Goodbye 2021…

I always intend to post lots of blogs at the end of the year with lots of big lists of all the things I did and the media I consumed and my highlights… but December is always so insanely busy I never get round to it. Maybe in 2022 I will write them as I go along haha! It’ll just have to be one megapost this year…

This year’s big resolution was to sort the house out. I did not do that and now it is one of 2022’s big resolutions. Other things have just taken more priority.

Business exploded in a good way this year, which means that I’m now working a lot more hours. It’s taking a while to adjust my life to this, and I’m beginning to realise that I can no longer just plan a trip away midweek on the assumption that I won’t have much work to squeeze in. 2022 will be a lot stricter in this regard.

I continued writing and coding text adventures and being involved in the wider interactive fiction community, and managed to release four games for various competitions. My highlights were winning the Scott’s Choice Award from legendary text adventure game creator Scott Adams for Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and winning PunyJam #2 with Morris, my first ever PunyInform release. I also enjoyed making a short game for ParserComp based on photos of the beautiful area around Causey Arch after visiting it with Mum and Dad, and my first ever attempt at speed IF for EctoComp!

Since October I’ve also been very busy with studying for the TechUP Software Development course. I have learnt a lot of Python and other very interesting things that I will be taking forward as my career gradually transitions more towards tech. (The Python knowledge will also enable me to do some very fun stuff with my game development!)

Running has continued on a more positive trajectory this year, with races and parkruns returning. I am nowhere near as fit as I was in March 2020 when everything shut down, but I have still managed two important PBs in 2021 – I took nearly five minutes off my 10k PB at the Sunderland 10k, and more than 45 minutes off my marathon PB at the London Marathon. I have also completed the second year of my daily run streak today and am hugely proud of that, as it’s been very difficult at times. Finally, parkrun-wise I have visited two new-to-me parkruns (Girvan Prom and Southwark) and earned my V25 t-shirt with my 25th volunteer stint!

As usual, I didn’t listen to much new music, but I absolutely loved the long-awaited new Duran Duran album Future Past, and I was over the moon at finally being able to see them live in Birmingham in September. Geth and I then saw Andy Taylor the very next night back home in Newcastle, and we had a great time seeing Soft Cell in Leeds in November. Lots more COVID-postponed gigs to come in 2022 (and some reviews of the ones I’ve recently attended!).

I watched pretty much zero new TV shows and films this year, though there were a few I added to my ‘buy the BluRay at some point’ list. I did record a lot of stuff on my digibox though! Geth has watched thousands of hours of YouTube channels about gaming and running, and I’ve enjoyed those by virtue of being in the same room. I did enjoy the Strictly series in the autumn, as ever.

I didn’t manage to find nearly as much time for videogaming this year as I would have liked, but there have still been a good few games to enjoy. In addition to playing all the other text adventure games in the jams and competitions I entered (see above – and also finishing off the Adventuron Christmas jam games from last year in January!), I finished Bravely Second in time for the much-anticipated Bravely Default II coming out, played Bravely Default II on and off from February but have still not made much headway ten months later, played the interesting demo of Project Triangle Strategy (set for full release on Switch in 2022 as just Triangle Strategy), finished Final Fantasy I (finally! I will be moving onto FFII for 2022), got very freaked out by Return of the Obra Dinn, got most of the way through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, played about ten minutes of Pikmin Bloom before deciding it wasn’t for me, enjoyed a couple of old ’90s platformers for Christmas that I’ve loved since childhood, started Braid again (will actually finish it this time!), continued enjoying the lovely meditative filler game Link-A-Pix Colour, and COMPLETED EVERY SINGLE DEMO ON THE NINTENDO 3DS ESHOP (a project I’ve been working on for years). Watch out for next year, when I will be putting some serious effort into finding a lot more time for games!

I have lots of plans and resolutions for 2022, but I’ll talk about those tomorrow…

Winter nails
Snowflake leggings and new silver nails – all ready for New Year.

