In “Will We Miss Our Last Chance to Save the World from Climate Change,” a Jeff Goodell interview with James Hansen, one of my heroes captures two strands of my own thinking: (i) we can’t expect my generation to do anything much but our children should act now; and (ii) in the major country with two-party systems, the “conservatives” never do anything, yet the “liberals” talk the good talk but also can’t be bold enough.
In my mid twenties, a brilliant young actuary I worked with invited me to jog with him. Just after dawn, I ran round to his flat and we did a circuit together. I don’t recall much of that outing but it was immediately clear to both of us that he was fast and I was slow. We ran together two or three times, before I saved him embarrassment by saying I preferred solo jogs. He went on to run many marathons at quite a high level; I kept on plodding.
I did take something away from those jogs. “Going up a rise,” he counselled, “it’s best to surge, to push yourself. That way you build up strength for the flat stretches. Even if you’re tired at a crest, you’ll maintain pace downhill.” Well, Syd, your advice has stuck with me, and over my 2016 Jogging Big Year, I often tried to pump those weary legs up the hills, and I noticed that my best times came when I surged consistently. There were even some magical moments when, gasping at the top of a rise, my breathing came easier and I imagined myself an athlete.
I promised not to post every single reviewlet but this one is a keeper. Check out the stunning first track, “Select All Delete,” and his ode to a failed Powerpoint presentation, “Postdoc Blues.”
Saw this <spoiler alert> last night. Spot on.
I tell myself to go “big picture,” this is not such a crucial narrative, I can be opinionated.
I do. But this year isn’t the one for full reviews. Instead, I’m documenting the year’s daily regimen – an album a day, repeated three times – with what I’m calling a reviewlet, a playful, quick, rather rough encapsulation of my three-listens impression. A reviewlet comprises the artist; the album title; my rating out of 10; three hopefully apt words about the album; and a short judgemental sentence. You won’t be able to use my reviewlet for a buy-or-not decision, but my fleeting impressions might prompt you to seek more fulsome reviews (or to shy away from that album altogether).
If I can stick to this Big Year, I’ll produce 122 reviewlets. Don’t worry, I don’t intend to post them all on this blog (the tedium!), but if occasionally you’re interested, I will be sticking them on a Pinterest board (go to https://au.pinterest.com/bigdecade/rock-music-big-year-reviewlets/).
Over 2016, a dozen or so Strava runners followed/monitored my jogs. I now follow them. Scottish S, a fast-pacer at 4:00 mins/km, ran 1,400 kms. British A isn’t so serious (1,100 kms) but is much faster than me at 5:00. Spanish C must be an athlete, he’s so swift. A Strava friend in Belarus has hundreds of followers and over 2,200 kms, much of it amongst snow. B from Auckland did 2,000 kms, quite a bit faster than me, while a Johannesburg pal is more my slow pace but hit over 2,300 kms. Russian Y, who snaps photos of snow drifts, proudly achieved 2,016 kms in 2016 and plans 2,017 miles (a 60% increase!) in 2017. A from Horsham, and P from Romania, both clocked up 2,400 kms or more, and fast. N from The Entrance (NSW) runs at 5:00 and totalled over 2,800 kms, while an Israeli friend with many followers, is more my pace but runs so often that he amassed over 3,000 kms. My nearest Strava peer, in Croydon, is speedy and oh so prolific – he finished 2016 with over 3,400 kms.
When I call them “friends,” “pals,” or “peers,” I’m being overly familiar. I’ve never met any of them, indeed have barely exchanged a word through Strava comments. Yet they feel like a brotherhood. Why we all run, I don’t know, but run we do, and supporting each other on the Strava platform comforts and motivates.