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[16:30] We got up semi-early this morning so we could do my 1 hour run for the day before breakfast and work. The weather was stunning and it was a good run for us both I think. After that Rachel popped to Tesco while I showered, made my lunch, had breakfast and generally got ready to head in to the office. While she's been home working hard all day I've had a day of doing lots of useful things, even though at least two of them weren't anything to do with me and I had emails waiting for me when I got in asking if I'd done anything about them already. Obviously I hadn't. Still, they got sorted too, I think. After lunch I spent the entire afternoon de-linting a large proportion of our Ansible roles and then updating a server that's used as an Ansible jump-off host with all its latest packages (including a new version of Ansible, which is why I wanted everything as valid as possible so there were no surprises when someone tried to run a playbook on it post-update).

I'm heading home now to have an enjoyable evening and weekend with Rachel. Tonight we intend to relax as much as humanly possible. Tomorrow morning we'll be running a hopefully-pleasant 2 hours before the guy who did my shower room comes over to at least fix the on/off knob on the shower (and potentially strip and repaint a section of the wall that doesn't get any air flow and therefore has peeling paint from condensation). After all's done at my house we'll head into town for lunch and then to Croydon for the end of Saturday. On Sunday we'll have a rest day, but be marshalling for the Croydon Half Marathon. We'll stay in Croydon and I'll come back to work from there on Monday morning.

[17:00] I had one of those runs at lunch time where I spend most of the second half of the morning not looking forward to it at all as I feel weak and tired, and then on the run it turns out I have a deep store of energy which means that while it's not 'effortless' I do complete the whole thing feeling moderately powerful. All I can hope for is something similar on the days I do the actual 50 mile races.

On either side of the run I've spent the day doing small-but-useful stuff, and eating far too many sugary snacks from the snack 'table' (the top of a small fridge in the office). I even went out last night after I'd had my dinner to buy a bag of Tangfastics as I gave in to sugar cravings.

And on a final note, Rachel is coming to see me this evening (hurrah!). So that means I need to go home via Tesco to get baking potatoes for dinner, as well as a few nice things for her to have for lunch tomorrow while she works from home. We'll also be getting up early tomorrow morning so we can do a one hour run together before work/breakfast.

[18:05] More stuff happened today. No run at lunchtime, so I got to consider whether or not I'd go and get some new running shoes. It turns out that the better of the two voucher I have doesn't have an expiry date, so I didn't need to rush off and use it before the end of the month (which is when the less useful voucher expires). After lunch my colleague and I toured the two remote server rooms to look at racks and do some racking up of a few servers. This should enable me to get those servers connected up and, eventually, installed with an OS such that I can progress the project that depends upon them.

That's about it, otherwise. Except to mention that this was my ex-ex-team leader's last day before he takes at least 12 months of 'sabbatical' (read: "I can't be arsed to work here any more, but know I'm valuable enough that I don't need to quit to have an extended amount of (unpaid) time off"). Here's hoping all the things he does day to day don't fall by the wayside. Hopefully I won't have to do all of them myself. We've had a reasonable hand-over period, but I'm sure there's tons of things he used to do that we're not going to realise until something bites us.

[17:15] Stuff happened today. Mainly it was me ploughing through the firewall logs looking for things being blocked which probably shouldn't have been. I went for a run at lunch time, and otherwise have been making a bit of progress on a few other things. That's about it, I'm afraid.

