Chris Worfolk's Blog


Masters graduation

July 23rd, 2019 | Life

I finished my masters degree last year (with a distinction and 82% in my final project, thanks for asking :D). Because it takes the exam board a few months to award the degree, and then you have to wait for the next set of graduation ceremonies, that meant nearly a year’s wait.

Earlier this month, the day finally arrived.

Beckett is currently holding their degree ceremonies at the Leeds Arena. This is not as pretty as the Headingley campus but did mean there were enough seats for everyone. This was critical as it meant I could take Elina and not have to decide which one of my parents I loved the most.

The ceremony itself was long and dull. There were 1,000 students graduating in the same ceremony. Some in absentia, but that still a lot of people. And, because of the way they lay things out, I was almost last. Literally, I was sat next to the three PhD graduands whose presentations are reserved for the end. However, the vice-chancellor did give a good speech at the end.

After the ceremony, we headed over to the Rose Bowl where they had turned the car park into a reception area with some food and drink stalls and places to take photos.

All in all, a nice ceremony, but not a patch on Leeds University. When I graduated for my bachelors, the whole school got together and put on refreshments and all the staff were there to congratulate us. This was very different. It was all run centrally, very busy, expensive, I saw almost nobody from my course because of the size of the group and there was no school-specific stuff or any of the faculty there.

I did get a video, though, including a slow-motion relay:

Women’s World Cup 2019

July 22nd, 2019 | Sport

After our third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup, it was looking good for England in 2019. But yet again it was going to be heartbreak.

We made it as far as the semi-final, where we faced a top-ranked United States team. And, to be fair, we gave them a great game. If it hadn’t have been for the penalty we missed, or the goal disallowed, we could easily have beaten them. As it was, they won and went on to beat the Netherlands in the final.

Still, it would not be a proper World Cup without some England heartbreak.

4 ways to stay ethical while keeping healthy

July 18th, 2019 | Life

Keeping fit and healthy is important for us in our daily lives, but how can we be certain we aren’t supporting unethical practices when we purchase things to help us stay healthy? One of the things you need when exercising is activewear that is designed to be light, stretchy and able to wick away the sweat.

But many of the clothes that are produced for this market use less-than-ethical practices including modern slavery in their production, and it can be extremely hard to find garments that are made from sustainable materials like organic cotton or bamboo. Similarly, buying healthy food is important, but you don’t know how that food is farmed and many food products are needlessly packaged in single-use plastic packets that aren’t recyclable and don’t biodegrade.

To address these issues, let’s look at four things you can do to stay ethical while keeping yourself healthy:

1. Buy activewear from brands that are against modern slavery

As shocking as it may seem, as many as 20.9 million people are directly affected by modern slavery every single day, so it’s important to buy from responsible brands to ensure you aren’t inadvertently supporting this. Forward-thinking brands have a far more transparent supply chain than ever before, enabling consumers to see how the garments and other items were produced and feel confident they are not giving their money to anyone engaging in modern slavery practices. Take the time to learn about brands and the garments they sell when you make purchases for your runs, swims, cycling and gym sessions.

2. Buy workout wear made from sustainable materials

There is a common misconception that only artificial materials can deliver the light, flexible, sweat-reducing properties needed from workout clothing. This is simply not true, as garments made from organic cotton, linen and bamboo can be specially designed to have the right properties for the job. It can be harder to find these types of garments since activewear made from Lycra and similar materials is cheap and easy to produce, but if you put your mind to it you will find ethical alternatives. And you’ll be glad you did since these types of clothing are typically higher quality and will last you longer as you put them through their paces working up a sweat.

3. Use your car less

This one is simple, but it is a great way to both stay healthy and be ethical. With more cars in the world than people, we are polluting the planet on an unprecedented scale through the overuse of our vehicles. So often, we use them for convenience for journeys that could easily be made another way. And if you choose to walk, run or cycle instead of using your car, you are also being healthy, so it’s a no-brainer. So don’t take the car for your next trip to the gym; try cycling or jogging there, or better yet just work-out at home – that way you’ll have a healthier bank balance, as well as a healthier body.

