Archive for March, 2013

I was very proud my laptop computer, it did all the stuff I needed (mostly) and best of all cost less than £100. It was an old Dell C640 originally running MS Windows 2000, but last year, I upgraded to MS Windows XP.

Yesterday, it let me down. I shut the computer down the night before as usual, but in the morning switched on to find the hard disk “missing”. I opened the drive bay and found the hard drive where I’d left it the night before. I rebooted a couple of times before removing the drive, installing it in a USB caddy and connecting it to another computer.

I managed to recover the data partition but something had gone badly wrong with the Windows OS partition. I copied the data off to the other computer and went off to find the Windows XP media. Refitting the hard disk drive, I restarted the computer, booted from CD and waited for the recovery console to appear.

I had planned to try repairing the Boot Sector and Master Boot Record (MBR) from the recovery console. However, the console would not load. I disconnected the disk and booted from the CD and setup loaded, but then complained that I had no hard disk to install on!

The problem appeared intractable. I loaded up a Ubuntu DVD which worked fine both without the disk and with it. I even tried another copy of the Windows XP media. Armed with the knowledge that I could potentially flatten the laptop and start again, I decided perhaps that a new laptop was a good idea and I would install Ubuntu or similar Linux distro on the C640. A quick trip to PC World and I am the prod owner of a Lenovo G580 (Core i3, Windows 8). Despite the mixed reviews on the web, it fitted my budget and the need to get a laptop up and running quickly.

Reinstating my data and applications will no doubt throw up a few issues, so I’ll record a few things here just in case I need them again!


Today I ran my first 10K race. The plan was to arrive an hour before, register, pick up a chip and walk some of the course (I have not run anywhere near here before). But, as always, nothing goes to plan!

I received the event joining instructions in good time and they contained  a lot of good information like maps of the course, etc. There was one important detail missing from the instructions, Facebook page and the event websites – the time it started. Eventually, the website was amended and the 10k started at 12 o’clock.

Getting out of the house took longer than anticipated, the traffic was bad (for a sunday) all the way into Cardiff and the city centre was at a stand still. I left my wife to park the car and ran from North R0ad, across Bute Park and crossed to River Taff to the registration and start area.  Due to my lateness, I missed the mass warm-up session as I was fiddling about with safety pins and filling out the medical information on the back of the race number.

The enclosure at the start of the race was very similar to the Nos Galan, but a bit less smelly. I realised that I had not switched on the Garmin.  I waited ages for it to locate satellites, move around a bit, but the race started an I still didn’t have a GPS lock. Again similar to the Nos Galan, it was a shuffle over the start line and then a gentle jog to the first right hand turn. The we all stopped and shuffled through choke point on an up-hill section before crossing the River Taff again via the foot bridge. As the field opened up, I dismissed all thoughts of the Garmin’s GPS issues and concentrated on the race.

On passed a lot of people and was not overtaken very often myself. On one occasion it looked like a girl dressed as a rabbit or squirrel was going to pass me, so I put a bit of a sprint on.

The last 3k were the hardest, aerobically I felt fine, but my legs and hips were starting to ache. Around this point the Garmin decided that I had done enough and announced that I had completed the 10k. With the finish line still out of sight, I hit the start button so it carried on recording and focused on the finish. The last 1k, which was a straight run, felt like another 10k in its own right! I put in a bit more effort at the end, again incentivized by a couple of runners getting close to overtaking.

At the finish area, I was presented with a T-Shirt, an advertisement for British Military Fitness (one of the sponsors/organisers) and a medal. The kids loved the medal and took turns wearing it as I cleaned myself up for a visit to a local pub for Sunday lunch.

According to the Garmin, the slowest kilometre took 6 minutes, but I suspected the data was wrong due to the GPS issues at the start. I knew that I have taken less than an hour, which was a very pleasing result, but I was curious as to the official “chip” time. I found that I had done better than expected with a result closer to 50 minutes than I could have wished!