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March's Journal
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[18:25] I had a hellishly busy morning. I got in and immediately got to reboot four servers which were part of the group which wouldn't register with my Satellite server yesterday. Weirdly (at the time) they then all subscribed straight away, which gave some clues as to what was going on yesterday. However I couldn't think about it for too long as I had an emergency call to move seven servers from one VLAN to another, which also meant doing stuff in the firewall, on our monitoring system, and with Satellite. Then I had to build three new servers and do everything with them to set them up, although Ansible makes that a lot slicker these days. Then it was lunchtime and my friendly Red Hat developer came onto IRC and we finally solved the issue of the failing subscriptions. It required a few uses of strace, but we worked out that rhsmcertd and other connected processes were holding a file open. Kill them and everything worked. So that made me very happy. Honestly, after that the rest of the day was just a case of keeping things running. I could, and should, have gone home early, but I decided to catch up on my reading and close a few tabs in my browser.

Rachel's due in about forty-five minutes and we're celebrating the end of our working week, the week after the Marathon when we haven't really exercised at all, and the fact that it's a bank holiday weekend, by having a take away curry. Tomorrow we'll be doing parkrun (possibly running to and from it, too), then house stuff, and then probably going into town to do town things. On Sunday we might run 18 or so miles for lunch/a picnic, then get the train home again. On Monday there should be pancakes and maple syrup, then Rachel will go to visit a friend for the middle of the day before coming home again to leave for London on Tuesday morning.

Also, Saturday and Monday will be my very first house viewings as I'm finally able to start looking ahead of my money becoming available in early August.

[20:00] Yes, it's that time of day and I'm still at work. This is because I tried to get about twenty machines connected to my Satellite server before lunch today and most of them failed in a way so spectacularly weird that I've been on IRC with someone who wrote Satellite since then until now and we still haven't solved the issue. In the meantime I've had loads of requests come in for new VMs which I can't deal with at the moment as I need to be responding to the person in another timezone as soon as possible so as to retain his help. I'm still going home now as it has been a horribly long day and I really could do with dinner and bed.

[17:30] My legs are feeling somewhat better today. Which is good. I'm not going to put it down to what I've been eating as I suffered a complete lack of imagination and enthusiasm last night after getting back from Tesco and ended up eating two of the NutriPot (read: Pot Noodle, but a bit more healthy) things I had in the cupboard instead of anything I'd bought. Then I went to bed in a bit of a huff.

Given I got up in the same weird mood and cycled to work thinking about how I was going to train harder for the next races so I could keep up with Rachel I think I'm suffing from post-partum (from the Marathon) "depression". I don't have any targets to aim for right now. No race to train for. Nothing to set as something to work towards. And that feels really weird. I don't think that's been the case since before we started to think about Boston this time two years ago. Since then there've been a fair few races, marathons, and an ultra. Right now all I really have to think about is the upcoming rowing races that happen in a few months. So, everything feels a bit... off.

Still, it means I can relax for a little while before getting back on the train train, as it were. But then I will need something to focus on. Although I made the first steps in looking for a house to purchase today by talking to my old mortgage advisor and even booking two viewings, even though my money won't become available before the beginning of August. Rachel and I will be going to see two houses this weekend, which is a bank holiday again, so both this week and next will be four day weeks again, hurrah!

[16:55] So on Friday I headed to Croydon to stay with Rachel. On Saturday morning we went into London and spent the morning at the Marathon Medicine seminar series, which was moderately interesting. More so than I thought it would be, actually. In the afternoon we met up with her parents and did relaxing and quiet things before going out for dinner close to the hotel they were staying at. Then we got the train home. On Sunday morning the journey to the race start (Green) was incredibly easy, and left me feeling pretty relaxed. At least about getting there on time. The nervousness about the race itself wasn't all that high, but was quite evident. As for the race itself... Well, aside from finding it increasingly hard the whole way through it turns out I was doing fairly well at keeping the pace where I wanted it until about seven kilometers from the end, when the wheels came somewhat loose and I slowed down quite substantially. Rachel on the other hand blew the doors not only off her previous PB (Boston, last year) but my all-time PB too (Boston, last year) and finished incredibly strongly almost five minutes ahead of me. I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't disappointed, but the signs had been there all season in my training, and in the half marathon results we got a few months ago. I'd like to hope that it was just how I trained this season, but it's equally likely that she's just a better runner than me now, and I'm past my peak. There are plenty more races left in me, and other years to do race marathons, but this year it's all about Rachel, at every distance, being better than me.

