2021: Putting one foot in front of another.

Twenty-twenty-one was another raging dumpster fire of a year has come and gone.  Even though I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’m a runner now (see The Serendipitous Runner for details on the beginning of this journey), even after running literally thousands of kilometres,  I don’t feel like a “real runner”.  

I know that’s a ridiculous thing to type, honest. I’m not really sure what would make me feel like a “real runner” either.  

It’s possibly because I run in somewhat of a vacuum – no real conversations with other regular runners to help provide any context.  I’m not particularly interested in joining the various large-scale run events – I do not like crowds, and the idea of being surrounded by tonnes of people all breathing heavily close to me while I’m doing the same is not particularly appealing.  And small-scale running groups are nearly as hard as I suddenly have to interact with “new people” which for me is very difficult.

Perhaps my “not a real runner” is because my mental image of “real runners” has been poisoned by various running accounts I follow on social media where nearly every post is someone who looks “perfect”.  Body image is a strange creature I’ve waged an ongoing battle with most of my life – I can sometimes still see who I refer to as “Fat Tom” when I look in the mirror – back when I was nearly 122 KG (270 pounds for the Americans reading this).  Again, I know that’s not me now, but the brain is a wacky glob of jello-noodles. 

When I mentioned this to Tracey earlier, she said the obvious; it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like a runner; just keep being you.   I can do that.  I sure married the right person.

I can be me.

All of that aside, I learned a lot about running and myself in 2021, even if I didn’t manage to crack one of my goals; a sub-two hour half-marathon – I got so frustratingly close (~2:04).  So many things had to be right to be able to get that close; my energy level, weather, and a bunch of other factors. 

I fell twice, the second time seriously after tripping on something and landing so hard on my ribs that I was sore for weeks afterwards, which was an excellent reminder to pay closer attention when running on uneven ground.

There’s a serenity to running long distances (by which I mean 15km or more), to the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over.  “Just keep running” has been a mantra whenever I was struggling with pain/exhaustion/heat/etc. 

Conditions on a run can have huge effects too; in 2021, I ran in temperatures ranging from +34°C to -31°C (averaging out to +3.3°C), including humidex and wind chill (both of which are *really* relevant when you’re running for long periods) .  

There is a degree amount of self-satisfaction I feel for  running no matter what the conditions are like and to date, I haven’t had to skip running due to weather.  

Some of the more challenging conditions are are after a few CMs of snow – enough to make ice hard to spot with the added difficulty of being similar to running on dry sand.  

The worst, I think, is cold rain (~4°C / 39°F) which can be really miserable to run in, followed by high-temperature days are most likely to make that happen as I really start to suffer after 25°C (~77 °F).

That said, temperatures between -10°C (14°F) and +10°C (50°F) seem to be my preferred range.

In April I hatched the idea that I could try running a 50+ KM every two weeks – which I managed for six times before scheduling and injury prevented me from trying to keep it up – and then it got hot out.  

I’ve been tracking weight/fluid loss on runs for a while now, and once I have enough data points (closing in on 600 runs) I’ll see about posting that once I figure out some of the statistical analysis bits I will want to run on that.

Another thing I’ve been working on, thanks to some of the podcasts and articles I’ve been come across to is increasing the amount and consistency of sleep I get.  

Most of my life I’ve been a night owl; regularly going to bed between 3 AM and 6 AM, and waking up around 10 AM., no matter when I went to bed.  Clearly, not enough sleep, even before factoring the high level of daily activity I do.

Since roughly mid-2020, I started to shift my sleep habit around. Now, most nights I’m in bed by a bit after 10PM and wake up at 5:45 AM, with very little variability, even on weekends.  My watch and phone give me a reminder to “wind things down” about 30 minutes beforehand, and I start the process of getting ready for bed.  It’s worked wonders, to be honest.  

One of the harder things I learned is that it turns out that the notion of sleeping in on weekends ends up causing you jet-lag on Monday, depending how much you do it, so I typically keep it to an hour or less of extra slumber.

Lastly, the numbers that I know you all came here for:

2021 Runs:

174 × 10-20 KM
146 x 21-29 KM
6 x 30-35 KM
5 x 50 KM
1 x 66 KM
976 hours of recorded activity,
9.8 million steps,
3,367 fights of stairs


6,119 KM run
2,237 KM walked
8,356 KM Total

2021 Reading List

A slight decline in reading (largely audiobooks, with a few dead-tree and digital books thrown in for measure) due to some changes in my podcast load and increased time simply listening to music — or nothing at all. Another year of a number of re-reads, seeking some comfort in the familiar and excursions into unfamiliar literary territory including my yearly attempt at something Russian — Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy was a real slog for me to get through, but I did finish it.