4. Choose healthy foods that aren’t wrapped in plastic

Our awareness of the damage that plastic does to our environment has grown significantly in recent years. If you take a trip to your local supermarket, you’ll see the astonishing prevalence of single-use plastic. In fact, items packaged in plastic are often cheaper than the ones sold loose, which seems counter-intuitive.

Instead of giving your money to supermarkets and accumulating more and more plastic in your home, start looking for alternatives that involve little or no plastic at all. Try greengrocers, reusable coffee cups and bamboo toothbrushes – the alternatives are there to be found, it just takes a concerted effort on your part to make the changes. You can eat healthily and go plastic free!

There it is – four simple things you can do to improve your ethical fitness while working on your physical fitness. Everyone should be making the effort to stop supporting unethical practices that are harming people, animals and the environment. Keeping fit is a noble pursuit, but only if you are making sure that your efforts aren’t doing harm elsewhere. Don’t be that person who closes their eyes while they contribute to global problems – make the effort, and make those changes.

Allerthorpe Sprint Triathlon 2019

July 7th, 2019 | Sport

I completed Allerthorpe Sprint Triathlon last year in a time of 1:30:17. This year, I dragged Elina and Venla along, thinking they could enjoy the sunshine and paddle in the lake. As it turns out, the day was cool and overcast: perfect for racing.

I had come down ill on Friday and still felt pretty rough. The combination of having a toddler and a compromised immune system from a training load designed for ironman hasn’t been working out well for me: I had a cold for Driffield and World Triathlon Leeds, too. However, I decided to power through and race anyway, especially as I set a great time at Leeds.

The swim

The swim went well. I was in the last of three waves setting off five minutes apart. I mostly used breaststroke with some front crawl to try and say on the feet of other people when I needed to speed up. Just at the end, I managed to overtake one of the slower swimmers from the wave in front of us!

Having cramped up in my ironman swim, and in one of the long prep swims, I was a bit nervous of it happening again. This was irrational because I only cramp after over an hour in the water. But it still played on my mind and I had to back off once or twice.

The bike

I had decided to go without socks on the bike, so as I entered into T1 I just had to pull my wetsuit off and pull my tri shoes on. This made for a T1 time of just over two minutes: a far cry from the 16 minutes at The Yorkshireman or eight minutes in Leeds. I forgot to take my neck protector off, though and had to do the entire bike with a giant piece of rubber around my neck.

The bike felt pretty fast and I tried to keep my watts around 220. My swim was a bit faster this time which meant there was an uber biker that was a slower swimmer than me. Baring that overtake, though, it was business as usual with me gaining places consistently throughout the bike and run.

The run

In T2, I pulled on my flat cap and headed out for the 5km. I went out a little too fast on the run, but nothing I could not handle. After the first kilometre, I settled down into a sensible face and held that to the end. I managed a sprint finish, hence the look on my face as I came through the finish gate.

The result

My official time was:

1:20:10

It’s a shame it wasn’t 11 seconds faster. I was 17 seconds over 1:30:00 last year, and I just missed three hours by 15 seconds at Allerthorpe Classic. But that was somewhat intended: I didn’t look at the overall time on my watch because I knew if I was around the 1:20:00 mark, I would push myself harder than I wanted while I was ill.

Splits were as follows:

Stage 2019 2018 Diff
Swim 18:21 22:01 -3:40
T1 01:52 04:39 -2:47
Bike 35:55 37:10 -1:15
T2 01:43 1:27 +0:16
Run 22:17 25:01 -2:44
Total 1:20:10 1:30:17 -10:07

Pleased with almost everything there. A sub-20 swim is a great swim for me. Maybe a bit disappointed by the bike time as I’m now riding a super aero ride bike with aero wheels on, too. That is a lot of cash for very little extra speed. T2 was slightly slower because I put my socks on in T2 rather than T1. 22:17 is a super 5km run time: only 11 seconds slower than my all-time 5km PB.

I came 75th overall, out of a field of 166 finishers. 11th in my age group.

It was also my first race in my club tri suit. Does that account for the 10 minutes knocked off my time? Maybe so!

How do you keep going for 14 hours?