[17:20] A busy weekend, and not hugely reassuring with regard to race fitness. On Friday night I got home to find Rachel just heading out for her run, having been caught up in work all day. That gave me about an hour or so to decompress after work, which was nice. In the shower afterwards I caught the shower mixer assembly a bit of a knock, but didn't think too much about it. On Saturday morning I got up early and headed out for a two hour run an hour later than I'd been planning on the night before. While I was out Rachel went and got a sub-19 minute parkrun, and then went for a refresher driving lesson. When I got back I headed to the shower, at which point the on/off knob for deciding which head the water comes out of came off in my hand. I honestly can't believe how fragile the brass fitting appears to be. Given I was hoping the person who redid my shower room could come by to look at some damp wall issues in there I tried giving him a call but ended up leaving a voicemail instead. A few minutes later however he called me back to say he was outside (my doorbell apparently had stopped working). He took a look at everything and said he'd get back to me some time this week about solutions. It's Monday and I haven't heard anything yet, but I'm hopeful I'll hear something before Friday. In the mean time it's perfectly possible to use the shower so long as you have a pair of pliers handy. So, once Rachel came back she dashed off back to Croydon via the march in London to play hockey. I went out to Tesco to get food for the week, had lunch, and then settled down for a relaxing afternoon of not much at all. On Sunday morning I headed out with my ultra pack on to run for three hours. The weather was close to perfect (coldish, clear skies, light wind), but I still ended up feeling pretty close to exhausted by the time I got home. This doesn't bode all that well for keeping up a slightly slower pace, over more uneven ground, for nine or so hours (if I'm lucky). We'll just have to see how it goes, I guess. Anyway, once that was done I got cleaned up, had a nice big lunch, and then settled in to wait for Rachel to come home again. Owing to her own mammoth run, and having a life of her own she wasn't able to get back to me until around 17:30, but that was fine as there was plenty for me to do (tidying, washing up, etc.). We ended the weekend together on the sofa with some delicious food and something on the television.

This morning we both got up around the same time. Rachel to head to London, me to make lunch, shower, breakfast, pack up some stuff, and head to work. Happily it has been a quiet day of not very much going on. So I've been able to fix a few backup issues, do some firewall changes, pop to the post off to return some waterproof overmitts which were the wrong size, and open all the things that got delivered today that I either ordered or got as an early birthday present. Now though I'm heading home in pretty much complete daylight, to a house where the heating has been turned off for the warm part of the year. It does feel like maybe spring has properly sprung.

[17:40] Rachel's train was a smidgen late last night, so as she had no bike lights she got a taxi from the station, which was a great idea as that increased our time together. We had a lovely quiet evening, and went to bed quite early as we both seem to be shattered at the moment (no surprise given how much exercise we've been doing recently). This morning I got her coffee in bed before I headed to work. Most of the working day was uneventful and uninteresting, with almost all of the fun stuff clustered around the time between 16:30 (when I usually go home on a Friday) and now. I've just finished fixing a new Ansible role to installed a Ruby gem (and dependencies) correctly, and found the information I need to do another job on Monday for a DBA. Right now though I'm going to head home and spend and evening and half a weekend with Rachel. Tomorrow I'll get up early to do 1.5 hours of a 2 hour run on my own and then see if I can join the back of my local parkrun and meet Rachel at the same time. Then she'll head off for a driving refresher lesson, then go back to Croydon for a hockey game. I'll have Friday late afternoon and evening to myself, as well as a 3 hour run on Sunday morning. Rachel will come back to spend the remainder of Sunday with me when she's ready. Then, as usual, it'll be Monday. See you then for more fun.

[17:20] Another day of getting up very close to 08:00. I'm getting to work in good time, it's just that I seem to really need my lie-in in the morning at the moment. I think I'm tired. Properly running tired. Luckily after the end of this week I begin my taper for the first of the two 50 mile races. Hopefully that reduction in training will put a spring back in my step somewhat. Before then I had a run at lunchtime today which I really wasn't looking forward to, but ended up doing fairly strongly (I think). I've got a rest day tomorrow, then two hours on Saturday (may try to fold in a parkrun at the end) and three hours on Sunday. Otherwise today I've mainly been working on this and that, trying to get tickets off our support queue, and getting early birthday presents which are totally awesome (but might be the wrong size). Rachel's back with me tonight, and until the middle of the weekend when she has to head off for hockey and other things, so she can look at me in my new kit and tell me if it fits and everything.

[17:25] Nothing much happened today. This was good as I was in dire need of some time to spend on a Satellite bug I submitted to Red Hat a month ago that they've just managed to get around to looking at. I spent the whole day trying to do the things they wanted and ran up against other bugs in the process. During that I went for a nice quick run at lunch time, had a meeting about who'll be doing what of the 1,001 things that John does once he's gone on leave or whatever for a year come the end of this month, and generally worked on all the little things that need doing throughout the day. One thing of note which I'm moderately pleased about is filtering Tomcat messages out of one file and into the 'right' file instead on one set of servers. Whether it works long term, or was even the correct thing to do remains to be seen, but it does make things a little simpler/clearer on one level.

