Lazy Sunday, apart from the running and walking

The heading pretty much sums it up. I did a 5k run first thing in the morning, and for lunch went on a long walk (over 5 km) with my wife and Scully to the shops at Naremburn to have a chicken pie. Something like 12,000 steps all together.

But in between I just worked on some comics for Darths & Droids, and this evening started doing online ethics classes again, continuing the topic on Sleep that got interrupted by last week’s ISO standards meeting. I finish the topic tomorrow before moving onto the new one from Tuesday.

For dinner I made vegetable fajitas, spiced up by chilli from our new chilli plant. I’m still not sure if it’s doing well – it seems a bit scraggly, and the crop of chillis that were on it when we bought it were starting to rot and fall off, so we picked them all today and sorted through them. The good ones I chopped into pieces and stuck in olive oil to infuse and make chilli oil. We’ll see if the plant manages to stay alive long enough to produce another crop of them. It’s weird – the first chilli plant we got lasted several years and produced copious chillis, but both the ones we’ve bought since seem to have struggled and died quickly.

New content today:

Double running early Sunday morning

My wife expressed a desire to begin running for her fitness. She already goes to the gym most days, but wanted to add some more aerobic activity. SO this morning she set an alarm and soon after 06:30 we walked up to the nearest sports oval. I’ve done some running around here, since it’s nice and flat with no hills, but I find it boring because running laps doesn’t take me past any interesting scenery. But my wife wanted to start easy.

She ran 2.5k, although she was a bit staggered when she asked how many laps that would be and I told her five and a half. I looked after Scully while she ran, and Scully wanted to run after her, but that probably wouldn’t have been great after a while, so I held on to her on the lead. My wife took it nice and slowly and managed to complete the laps with a little bit of walking in between longer spurts of jogging. After she was done I started my 5k run around the oval (11 and a bit laps), while she took Scully to a nearby cafe to get a drink.

We did some stretches afterwards and were back home before 08:00. It’s actually really nice to get up early and do something and have a feeling of achievement while the day is still young. Although given I went to bed late last night after running the D&D game, I could have used a bit more sleep!

Speaking of last night’s Dungeons & Dragons game, I wanted to mention a fun thing that happened. But I know some of my friends read my blog, and I want to possibly run the same adventure with them some time soon, so:

If you’re one of my D&D players, please don’t open the following spoiler text:

SPOILERS

At one point in the adventure they found a vampire, impaled through the chest with a magic sword. This sword was one of the main goals of the adventure, so they wanted to retrieve it. The problem was if they removed it, the vampire would be released. It was currently pinned by the sword, and could talk, so it begged to be released. The party were understandably cautious, not wanting to release a vampire who might immediately attack them. The plan they came up with involved: moving the vampire still impaled by the sword onto a magical floating disc, covering the vampire with a tarpaulin, moving the disc outside the cave they found him in, which was hidden behind a waterfall, moving him to the opposite side of the river, then pulling the sword out. They figured the vampire would have to stay under the tarpaulin as long as the sun was up to avoid dying, and then would be unable to cross the running water back into the cave that they were still exploring. A very creative plan! – I thought, and let them carry it out.

It was one of several clever things they did. I also gave their pregenerated characters a mixture of odd magic items that did weird and non-obviously-useful things, and they used several of these to interesting effect. So overall it was a good session.

New content today:

Last day off for holiday period

Both me and my wife return to work tomorrow – her to the office and me with a bunch of online ethics classes. So we just spent today in relax mode, made moreso by the fact that the weather was hotter.

My first task however was to drop the car off for an annual service. I was booked in for a 7:50 drop-off. Normally I’d just walk home – it’s about a 25 minute walk – and then walk back later in the day to pick it up again. But I decided to make use of the fact that I’d be out early and did a 5k run on the way home. This is not an area I normally run in. It was along a highway and then I did a few laps of a cemetery to make up the distance without having to cross a road. The course was a lot flatter than my usual one, and I managed to smash my best time. My previous best was 26:28, and today I ran 25:59. I had a long term goal of breaking 26 minutes, but thought I might never get there. But all it took was a less hilly route! So that was pretty cool.

The car was ready by 11:30, so I walked back to pick it up. When I got home, we went on a walk with Scully and stopped at a cafe to get some lunch. It was a hot walk in bright sunshine, but there was a strong breeze and we sat outdoors in a shady area with the breeze blowing through so it was pretty nice. I tried a menu item I’ve not had before, a teriyaki barramundi fillet with fried udon noodles, broccoli, and enoki mushrooms. It was good and very filling.

This afternoon we played the board game Root again. I tried the Woodland Alliance faction again, and did significantly better against the Cat Marquisate, but it was still an easy victory for the cats. Looking up a bit of info about 2-player set-ups for the game, it seems the Alliance is not a great fit for a 2-player game, but could be helped by the hirelings that are included in the Marauders expansion, which I got the other day. So maybe next time we’ll try that.

