Chris Worfolk's Blog


Armley Parkrun

October 22nd, 2018 | Sport

Earlier this month I went up to Armley to do the Parkrun there. It’s about three kilometres away from the city centre, so just a little further than Woodhouse Moor.

Armley Parkrun launched over the summer, albeit with a “soft launch”. When I mentioned it on my blog I volunteer contacted me and asked me to remove the reference and when I asked about it in running club everyone spoke in hushed tones. Apparently, when a new Parkrun launches there is an unwritten rule about not telling anyone. It’s one of the weird rules that makes me a little uncomfortable at how Parkrun operates as an organisation.

Nevertheless, having been running for over four months, it is now a well established and welcoming run. They seem to have an army of volunteers, based on the sample size of one event.

The course is a mix of tarmac and grass. Having run past Gotts Park many times I assumed the course would be very hilly. However, Armley Park itself is really flat: probably flatter than Woodhouse Moor. It’s three loops with a bit of a crossover between the start and finish. It seems a good option to go for if you’re looking for a PB.

Ironman World Championship 2018

October 21st, 2018 | Distractions, Sport

A full distance triathlon consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and marathon run to finish the race. Ironman is the most famous of the full distance brands, and every year people compete in Ironman races around the world to earn a qualifying spot at the original race in Kona, Hawaii.

I watched it for the first time last year. Patrick Lange took his first victory and set a new course record of 8:01:40 after Cameron Wurf set a new record on the bike course. Meanwhile, in the women’s race, Brit Lucy Charles led for the swim and most of the bike until Daniela Ryf came storming through to take the lead and run her way to a third victory in a row.

This year they were celebrating the 40th anniversary of Ironman and they did so in style: the weather was absolutely perfect. Or, at least, as perfect as you can get on a lava field on a tropical island.

Josh Amburger led out a fairly easy swim for the elite men, coming home in 47:39. You might think that was the fastest swim of the day. But no. Age group athlete Jan Sibbersen smashed the age-group record with a swim of 46:29 while Lucy Charles went on a solo charge and broke the elite women’s record with a time of 48:14.

Things didn’t slow down on the bike. Cameron Wurf, who set a new course record last year with 4:12:54, brought it home in 4:09:06, breaking his own record by nearly four minutes.

Lucy Charles ploughed on on the bike. However, Danielle Ryf was simply unstoppable. After an awful swim due to being stung by a jellyfish and almost pulling out of the race, she finished the bike course in 4:26:07, smashing the women’s record, taking nearly 30 minutes off her time from last year (4:53:10).

Once onto the run, defending champion Patrick Lange finished the marathon in 2:39:58, becoming the first person ever to go sub-eight hours in Kona with a total time of 7:52:39, beating his own course record from last year by nine minutes. Second place Bart Aernouts also finished under eight hours while Britain’s David Mcnamee took the third podium stop for the second year in a row. Other notable finishers included Joe Skipper in 7th (Ironman UK winner) and Tim Don making his return to Kona.

On the women’s side, Daniella Ryf smashed the course record with a time of 8:26:18, giving her her fourth world championship in a row. Lucy Charles made it two for two on the second spot of the podium with Germany’s Anne Haug in third after running the fastest marathon time in the elite women (2:55:20). Four female athletes went under three hours in the marathon and ten went under nine hours.

And to finish it all, Patrick Lange celebrated by proposing to his girlfriend on the finish line. She accepted. He said something about “if I set a course record”, so lucky for her that it was a fast day, I guess!

Venla’s second birthday

October 20th, 2018 | Family & Parenting

It’s easy to believe that Venla is two years old already because who can really remember a time when she wasn’t around. It was a golden age where we did what we wanted and slept without interruption.

We did a little party for her on the weekend before and I think there was a ratio of 1:1 on cakes to guests. Which worked out very well for everyone involved.

We also took her out for ice cream on her actual birthday; just the three of us. Unfortunately, Kaspa’s offered their usual terrible service and forgot about Venla’s ice cream, so she threw a tantrum. The terrible twos have arrived in style.

Can we have Jim Harbaugh back yet?

October 19th, 2018 | Distractions, Sport

In 2013 the San Franciso 49ers went to the Super Bowl. Despite going down in the first half, they staged one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history before heartbreakingly failing to convert on a 1st and goal from the seven-yard line and lost the game 34-31.

In 2014, head coach Jim Harbaugh was hired by Jed York because they couldn’t get on. We knew at the time that it was a massive mistake, and now we have the numbers to prove it.

Here is a graph showing the 49ers win percentage. I’ve also included the win percentage of the Michigan Wolverines, who Harbaugh went on to coach after leaving the 49ers.

You’ll notice that we’re not doing very well until 2011 when we hire Jim Harbaugh. Things turn around instantly and for the next four years we not only make the playoffs but make it all the way to the championship game (and once, the Super Bowl). In 2014, we go 8-8. Not great, but not a losing record either.

Harbaugh is fired and we go through three head coaches in three years: Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly and Kyle Shanahan. All of which are losing seasons, and we’re losing this one, too.

Meanwhile, Michigan, who, to be fair, was never a bad team, go from inconsistent results to having a winning season every year under Harbaugh.

In fact, the 49ers have never had a losing season under Jim Harbaugh. Neither have Michigan. Can we have him back yet?

Brownlee triathlon centre launch

October 18th, 2018 | Sport

After my first visit to the Brownlee cycle circuit I found myself back there for the launch of the triathlon centre. It’s not really clear what that was. It looks the same. But, in any case, British Triathlon was providing some free training.

There were three sessions: transition, run and bike. I will be changing the way I do things based on the transition session but it was the bike session that was most useful. It was led by Coach Morg, who runs Blue Lagooners and the Evolve triathlons and really helped me build some confidence with leaning the bike over and taking more speed through the corners.

