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December's Journal
February's Journal

[17:35] So today wasn't the most awesome of days. I arrived to find an email from the tax people saying my tax code had changed. I logged in and discovered that not only was this true, but I owed a considerable amount of money. I couldn't quite find out why and where as their site isn't all that straightforward in places, but it had to be a mistake, right? I called my employer's payroll office and they confirmed my tax code had indeed changed. I called the tax people and after a length amount of time on hold, got confirmation that they didn't think there was a mistake. While on hold I'd managed to find what the reason was, and it didn't make sense. A bank account (account number partially asterisked out) with the final three letters being part of my surname apparently has a monster amount of interest that tax hadn't been paid on. According to my online banking for that bank the only account ending in those letters only had 61p of interest in the last year. I got the tax people to remove the account, and reset my tax code to normal. Then I called the bank and, after doing it three times (once an hour due to their systems being down such that they couldn't access customer account details), and being on hold for ten minutes each time, I ascertained that it was the long-since-closed bond I had for some of my previous house sale money that had finally been flagged for tax on the interest it had accrued. This was a real disappointment, but legally I did owe the tax on it. I called the tax people back and got them to re-reset my tax code to the horrible one as (apparently) I couldn't pay off the amount there and then. Instead I'd have to accept two months on this tax code, paying off what my new code required per month, and then after the tax year ended I'd be given a bill and I could pay the balance off at that point. At which point my tax code would go back to normal for the 2019-2020 tax year. This seemed stupid, so I hunted about on the web site and, indeed, found a place I could pay everything off straight away. Luckily I'm liquid enough that I could do it. Now I just have to wait for the payment to trickle its way through the system and hope that my tax code re-re-resets itself before 11 February, which is when my employer does the payroll for February (and downloads tax codes from the tax people). Theoretically it can "take up to ten days" for the money to be registered by the system, so we'll be cutting it close if it does take the maximum amount of time. We'll see.

The rest of the day sort of pales into insignificance compared to my tax scare, but it mainly consisted of me deciding to wear a cycle helmet on my cycles today as the weather is incredibly cold and I'm worried about ice, going over to a server room to move some servers around in a rack, and dealing with a few network and database issues from my desk. Right now though I'm going to attempt to make it home in one piece and have a quiet night in, cooking from the fridge and cupboards rather than doing what I did last night and lazily going out for Chinese takeaway.

[16:00] Another early start. But not so early as yesterday as the urgency to patch and reboot things was far less owing to these hosts being part of various groups of servers with redundancy. I still came in a little earlier so that I could potentially avoid the traffic a bit and have a slightly safer time on the the rather icy roads. This wasn't as successful as I hoped as there were still plenty of cars that came far too close to my given the road conditions. I'm going to head off as soon as I've finished this entry in the hopes that going home in daylight after a day of cloudless skies might mean things are a little safer than going home in the dark once the temperature has dropped. What have I achieved today? Not a huge amount, if I'm honest. I did go and swap a hard drive this morning. Or was that yesterday? There were two this week. Maybe they were Monday and Tuesday. Yes, I think that was the case. So no, I didn't do that this morning. I'm not sure what I did do this morning after the patching then. Maybe it was some useful work that's just what I do every day, so it didn't register.

Anyway, things done today. Now going home. Hopefully safely.

[16:50] I have had, for the past few months, the feeling that I'm gradually getting weaker and weaker in terms of muscle and muscle mass. Specifically in my arms and upper torso. This, combined with the seemingly-impossible efforts to shrink the excess around my waist has left me feeling quite disappointed in my body, despite it almost certainly becoming better at running long distances without getting as tired as it used to. I seem to be 'burning' muscle, rather than my 'fat' reserves. I put both of those in quotes because I'm sure other people would disagree with me, being able to view me from the outside. It's certainly how I feel as the inhabitant of the body in question, though. I'm going to have to have a serious think about diet and types of exercise after I've done the second of the two 50 mile ultras I have planned for this spring. I don't know what the outcome will be yet, but it might involve weights, or climbing, or even rowing again. All of those are likely to be detrimental to any running achievements I might also factor in, but if the alternative is being less happy with my physique I think that's just the way it's going to have to be. I'll also have to take a long hard look at my comparing myself with Rachel in terms of race times and PBs, too. But that's just the way it'll have to be.

