’m not quite sure what’s ahead, at the top of the beacon I knew: my bike and I have got this.

Ride on!

Kim

Fear · fit at mid-life · fitness · Martha's Musings · motivation · training · weight lifting · yoga

Little steps leading to big leaps

This past month has been one focused on change. We went from a relatively cool June to a muggy July seemingly overnight and training in the heat has been difficult.

My trainer and I have been experimenting, from shifting when I train so I can manage the heat to trying different deadlift and bench approaches. I am still following my trainer’s lead regarding my program, and it’s a relief to let someone else take the reins of planning and directing. People hire me for my expertise in communications and let me take the lead all the time, so I’m perfectly fine relying on my trainer’s knowledge and experience to show me the way forward in the gym.

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Picture shows a person wearing flowered gym tights and grey sneakers in the sunshine

 

It’s a choice that has let me successfully continue with powerlifting as a training focus for almost five years. In that time, I’ve managed recovery from a hyperactive hip joint, a shoulder with attitude, and a knee that constantly whined for attention.

So when Vicky said let’s try a few things, I said okay and we carried on with me lifting heavy things and putting them down, albeit in some very different, challenging variations. We used bands, blocks, pins and posts. We took apart processes and put them back together, and not always in the same way.

I wasn’t always excited about change in the gym. I really worry about reinjuring various parts so I tend to look at new moves with suspicion and a decided lack of enthusiam. However, I trust my trainer and when she proposed deficit deadlifts, I said yes. When she added bands, I said yes, and kept my fingers crossed they wouldn’t snap mid lift. When she proposed pinch presses for bench, I said yes and hoped like heck it didn’t mean I was the one who got pinched. (I wasn’t).

Each shift made the lifts more challenging and I quickly mastered the new ways of lifting, despite how weird it all felt. Each shift meant I had to change the way I carried out my work compared to the traditional approaches.

I find deficit lifts challenging as everything tends to get squished the closer you get the floor and it isn’t so easy breathing either. I quickly discovered I needed a new way to fill my lungs as the heavier the bar the more energy and breath I needed.

I tried a couple of different moves and workarounds until I felt as comfortable as I would ever feel shifting a lot of weight around. I had to do the same thing with bench presses and squats too.

Well, those tiny changes had a big impact. After three weeks of tiny steps, Vicky brought me back to traditional deadlifts and bench presses. I’m thrilled with the results — new personal records in bench and deadlift for four repeats at 100 pounds and 200 pounds respectively.

When I think on it, all my progress has come from tiny steps: from making that first decision to hire a trainer and actually walk into the gym to the actual nurturing of trust in the process, the trainer, and myself.

Each stage builds on the next, creating a space where gains in strength and comfort are possible. Most importantly, I have seen changes in how I have made fitness a part of my life. I added swimming last year when my neighbourhood pool reopened and this summer I took up yin yoga.

When I did the latest survey on my Carrot app, I was delighted to see how much time each week is now devoted to a specific physical activity. The old joke asks “how does one eat an elephant? The answer: one bite at a time. Or in my case, one step at a time, consistently.

— Martha lives and trains in St. John’s.

 

fit at mid-life · fitness · meditation · training

The power of the pact

Image description: low angle street shot of Tracy and Sam with a building and stop sign behind them on an overcast day. Tracy is standing, dressed in running gear, wearing sunglasses. Sam is on her bike, standing, left foot on the ground, right foot on her bike pedal, wearing black workout shorts, a black tank that says
Image description: low angle street shot of Tracy and Sam with a building and stop sign behind them on an overcast day. Tracy is standing, dressed in running gear, wearing sunglasses. Sam is on her bike, standing, left foot on the ground, right foot on her bike pedal, wearing black workout shorts, a black tank that says “FEMINIST” and sunglasses.

During the media around the book, someone, somewhere described Sam and my Fittest by 50 Challenge as a “pact.” Maybe it was that time we were on TV.  We’d never described it quite like that ourselves, but it was a pact. Our challenge was to be the fittest we’d ever been in our lives by the time we turned 50. We made the pact when we were 48.

Now, there were lots of factors that kept us going through the challenge — not the least of it was the public accountability of the blog. But looking back, I think one of the most important factors was that we made a pact with each other.  The dictionary definition of a “pact” is a formal agreement. It involves a kind of mutual commitment to do something.

