Weekend

Sis was here. After months of radio silence, she suddenly made an appearance for Rakhi. I wasn’t happy at first about this visit. I prefer normal, friendly relations year round rather than the tamasha of happy relations for a festival. She, and most of my family, prefer friendly appearances at festivals irrespective of relations—good, bad or non-existent—rest of the year.

On R’s suggestion, I tried ignoring the ‘Rakhi’ aspect of the visit. Once I ignored that, I could accept the visit as a rare visit from my sister, and enjoy that for what it is. Helpful advice. By the end of the visit, I was quite happy about her visit. I even wished that she visited more often.

Aside: Sis also brought gifts for Rakhi, two polo tees in a Selfridges bag. Most people who know me a bit know that I hate exchanging gifts. My sis seems to have fallen in my mom’s camp here—she’ll exchange gifts for her own prestige irrespective of what the other person thinks.

Barnaby was here. He’s an 1.5 year old Golden Retriever pup. Like any puppy, he’s hyper and restless. Like most dogs, he loves being touched. He’ll place himself next to any human who’s giving him rubs, and then refuse to let them stop. Unlike most retrievers, he’s not very interested in food. He’s not very well trained. He doesn’t understand some common commands—down, leave, wait. Like a puppy, he’s moody about obeying the ones he doesn understand—come here and sit.

One thing that I really liked about him is that, unlike Chewie and Dudley, he doesn’t make any noise. I heard him twice in the 26 hours that he was here—once when he locked himself out in the backyard, and another time at night when he heard something outside. Otherwise, there wasn’t a sound out of him. Chewie, on the other hand, barks often and talks a lot. Dudley mumbles and groans to let everyone know his feelings. Barnaby was pleasantly quiet. (But I’m still planning to cancel his week-long stay over the year-end holidays).

I learnt fat != unfit. My sister is fat. Too fat for my liking. Yet, I observed on multiple occasions that she isn’t very unfit. Not at all as unfit as her looks would suggest. The first instance where I noticed this was when she got on the wobble board. It was her first time and she managed almost 2 minutes. Amit and S haven’t managed that long yet. I’m not sure even R has. But she did. Another time was when I took the three kids out on the walk. It was a brisk short walk, but she was able to keep up with us most of the way without getting out of breath. She isn’t very flexible, can’t really squat, and has many many other health issues. But it was comforting to know that at least she’s fitter than she looks.

I didn’t run. Chewie was unwell on Friday night. I had to stay up with him for almost an hour. As a result, I couldn’t wake up in the morning for Parkrun. A mix of things—unexpected rain, Barnaby’s arrival, my laziness, and my discovery and addiction with Expanse meant that I didn’t run during the day either. R was out all Sunday, and sudden, surprise showers closed the morning run window. Result: I didn’t run on Sunday either. Instead, I did the thing I hate: I binge watched The Expanse.

I threw away the weekend to binge-watching Expanse. I saw the S01E01 on Friday evening. By the time I finally slept on Sunday night (after 1 AM), I was at S02E08. The first thing I did today was to delete the Prime Video app from my phone.

I didn’t do any of the planned house work. The tap hole in kitchen top stays unfixed. The ivy from the side fence still needs to be removed. The kitchen oven is still to be cleaned. I started, but abandoned midway, the monthly cleaning of the utility room.

The tinnitus has been bad for a few days now. It’s been wrecking my head and hearing since at least middle of the last week, but it really peaked on Friday and Saturday.

It was a horrible weekend in most aspects. The one thing I was not happy about before it started—sis visiting—turned out to be the one small bright spot.

Running + dogs = el mejor

…I took the leash off, and we ran.
We ran next to each other. A mini stampede. We were completely in sync, and not thinking about much but the present moment. We ran as fast as we could as the trees whooshed by. Gizelle came up to my hips, but she never tried to jump in front of me or nip at my feet like a lot of dogs would. Her jowls flapped in the wind and her long pink tongue flailed happily out of her mouth as she ran next to me. Like a protector. Like a friend.

—Lauren Fern Watt, in Gizelle’s bucket list

Me, here, now.

Gardening

After neglecting the garden for 5+ years, I finally started getting my hands dirty this year. It’s been a surprising delight. The flowers are blooming. No plants have died yet. And the weeds are more under control than any time last year. All this for a couple of weekends’ work, and 5-10 mins every morning or evening. My highlight achievement must be saving a few plants from near death—the purple petunias, the value pack bogonias and the medium-sized marigold—and seeing them flourish.