In other news, I did all kinds of things last night before I was able to sit down with an (over-large, high calorie, almost-certainly-fattening) pizza and rest. Still, it did mean a lot of things which'd been hanging over me got done, so that was good. It also means I can go home tonight and do next to nothing and still be OK. This morning I got up earlyish, half-heartedly did some exercises, then got to work to patch and reboot a few servers. I'll be doing the same tomorrow morning, but don't have to get in anywhere near as early, which is nice. Over lunch I went and replaced a hard drive in a data centre, got some information about decommissioned servers, and then came back and have spent most of the afternoon trying to work out what I'm going to do next. I don't know if it's going to be prodding lots of people about patching, pushing on with getting a whole load of physical servers racked, cabled up, installed, or moved from where they are to somewhere else. I haven't made the decision, and likely it'll be tomorrow morning when I do. For now though I'm going to go home and try not to worry about my real or imagined expanding waistline and shrinking chest and biceps.

[17:25] The weekend was something of a mixed bag, if I'm honest. Rachel arrived in town around lunch time and when I got home in the evening we went for a run on the same route I'd done the previous weekend with the triathlon club. Disappointingly, the weather was a lot warmer, so the ground was quite a bit soggier and the fields very sticky. This slowed us down a lot and wasn't all that enjoyable. We had a nice dinner, and then headed out to the garden to sleep in the tent to see how Rachel's sleeping bag coped. Again, the weather was a lot warmer than the previous weekend when I'd been out, but I think it was a relevant test nevertheless. For my part I was far too hot, which boded well for the cooler temperatures we're expecting on the mountain. Some time around that evening is when my mood started to descend quite a bit though. By the time we got up on Saturday morning and headed out to get the train to Rachel's parents I was dealing well with things, but wasn't in an altogether great place mentally. We still had a lovely time with Rachel's parents and her nephew (including Rachel getting to buy me her Christmas present finally in the shape of a new rucksack; a Berghaus to replace my Berghaus that I've had for decades), and a nice night's sleep and lovely food, not to mention a good - but windy and cold - run on the Sunday. My mood wasn't great though, and I hated inflicting it on Rachel in the way that it comes out. I made a decent fist of things, though, such that nothing was terrible (I hope). We got home on Sunday evening and decided that it was very much time for an Indian takeaway rather than cooking, so that ended the day nicely. This morning it was lovely to have Rachel there to wake up with, even if I didn't start our days off as wonderfully as I could have done with a bit more time, effort, and thought. In any event we both got to work in good shape and in good time. Today I've mainly been sorting through masses of email, replacing a RAID5 member disk, running for an hour at lunch time, and avoiding having to go to at least one meeting. I've prepared for tomorrow morning's patching, sent some useful emails, put name stickers on a server, and worked out where Rachel and I might have dinner on Saturday evening.

Now I need to go home and get to Tesco, as well as doing the washing up and maybe even putting another load of washing on. Oh, and I need to fold up the tent, which is lying all over the kitchen and spare bedroom floors.

[16:20] As much as I like running, it is nice to have a day when I don't. Not that today is one of those days as as soon as I get home and changed Rachel (who arrived at the house around 13:30) and I are going for a 1h30m run in the dark with head torches over what could be (in places) rather sticky ground now that the temperature has leapt up by a good 8-10 degrees. Still, running together, on a route which isn't incredibly boring for Rachel is always a win in my book. Otherwise today has been relatively quiet. I've (I think) worked out where all of the thirteen physical servers that we currently have pending for install are, whether they're racked or not, and to some degree worked out what they're going to be called. A good few of them won't be installable until we get some new Cisco FEX and Brocade switches, but a few might be, if I can work out what I need to ask from from various other parties. In lieu of that I've basically spent today doing various bits of admin, clearing down my Sisyphean-inspired work email inbox, eating the most chocolatey cake in existence (only once slice, mind), and hoping that my slightly more painful knee won't affect my running while it heals.

Over the weekend there'll potentially be another night in the tent (this time with Rachel, although the weather is a lot milder than last weekend), a trip to see Rachel's family (parents, nephew) including swimming, and a run the same length as tonight (1h30m) at some point. Given how the weather is I think I should pack some shoes that work in the mud. Other than that, see you on Monday, I hope.

