A long week

I can’t believe this working week has only been four days! It’s felt like forever. Geth and I have both been really busy and the weekend is very welcome right now.

I’ve had a bad hip all week and so have only been doing short runs. I’ve done a lot of yoga to try and sort it out, and it is getting better, but only gradually. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do my planned weekend running and walking but we’ll see.

I’m thoroughly ensconced in the coding for my next game, which is really, really enjoyable. It’s a fairly big project though and I’m already looking forward to going back to experimenting with smaller games over the summer.

Still doing a fair amount of day job work too. Lots going on at the moment!

Local elections 2021
COVID-secure polling station selfie! It had just started to hail…

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’
Bee Gees – ‘First Of May’
Duran Duran – ‘Burning The Ground’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’
Michael Land – ‘The Brimstone Beach Club’

Monday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’
Aloe Blacc – ‘I Need A Dollar’
The Running Channel – ‘Run With Me’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’

Tuesday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
The Undertones – ‘My Perfect Cousin’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’
Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Monte Carlo Hotel Entrance’

Wednesday

Levellers – ‘Julie’
Eric Hammond – ‘Into The Catacombs’

Thursday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Barnett College’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’
Eric Hammond – ‘Berlin (Königgrätzer Marsch)’

Friday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Bully In The Alley’
Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Opening Credits Part #1’

Sunday Race Memories: Blaydon Race 2017

Blaydon is a very special local race and I’ve done it three times now. Geth and I only found out about it when we saw runners with race numbers on in town in 2016, when we were on our way to a gig. We entered the following year and have been lucky enough to get in on every attempt – it’s always a real rammy on entry night because the race is so popular. It was actually our main impetus for becoming affiliated members of Lonely Goat RC in late 2019, because it meant we’d be able to queue on club entry night for the 2020 race – which made things much, much easier! Sadly the 2020 race – and then also the 2021 race – had to be cancelled due to COVID, but our 2020 entries are valid for 2022 so I’m really looking forward to returning to the race next year.

2017 was probably the most special Blaydon for me because it was my first one, but I was still extremely slow back then and found it tough going. Nevertheless, I loved the atmosphere, and we were lucky with the weather that day – a point driven home when we volunteered at parkrun the next morning in the pouring rain, with lots of sodden new Blaydon Race t-shirts going past us!

Blaydon Race 2017
Struggling somewhere halfway!

I’ve not had a good race at Blaydon yet, but I really hope 2022 will be my year!

Making space

I found myself burning out a bit this week. The last couple of months have been very productive but also a bit manic, and I’ve realised I need a bit of a break, so I’ve pared down a few of my activities. I log daily or weekly streaks for just about everything I do, because I find it’s the only way I can keep up with things – I’m very obsessional about my hobbies but also very fickle, so I’ll spend a few weeks obsessed with playing videogames and then a few weeks obsessed with making games instead and then a few weeks where running is my main passion… Maintaining daily streaks such as my run streak is the best way I’ve found to make sure that hobbies don’t get neglected during times when they’re not my main ‘thing’. However, when I have a lot of these streaks going, they become overwhelming and take over my life. As such, sometimes I have to decide to let go of some of them, and that can be really hard when I’ve put so much effort into keeping the streak going for so long.

This week I had to quit the Fetchpoint game again. The game involves going out every day and collecting tokens, including a red bug token that appears daily in your local circle and needs to be collected and taken out of the circle in order to be ‘squished’. You get bonus points for a bug-free circle at the end of the day and minus points if there are any bugs remaining. If you squish your bug for thirty days in a row, you get a badge. I have been chasing this badge for a long time and very nearly had it in September – unfortunately, after I ran the Virtual GNR, I felt too ill to collect my bug for that day and so the attempt came to an end. I started playing again in March to make a fresh attempt, but other areas of life have meant that some days I just don’t have time for the two-hour walk that a bug hunt often requires. It’s been a frustrating experience, and so I’ve given up again for the time being. Hopefully there’ll be a time in the summer or autumn when things are a bit quieter.