June 30th, 2019 | Sport

When I tell people that it took me 14.5 hours to complete my full distance triathlon they often ask “how do you keep going for that long?” It might be meant as a rhetorical question. But I’ve some thought into it.

Prepare your body

You need to do the training. Nobody would be surprised if someone did not do the training and failed to finish. It’s not just the volume of training: you need to do some distance work. You need to prepare your body for each discipline because otherwise, you run into things you hadn’t run into.

In the run-up to the event, I did a 4km swim in the pool, a 3km swim in open water, 2 x 100-mile bike rides and a three hour 30km run. Three of them were on back-to-back days.

I think it is important to do this because you hit things you wouldn’t hit in short workouts. Things like cramps. Things like back pain that only sets in in the later hours of the ride.

Prepare your mind

Two things you need to do here:

First, make sure your training gives you the psychological belief that you can do it. Do this by doing hard events. Few people believe they can do a full distance race if they have never done a triathlon. Neither did I. But I did understand I only had to believe in the next step.

I did a sprint. Then a standard. Then a load more standards. Then a half. Even then, it was only after I ran a marathon and an ultramarathon that I started to believe I could do it.

In preparation, I did some long sportives including the Tour de Yorkshire (only 123km but 2,400 metres of climbing) and The Flat 100 (160km). The latter was down as part of a race simulation weekend where I also swam 4km on the day before and a 3-hour run on the day after.

Second, it helps to have some mental strategies to assist you on the day. Mindfulness and self-talk are two of the most important and I teach both of these on my sport psychology course.

Keep eating

Providing you don’t get injured (you did some strength training, right?), the two things that are going to stop you are running out of energy and running out of mental resilience.

Your body cannot convert fat into energy fast enough, so you need to supplement this with food to avoid hitting the wall. Being hungry or dehydrated will also make you grumpy, which will increase your chances of wanting to give up.

Therefore, it is important to keep eating throughout the entire event. I’ve written about my fuelling strategy here.

Pace yourself

As you get more tired and fed up, you may encounter a desire to speed up. You want to get it over with. Do not listen to this voice.

Going above your target pace increases the risk of cramps, increases the risk of hitting the wall and is generally unsustainable, so will produce a slower time overall and maybe even a DNF.

Summary

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Actually, it’s a marathon plus 112-mile bike ride and 2.4-mile swim. So, take it easy, keep eating, and make sure you have spent the time building up your muscles and building up your confidence.

Fuelling for The Yorkshireman

June 29th, 2019 | Sport

How do you keep going through a full distance triathlon? By eating a lot. I was aiming for around 60-75g of carbs per hour. My friend Meghan thought I would be fine on around 40g, which is good news because I didn’t hit my target.

The swim

I took a High5 energy gel (23g) just before the start and a Torq gel (30g) halfway through the swim.

Yep, I took a gel at the turnaround buoy. You can stick them in your sleeve but you need to get them far enough up that the wetsuit seals again. Or you can stick them down your chest. I do both in case I need two.

53g of carbs over 2 hours, so 27g per hour.

The bike

I optimistically took 10 gels with me on the bike. However, my stomach was not too happy when I ate so I only managed to take 4 of them (30g each, 120g total) and ate my way through 3 Clif bars (45g each, 135g total).

I also drank 2 x 750ml bottles of Lucozade and a 750ml bottle of SiS energy drink (123g in total).

That makes a total of 378g over 7.5 hours, equalling 50g per hour.

The run

On the run, it gets a bit more guesswork as I predominantly did it on the nutrition provided by the feed stations.

I did five energy drink cups per lap on the first two, plus two more on later laps, so 12 overall. I’m guessing they had around 150ml of liquid in each. That makes a total of 1800ml with around 80g of carbs per litre. So, let’s say 144g of carbs there.

I also had 8 cups of coke. They might have been a bit smaller, maybe 100ml per cup. Coke says there are around 11g of coke per 100ml, so 88g of carbs there.

Finally, I had a High5 energy gel (23g), 20 jelly babies (5g each, 80g total) and some handfuls of crisps (approx 5g total). The total of these three makes 108g.

That makes a total of 332g over 4.6 hours, equalling 72g per hour.

Summary

I was surprised how much energy I took on through the drinks on the run, roughly hitting my target. In total, I took on 763g over 14.5 hours (including transition), which equals 53g per hour.

The Yorkshireman

June 28th, 2019 | Sport

Last Sunday, I completed my first full distance triathlon. Full distance, also known as iron or Ironman, is a 3.8km swim, followed by a 180km cycle, and finishes with a marathon. It takes the elites about eight hours while normal people get 17 hours to complete it before the cut-off.

It’s been a crazy few years. In 2017, I saw the Ironman World Championships pop up in my Facebook feed. I didn’t really know what it was, but I watched it and thought “that looks cool”. One month later, I did a GO TRI at Temple Newsam. This was followed by a sprint distance in April, a standard distance in May and a middle distance in September.

It was never supposed to happen this fast. But then Freebird announced they were launching a full distance race in Yorkshire, named The Yorkshireman, and I decided the opportunity to take part in the first Yorkshireman was not to be missed.

Pre-race

I arrived on Saturday as we were camping the day before and of the race. The campsite was a bit of a walk from the event village but had toilets and showers. There were no queues at registration but there was a mandatory 20-minute race briefing video to watch.

Once that was done I was able to rack my bike and my bags. I was worried the bags would be a bit small to fit all of my kit in as I was doing a full costume change between disciplines. However, they were very generously sized. We were also able to go down and see the swim start with a guided tour taking place every hour.

We took part in the inaugural flat cap run, which was predominantly an event for children. It was a 900-metre run starting and finishing at the event finish line. Venla picked up the lantern rouge but also won her age group as she was the only toddler taking part.

I got to bed about 9pm but it was an hour before we got Venla to sleep and a bit longer until I drifted off. I got up at 4:30 and had some cereal and half a banana before heading down to the race start. Oh, and two immodium tablets. Never forget the immodium before a big race.

The swim

The swim was the hardest part of the race and the hardest swim I have ever done.

We gathered by the river bank and my parents appeared to cheer me on. As we jumped into the water I made my way to the back of the pack and jokingly asked “is this where the normal people start?” which gave us all a giggle.

The swim started with a long stretch upstream. The current wasn’t strong but it was noticeable. I tried to keep to the side to stay out of the fastest current but in doing so I kicked a concrete jetty and hurt my foot. At the turnaround bouy, I stopped to do a gel.

On the way back I tried to keep more central but still struggled. I was tired, aching and cold. I tried to speed up at one point but almost immediately cramped up and had to get some help from the water safety crew. So much for the gel seeing that off.

Worse, I had drunk so much of the River Ure by this point that my bladder was bursting. You may want to skip to the bike section if you don’t want graphic detail. Every stroke felt like I was being kicked in the bladder. You might think “well, why not just go, you’re in a river after all”. I would agree, but if you have ever tried to wee in a wetsuit, you will know how difficult it is.

Twenty years of being an adult have taught me not to wee myself. You need to relax. But you cannot relax while you’re swimming. Even if you stop and tread water it is super difficult. I had even practised in some of my open water sessions but not been able to do it.

To complete the swim, I needed to get back to the start then go downstream and back up again to complete the final 400 metres.

Unfortunately, by this point I was in so much pain, so cold and so fed up that I thought about giving up. I stopped to tread water and decide what to do. “Just swim over to the jetty and all the pain will be over,” a voice said to me. I seriously considered it.

Somehow, I convinced myself to struggle on. Reminding myself of the six months of training helped. As I made it to the final buoy, my bladder decided it had had enough and finally opened unconditionally. I think I emptied half of the River Ure back into it. I shouted “come on Chris, you can do this” and the water safety crew took up the chant, too, cheering me on.

Transition 1

I was helped out of the water two hours after I had jumped in. There were less than 100 of us doing the full distance, but nearly 500 doing the half and by a stroke of good luck for me, they started two hours after. Thus, as I was hauled out of the water, hundreds of middle distance athletes who were waiting to get into the water clapped and cheered me on.

I managed a bit of a run into the transition tent, collected my bag and collapsed into a chair in the changing area. The guy sat next to me had brought a supermarket pot of pasta and a fork to eat it with. I took a second bathroom break to empty the remaining River Ure out and then collected my bike and set off on the road.