[18:05] Another morning of a fasted run before work. It went perfectly well and it was fun to run in the brittle, cold, pre-dawn air. The river was partially frozen, but there were no boats out anyway. The cycle to work was somewhat more eventful in that in the carpark behind my building I managed to cycle the bike over a patch of ice and lay it down at about 2mph. This resulted in a heavy bang to my right knee, and some grazing. Everything else (coat, bike, my lunch in a pannier) seems fine, although I did have to straighen the handlebars with respect to the front wheel a few centimeters. My legs were so cold from the cycle in that I barely felt anything until I began to thaw while sitting at my desk. Happily the damage doesn't seem to have affected my running as I was able to get out at lunch time and do an hour's run without really noticing that I had a few patches of skin missing. Hopefully it'll have scabbed up enough that I won't leave bloody smears on the inside of my sleeping bag when Rachel and I spent Friday night in the tent to test her sleeping bag out for our Mount Meru ascent. Otherwise there was a moderate amount of useful work done today, I asked other people to do some things and they got done, and generally the day passed without anything majorly serious (other than a VMWare vhost needing to be power cycled after it crashed) happening. I'm going to carefully cycle home tonight and have a nice bit of steak for dinner.

[18:20] It may have taken until 18:15, but today has finally been a useful and productive day. I mean, the rest of it wasn't too bad, but I did my most satisfying work just before writing this entry. The day started early, with me hauling myself out of bed to run for 45min in lovely-but-chilly weather before breakfast. Then I showered, did the usual morning stuff and then froze my hands off (even in decent gloves) cycling to work. Over the course of the morning I put in useful requests to get servers racked up, things connected, and generally helped out both my team and the people who store servers for us before they're racked by asking for servers to be racked. Some of them may even get power and data cable connectivity. Over lunch I started a very lethargic 1 hour run of hill repetitions, which ended up not being too shoddy in the end. After showering and lunching and stuff I sent a few more very useful emails and then organised patching and pausing of patching for half a dozen servers or so. After that someone from Networks came in and told me that the bit of work I'd asked for had been done. This then allowed me to create a VM on a newly-installed VMWare host and try to connect it to the correct network so that it can stress-test the new NetApp filer we have. Only networking wasn't working. In the end it turned out that the issue was mine. I'd been so caught up with putting new servers into a certain row in a certain server room I'd asked for that row to have a VLAN sent to it, when in fact it was another row that I should have asked for. The people in Networks quickly solved my issue for me, and after some firewall fiddling on my part the VM is now installed, patched, configured with the user and software it needs, and is ready to hand over to the user. That was the last thing I did this evening. Now I'm going home. Tomorrow morning I've got another 45min run, and another 1 hour run (of a different kind) at lunch time. I better eat well this evening!

[17:30] A successful day of not doing all that much, in the end. One of my coworkers made some progress on installing that VMWare host, but then seems to have hit a blocker, which isn't helpful. Hopefully he'll be able to get back on track tomorrow. In the meantime I've been able to ask for three disk shelves and a server to be removed from a rack, which'll be helpful in terms of more VMWare hosts going in their place. I've been to a long meeting which was useful for reminding me of all the things I know about a particular piece of technology we use. It was very weird to be with a group of highly intelligent people and for once be one of the few people who knew everything about what was being explained. Other than that I've just held back entropy for a few more hours on a very local scale. In other news, I won't have to do my run tomorrow morning very early, because the patching I was going to do from home has now been pushed back to during the working day (probably). This means I don't have to get up horribly early, just moderately early. Tomorrow's going to be a tough day, running-wise as I've got a 45min run before work (although only 'steady') and an hour of hill reps at lunch time. Thursday will be similar, although the hour at lunch time will be sort of interval-like. I may have to do that on the road/pavement rather than on the vaguely off-road route I have. That should be fine, though. Both morning runs will be done fasted, which at least means I don't have to hang around after eating before I can run. Just "up, clothes, go". Friday's run of 1h30m is now after work though, which is great as it means Rachel can come and do it with me as she'll be arriving mid-afternoon that day. The upshot of all of that running during the week is that I get Saturday off (useful as we're traveling early in the morning), and Sunday (which'll be at Rachel's parents') is only 1h30m too, which is nice.

In other, other news, I'm feeling a little less down than yesterday. Which is also good.

