Weeknotes 2024-28

I managed to put a small scratch on the lid of my Macbook by dropping my work Macbook on it, which is one to be filed very much in the category of “first world problems”.

My boss’s boss was over from India this week, which meant another work meal on expenses. We went to Takayama, which has changed location since I last ate there, but still appears to do excellent food.

I’m still semi-obsessively practicing with my (not Rubik’s brand*) cube when I’m waiting for things or don’t have the energy to do something more useful, and this week I managed my first sub-30 second solve. I also briefly had all my averages (latest 5, 12, 50 and 100) under 45s.

Run for Coffee on Wednesday was mainly notable for this incredibly sympathetic selfie from Calli after Nicola had fallen over (don’t worry, we’d all checked she was OK by this point!)

Shouldn’t laugh …

Wednesday evening was pub quiz night again (with our team featuring three of the people from the above photo), and we won again! It was very quiet, what with the England football-kicking contest happening at the same time, and most of the teams that usually give us a run for our money weren’t there. It’s a good job we only go every ten weeks though, or it might get embarrassing – I don’t think any of us are individually that knowledgable, but we seem to cover a wide range of subjects between us.

The Friday 5 series may have finished last week, but there was still a five mile race on Friday evening – the Brantham fun run, which is actually a pretty tough course, with an energy-sapping hill in mile 4. The weather felt more like March than July, which was OK for running in but a bit chilly for the standing around afterwards (the logistics mean cars can’t leave until the runners are all in, and I’d given Holly a lift and she was the second female finisher so we had to wait another quarter hour or so for the trophy presentations!).

No racing on Sunday this week though, so time for a gentle 14 mile(ish) plod in the Fynn Valley. Much warmer today, and the nettles were starting to invade some sections of the paths (but not anywhere close to the nightmare a few weeks ago).

I’m posting this before the final of the football thing, so by the time you read it it might have “come home” – I assume I’ll be clued in to how it’s going by the shouts emanating from the neighbours again.

A child just knocked on my door offering to sell me some kind of energy drink for £1.50 (apparently it’s £3 at the local corner shop). Very odd. Perhaps he was a burglar.

*it’s a “QiYi X-Man Tornado V3M Pioneer UV Magnetic Magic Speed Cube Flagship Version”, if anyone cares!


Weeknotes 2024-27

I realised that I hadn’t taken any time off since the beginning of the leave year in April, so I booked off the second half of this week – that uses up half of the five days I carried over from last year, which I suppose is a start. As usual I had a vague notion of getting all sorts of useful stuff done, but all I really ended up doing was cutting back the foliage on the back of the house (and the brambles on the patio that were in the way).

I thought about staying up to watch the election results come in (having gone to bed too early to see the iconic ‘Portillo moment’ in 1997), but realised that there would be a really boring stretch until around 3am, and also that there was no way I’d be able to put up with watching the coverage on any of the TV channels. I ended up just watching the exit poll announcement, and switching off when Laura Kuenssberg came on. I woke up at around 4am for long enough to check my phone and ensure I wasn’t in for a 2016-style shock. Nice to be rid of our embarrassment of a Tory MP at last, and a surprise to see Suffolk Coastal go red too.

The Friday 5 season came to an end with Great Bentley this week. It’s normally a warm one, but looked like it could feature heavy rain this year, with quite a downpour as we set off to drive down there. Fortunately it cleared to just a bit of drizzle for the race. It ended up being my quickest of the series, but still slower than last year. It occurred to me that the last time I competed under a Labour government (having been far too lazy during the Blair/Brown years) was probably a junior school sports day obstacle race, when Callaghan was in Downing Street!