Having that commitment in place made it harder to back out. It didn’t exactly have the moral weight of a promise. But it still had some binding force or at least a sense of accountability.  In other words, the pact became a motivating factor in our fittest by 50 challenge. It also provided a framework for mutual support and encouragement. And a sort of shorthand for what we were undertaking to do — i.e. “planning to be the fittest we’ve ever been in our lives by the time we turn 50.”

We weren’t doing it for each other, but we were doing it together.

I realize that I quite like pacts. I’ve got a meditation pact going with a friend right now. We’re both committed to getting back on track with meditation. I started out on my own, deciding that I would do 90 meditations in 90 days. I’m on day 15 now. I mentioned it to my friend last week and he liked the idea. So we made a pact. Now we check-in daily–usually by text–to say we’ve done our meditation. And we agreed to have an actual conversation at least once a week about what our experience of meditation was that week–what shifts we might have noticed; what challenges we might have faced; anything we want to share about the previous week of meditation.

The pact has helped me stay on track, and has also given me a nice way to connect with someone with a shared commitment.

That idea of connecting with at least one other person who is trying to do exactly the same thing, even if not in exactly the same way, has power. Samantha and I each did very different things for our fittest by 50 challenge — she dedicated herself to training for the Friends for Life Bike Rally. I dedicated myself to training for an Olympic distance triathlon. Similarly, my meditation friend and I haven’t given any ground rules for what style or length of meditation we need to do each day. We might do quite different things and experience it completely differently. But having the pact means that we are more likely to do it, to report to each other about it, and to feel a sense of camaraderie about it.

So pacts aren’t just about being accountable. They motivate more by fostering a sense of connection and common purpose. I love a good pact!

Have you had any experience with pacts?

fit at mid-life · fitness

40 years later, fat still is a feminist issue

40 years ago, way back in 1978, author and therapist Susie Orbach wrote the book “Fat is a Feminist Issue”. In it she derides a culture that promotes beauty as the primary contribution of women and imposes terrible burdens on them to achieve and maintain it. In a recent news essay about the book, Orbach says,

Fat Is A Feminist Issue talked about our lived experience: how preoccupied we could become with eating, not eating and avoiding fat. Emotionally schooled to see our value as both sexual beings for others and midwives to their desires, we found ourselves often depleted and empty, and caught up in a kind of compulsive giving. Eating became our source of soothing. We stopped our mouths with food, and I proposed we could learn to exchange food – when we weren’t hungry – for words.

Orbach doesn’t believe that the situation has gotten much better in 40 years. She cites the flourishing of cosmetic surgery, online pornography, and big pharma. All of them prey on children, young girls, post-partum women, and others, sending the message that their bodies need to conform to certain beauty standards, and that it is their job to do the beauty labor to achieve and maintain them.

This is all terrible and it’s not really news to our readers. But I think we have learned a thing or two in 40 years.

We’ve learned that eating is not always a woman’s response to inequality and oppression. It’s an activity that is nobody’s business but her own.

We’ve learned that weight stigmatization is a terrible effect of imposing beauty standards on women, and we can respond through acceptance– of our own bodies as they are, and of other people’s bodies.

In this blog, I’ve learned that women’s bodies are made to do just about anything. And that is worth celebrating and exploring.

Speaking of which, I thought I’d share pictures of some of us bloggers, then and now. I’ll go first.

And then there’s fieldpoppy/Cate, in 1978, and now.

And then there’s Christine. That’s her most recent TKD medal. Whoa.

Martha, in 1978 and now.

Natalie and her sister, in 1978 and now.

And then there’s Samantha. She’s with her best friend Leanne back in 1978, and now, in ceremonial work garb. Read more about Leanne and beauty pageants and photo shoots in Sam’s post here.

Here’s Susan from 1987 and now.

Hey readers, what have you learned about your bodies in 40 years (or 30, or 20, or 5?) We’d love to hear from you.

equality · femalestrength · fit at mid-life · fitness · running

An open letter to Kathleen Wynne (Guest Post)

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Many of us here at Fit is a Feminist Issue have long appreciated Kathleen Wynne — the Ontario premier who soundly lost the election on Thursday — as an example of mid-life female strength of all kinds, including her identity as a runner.  My friend Joanna wrote a powerful open letter to Kathleen about her impact as a role model, and I wanted to share it with the FiFI community, even though it’s technically not about fitness.  It’s very much about female strength ;-).

Hi Kathleen,

You won’t remember me, but we met a few times when you visited Overland Learning Centre. I’m writing to thank you for your service.

Watching you, I had the chance to see true leadership in action. I learned so much from observing you collaborate and problem solve and sow the seeds of political engagement in the new generation. This has made me bolder and clearer in my own goals, and it’s inspired so many other women as well.

These past few weeks have been the bravest I’ve ever seen you.   It must have been unbelievably difficult, but what you did was so valuable to the rest of us. It’s really important to show other women how to be strong in the face of defeat.  Of course it’s vital  that women attain success in fields previously reserved for men – we were over the moon when you became premier – but women also have to learn how not to crumble when they start to slip off that pedestal.  As Michelle Obama put it, “I wish that girls could fail as bad as men do, and be okay, because let me tell you, watching men fail up—it is frustrating.”

Over the past few months, you have shown us how to fail badly and be okay.  By “be okay,” I mean retain your composure, reaffirm your principles, and always sound like the smartest, most logical person in the room. By meeting failure head-on with unflinching honesty and even some humour, you demystified it, giving us all a little more courage.  When we fear failure less, we will be more daring, and glass ceilings everywhere will start to crack.

I wish I weren’t thanking you for this.  I wish I were writing to congratulate you on some new triumph, but each story has its own hero.  Thank you for being that person.

Joanna Warden

Joanna

 

Joanna Warden is a Toronto language teacher who is reclaiming her inner Social Justice Warrior. She is currently working for the ifp program at the University of Toronto, Overland Learning Centre at TDSB and English Central ESL Resources. She is also the writer of the blog Teacherpants and grandmother to the adorable Ethan.

feminism · fit at mid-life · fitness · racing · running · training

On Running My First Marathon (Guest Post by Alison Conway)

by Alison Conway

Image description: Alison on left, smiling, with short hair, sunglasses, and a t-shirt hugging a friend, longer hair, also smiling, stadium stands in the background.
Image description: Alison on left, smiling, with short hair, sunglasses, and a t-shirt hugging a friend, longer hair, also smiling, stadium stands in the background.

[Note from Tracy: Alison sent me this in April and her race was a few weeks ago. Congrats, Alison!]

Eighteen months ago, Donald Trump became president of the United States and I wrote here about my determination to limit my running time so that I could devote more energy to politics. Most immediately, my goal was to become active in the civic affairs of my home town.

Life had other plans for me. A year of upheaval included new jobs across the country, the sale of the home where I raised my children, the turmoil of a big move. My father became ill and he died. That family home was cleaned out and put on the market. It was, let’s say, a wrenching twelve months.

Through it all, running kept me grounded. Or rather, my running families kept me grounded. My Ontario friends ran with me in the weeks and months of packing and grieving. They convinced me to sign up for a spring 2018 marathon as a goal to work toward, whether or not I ran the race. I found a running club in my new home town and the folks in that group went out of their way to help me find my feet. I ran miles and miles through the roads and trails of my community, learning its spaces and hearing about those who live there.

As the ground under my feet was shifting, so too was the ground underneath American politics. Out of the ashes of the election arose the phoenix #metoo and a widespread protest against workplace harassment and sexual violence. From the Women’s Marches of January 2017 onward, energy and momentum built as women filed complaints and shared their stories.

When people remark on the difficult year I’ve had, I have often noted that running saved me. I began to wonder if it wasn’t doing more than moving me forward. The feelings I have toward the women who have helped me move and those who are helping me settle in British Columbia feel like the basis of a larger, collective feeling that has emerged in a wider sphere, one that helps women act together in an effort to shift cultural norms. It is, for me, both about harnessing anger and generating laughter. It is about looking down the road toward the goals that might take a while to reach.

A friend once said, casually, “Anyone can run a marathon. You just have to train for it.” What that remark misses is how difficult it is to train for a marathon: the discipline it takes to get out there day after day, week after week, in terrible weather, on days when other demands weigh heavily, when your mind says, “Enough.” There was a moment, maybe a month before the marathon, when I felt bone-tired. But I had friends waiting to run with me, so out I went.

