fitness

Why the Way News Media Covers Women in Sport Matters #tbt

I wrote this #tbt post during the 2016 Olympics, when sexist media coverage was happening almost every day. I was reminded of it last night when I was at an amazing documentary that tells the incredible story of Tracy Edwards and her all-woman crew on the sailing vessel Maiden, the first all-woman crew in the Whitbread Around the World sailing race (in 1989-90 — it takes nine months). One of the ongoing themes in that film is the sexist media coverage (endlessly so) and how demoralizing it was for these women, who were engaged in a difficult and dangerous undertaking that took skill and courage. They were expected to fail. And when they actually turned out to be competitive, they were “sailing like men.” Read on about why sexist sports coverage matters.

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

2016 Rio Olympics - Artistic Gymnastics - Women's Team Victory Ceremony USA women’s gymnastics team in Rio, with their team gold medals. Photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX

We’ve all heard it before: more money and attention go to men’s sport because men’s sports are more popular. For women who are athletes, it’s a constant battle to be taken seriously for their accomplishments. On one front, the women need to work hard to keep the focus on their athletic achievement (as opposed to their looks, who they want to date, or what they post on social media). On another front, they struggle to get their share of media coverage.

Just ask Canadian tennis player, Eugenie Bouchard, who was once famously asked “to twirl” in an on-court interview and also, on a different occasion, asked who her ideal date would be. More recently, CBC sportscaster, Adam Kreek, blamed her Olympics singles loss on what she does on social media. He said:

“she’s…

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cycling · fitness

Making Strava Segment Goals for Guelph

“Uh oh,” says Strava. “You just lost your QOM.” I’m not driving back to London, or in the case of this afternoon’s “uh oh” email to Kincardine, to keep them. You can’t expect to keep QOMs forever but still it’s been bugging me. I don’t like to have an empty Strava trophy cabinet! Pout.

Time to start focusing on some Guelph Strava segments I think!

(Oh, are you reading this and wondering what I’m talking about? What’s Strava? What’s a QOM? Look here and here.)

Back to my search for a Guelph QOM.

Here’s a likely candidate Vic to Ring. That’s the 1.1 km stretch of Stone between Victoria and the entrance to university parking. It’s part of my usual “long way to work” ride.

I noticed the other day that I’ve been getting faster on it. I’ve been getting PRs on the segment for awhile. Look below and you can see my times range from 3:18 to 1:54 this summer. I often ride with people a bit slower than me and that’s the last stretch of possible speed before getting to work. I like to get it out of my system. I tell people I’m riding with that I’ll meet them at the turn into campus parking, and whee zoom ahead.

On the upside, it’s flat. It’s also in a bike lane. There are no obstacles other than occasional gravel in the bike lane. There are some Strava segments on routes I regularly ride that I’ll never get because of things like train tracks. I don’t like to cross those at speed. On the downside, it’s after a traffic light and I’m starting from a stand still. Oh and it ends at a traffic light and if it’s red I tend to slow in advance.

My personal best is 1:54. The holder of the QOM currently did it in 1:39. I’m 9th of 158 women to record a time on the segment. I’m 126th of 874 people on the segment. The fastest time is held by a man at 1:29.

Other than waiting for a good tailwind, what’s my strategy?

My average speed is about 36 km/hr. The QOM holder is doing it at about 41 km/hr. That’s a big gap. I get up to 42 or 43 pretty quickly but I can’t maintain it. A few hundred meters from the turn I start slowing. So the thing I’m going to work on is maintaining the higher speed for longer. A kilometer is a tough distance that way. It’s too long to be an all out sprint effort.

Oh, I’m also going to time the light so I’m not starting from a standstill. That’ll make a difference too.

At the other end I’m going to try not to slow for the red. Instead I’ll turn right on red while going quickly if I have to.

(Having Chris Helwig in front me would also help, of course. A couple of my London QOMs were achieved riding fast on Chris’s wheel. And I don’t know if that is how the current QOM holder did it. Lots of QOMs are achieved on group rides and you’re not going to go in later and take off the crown. Fair enough.)

I’ve also been thinking it’s a good workout after reading that the fitness benefits of one minute sprinting on the bike equals 45 minutes of easy running.

Will I get it? I don’t know. I’ll try really hard. I’ll get fitter as a result of trying. Given a certain amount of luck–tailwinds and traffic lights–I’ve got a good shot at it. Wish me luck! And Kim Solga, stick to Hamilton QOMs please ..

athletes · fitness

OMG did you see Simone Biles’ latest?

Is there not just something incredible about watching elite women athletes blow everyone’s mind with their incredible athleticism? In case you missed it, the latest almost unbelievable achievement in sport goes to US gymnast Simone Biles, who completed (though not to her own satisfaction) a move that is reported to have revolutionized gymnastics. The move is called “the triple double: a double back somersault with three twists spread out over the two flips.”