I’ll do a separate earworm playlist post soon…. maybe (I’m considering starting to log that separately from the blog and doing a yearly chart instead). So far it’s three weeks’ worth of Christmas music and Disney/Pixar soundtracks. I must admit I am looking forward to listening to something else in January in order to clear it all from my brain.

More peace and quiet

It’s going to be another lovely day spent doing some gaming! I got back into Braid on Steam yesterday (a game I’ve been meaning to finish for a long time) and am also charging my Switch Lite, as it’s seemingly run out of battery since the last time I used it. I may also be doing some coding later, as Geth got me lots of interesting coding books for Christmas.

Christmas leggings
I’ve run out of Christmas food photos for the time being, so here’s a picture of today’s Christmas leggings instead.

Midweek recovery update

I have still got a LOT of aches, pains and stiffness in my legs, but there’s a tiny bit of gradual recovery every day. I’m managing to shuffle round my daily short run route at a very slow pace, and hopefully I’ll be able to plod round parkrun on Saturday without taking a horribly long time. I was able to brave the foam roller again as well after my run this morning, and hopefully continuing the habit of doing that every day will keep the stiffness at bay long-term.

I have a slight bit of post-marathon blues now. I think it’s because I don’t know if or when I will ever be able to run London again, and it’s been such a long journey that I feel sad it’s over. I think I will feel a bit better when I run other marathons and take on more of a mindset that there are lots of great ones out there, but London really was something else, especially this year when I had such a great experience. I will definitely be throwing my hat in the ballot for future editions. Maybe some time in the future I’ll get lucky again.

I’m taking this week very easy and slow. I’ve got a bit of day job work and am doing some initial prep for the software development course I will be starting soon (very excited! Will blog about that properly soon). I’m also looking forward to an incredibly quiet weekend once Geth and I are back from parkrun! I have plans for emptying Sunday to the extent that I don’t have to do anything at all πŸ˜€

Hallowe'en Lockets 2021
I saved up so that I could have a couple of blowouts on the Hallowe’en and Christmas Locket collections this year! I have so many new spooky leggings to wear this month, including these pink cartoony ones.

Life was going at a million miles an hour all summer and into the early autumn, so it feels a bit odd that this week it’s just… quiet. It’s much appreciated though!

October can truly begin

I am still processing yesterday’s marathon and have so much to say about it. However, I am still fairly tired at the moment (especially after travelling back to Newcastle today), so I will leave the race review for at least one more day.

At least I have the energy to post a picture tonight…

Pumpkin biscuit
Geth found me this pumpkin biscuit in the Costa at King’s Cross this morning. Hallowe’en is coming!

I have not been allowing myself to get truly excited about Hallowe’en until after the marathon (though I did give a nod to it during the race by wearing my new spiderweb Locket leggings), because Hallowe’en generally involves being cosy on the sofa, watching scary films, eating sweets and doing a lot of other sedentary things that aren’t running. The marathon is done now, and so it’s time to curl up and get spooky. Lots of guilt-free sofa time this week while I recover!

Preparing for October

While it feels like everything has been leading to the marathon for the last few months, there is a whole big chunk of October after the 3rd that I am very excited about and getting everything organised for already!

October is all about Hallowe’en for me – my favourite time of the year. I’m making a Hallowe’en game (already planned out), getting my decorations sorted early (need to order some more polystyrene pumpkins) and wearing lots of Hallowe’en leggings for both running and general life (already arrived!).

Spooky season sort of starts in London for me (and not just because the marathon’s scary). I will be wearing all the seasonal gear and looking out for more Hallowe’en sweeties for post-marathon munching!

I do need to spend at least part of this week prepping logistics as well as prepping spiderweb leggings…

London Marathon kitbag
Packing my kitbag, for instance! I need to drop this off at the marathon expo…

Last few days of Christmas, and a bit of blog admin

I’ll mostly be doing photo posts this week as I’ll be busy with putting the Christmas decorations away and getting back to work. From next Monday onwards the blog will be back on schedule, though it’ll be a different schedule from what it has been over the last year! With the pandemic continuing to rumble on, life is a bit too quiet for daily diary posts, and so I’ll be doing weekly life updates on Fridays instead. The rest of the week will be dedicated to ramblings about my various hobbies, which remain over-numerous.