Oh, yes, after the race we met Rachel's parents again, then went back to the hotel, where we then checked in instead. Shower, lunch with the parents a few hundred yards away, then we went back to the hotel and used the spa/jacuzzi/etc. to try and get our legs working again. After a lovely filling dinner at a burger place close by we went to bed... only to be woken at 02:30 by the fire alarm going off for about thirty seconds. This was, we found out earlier, due to someone smoking where they shouldn't have. We got back to sleep eventually, and woke stiff and bleary in the morning for a huge breakfast before taking the train (to my) home to enjoy the remainder of the day sitting on the sofa and watching television.

This morning we were both still quite stiff and sore, but Rachel made it to London for a meeting and I made it to work. Work has been nice and quiet again, with me mostly sending emails to garner myself work, and coordinating this and that. I'm sure things will start to happen soon, but for the moment it's quite quiet here. In the meantime I'll just try and get my legs working again.

[16:05] Well, this is it. The next time I write something it'll be post-Marathon. Here's hoping it doesn't go terribly. I'll be happy with a good run, even if it's not a new PB. We'll have to see how it goes.

Nothing happened at work today, so that was good for my blood pressure if nothing else. Off to Rachel's place for the weekend now, and we have Monday off to recuperate from whatever happens on Sunday. See you on Tuesday with a brief report on how things went. Between now and then I'll be on trains, heading into London on Saturday for a marathon-themed seminar on medicine, back in on Sunday early for the race itself, then staying in a nice hotel on Sunday night before coming back home for the latter half of Monday, ready for Tuesday back at the coalface.

[17:30] Got up moderately early this morning to run a semi-fast five miles or so. Wasn't on marathon pace, and I doubt I could have maintained it for 26.2 miles. Still, you never know what'll happen on race day, and how your body will be feeling, so we'll just have to see what happens. No more running again until Sunday, when we will indeed see how this season's training has panned out.

At work today I've had the pleasure of nothing going particularly wrong, and nothing needing particularly doing. This has enabled me to do a ton of technical reading, close some tabs in my browser windows that've been open for literally months, and even help some people with their problems. So, quite a good day in that regard. I've a small issue with RHEL servers not apparently checking in with Satellite, but it's no big deal, I don't think. Anyway, the light outside is really weird, and it's time to go home, so I'm going to. Possibly before it absolutely buckets down with rain. Hopefully Rachel won't get caught in any rain when she goes to the running expo this evening to collect our race packs.