[17:45] Let's start with the positives, in reverse order (why not?). I moved two servers from OracleVM to VMWare today. That was great. Flawless conversion and only four more left to do from this particular tranche. Definitely useful. I also fixed (repeatedly) issues with two new VMWare hosts such that one'll be installed tomorrow (so that I can then create a VM on it to enable someone to do stress-testing on another project's infrastructure). Over lunch I did a good 1 hour run, which follows on from yesterday's great 2 hour run with the local triathlon club and my coach, who happened to be along with everyone else and gave me some great pointers, as well as looking at my running technique. Rachel came and went over the course of the weekend as other social and sporting events allowed, I went to Tesco, and I slept in my tent in my new sleeping bag in what must have been close to -6degC temperatures, and was fine and dandy. So, that's all the good stuff. Otherwise, I still seem to be in something of a light to medium dip in mood. I wouldn't class it as an all out 'Down', but I'm certainly not happy, in a good mood, or even on a totally even keel. This is disappointing as (I think I've said this before recently) I've been doing fairly well for the last few months, other than a few very short-term blips here and there. Rel seems to be coping with it/me without any problems, but I'd much rather be happier and more at ease than I currently am for her sake as much as mine. I don't quite see how to get from here to there as it's not as simple as just wishing it were so, or 'trying'. But anyway, it's the end of the day at the start of a new week, so I'll do what I can control, and go home before it gets too late. Tomorrow I'm in early for patching and virtual disk resizing, so it'd be nice to have more than 14 hours away from my desk.

[16:45] Had a lovely evening with Rachel last night. Dinner was delicious. This morning neither of us wanted to get up, but I managed it in the end and brought Rachel coffee so that she could start the day a little more slowly than I did. It was quite cold on the cycle into work. I'm thinking I might need to wear undergloves as well as my decent gauntlets. The first thing I did at work though was to get out of my chair and cycle over to the furthest data centre to plug in some SFP+ cables between some servers and our Brocade storage network... only to find that someone had already done it. Which was nice and all, but I could have saved myself the trip. I consoled myself that we now know that the servers are connected, and to what ports. Back at the office I contacted everyone in my team with the information, as well as setting up the DHCP server for the other DRAC (on the server with no power to it yet), and telling Networks about the other set of FEX ports to put on the correct port profile. Now we just have to wait for the latter to happen and we can build a new VMWare host and I can get a guest on it to do some storage service stress testing. Other than that I spent some time converting another two guests from being OracleVM ones to VMWare ones. This is great as it means I only have six more to do before I can shut down two more OracleVM Server instances and concentrate on the final two (with their two guests a piece). Those two are going to be a bit more annoying as their licensing is all to do with CPU pinning, which is going to be a right pain. After lunch I mainly concentrated on clearing down my inbox, printing out a new firewall/network diagram, and clearing and tidying a few things both physical and virtual.

This weekend Rachel is with me until around mid-morning, then she's back off to Croydon to play hockey (hopefully with the new bag/backpack I bought her for Christmas). She'll be back on Sunday afternoon, which'll be lovely of her. In the meantime we'll be doing our own runs on Sunday morning. I may run with the local triathlon club, as their run may be around about the right amount of time for me and it'll be nice to have some company for once. Other than that there'll be Tesco, television, and keeping warm. See you on Monday.

[17:35] Early start, servers patched and rebooted, other things done, generally productive. I went for a very steady hour's run at lunch time, then spent some time doing all the kinds of things I tend to have to do in a working day. Not all that much to differentiate today from a vast number of other days, except that Rachel will be arriving this evening, which always the day the best day.

[17:25] I think today was a useful day. I don't really think I ever got settled into it particularly well. I got up this morning and did a few exercises after being struck quite hard whilest watching television last night that I felt fatter and flabbier than I wanted. I now just need to do the same thing every morning for the rest of time and I might just get back to something that I'm happier with when I look in the mirror or down at myself. But anyway, after that I headed into work and got some useful organising of other people done, did some useful emailing and figuring out of other things, and even got twenty or so servers ready to be patched and rebooted tomorrow morning. This included pre-staging some firmware updates and things like that. Over lunch I had my hill reps running session for the week and found it harder than I would have liked, given the week is supposed to be an 'adaptation' week and I shouldn't be feeling quite so tired, I think. Maybe? I'm not sure. In any event, I survived the thing, had my shower, had my lunch, and had a meeting which hopefully solved a few issues the team was having. Right now it's time I went home and collapsed for the evening. I might even get to bed fairly early so I can get up and about tomorrow morning in good time to get everything done.