After going to Tesco last night after work I now have a house of food, so must restrain myself from getting Chinese takeaway this evening. I think I'll cook the steak I bought last week, given it's apparently going to explode if I don't have it before the end of tomorrow.

[17:15] Well, I'm back from a very interesting double long weekend. On Thursday evening I took a train to London and met Rachel. We headed to a restaurant sort of between Kings Cross and Euston and had a lovely big meal together. Then we walked to Euston where we had to wait just a little bit too long before being able to board the Caledonian Sleeper service to Glasgow. After a bit of faffage in the berth we had we managed to get to bed, and eventually to sleep. I'm not sure if we slept better or worse than when we took the overnight train to Venice from Paris. In any event, we got off semi-blearily in Glasgow the following morning and wandered around the center of the city for a bit before finding a nice place to have breakfast. After that we headed to another train station and after a bit of waiting got a train up to Tyndrum. The hostel we were staying at was literally next to the platform, so that was handy. Also, it'd just started snowing/sleeting again. We'd had all four seasons in one two hour journey from Glasgow, which was apparently par for the course for the weekend. As other people arrived at the training camp we assembled for a gentle four mile run up and around the hills surrounding Tyndrum. Later in the evening there was another run along the same route, this time with head torches, just for a bit of variation. Rachel and I booked the last two available places on the training camp, so were allocated the last two spaces in the hostel. This turned out to be a 'posh pod' at the very far end of the site, which meant about a 150m walk to the toilets and showers, and a 200m walk to the main hostel where the food was served and the talks given, etc. The pod had a heater, and enough room for two people, so we enjoyed the privacy of our location. We also met up with Max and Stacey, who moved to Oban a few months ago, and were in town to have some logistics meetings about a training camp they're thinking of running. We had lunch with them before they headed off home again. On the Saturday morning everyone was up early, and then onto the coach which drove for an hour and a half to Balmaha (~34 miles from Tyndrum) through snow, sleet, and strongish winds. There everyone got out and began the run 'home' again. The weather, really, was atrocious. We buckled down and dealt with it, Rachel and I slowly reeling in some of the people ahead of us as we ran through the morning. While I don't think I quite hydrated enough, I did keep my nutrition (and hence my energy) levels at about the right place. Like everyone else my feet were soon completely soaked, but warm enough so long as I kept going. What caused me to have to stop at the recognised 22 mile point (12 miles short) were my hands. They were soaked, freezing cold, and completely numb to the point of being useless. I can't really explain how this affected my ability to run, but it was one of the hardest running-related decisions I've had to make. Especially as the rest of me felt mostly OK (except that I started to shiver after we'd stopped for five minutes for me to figure out what I was going to do), and Rachel carried on and completed the entire run almost completely none the worse for wear. "Disappointed" (in myself) would be a crass and incredible understatement. Admittedly it's entirely likely I do have mild Reynaud's Syndrome, and my gloves weren't waterproof, but I still should have been able to run for another 2h45m or so (which is the time it took Rachel to do the last 12 miles). I'm getting waterproof overmitts and a new running rain jacket for my birthday (I think), which might help the next time I do something in quite so adverse weather conditions. In any event, I got a car ride back to the hostel, got warm, ate, dry, then clean and was ready to welcome Rachel when she arrived on foot. The remainder of the day was spent relaxing, eating, and then going to bed. On the Sunday morning we eschewed the organised run and went and did our own thing for about an hour, then packed, went for lunch with a few people, and caught the train to Glasgow. There we checked into the local Hotel du Vin and had a lovely relaxing afternoon and evening, night and morning (with huge breakfast), before walking back into the centre (as well as taking the Subway when we thought we might miss our train). A few long train journeys later we were back at my local station, jumped on our bikes and cycled home. We let the evening get away from us a little, although Rachel went for Indian takeaway whilest I did a load of washing, made the bed, and tidied things away a bit.