Approaching the Great Bentley Friday 5 finish line

After a gentle parkrun on Saturday, it was straight back to racing on Sunday, with the annual Ekiden relay event. This sees nearly 200 teams (we’d entered 11 from FRR), each running a marathon distance split into six legs of 7.2, 5, 10, 5, 10 and 5 km. It’s always a great social event, with loads of club gazebos lining the middle part of the 2.5km lap with everyone who’s not currently running supporting those that are. It looked like the weather was going to be wet, but as it turned out it was – apart from a couple of heavy showers – largely a warm sunny day as it seems to be every year. I ran leg B (5k) for the club’s male supervets (over 50) team, and we managed second place in our age category (with me being the slowest component of our overall time!). We were soundly beaten by our over 40 team this year though, having managed to go slightly quicker than them in 2023. After a bit of recovery I then did a 10k leg for one of the two social teams that we’d entered as the coffee runners, which unsurprisingly I ran even slower. We got completely soaked by another downpour while cycling home, and eschewed the traditional pub stop, but a few of us did head back into town for a curry after drying off and resting for a bit.

Changeable weather at Ekiden

Weeknotes 2024-26

We had a temporary outage with some of our team’s local servers this week after scheduled overnight work on the building’s power – not because the servers failed to come back up, but because they were shut down in preparation, and the power cut caused the building access card system to fail and no-one could get into the server room to switch them back on again. Fortunately they weren’t running anything terribly important, as those things are on more resilient infrastructure (as you would hope!)

After being stuck for ages, I finally got past the last puzzle in chapter two of Portal Revolutions. I had a brief look at a walkthrough guide, but only really enough to convince myself that I hadn’t missed anything, rather than actually taking in the detailed steps. The last few moves did seem pretty straightforward when I went back to it though, so maybe I did remember a few of the instructions!

The beginning of the week was uncomfortably warm for running, but it was nice to be able to sit comfortably outside the pub without any extra layers after Wednesday’s evening’s Run for Beer though (and also after outside Costa after Run for Coffee the same morning).

A sparsely-attended Run for Coffee
Run for Beer (no, I don’t know what’s up with my face)

This week’s Friday 5 (Stowmarket) was warm too, though not as bad as last week, but (in keeping with the never-ending run of summer false starts we seem to be getting this year) the temperature had dropped again in time for the Kesgrave 10k on Sunday.

Finishing the Stowmarket Friday 5
Kesgrave 10k

The main piece of running news though is that I was slightly taken aback on opening my annual London Marathon ballot rejection email to see the words “You’re in!”. I think I’ve entered the ballot seven or eight times, but statistically I think I’ve still beat the odds (last time I heard an estimate of the chance of success it was about one in 15, but I imagine it’s only getting less likely each year). I guess that means I now have to drop my increasingly unconvincing protestations that I was never going to run a marathon.


Weeknotes 2024-25

Well we’ve had the summer solstice now, so I suppose it’ll soon be Christmas.

We had a work experience student at work this week. I’d been talked into hosting him instead of the son of a friend who had originally applied, and only agreed on the basis that someone else in the team who’d done this before would be able to organise things … but then that person was off sick. I got deathly silence from my pleadings for other people to help out too (other than Oli, who kindly offered to look after him on Friday so I didn’t have to do five days in the office), and I ended up doing a fairly poor job, mostly relying on Codecademy and a vague project of building a web site. This is why I’m not a manager.

Bury [St Edmunds] Friday 5 this week, and it was a warm one (though still 10?C cooler than 2022). I was even slower than the past couple of weeks, but everyone else was slower too. I managed to beat Holly (by one second, after an almighty sprint to the finish line), and wasn’t overtaken by Tom three miles in for once.

Bury Friday 5 sprint finish

Another hot day for a long run on Sunday. We ran along the Gipping path, and stopped at Bramford to cool our feet in the river. While Holly was waiting for her feet to dry off, a large german shepherd came springing out of the water and shook itself dry all over her socks and trainers. We resisted the lure of an ice cream from the Co-Op, regretted it by Sproughton where the shop had just shut, and eventually stopped at Morrison’s. They apparently don’t sell individual ice creams, so we ended up getting a five pack of callipos. Dave later pointed out that the petrol garage would’ve been a better bet, but we probably would have paid more there for two than the pack of five!


Weeknotes 2024-24

After work on Tuesday I met up with Matt, one of my university flatmates, who was in Ipswich for the day. We had a few beers and a curry, and a good catchup. I reckon we probably see each other a couple of times a decade or so on average, and as usual much of the conversation was reminiscing about various daft student goings-on, though my recollections at least are getting increasingly blurry with a scarcely believable 30+ intervening years.