[17:30] I got all kinds of things done today. We're talking super-productive. First of all I got in early and patched and rebooted a database server, including firmware updates. So that was a win before 08:00. Then I had a morning of getting people in my team to push forward with a few things. I had a meeting with Chris about NetBackup, and Learned Things (still not everything, but more than I already knew). Then there was some time to do some Puppet5 and Ansible stuff on some servers, including testing the updated Ansible ready to be pushed out to everything in the future. Then I went for a 1 hour run, which I felt strong for for about 90% of, which was great. This afternoon I had some time to get firewall changes done, and even learned a few new things about how they (and networking here, as well as generally) work. I think I should leave the office at this point before something goes wrong. Although, did I mention my new sleeping bag (Christmas present from my parents) arrived yesterday? It did, and it's super. I'm thinking Rachel might bring her sleeping bag this weekend and we'll put the tent up in the garden and see just how warm they are. Also, it'll be a good test of whether or not the tent is still usable or not. I haven't unpacked it in many years. Before even I was going to emigrate, I think!

[18:15] A rather good weekend, I have to say. We both did parkrun on Saturday morning. I incorporated it into a 1 hour run and got a moderately OK time. Rachel ran it fresh and beasted it, beating my PB by more than 14 seconds, which is galling, but very cool. One day I might train for speed again. I just wish I could have speed and endurance, like what Rachel seems to be able to maintain. Anyway, after that we went out for brunch, which I had to leave in a rush to get home to fix an issue with the systems being upgraded over the weekend. I dashed home, sorted it, then came back out to be with Rachel while she bought a cheap bike to replace the expensive one that got stolen. After doing that, and leaving the station bike of mine she'd cycled there at the train station (in secure racking) we headed home. We did a quick Tesco trip, which I sort of curtailed as I just wasn't feeling very happy about being outside/in Tesco/doing anything. I think I got pretty much everything I needed for the week, other than a few things I can pop out for if I need them. Later in the day Rachel went for another run and collected the station bike to bring home. On Sunday morning we really slept in late, and it was marvellous. Around 11:30, having been given the all-clear from the finance people to go out, we took the train about 15 miles out of town and then ran back along the river for about 19 miles to make up three hours of running. It was windy, and quite cold, but aside from that fairly positive. I'm still not sure how I ever did, or will again, run for 50 miles (and do it this time in under nine hours). Once we were home and showered we relaxed for the rest of the day. This morning Rachel left for London and I cycled into work to start the week. Everything seemed to have gone according to plan with the upgrade so I mainly contended with my inbox, dealt with details of new hardware being racked, sorted out a few administration things, and then after lunch helped rerack some kit and then returned the infra-red camera I borrowed from my council on Friday. I'm pleased to say that my house no longer looks 3-5degrees centigrade warmer on the outside than next door (the other half of my semi-detached). I think the EWI is doing what it's supposed to, which is good. Now I'm off home to do a mountain of washing up. It's OK though as it's all from Rachel cooking and baking nice things for us/me to eat.

[17:30] Rachel arrived last night and, after some wobbles on my part due to me being, well, me, there was much rejoicing. We went to bed a little later than planned (especially given how tired I was from the running this week), although Rachel drifted off to sleep during a watching of classic Top Gear (pre-Grand Tour). This morning we both had serious issues getting out of bed, but managed it eventually in time for me to get to work for a sensible time. I called TfL and got a really helpful person on the phone who helped me get a refund for the accidental tap out via Oyster I did last Friday when I was in Croydon. Then I headed off to a meeting about getting Oracle VM guests off Oracle Server and on to VMWare (thus enabling us to reduce our Oracle VM Server farm by three old and unsupported hosts). I was given one server to do a test run with and everything seemed to go perfectly, which was nice. There's now a schedule being arranged for all the other guests which I hope will take place over the course of the next week, or so. Then it was lunch time, and I got to sit at my desk and eat rather than going for a run, which was lovely. After lunch I was given a lift to go and collect a FLIR camera from my county council (just as I did this time last year) to see if my house is any better in terms of heat retention since I put external wall insulation on it this summer. We'll see over the course of the weekend. On the way back we dropped into the remotest data centre to check on power availablity for some new servers, and then I came back to my desk to help with some database installation stuff, and begin the weekend finance system upgrade work I'm involved in. Now I'm off home to await my next task.

