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[17:05] End of July madness. Symptoms may include (but are not limited to): entering the 2015 Manchester Marathon, doing an 8.5K run before work, going to both circuits and yoga after work, eating rather too much over the course of the day, not drinking quite enough, taking the plunge and booking the car rental for a big upcoming trip.

So there's that.

This morning's run wasn't all that easy. I think the stretching before and after is helping somewhat with the aches and pains in the top of my right leg, but I still think more work is required. Definitely for the ability to run for appreciable distances at reasonable speeds, but also such that I can run at all.

Work has been... bitty today. Nothing substantial to get my teeth into, but useful nevertheless. Tomorrow I don't even need to pack a lunch as apparently there's some kind of hog roast thing going on. I wonder if I should still pack some snacks to fill me up.

[16:40] And suddenly we're very nearly out of July. We're over the middle of the year. Summer solstice has come and gone last month. But anyway, Friday last week! The crew who caught the one behind us on the Thursday night pushed us the whole way. They held just inside station from the start until we got onto the first straight and then they came for us. We held them off and even opened up the gap somewhat before taking the last corner very very wide. Down the straightaway we were sometimes as little as a quarter of a length off, but widely spaced laterally. We wound it up and even messily were able to keep them off to a full length come the end. Hard, hard work. The party afterwards was lots of fun, but I only managed to maintain my enthusiasm until around 01:00, at which point I went home and had a nice sleep.

Some time around 10:00 the following morning I headed back to the boat house and did some solid work in getting the place a bit cleaner. I had some help from a few people, with whom I then had a spot of lunch. After that it was high time to get some proper housework done. I think I tidied the entire house from top to bottom. Also washing up, tidying, throwing stuff away and generally making the house a much more pleasant place to be, especially for me when I come back from doing things. The last few months things have been sliding slightly as I just haven't had time to do anything after getting back from training, or even first thing in the morning as I've had training then too. Now though, less training... at least for a while. Well, not that much less; it's all about running for the time being, now. Well, as soon as I start increaing the amount to a similar amount to the rowing levels.

As a result, on Sunday morning I went for a quick 7.2K run to wake up what might still be wrong with my joints and was duly rewarded with a gulteal ache, a groin ache, and a hip flexor ache. All in the right side. Which is how it was just after the marathon. It wasn't too painful though, which leads me to hope that the time off I took to concentrate on the rowing was a good thing, despite being very difficult to do given how much I like running. Also, that maybe I can run like I used to again, soon. Anyway, after that I got on a train and headed down to see Rachel, and popped into a home-setup physio for a session. He identified what could be the problem (tightness down near the knee in the muscles of front, inside and back of the leg), and then really went to town on the potential knots, which has left me with bruises, but a bit more leg mobility and less discomfort when I do run. I've discovered that I'm not as flexible in that leg as in the left, which was a real surprise. It's perhaps something I need to address with more regular stretching, or even some yoga down at the boat house. Following that we headed down to Brighton for a few days of fun and to unwind from all the rowing and stress that we've both been experiencing for the last few days. It was great. After the first night and walking the Pier (because you have to) the weather was abysmal the following morning so we just didn't go outside, and watched stuff on the amazing flat screen in the room, and then went out later. Dinner in on Sunday night was amazing, too.

Monday morning we eventually got out of the hotel and cycled a long way along the coast, came back and had an ice cream on the way. Somehow we managed to miss the bad weather, and got to see lots of sea, beach, and broken glass. Those, and the slightly sad way that connurbations by the coast tend to degrade with time. Still, a nice cycle. That evening, obviously, we had fish and chips on the Promenade, like proper tourists.

Yesterday was mainly about leaving Brighton, stopping off at Rachel's to relax and stay out of the heat, and then getting home. I didn't get home until late, and then having cycled home with enough groceries to survive the week, I decided to go for a little run... at 22:00. Only 8.5K, but I was still pretty hot and tired by the end of it. Meals had been oddly timed all day, so I wasn't even hungry when I got back, so I just showered and went to bed, after a moderate amount of stretching.

More stretching this morning seemed to be required, given the aches I had. I do wish I wasn't quite as achesome as I am for only having run that distance. Maybe as I do more I'll regain my running fitness. I hope so. Still, I certainly am not in pain, or couldn't run again if I wanted to today, but I think it's best that I start slowly and get my body used to this kind of thing again.