This morning Rachel headed to London for work, I made my last drop off at the surgery, and then got to work myself. After wading through a mass of emails, I made a bit of time to research waterproof overmitts and waterproof running jackets. My coach had me down to do hill reps yesterday, so I shifted that run to lunchtime today and got it done. Very disappointingly my VO2_MAX seems to have taken a real hit in the last few days, which I don't really understand. Hopefully it's not something I need to worry about. In any event, I'm heading home now, and thence to Tesco for the weekly shop. After that there'll be sofa time, food, television, and relaxation.

[16:10] Another day survived, and a second sample left at the surgery. I'll leave the last one on Tuesday once I get back from Scotland with Rachel. I'm off home shortly, and thence to the train station to head to Euston for the sleeper to Glasgow. Hopefully we'll actually sleep. We'll see.

Today has luckily been a quiet day in terms of things happening work-wise. I did go for a run at lunch time and was pleased to find that an ache/pain had stopped, but I did feel quite wobbly-legged, and as if I needed a huge injection of sugar/calories. I'll be sure to eat larger portions between now and Saturday morning in the hopes it'll help my glycogen reserves for Saturday's 33 mile run along the West Highland Way. We'll see how that balances out with my need to go to the loo fairly often at the moment. Anyway, back on Tuesday, so see you then.

[17:50] A day of getting things done, almost. It started off with a disk arriving and getting swapped in with a trip to one of the server rooms. Then some helpful advice from a colleague in the room on how to deal with MD devices. As that was finishing up I headed down to talk to a senior manager about the thing I had to do just before I went away that I wasn't very happy about. He was sympathetic to my concerns and promised to follow up on them. I think he actually will. That took almost an hour of conversation, so I had a few minutes to work on a few things and then headed out for a run in the wind. I really wasn't feeling up for it, and the first few hundred meters were marked by severe pain in my right quad attachment point (front of hip). I seriously considered turning around and walking back to the office, but kept running and within about two kilometers the pain had calmed down to a dull ache, and after I'd been doing hill reps for a while it'd almost gone. I'm very sure that on a longer run (such as the one I'll be doing this Saturday) the discomfort would return again. I may have to pack ibuprofen. In any even I got the run done, including a fast push on the way home to make up for some lost time when I took my top layers off and hadn't noticed I'd dropped one (so had to go back for it). This afternoon I've mainly been tidying up old VMs, and having a battle with some servers as to why a newly created user can't log into them. I think I've solved it now, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow for the user to try again. I'm off home now to have dinner and pack for the weekend trip ahead (I'm not in on Friday or Monday).

Oh, in other news, I went by the surgery this morning for three sample containers so that I can give them samples of my poo as I'm having a spot of... rapid over production at the moment. Hopefully it's not some weird tropical disease and just my stomach not being happy with the previous week's food and water. We'll see. One sample done this morning, one delivered tomorrow morning, and one on Tuesday morning. Then we await the results. In the meantime I'm packing plenty of loo roll for the run...

[17:45] I fully intended to get up early and run for an hour before breakfast. But when it came to it I've still got digestive issues which mean I didn't sleep too well and I just didn't want to get out of bed. I did eventually, but waited at home so I could call for an early-access doctor appointment. What I got was a promise of a triage call back from a doctor... which happened while I was cycling to work. The upshot is that I have an appointment on Thursday afternoon and I may need to provide a stool sample, given I've been away to tropical climes. Anyway, that's that.

I got to work and made a start on things as quickly as I could. Just after running in the cold, wet, windy weather outside (about 20degC colder than my last run!), and before I had my nice hot shower, having increased some kernel settings for one of the database servers, I rebooted the server and discovered that one of the NVME disks in an MD RAID1 set had completely vanished. After a lot of analysis, calling Dell, arranging another reboot, and going over to see the server in person, I've got a replacement disk coming out tomorrow, which should hopefully not only fix the issue, but also fix a niggling issue with the colour of an LED which has been bothering me for months.

Other than that, importantly, Rachel's plane touched down at Heathrow safely, and she's on her way home to Croydon as I write this, if not there already. I'm going home myself now to potentially enjoy some VPN-related televisual excitement. We'll have to see how that goes. And then later on, a call with Rachel to catch up, as well as discuss packing choices for out trip north to the wilds of Scotland this weekend.