Over the weekend we'll be running when I'm not tied to a computer, maybe buying Rachel a replacement bike which is very much cheaper and safer to be left alone at a train station for days on end. Other than that: relaxation!

[17:30] I appear to have survived two days of running twice a day, which is nice. It wasn't tremendous fun to get up before dawn again this morning and get out in the cold, but I did it, and I sort of enjoyed it by the time I was a couple of minutes into the experience. On the cycle into work I bought Rachel a new combination cable lock to replace the one which vanished with her nearly-new bike at the local train station. This one'll be used to lock up my last remaining 'station bike' in non-Sheffield stands when she uses it on Monday morning. The morning consisted of putting out a few smouldering issues (no actual fires) and then keeping it together until lunch time. Over lunch I ran again, twice as long as before breakfast, but roughly the same distance (a steady pace rather than "steady, rest, faster"). It's cold outside, but not so cold that I still don't get pretty sweaty. It really does seem to be a design flaw with me just how much I perspire. After lunch I cycled over to the more remote data centre to re-replace a disk in a RAID5 set, and was happy to see that this one didn't immediately go into predictive failure mode. Then it was just a case of running the clock out doing useful mini-things until well past time to go home. Which is where I'm going now, to wash up, tidy the house, and await the arrival of Rachel, who'll be here until Monday morning.

[17:40] I forced myself to get up at 06:55 this morning so I could get my first run of the day done in time to not have to rush too much afterwards. Although only a 30 minute thing, with a 60 second pause before running the same distance back at a faster pace it wasn't a totally easy run. In the end it was the running back which finally woke my body up properly, although I was fairly tired by the time I got home. Cycling to work was harder than usual, due to accumulated time on the legs, and I wasn't looking forward to the lunchtime hill session with much enthusiasm. Before that was a morning of work, including a long meeting to talk about new VMWare hosts, and requirements that'll immediately be put upon them. I tried to let my two team colleagues get everything they needed to say out, and then added in information or thoughts that I needed to. Then it was lunch time and an hour of running to the hill, running up and down it for half the time, and then running back again. With my cold and the morning run having stressed/tired my body somewhat I didn't quite make it back to the start before the hour was up, but I was only a few seconds off. I think I'm allowed that kind of leeway. After shower, food, email catch up my whole team walked to both server rooms to get a proper look at where we'd put eight new VMWare hosts (four per site). We think we made some useful decisions, which I committed to email(ing the people who should rack them up for us) when we got back to the office. It's now the end of the day and I need to work out if I'm just going to go home or go and see something at the cinema. Given I really need to get some calories inside of me and the person I was hoping to go to the cinema with (and get food beforehand with) isn't going, I think I'll just go home and make food instead. Tomorrow I've almost the same running schedule as today, although the hour at lunch time is 'steady' rather than on hills... Although I may run up and down a (different) hill twice (once in each direction) as part of the run anyway. We'll see. Also Rachel arrives tomorrow evening, which'll be brilliant.

[17:45] I don't think I went to bed too late last night, but I guess being a smidgen later than normal, plus the day's run following Saturday and Sunday's run meant that my body really needed its down time. This manifested as me having real trouble getting out of bed even by 08:00 this morning. I managed it though, and got to work in time to get organised before I had my first appraisal with my ex-colleague who's now my team leader (or one above that, as he's also acting up... it's all a bit complicated and messy since my old team leader vanished to another group he thought was more interesting and the person above him left due to his being bullied). The upshot was that people think I'm doing a good job and if a team leader role comes up, I'd be strongly encouraged to go for it. Which is all weird inside my head, given what I think about what I do here, but there you go. After that we continued with another meeting about the work I'll be doing to support the upgrade of the finance system over this weekend coming. Suffice it to say that for the most part it's all fairly straightforward, but none of it stuff I've really done before. I have a sort of safety net, but I'd prefer not to use it (calling my team leader, who's done this precise support role for about seven previous years). We did some backup tape retrieval, talked about a few more things, and then I went and swapped a HDD in a server in the more remote data centre before having a bit of lunch. This afternoon has been mainly about dealing with emails, and the things within them that need work. Hopefully my VMWare-based Windows workstation will stay on overnight so I can be fairly sure that it'll do the same over the weekend, when I'll be leaving processes running on it for extended durations/overnight. For now though it's time to head home and enjoy the fact I didn't have to run today (although I'm running twice in a day tomorrow, the first run before work (and breakfast)).

