Race Review: North Tyneside 10k 2021

I hadn’t done the North Tyneside 10k before, but it was a while coming. Geth and I originally booked our places nearly two years ago for the 2020 race (it normally takes place on Easter weekend), but of course the race got postponed… three times. Anyway, we finally got to run it today, eighteen months later than originally planned. I wouldn’t normally schedule a 10k race a fortnight after a marathon (even though it did work out quite well once before), but due to all the COVID postponements and reschedulings, race season was not planned out this year – everything just had to fall where it fell.

Pre-race
There was a lot of hanging around before the start as the baggage had to be checked in really early!

On my gentle jog to parkrun volunteering yesterday, I found that my sciatica was playing up badly for the first time in years. (I was told years ago that it wasn’t sciatica, but earlier this week a doctor described it as such, so I feel vindicated… anyway.) I hoped that it was just a one-off as I have been absolutely religious with my post-run stretching and daily foam rolling for weeks and weeks now. However, I slept badly with it last night, and woke up with a fairly useless leg that could barely bear weight, so I was more than a little worried about today’s race. I took an ibuprofen just over an hour before the race, and that seemed to ease it up a bit.

Running in North Tyneside
My form doesn’t look too bad here considering how much my leg was collapsing under me! Photo from Coastal Portraits by John Fatkin.

The first mile or two were fine, but over the course of the race, my leg got weaker and weaker and I am amazed that I didn’t fall over at any point during the later stages. I used to call this ‘collapse-y leg’ when it happened a lot before I lost weight, because that really is what happens – my upper leg just starts to collapse under my weight. I generally avoid falling over by quickly shifting to my other leg, but obviously this isn’t great for my form or my leg health. I am hoping that a combination of losing the lockdown weight, physio treatment and an ongoing hospital referral will help to mitigate this issue.

I finished in 1:20:18, which is my slowest 10k time in years – but that’s fine given today. I do feel like I could run that race a lot better, so I expect I will try it again sometime – when I’m in better shape and not coming straight out of a marathon training block!

parkrunday: Jesmond Dene #35

The monthly parkrun volunteering slot happened to coincide with Jesmond Dene parkrun’s second birthday celebration this morning! Geth and I were marshalling, and I found myself at yet another marshal point I hadn’t done before. Gotta catch ’em all… and there are a lot of marshal points along the Jesmond Dene course.

We had attended the inaugural Jesmond Dene parkrun two years ago (it’s our closest parkrun so attending the inaugural was acceptable within current parkrun etiquette), but of course there was no first birthday celebration as parkrun was still on COVID hiatus this time last year, so it was lovely to attend an anniversary event. There was cake at the end! Geth and I only stopped for a quick piece, though, as it was a very cold morning and I wanted to get home in time to attend the afternoon sessions of the TechUp opening day.

parkrun volunteering
A bit of a chilly morning! We’ll be taking gloves for tomorrow’s race…

We’ll probably be back at Town Moor next week, but don’t hold me to that!

Full steam ahead

It’s the weekend but it’s going to be a pretty busy one! Geth and I are volunteering at parkrun tomorrow morning, then I’ll be following the opening day sessions for my course tomorrow afternoon, and then we’ve got the North Tyneside 10k on Sunday. Fairly full-on week next week too with starting the course modules, so I expect I’ll be scheduling another Shouldless Sunday next weekend in order to relax!

I’ve been able to get a good chunk of work done on my new game this week as well, which has been great. Coding for that should be done by the middle of next week and then I can get started on the bells and whistles. I need to fit it in with coursework and day job work, but it’s all going really well so far, and I feel like I’ve got a good planned balance for the next couple of weeks. Hallowe’en will be a really great celebration of getting it done… I hope!

Speaking of which, the decorations may be coming out this weekend. I loved having them up for two weeks last year and I think that will become the norm…

Decorated polystyrene pumpkin
My decorated polystyrene pumpkin from last year. I do have the materials for making more, but somehow I don’t think they’re going to get done this year…

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
Sean Paul – ‘Get Busy’*
Mark Knopfler – ‘Local Hero’
VNV Nation – ‘Fearless’
Avicii and Aloe Blacc – ‘Wake Me Up’

Sunday

Sean Paul – ‘Get Busy’

Monday

Avicii and Aloe Blacc – ‘Wake Me Up’
Howard Jones – ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’

Tuesday

Sean Paul – ‘Get Busy’
Hans Zimmer – ‘He’s A Pirate’

Wednesday

Sean Paul – ‘Get Busy’
Yuzo Koshiro – ‘Battlefield: Storm’
Mark Knopfler – ‘Local Hero’

Thursday

Sean Paul – ‘Get Busy’
Bill Withers – ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’

Friday

Robert Burns – ‘Auld Lang Syne’
Travis – ‘Driftwood’
Meat Loaf – ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’
Rod Stewart – ‘Maggie May’
Bill Withers – ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’

*Judi Love and Graziano Di Prima danced to this on Strictly a couple of weeks ago and I have not been able to get it out of my head since 😬 It takes me right back to dancing in dodgy clubs in my late teens.

Phone Box Thursday: B6345, Felton

Here’s another phone box that Mum and Dad found in north-east England.

Red phone box
Red phone box, B6345, Felton, 24th September 2021.

(Coordinates 55°29’67.4″N, 1°71’01.4″W.)

While this one is a little tatty on the outside, it has an interesting use as an ‘info box’ – there’s no phone inside but instead lots of maps and info sheets about the local area. It’s right in the middle of the village so this will be good for tourists.

On to London next week! I always find a few new phone boxes when I’m there…

Adventures in Coding: Slightly More Serious Adventures

I did promise I was going to tell you all about the software development course I’m doing soon! I have a place on the TechUp Skills Bootcamp in Software Development, which starts next week. I’m going to be learning Python and finding out about opportunities for moving into a tech career, which is very exciting.

Until I started making text adventures with Adventuron just over two years ago, I didn’t even consider that coding was something I could do seriously. I’d made a few simple QBASIC games as a kid but hadn’t even thought about it in years. But I have absolutely loved learning to code and create games – I find Adventuron the most intuitive as that’s how I got started, but I’ve also been enjoying dabbling in PunyInform, as well as a bit of BBC BASIC due to my nostalgia for the BBC Micro.

Learning more standard and modern programming languages is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I’m so glad I’ve got this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.

Pixel vampire bat
A seasonal illustration from my Hallowe’en game two years ago… because I’ve got a couple more games I want to make soon as well. Naturally. Anyone got a magic ‘time stop’ button they can lend me?

2020 Pestos #17: Belazu Traditional Genovese Pesto

This is the last pesto from 2020. Next week I’ll be starting my 2021 food series. Very nearly caught up!

Belazu Traditional Genovese Pesto
Belazu Traditional Genovese Pesto.

(Another ’empty jar’ photo. Clearly I was hungry enough to forget to take a picture before I cracked the jar open!)

This pesto had a good taste but the texture was a little on the wet side for my liking. Still a nice option!

Coincidentally for the day I am ending my pesto series, I have been inspired by a cookery show I was watching earlier today to try making my own pesto soon. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make something I like more than my favourite jarred versions, but I’m going to give it a good go!

Refreshed!

It took a bit of preparation, but I feel so much better for having my day off to play videogames yesterday. I’m going to do that at least once a month from now on.

It’s a busier week ahead for me now, but I’m excited to get on with some game creation (finally). It’s been getting away from me all summer and I need to make it more of a priority.

Handheld consoles
Loved spending the day on my 3DS and Switch yesterday.

Hopefully I’ll squeeze in a few dribs and drabs of videogaming too!

Shouldless Sunday

A while ago, I came across the concept of ‘Shouldless Sunday’ – a scheduled day where there’s nothing on the to-do list at all. This post at Apartment Therapy explains the idea, though most of the things it suggests (crafting, cooking etc.) would not be things I would choose to do with such a day – those are most definitely things that go on the to-do list in my world!

My first reaction was that such a thing would be impossible for my life as it is now. I manage the things that are important to me (running, blogging, cleaning etc.) by doing a tiny bit of work on them every day – I find that if I break a daily habit or streak, the whole thing falls by the wayside (for instance, in the form of the six-week winter running slumps I used to have every winter before I started my daily run streak). While these important things are enjoyable hobbies, they require a fair amount of productivity, and so there’s always an extent to which they will feel like a chore sometimes. Nevertheless, I keep up my habits, because it’s the end result (being able to run a marathon, having a solid portfolio of blog posts, keeping a clean house etc.) that makes it all worth it.

However, I’ve not been able to get the idea of a completely free day out of my head. I have very nostalgic memories of being twenty, on summer break from university with no commitments whatsoever, and just rolling out of bed whenever I woke up, playing videogames all day long, and going back to bed when I was finally too tired to keep playing my game (i.e. usually about 5am). I dream of a day like that again – just one day (though I don’t think I’d be awake till 5am nowadays). As such, I’ve been having a think about how I could fit it in and still maintain my streaks. The weekend after the London Marathon seemed like a perfect time to try it out, given that I wanted a quiet weekend anyway!

The plan is this: first, minimise my daily list down to the absolute essentials – which, if pre-prepared, will take less than an hour, including a short streak saver mile run. I already do this on days that are very busy with work, big races (like last Sunday) or social commitments. Next step: on the Saturday night, stay up a little later than I typically do, and get this short list completed between midnight and 1am (the short run will be on the treadmill). Final step: off to bed, good night’s sleep, and wake up with absolutely nothing on the to-do list for the day. Living the dream!

Other than the midnight hour, I also won’t be turning on my laptop (which is something that I’ve done every day for years and years) or looking at my phone all day on Sunday, because if I do, I will just disappear down a social media rabbithole, which will waste time and cause stress. I’m instead going to disconnect from the world and stick with my videogame consoles. This makes me a bit nervous, because I always make sure to answer work emails promptly, even at the weekend – but it will just have to wait till Monday morning this time round.

2005
Summer 2005. When I wasn’t videogaming, I was taking blurry black ‘n’ white bathroom selfies (we called them ‘MySpace photos’ back then).

This post is going out in the first hour of Sunday morning. I’ll be back online on Monday! Until then, I will be in a different (digital) world somewhere else…

parkrunday: Town Moor #514

Back on the Moor this morning for my slowest parkrun in years. My legs are still fairly unwilling to move and I’m taking close to forty minutes to get round at the moment. This isn’t just post-marathon stiffness – it’s been the case for a few weeks, and my daily foam rolling doesn’t seem to be improving things, so I’m going to try and book in for a sports massage as soon as I can.

It was really nice to be out though! Lots of people to chat to, and a few other London Marathon shirts to spot en route.

parkrun
The bright orange of the London 2021 shirt made it easy to spot other London Marathoners! …or it would have done if the Kielder Marathon (also last weekend and a lot more local to Newcastle) hadn’t used the exact same colour for their 2021 shirts.

Back to Jesmond Dene for the monthly volunteering slot next week!

A quick Friday catchup before a quiet weekend

Just a quick post today because I want to get into some game creation later this afternoon. It’s been a fairly quiet week by necessity because I needed to spend a few days eating, sleeping and dozing after the marathon, and I’m looking forward to an even quieter weekend.

Underneath Tower Bridge
Underneath Tower Bridge on Monday morning. I felt really lucky to be staying right next to this location as it actually plays a very important role in the big game I’ll be releasing next year. Brilliant to be able to take some photo references!

Two weeks’ worth of earworm playlists:

Saturday 25th

Wham! – ‘The Edge Of Heaven’
Elton John – ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’

Sunday 26th

Blue – ‘All Rise’
Girls Aloud – ‘See The Day’
ACE+ – ‘Riki The Legendary Heropon’
Ocean Colour Scene – ‘Profit In Peace’

Monday 27th

Melanie C – ‘Northern Star’
Tom Jones and The Cardigans – ‘Burning Down The House’

Tuesday 28th

Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’
Duran Duran – ‘Starting To Remember’

Wednesday 29th

Tom Jones and The Cardigans – ‘Burning Down The House’
Anita Ward – ‘Ring My Bell’

Thursday 30th

Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’

Friday 1st

Melanie C – ‘Northern Star’

Saturday 2nd

Tina Turner – ‘Proud Mary’

Sunday 3rd

Abba – ‘Dancing Queen’
Spandau Ballet – ‘Gold’

Monday 4th

Avicii and Aloe Blacc – ‘Wake Me Up’
Kiki Dee – ‘Star’

Tuesday 5th

Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
James – ‘Come Home’

Wednesday 6th

Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’

Thursday 7th

The Sugarhill Gang – ‘Rapper’s Delight’

Friday 8th

Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
The Power Station – ‘Some Like It Hot’
Limahl – ‘The Neverending Story’
Meat Loaf – ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’