Last month, race weekend arrived and I flew back to Ontario to meet the women who first encouraged me to sign up. One was injured, so couldn’t race—but she drove me to Toledo, OH, anyway. Another had just raced the Tokyo marathon, but she came along, too. They went over every detail of the race. I was shown how to make arm warmers, out of socks, that could be thrown away on the course (who knew?). They listened to me fuss and fret. They told me I could do it.

When I pulled on my arm warmers, the morning of the marathon, I felt like I was pulling on my armour. It was an armour I would not have been wearing, had it not been for the friendship of women, those who inspired me with the examples they set. It was an armour built, too, by the new friend who sent me a card, a week before the marathon, filled with messages of advice and encouragement; by the marathon veteran in my new running group, who slowed her own pace to help me speed up mine; by the colleague at my new job who trained with me, week after week, through rain and snow. It was the armour made by women everywhere who fight for the right for women to move freely in public spaces.

My marathon was a run of joy and gratitude, supported by the women who cheered me on as I faced down the miles. I have come out of a challenging year stronger and wiser. I can take that strength and wisdom into my community and help to make the changes that need to be made. The ground beneath my feet is made up of so much more than pavement. Mostly, it is made up of the feeling that emerges when women believe in each other: love.

fit at mid-life · fitness

We loved our launch — hear the audio and see us on TV

As Sam said yesterday, we had a banner weekend, culminating in a moving show of support from friends and family at our London launch at the Landon Library in Wortley Village. We talked about the book and the blog, read a bit from the early pages, answered some great questions, and ate vegan cupcakes.

Hilary from Oxford Books was on hand to sell Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey, and managed not only to sell all 40 copies but to get a few more special orders. We signed and signed and signed, having brief chats with well-wishing friends as they came by the signing table with their books.

If you’re interested in hearing the audio of our talk, readings, and Q&A, you can find it in this password protected link. Password: 98y3mP3T.

Here we are before the launch, with our beautiful mothers (maybe they’re why we don’t worry so much about aging!).

Image description: Four smiling women, left to right Tracy's mum, Tracy, Sam, Sam's mum.
Image description: Four smiling women, left to right Tracy’s mum, Tracy, Sam, Sam’s mum.

The day before the launch (I realize this is in the wrong order but we were just all over the map with excitement and are still kind of floating), we were on the Global Television Morning Show. Sam and I are both academics so it’s not like we’re on TV all the time. We don’t even watch TV so we had no idea what the Morning Show was all about.

Our spot was sandwiched in between two contestants from the Canadian Big Brother who had been kicked out of the house the night before (I think — it was hard to piece together from the little I saw).  Being on a TV talk show is suprisingly fun and relaxing. The hosts are experts at getting you to relax and feel like you’re just gabbing in someone’s living room (which in a sense you are, just a whole bunch of someones in many different living rooms).

We got there earlier than we had to because we didn’t want to be late. That meant leaving Guelph, where Sam lives, at 6:15 in the morning to drive into the city. We had time to have some breakfast and a coffee in the broadcast building’s coffee shop.

Image description: selfie with Sam in foreground, Tracy behind, heads tilted together, smiling big smiles, stacked ceramic coffee cups and menu board in background.
Image description: selfie with Sam in foreground, Tracy behind, heads tilted together, smiling big smiles, stacked ceramic coffee cups and menu board in background.

They told us to come prepared for only a light make-up touch-up. Neither of us wears much in the way of make-up to begin with, so in fact it seemed to me that the light touch-up was a bit more than I usually wear (added powder and more punchy lipstick).

Next thing you know, we were on set, sitting on the couch while the co-hosts as us questions about about our fitness journey. Here’s a link to the segment.

Image description: Set of the morning show, four people sitting on couches with a low glass coffee table in front. Co-hosts on the left, Tracy and Sam on right.
Image description: Set of the morning show, four people sitting on couches with a low glass coffee table in front. Co-hosts on the left, Tracy and Sam on right.

One more from Saturday’s launch:

Image description: Tracy on left looking at Sam at the podium, reading.
Image description: Tracy on left looking at Sam at the podium, reading.

On Sunday I was interviewed by Laura from the Lazy Girl Running podcast out of the UK before decided to get myself out the door for an actual run.

Next up, two podcast interviews this week  (one for and the launch in Guelph at the Bookshelf Bookstore, Thursday May 3, 7-9 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there.