New content today:

New Year’s Eve acquisitions

It’s New Year’s Eve! I got up late… after 8am, which is unusual for my recent habits. After breakfast I did my final 5k run of the year. That brought my total running distance to 455 km for 2023. Down a little on the 500 km I managed last year. Even though I’m doing longer distances, I’m not running as many days a week, due to the fact that my wife went back from working at home to working in the office. But still, I’m pretty happy with that.

After a refreshing cold shower, I decided to head into the city quickly on the train to check out the game store where I have some store credit (from selling some old Magic: the Gathering cards a while back). I really want to use up all this store credit before it potentially vanishes, if the store shuts down or something. I got a selection of roleplaying game books:

RPG haul

And a couple of expansions for the Root board game:

Root expansions

A nice haul overall! And I thought I’d run down my store credit to close to zero, but the guy who rang up the total told me everything is on sale, and I still have over $100 of credit left! So that’s a bonus. Also, not pictured, a got a copy of Kingdomino, which is a game I know well, but haven’t owned before. I decided to get that because it’s a good 2-player game for me and my wife. We played a few games this afternoon. And in true fashion, after I taught her the rules, she won the very first game easily. Though we swapped victories back and forth the next few games.

We went for a walk up to the local shops to give Scully some exercise. The weather today was cool and overcast – a nice change from hot. I tried to find some fruit mince tarts today, since I realised I missed out completely over Christmas and I like them. But neither of the big two supermarkets had them any more. 🙁

For dinner I made okonomiyaki. And in a little bit we’ll have our traditional New Year’s Eve snacks of cheese and crackers, before seeing in 2024.

Oh! And I didn’t share this at the time, but a couple of days ago while out walking Scully I got a good close photos of a kookaburra.

Laughing kookaburra

Probably a young one, as adults tend to be more wary of humans.

New content today:

A (mostly) lazy Sunday

I slept in this morning! It was my first time getting up later than about 7:15 since I returned from Italy. So it felt pretty good to just snooze until I wanted without any urgency.

I did get up eventually, and went for a 5k run straight after a quick breakfast. The weather was cooler and cloudy, with some intermittent light drizzle, which was a very nice change from the heat we’ve been having lately.

After that my wife went to visit her mother and help set up her Christmas tree and decorations. She took Scully, which meant I had the house to myself – a rare occasion these days! I didn’t really take advantage though, and spent time writing and making a new Darths & Droids comic, which took a while due to some writer’s block. What else did I do? Gosh… um… I made a sourdough loaf and in the evening cooked dinner in between teaching three ethics classes. And that’s about it.

Oh, my wife came home with the Christmas ham for our family lunch. I’ve been handed the role of preparing a glazed ham every year since the one time I volunteered to do it! I think this year I’ll try doing a version with an orange marmalade glaze.

New content today:

December 5k, cake, and photos

Despite getting to bed late last night after the board games night, I was awake again early, although I managed to sleep until almost 6am. I got up and had breakfast, then after taking Scully out for a toilet I embarked on a 5k run. The weather was warm and very humid, as it has been for the past week and a bit. But it seems I’ve mostly recovered my form after the Europe trip, and clocked 27:21, below my standard goal time of 27:30.

I worked a bit on Darths & Droids comic script writing with co-authors. I got two strips completed and planned out details of the story for the next few scenes, which will make it quicker and easier to write the next few strips.

After lunch, my wife and I went out for a short drive with Scully to a place called The Little French Patisserie, a few suburbs away. I felt like a piece of cake for afternoon tea, to make up for all that exercise this morning! I had a slice of chocolate mousse cake and my wife tried a Christmas mince tart. It’s nice to sit and watch the world pass by on a busy street while eating yummy cake.

Back home I worked on some more photos from my trip. The Arch of Constantine, which is near the Colosseum (actually you can see part of the Colosseum on the right edge of this photo):

Arch of Constantine

Back streets of the Trastevere neighbourhood of Rome:

Trastevere street

And Castel Sant’Angelo and Ponte Sant’Angelo on the Tiber River:

Castel Sant'Angelo

But that’s about it. I’m getting pretty tired every evening because I’m not getting enough sleep yet. I’ve never had jet lag drag on this long before. Hopefully I’ll get longer sleeps soon.

New content today:

My first 10k run

I ran 10k today! It’s my first time running 10k, probably in my life.

I set out planning to do 7.5k, and when I approached the end I felt pretty good still, so I decided to take a slight detour and tack on another lap of the 2.5k loop that I do to extend 5k into 7.5k. I wanted to see if I could complete the 10k in under an hour, and I managed to record a time of 57:23. So I’m pretty happy with that!

I felt a little tired during the rest of the day, but not too bad. No real aches or pains or anything. I think my body is getting used to running. Which a few years ago I would have said was crazy.