[18:00] Hello! Well, I'm back again. Only a week and a day away, but I've done a huge amount. Let's jump right back in so I can get this done and go home. On the Thursday afternoon I headed home so I could get myself to London and then on the Tube to Heathrow. There I checked into the Yotel in Terminal 4, which turned out to be one of the better ideas of the whole trip, as it meant that I could have a nice meal in the one restaurant landside, and then head straight to bed for an almost reasonable night of sleep. I checked out of my pod at 04:00 and ambled up the escalator, where I found I could have stayed in bed another hour or so before being able to check myself and my bag in. I tried, at that point, to see if I could check my bag all the way to Kilimanjaro Airport, as I'd been told I could by the Kenya Airways online chat session I'd had. Unfortunately, as I was on two separate tickets, with different airlines, I couldn't. This meant that I worried all the way through my first flight to Paris, and then my second flight from Paris to Nairobi. When I landed in Nairobi, having bothered the flight attendants about what to do, I dashed off the plane and rather than go through Transfers, had to go out through immigration, get a visa, run to the baggage carousel where, amazingly, my bag was first off, and then leave Arrivals (through Security, of which there's a lot in NBO), run along the pavement, and then come back in through Security again, and check my bag back in, just in time to make the cut-off for my flight to JRO. The flight then was uneventful and I was collected by a man in a car at around midnight. We drove through the pitch blackness for just over an hour, and then off the main road onto a pitted and bumpy dirt road, which didn't seem like it'd have a nice hotel at the end of it. Still, I was shattered from an over-long day, so took my room key and headed to bed around 01:30. Rachel, flying in from Burundi, arrived around 04:00 and crawled into bed next to me. We had single beds, but managed to make it work for that first night, not having seen each other in over a week. The following morning we discovered we were in the 'lodge' part of the hotel, rather than on the hotel property proper. This was somewhat disappointing, but we figured it didn't matter all that much. We did walk the mile and a half or so to the hotel to collect our Kilimanjaro Marathon race numbers, as well as have a cold drink in the blazing heat, and a bit of lunch. We took a bejaji (Swahili for tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled vehicle also seen in India) back to the lodge to have a quiet afternoon and evening.

The following morning we had another early start to get breakfast inside of us before the race itself. After cadging a lift to the start area, we wandered through the dawn light and managed to find not only working loos, but the start line of the marathon in time for it to start. Planning on a 4-4.5 hour finish time given the heat, altitude, and course, we set out and slowly made our way up through the field. The heat was incredibly opressive for me, even with a cap on and drinking as often as possible. However, we ran to my heart rate (aiming not to go much above 160BPM) and finished very close to four hours later, in a reasonble position in the overall rankings. We're both very proud of what we achieved, considering the conditions. I don't think I'd have managed it without the training I'd done leading up to it (and the ultras still to come). We headed back to our accommodation via the hotel, where we got changed, had a cold drink, and something to eat again. The remainder of the afternoon was spent snoozing, relaxing by the pool, or stretching gently (although not enough of that was done).

The very next day we were collected for the beginning of the trekking part of our trip. We drove to the Momella Gate of the Arusha National Park, which contains Mount Meru. There we met other people who'd be doing the same trek with their own guides, cooks, waiters(!), and porters. We also had a park ranger with a gun, in case we encountered any wildlife which was less scared of us than would be safe. There then followed two days of ascent in temperatures hotter than I would like, and inclination somewhat steeper than I would prefer. The accommodation was rather good considering, and I really didn't need my brand new sleeping bag as I'm pretty sure the temperature never got anywhere close to cold. On the third morning (all other mornings having been relatively early) we awoke at 01:45 for a 02:15 start at getting to the summit of Mount Meru (having popped up Little Meru the day before). I have to admit, I nearly didn't make it. I was tired, possibly a little altitude sick, and almost completely out of energy. When we made the top, having taken 5.5 hours to walk ~6.5km (although with a fair bit of ascent), I was completely done in, and not in much shape to enjoy the views. Nor did I enjoy the almost three hours it took to descend again. Even resting for a few hours at the higher of the two huts before another two hours of descent to the lower hut wasn't all that enjoyable. We both slept like the dead that night, before a final 2.5 hours descent (with bonus giraffes) back to Momella Gate again. I'll put up some photos shortly (someone remind me, please) which show just how beautiful and amazing the place was. And don't get me wrong, it was a brilliant experience. But perhaps next time we won't run a marathon the day before a four day mountain trek.

