A mellower, more behind-the-scenes week

This week has featured a lot fewer deadlines and manic last-minute things than last week did, so I’ve been able to get back to some semblance of normality in terms of the house upkeep and the exercise/training programme. It’s been especially nice to get back out for my walks, as it’s been really clear and sunny all week. This has meant that early morning runs have been a bit chilly, but afternoon walks have been the perfect temperature. Hope the sunshine continues.

As often happens when I release a game, I feel a bit bereft of my project and am already eagerly planning out the next one. This covers many things: the long planning document acts as my project for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and the new game itself is the full version of the excerpt I released for IntroComp 2020 and will also be entered into ParserComp 2021. Planning out the puzzles is fun, but I can’t wait to dive back into coding. I’ve got two and a half months to finish the game, so an important mission is not to get distracted by anything shiny in the meantime!

A blissfully quiet weekend awaits. Looking forward to finishing off the last of the other games from the jam (I’ve been playing the Spanish ones this week and it’s been a really fun way to get some language practice in) and also getting in some time with my much-neglected Switch Lite.

Blue sky
Spring is behaving this week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’*
The Crüxshadows – ‘Dragonfly’
Dee Cooke – ‘Intro And Exit’

Sunday

Dee Cooke – ‘Path And Tree’
Michael Land – ‘Governor Marley’s Mardi Gras Fish Fry’
The Beatles – ‘Ticket To Ride’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Lily Allen – ‘The Fear’

Monday

Michael Land – ‘The Barbery Coast’
Lewis Capaldi – ‘Someone You Loved’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
George Fenton – ‘Bergerac (Main Theme)’

Tuesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
The Crüxshadows – ‘Ariadne’

Wednesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Friday

Dennis Martin and Takeo Miratsu – ‘If You Still Believe’
Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’
Dee Cooke – ‘Intro And Exit’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’

*Like last week, I have spent an embarrassingly large chunk of the last few days with my own compositions stuck in my head after making them for my game. Given that music is planned for most of my future game projects, this could become a regular occurrence.

Sunday Race Memories: Great Winter Run 2017

In 2017 I did the Great Winter Run for the second year running, as Geth was by that point in his first year of running and wanted to try out all the races I’d done the year before. I was quite a bit slower than I had been in 2016 – I didn’t have a total running slump that winter, as I was still doing parkrun every weekend (our custom was to get up, go out to the Town Moor to do a freezing cold parkrun and then come home and ‘hibernate’ for the rest of the day!), but I wasn’t really doing any additional running and so definitely wasn’t as fit as I could have been. I was also back up at my heaviest, as I’d decided to have one last ‘fat Christmas’ of eating and drinking everything in sight before starting Slimming World in the new year…

Great Winter Run 2017
Post-race happy faces! (c) John Cooke 2017.

This was the last 5k race I entered, as you don’t really need 5k races when you have parkrun providing the same thing for free every week. 2017 would end up being a great year for longer races, though!

Happy Easter

No running vlog this week due to the Easter holiday / the fact that the game jam deadline is in two days’ time. Double vlog update next week!

Geth and I have had a great weekend eating chocolate, playing videogames (in Geth’s case) and making them (in mine). Feeling a bit out of sorts, though, so vegetables will happen soon.

Easter mantel
Easter mantel 2021!

Sunday Race Memories: Great North Run 2016

I was a bit nervous about signing up for the Great North Run in 2016, having only just recently run my first 10k. It felt a bit like biting off more than I could chew. Nevertheless, that spring I found myself a charity place – it was the very first race I ran for the RNLI! – and started planning my summer of training.

The longer training runs were tough in the summer heat, and I inadvertently made them tougher by doing boring three-lap courses of a particularly dull loop near where we live. On my final twelve-mile training run, I was so slow that Geth was able to keep up with me walking, and carried several bottles of water to see me round. That was a long day, but it meant I knew I could do the distance.

I did the race itself in 3:46:45 – a time I have now beaten by more than an hour and twenty minutes and hope to cut in half by the time my half marathon days are done. On that day, though, finishing was the most important thing, and though I had to take a lot of walk breaks, I got to the end, very sunburnt from the ever-reliable GNR day sunshine. I mostly remember my feet hurting so, so much on the long stretches of dual carriageway between Gateshead and South Shields!

At the end of the race, as an RNLI runner, I had the option to visit the lifeguard hut on South Shields beach and have a shower. This was vital for recovery, as I was pretty much dead on my feet after the long day of running! I spent the rest of the afternoon celebrating in South Shields and discovering the atmosphere of the big post-GNR party that takes place in all the pubs along the route back to the Metro station 🙂

Great North Run 2016
Pre-exertion on the start line!

I’ve run every Great North Run since – including the virtual version last year. The atmosphere of the world’s biggest half marathon is like nothing else, and I still find it incredible that it’s right here on my doorstep in Newcastle. I can’t wait to get back on that start line this September (fingers crossed!).

Slowing down… and a much-anticipated break

It’s been a busy week getting everything done in the run-up to Easter weekend. At the start of the week I was frantically finishing my jam game, but we’ve got a week’s extension for that so I’ve been able to take my time a bit more – I’m looking forward to settling down and getting it finished over the weekend. I also had a lot of day job work that I needed to get cleared before the holiday, which has been pretty much full-time this week.

Still, I got everything done yesterday, and today I’ve been enjoying the time spent drawing graphics!