Today has again been one of those catchup days. Lots of email to read, reply to and delete. I also managed to get a major Oracle VM Manager update done, which was very helpful. Although it does now open up a whole load more work for me... which I suppose I don't mind too much. Now all I have to do is figure out what I do with my evenings now that I'm not rowing all of the time.

[16:20] Probably our best row (over) yet. Didn't get caught, managed to row quite well. The boat behind us will be different tonight (and probably faster/stronger) so it'll be a whole new race. It's going to be the hardest row of the week, of that I'm certain. After that: party! At least for a little while. I won't be there all night. Nor will I be the one person who cleans the entire boat house tomorrow morning.

Workwise I've done some SAN work today in connection with the Oracle VM stuff, waved off my operations manager, and tried to stay cool in a very very hot office. I'm off for the weekend now, and not back until Wednesday morning as I'll be having a nice post-rowing break in a Hotel du Vin somewhere in the country (no, not saying where). Hopefully there'll be some cycling, running, and maybe even some relaxation, who knows. Oh, and on the weekend I'll be trying to run before my physio appointment, so I know what to complain about.

See you next week.

[14:15] Day two of racing last night. Not my best row by any stretch of the imagination. However, the rest of the crew managed to drag me over the line in the same position as we had at the beginning of the day, so that's OK. I think it was a combination of not really having a plan, coupled with just feeling a bit 'off' on the row down to the start. I did have my heart rate monitor and GPS watch working though, so I got some interesting data from that. I'll be comparing and contrasting with tonight's and tomorrow night's rows, I hope. Third night's racing tonight, same time, same place.

Workwise I've installed a new KVM guest and done the needful as is required for new OS instances here. With luck I've replicated the setup as well as I hoped and the developers are even now doing the usual horrible things they do to my servers once they leave my initial management and become used.

Shortly I'll be off to do a complete switch rewire and replacement in a patch cabinet just up the road from here, and won't be back for the rest of the day. Hopefully the weather will cool a little by the time I get on the river for the evening.

[16:50] Day one of racing is over, and we did pretty well I think. The start wasn't awesome, but after that we held it together and stayed where we hoped to in the grand scheme of things. Frankly I don't think any of us were really pushed to the limit for terribly long over the two-and-a-bit-K course. There's a lot we can improve for tonight's row, but hopefully it'll be more of the same, or better. No chickens will be counted until around about nine minutes after the start cannon goes tonight, though. It's that kind of event.

Lots of patching going on today at work. Which is always good. A few machines up to date and running the latest kernel and security/bug fixes always makes me a bit happier. I've got a fairly complicated set of Oracle VM Manager/Server things to do over the next few weeks (probably months, given how glacially decisions are made here sometimes). If I pull it all off without something going wrong I'll be very entitled to feel pretty pleased with myself. We'll have to see how that goes, too. More on that another time.

So anyway, that's me done for today at work. Time to go home and have another early dinner, then relax, then head to the boat house and see what kind of row I can stroke to do my part in getting us down the river tonight.

[17:10] A thankfully quiet day to begin racing on the river this week. Hot, of course, which is going to play a factor for those racing now and into the early part of the evening. Hopefully it'll be cooler by the time we get on the water later on.

I cycled to the boat house at lunch time today to help with putting sponsors' stickers on the blade faces for the week. I found a couple of people painting blades still. I think this is the first time in years that so many of our blade sets will look as good as they have. I just hope everything else about the boats and boat house stay in as good shape for this week, and that there are no incidents or accidents. I'm especially worried about the boat I stroke, which is being used by a lower crew before we get to row in it, every day. Hopefully nothing bad will happen to it. However, I expect the shoes to be soaked and the shell full of weed.

Anyway, I'm off home for an early dinner, then to head down to the boat house to sit quietly and read a book until I'm called upon to row. First update tomorrow.

[17:25] A nice full weekend. Friday evening was rather quiet, which was good considering the early morning in prospect. It boiled down to me leaving work early and cycling around in the afternoon sun, coming close to making a fool of myself before heading over to Max and Stacey's house via Sainsbury's to pick up ice cream and raspberries to share with five other people. Then we ate an awful lot of food. I rolled home at a reasonable time and went straight to bed after packing for the morning.