Brownlee Centre takeover

October 17th, 2018 | Life

I’ve never been up to the Brownlee Centre cycle track, even though it’s technically included in my gym membership, so I was pleased when Hyde Park Harriers triathlon club (the club I belong to) announced a track day.

We did some bike skills, group riding skills and a little time trial. All of it useful.

Perhaps even better, we finally got to to the Cat’s Pyjamas for the social after. Venla was not particularly impressed by the food, much to my benefit, as her chicken curry was delicious.

Yorkshire Marathon

October 16th, 2018 | Sport

I’m a marathon runner. I have a medal to prove it. And it was a hard-earned one because running it was quite possibly one of the most miserable days of running I have ever had.

Last year I ran the Yorkshire 10 Mile and it was cool and dry. Great running conditions. This year it was cold and wet. Last year there was no queue for the shuttle bus. This year there was a 25-minute queue. On the plus side, this removed waiting around before the race as I only made it to the start line with five minutes to go.

The first 13km was pretty miserable as the idea of four hours of running in the rain soaked through. The next 7km was occupied by trying to find a toilet, which finally turned up 7km later. And the last 42km was mostly occupied by pain.

By 35km I was ready to walk. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that I was only just ahead of the pace required to finish in under four hours. In the end, I promised myself I could walk up the hill on the finishing straight (what a terrible place to put a hill, right?). But, by the time I got there, I decided I could keep going and kept putting one foot in front of another until I reached the line.

My final time was:

3:57:17

My goal was just to complete it, with a stretch goal of sub-four hours, so I’m pleased with that time.

People tell you that it is an amazing feeling to finish a marathon. But it’s not. I knew it wasn’t going to be because I’ve spent all summer racing triathlon. But, what I wasn’t prepared for was the dramatic increase in pain after I crossed the line. I was limping in both legs and my ankles were screaming. They continued to hurt even after I swallowed the two ibuprofen I had with me.

The rain fell all morning and continued for the entire run. I was absolutely soaked through by the finish. I brought a full change of clothes, except for pants, so even after I got changed, my wet pants just soaked through my jogging bottoms again. Even with my two t-shirts and winter jacket on, I was so cold that I kept biting myself.

Thankfully, by the next morning, the pain had faded and I felt a little better. I was feeling sore and stiff, but not injured. And I was able to walk down stairs.

Would I do it again? Probably. I haven’t been bitten by the bug: I’m not looking forward to signing up for more races. But I could be tempted by a few of the famous ones.

Looooooong training run

September 29th, 2018 | Sport

Technically, I’ve now run a marathon. I’ve been gradually pushing up the distance on my training runs over August and September, and gone as far as 36 km. But, last weekend, I went for the granddaddy of distances: 42.2 km (26.2 miles).

I took the photo about 13 km into the run. My face didn’t look that happy by the end. And no, I have no idea what was going on with my hair.

I started by going down the towpath of the Aire & Calder navigation. There were rowers practising all along the waterway, right up to whether I turned around somewhere near Rothwell. I then headed home, with a quick stop to pick up a new bidon and more gels, before heading up the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath in the opposite direction to complete the second half. In the end, I completed 42.4 km.

I did the whole thing in 4:06:25, but I paused for Garmin for the few minutes I was re-supplying in the middle, so my actual time is longer than that. I feel okay having done it. Recently, I’ve been feeling pretty ill at the end of these long runs but I felt good after this one, perhaps because I had drunk a little more than usual. The day after I had a little soreness in my toes and my calves were aching but otherwise, I felt good.

Having reached this milestone, I’m now looking forward to moving my training runs back down to sensible distances.

Parkrun 100 t-shirt

September 28th, 2018 | Sport

It’s been three years since I earnt my Parkrun 50 t-shirt, and, at the very start of 2017, I completed my 100th Parkrun. Since then I’ve been waiting for my t-shirt. Well, that days has finally come.

I’m pretty annoyed at Parkrun, as an organisation, over the whole affair. 21 months I’ve been waiting for my t-shirt to turn up. I feel a little lied to and let down. Arguably, they are a charity and the t-shirt only costs £4 (which is a delivery charge). But if anything, their charitable status only means they should hold themselves to a higher level of integrity and if they promise a t-shirt, they should deliver on that.

Of course, now they have. And it’s a pretty nice t-shirt, too. It is more of a mesh than the previous ones: if you hold it up to your eye you can see through it. I took it for a spin at Parkrun #169 it it felt good (inspired me to a PB no less!).

I’m really pleased to finally have it. The next stop is 250, which I will hopefully hit sometime in 2020.

Parkrun #169

September 27th, 2018 | Sport

Surprise Parkrun PBs (personal bests) are the worst PBs. It’s like drafting Tom Brady in the sixth round. Sure, you’ve accidentally drafted the greatest quarterback in the history of American football, and you’ve done it for an almost-worthless draft pick. But it shouldn’t be an accident. An accident suggests you got your planning wrong.

So it is with Parkrun PBs. My existing PB of 22:39, which I set in May, felt like my best effort. I had gone out to set a PB and I had achieved that, and now I could die happy knowing that the time reflected my best performance.

When I started Parkrun #169, I had no intention of beating it. I didn’t think I could. But I did know that my training schedule said I had to go hard. So, I did. And my time was:

22:06

A good 33 seconds faster than my previous time and giving me a 58.67% on the age grading.

Having said all of that, I’m pleased with the result. I spent the summer doing a lot of training and in the past few weeks I have been focussing on my running, so maybe that is paying off.

Here’s an updated graph because everyone loves a graph: