I’m currently wrapping up season two of Last Chance U, the hit docuseries on Netflix that profiles notable football players fighting for the chance to return to a Division I school by unleashing their momentous talent on the field of East Mississippi Community College (EMCC). Led by a highly-charged and colorful head coach in Buddy Stephens, the EMCC Lions are a force to be reckoned with. They don’t win games. They pulverize their opponents, and the results speak for themselves. Winning three NJCAA National Championships (2011, 2013, 2014) is a remarkable accomplishment for sure, but the path towards that end each season is immensely tough, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
There is no shortage of topical threads on Reddit, the popular news aggregation website. According to a July 2016 TechCrunch article, Reddit reported 243 million visitors a month to Backchannel, up from 164 million a year earlier. Regardless of the total user count as of this writing, it’s safe to say that millions of visitors to Reddit translates into millions of threads and billions of comments on every subject under the sun. I came across an intriguing thread in the running category recently. “If you could have a run with one person, real or not, who would it be?”
As a young boy, I visited my grandfather in Cumming, Georgia, for the day on a regular basis. Unlike most trips, however, I recall an instance where I did not return home for dinner with the family. No, I stayed overnight in his house in a strange bed with a strange pillow surrounded by strange smells that permeated the room. In spite of the uneasiness, I survived the night. After a shower the next morning, I noticed a distinct white bottle of aftershave in his medicine cabinet. Old Spice. A strange deodorant was present too. Brut.
In that moment, I realized that I was entering the world of personal hygiene products tailored for senior citizens. Old Spice for old people. Now its twenty years later and I use the Old Spice shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant that I once frowned upon. Why did products favored by old men gain traction with the younger guys?
Linkin Park released One More Light, their seventh studio album, on May 19, 2017. Jon Blistein of Rolling Stone describes the first single, “Heavy,” as a “sparse but nimble pop groove of swirling synths and rapt percussion.” Pop groove. As a fan of Linkin Park since Hybrid Theory (2000), the hard rock band’s highly acclaimed debut album, I’m not sure what to make of this description by Blistein. I do remember the no-nonsense rock that catapulted them into success. Speaking of success, I recently discovered that Mike Shinoda, one of the vocalists for Linkin Park, fronted a side band for a season. What’s more, one of the major hits from the band, Fort Minor, unequivocally emphasizes rock more and pop less. The song? “Remember the Name.”
In February of 2016, I journeyed to a Georgia state park in an adjacent county to compete in a trail race. Though I initially planned to complete the marathon (two loops around the park), I decided to opt for the half marathon as my knee was sore from a trail race a few weeks prior. Incidentally, I believe aging runners – which is accompanied by more soreness – become wiser runners, and dropping to the shorter distance proved to be wise. I had a strong finish, but came to the realization a few days later that the path to that commendable finish was an isolated one. To put another way, I ran alone for much of the day.