I appear to have given up on #48in24 – the difficulty suddenly jumped up a few weeks ago when it went from fizzbuzz-level stuff to “solve this logic puzzle”, and I kind of ground to a halt, defeated by a battle to remember how to write Prolog (and with the knowledge that the other two languages would be far less suitable to the problem). Ah well.

Another Friday 5 this week – our club’s home race in Kirton. I struggled from about halfway again, but still finished quicker than the first two. A fair bit slower than the past couple of years though, but I suppose I am getting older!

About to be overtaken by Tom. Again.

I went to Bury St Edmunds on Saturday to see Pet Needs (again), at the Apex. I took the train, and went a bit early so I could have a wander round the Abbey Gardens first. I nipped into the local Wetherspoons (the Corn Exchange) for a pre-show drink and some dinner (thanks to a special on beef madras, if you pretend I would have paid full price for the 660ml bottle of Brewdog beer that I picked as the included drink, the curry itself only cost £2.50). While I was eating I looked up to see the band walk past my table, and Johnny mentioned the pub on stage, describing it as the poshest Wetherspoons he’s ever seen. No word on whether he knows where all the plug sockets are though.

The other bands on the bill were Slughouse, Gabby Rivers and Gaffa Tape Sandy – I think I’ve seen Slughouse before, but not the other two.

My phone battery ran out shortly after I got on the train to come home, which could have been an issue as it had my ticket on it. Fortunately I’d leant back and shut my eyes when the ticket inspector came through the train, and he presumably thought I was asleep and didn’t wake me to ask to see it. Also the barriers at Ipswich station were open, so I didn’t get accused of fare-dodging (I assume this happens to people all the time and there’s a process, but no doubt it would have been a pain of some sort).

Today I was sitting drinking my morning coffee when I slowly became aware that the odd behaviour from Badger cat by my feet was due to him having brought me a sparrow. I quickly got Badger out of the room, but while my back was turned the bird took the opportunity to hide. I managed to find it, by which time it had regained enough composure to start flying round. I eventually caught it, was about to let it out of the window until I saw Ninja cat lurking outside, so thought better of it and released it in the front garden instead. I’m pleased to report that it took off from my hand and flew across the road to some trees, apparently no worse for the experience.


Weeknotes 2024-23

I started the week by giving blood (donation number 63). I could have donated at any time since March, but had been putting it off for a while because I didn’t want it to interfere with races. Their requests for donation seemed to have been getting increasingly frantic lately (I’ve since been told that they’re at a “pre-amber” status), and I figured helping keep someone alive was more important than potentially finishing a few seconds slower when my times aren’t exactly competitive anyway! Fortunately my haemoglobin levels seem fine these days (thank you, multivitamin and iron tablets), and the blood seemed to pour out quickly.

On Tuesday we had another work meal, but this time with most of us present rather than just a few leads. We went to Mr Wing’s, which operates on an all you can eat basis but with specific dishes brought to you rather than buffet style, so naturally I ate far too much.

On my Steam Deck-inspired retro gaming binge (not really retro – to me that would be Space Invaders etc) I’ve now finished Portal 2, and moved onto Portal: Revolution, an excellent free unofficial sequel that I’d not played before.

Another Friday 5 on … er … Friday – this time Framlingham, which is also in the Suffolk Grand Prix series. I started OK, but after a couple of miles the missing red blood cells started catching up with me, and Holly started pulling away. Then Tom passed me too, which was more annoying because he’s in the same old man age category as me.

FRR at Fram

I dragged myself out for a slow parkrun on Saturday, then attempted a long run on Sunday, which turned into a bit of a fiasco. The original plan had been to run a trail route I’ve done before to Felixstowe, stop for chips at the seaside, then get a train back, but that didn’t quite work out …

Firstly, distracted by bumping into the Harpers near Foxhall stadium, I completely forgot to turn off and completely forgot where I was going and missed a turning. After a quick diversion we got back on the route, only to find it largely blocked by nettles and brambles. With a small detour into the field, then a pause to find sticks to beat the undergrowth aside with, we eventually made it to a proper path again. Once across the A12, I suddenly remembered having to fight through brambles on the other side when the rest of the path had been fine. Fortunately it wasn’t much worse today, and we were soon on the open pasture, but still walking due to the lack of any visible path.