Back at the hotel proper this time we checked into our room and collapsed for a bit before doing some clothes washing and letting it dry under a water tower while we had dinner. Bed followed rapidly, although not before we'd packed everything up again ready for our early departure (again) the next morning for the airport. After the hour or so's drive we sat around waiting for check-in so we could dump the hold bag. Then, eventually, we took a short flight back to Nairobi, got collected by a driver Rachel knows, dragged our way through rush hour traffic, and checked into a rather nice hotel Rachel knows well. Given the early hour (yet again) I'd be leaving the next morning we negotiated breakfast for us both for that morning and after dumping our bags dashed down to the last hour of breakfast to fill our boots as much as possible. Fully stuff we went back to the room for a shower and a relax for a while. Later on we headed out to the poolside for a drink and lunch. Then after reading and relaxing for a bit, back to the room for a lie down before going back out for dinner in one of the hotel's restuarants. We decided on an early night considering the morning to come.

The next morning I was up at some ungodly hour (I don't even remember any more) so I could be driven to NBO airport for an 09:30 flight. As I was going through Departures security I got a text from the airline to say the plane was going to be an hour later departing. This gave me plenty of time for a nice breakfast at Java House (although there wasn't any mango juice, sadly). When I eventually ambled to the gate in plenty of time a tannoy announcement said that the plane was late arriving, so we wouldn't now know anything before 11:30. There was such uproar that the announcement was ammended to 11:00. Eventually, we boarded at 11:45 and took off. The flight home was uneventful (thankfully), and I landed only 2h57m late (3h or more and I could have claimed some compensation). I ran for the Tube and rode it back into London, then stood in Kings Cross cursing the fact that one train was a stopper all the way home, and the fast train had been cancelled. I got on the stopper and tried to relax without falling asleep. Around 22:10 I made it to my stop, got off, called a taxi (rather than cycle with two bags, as I had to get to it the week previously) and was driven home. The house was fine, if a little cold. I pulled a few things out of my bags and fell into bed.

On Sunday morning, rather than do the race (or even the half race option), I still got out of bed around 07:30 as I just couldn't sleep and made a start on the mountain of washing, as well as having a shower, and starting on the process of downloading my photos. My camera's so old that Windows 10 won't even see it any more, so I had to use my linux box, which obviously is still totally happy with it. After installing Hugin I got the panoramas sorted and pushed everything to the web. Another load of washing went on and I went to Tesco for the week's food. After that it was mainly lunch, relaxing, putting things away, and making piles ready for packing for this coming weekend when Rachel and I head to Scotland for an ultra race training camp. We're not doing the race the training camp is for (yet, anyway), but the thing itself will make an excellent set of training runs for the races we are doing (the first of which is in three weeks or so, erk). In the early evening I went to the IMAX cinema with Cormac and Steph, which was a nice way to be minimally sociable for the first time in a long time. The film was good, and hopefully one I'll see again with a bit more background knowledge next time. On the way home I got myself a Chinese takeaway and finished the day off with another film at home with my feet up.

And now it's Monday. And the end of it, in fact. I had an early night on Sunday in the hopes it'd set me up to be productive today. I got up around 08:00 and made it to work on time, even if my attempt at the morning routine was a bit rusty. It took less time than I'd expected to wade through my inbox and other email folders and then I was on with the real work, getting one VM built and configured, and having a good long conversation with my team leader about the stupid stuff that went on just before I went away. Lunch at my desk, then two back to back meetings about things that I don't need to think about for the time being. I'm off home now, and wondering if I do my first run since the marathon in Tanzania before breakfast tomorrow, and end it at the train station so I can cycle my station bike home again...