Walking the distance

(or How to walk 8,207 kilometres in a year)

I think the realization that I was no longer a seemingly indestructible youth was when a close friend had a heart attack – thankfully, they recovered – but it did trigger something in my head.

It was obvious to me that I seriously needed to do something about my weight which had slowly crept up entirely too close to my previous peak of 127kg (280 lbs). I was worried that I’d possibly surpass that peak as many other crash-dieters had – back in 2005, I lost over 50kg (110lbs) in approximately a year.

Another indicator that I needed to do something was one day in early December 2017, my Apple Watch’s High Heart Rate notification warned me that I was experiencing a high heart rate while technically at rest – that freaked me out a bit, especially after reading up on the effects of tachycardia.

These led me to begin what my brother-in-law amusingly called my “mass reduction project” at the beginning of 2018 by doing all the things you’d expect; eating healthier and increasing exercise – which for me which meant more walking as it was easiest for me to incorporate into each day.

By the end of 2018, I had averaged 14.3 km per day, for a total 5,220 km.

Enter 2019 (I know, it feels it was forever ago), but I’m feeling retrospective.

Anyone that knows me or read this infrequently updated blog knows I love to walk. I’ve regularly been walking what most people would consider long distances for nearly a decade, and I’m incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I can make the time to invest in my health like I have been.

I started 2019 off with an average of 17km in January, nearly 18km in February – typically my months with the lowest distance covered. March and April were around 21km (you may see where this is going). May and June were roughly 23 km.

Around the middle of July (of 2019), I realized that it would be possible – with some additional effort – bring my average daily distance for the year to over a half-marathon (21.1 km) if was willing to push myself harder and faster – to an average of 25km every day for the rest of the year.

So, I did.

It wasn’t easy. There were blisters, lost toe nails, powerful leg cramps, at least two pairs of destroyed shoes, all sorts of weather, and more.

August and September averaged 24km, October 25km, November – I really did great that month – averaged 28km(!), and December I squeaked by with 22km.

By the end of 2019, I’d walked over 8,207 kilometres (nearly 3,000km further than in 2018), an average of 22.49 km/day in temperatures ranging from -40°C to +47°C (including windchill and humidex, both of which factor heavily when walking outdoors for hours). I averaged about three hours and twenty minutes per day of walking.

For a sense of scale, the Trans-Canada Highway (the transcontinental federal-provincial highway system that travels through all ten provinces of Canada) is 7,821 km long.

The question I got the most often (after the initial “You’re bleeping crazy” comments) is what was the hardest walk?

By far the worst day was that 47°C day – I ended up with heat exhaustion after a 24 km walk. I knew I was in trouble when my heart rate reached 168 BPM while *walking* (admittedly, I do walk fairly quickly, but not that quickly). I stopped in some deep shade, used the Breathe app on my Apple Watch to get my rate down to something more reasonable and changed my route so I could stop in an air conditioned mall to cool off before heading home, showering, and napping curled up beside the air conditioner.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I don’t think I can pin down any one specific best walk – one really fascinating things I got to see walking these distances was how beautiful Ottawa is, how fortunate we are to have so many recreational paths, and how much the city changes over the course of a year, if only we make the time to look and see.

The second most asked question is what did I do during the walks. Listened to over one hundred audiobooks, tonnes of podcasts, listened to music, and, most importantly, let my mind wander while I walked, watching the world around me.

Everyone’s experience with walking is different, but for me, 2019’s walks were life-changing.  As I write this, it’s the fall of 2020, which has been a very different journey for me.

2019 Reading List

I really enjoyed nearly all the books I read this past year. There are a fair number of re-reads (if I have missed any,it’s because I’ve forgotten that I read them) which I’ve italicized and bolded the books I thought were the most interesting to me. Nearly all the books I read were audiobooks, with the rest being proper dead-tree books, rather than ebooks, which despite a few attempts, haven’t really engaged me the same.