The bike

180km (112 miles) is a long way. I had ridden two 160km rides in the build-up to the race but this would by a small margin be my longest ride ever. Pretty quickly into the bike I realised I wouldn’t be hitting my nutrition targets as my stomach didn’t want to tolerate so much food. I stopped every 15km to stretch my back out and used those opportunities to eat, too. That made for roughly 12 stops and I counted down.

The weather was mixed. Early on the sun came out and I spent some time at one stop putting suncream on. Later on, it looked like it was going to rain, although it held off throughout the bike.

The bike section consisted of an out section, three loops and a back. There was a feed station on the loop which I used to change my two sports drink bottles for another sports drink and a water bottle. I also took a bathroom break on the final lap.

As well as my scheduled stops, I stopped twice to help people. One guy had got his chain jammed in his front cassette. I couldn’t offer much but moral support and go back to the marshall nearby, but he sent me a message after the race to thank you for stopping. The second time, some poor guy on the half had accidentally done the bike loop twice, rather than once, and was now lost.

Frustratingly, on both occasions, Garmin put me on the previous lap, so I had to calculate my own distance to go from then on. My Garmin also crashed about 10 minutes into the ride but luckily restarted after another five minutes and worked okay from them on (apart from the distance issue).

Parts of it were long and boring. I used my mindfulness practice, and occasionally a bit of singing. A mixture of rock and Eurovision. Sometimes I wanted to give up, especially when it was time to start another lap. I could come back and try again next year. But I reminded myself that if I did that, I would have to do that damn swim again.

Towards the end, I was getting hungry and my back was really hurting so I stopped at 30km, 20km and 10km before finally making it back.

Transition 2

On returning transition, I got the pro treatment as they were racking everyone’s bikes for them. I grabbed my bag, threw my running kit on and headed out, finding my family at the exit to transition waiting to wave me off.

Unfortunately, they had to wait a little longer as immediately turned to take yet another bathroom stop, before finally starting my run.

The run

By this point, it was 4pm. I had until 11pm to complete the race but if you were starting your final lap after 9pm you had to do a slightly different route. Even though it was the same length, I wanted to do the “real” route, so I figured if I put in two speedy laps I could walk the remaining two and still do that.

At the first feed stop, I grabbed some energy drink, jelly babies and crisps. I began running at an easy pace of around 6:30 per kilometre and decided to walk each aid station where I would do another cup of energy drink. I completed the first two laps in around 1:10:00 per lap. Each time I came back into the grounds my family were there to cheer me on.

In my pre-race plan, I had banned myself from having any caffeine until halfway through the run. So, I was pleased to arrive on the third lap and start replacing my energy drink for coke. I did some more maths and realised that if I put in another lap of 1:10:00 I could walk the final lap and still do a sub-5-hour run split and sub-15-hour overall. So, I kept running.

As I finished the third lap, I took a final bathroom break just as it started to rain. Luckily it was only light with the heavier rain staying away until just after I finished. I walked for a bit, chatting with a guy who was also doing his first full distance.

But I couldn’t stick with walking. I was feeling alive. I was actually going to finish this thing. Although I started mixing in some more walking, I did some of my fastest running here, too, putting in several sub-6-minute kilometres.

The finish

As I entered the grounds for the final time, my dad met me a few hundred metres from the finish and we ran side-by-side to the rest of my family and then joined into one big group to cross the line together.

It felt surreal. It was amazing, of course, but also it didn’t really sink in straight away. And despite the excitement, you’re also utterly empty, you feel sick and tired and everything aches.

I collected my medal, my t-shirt and my time. We then went to the registration tent so I could get a massage and eat some food. My parents had brought the car down so that my mum could drive me back to the campsite. Venla was so excited that she was running around until midnight.

I was pretty wired, too. Between the excitement, the caffeine and sound of the rain on the tent, I tried and failed to sleep until 2am. At that point, I gave up and went and sat in my car for two hours and listened to an audiobook. At 4am, I finally managed to fall asleep and slept until 8-9ish.