The first clue that the “path” might not be in ideal condition

After reaching the road (past a herd of cows that fortunately just stared rather than giving chase), I realised we’d diverged from my planned route again, but figured we could follow a path through the farm and rejoin it. After much head-scratching we seemed to be back on track, but imagine my surprise when we suddenly reached the A12 again! Somehow I’d ended up following the trace on the map on my watch in the wrong direction (should have worn the orienteering bifocals!). At this point it seemed wise to cut our losses, give up on the chips, and turn it into a circular route. Had we known that the next couple of miles of path had completely disappeared, to be replaced by fields full of head-high nettles, we might have made a different choice.

Fighting through

We eventually made it through (with a small diversion round the edge of a farmer’s field), but even when the going got easier my body had apparently given up, with my heart rate up in the 180s even at a very gently pace, so there was even more walking. We ended up taking 3 hours 21 minutes to cover a mere 11.6 miles! It’s a good job Holly has a sense of humour and was prepared to chalk it down as an “adventure”, otherwise I think I might have lost a running buddy. It’s now five hours later, and my legs are still tingling horrendously from all the nettle stings and bramble scratches – next time I think I’ll take a machete!


Weeknotes 2024-22

Another four-day week that felt longer, and the weather continues to lurch between winter and summer. Perhaps now May is finally out, we can finally cast that clout?

I didn’t do much useful with the bank holiday, other than changing the pads on the rear brake on my bike. I didn’t do a good enough job of backing the callipers off, and ended up giving myself some bonus exercise by cycling five miles each way to work with the brakes binding. Not exactly what I needed, sandwiched in between a 6 mile run for coffee in the morning and club training in the evening!

A few of us from work went to the Maybush for a meal on Wednesday, to meet a new joiner to the team, who’s in Ipswich for a couple of weeks to find his feet before being exiled to Birmingham, where we’re being forced to recruit people now (despite the rest of us being based here), because reasons. Fortunately that was one of the days when the weather cooperated (apart from a couple of spots of rain), and we were able to sit outside by the river.

This week saw the first fixture of the Friday 5 series (five mile road races), in Sudbury. I just about managed to scrape under 35 minutes, but hopefully I can improve on that as the series goes on. It was a reasonable temperature for running, but got a bit chilly standing around afterwards.

For a bit of a change on Sunday I had another go at orienteering, with a score event in Holywells and Landseer parks, which involved visiting as many controls as you could in 45 minutes, in whatever order you wanted. I remembered to start my watch for once, and did a slightly better job of navigating this time, although I did give up on one control after wasting too long looking. My main mistake was to leave my watch on auto-pause, which meant guessing how long I actually had left after adding on stationary time. Oh, and my other mistake was forgetting that the map contained symbols describing the specific control locations (eg by a tree, or on a bridge), which would have simplified the search. I ended up a minute and a half over time, which meant losing two controls’ worth of points, but at least I wasn’t last! Neil and I ran a circuitous route back along the Orwell (after passing the pesky control that neither of us could find, to prove it actually existed!) and through Ravenswood, to tot up a few extra miles.

At the finish, with Neil the Vicar

No mow May (and other months) rumbles on.

Unmown front garden

Weeknotes 2024-21

It seems I’ve not done much of interest this week. I’m still enjoying replaying old games on the Steam Deck – I’ve finished Portal and Limbo, got a fair way through Portal 2, and am not doing great at the original Half Life (which I’ve never actually finished), despite playing on easy mode. It’s basically just another thing to play with and avoid doing anything useful with my evenings.

Obviously the running continues as usual, with a track session on Wednesday on top of the usual club training on Tuesday. I managed to make it to Run for Coffee on Friday, and got a reasonably long run in on Sunday in what I was expecting to be torrential rain but turned out to be warm sunshine.