  1. Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury : January 1
  2. Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell : January 3
  3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell : January 4
  4. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen : January 16
  5. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson : January 16
  6. 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke : January 23
  7. WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer : January 26
  8. WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer : January 28
  9. WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer : January 30
  10. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson : February 4
  11. SevenEves by Neal Stephenson : February 13
  12. Cujo by Stephen King : March 2
  13. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy : March 6
  14. Hominids (Book 1 of Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J. Sawyer : March 13
  15. Humans (Book 2 of Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J. Sawyer : March 15
  16. Hybrids (Book 3 of Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J. Sawyer : March 16
  17. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving in by Roger Fisher and William Ury : March 19
  18. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer : March 23
  19. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy : March 25
  20. Becoming by Michelle Obama : April 2
  21. Verbal Judo, The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J Thompson and Jerry B Jenkins : April 9
  22. The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi : April 16
  23. The Indignities of Being a Woman by Merrill Markoe and Megan Koester : April 18
  24. Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga : April 23
  25. The Odyssey by Homer, translated by W. H. D. Rouse : April 28
  26. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck : April 30
  27. Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick and William L Simon : May 03
  28. Escaping the Rabbit Hole, How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect by Mich West : May 7
  29. How to Survive the End fo the World as We Know It : Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley Rawles : May 18
  30. How to Build a Thriving Workplace; A Leader’s Guide by Beth Cabrera : May 20
  31. She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore : May 21
  32. The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick with Robert Vamosi : May 25
  33. Skepticism 101: How to Think like a Scientist by Professor Michael Shermer : May 26
  34. Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle : May 27
  35. Still Procrastinating? The no-regrets guide to getting its done, by Joseph R Ferrari : June 2
  36. Redshirts by John Scalzi : June 3
  37. Act of Valor by Dick Couch and George Galdorisi : June 5
  38. How to Die; An ancient guide to the end of life by Seneca, edited and translated by James S. Romm
  39. 18 Miles – The Epic drama of our atmosphere and its weather, by Christopher Dewdney : June 7
  40. Anthropology and the Study of Humanity, by Professor Scott M. Lacy (Great Courses) : June 8
  41. The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin Mitnick & William L. Simon : June 11
  42. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel : June 16
  43. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne : June 19
  44. Dracula by Bram Stoker : June 21
  45. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolf : July 22
  46. Inferno by Dante Alighieri, translated by Clive James : July 24
  47. Driven to Succeed: From Poverty to Podium by Kendal Netmaker : July 25
  48. Search Image by Julie E. Czerneda : July 26
  49. From Here To Eternity by Caitlin Doughty : July 29
  50. Bitten by Kelly Armstrong : July 31
  51. Why Sh*t Happens: The science of a really bad day by Peter J. Bentley : August 05
  52. They Called me Number One by Bev Sellars : August 11
  53. The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron : August 13
  54. The Little Price by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry : August 13
  55. Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle by Robert C. Bartlett : August 14
  56. 5 Steps to Assertiveness: How to Communicate with Confidence and Get What You Want by S. Renee Smith : August 15
  57. A Book of Five Rings: The Strategy of Musashi by Miyamoto Musashi : August 16
  58. Canadianity: Tales from the True North Strong and Freezing by Jeremy Taggart and Jonathan Torrens : August 16
  59. The Color Purple by Alice Walker : August 17
  60. Flight of the Old Dog by Dale Brown : August 18
  61. Heroes in My Head: A Memoir by Judy Rebick : August 18
  62. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout : August 19
  63. Moon of the Crusted Snow: A Novel by Waubgeshig Rice : August 20
  64. Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine by Roy Benaroch : August 20
  65. The Theory of Everything: The Quest to Explain All Reality by Don Lincoln : August 22
  66. How to Deal with Difficult People: Smart Tactics for Overcoming the Problem People in Your Life by Gill Hasson : September 14
  67. Juno Beach: Canada’s D-Day Victory: June 6, 1944 by Mark Zuehlke : September 17
  68. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek : September 26
  69. Indian Horse: A Novel by Richard Wagamese : September 29
  70. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson : October 1
  71. The Radical King by Martin Luther King, Cornel West – editor : October 3
  72. All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World by Seth Godin : October 6
  73. Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese : October 7
  74. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden : October 10
  75. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah : October 14
  76. Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein : October 15
  77. The Tell-Tale Heart & Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe : October 18
  78. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson : October 18
  79. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker : October 20
  80. Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron : October 23
  81. Language Families of the World by John McWhorter : October 26
  82. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese : November 6
  83. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson : November 7
  84. Starship Pandora: A Star Force Drama by B. V. Larson : November 08
  85. The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris : November 10
  86. The Fall by Albert Camus : November 11
  87. The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson : November 12
  88. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel : November 16
  89. Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine by Edzard Ernst & Simon Singh : November 17
  90. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman : November 19
  91. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey : November 21
  92. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo : November 22
  93. Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty MD : November 24
  94. Pray Lied Eve: Short Tales of the Untoward by Lydia Peever : November 28
  95. The Grays by Whitley Strieber : Dec 02
  96. Earthcore by Scott Sigler : December 06
  97. What Do You Care What Other People Think? Further Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman : December 08
  98. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman : December 09
  99. Jurassic Park: A Novel by Michael Crichton : December 16
  100. Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Mark J. Ravina : December 19
  101. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks : December 25
  102. We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 26
  103. Fear the Sky: The Fear Saga, Book 1 by Stephen Moss : December 27

