Walney Island 10km

In the past I once signed up to a race from the Let’s Do This website. Because of that I receive daily emails with races that I might like to do. More often than not they are based in Lancaster and involve running up and down the cycle path. Not something I’m going to pay money to do. However, a few weeks ago the Walney Island 10km was advertised. I was tempted, and when my lovely wife Helen said that she was up for a day out, I booked it.

Walney Island is also the official starting point of the Bay Cycle Way. We have cycled it, and then emailed our MP to complain about taking bicycles on trains. You can read about it here.

We arrived nice and early, which was fortunate really. Firstly because I directed Helen the wrong way as she drove onto the island, and then because there wasn’t anyone directing people where to park. Helen pulled a U-turn as she spotted a car park at the back of the school. It wasn’t very big and most people seemed to have just dumped their cars on side streets near to the school which was being used as the race HQ.

I went to register, and the volunteer couldn’t find my name, despite holding the envelope containing my number in his hand. I then went to find the toilets. There was one Gents, one Ladies and one disabled, with a long queue. There was also no map at the HQ of where the race went. As there was a 5km at the same time I wanted to know if the 10km was two laps and the 5km one lap. No information anywhere. Thankfully it wasn’t a problem. Many years ago at a race down south, I was chatting to a running club mate who was intently examining the route of a race we were about to do. He told me that because he was highly likely to be near the front, he needed to know where the race went, whereas I would be able to follow everyone else. Speedy runner problems.

Anyway, I avoided the ‘compulsory’ warm up and lined up near the front ready for the off. I shot off too fast, waving at Helen and Nelly as I turned the first corner. There was a lot of people going too fast. While I was running, Helen took Nelly to the beach.

The route turned out to be out and back, with the 5km runners peeling off early. The young lad in first place was incredibly speedy. There also appeared to be more people doing the 5km than the 10km, as when I passed the 5km turn around point, there didn’t seem to be many people in front of me.

At the 4km marker I looked at my watch. It was saying just under 16 minutes. Too fast. I tried to hold on, but each subsequent km seemed to take longer and longer. At 7km my Garmin was saying 7.4km. I was starting to struggle and two runners overtook me in the last couple of kms, and my watch said 10km when the finish line wasn’t in sight.

I crossed the finish line in just over 43 minutes. However, my Garmin said that my 10km time was exactly 41 minutes. That would make it my fastest 10km since 2014. Very happy with that. Helen then helped me back to the car, carrying my finishers medal and t-shirt. My heart rate was in zone 5 for almost the whole race, with a maximum heart rate of 181.

There were a few pros and cons about the race. The pros; not too expensive to enter, nice t-shirt and medal.

The cons; no race parking, not enough toilets (the queues were out of the building twenty minutes before the start), accurately measured course that wasn’t and very expensive photos. Most of the events that I’ve done recently haven’t charged for official photos. I was sent an email with a link. A low-res download only photo was £9. You don’t want to know how much the prints were.

I was incredibly happy with my pace and that fact that I was 10th overall and 2nd Vet 50. However, I wouldn’t do the race again because of the issues I mentioned.

Later that day, Helen cooked a chicken roast while I hobbled about the place. We even saved a small piece of chicken for Nelly. I seriously couldn’t do it without Helen.

Two days later and my legs still feel sore. I’m sure I used to be able to recover better than this!

Loughrigg Fell

Another Friday and another family outing to the Lake District. 50 minutes after we set off from home we were parking up in Ambleside. We were going to walk another one of Helen Mort’s excellent trail running routes, this one up and over Loughrigg Fell.

We’ve been to Loughrigg Tarn a few times this summer and had walked from there into Ambleside a couple of times, so we knew the first part of the route. We set off through Rothay Park and up the steep track onto the lower parts of the Fell. However, instead of then dropping down to the Tarn, we turned and went up and over the top of the Fell.