[17:55] A wonderful double-long weekend just happened for me. It started with a haircut on Thursday evening and only got better after that. Rachel arrived and we had the evening together. This meant curry that evening, and then going for a pretty fast run to the lock and back on Friday morning, just so we felt like we'd achieved something. We then went into town and did some stuff before Rachel planned to head back to London. What happened instead was that we ended up walking a lovely old lady who'd lost her sense of balance back to her house, and then calling the paramedics to make sure she was OK. Then Rachel headed back to London to see friends and do social things. For my part I just went home afterwards and felt a bit flat. The following day I had a reasonable run before, during and after parkrun, getting in my last 'long' run before the marathon. Once that was done and I'd had something for lunch I went and had a bit of a mare doing Tesco shopping. In the end everything got got and I made it home. Rachel arrived in the evening after her period of socialising and there was much rejoicing. On Sunday morning we decided to do a medium distance run around the north side of town which went fairly well, although was far slower than we hope to do the marathon. We're both a little worried we won't be able to maintain the pace we'd held in previous years... Anyway, after that we just settled in to have a quiet day. This was because on Monday morning we got up early and jumped on a train to a CenterParc where we were treated to another part of my birthday present from Rachel. After cycling to it from the closest train station we had just over 24 hours in a spa, getting really, really relaxed. The room (suite!) was incredible, and we came off the back of it feeling really rather good. My shin splints just didn't bother me at all. We came back the same way on Tuesday afternoon in time for an hour-long physio/sports massage each which has (I hope) really set us up for this coming Sunday. After a quiet evening together we got up very very early this morning to do what we hoped would be a marathon pace run to the lock and back. I have to say it didn't go too badly, but I have no idea how I could ever maintain it for six times that distance. I guess I'll just have to see. Rachel headed off to London after that and I came into work to get a moderately early start on the pile of work that had amassed whilest I'd been away over Easter. I've managed to build four new servers, add to the Ansible repository we have, convince someone not to install a GUI on some servers, and teach one of my colleagues the basics of Ansible. Not bad for a 'Monday'. Now, though, it's time to go home. Tomorrow morning I'll do my last run before the marathon (another 'marathon pace' 7.1K or so), and then head in to work. Hopefully it'll give me the last bit of confidence I need.

[16:40] I don't know if I'm annoyed or not by the fact I didn't get to run before work this morning. I needed to be in by 08:30 to restart an application that was supposed to have its databases moved from under it. However, it turns out that the DBA couldn't make the change so I just ended up sitting on my hands until about 09:00, and then restarting it anyway with the database not having been moved after all, but had been down. Frustrating. Still, it meant I got to run on a more undulating route for an hour at lunch time rather than along the flatness that is the towpath next to the river near my house. I was a little mortified to see, when I uploaded my run, that Rachel had run 4.5km further, in a significantly better time yesterday morning. I do believe she's going to beat me at the London Marathon by a significant margin.

Anyway, enough about that. I'm off for Easter, with an extra day tacked on the end to do fun things with Rachel. I'll see you next Wednesday.

[17:30] After a 1 hour run before work, which wasn't too bad, but wasn't blowing the doors off in terms of performance, I came in to work and got a few things done before the two replacement hard drives I'd ordered came in. This happened around 10:30. From then it was a race to see how quickly I could get the server rebuilt and back into service again. I cycled over to the server room and tried to get the box back with the original disks in, but abandoned that idea quickly when the RAID hardware said everything was broken. Two new disks in I got the logical volume configured, and then kickstarted the OS install. That went swimmingly (even the new stuff I'd added to the configuration and hadn't tested). After that I could come back to the office to do everything from the 'comfort' of my desk. What really slowed things down was the MySQL import of the data from the other server it was in a master/master replication pair with. That took hours. Once it was eventually done I thought it would only be a few minutes before I had the two servers replicating correctly. Disappointingly, this wasn't the case and it took another forty minutes or so, with help from my old team leader before things were working again. At this point I'm fairly sure that everything is working other than a few things I might have forgotten about, or that the developers who access it might have changed since I froze the configuration. They'll obviously let me know what needs tweaking, if and when they come across something. I'm now going to go home and collapse and consider today one of those days when I actually earned my pay. Tomorrow morning I won't be running before work as I have to be in work for 08:30 to do some application restarting, so I'll run at lunchtime instead. Only an hour again, as I'm definitely into my taper for the marathon now.