Recovery

When J woke up on Monday, I felt pretty tired and ill. I managed a slice of toast albeit very slowly. We drove back to Leeds and went to McDonald’s for lunch, which I found a big struggle to get down, too. It was only that evening I felt I could eat normally again.

Then there was the soreness. I got another massage on Tuesday, but my legs and back continued to ache for the next week.

The result

The headline figure was my overall time:

14:35:12

My spreadsheet put me anywhere from 14.25 hours to 16.75 hours. But I didn’t really believe this was possible. I was sure it would be longer. So, it was a lovely surprise to get it down to the lower end of the estimates.

In terms of placing, this put me 56th overall. 93 registered, but only 79 started and only 70 finished. Surprisingly, this put me 3rd in my age group. It was out of a total of 6 but I will take a top half finish! The winner, Chris Cope, finished in 09:28:02, 45 minutes ahead of anyone else.

My splits were as follows:

Section Time
Swim 01:59:17
T1 00:16:11
Bike 07:31:12
T2 00:08:23
Run 04:40:07
Total 14:35:12

That gave me the 30th fastest run split, which again I’m pretty pleased to be in the top half.

And one more record for the books: apparently, I am the first official Hyde Park Harrier to complete a full distance triathlon (i.e. the first member to race under the club name to do so).

Event organisation

The event organisation was first class. From the moment we arrived at Newby Hall there were staff and marshalls everywhere. And they knew what was going on. There was no queue for registration. There were people helping out and showing you where everything was in transition. There were marshalls on every junction of the 140.6-mile course (well, there were loops, but it’s still a lot of course) and three people on each feed station handing out drinks.

Everyone was encouraging and friendly. They printed out names on our race numbers and the marshalls used them to cheer us on by name. The event village felt pro quality and there were plenty of toilets, the lack of which really annoys me at other races.

In short, Freebird did an amazing job organising it.

Another highlight of the race: the medal was in metric!

Thank yous

A bunch of people to thank here:

First, my wife. I made sure to seek her permission before signing up for the race because ten hours of training per week is a huge amount of training. I don’t think I shirked my share of looking after Venla, but it did mean that when it wasn’t my turn, I was invariably out training rather than spending time with her.

Second, my parents. They came for the weekend, were up at 6am to cheer me on at the start and still there at 9pm. They were there when I finished the bike and for every lap of the run. When they weren’t cheering me on they were bringing their car up to drive me back to the campsite or cooking me some post-race sausages. They were the ultimate support crew.

Third, everyone at Hyde Park Harriers triathlon club for the encouragement over the last two years.

And finally, all of the marshalls, volunteers and team at Freebird Events for putting on such an awesome race.

Summary

Now that I have had a chance for it to sink in, I am super proud be an ironman (well, technically, a Yorkshireman).

A lot of people have asked me “are you going to do another one?” The answer is, I’m not saying never, but I don’t have any plans. It hasn’t put me off. But I would need to get my swim sorted before doing another. And it is a lot of training to commit to. Finishing a marathon didn’t inspire me to do anymore and I’m not sure this will, either. But I’ll see how I feel next year.

Would I recommend full distance? No, because I don’t want you blaming me when you get halfway through a race and decide to curse my name :D.

Further reading

I have separate blog posts on fuelling for the race and how do you keep going for 14 hours.

Critérium du Dauphiné 2019

June 20th, 2019 | Distractions

The Critérium du Dauphiné is considered the main warm-up event for the Tour de France. This was a write-off from start to finish for Team Chris.

I misread the stages. It looked like there were lots of mountains and not much for the sprinters. So, I didn’t even take a sprinter. Turns out this was not correct. The hilly days were not hilly enough to drop the sprinters and there were only a handful of mountain days, all of which were mopped up by the breakaway.

Froom suffered a horrendous crash, for which he is still in hospital. Kruijswijk also dropped out due to illness. That left Fuglsang, Pinot and Quintana. They managed the overall win, 5th and 9th between them that did a lot to boost my points, but the gap was way too big. Froome being out meant that Woet Poels would then race for himself, which helped the other teams.