2018 Reading

It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to actually track all the books I read (or listen to) over the course of the year, rather than just the ones that I read while on vacation.  Basically, once I run out of podcasts for the day, I switch to a book and once I’m done that, I listen through the podcast backlog, then cycle repeats.
Solving the Procrastination Puzzle by Timothy A Pychyl

  1. Solving the Procrastination Puzzle by Timothy A Pychyl : December 26
  2. Getting Things Done by David Allen : December 26
  3. The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi : December 24
  4. The Seven Hidden Secrets of Motivation by Todd Beeler : December 19
  5. Destroyer of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner : December 14
  6. Crimson City by Liz Maverick : December 9
  7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens : December 5
  8. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle : December 3
  9. The Math Dude’s 5 Tips to Mastering Mental Math by Jason Marshall : December 2
  10. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (novelization): November 30
  11. Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey : November 26
  12. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll : November 24
  13. The Possessed (The Devils) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky : November 22
  14. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells : November 15
  15. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving : November 15
  16. The Time Being by Antonia Honeywell : November 15
  17. The Horror At Red Hook by H.P. Lovecraft : November 14
  18. Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers : November 14
  19. On Tyranny – Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder : November 14
  20. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit : November 8
  21. Collected Short Stories, H.P. Lovecraft : November 8
  22. James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal by Andy Weir : November 7
  23. The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pornelle : October 30
  24. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy : October 22
  25. 2600 Magazine Fall 2018 : October 21
  26. You Need A Budget by Jesse Mecham : October 20
  27. English History Made Brief Irreverent and Pleasurable by Lacey Baldwin Smith : October 18
  28. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal : October 15
  29. Planetfall by Emma Newman : October 11
  30. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice : October 6
  31. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson : October 1
  32. Provenance by Ann Leckie : September 24
  33. No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin : September 23
  34. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi : September 19
  35. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds : September 02
  36. The introvert’s Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone by Matthew Pollard : August 31
  37. One Upon a Haunted Moor by Harper Fox : August 30
  38. The Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran : August 28
  39. A River in Darkness – One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa : August 28
  40. Canada by Mike Myers : August 27
  41. The Power of Kindness: Why Empathy Is Essential in Everyday Life by Brian Goldman, MD : August 26
  42. 2600 Magazine Summer 2018 : August 25
  43. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne : August 24
  44. In the Skin of a Lion by Micheal Ondaatje : August 23
  45. The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson : August 22
  46. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly : August 21
  47. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu : August 19
  48. Sky Road Walker by S.M. Carrière : August 18
  49. The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits by Zeynep Ton : August 18
  50. Life After Redby by Kaitlin Caul : August 17
  51. Foundation by Isaac Asimov : August 17
  52. The Financial Diet A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan : August 16
  53. Ash by Malinda Lo : August 14
  54. Scott Pilgrim VS the World Audiobook by Edgar Wright : August 13
  55. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen : August 7
  56. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke : August 1
  57. Burning Chrome by William Gibson : July 27
