Race Review: NORTH 25 2021

Two races in two weeks. It almost feels like things are getting back to normal!

This weekend’s race was an actual, real, in-person race – my first since the Inverness Half Marathon in March 2020. This was a huge milestone as the lack of in-person races and parkruns has been one of the most frustrating things about the pandemic for me. I’ve been keeping myself going with virtual races and my daily run streak, but it’s just not been the same.

As such, I felt a type of happiness I had almost forgotten about when I walked into the race HQ and saw the crowd of runners and the tents and start area all set up:

Race crowd gathering
A very welcome sight!

It was so exciting to collect my number and line up on an actual start line again – even though we did have to stay distanced and set off in waves of six people! I did the race with my friend Claire, and it was a really pretty course. It was also a really hilly course – huge steep climbs through the woods! – and I really struggled in the second half, being unused to that kind of terrain. Fifteen miles through trail feels a lot further than fifteen miles on road, and I didn’t have any running left in my legs over the last few miles (mainly because my muscles were burning so hard from all the climbing!). As such, it was a fairly difficult race. If I sign up for anything similar in the future, I will need to do a lot more training on trails in order to get my legs used to it.

It felt like it was never going to end, but it did eventually, and it was amazing to be able to pick up a t-shirt and medal straight away at the finish area. Another great addition to the medal haul!

Medal haul
My brand new medal taking pride of place among my recent virtual ones. Looking forward to finishing the medal display soon.

Next up in the race season (so exciting to be having some semblance of a ‘season’ again!) is a nice flat road 10k in a couple of weeks’ time. I have a chance of getting up some speed (by my standards) on that one and I can’t wait!

Saturday ’80s Photo: Summer Fields

There were a lot of summer fields on my long trail race today, so these ones from Shetland in 1985 feel appropriate today. My memory doesn’t quite go back far enough to remember this particular walk, but I am fairly sure being pushed in a buggy is easier than running/walking miles and miles under your own steam.

Shetland, 1985

On a related note, race review coming tomorrow!

Seeds of normality

I have a race tomorrow. An actual real race, not a virtual. There will be COVID-secure measures (we are starting in waves and have to wear face coverings at the start and finish), but it’s an actual race with other people, and I’m really excited. It’s a trail race with lots of hills, and it’s going to be hot, so I will be taking it very slowly and walking a lot. In some ways it should be easier than last week’s virtual half. I hope! I’m also going to be getting on public transport for the first time in fifteen months, which will be interesting.

This last week has been very busy between coding and day job work. It’s going to be like this for the rest of June while I finish my game. I’m doing really well with it on the whole, but I am looking forward to a bit of a break in July!

Summer has hit now, and it just doesn’t seem to get dark at the moment… especially seeing as I’m falling asleep so early. I always feel a bit out of sorts at this time of year as I’m not really built for it. Autumn is my time.

Excited that I’ll have another medal for my collection this time tomorrow. They’re coming thick and fast at the moment!

Whitley Bay
Geth took this photo of a very muggy and foggy Whitley Bay for me earlier this week.

This week’s earworm playlists (still very Duran-heavy):


Duran Duran – ‘American Science’
Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’


Harry Belafonte – ‘Jump in the Line (Shake, Señora)’
Pitbull and Christina Aguilera – ‘Feel This Moment’


Duran Duran – ‘I Take The Dice’
Traditional – ‘Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree’


Dee Cooke – ‘Outside Building’
Duran Duran – ‘Secret Oktober’
Pointer Sisters – ‘Automatic’


Duran Duran – ‘Secret Oktober’
The Midnight – ‘Endless Summer’
Cornershop – ‘Brimful Of Asha [Norman Cook Mix]’
Stephen Duffy – ‘Kiss Me’
Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’


David Guetta and Sia – ‘Flames’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’


Duran Duran – ‘I Take The Dice’
The Wonder Stuff – ‘Golden Green’

Phone Box Thursday: Ty-Gwyn Road, Llandudno

Still no new phone box finds here in 2021 but Dad found me a cracker from the family archives. This is a slide taken in 1965 by Grandad, who used to like taking photos of trams (if you’ve ever wondered where I get all my strange forms of nerdery from, look no further than my immediate Cooke family ancestors). On this happy occasion he happened to capture a phone box as well!

Red phone box
Red phone box, Ty-Gwyn Road, Llandudno, 1965.

(Coordinates 53°32’86.7″N, 3°83’88.2″W.)

Yes, it’s still there! As are the buildings and even the tram lines, though I’m not sure if they’re still in use. The buildings are no longer shops, but still very recognisable.

1960s shop signs always look very cartoony to me (this is probably caused by my general ‘1960s=cartoon’ vibe that I was talking about last week) and make me think they’re on a film or TV set, as 1960s productions always have signs that look like that. I don’t know why I find it hard to believe they looked like that in real life too!