I’m looking forward to a quiet bank holiday weekend. A bit of running and walking, but mainly just sitting on my sofa with my game code 🙂

Next door's cat
It really makes me laugh when I open my front door to find this familiar figure sitting on top of my car and staring at me balefully! He was still there when I got back from my run thirty-five minutes later.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming that day:

Michael Land – ‘Phatt Island Waterfall’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – ‘Barcelona’
Public Image Ltd. – ‘Rise’
Levellers – ‘Julie’

Monday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’
Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’

Tuesday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Princess Superstar and The High & Mighty – ‘Bad Babysitter’

Wednesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Pride & Fall – ‘December’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘The Barbery Coast’

Friday

Cole Porter – ‘Anything Goes’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

Sunday Race Memories: EMF 10k 2017

I was originally meant to do the EMF 10k as my first ever 10k race in 2016, but had to DNS in the end as my brother was getting married in Canada that day! As such, 2017 was my first trip to this running festival, and it was probably the hottest weekend I’d ever seen in Edinburgh at 30°C…

A well-known rule in running is ‘nothing new on race day’, but as the week leading up to the race went on and it became apparent that the very hot weather was not going to cool down by the weekend, I realised I had to break this rule and bought some running shorts in central Newcastle on the Friday before Geth and I caught the train up to Edinburgh. There was no way I could have done the race in leggings!

Our friend Lisa was doing the 10k too and a few friends were coming to spectate, so it was really fun to meet up with everyone before and after the race. Due to the heat it was a really difficult day out on the course, and the water station at the halfway point was so welcome (although I think I only took a few sips and poured the rest over my head!).

EMF 2017
Well-earned medals after a hot race!

I’ve been back to do the EMF 10k twice in thankfully cooler temperatures, but I feel I’m done with that course now and will be moving on to other distances at the EMF in future. Geth and I had signed up to do the half distance in May 2020, which was postponed to September 2020, then postponed again to May 2021, then made virtual (so we’ll be running our own route somewhere in Newcastle instead)… oh well! We could have deferred to next year but it’s been the plan for a long time now that we’ll be doing the full marathon in 2022, which will be Geth’s first marathon. I might be tempted to return in 2023 so I can finally do the half ‘properly’. We’ll see. It’s always a great atmosphere, and a great excuse to go back to the old hometown 🙂

Sunday Race Memories: Sunderland Half Marathon 2017

Following the 2016 Great North Run, I was keen to set a pattern of running two half marathons a year – one in the spring and one in the autumn. With the exception of spring 2018 (a heady era of moving house in the middle of the Beast from the East and not running very much… so I did two in autumn 2018 instead!), I have managed to stick to this pattern, even during the pandemic; my most recent half was the Virtual Great North Run in September 2020 and my next will be the Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon in May 2021.

I had liked the atmosphere of the Sunderland 10k the previous year, and Geth wanted to do it for his first 10k race, so I signed up for the half marathon distance and started training in earnest for it that winter. My training paid off and I took 38 minutes and 14 seconds off my GNR time, bringing me closer to the three-hour mark; I also managed to run the whole way without any walk breaks, which always feels like an important achievement.

Sunderland City Half Marathon 2017
Lumbering towards the finish. Photo from Events of the North.

I’m glad I did the half marathon distance at Sunderland once, but I’ve always stuck to the 10k distance since and will continue to do so in future. The first half of the half marathon route goes through a fairly dull part of Sunderland and it’s difficult to get your bearings, while the second half is the same route as the 10k, which has lots of interesting things to see. It’s also a relatively flat course that provides a great opportunity for a 10k PB once a year, and I don’t like to miss out on that.

The event is scheduled to go ahead in a COVID-safe way in June. I’m really looking forward to it!

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!