[17:45] I had a fabulous evening with Rachel when I got home last night. We even went out for dinner, which isn't something we've done all that often. She had to leave this morning for London as usual though, which was disappointing, but normal. I headed into work where I found that one of our database servers had failed two disks in a RAID5 set, so all of the data and the OS was toast, sadly. Dell were happy to send out two disks without any complaint, so they're due to arrive tomorrow morning, at which point I'll spend the day completely reinstalling the operating system and then redoing the configuration before getting it rejoined to a master/master MySQL replication setup and eventually back into the Ucarp IP sharing arrangement it had previously. Both disks failed within an hour of each other around midnight last night, so maybe it was karma's version of a late birthday present just slipping in under the wire. I appreciate it not having happend for me to come in to on Monday morning, but I would have preferred it if it hadn't happened at all. Luckily the configuration isn't all that complicated (I think), and I've still got the old kickstart file and setup hanging around to get the box up and running again. It shouldn't take too long, I think.

Over lunch time today I went out and did what turned out to be a reasonably good 10K run, even with the fairly warm temperature outside. Then this afternoon has been mainly about dealing with 1001 tiny things which just Need Doing so that everything runs smoothly. Now I'm going home and hopefully will have a good night's sleep so I can run for a nice solid hour tomorrow morning.

[17:00] Well, I'm back. Hi there. Three weeks away both does and doesn't feel like a long time when it's a week-long course, then a week away, then another week-long course. Especially when both courses are where I coulgd get access to my work email. This was helpful, really, as it meant I could keep on top of my work and not be drowned in email when I got back today. But anyway, what have I been up to?

Well both the first and last week course were entirely devoted to Foritnet products. They seem pretty well put together, even if the GUI is a bit haphazard in places. Whilest the functionality is pretty great, it really does feel like they had a bunch of different groups working on things and not once did they get together and work out how things would look, never mind what widget set they'd used. The courses were interesting, but definitely harder than I was expecting in places. Especially the stuff to do with aspects of networking with which I not totally au fait. I made it through though, without feeling too much of a dunce for the most part.

The best part of my three weeks away though was the middle week. Rachel and I took a train to Carlisle, then after wandering the streets for a few hours, a slow country bus to Bowness-on-Solway for a night in a rather nice B&B with a view of the Solway (and Scotland) itself. The next morning we started running east. Over the next four days we'd run (and, if I'm honest, walk here and there) all the way to the east coast and North Shields (part of Newcastle). 95 miles, over four days. It was hard work, but we saw some lovely scenery and I'm pleased to say that my right leg shin splints did not stop the enjoyment. We stayed in an interesting variety of places, saw a lot of the wall, countless stiles of various types, became pass masters at spotting boggy ground. Some days we finished feeling only moderately tired, other days we were absolutely shattered. But we managed it. And we had a really good time. I gained even more respect for how strong and powerful a runner Rachel is, and hopefully showed myself that even when utterly pooped, and carrying an 8kg pack, I can still keep moving at more than a walking pace. Hopefully this will stand me in good stead for the London Marathon in a few weeks from now.

Speaking of which, the right leg shin splints that have been bothering me caused me to go to the physio (a different one to my last three (which were two different people, too) again last week. This time, although the taping of my calf and shin were mediocre, the rehabilitation exercise I've been doing since then seems to be giving great results, so that has meant I've been able to run almost normally for the last few runs, with only one run being replaced with a cycle since we returned from Hadrian's Wall. I'm into the taper for the marathon now, but am beginning to get rather worried about the kind of pace I was hoping to keep up for 26.2 miles, which I don't even seem to be able to maintain for 10km at the moment (that's just under a quarter of a marathon). We'll just have to see how things go. At the moment both of us are revising down our hopes for finishing times (although I think Rachel's at the very least going to beat me this year, if not get a new PB for the distance).

Anyway, other than that the weather has been lovely here this weekend, and Rachel has been too (lovely, and here this weekend). We've had a great time, and she's been working from (my) home today so that she'll be around for this evening. Yesterday she did everything but oven-bake some pain au raisin, which she then baked this morning along with iced buns, which I've had as an afternoon snack. It's my birthday today, so we're going out for dinner this evening, too. I'm very lucky to have met, and managed to hang on to someone as amazing and special as Rachel.

Anyway, back to normal service tomorrow.