Mostly we had the place to ourselves, overtaking a group of people early on, and then watching a couple of low flying jets on maneuver’s. As we neared the top we spotted a runner with her dog. The dog wanted to say hello to Nelly, but was called away as the runner was going in a different direction. The views at the top were stunning. We were really lucky with the September sun.

And then, just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Grasmere came into view. As you can see, Nelly was also suitably impressed.

The steep descent was a little taxing on our old knees, but at the bottom we turned back towards Ambleside, first passing Rydal Cave. We didn’t stop to have a look as there were loads of people.

We don’t like to let Nelly off her lead on the Fells, as she could easily get lost. There are always stories about lost dogs. But, along the path overlooking Rydal Water, we freed the old girl and she pottered about in front of us. She’s getting old so we’re very mindful about doing too much, although it does seem that going out with us for a walk is preferable to going out for a run. Even a short slow run is a little bit too much for her.

Soon the footpath became road, with the last mile a little less exciting. We made up for that by stopping in Ambleside for a coffees, scone and cake at the excellent Giggle Goose, before heading home. A well needed mini-adventure to improve our mental well-being.


Me and my lovely wife had a rare Friday off together, which we decided to make the most of. We headed off to Patterdale in the Lake District for a 7 and a half mile walk with our well thumbed copy of Helen Mort’s Lake District Trail Running book. We didn’t really need the book as I had created a route the previous evening and downloaded it onto my Garmin.

Setting off nice and early we were met with thick clouds as we drove over Kirkstone Pass. Fortunately we were soon below the clouds as we managed to find one of the few free parking spaces in Patterdale. After a brief walk around the Patterdale Hotel car park, looking for the correct footpath, we were off. In minutes we had amazing views out across Ullswater.

Nelly was also enjoying the views. Yes, I am wearing bright yellow trail shoes. Don’t judge me, they’re very comfortable.

The path wound its way up and then down into the main Grisedale Valley. We chatted to a man loaded up with a huge rucksack who was on day one of a 70 mile hike around the area.

Slowly the clouds lifted and soon we were walking in bright sunshine. The footpath was slowly going up, although soon we were heading back along the other side of the valley, never quite seeing the top of Helvellyn. On sunny days in the summer, there can be hundreds of people on Striding Edge, but we only saw one other person all day.

The paths were in good condition and there wasn’t too much up and down, as we soon found ourselves on a small road towards the car. With the Queen having sadly passed away the previous evening, the pubs and café were all closed, so we jumped back in the car and were back in Lancaster by 1pm.

I love Helen Mort’s trail running book, even when we walk most of the routes. All of them that we have done so far have been easy to follow on well marked footpaths, and often in some of the less frequented areas of the Lakes.

Our route can be seen below, and walking it took just over 3 hours with just under 300m of climbing. A perfect morning’s walk, not too hot, not too hilly and not too far. Looking forward to the next Helen Mort route, as long as it is with my Helen and our Nelly.

The Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron

I’ve only read two books in the series of five, and it is unlikely that I will continue. Not necessarily because the books weren’t very good, but mostly because I spent to long reading them, which isn’t a good sign.

The Red Knight is Book #1 in the series and starts with the aforementioned Knight and his band of mercenaries being signed up for a job. A monastery needs protection from The Wild. What is The Wild? The Wild is a large area full of creatures, some friendly, but mostly not and with good reasons as they have been hunted almost to extinction. However, there is a larger monster behind the recent attacks from the wild. Not larger physically, but larger in power. He (it) can use magic, but so can the Red Knight.

It is very confusing, especially as this is a work of fantasy, set in a distant land, but with a history which includes Jesus. The map at the start of the book also doesn’t really make sense, as the area that The Wild inhabits doesn’t appear to be very large. Unlike the land beyond the wall in Game of Thrones, The Wild appears to be very contained.

The Fell Sword is Book #2, and the Red Knight and his group have been paid to put down a rebellion. There is again plenty of magic and whole load of new characters. While the book is set somewhere new, it does drift back to the first book. The book was also very slow going, although the last 100 pages were quite exciting.

Overall, I don’t feel excited or compelled to return to the world that Mile Cameron has created. Reading Robin Hobb has also made me realise that fantasy doesn’t need to revolve around wars. The reviews of both books are excellent and keep getting better as the series progresses, but not for me. I think that from now on I will be a little more discerning with the fantasy genre. I am looking forward to the next Game of Thrones book and the final edition of the Kingkiller Chronicles, and I will probably read a few more from Robin Hobb, but apart from those three authors I will probably steer clear of starting new fantasy series.

Garmin Badges

My first Garmin was the Edge 500 cycling computer, which I bought back in 2012. I liked the idea of only having to have one computer which I could swap over onto other bikes without any hassle. With the instructions came details of Garmin Connect, which wasn’t called that back then, and had incredibly basic mapping software. I wasn’t impressed. I was impressed with the hardware, and as soon as I knew about Strava, that was what I used for all of my rides. Subsequently, I bought a running specific watch, and then later a swim watch. The swim watch could only be uploaded to Strava via the Garmin website, however, that was the only time I used it.

Fast forward a few years, and both myself and my lovely wife Helen have next generation smart watches. To be honest, I don’t know how I managed without one for so long. Anyway, to get the full benefit of the watches you really have to use the App, uploading every activity the moment I’ve finished, as well as looking at my sleep score, body battery, etc.

Deep within the App there are a whole load of badges to tick off. Some of them are monthly challenges only worth one or two points, others are worth eight points, for example running a marathon or cycling 100 miles. Tick off enough badges and you can reach the next level. Some badges can only be completed once, others, like the marathon or 100 miles, can be ticked off a maximum of 250 times. As you can see, there are a lot of points available.

I had been using the Garmin App for many months before I knew about these badges, and therefore was only at level 3. Fortunately, I had saved many of my Garmin files, which I have started to upload to Garmin Connect, including 36 one hundred mile bike rides, moving me up to level 5. Unfortunately, I didn’t start saving my Garmin files until 2015, missing out on over 50 one hundred mile rides.

Despite this, it shouldn’t be too long before I reach level 6.

Do you ‘collect’ the Garmin badges?

Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

This is what a thriller should be like. I’ve read a few ‘thrillers’ by Stephen King recently, namely Billy Summers and the Bill Hodges trilogy, where I have doubted if they would have been published if they hadn’t been written by Stephen King. I’ve also read a lawyer thriller recently by John Grisham, A Time for Mercy, and again I didn’t particularly rate it.

I had bought this a while ago as the e-book was on special offer as part of Richard and Judy’s book club for the bargain of only 0.99p. Unbeknown to me, my lovely wife has a paperback version in her ‘to be read’ pile. No matter, I’m sure when Helen has finished it she will happily pass it on to someone else.

However, Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh is one of the best lawyer based thrillers that I have read in a long time, probably since I read a previous book by the same author. I rarely give books 5 stars, but this was one of those books.

As the front cover states, two sisters are put on trial for murder, both of them accusing the other. Eddie Flynn, former conman and now lawyer only takes on clients who he is absolutely sure are innocent, and he is representing one of the sisters, the one showing signs of damage. She has had drug problems, self harm issues and doesn’t have a successful career, unlike her sister. On top of this, the lawyer representing the other sister is about to be sued by her previous employers for stealing the client and going solo.

From a writing perspective the book breaks a few rules. Each chapter is title with a character. All of Eddie Flynn’s chapters are written in the first person. All of the other chapters are third person. Some of the chapters use the name of each of the sisters, while some of them simply state ‘sister’. It is made perfectly clear throughout the book that one of the sisters is guilty of murder, and has committed murder on a number of occasions. With plenty of twists and turns I didn’t have a clue as to which sister was guilty, until almost the very end.

Anyway, if like me you’ve found John Grisham to be losing his touch, Steve Cavanagh is the author for you.