I am really enjoying the work in the garden—probably too much according to R. There must be some truth in what Cal Newport said—the joy of creating physical things with our own hands.

Running

I’ve been running well. I like my current running form, and the times have been reflecting the improvement. I ran my Park Run PB earlier at Woking—22:42. I ran the London marathon earlier in just under 4 hours—3:58:44. This is the first year where I have run at least 100 km every month. It’s also the first year when I’ve run at least once every week. I plan to keep the momentum going through rest of the year.

Reading

Reading has been a continuing theme from last few years. I haven’t read as many fiction books this year as non-fiction. Just haven’t found too many of ones I really want to read. Amitava Ghosh released his new book, Gun Island, so I polished that off in less than a day. But nothing much else.

I’ve read a lot of non-fiction though. Quite a few are based around self-improvement and productivity— Make time, GTD for teens, Digital minimalism, Messy, Range, Sprint, Turn the ship around

I’ve read some books from the running, swimming, cycling, hiking world, but again not as many as I would’ve liked. Goater’s Art of running faster gave some good tips, and Scott Jurek’s North was full of inspiration.

I’ve started listing the books, and notes from some of them on this site.

Head & heart

Parents were planning to visit UK this year. They’ve cancelled. I’m sad.

I stopped meditating regularly months ago. I still meditate occasionally, but without the app there isn’t much to guide me through session after session. Most of the time it is just noticing a breath (tip from Make Time).

The year, mentally, has been a roller coaster. I haven’t really touched the depths of depression like I did around October last year, but I haven’t had many periods of consistent happiness either. I have a feeling it’s all very fragile. Or is it brittle?

Finished Todo.txt for Android

I’m ending the second phase of active development for Todo.txt for Android. All core functionality works sufficiently well for my own use. Dark mode is half baked, so have moved it to the backlog for the next phase, whenever that happens.

Not doing much active development on extensions at the moment.

Next up

Next up is starting a new project, or finding a new role. Either way, it’ll be a time of flux and vulnerability. Tread kindly, por favor!

Continue reading Me, here, now.

I’m happy

It’s been a terrible week. I didn’t run. I really struggled with work, faced multiple setbacks. I had to abandon a feature with TTS. Got even more disappointed with Axc—another week of abysmal communication. Even the sleep was erratic. Hadn’t seen/spoken to parents for nearly 3 weeks and I was missing them.

The only good thing was the dogs. Dudley gave us company on Monday and Wednesday, and Barnaby was here for half a day on Thursday. Above all, Chewie gave me loads of extra love. Perhaps he could sense the sadness in me, and decided to do his bit to help.

Today’s been better.

I ran.
Body and head didn’t want to get out of bed. But I got dressed and went.
Legs were stiff and heavy on the warmup but I managed the full 10 min warmup jog. , Tummy was unsettled and legs stiff, so ran the Parkrun at an easy pace. Didn’t have the the heart to go with the pacers today.
Finished in 24:35. Took a quick toilet break to give the tummy some relief, and finished with another easy 20 min jog.

It wasn’t a pleasant run. I definitely didn’t enjoy it. It hurt way more than such an easy jog should have. But I ran, and that makes me happy.

The stretching afterwards felt really good, coming after a week of no running, no stretching, and sitting on a chair for hours.

Meeting Jasper, twice, was an additional bonus. Also met Rich after a few weeks. Saw Andy, Keith, Maddie, Prab, and others as well.

Returned home, stretched a bit more, topped up with a peanut butter toast, and took the boys out for a walk. Met lots of friendly dogs and a few familiar faces.

On the return section, we met a big group of students out for a country walk. Based on dress and behaviour, they didn’t seem from around here. They were definitely not comfortable with dogs. Dudley, ever friendly, decided to go say hello to all of them! And everywhere he went, the students shrieked and jumped away (or froze and stopped breathing)! That shouting triggered Chewie off, and he went barking to everyone. It was a mess. Took me a bit to get them both under control. The students were shaken, but good natured, and hurried off with hearts racing but smiles on their faces.

On return, took a long shower, shaved (after nearly two weeks), and been watching a big stage of Le Tour.

After lunch, called home. Mom picked up quickly today, after no response for two weeks. Turns out they’ve been missing me just as much as I’ve been missing them. It was satisfying to see and speak to her. Dad was taking a nap so didn’t get to see her. But it was good to have at least spoken to ma.

It’s been a tough week, but today has made it a bit better. I’m happy.

Continue reading I’m happy

Today

I completed two weeks of eating without screens1. It’s become much easier now. The hand doesn’t automatically go to the remote or the phone the moment I sit down to eat. The anxiety has disappeared too. I’m definitely lovin’ it.

I started on level two of wobble board balancing today. I achieved a level 1 PB of 6 mins 20 seconds on Saturday after the Parkrun. Also, balancing for a minute or two has become fairly easy now. So, decided to take it to level two today.

I found an old, barely used volleyball that R and li’l R had bought a while ago. They never used it, and it’s only lightly inflated now—perfect for bouncing off the ball while balancing on the board. A small, heavy medicine ball would’ve been ideal, but this volleyball is good enough for me.

There’s just one small (32kg black with 4 legs) hitch. Chewie gets agitated when I bounce the ball off the wall. He thinks all balls were made for him to play. Also, we often play where I bounce balls off the wall and he catches them. He protested that it was unfair that I bounce the balls from such a height at close quarters, and then catch it without giving him a chance. I have a few scratches on my waist from his attempts to topple me off the board and get at the ball!

Today is the first day in three weeks that I’m skipping the scheduled running workout. Between the hot day, and taking care of Chewie in the evening, I just ran out of energy and viable time slots to go for a run. I’m telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow. But tomorrow is just the same—late morning will be too warm to run, specially after walking Chewie, and evening will again be busy catering to him. The only viable spot is early morning, but those are my favourite work hours :(

Other stuff happened too, but nothing important or interesting enough to note.

Continue reading Today

Listening to the body

Despite the worries (which all turned out real), I ended up having a decent day yesterday. I wrote to Axc, but never heard back from them. I’m trying to make myself accept their decision. I also failed the blood test—joint lowest ever score of 131 g/l. On the other hand, I did end up getting a fair amount of work done. I also enjoyed the run in the evening—35 mins of easy run finished with 20 mins of fartlek. I ended the day very tired, slightly disheartened (I’d expected the reply from Axc at end of day), but fairly satisfied. I even finished reading a book in the bed before sleeping.

Today began well—woke to Chewie snuggled up between my legs. Worked for a couple of hours, then went downstairs for a bit of stretching, refreshing, and to pick up Dudley—today is Dudley Wednesday :)

By the time I returned back upstairs, it was already over 3 hours since I’d woken up. The morning coffee had worn off, and I was feeling surprisingly drowsy. These are usually my freshest, most productive hours. This could be due to the hay fever tab, or an effect of the run and foam rolling last evening.

I could have made another coffee, and warded the drowsiness off. But, for once, I decided to listen to the body and give it a break. I had no immediate deadlines, and I had already done over 2 hours of productive work. So, I went downstairs, drank a lot of water, got under the covers, called the boys onto the bed, set an alarm for 90 mins, and we all went to sleep1 :)

It was a beautiful, warm sleep with both boys snuggled on either side. I woke up refreshed. Not just the mind, even the legs and body felt a lot recovered. We drank more water, and went for a walk. Followed it up with lunch, another short rest, and then back to work2. It’s been another super productive 3 hours now, and I am back to being satisfied. And happy. Mostly.

Continue reading Listening to the body

Restless+anxious (work, blood and running edition)

Un. Haven’t heard from Axc in over a week. Last chat was 11 days ago. It’s too long a wait. Do I ping them? Do I wait for them? A long wait usually implies regret, but I’ve been told things move slowly in this team, so it could be either. Either way, it’s not helping my anxiety. I need a new project, sure. But I really want is this one.

Dos. I have a blood donation appointment today. I failed1 the last one. I’m likely to fail today’s as well. My success at blood donation has been inversely correlated with my running/swimming/cycling activity. If I’m working out regularly, the haemoglobin level is likely to be below the threshold. Last year I was out of action for 7 months due to ankle injury, so had two successful donations in that period. This year I’ve been running at least 100K a month, so have already failed one donation. Today will be second (I think).

As much as I’m anxious about failing the blood donation today, I’m a bit conflicted about being successful as well. Three failures in a row and I’m out—struck off as a donor. Every time NHS Blood calls me for a donation appointment, I get conflicted. I can do the right thing—choose to donate and slow down my workouts to get the haemoglobin level up. Or I can do the selfish thing—refuse the appointment and keep up with my workouts. For a while now, I’ve been taking the wrong, easy path—agreeing to donate but continuing the workouts. This means I waste their appointment slot (by failing the test), and cause myself anxiety and resentment. If I get struck off, at least it takes one bit out of my hands, and I can return to exercising (mostly) without guilt.