  58. Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer : July 25
  59. Get Over Your Damn Self by Romi Neustadt
  60. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories by H. P. Lovecraft : July 13
  61. You Do You by Sarah Knight : June 30
  62. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester : June 25
  63. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey : June 21
  64. Girl Logic Iliza Shlesinger : June 19
  65. Pray Lied Eve by Lydia Peever : June 15
  66. What Do You Care What Other People Think by Robert P. Feynman : June 11
  67. Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden : June 08
  68. The Elements of Style William Strunk Jr and E. B. White : June 7
  69. Hidden Figures by Mafrgot Lee Shetterly : May 27
  70. Starman Jones by Robert A Heinlein : May 24
  71. Grammar Girls Quick and Dirty Tips to Clean Up Your Writing by Mignon Fogarty : May 24
  72. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare : May 23
  73. Not Alone by Craig A Falconer : May 17
  74. Dracula by Bram Stoker & Mercury Theatre : May 16
  75. Infinite by Jeremy Robinson : May 15
  76. All System Red by Martha Wells : May 14
  77. Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk byDanielle Krysa : May 13
  78. Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright : May 07
  79. Starplex by Robert J Sawyer : May 05
  80. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne & Mercury Theatre : May 04
  81. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens & Mercury Theatre : May 04
  82. The Naked Sun by Issac Isimov : May 02
  83. Everything All At Once by Bill Nye : April 26
  84. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlen : April 23
  85. The Tao of Poo by Benjamin Hoff : April 20
  86. The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer : April 16
  87. The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick with Robert Vamosi : April 15
  88. Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy : August 14
  89. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi : April 13
  90. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin : April 12
  91. Plan Z: How to survive the 2009 Financial Crisis by Robert Pagliarini : April 11
  92. My Favorite Universe by Neil deGrasse Tyson : April 08
  93. The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds by HG Wells : March 28
  94. Light Falls by Briane Greene : March 27
  95. The Unknown Universe: A New Exploration of Time, Space, and Modern Cosmology by Stuart Clark PhD : March 25
  96. Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut : March 22
  97. When the Air Hits Your Brain by Frank Vertosick, Jr : March 20
  98. Alien: River of Pain by Christopher Golden : March 18
  99. Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer : March 13
  100. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien : March 10
  101. Buddhism for Busy People by David Michie : March 08
  102. Artemis by Andy Weir : March 05
  103. The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J Tougias and Casey Sherman : March 04
  104. X Files: Cold Cases by Joe Harris, Chris Carter, and Dirk Maggs : March 03
  105. Money Management Skills by Michael Finke : March 01
  106. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer : February 27
  107. Deliverance by James Dickey : February 25
  108. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde : February 22
  109. The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov : February 19
  110. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking : Feb 18
  111. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington : February 15
  112. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley : February 07
  113. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux : February 03
  114. World War Z by Max Brooks : February 01
  115. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius : January 27
  116. The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells : January 23
  117. Getting the Pretty Back by Molly Ringwald : Jan 17
  118. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson : January 13
  119. Astrophysics for People In A Hurry by Neil De Grasse Tyson : January 12
  120. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi : January 10
  121. The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison : January 08
  122. Cosmos by Carl Sagan : January 04