Garmin Race Predictor

I’ve had my Garmin 945 for almost a year, and despite a few teething problems I’m incredibly happy with it. I also suspect that I’m not using half of the clever functions that it can do, although I do like to have a look at my race predictions.

My 5k prediction has always been less than 20 minutes (not by much). At the weekend I ran Penrith parkrun (read about it here) and to use an old phrase, I gave it some biscuits. I managed my third best age graded result, and my best age graded result since 2018. My heart rate was up in zone 5 for nearly all of it, with a maximum of 182bpm. My finishing time was 20:24, only a little slower than my Garmin race predictor has always stated.

But then a funny thing happened, on Sunday my predicted 5km race time was slower than I had done the day before. Currently it is at 20:19. Maybe my Garmin has analysed my performance at Penrith, coupled with my heart rate and has decided that possibly just over 20 minutes is my top speed.

Hopefully if I start doing a bit of speed work, and lose a little timber, before the end of the summer I can manage a sub 20 minute 5km. Of course, the race prediction doesn’t take into account elevation, weather, or if you’re feeling a little tired and should have rested. However, as the race predictions change on a daily basis, it is still amazingly accurate.

Penrith Parkrun

Another Saturday and another new parkrun. My lovely wife didn’t fancy a tourist parkrun but offered to take our silly old pointer out, so I made a last minute decision to go to Penrith parkrun, which is a dog free parkrun.

Penrith is only 50 minutes up the M6 so I was nice an early, even by my standards. The revised parkrun naming convention would mean that if this was a new run, it would be named Frenchfield. It was sunny and warm, so the first time this year that I felt comfortable running in t-shirt and shorts.

It did feel strange not having Nelly with me, but at least it meant that I could start near the front. Also, despite being close to the Lake District, this particular parkrun 7is almost as flat as Morecambe Prom.

The run briefing was very lively, with the regulars joining in and shouting out the answers at specific points. I only wish I could remember it now.

Anyway, the run was two laps around the outside of a couple of fields on good quality track or pavement, so potentially nice and fast. The start area was quite wide although it narrowed to a single track soon. As the gun went off I was boxed in a little, but slowly I eased myself into space, and no way as hard as starting at the back with our four legged friend.

At the 1km mark I could see a pack of four runners out in front, a long way ahead as I tucked behind another runner who was slowly picking people off. I stayed with him to within sight of the finish line. I hadn’t pushed myself this hard during a parkrun for a while and at the end of the first lap I could tell that my heart rate was high.

As I followed three other runners into the finish line I was amazed to see that I was 13th in a time of 20:24, my fasted time this year and my highest age graded result since 2018. 4th in my age group though. Average heart rate of 167, maximum of 182 and 89% of my run in Zone 5. I was also less than 2 minutes behind the winner.

Overall a very friendly parkrun, flat and fast with plenty of parking. On average 180 runners, although because of the nice weather there was almost 250 this week. Probably not one that I would do again as I don’t like having to exclude old Nelly.


A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a little run that we’d done up Easedale Tarn (read about it here), using a brilliant trail running book by Helen Mort. My lovely wife decided that we should do another of her runs, this one starting and finishing at Mardale Head, the furthest point of Haweswater reservoir.

This would be a tougher route than Easedale as the only way out of Mardale Head is up. It was also a little cloudy on the tops as we slowly made our way.

The route steeply climbed, taking us between the summits of Harter Fell and Branstree as we followed Gatescarth Pass up and over towards Sadgill.

Once at the top we could see that the cloud was going to lift, with views down the valley.

At the bottom there was a stream we had to cross. I had been there last summer and hadn’t even noticed that there was a stream. Today we spent a few minutes looking for a dry way across. We needed have bothered as the next section was full on bogs, although the path was easy to follow as we headed towards Mosedale Cottage.

The cottage hasn’t been lived in for many years and is now a Bothy. Helen was very intrigued by the history of the cottage, especially when we found out that a farmer and his family used to live there. It must have been a very hard life. Anyway, we continued on past the frogspawn along a very wet path.

We almost got lost here as the obvious track heads towards Wet Sleddale, while we wanted the less travelled path towards the farm at Swindale Head. From here we headed up and up, following the Old Corpse Road, until Haweswater came into view once again. And what views they were.

Nelly was obviously impressed.

From here the route wound it’s way steeply back to the road.

One last mile along the road before we were back at our car.

The route was just under 15km with 750m of climbing (Strava link here). The weather at the start had looked a little ominous, but fortunately it cleared up nicely, although if you do this route make sure you have extra layers, just in case.

Another excellent route from Helen Mort, and another brilliant little day out with the lovely Helen and unruly Nelly.

Book Review: The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

Browsing in our local Waterstone’s a couple of weeks ago my lovely wife asked me if I’d seen anything. I told her that I had looked for the above book, but they didn’t have it. Unbeknown to me when we got home she ordered me a copy as a surprise. Best wife in the world.

I really enjoyed Rob’s previous book, The Warehouse, all about a dystopian future where a large Amazon type company runs the world. Anyway, The Paradox Hotel is all about time travel, set entirely within the confines of the said hotel. The hotel is located next to the Einstein Time Port, where very rich people can travel to see history, the dinosaurs or building the pyramids, you get the idea. The Paradox Hotel is where these guests stay before and after time travel. Security at the hotel is run by a former Time Enforcement Agent, January Cole, who is on a downward spiral. She has travelled in time too often and is experiencing time lapses.

The government has decided to sell off time travel to the highest bidder and the four wealthiest men in the world arrive at the hotel, with entourages, for the bidding. Everything goes wrong. Someone smuggles a few dinosaur eggs back from the Jurassic era and they hatch, a dead body is found that only January can see, and someone is trying to kill her and the billionaires. Added to this, it looks like someone has gone back and altered time in a large way for their own benefit and ripples are starting to break through time itself.

The book was a great read, and as expected with the name it has, can be a little confusing at times. The characters are well developed and story rolls along at a good pace. What I didn’t like was the seemingly rushed ending, almost like it could have done with another 10 or 20 pages. Books don’t need to tidy up every loose end, but in this instance a little extra would have helped. Anyway, I gave the book 4 out of 5 and will definitely keep a look out for the next book from Rob Hart.

Southport Parkrun

After three consecutive weeks running at Lancaster parkrun it was time for another tourist event, and seeing as my current NENDY is Southport, that is where we headed. While it might be the closest event as the crow flies, it isn’t easy to drive to as Preston gets in the way. Sat Nav issues along the way but we still arrived in plenty of time for a car selfie.

Nelly wants to get into that park, there are ducks.

Southport is held in Hesketh Park, and with the current naming system, if it was to start up today it would be named after the park not the town. Anyway, it is a lovely little park with children’s play area, cafĂ© and duck pond. Nelly likes ducks!

With enough time we gently ran a perimeter loop of the park in the opposite direction, with plenty of people saying hello, it was a really pleasant little park. One drawback was that the toilets weren’t next to the start and they required payment. Take note if you go there.

Anyway, we lined up near the back and once the announcements were finished we slowly set off. The paths are quite narrow and with almost 300 runners made it difficult to overtake. The route is two longer laps and one final shorter lap. However the longer laps wind around the pond which was particularly difficult with Nelly.

I had been taking it easy this last week and hadn’t run since the Sunday, so even though I didn’t feel fast, we slowly made our way up the field until we were first dog. The marshals were lively and friendly as we headed off towards the finish on our last lap. One man absolutely ‘had’ to overtake us as we neared the finish, and then promptly collapsed and had to be encouraged to keep moving through the funnel so that he didn’t hold up everyone else.

Final result was under 23 minutes and 37th position, with Nelly 1st dog. She’s a good old girl.

A very good parkrun, albeit with narrow paths for overtaking and not the easiest to get to (if you’re coming from Lancaster). Next NENDY is Burnley, and then after that I will be back in Southport for Kew Woods parkrun, which is less than 2 miles from Hesketh Park.

Anglesey Half Marathon

Ten days ago to celebrate my lovely wife’s birthday, we went to north Wales for a half marathon. That might not seem like a great birthday to some of you, but it was Helen’s idea. She booked us a nice B & B a few miles from the island and had a couple of nights away.

We headed over there on the Saturday, taking our time and then having an early night with salads from the nearby Tesco.

The morning of the race we had toast, fruit and plenty of coffee and then made our way to one of the designated car parks. We were there with enough time for a selfie in the car!

As you can see below it was nice and sunny, although still quite cold. The views of the old bridge were amazing, and this was where the race would start.

It wasn’t long before there were crowds of people, all eager for the off.

Very friendly atmosphere as the gun went off. We slowly made our way across the bridge before looping around to go back underneath it. There were official photographers at this point, but I didn’t buy any, even though they looked good. They were asking an outrageous amount of money, even for a low-res version. Take note race organisers; give entrants free photos, Epic Events and T2 Events in the Lancaster area do it.

Anyway, the route took us along the slightly undulating coast road, with stunning views out across the Menai Straight.

We then passed Beaumaris Castle before another small rise just before the half way point. As the route was mostly out and back, this was where we spotted the leading runners going past in the other direction. They didn’t half look fast. We then did a small loop through the countryside before heading back the way we came.

Unfortunately, the wheels came of the wagons slightly at about the ten mile mark when we hit another massive hill. We pushed on through, passing a local feature which Helen dubbed ‘Double Dragon’.

From there it was mostly downhill to the finish, which was located in the centre of the town. Crowds of people once again, a nice medal, made of slate and goody bag.

We then had to make our weary old legs back to the car, which seemed to take ages. Back at the B & B we showered and had a rest before heading out for a Sunday Roast at The Slate at Tal-Y-Bont. What an amazing meal consisting of 16 hour slow roasted beef. Service was a little slow, but they were busy and we weren’t in a hurry.

All in all an absolutely amazing weekend, and apart from the expensive photos, Always Aim High Events put on a brilliant race. I would definitely look out for other races that they organise.

Book Review: Black Lightning by John Saul

Another second hand book that I picked up from the amazing Old Pier Second Hand Book Shop in Morecambe, although this is one book that maybe I should have left on the shelf.

AS you can guess from my opening sentence, I wasn’t a fan. I’ve never read anything by John Saul, so it was definitely a punt in the dark. The book starts off quite promising. A serial killer has been caught, sentenced and is about to be given the electric chair. A reporter who dogged the killer is given one last chance to speak with him. He once again declares his innocence. As this is all going on, the reporters husband suffers a serious heart attack and is ‘dead’ for almost two minutes.

Not long after the killer is dead, another murder occurs with striking similarities to the original murders. Has the wrong man been put to death, and why is the reporter’s husband behaving so strange.

There are some good ideas in the book, but they’re never fully followed up, instead it becomes a generic body swap thriller, but without the thrills. Additionally, the reason for the book’s title is given a measly paragraph. It’s quite a good premise and more should have been made of it.

I’m sorry Mr Saul, but after reading Black Lightning it is unlikely that I will pick up any of your other books, unless they are heavily reduced from a charity shop. 2 out of 5.