I’m excited about a slight change of direction as there are lots of things I want to write about in more detail. More info about this next week (as I haven’t quite finalised everything yet!).

Colourful leggings
The leggings I wore for my birthday yesterday. 2020 was the year of colourful trousers and I do not imagine that will change for 2021!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tears For Fears – ‘Shout’

Crawling into the weekend

About a mile and a half today…

…and I’m still finding it a bit tiring, but I’m doing okay.

I was writing until into the evening today as I got a bit absorbed in my NaNo project. Good to get a buffer in for my wordcount as I’m going to be a bit busier over the weekend. Will update again on Monday!

Christmas leggings, take 3
An especially bright pair of Christmas leggings today.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Friends Of Mine’

A possible turnaround

I managed more than two miles this morning…

…and I finally felt like I had my energy back, so hopefully this will continue!

I was able to get through all my writing and onto my admin fairly quickly today, so I’m hoping to be able to spend a good chunk of time chilling out with my videogame this evening.

Great day overall. Similar tomorrow I hope!

Christmas leggings, edition 2
Continuing the Christmas leggings theme! Now with bonus Christmas socks.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Sisters Of Mercy – ‘This Corrosion’

Post-run appetite!

I did a fairly tough interval session this morning…

…and I’ve been ravenous ever since. I need to start organising a more substantial lunch for Tuesdays! Geth and I are trying to shift the lockdown weight at the moment but I need to balance that with fuelling for runs as well.

I’ve just been getting on with work and household admin this afternoon. Accounts done, diary done, car MOT booked for next week. It’s a bit dull but a lighter work week gives me the opportunity to get stuff like that out of the way. Hoping to have a bit more time for writing towards the end of the week as well.

Looking forward to a quiet evening with TV and/or YouTube videos. I could do with switching my brain off for a bit.

Fireworks leggings
These fireworks leggings are my favourites for running at the moment. I’ll need to make sure they’re clean for Bonfire Night in a few weeks’ time πŸ™‚

Today’s earworm playlist:

Benny Goodman – ‘Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing)’
Cast of Moulin Rouge! – ‘El Tango De Roxanne’
Sacre – β€˜The London Marathon [Theme From The Trap]’

End of big running and the start of winter training

Just a mile today…

…because I started an eight-week 10k training programme today and the first day of the plan was a rest day! Intervals tomorrow. I’m planning to do this eight-week programme twice during the winter – the first will finish with a 10k race on 6th December (there’s a small local COVID-secure one I’d like to do, but if restrictions get worse and/or it’s called off for any reason then I can always sign up to another virtual), then I’ll have a break from focused training over Christmas, then I’ll start the programme all over again in January for another 10k race attempt around late February / early March. This will be the first winter since 2017/2018 that I’m not training for a spring marathon, so I’m taking advantage of the extra time – I really want a sub-hour 10k race result this next year. I managed a 1:03ish split during the Virtual GNR (because I went out far too fast!) so I know it’s perfectly possible with the right training.

We had a great weekend, with Geth running his longest run of the year on Sunday – he’s aiming for his first marathon in either autumn 2021 or spring 2022 and likes to build up the distances gradually, so his big project was to manage a 30k run this year. All achieved and he’s back on easy running for the winter.

In non-running news I am starting to get very excited about Hallowe’en. I think I will probably decorate the house at some point in the next week! I need to tidy up a bit first as the living room is still full of stuff from my decor project. Said project is on schedule to be completed and up on the wall around the first week of November – I’m just waiting on a couple more things to arrive in the post.

Hoping for a nice productive day tomorrow as there’s a lot I want to get done this week.

Hallowe'en leggings
Hallowe’en leggings on today!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Starship – ‘We Built This City’