Tres. I’ve been stretching better than usual lately. The wobble board has been working the core. And I am in good shape mentally (run-wise). If the weather stays cool, and I get all the scheduled training done this week, I feel like I can post a good time at the parkrun this weekend. I am really looking forward to it. But I have a run scheduled for today, and I can’t run today unless I fail the donation. There’s that conflict, again.


  1. Failure = not allowed to donate because haemoglobin level was below 135g/l. 

My new toy

It’s a wobble board—a circular board with a small round base. I have to stand on it while using my the foot, leg, and core muscles for balance to keep from toppling over (or prevent the board from touching the floor).

It helps develop a better sense of balance, and with building strength and coordination for all the muscles from core down to the toes.

The proficiency targets are (largely subjective):

Level 1: Stand with both feet without touching the floor for 30s.

Level 2: Same as L1, but bouncing and catching a ball off the wall in front.

Level 3: Same as L1, but standing on a single leg.

Level 4: Same as L2, but standing on a single leg.

Level 5: Standing on both legs, squats.

Level 6: Single legs squats.

I can’t even do single leg squats on the flat, steady floor, so there’s no hope of me ever doing that on the wobble board. Completing level 3 is the ultimate target I’d love to achieve.

Continue reading My new toy

Maths for fun on run

Doing simple maths is one of my favourite things to do on solo runs1. I try to calculate my pace based on distance and time on the watch2, or I try to calculate the time it’d take me to the finish, or most commonly, I calculate the pace I need to run to finish a race in under a certain time.

Today’s schedule had an easy 55 min run, so distance and pace weren’t very relevant. I was instead thinking whether I’ll complete 15000 steps by the time I got home.

I had about 4500 steps after the boys’ walk. I walked around the house a bit—changing, procrastinating, feeding the boy, warming up, etc. So, I could assume I would have had ~5000 steps when I started the run. Here’s a simplified version of how the calculation went:

My metronome was set at 182 beats per minute, so I could assume I’d have an average cadence of at least 182 steps per minute. Total steps would thus be…

= 182 * 55
= (180 + 2) * 55
= 180 * 55 + 2 * 55
= 180 * 55 + 110
= 180 * (1.1 * 50) + 110
= (180 * 1.1) * 50 + 110
= 198 * 50 + 110
= 198 * (100 / 2) + 110
= (198 / 2) * 100 + 110
= 99 * 100 + 110
= 9900 + 110
= 10010 steps

That should get me past the 15K mark :)

Later, on the way back up the hill, the watch buzzed to tell me I’d completed 10000 steps (for the day). I’d run ~27 mins at that point. It was the cue for the next mental maths for fun. Here’s how it went (again, grossly simplified):

Starting with total run time of 55 mins, steps I expected to get in the remainder of the run were:

= (55 – 27) * 182
= 28 * 182
= 28 * (180 + 2)
= 28 * 180 + 28 * 2
= 28 * 180 + 56
= (30 – 2) * 180 +56
= 30 * 180 – 2 * 180 +56
= 30 * 180 – 360 + 56
= 30 * 180 – 304
= 3 * 18 * 100 – 304
= 54 * 100 – 304
= 5400 – 304
= 5096 steps

Still on track to make it to 15000 steps.

Here’s what the watch said when I got home :)

Continue reading Maths for fun on run

And down…

I’ve been having a decent long stretch of good days. I’ve been very productive with work, with non-work work, been running regularly, sleeping well, and been mostly happy. Today is bent on breaking the streak.

I slept over 10 hours last night. It was not a good sleep. (Don’t all bad days start with bad sleep?)

I remember having a good dream—I had two good friends I used to live with, one of their friends brought over his dogs (big scary Rottweilers) who got along fabulously with me. I must’ve woken up around this time. That may be why I remember the dream. That’s also probably why rest of the sleep was bad. I had a bad cold—the bedside kerchief is a testament to that. The head started clouding over with all the bad thoughts and worries. I had to resort to some meditation exercises to get myself back to sleep.

In the morning, I woke up before the first alarm (5:10), but was in a terrible state—nose and head full of fluid, and body feeling tired. The Brooklands parkrun plans went out the window. I switched off the alarms and went back to sleep. Finally got out of bed at 10!

A bad night was followed by a not so good morning. The loo visit was unfruitful. I skipped this morning’s Duolingo practice. Took the boys for only a short walk. Didn’t even feel like finishing the coffee that R had left for me.

Now I’ve got to go for the Saturday run but it’s warm outside and I’ve got no spirit.

Continue reading And down…