According to Slate, it is “the single most spectacular skill that any female gymnast has ever attempted, on any apparatus, in the history of the sport. It’s got an “astronomical difficulty rating” and looks almost impossible (but for the fact that she is doing it!):

From the same competition, the US Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, Biles completed a stunning and unprecedented dismount after a gripping routine on the balance beam. According to the article in Slate, Biles “destroyed a new balance beam dismount, the most difficult and daring in the history of the sport: a double-double, or a double somersault with a full twist in each flip. This is a skill that is usually reserved for the floor exercise—an apparatus that is 40 feet wide and outfitted with 11 centimeters of springs. Biles did it off the end of a lightly padded plank 4 inches wide and 4 feet off the ground, and she made it look easy.” And landed it perfectly:

This is really just an “in case you missed it post.” Simone Biles is not to be missed. Keep in mind too that she purportedly had an off-weekend, by her own lights it was not her best. She expressed disappointment over her floor routine because she didn’t complete the triple double to her own high standards. And it was all still enough to secure her first place.

Amazing.

She’s making me fall in love with gymnastics all over again. I really don’t even have a question to end on today, other than the rhetorical: “doesn’t watching Simone Biles do gymnastics make you want to watch more of Simone Biles doing gymnastics?”

beauty · fitness

Taking back fat phobic images

You know, sometimes you’re in a spot where the only way forward is with the help of a GIF. As a non-early adopter of both texting and GIF-ing (yes, I know it’s annoying, but I can’t/won’t stop), I’m still in the thrall of sending GIFS to, well, everyone. Undoubtedly this phase will pass (and perhaps not soon enough). But, in the meantime, I’m living my best GIF-sending life.

The other day I was texting my friend Pata, who was sad on the anniversary of the death of a loved one. In the course of the back-and-forth, we talking about drowning in emotions vs. swimming through them. I mentioned how it was good we were both lifeguards for each other when the waves got rough (please don’t judge me for being sappy here…)

Then, it occurred to me: time for a lifeguard GIF! And what better one than… wait for it…

BAYWATCH!

Here is the one I sent.

Pamela Anderson (I think), running to save someone on BAYWATCH!
Pamela Anderson (I think), running to save someone on BAYWATCH!

However, looking through the other candidate GIFS my iPhone handily provided, I saw another one I liked much much better. Then I sent it. Here it is:

A large woman NOT from the cast of BAYWATCH, running to the ocean as if to save someone.
A large woman NOT from the cast of BAYWATCH, running to the ocean as if to save someone.

I LOVE THIS. I LOVE HER. I LOVE HER EXPRESSION. I LOVE HER BEACH RUNNING STYLE. I LOVE HER SUIT. I LOVE HER SENSE OF HUMOR. I LOVE HER STRENGTH. I LOVE HER MOXIE.

Maybe/probably/certainly people are using this GIF to express fat phobia. Shame on them. But I bet she made it to express fat power. To personify fat grace. To demonstrate fat strength. I am there and loving it.

I hereby promise you, dear readers, that sometime I will:

  • make some GIFS of ME doing some active things
  • take pleasure and pride and humor in the making of them
  • distribute them copiously (with the forbearance of my friends)
  • take in the FACT (not idea or hope or possibility, but FACT) that I am– if not exactly cool– instead strong and funny and graceful and attractive and eminently watchable.

I didn’t make any GIFs this week, but here is a series of photos of me pretend-dramatically jumping from one rock to another, by my niece Gracie. My nephew Gray is on the left. Definitely gearing up for more projects like this…

Hey readers, how do you feel about pictures or videos or other representations of you doing your active/physical/movey things? What makes you feel good about them? I’d love to hear from you.

fitness

Not too hot, not sweeping: A perfect day’s ride from Toronto to Port Hope with the #f4lbr

The beginning. All the riders gather at a park on Church Street in Toronto besides the 519 community centre.




I’m writing this blog post in a bus to Toronto on the way home from Port Hope. I’m here with David and Sarah and all the other one day riders taking part in the one day version of the bike rally.

A three person selfie at the Port Hope sign.

We had a terrific ride. It was all things perfect. Sunny but not hot. A really cool wind off the lake. A tailwind! We made it in record time. Lots and lots of personal bests. I’ve done the bike rally six times total and this was by far my fastest and easiest day 1. At least one year, though it feels like more, I was a sweep on Day 1 which is really tough. But not today.

I teared up several times today though during Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s words to the bike rally. I teared up again on the way home reading her blog post about hard things. Please go read it.

Here’s Steph at the opening ceremony.

We’re living in really tough times and the intentional community that is the bike rally is warm and welcoming and generous and caring. It’s not really about riding bikes to Montreal. There a lot of people involved who aren’t riders at all. Together–rustlers, road safety, riders and more–create this beautiful thing. For a day, I felt weight lift off my shoulders. The world has pockets of good and strength. Bike rally, I’ll be back. I need you in my life.

The most important thing? All the riders, one day, three day, and six day, and the crew, have collectively raised more the 1.5 million dollars for the Toronto PWA Foundation.

You can still sponsor me here. Please sponsor Sarah here. Thks blog readers who’ve already contributed. It’s really appreciated.

Me. A post ride no filter selfie. Phew!