Congratulations to Bogdan, who takes his first win in the de Mezzanine

Women’s Tour of Britain 2019

June 19th, 2019 | Distractions

The Women’s Tour of Britain is a 6-day stage race. It doesn’t receive the same level of coverage as the men’s events: you can’t watch it live on TV, for example, but it’s growing rapidly. Superstar Marianne Vos lead out my fantasy team.

It was all going so well. D’Hoore took the early sprint stages and Vos and Deignan were mopping up the GC points. After the first couple of stages, Team Chris had an 800 point lead, that at the time seemed unassailable.

Alas, it was not to be. Vos crashed, and despite Deignan taking the overall win, Team Chris was eventually relegated to last place.

World Triathlon Leeds 2019

June 18th, 2019 | Sport

The 2018 World Triathlon Leeds was the first standard distance triathlon I signed up for (although I actually completed Wetherby two weeks earlier) and was my target race for the year. I lost my timing chip in the lake and so technically registered a DNF. The swim was cut in half due to fog, so the 2:43:00 I registered on my Garmin would have been 3:03:00 with a full swim.

This year, I was hoping to improve, mostly by setting an official time.

The preparation could have gone better. Two days before, Venla handed me her cold. I could feel a little tickle, which by Saturday had turned into a full cold. It took me 28 minutes to complete parkrun and it rained all day, which made for a wet affair at registration. Thankfully, it dried up on Sunday for the race itself.

I was in the Yorkshire Championship. We didn’t start until 8:35, which made for a lice line-in compared to the 7:10 start I had last year. It also meant that almost everyone else in Hyde Park Harriers was in the same wave as me. They were all in their beautiful club tri suits. Alas, mine did not turn up in time.

The swim

The swim went well. I was just under 40 minutes, which is my useful benchmark. I had my family chasing me around the lake cheering me on which provided some extra speed boost. We were the second-to-last standard distance wave, so not many people swimming over the top of me.

Getting out, I remembered just how long transition is at this event. It goes on forever. There is probably a kilometre of running between the swim exit, finding my bike, and taking it to the mount line and then doing it all again in T2.

The bike

I took it steady on the bike. I always imagine that everyone will come flying past me on the descent down Stonegate Road but almost nobody did. On the second lap, I caught up with Dan from the club. The course was getting fairly quiet towards the end and Farhad was cheering us all on, and taking photos, at the turnaround point.

The run

As I exited T2 I took stock of my overall time. It was unlikely that I would be able to go under three hours, a goal that I missed by 15 seconds at Allerthorpe Classic last year. I would have to run a 49-minute 10km and that seemed to big an ask.

But I decided to run hard anyway. I suspected that the course was slightly shorter than 10km, at least as Garmin would measure it, and it was mostly downhill. So, I thought if I put myself in the position to be around that time, I would see what happened.

Once I made it to The Headrow there was lots of support: members of the club, my family and many people who were already turning out to watch the elite races. As I came down The Headrow at the 8km mark I realised I was at 2:50:00, giving me ten minutes to complete the final two kilometres. This was by no means in the bag because I had to run up The Headrow, and the distance on my watch could be inaccurate, but it was looking good.

It was only as I rounded the final corner that I knew I was going to go sub-3.

The result

My official time was:

2:58:00

Putting me 48th in the 57 that entered the Yorkshire Championship. Not quite a qualifying time yet! But there were four Harriers behind me, so not the lanterne rouge, either. That breaks down to:

Section Time
Swim 39:25
T1 8:32
Bike 1:19:04
T2 4:02
Run 46:59
Total 2:58:00

An eight-minute transition sounds awful. But even Naomi, who qualified for the European age-group championships last year, took five minutes due to the amount of running.

46:59 on the run is a superb time for me. My personal best 10km is 47:39, that I set at Wetherby triathlon last year. This could represent a new fastest time, then. That said, my Garmin measured it as 9.86km, which, if accurate, means a proper 10km would have taken me another minute. And it was mostly downhill.

As ever, my running outshines the other disciplines: I set the 26th fastest time on the run, which puts me on the top half.

I’m really pleased to have gone under three hours at the standard distance for the first time.

Well done to all of the other Hyde Park Harriers who raced, too. I know so many of you achieved huge PBs. And overall wins, too: Amy and Cat took first and second prize in the women’s Yorkshire Championship.