Playlist Pick: The Strokes, ‘Last Nite’

In recent years, following the chart on and off, I’ve been a bit disappointed that rock music seems to have all but disappeared from the scene. I know it’s still going on in a more underground way (all forms of music are still going on in an underground way, as I know very well having been a goth for so long and more recently a synthwave fan!), but it’d be nice to see it back in more popular consciousness. Maybe there’ll be another big revival in a few years’ time.

Anyway, the earworm part of my brain has been casting back to the early-to-mid-’00s recently, when things were very different and there was a LOT of rock in the charts. A lot of it was rubbish, but I always liked this Strokes hit.

It takes me right back to the rock clubs of Edinburgh and a very different time in my life.

Booze Alternative: Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade

I’ve tried a few Fever Tree drinks over the last couple of years, mainly various forms of ginger beer and ginger ale. This Sicilian Lemonade was something a bit different.

Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade
Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade.

It’s a lovely, sweet drink and very refreshing! I need to start looking out for it again now that I’m gradually poking my nose back into pubs.

Flying Bank Holiday Monday post

Another glorious spring bank holiday here today, no so game progress post until next week. Hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend!

Sun-dappled path
Part of the gorgeous route for yesterday’s half marathon. I appreciated it much more this morning when I only had to hobble round for a mile and a half!

Race Review: Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon 2021

I don’t remember the last time I managed to post a race review on the same day as the race! I was getting a bit behind with them pre-pandemic…

This morning, Geth and I were up early for the Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon. We could have done it at any time during the day, but we wanted to get the bulk of the run out of the way before the midday heat came in. For us, this was not a good weekend for the weather to decide it’s now summer!

Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon 2021
Looking fresh and excited pre-race, which is not the case now!

Geth had requested a lapped course with as few road crossings as possible, so I mapped out a loop that had come to mind and found that six loops (plus some extra bits at the start and end) provided a pretty accurate half marathon distance. The loops felt fairly short in themselves, but having not done the distance for a while I did struggle towards the end! Part of it was the heat and not being fully recovered from my vaccine yet, but part of it was simply that I just hadn’t done long distances for a while. I’ll be building up again over the summer, so half distance will hopefully feel more comfortable again in a couple of months.

Today was just about getting round though, and we both did, so that was a win. Looking forward to the medal arriving in the post!

Saturday ’80s Photo: Ice Creaaaam

Pretty much every photo of me from spring and summer 1987 involves an ice cream. It was clearly a warm year. Mum also seems to have partaken in a lot of the ice cream, which is surprising as she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth! Maybe she was just holding Dad’s ice cream while he took the photo. My brother Malcolm, in this photo at least, seems to have been more interested in his own shoes. Life is simple when you’re seven months old.

Ice cream, 1987

This year has not been a warm year… until now. The warm weather has shown up just in time for me and Geth to swelter round our virtual half marathon tomorrow. We will be eating ice cream tonight. For fuelling purposes, you understand.

Getting the ball rolling

Geth and I went away last weekend to visit family for the first time in months. We met our sixteen-month-old niece for the first time, which was really special, and generally returned to a world that we’d left behind a long time ago. In some ways, being with people and eating a pub lunch felt strange, but in other ways, it felt completely normal, like we’d never been away from it. It was really nice.

Since we got back, it’s been a thankfully quiet week, and so I’ve been happily ensconced in my coding most of the time. The exception was Wednesday, as I had my appointment for my first jab of COVID vaccine. Other than the standard sore arm I’ve not had too many side effects – I’m a bit tired and achy, but I’m hoping I’ll be fully recovered by Sunday as I’m running a virtual half marathon that day!

Fingers crossed for a similar experience next week (minus the vaccine stuff)…

It's a start
First dose down. I feel a lot happier now this process has started, and look forward to being fully vaccinated in August.

This week’s earworm playlists (which this week have been CONSTANT DURAN DURAN with very occasional lapses. I’m not complaining):


Arcadia – ‘Say The Word’


Harry Belafonte – ‘Jump in the Line (Shake, Señora)’


Duran Duran – ‘A Matter Of Feeling’
Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’


Duran Duran – ‘A Matter Of Feeling’
Duran Duran – ‘I Take The Dice’


Duran Duran – ‘American Science’
The Beatles – ‘Drive My Car’
Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over) [The Story Mix]’
Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’
Mr Mister – ‘Broken Wings’


Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’
Duran Duran – ‘Union Of The Snake’
Destiny’s Child – ‘Survivor’
Duran Duran – ‘Meet El Presidente’
Duran Duran – ‘Too Late Marlene’


Duran Duran – ‘Union Of The Snake’
Duran Duran – ‘All She Wants Is’