I don’t like doing end of the year reviews while the year is still happening, but once it’s January 1st, seems like most folk solely care about things happening in the new year.
I want to take some time to review a few areas – this is fairly long, so I’ve broken it in two. Today, running, music, and books. Tomorrow, Video and Tabletop Games.
As a quick aside on writing — over the last year, I have intended to write more here – however the amount of space and time taken up by my writing for this part of the internet is representative of the amount of space and time writing has taken up for me as a whole. I’ve done some small outlining, but otherwise the bulk of my typing has been extensive email and IM communications.
At the start of March, I was excited about all the time I would save not transiting to another space to do work – I thought that would convert to time writing. Other than some brief outlining and editing, it did not.
The caveat to all of the below – this has been a difficult year. Other than the above, I am mostly chatting about data that’s been spit at me from sources I use to quantify activities I engage in. Because of the variety of human experience, my data may look different than yours. I wanted to share more than just a screenshot or image of my year-end data, because the data is mostly meaningless without context.
I started this year with a lot of miles, and the mileage mostly kept happening. In 2019, I had to taper down my running a bit early in the year because of a knee injury that started in late 2018. By the start of this year, I was back to running pretty frequently, logging over 160 miles before the start of March. At the end of February, I did an (accidental) 12 mile run that was a bit more intense than what I meant (8 miles, with a couple fewer hills) and then the next day I did an OrangeTheory workout with L. At the OrangeTheory workout, I maxed out the treadmill speed for a couple minutes of “all out” running (roughly a 5:30/mile pace) just… because I could, I guess? The rest of that workout felt rough, and I wanted to be good at something I knew I could be good at.
This reactivated my knee injury and meant that I didn’t finish more than 30 miles altogether in March and April. I managed to taper back up and hit my all-time high monthly mileage in October (116.3, barely edging out 115.4 from Dec 2018). I expect I’ll be finishing the year with about 812 miles total, my highest annual mileage.
The other notable achievement is my elevation – I doubled my highest previous elevation in a year, coming in around 63,000 feet of elevation this year. That’s basically two Mount Everest’s in height.
It’s not all good news – My mile pace dropped by 21 seconds this year. While my goal was to increase pace by about 10 seconds, seeing the elevation accomplishment makes me feet a bit better. I’ve been taking time to go run at the waterfront every now and then and feel like I do still have a handle on my flat pace (this past week I had a PR 10k).
I feel alright about where I am with running – the geographic setting of where I live means there’s more hills, and I’m more nervous about running than I was when we lived downtown, but most of it is manageable as long as I get a chance to run downtown a couple times a month.
My goal for running into the next year is mostly just to keep my 365 day trailing miles fairly flat for the first half of the year.
In 2019 I started transitioning from Spotify to Apple Music. I think L has heard me say every month for the last year or so that I’m going to cancel Spotify Premium. The playlists on Spotify are much better, but the integration into the iOS platform from Apple Music is what I use the most – when I pop in my headphones it suggests music, I can download playlists to my watch, etc. I do feel like I have to work a bit harder to find new music, and that can be reflected in my end-of-year playlist.
In addition, the majority of my self-selected music listening happens when I’m out running, so it’s largely pre-programmed. Occasionally, I’ll flip on a “favorites” or “recommended” auto-playlist, but knowing the range of what will come up is much more optimal than coming across a dud while I’m at my all-out pace.
Early this year, I set my goal at 80 on Goodreads. It seemed very achievable because I’ve logged between 77 and 87 books but only ever set my goal as 52. In early November, I was feeling like this was exhausting and unachievable. I backed down to something like 70, which I was getting close to at the time. Over the course of the year, I’ve started chatting weekly or every other week with a friend from grad school about books we are reading – a small sci-fi book club, if you will – and he gave me a hard time for it. I bumped it back up to 80, and managed to complete that goal last weekend. I expect I’ll be able to finish out three books I currently have open before the end of the year, and I’ll finish at 85 books.
My goal next year is going to be much lower, especially with the kid on the way. Some notable books I’ve read this year are:
The First Sister by Linden A Lewis – this book was a lot of fun. It plays with some cool trope space but still feels original and unexpected. I want the future of science fiction to be more like this book.
The Ascent to Godhood by J.Y. Yang – this is the fourth (possibly final?) in a series, but imagine if The Kingkiller Chronicles were good (and short). That’s this book.
Vatta’s War by Elizabeth Moon – not from this year, but I picked up the first book at a library booksale in late 2019, read it early this year and have been listening to audiobooks of the sequels nearly nonstop. Fun. Space. Pulp. 90s-style sci-fi. Semi-military, but approachable. Feels lived in. Great for fans of The Expanse.
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson – Too few alternate universe books are out there. This one felt really fitting for some of the social issues we face currently.
The Carl’s by Hank Green – Read the first book right before the new one came out this year. I liked the second one a bit better, I think. He spends a lot of time doing the YouTuber-with-a-book-contract thing, which I generally like but did skim over a fair amount of. He really grasps at the finite and meaningful quantities of life.
The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez – it was a lot of fun to start off the year with a one-off sci-fi novel. Too many books in this genre are the first in a series, and sometimes I just want to end a commitment. This book felt lived in, creative, exciting and had some deeper prose than this genre usually does.
I will note that I did read more fiction than non-fiction this year for, well. Reasons. In hindsight, some notable books that I read in 2019 and thought a lot about are These Truths by Jill Lepore (a history of the US from the perspective of the problems we “have now” in early 2019) and Black Death at the Golden Gate by David Randall, which was about how the US completely bungled dealing with the plague in the early-1900s.
I did pick up a Kindle Oasis in October, and I’m really enjoying it. Prior to pandemic, a lot of my books came from the library, which put me on a timeline. Since March, I’ve been buying more books than I usually would. It turns out this takes up a fair amount of space –in an effort to re-streamline, hoping that picking up books on kindle and library eBooks will decrease the quantity of stuff that comes in.
That about sums up this year in running, music and books — I’ll have a post up tomorrow more focused on games (and maybe I’ll chat about TV/movies then too).