For lunch, my wife talked me into taking a long walk to the bakery at Naremburn, which I treated myself to a mushroom pie and a small lemon poppy seed cake as a reward.

This afternoon I worked on my lesson plan for the coming week of ethics classes, beginning on Tuesday. The topic is “Success and Failure” (for both age groups). I wanted to get this done today because from tomorrow I’ll need to spend a lot of time marking student assignments for the university image processing course. The first report was due on Friday, and I expect the professor will be sending them to the tutors to mark on Monday morning. We need to do a quick turnaround on these because it’s the planning report for the remainder of the project, so the students can get feedback before submitting their final reports.

New content today:

A second 7.5km run

I felt good this morning after yesterday’s run, and decided to press myself up to the 7.5km distance again – the second time I’ve tried this distance, after my first one last month. And this time it felt pretty comfortable the whole way. The weather helped, with a nice cool morning and not too much humidity. And I managed to run a time of 42:58, breaking 43 minutes. (My previous time was 43:16.) I’m feeling like one day soon I can push on to the goal of running 10km.

My wife went to do some shopping with her mother and sister in the middle of the day, and I took Scully out for a walk. It was a really nice spring day (unusually). And the jacaranda trees are just starting to get the first tinge of purple on them as the flower buds develop. In a week or so there will be masses of purple flowers all over Sydney – aways the best time of year in this city. We thought we might miss the peak flowering in November, when we’ll be overseas in Europe, but perhaps it’ll be a little early this year due to the warmer weather.

We also played another game of Root again. We’re still getting used to the strategies, but I think soon it might be good to try another faction.

New content today:

First 7.5k run, and learning Root

A couple of firsts today:

This morning I decided to push myself to a new running distance. I’ve been doing 5k more regularly and feel more or less comfortable with that now. I’ve been thinking about going to 10k, but decided I should go for an intermediate distance. So today I went for 7.5k for the first time. Given my time for 5k is around 27-28 minutes, I was hoping to be able to complete the 7.5k in under 45 minutes as a goal.

I combined my two 5k routes, which overlap for about 2.5k, so the combination comes out to the right distance. I kept a slowish moderate pace to make sure I didn’t get too tired, and managed to keep it up for the whole distance. I was pleased when I completed it in 43:16. Here’s the Strava log.

Scully had an overdue groom today, losing a lot of hair. She looks a lot neater now. In the early afternoon we took her for a walk down to the harbour to run around and chase a ball for a bit.

And then in the late afternoon and early evening my wife and I learnt how to play the board game Root. I’d bought this a while back, but we’ve delayed it some time as it has a reputation for being difficult to learn. It’s a game for up to four players, battling to control an area of woodland. Each player controls a different faction of woodland creatures, and each faction follows different rules for what it can do, so it’s asymmetrical. We started with the two simplest factions, the Marquise de Cat and the Eyrie (i.e. the cats and the birds). It was actually not as difficult as I expected to get through and explain the rules. The complexity comes the large number of possible choices you need to make during your turn, and needing to figure out the tactics that will or won’t work.

It’s a race to 30 points. My wife played the cats and I played the birds, and we kept the same roles for two games to get used to them. The first game I won, 30 points to 27. The second game my wife won, 31 points to… uh… 1. I got stuck in loop of being unable to do anything and losing points each turn. I needed to draw cards in either of two suits to get out of it, but for something like 5 or 6 turns in a row I only drew cards of the other two suits. So it was a bit of a debacle!

Here’s the end game state of the second game. You can see my blue score marker on 1 point and my wife’s orange one on 31. My blue bird soldiers are confined to just one clearing in the forest, at upper left, while my wife’s orange cats are in charge of the remaining 11 clearings.

Root, endgame

If you know Root, in the first game my wife was shocked by how quickly my birds expanded across the board. So in the second game she proactively took the fight up and knocked me back so I never had more than 3 roosts on the board. Eventually I got stuck in the fox clearing, with a handful of mouse and rabbit cards, which meant every turn I ended up in Turmoil. Game over, baby. But we had fun, and are both looking forward to trying it again soon.

New content today:

The problem with twilight exercise

It was hot again today, so I decided to go for a run after my wife got home from work, in the cooler evening twilight around sunset. It was a good plan to avoid the heat, but I realised the problem that I had last time I tried running in evenings: mosquitoes.

I have a love-hate relationship with mosquitoes. I hate them, but they love me. When I’m in a mixed group of people, I’m the one they single out to bite. And my skin reacts badly to them. After I got home from my 2.5k run this evening, I had three bites, on my calf, near the ankle, and one on the back of my left hand. They swell up and spread out into large welts, and they itch like crazy. The one on my calf measures about 8cm across. The itching dies down after a few hours, but the welts stay for a few days.

I’d rather run in the heat of the day than deal with mosquitoes.

New content today: