in Cycling, Ride 999, Sport

A setback

I’ve just come back from a ten-night family holiday on the beautiful island of Mauritius. Before I went I knew I would have to do some work in the gym and possibly even some rides on the island to keep my fitness up and I was looking forward to taking on some bike work in a hot and humid climate. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan.

I started feeling a bit out-of-sorts on the first day and thought I had picked up a cold. Unfortunately this turned into a fever over the next couple of days. I paid a visit to the hotel’s infirmary and was prescribed amoxicillin to try and get rid of what was quickly becoming a bigger problem. Although I had some ups and downs over the next few days, the drugs didn’t seem to be working and I felt as though I wasn’t making any progress. On day six, after spending most of it half-asleep on the beach beneath a towel, freezing in 28C heat, I went back to the doctor and was admitted to hospital with a temperature of 39.5C.

I was so glad to be somewhere where they could do some proper tests and try and fix me—I was exhausted and fed up with taking paracetamol, ibuprofen and amoxicillin. After a brief assessment and a couple of chest x-rays, over the next two days they pumped me full of various antibiotics and other wonderful things. I’m happy to say that whatever they did broke the fever. I then had a course of oral Dettol-style antibiotics to take over the next few days. Then we came home!

Unfortunately the net effect seems to have been that my fitness is almost back to square one at the start of the year. I went for a 50mi ride on Sunday and found it very hard, coughing and spluttering at the top of a couple of big hills and having a real lack of energy. I did my first turbo session tonight and couldn’t believe how hard it was—I am basically working two or three gears lower than I was before I went on holiday.

I visited the doctor today to make sure that I was fit to resume my training. His assessment was that I have had pneumonia (a mild form, I guess?) and that as a result my lung capacity will take some time to come back again. What was already a significant challenge just got a whole lot harder. With just under a month to go until the London Revolution and four weeks until we start Ride 999 it is going to be hard to ramp up the miles. Will have to do what I can!

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  • It felt good to have taken Monday off (along with the rest of the UK) to get some things done around the house and not worried about work. However, the long weekend translated to me firing on what felt like only three of the four cylinders the next day. It’s very difficult to be ‘off the ball’ at work when you’re in a leadership role. Many years ago in my career I might have a day where I didn’t feel like talking to too many people and could just get my head down to do some solo work; this is impossible now.
    I found a fantastic feature in Outlook that I had never known about which allows the use of logical OR in search folders. I use search folders all the time; this feature is a game-changer for me in being able to keep up with all of the most important stuff in my email. In broad terms, I’ve given up for now with trying to read everything that comes in and am instead focusing on emails where I am in the ‘to’ field. Anything where I am ‘cc’ed’ is being generally ignored at my desk; I may pick these up later on my commute using Outlook on iOS which doesn’t have the search folder feature. I stayed up late on Monday night trying to get on top of the most important emails and it was amazing how quickly this setup helped me to get through them.
    It was lovely to have someone randomly speak to me about being a programme manager and telling me (with tongue somewhat in cheek) “that’s what I want to do when I grow up.” They’ve asked for a coffee and a chat which of course I’m very happy to do. It stopped me dead in my tracks and reminded me of where I am in my career. It’s easy to forget what my current role would have looked like to a much younger version of me.
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    We have lots of work to do on processes, and not just those for our future end-state. With the small amount of change we’ve implemented so far we have already broken a few things and highlighted problems that were already there. Previously, when users moved between countries, they had no expectations of keeping their data, their email address etc.. It’s now much less clear about whether they can keep these things and if so, who has to do what to make that happen. The volume of these types of issues is low enough right now that we don’t need to drop everything to fix it, but it does need to be prioritised sooner rather than later.
    The next few weeks will see quite a bit of change in the makeup of the programme team. We had the first of a number of new team members join us this week and it will ramp up in a couple of weeks. At the start of the year my puzzle to solve was trying to get the programme delivering through multiple streams at the same time and it finally feels that we are starting to see this bear fruit. There are plenty of adventures ahead. We have more vendors to talk to over the next couple of weeks with at least two workshops in the next few days alone which will hopefully kick off more work in parallel. I still have lots to do myself to contribute to the effort aside from overseeing it all; my focus is going to be in trying to find time to plan the work between the streams on the programme as well as with the other projects with which we have dependencies.
    A friend of mine had to leave work suddenly in the middle of last week as their child was feeling ill at school. Things escalated quickly and they ended up spending a few nights in hospital to recover. Thankfully they are fine, but it was a bit scary for a time and of course makes you think about how quickly events can change in your day, or even your life. Three years ago I ended up in hospital with pneumonia while we were on a family holiday; it wasn’t fun but it could’ve been a lot worse. In our house our unspoken philosophy seems to be that unless you have a fever or are puking up, you’re going to work/school and getting on with it. There’s very little sympathy and low tolerance for disrupting the things we have all committed to do. I think that it is so much harder for the partner who spends more time with the children; even if you feel rotten you are still expected to do all of the things that you usually do for those that are dependent on you.
    I’ve managed to spend quite a bit of time with the kids over the past few weekends. Our little guy was at a sleepover last Sunday so the remaining three of us watched Les Miserables, which the eldest boy loved. I’d never seen/read it in any form and it was interesting in how clearly it showed itself as a stage play that had been translated to film. In the theatre you are expected to use your imagination, whereas film is a lot more literal. It felt a little strange to have the big budget film effects alongside props and sets that could have appeared on a stage, such as the ridiculously inadequate barricade in the street. Still, it was something very different and by the end we were all really enjoying it. I couldn’t help but think about the film of Macbeth with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench which I watched at school, with sets so sparse but rendered completey unecessary by how utterly engrossing the performances were.
    My bike has been serviced and I managed to get out on a 60mi ride on Saturday. My eldest boy had a 1,500m British Milers Club run in Milton Keynes so I made my way there by bike in time for the run and came back again straight after while my wife took the boys in the car. It felt great to be in the saddle again. Incorporating a ride into a thing we’re doing anyway is a very good way to get the miles in and I’m going to try and take every opportunity I can to do it.

    This weekend we’ve had to spend a lot of time getting everything out of our lounge ready for it to be decorated for the first time in 13 years. It’s only when you clear out a room that you realise how much stuff there is in it; one of Berkhamsted’s charity shops are soon to be in for a bumper haul of books and DVDs. Also, I’ve learned that untangling the web of wires and dust clumps behind the TV is a job I don’t want to do any more frequently than every 13 years.
    Next week: A beautiful new lounge! School governor meeting time again (with plenty of reading beforehand), and trying to get on top of the meetings we have between now and the end of term. More of the same at work with trying to battle for time to get the planning done, both for the immediate future — workshops this week and next — as well as the road further ahead.