Running and walking has suffered a bit this week, as I didn’t have as much time for it as I usually do. I’m looking forward to getting out exploring on longer routes over the weekend though.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, whether or not you are celebrating Easter or anything else 🙂

Street art
Some street art I saw in north Newcastle this week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Stormzy and MNEK – ‘Blinded By Your Grace (Part II)’
Slade – ‘Run Runaway’
Pet Shop Boys – ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’

Sunday

Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse – ‘Valerie’
Johnny Hates Jazz – ‘Shattered Dreams’
Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson – ‘Tears’

Monday

Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Tim Heintz, Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn – ‘Sister, Sister (Main Theme)’
Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – ‘1999’
Scandroid – ‘Thriller’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’
Michael Land – ‘Governor Marley’s Mardi Gras Fish Fry’

Tuesday

Alexandra Burke and Flo Rida – ‘Bad Boys’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’
Dawn Penn – ‘You Don’t Love Me’

Wednesday

Steps – ‘One For Sorrow’
Marilyn Monroe – ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’

Thursday

Owl City – ‘Fireflies’
Blur – ‘Parklife’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
Tim Minchin – ‘White Wine In The Sun’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming:

The Human League – ‘Human’

Friday

Michael Land – ‘The Drinking Contest’
Olly Murs and Flo Rida – ‘Troublemaker’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming:

Counting Crows – ‘Butterfly In Reverse’

Sunday Race Memories: Great North 10k 2016

Ah, the Great North 10k 2016. Known in my world as ‘the one where I came last out of thousands of people’, and also ‘the one where that was actually a good thing because being last in a race of that magnitude turns out to be a special experience in itself’.

Great North 10k 2016
Out on my own at the back of the race. Photo by Ian Harman Photography.

I finished this race in 1:40:38; this was within the cutoff time so I avoided the ignominy of the sweeper bus, though it came perilously close at times. I realised as soon as I set out from the start line, with everybody else zooming off at a much faster pace than me, that I was going to be among the last finishers, but I didn’t expect the course to look so empty so quickly. By about 1k in, there were only about five other runners in sight. ‘That’s what happens to the hare!’ joked one of them as we passed a dead rabbit. We were most definitely the tortoises on that day.

Another kilometre in, and I had lost sight of the remaining runners in front of me; those behind me never reappeared, so they must have dropped out. However, the majority of the Great North 10k route is an out-and-back, so there were plenty of runners coming back the other way, many of whom gave me encouragement as I struggled along the first half of the course. I even got a high five from local fundraising hero Big Pink Dress! As I approached the turnaround point, though, the crowd quickly thinned out and it became apparent that I was a long way behind everyone else. I kept glancing around to see how much space was between me and the sweeper bus, and started to get a bit nervous.

For the rest of the race, I was accompanied by the back markers on their bikes, so it wasn’t a totally lonely experience. I had to take quite a lot of walk breaks as my hip was really hurting (I had a lot of problems with it before I lost weight), but eventually I made it to Gateshead Stadium, where the finish line was waiting for me on the track. As I staggered into the stadium, I heard my name announced, then the opening bars of ‘Chariots Of Fire’ sounded over the speaker system… and I found that somehow, I did have a sprint finish in me after all, haring down the track towards the finish line to the sound of the Vangelis classic. Nobody was more surprised than the back markers who’d been patiently watching me trundle along for the last hour or so!

I don’t think I’ll ever be last in a race again (or I hope not at least – I have improved quite a lot since those days, even if I am still pretty slow!). However, I’m really glad that I was, once. It’s a special experience that most runners won’t have.

Finishing off the month

A fairly hectic week this week as I’ve had a lot of things to get finished before the end of the month. My ear is feeling a lot better after finishing my antibiotics course, and my energy has seemingly returned, so I’ve been able to start improving my running speed again.

My main focus this week has been getting the bulk of the work finished for my current Adventuron jam game. I’ve spent this week finishing off the coding and am looking forward to getting stuck into the graphics over the weekend. I’m really excited about getting everything put together and spending a few days working with playtesters before the deadline!

I’ve also been continuing with my long walks and increased-distance runs, which are really nice now that the spring weather has arrived. It means that I’ve pretty much doubled my pace on the LEJOG challenge I’m doing and should be well on track to finish by the end of the year!

There’s been quite a bit of day job work this week too. Business has picked up a bit recently after last year’s slight COVID slump and I’ve got some important plans for going forward that I’m going to start implementing soon.

Finally, I’ve made sure to get some quality downtime with videogames when possible. I’m still really enjoying Bravely Default II and expect it will take me a good couple of months to finish. So many games on the list afterwards that I can’t wait to play…

I would say I’m hoping that next week will be quieter, but there’s a Camp NaNoWriMo month starting and I expect I’ll end up doing something for that! Maybe not with a super high wordcount this time though…

Jesmond Dene
Still enjoying my spring return to Jesmond Dene!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Bucks Fizz – ‘My Camera Never Lies’
Sting – ‘Englishman In New York’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’

Sunday

Camila Cabello – ‘Liar’
Captain Ska – ‘Liar Liar Ge2017’
Kevin Gillis – ‘Run With Us’

Monday

Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Revo – ‘Savalon’

Tuesday

The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’

Wednesday

Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Kirsty MacColl – ‘Days’
Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Coldplay – ‘Fix You’
The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’

Thursday

Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’

Friday

Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
The Proclaimers – ‘Make My Heart Fly’