Finally, we have a favour to ask and it won’t be the last time we ask it. If you buy the book (and we hope you do) and you have time to post a review, we urge you to review it on Amazon.com (it will auto-post from amazon.com to amazon.ca but not the other way around). Thanks!

 

cycling · eating · feminism · fit at mid-life

Happy book launch dance! Sam’s wonderful weekend

Thanks Google for animating the images of me celebrating the book launch on Sarah’s front porch. Photos taken before breakfast and the drive to London.

This was a great weekend. So good. Very very good.

It began with an interview on live television, on Global TV’s morning show. Tracy will tell you more on Tuesday but for my part I need to let you know that the experience was actually fun. Even the make up part wasn’t awful. Tracy and I are getting pretty good at communicating our body positive, age inclusive fitness message!

Here’s me wearing television make up. It was fine.

And here’s a link to the interview. You can watch us here.

Then I went to get a haircut and color with the wonderful Grace who also has her own TV show as it turns out.

I’m so blonde. Spring is here!

Then I went out in the evening to see a movie at the Hot Docs film festival. It was called “The Artist and the Pervert.” Here’s the description: “Georg is a famous Austrian composer, his wife Mollena a renowned American kink educator. Together they live in a public kinky relationship. This film documents their lives between perversion, art, love and radical self-determination.” I recommend it.

Saturday began with breakfast at my favorite Toronto breakfast place, Bonjour Brioche. Here’s blogger Cate and our friend Steve basking under the patio heat lamps.

I found out an interesting fact about Bonjour Brioche over breakfast. It turns out this is the location where they filmed the scene in the Handmaid’s Tale where Elisabeth Moss discovers that women no longer have credit when her credit card is declined. It’s a bit ironic to locals because this breakfast place is a cash-only establishment and never takes credit cards.

After breakfast we drove to London for the London launch of our book. I’ll let Tracy tell you more about that too but it was a super moving event was standing room only they sold out of books but more importantly there was a real warmth and energy in the room

Here are some photos of us signing books talking and standing around with our mothers. I love that photo best.

Tracy reading. Me listening, hands on hips.
Tracy and Sam carrying cupcakes and supplies.
Tracy and me and our mothers.
Signing all the books!

On Saturday night I went out to BROADWAY BOUND!, put on by the Pride Men’s Chorus London. 

My son sings in the choir. So much fun.

Sunday was the second bike ride of the season. We ramped it up a little bit from 50 km last week to 60 km this week but I say that the wind was the bigger challenge rather than increased distance. The wind was pretty intense. We all got some Strava personal-bests on the downhill tailwind segments and really struggled into the wind on the way back. I was also sad to discover that the local Starbucks in Byron has closed and so we had to ride back under caffeinated and a little bit late for our movie.

map

Dinner was a quick slice of pizza and popcorn with the movie, not the healthiest choices, but hey Infinity Wars was a lot of fun.

This chart might help!

“I was explaining the MCU to my coworker and she asked me to just write it down for her.”

From Reddit
No #infintywar spoilers

fit at mid-life · fitness · media

Sam and Tracy’s Excellent Book Adventure: Next Big Moments

LANDON LAUNCH POSTER picSam and I are kind of stoked these days because of all the book excitement over Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey , published by Greystone Books. Everyday, wherever I go, people are congratulating me (friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and even strangers). No doubt Sam is having the same experience. It makes me smile.

We are thrilled to see the exposure the book is giving to our message of inclusive fitness, and have had more outlets than usual to promote what we believe in. From radio (the CBC National syndicate last week) to national newspapers (The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star last week).

In the next few days, we have three big moments:

  1. Friday, April 27: An appearance on the Global Television Morning Show at 9:20 a.m. We are excited and nervous at the same time, since we are driving into Toronto for FOUR minutes on television. Last week when we did the radio interviews, each of us doing seven or eight in a three hour period, the interviews were 5-7 minutes and seemed to fly by. It’s a bit daunting to have just four minutes between the two of us (also, we have no idea what the questions are, and it’s live television).
  2. Saturday, April 28: London, Ontario Book Launch Party, 2-3 p.m. at the Landon Library in London’s Old South neighborhood of Wortley Village. This promises to be a big friends and family event where we get to celebrate with our local circles. For this one, we’re going to talk about how the book came to be and each read a little from it. Then we’ll have a Q&A followed by a book sale, handled by our local independent Oxford Book Shop, and anyone who wishes can get us to sign their book with our illegible handwriting. Plus: vegan cupcakes from BoomBox Bakery.
  3. Thursday, May 3: Guelph, Ontario Book Launch Party, 7-9 p.m. at the Bookshelf Bookstore in Guelph. Sam just moved there to take up her big new job, and we wanted to give her a chance to celebrate the book with her new local community. We’ll have a similar talk — about the book and its message — read a few pages, answer a few questions, sell and sign and have refreshments.