[17:35] The only negative thing about this weekend just gone is that it ended. Other than that it was pretty much wall to wall fab. I got from work to the train station in plenty of time, even on my station bike, and without being sweaty, which is always a plus. The journey to Croydon was uneventful, which was marvellous, as I got to read a lot. I did have a small issue in that I used my Oyster card to leave the station for no readily apparent reason, so have had to contact TFL to see if they can refund me. I emailed them on Saturday morning, but haven't had any response as yet, which is a bit disappointing. Other than that the tram to Rachel's house was fast too, which was great. We had a lovely Friday evening together and woke on Saturday in time for me to incorporate a moderately fast parkrun into my 1 hour run for the day. Rachel marshaled, and then waited around whilest she contemplated running in the cross country league with a barely-healed wisdom tooth removal. I went home, showered, and then cycled back to meet her where we had something to eat and then she (along with plenty of others from her running club) ran in the event. She was amazing and, I'm pretty sure, was fastest in her age group (not that they do those for this race). We cheered on the men of her club and then went home to get warm. Relaxation for the rest of the day. Sunday we slept in a bit and then got a train to Caterham so that we could run a section of the North Downs Way and then north along the Vanguard Way back to Croydon. We were also testing some Tailwind sample pouches and I have to say that either I was on form, or there's something amazing in them as I felt pretty good for the whole three hours. Maybe it was also because I was probably properly hydrated for the first time in a while. Who knows. The remainder of Sunday was, of course, spent on the sofa watching television and relaxing.

Getting up early this morning was obviously not pleasant, but I made it to the train station in time to see Rachel off for a gym session and made it to work in time to go to a meeting to discuss the upgrade of the finance system this weekend coming. I'll need to be around for some of the weekend, but it shouldn't get in the way of any running Rachel and I will be doing. In other news I've got a step or two closer to being able to decommission a very old piece of hardware (maybe by the end of the week), solve a few small issues, ordered a new HDD for one which is predicted to fail, and been for a run at lunch time which left me absolutely famished. Luckily Rachel had made and packed me a wonderful lunch, which completely filled the hole where my stomach was. Now I have to head home on my station bike, and then head back out to do the week's Tesco shop before I can relax for the evening.

[16:15] Another morning of feeling far tireder than I would have expected. Not as bad as yesterday morning, but it was still more of an effort to haul myself out of bed than I would have expected. Maybe it's still hangover from the 10K effort and then going right back into training normally again. Or maybe I just can't handle my alcohol and having half a bottle of prosecco with Rachel on New Year's Day was just an incredibly bad idea. Who knows. Either way I'm hopeful that as the mornings start to get a little brighter day by day, so my getting up will become a little easier. I'm certainly not going to bed any earlier or later than usual at the moment.

As I'm off to see Rachel for the weekend, and there's no way I'm going to leave my good bike at any train station in this town until something's done about the cycle parking, I had to get my 'station bike' out of the shed this morning and pedal its slightly too small frame to work. I'll be cycling it to the train station in a little while, so will be leaving earlier than I might if I was on the other bike so as to get there in good time and without incident or overmuch perspiration. Before then I'll have done a reasonable day's work of nothing particularly notable, and kept my email inboxes under control and task-free. Probably my biggest achievement today was getting a virus scanner download readded to the web site, and then getting it installed/updated on about 70 servers with Ansible after there were some issues this morning with it being an older version (and also the most recent virus definitions being broken).

So, I'm off now to see Rachel via the train. Then there's a Saturday morning of training/parkrun for me, then cheering Rachel on at a cross country county championship race thingy. Sunday we'll be getting a train to Caterham and then running home via the North Downs Way and the Vanguard Way (some big hills here and there). The rest of the weekend will, hopefully, be quiet and relaxed. Definitely this evening though as Rachel's just this lunchtime had a wisdom tooth out, and I'm hoping I get to look after her a bit when I get there.