Saturday morning we had two outings. One was pretty great, the second not so amazing. Even so, off the back of those I feel a bit more confident about the races which start tomorrow. After rowing I went home, lunched, relaxed, then headed to Tesco via the boat house to collect more stinky kit of mine that needed washing. Later in the evening Rachel turned up again, which was rather great. Sadly, dinner was lightly burnt pizzas owing to me concentrating on other things, but we survived.

Sunday was a single outing, while Rachel cycled 14 miles or so to do a 10K race (the one I got a 10K PB in last year). After I'd done my rowing and had a big second breakfast I cycled at a reasonable clip to see if I could arrive before she left the race venue. Just about managed it. We cycled back together at a slightly more moderate pace, and then ended up getting clean and falling asleep for an hour or two. There then followed the world's slowest moving thunder storm, which we sort of caught the edge of, eventually. By that time though we were done with moving for the day, got a Chinese delivery, and settled in to watch some television for the evening.

This morning I had my last outing pre-races. Having to drag myself out of bed at 05:20 after a hot and humid night's 'sleep' was hard enough, but then rowing on top of that wasn't so great. Although, once in the boat and moving I felt a whole lot better. My rowing wasn't the best for a few practice starts, but then I got into it, and I think the rest of the crew responded to that, which was good.

Work today has been a bit of a hothouse, which hasn't helped concentration. Luckily my main task today has been Nessus vulnerability scanning and report production. I managed that by lunch time, so I've been able to spend the afternoon catching up on administrative emails and the like. I've got nothing happening this evening except an attempt to relax, maybe roller my muscles a bit and think about the same time tomorrow evening (and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday).

[16:55] So while last night's outing wasn't amazing, it was far far better than most of the outings have been for the last few weeks since Henley. This made me feel a lot better about next week's races. We're by no means a certainty to be OK now, but if things go as they did last night, only with race adrenalin to keep us going we might just survive.

Nothing really happening work-wise at the moment. However, I've got a good few things lined up for next week which should keep me busy during work hours. Otherwise, Rachel turned up last night at my spontaneous request, which was nice. We ate a lot of blackberries from the garden with Galaxy eggs, and tried not to die in the heat.

Lots of rowing this weekend (four outings before I write again on Monday), potentially a little bit of running to see how my running-aggravated injuries are doing, and almost certainly some Tesco shopping, of course. Rachel will be around too, which'll be nice. She might even be doing a running race nearby on Sunday morning whilest I'm rowing.

[17:15] Last night's ergs gave me back some hope that I haven't somehow lost all of my body conditioning and cardio fitness since the end of Henley. That is to say that by the end of the two 2K AT ergs I wasn't absolutely wrecked. Not absolutely, anyway. Another outing tonight, still without the full crew, I think. We'll have to see how that goes.

Most of this afternoon has been taken up with a meeting about the new DNS software we're going to be upgrading to in August, and then watching the unfolding news story about flight MH-17 in Ukraine. I can't imagine this is going to go well (not that it started in a good place).

[16:55] Last night's outing really didn't go so well. Not only were we still not able to string together a decent couple of 500m pieces (I can't have been the only one who was absolutely shattered by each of them due to a lack of togetherness), but there's still a continual tilt to bow side which is really beginning to get on my nerves. On top of that, we managed to break the boat. Another one of the cross-braces has snapped at the weld. Hopefully we'll have it back soon. In the meantime we borrowed another boat this morning (much harder to set, I think) and by the end of the outing I think we'd managed to acrually string some reasonable rowing together. Front-stops builds seem to be the order of the day for getting ourselves in the zone a little more. I just hope we can get our heads in the game before next Tuesday evening.

As for today, I've not only managed to do a decent morning's work, but also cycled out and repaired someone's back brake (basically replaced all of the cabling). This afternoon I'm mostly working on a few basic things, and preparing for this evening's 2x 2K AT ergs. It's going to be a hot one.

[14:00] Did a 6K erg last night, may have twinged my back. Which is really, really annoying. We'll see how the outings tonight and tomorrow morning feel as to whether I've actually properly injured myself or not. After last night's erg though, I did go home and read straight through from 19:00 to 22:30. Utterly brilliant, and it means I might get on to the second book of the trilogy I'm rereading, since I got the last book from town on the weekend, by tomorrow.

That's about it, really. Work today is mainly going to be about deracking a lot of servers over at the other server room, and then probably leaving as it'll be about 17:00. This morning was mainly email and admin, and eating sweets. Probably too many sweets.

[17:00] A mixed weekend. As they usually are, to be honest. I had intended to do something exercise-related on Friday, but I don't think I did, in the end. I certainly don't remember doing so anyway. Saturday and Sunday mornings were some seriously below-par rowing efforts from my crew (two new people since Henley, and a sub in for the person behind me and the cox). "Disappointingly bad" would be the most charitable way of commenting on both rows, sadly. It really feels like people have taken their feet off the mental accelerator, as it were. Hopefully the impending races next week will wake people up for the remainder of the outings we have left this week and coming weekend. Saturday afternoon I went over to the pub of one of our rowers and spent a few hours demolishing an outside wall with a sledgehammer. That was seriously good fun from a therapeutic point of view at the very least. I also got a free lunch (TANSTAAFL), and two free drinks. So that was good. I also went into town and got myself an International Driving Permit (which I don't need per se, but is recommended, especially if you get into an accident). I also picked up a book, which I feel a bit guilty about. So much so that I ordered its prequel. Sunday afternoon I managed to scrape myself together enough to tidy the house a bit, do some washing up and even make it to Tesco. Rachel was delayed getting to me so I went down to the boat house and watched a few of our boats do 500m pieces against each other, as well as a bit of tidying and cleaning. Sometimes it feels like barely anyone else there does anything in that regard, but I know that's not true; we're just a messy group of people when we're thinking about rowing. Rachel arrived in the evening and we made Moroccan stew and apple (shop bought) and blackcurrant (from my garden) crumble and relaxed a bit at the tail end of the weekend. As she'd arrived later than we'd hoped, we stayed up a little later than I was used to... which mean I had real trouble getting up this morning.

Morning exercises reinvigorated me somewhat. Or at least enough that I could get to work. Since then I've basically been doing the Monday thing here. This includes dealing with someone who'd forgotten the alarm code for the server room, building a new RHEL7 workstation testbed machine, the usual email battle, having lunch, having my book arrive (yay!), and wondering who the third person to suffer a major accident is going to be given our regular cox came off her bike and gained a concussion hitting the curb with her helmet-encased head, and one of our coaches who also coaches another club having her towing vehicle flipped by the trailer she was towing (with one of our boats on it) and ending up needing surgery for a large head wound. Hopefully the last in the trinity won't be me...

[16:55] One erg done last night. Lots of helping get people out in boats followed. Then I went home. I can't believe how much of my fitness seems to have evaporated since Henley. Hopefully it'll come back just as fast with all the outings I have this weekend.

Other than that there's nothing really happening today. Replaced a fan tray in a server at the old server room, had lunch, caught up on more things that I was falling behind on. The weekend's going to be pretty full of stuff (rowing, logistics for my trip, seeing Rachel), so I'm hoping there'll be downtime here and there, too. Also, I just applied for my first ever credit card. Which feels a bit weird, but aside from the usefulness of it, will probably do my credit score some good too as the only thing that might possibly exist on it otherwise is my mortgage payments, I guess. Anyway, that's that. See you on Monday. Hope it doesn't rain this weekend.

[17:00] Honestly, there's nothing really going on here at the moment. I've spent the whole day trying to coordinate a fan tray delivery, catch up on email (it never ends), and tried to find something constructive to do so I don't feel guilty for being paid for being at my desk today. I think I managed it, but it was close, and meant taking a bit longer over lunch. Speaking of which, for not having done much exercise recently I'm still really hungry. I guess my body's still not used to eating less because I'm doing less. Roll on this weekend and rowing again (even if it's bucketing down, like it seems to be doing a lot of recently).

I was going to erg last night, but I found myself with a flat rear tyre on my bike when I left work. Cue the 40 minute or so walk home. After getting there and repairing the inner tube (these GatorSkin tyres really don't seem to be all that good) I honestly didn't fancy going out again, so I stayed home, watched a bit of television and waited for Rachel to arrive. Lots of delicious food followed, and then it was the end of the day.