Run for Coffee
Refreshment stop with four miles to go

Bank holiday tomorrow, and I really must use it to actually get some work done in the house or garden!


Weeknotes 2024-20

It seems summer’s back again, although there were also a couple of days of getting soaked riding to work earlier in the week.

It looked like one of those wet days was going to ruin Run for Beer again, but after a damp start to the day Wednesday evening turned out to be warm and sunny. This month we ran a circular trail route from the Freston Boot, and Rachel, Heather and I also ran there from Ipswich over the Orwell Bridge too (but got a lift home). In an exciting new development, we also decided mid-run to make a small diversion via Holbrook for a swift half in the Swan. I ordered a pint of what I assumed from the look of the pump label was some kind of dark beer, but was actually cider. Not unpleasant though. Food in the Boot was good, but a bit galling to find out after recovering from the shock of paying over £20 for a burger and chips that they’d also chucked a 10% service charge on top.

The other side of the bridge
Pitstop in the Swan
Freston Boot

After parkrun on Sunday I actually did something useful and strimmed the increasingly long grass and weeds growing in the middle of my driveway. I also removed the grass that was blocking the soakaway at the end of the drive, then removed the grate and pulled out a huge clump of mud and roots. I suspect that may mean less of a puddle up there when it rains!


Another hot day on Sunday (as it seems to be every year) for the Woodbridge 10k. Tough for the runners, but good for the spectators, who always turn out in good numbers for this one. Also good for standing outside the pub for a couple of pints afterwards!

Woodbridge 10k
Post-race recovery at the Anchor

Holly for some reason wanted some more miles for the week, so I talked myself into joining her for an extra (much slower) 10k round the boardwalks once we got back to Ipswich. At least there was more shade from the trees than there was during the race. Also couldn’t resist a quick photo at the infamous hollow tree!

Managed not to terrify any passing runners this time

Weeknotes 2024-19

Despite Monday being a bank holiday, this week mysteriously felt really long. On Wednesday I was really struggling to remember that it wasn’t Friday. Also, as predicted, the weather’s gone from “why is it still so cold” to “it’s too hot”.

On Friday I saw some vague chatter about the possibility of seeing an aurora across the UK, but was convinced that it wouldn’t come to anything, or at the very least would constitute a few faint coloured streaks if you looked really hard. I went to bed early, slept well, and woke up to find social media filled with all my friends posting amazing photos from their back gardens. Oh well, that’ll teach me. Mind you, I get the impression it looked far more impressive in photos than in real life, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Saturday was the Twilight 5k, a very flat fast race round the Ipswich waterfront, and surprisingly one of the very few local 5k events. It was the scene of my one and only sub-20 time (19:19 – I’m still not sure how that happened!), back in 2019, which after trying for several years would have finally qualified me for the fast wave, but then they switched to just asking for an estimated time, and of course Covid put paid to it for a while. This year the fast wave was tightened up to sub-19, so I think I can give up any hope of a chance to be the slowest of the fast people, but I was kind of hopeful of finally getting under 20 again. I even skipped parkrun in the morning, for the first time in 18 months or so, but alas it wasn’t to be, with a stitch after the first lap putting paid to any hope of maintaining the required pace. I ended up with 20:19, which was a bit disappointing, although it turns out that’s not far off a 75% age graded time, so I can’t really complain.

Finishing the Twilight 5k, looking about as bad as I felt.

After a few post-race beers I went home to bed, getting up a couple of times in case the aurora made a second appearance. Predictably, it didn’t, other than a possible vaguely greenish tinge to the sky at one point.

Thanks to some typically poor race-entering admin on my behalf, I then had to get up for the Stephen Williams 10k on Sunday morning. For some reason the weather at this event is always really warm, and this year continued the trend (although nothing like as hot the first year it took place). I managed to drag my tired legs round in just under 46 minutes. I decided that it’s officially summer, and risked opening my sunroof for the drive home, for the first time since mid November when I replaced the one that got stuck half-open. Pleased to report smooth operation, although to be fair I haven’t actually tried closing it again yet.