[17:35] Despite going to bed at a pretty much normal time I was absolutely shattered when I woke up this morning. I had to drag myself out of it just before 08:00 and still didn't feel all that woken up by the time I left for work. Despite that I appear to have put in a useful day by dealing with two recalcitrant Dell MD3xxx storage arrays (one with a dead disk, another that was continually bleating about something that apparently it'd already fixed), constructing a large spreadsheet of all the linux servers I used to deal with (with the new organisational restructuring I'm sort of responsible for a whole lot more now) and some information about them, been for a hard 1 hour run to the 'hill', where I ran up and down it for half an hour, and probably some other stuff I forget about at this point. I now have to go home and wash up, because that's something that needs doing, and I won't be home tomorrow evening as I'll be with Rachel in Croydon. I must remember to cycle the crappy bike to work tomorrow as there's no way I'm going to habitually leave my good bike at any of the train station cycle parks in this town until someone does something about the fact that the Sheffield stands just aren't secure.

[16:10] Well here we are; back again. A new year, with all the things that come with that. I've no idea how this year is going to pan out both personally, professionally, and nationally. All I can hope for is the best, and to do my best to make what I can affect go in that direction for the most part. Here's hoping.

The festive period was pretty great, if I'm honest. After I left work on the Thursday evening I finished packing and stuff and got myself ready. On the Friday morning I legitimately worked from home, before getting out of the house and walking from there to the nearby train station (where Rachel's bike was stolen from a week or so previously). There were even more Sheffield-type stands unbolted from the tarmac and the bikes that'd been attached to them nowhere to be seen. The station staff claim something's going to be done soon. I'm not holding my breath. Once I was in Croydon with Rachel we made sure we had as little as possible in our ultra packs and headed south to Worthing to spend the night in the Air BnB place we'll be using before the South Downs Way 50 proper in April. Before we got to the house we had a burger in a rather nice (but noisy) place on the other side of the train station, then made our way to the house in time for a relatively early night. The next day we jogged the mile or so to the official start of the race and then fairly casually did the 48km or so which would bring us to Falmer train station so that we could get a quick train to Brighton for the night. The weather was lovely (clear and cool), but I still sweated like usual, meaning that during the stop we had for lunch I wore other kit so I could dry mine on the radiator. The going was tough, with plenty of ups and downs lasting miles at a time. Hard work, whatever pace you chose to go at. After a night in Brighton we got the train back to Falmer and did another 38km or so, this time in thick cloud/fog. We were very lucky to only be rained on for about three minutes over the course of the day, and then only spitting. We chose our lunch pub based on the availability of hot radiators. After finishing in Eastbourne in the gathering gloom we got another train back to Brighton for another night in the same hotel, and got a very good night's sleep. All in all an extremely successful recce of the route. And one we might do again, knowing what we know now about the start and finish.

The morning after the second night in Brighton we had to fair dash back to Croydon to collect the rest of our stuff from Rachel's house and then high-tail it back to the trains to head north to her parents' house. Which is where we spent Christmas. It was lovely, with a relaxed athmosphere, lovely food and drink, and a few short runs now and then. Between Christmas and the new year we popped over to my parents' house to see them, have another Christmas, and run for two hours along the Bridgewater Canal Tow Path. I also got to spend my mother's birthday with her, which is something I don't think I've done in very many years, so that was lovely too. After that there was just time to head back to see Rachel's parents one last time without other relatives being there, and then the following morning we got a succession of very early trains to get home in time to walk from the station to the house, get changed into running kit, and then be collected by someone to take us to a New Year's Eve 10K road race. Running on less sleep that optimal, an evening of port and cheese, and a very early start Rachel still managed to get a 10K PB, and I (lagging behind her by 41 seconds) was only 11 seconds off my all time PB from June 2013. So that was pretty great. I wish I'd been able to finish with her though, if I'm honest. Once we were back home again (and having done a quick Tesco trip) after that we elected not to do anything at all for New Year's Eve and in fact were in bed by around 22:30. New Year's Day was spent doing logistics for various trips and adventures in the first half of this year. Then it was bed time.

Which brings us up to date and this morning. Rachel left earlyish to walk to the station with her rucksack full of Christmas stuff, and I cycled to work to face the mass of emails and other things that pile up when you've been away from the office for an extended period. Having judiciously checked my email a few times over the Christmas period, and even opened a few support calls, I'm well on top of all but one of the hardware issues we had, and I should be able to solve that tomorrow, I think. I've also had time to update all the bits of this site that need tweaking once a year too. Although I may have missed something, so please let me know if you see anything.