  1. The Pragmatic Programmer: 20th Anniversary Edition: Your Journey to Mastery by David Thomas and Andrew Hunt : January 01, 2021
  2. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer : January 05, 2021
  3. In the Black: My Life by B. Denham Jolly : January 08, 2021
  4. Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster by Andrew Leatherbarrow : January 12, 2021
  5. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis : January 16, 2021
  6. The Dark Forest (The Three-Body Problem Series, Book 2) by Cixin Liu
  7. Seven Truths by Tanya Talaga : February 01, 2021
  8. Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime by Benjamin Schumacher : February 03, 2021
  9. They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada by Cecil Foster : February 08, 2021
  10. Death’s End (The Three-Body Problem Series, Book 3) by Cixin Liu : February 15, 2021
  11. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi : February 27, 2021
  12. The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai : March 01, 2021
  13. All These Worlds: Bobiverse, Book 3 by Dennis E. Taylor : March 4, 2021
  14. The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly : March 6, 2021
  15. Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer : March 18, 2021
  16. The Invincible by Stanislaw Lem : March 22, 2021
  17. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy : March 27, 2021
  18. A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market: Everything You Need to Start Making Money Today by Matthew R. Kratter : April 04, 2021
  19. NPC by Jeremy Robinson : April 04, 2021
  20. Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison : April 07, 2021
  21. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green : April 12, 2021
  22. The Introvert’s Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone by Matthew Pollard : April 14, 2021
  23. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher & William Ury : April 15, 2021
  24. Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative by Danielle Krysa : April 19, 2021
  25. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks : April 20, 2021
  26. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks : April 24, 2021
  27. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy : April 25, 2021
  28. Juno Beach: Canada’s D-Day Victory: June 6, 1944 by Mark Zuehlke : May 01, 2021
  29. How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism by Stephen Guise : May 06, 2021
  30. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir : May 09, 2021
  31. The Art of War by Sun Tzu : May 10, 2021
  32. The Assault on Reason: Our Information Ecosystem, from the Age of Print to the Age of Trump – 2017 Edition by Al Gore : May 11, 2021
  33. It by Stephen King : May 15, 2021
  34. The Martian by Andy Weir : May 28, 2021
  35. Artemis by Andy Weir : May 29, 2021
  36. My Mother Was Nuts, A Memoir by Penny Marshall : May 30, 2021
  37. At The Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft : June 2, 2021
  38. Of Dice And Men, The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt : June 11, 2021
  39. The Collapsing Empire: The Interdependency, Book 1 by John Scalzi : June 21, 2021
  40. The Consuming Fire: The Interdependency, Book 2 by John Scalzi : June 23, 2021
  41. The Last Emperox: The Interdependency, Book 3 by John Scalzi : June 24, 2021
  42. Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer : June 25, 2021
  43. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson : June 26, 2021
  44. Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland : June 28, 2021
  45. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman : June 30, 2021
  46. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker : July 5, 2021
  47. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov : July 6, 2021
  48. The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov : July 10, 2021
  49. The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov : July 12, 2021
  50. Infinite by Jeremy Robinson : July 16, 2021
  51. The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov ; July 19, 2021
  52. Devolution : A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks : July 23, 2021
  53. All Gifts, Bestowed by by Joshua Gayou : July 26, 2021
  54. Provenance by Ann Leckie : August 2, 2021
  55. Planetfall by Emma Newman : August 7, 2021
  56. Cosmos : Possible Worlds by Ann Druyan : August 10, 2021
  57. Dune by Frank Herbert : August 20, 2021
  58. Click Here to Kill Everybody by Bruce Schneier : August 23, 2021
  59. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by Brandon J. O’Brien & E. Randolph Richards : August 31, 2021
  60. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (introductions & narration by Stephen Fry) : September 4, 2021
  61. Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living by Bruce Lee : September 29, 2021
  62. Robopocalypse: A Novel by Daniel H. Wilson : October 5, 2021
  63. The Stand-In by Lily Chu : October 10, 2021
  64. Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark by Cassandra Peterson : October 12, 2021
  65. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy : October 18
  66. Letters to My Lover From Behind Asylum Walls by Robin Sinclair : October 19, 2021
  67. The Cave by Ksenia Murray : October 21, 2021
  68. Command Line Kung Fu by Jason Cannon : October 24, 2021
  69. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir : November 15, 2021
  70. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García & Francesc Miralles : November 16
  71. We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1 by Dennis E. Taylor : November 18, 2021
  72. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The Tell-it-Like-it-is Guide to Cleaning Up in Business, Even if You Are at the End of Your Roll by Mike Michalowicz : November 19, 2021
  73. The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway: The History of the Captain Who Went Further Than Any Had Before by Una McCormack : November 21, 2021
  74. The Peloponnesian War by Kenneth W. Harl : November 22, 2021
  75. Wolves and Werewolves in History and Popular Culture by Shannon Scott : November 29, 2021
  76. Zero Day Code: End of Days, Book 1 by John Birmingham : November 30, 2021
  77. Shell Scripting by Jason Cannon : December 4, 2021
  78. For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 5, 2021
  79. All These Worlds: Bobiverse, Book 3 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 6, 2021
  80. Heaven’s River: Bobiverse, Book 4 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 7, 2021
  81. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix : December 8, 2021
  82. Anathem by Neal Stephenson : December 15, 2021
  83. Python Programming for Beginners by Jason Cannon : December 25, 2021
  84. A Change of Plans: A Short Story by Dennis E. Taylor : December 29, 2021
  85. The Guilty by James Patterson & Duane Swierczynski : December 30, 2021

RIP Brendan Roche

Brendan RocheRIP Brendan Roche – he was one of my first roommates when I moved to Ottawa in 1990. He was the kind of person who you wouldn’t see for six months, and pick up right where we left off, like no time had passed. He was a father to three, loved by his partner Christina, special friend of Maryanne and Austin, and the wider RK and KG family. Tracey and I are thinking of you all.

He was a pillar of his community, one of my co-conspirators back in the day, and a text-based gladiator who wielded his singular wit like an axe in the days of BBS’ who never stopped learning.

I was never able to articulate how much his close friendship in those early years in Ottawa meant to me, or how often I’d wonder what he was up to, but I like to think that he knew, and that he knew what I was incapable of saying.