We’ve got other things — magazine articles, podcast interviews, book excerpts, more radio spots. We’re excited, so please forgive us for basking in our moment for the next little while. We will be posting regular updates of book-related news and events. And before you know it, the moment will pass and it’ll be business as usual, with a few more fit feminists out there than there used to be.

We do have a request, and that is, if you read the book we would love to start seeing your reviews on Amazon and on Goodreads.

fit at mid-life · fitness

Soaking up our 15 minutes

Image description: Sam on left in a polka dot dress and Tracy on right in a dress with a zipper down the front, looking at each other, walking, talking, smiling, indoors against a white background.
Image description: Sam on left in a polka dot dress and Tracy on right in a dress with a zipper down the front, looking at each other, walking, talking, smiling, indoors against a white background.

Sam and I are having a good week (and it’s only Tuesday!). Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey, published by Greystone Books, had its official Canadian release on the weekend, official US release today, official UK release on Thursday.

We had some great press yesterday, with two of Canada’s major newspapers running feature articles about us, the book, and our message of feminist fitness. See “Feminist philosophers’ book exercise in empowerment” (Megan Ogilvie, Toronto Star) and “How two philosophers got fit, the feminist way” (Adriana Barton, The Globe and Mail). That brought a flurry of emails, tweets, timeline posts, and face-to-face congratulations that just kept coming all day long.

At one point I said to Sam, “Definitely enjoying our 15 minutes this week, Sam. Hope you are too.” And yes, I’m enjoying it, trying to soak it in because it’s unexpected and wonderful.

I have a niggling little voice in the back of my head that whispers stuff to me about how people are probably already sick of us and our book (even though it just came out Saturday!). Are we shameless and insufferable self-promoters? It’s amazing how quickly I can go from “wow this is great!” to “whoa, enough!” I hate to make this about gender, but I think there is an element of feminine socialization to how challenging I’m finding it just to rest in the excitement of this moment and savour the sense of accomplishment.

When Sam and I started the blog almost six years ago to document our Fittest by 50 challenge (that you can read more about in the book), we didn’t think we would blog past 50. We didn’t think anyone would read the blog. And we certainly didn’t envision that our personal challenge (our “midlife fitness pact,” as The Globe and Mail called it) would attract a community of feminist fitness enthusiasts and result in a successful blog with regular readers, guest contributors, a dedicated and incredible core group of regular contributors, and a book, Goodreads reviews, media attention.

I have said a few times when talking to the media about the book that it didn’t even seem like work to write. We spent an hour here and two hours there meeting in the underused faculty lounge on campus with our laptops, working on the same google doc at the same time, chuckling at the bits that we found most amusing, and asking each other to read over sections we weren’t sure of. Of course it didn’t write itself. But, much like the blog more generally, it’s a kind of writing that feels good to do, is fun even.

So it feels like a big gift (to me, anyway) that something that was so much fun could actually have yielded a thing that people seem to want to read. And I’m super chuffed about it and consider myself incredibly fortunate to be riding this particular wave at this time of my life.

We have more media coming up in the next little while, including an afternoon of interviews at CBC radio across the country on Wednesday, April 18 and an appearance on Global TV’s morning show on April 27th.

Our big friends and family events, that is, launch parties that are open to the public, are on April 28th from 2-3 p.m. at the Landon Library in Wortley Village, London, Ontario and on May 3, 7 p.m. at the Bookshelf in Guelph, Ontario. We’ll talk about how the book came to be, read a few pages, answer questions if there are any, and eat cupcakes (enough for everyone). At both events you’ll be able to buy a book if you haven’t already, and we will be pleased to sign copies if you like, whether you bought yours at the event or elsewhere.

We’ve also mentioned before that we like events and if you have something you’d like us to be a part of, please ask. We can’t promise anything but we will definitely take invitations seriously and see what we can do.

With gratitude,

Tracy