I woke pretty shattered this morning, but still managed to fit in morning exercises before getting to work. Now I'm about to go and do a little bit of exercise, help people move boats around (some crews are racing on the local river this evening), and then go home and think about what to have for dinner. There might be meat involved. There usually is... Oh no, tell a lie, I'm having dinner with Kate this evening. Better remember that.

[17:15] Went to rerig the boat last night at the boat house, ended up doing a weights session. It was going to be an erg, but I started and realised I just didn't want to. Trying again tonight before Rachel comes over. I have to pre-burn off some of the sausages and mash we'll be having.

Nothing's really happened at work today. I've dealt with some hardware issues, and fixed a few small problems here and there, but there's nothing really happening that I can get my teeth into until someone decides what I'm doing with the two new servers which're sitting in the store room here. They're probably going to be Oracle VM servers, which'll mean a whole load of cascading updates for the Oracle VM farm, top to bottom. But that's for another day. Right now I'm off to do some exercise while I still can. By which I mean that the injuries I picked up whilest training for the Paris Marathon seem to be coming back again, even though I haven't run since April. This is quite distressing. I've got a physio appointment for after the rowing races towards the end of the month (on my way for two days holiday away from almost everything), so hopefully I'll either get some good new or some diagnosis and therapy which could help me run again in time for the races I have a few months from now. We'll see. In the meantime I'll just keep trying to strengthen the muscles I think are close to or in the area that's bothering me, in the hope that'll do some good.

[13:00] Its been a while, I know. Sorry about that. Also, we've passed the middle of 2014, already! What's that all about? Time just seems to fly by these days. If I'm not careful I'm going to run out before I've done everything I want to do.

Speaking of things I want(ed) to do. We went to Henley again, and won this time! After pre-qualifying (although our M2 crew didn't manage to qualify at all, sadly), we stayed in a nice house in Nettlebed and prepared for Henley Royal Regatta by doing outings twice a day every day except Monday and Tuesday (one outing for logistical reasons). By the time Wednesday came around we were ready. What made the day even more special was that we were going up against the same club that'd beaten us in the same cup, on the same day, on the same stations the previous year. Six of us and the cox were the same as last year. I think two of the other club's crew were the same. We lined up and for the first time in an 8+ we were in the lead off the start. We've done the same in a 4+ now and then at small regattas, but this was a first. All the way down the course we remained in the lead, sometimes as much as 3/4 of a length ahead, but at one point no more than 1/4. In the end though all our training paid off and we crossed the line a good 1/2 a length ahead. Pretty fantastic, and a vindication of all of the effort we'd put in as a crew over the months. Of course we lost the next day to a much heavier and stronger and taller crew, but to have beaten a heavier crew on the Wednesday was wonderful. Some stuff went on with coaches, ill-planned logistics, personalities, and other things, which took something away from the whole endeavour. But at the end of the day we won a race at Henley Royal Regatta and that's what I'm aiming to take away from the experience. We got to go to the Stewards' Enclosure and see something of the day on the Thursday afternoon, but by then I was pretty done with Henley for the year and got a lift home (sacrificing a night's accommodation payment, I think) so that I could have Friday back home in my own bed.

Rachel turned up on Friday, which was lovely, and I went to see her Saturday evening through to Monday morning. Having taken my bike I was able to go and see something of the Tour de France before meeting up with Cormac, and spending a happy afternoon replacing most of the drive train of my commuter bike with new parts for a really lovely, smooth ride. Also, there was barbeque, and people (like Cormac) I haven't socialised with in over six months. Rowing really can isolate you from the rest of your life, sometimes.

Having had the Monday off I'm now back in work for a nice short week and hoping to be all caught up on stuff as soon as possible so I can get my nose back to the grindstone for a while. This afternoon I've got a switch installation to do, followed by looking in on a server with a possibly transient power fault. Then there's two ergs this evening to complete, followed by boat rerigging and potentially a proper, celebratory, dinner with the rest of the crew. Although I am pretty low on funds this month what with one thing and another, so I may have to see how that bit goes.