My body is anything but subtle. Tomorrow will definitely be a rest day – I planned it anyway, but today’s erg split and the feeling of walking up to my fourth-floor office this morning made the need for one crystal clear.

I am now in week 1 of the second 4-week cycle. This cycle I get to start VO2 Max pieces, which have me doing something like 1km warmup, then 2 sets of 1km at 5km pace, 2km at marathon pace. This does break up the longer pieces. I wish I had someone to compare notes with, like the groups of people doing the hundred-pushup challenge. What I do have though is the Concept II clubs page. I passed my friend K. in distance shortly after starting this program and have kept ahead ever since, but she tends to enter her meters only every couple of weeks – she just entered a chunk and now she’s ahead of me by less than 1 km. Honestly, I was tempted to get right back on the erg! But it can wait for Friday’s piece. A little competition can be very supportive.

This morning, watching CNN’s live coverage of the Democratic National Convention, I learned that today is the 88th anniversary of female suffrage (well, yesterday, actually, given time differences). If you ever doubt that change can come quickly once people are mobilized, here are some family facts (on my mom’s side, because I know their birth years). When my grandmother was born in 1912 there was no way of knowing she’d ever get to vote: the Nineteeth Amendment wasn’t passed until she was eight. My great-grandmother didn’t get to vote until she was a widowed mother of three. I knew her; she died when I was nine, growing up in the happy assurance that of course I could be whenever I wanted (a paleontologist or archaeologist that year, as I recall). My grandmother lived long enough to come to my wedding, in 1993; she died ten years or so ago (I always remember birth dates and forget death dates).

My grandmother had my mom at thirty, because she couldn’t afford a baby during the Depression. My mom had me at twenty-five. Now, switch over to Rudder’s side of the family, who reproduced a little later. He is three months older than me, also the oldest child of oldest children. His great-grandmother died after we were living together; all four of his grandparents were at our wedding and his grandfathers are still alive. His mother had her mother had their first children in their early twenties. His grandmothers were born into a world where they could vote, where it was a matter of course that their voices could have a share in changing the world. His great-grandmothers could vote before they had their first hostages to fortune, their tangible stakes in the future.

The battles that change the world are usually fought over decades or centuries. The one for women’s vote took at least sixty years, longer if you count from the first published writings on the rights of women. Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment was in some doubt until the end; when first presented to the Senate in 1918, it failed by three votes. The election of a pro-suffrage Congress in November 1918 made the difference – even though the “War to End Wars” had just finished and there were plenty of other issues to think about. The Amendment passed in 1919 and was ratified in 1920. The US is not the only country in the world, of course, just the one whose history I happen to know best. More information is here. But I think it’s fair to say that the world changed substantially within, say, a decade and a half, from when Norwegian women got the vote in 1913 until all British women got it in 1928 (women over thirty could vote before that). Plenty of countries even in Europe took substantially longer – there’s a time line here – but by then the ball was rolling and more and more countries acceded every year. After all, if women were abused in Liechtenstein (where they couldn’t vote until 1984) or Namibia (1989) at least there were other places to go.

It can take a long time for the trailing edge of change to be complete, but when people really want it, the main wave can wash over the shore very fast.