Chris Worfolk's Blog


Christmas Cracker 16k

December 7th, 2021 | Sport

I’ve had an amazing triathlon season this year and so it was only fair that I had a difficult off-season. Not long after I recovered from my first cold I picked up a second one which was one of the worst I have had. It’s a cold, so that’s still not bad in the grand scheme of things, but still kept me from training for 10 days.

By the time the Grim Up North Christmas Cracker rolled around, I couldn’t wait to get running again. But I was also concerned that after two weeks of not doing much I wouldn’t perform too well. Sunday turned out to be surprisingly mild and I went leggings and a t-shirt for what I hoped to be a fast-paced affair. I managed a 10-minute warm-up and a breakfast of Red Bull and energy gel.

Nobody seemed keen to lead out so I set off from the front and led the race for the first 50 metres. Another athlete then came past me. Joel then overtook us both and I followed him through to take back second place. He accelerated away building about a 30-second lead over the first few kilometres and then the gap stabilised. I was running on the limit but decided to push hard to halfway and then ease up on the way back.

I was maybe closing the gap a little at the halfway point before Joel put the hammer down on the way back and re-opened the gap. I was running with a blister on my left foot but thankfully the pain in my chest was so overwhelming that my foot pain was very manageable in comparison. The gap established again and I crossed the line 30 seconds down and 3 minutes ahead of third place.

1:10:31

I was hoping to average somewhere between 4:20 and 4:22 per kilometre and I came in at 4:21. This was my first ever second place, besting the third place I picked up at the Hubble Bubble half marathon a month ago.

Since COVID, Grim Up North have been splitting the events over two separate races, one on the Saturday and one on the Sunday. If I had run on the Saturday, I would have been three minutes clear of the field and the winner from Saturday would have not made the podium in our race. But that’s the luck of the draw. All we can do is our best and know that the more times we do that, the luckier we will get.

Post-race care was good as usual: they had a BBQ on for this event a well as the usual sweets and drinks.

Frank Williams, 1942-2021

November 30th, 2021 | Life

When I first started watching Formula One, it was a story of Michael Schumacher and Benneton vs Damon Hill and Williams. Schumarcher was the better driver but Hill had the better car: the unbeatable Williams car led by team principal, Frank Williams. Of course, it was beatable, which is what made it exciting.

Dad’s 250th parkrun

November 22nd, 2021 | Family & Parenting, Sport

On Saturday, my dad completed his 250th parkrun. It’s taken us 7-8 years to reach the 250 club between holidays, conflicting races, injuries, etc but we’ve finally unlocked the best t-shirt (colour wise). Venla also completed her 5th junior parkrun over the weekend so a busy weekend for Worfolks at Temple Newsam.

Climbing

November 16th, 2021 | Sport

Fresh from watching Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold over lockdown, and bombarded with people telling me how climbing is the new thing, Elina and I went bouldering last weekend.

It’s pretty high. I know it’s only around four metres high, but that feels quite high when you are held up there by a pebble that is nailed to the wall. I did make it up to the top of one of the easy level routes though, so not a complete disaster of a first session.

Conducting interviews for tech course

November 11th, 2021 | News

Last month, I teamed up with my friends Peter and Tracey to put together a course on interview skills for candidates. We’re now pleased to announce our second course, Conduct Interviews, which trains IT and technical managers on how to interview candidates for tech roles.

Inside the course, we cover:

  • Interview styles and techniques
  • Technical tests and pairing exercises
  • Psychological safety and implicit bias
  • Giving feedback
  • Do’s and don’ts

If you want to learn more, you can preview the course here.

Sub-20 parkrun

November 7th, 2021 | Sport

A sub-20 5k has always seemed like one of those mystical things for club runners to me. Almost up there with a 3-hour marathon. It’s super fast and something I never thought I would get anywhere near.

Then Nike produced their super-shoes and in the first month of lockdown I took a minute off my PB to bring it down to 21:06 and it didn’t seem so far away anymore. But 66 seconds is still a lot of time to shed.

I made an attempt at it in April of this year but had to fail out 2 kilometres in when I realised I hadn’t set my watch up correctly (I turned on ultratrak which, despite the name, actually turns off GPS intermittently). Unfortunately, I had a small window before the 7in7 challenge and Evolve Trio and that was that.

Now it is November, the triathlon season is over, and I decided it was worth a crack before I dropped my training down over winter. It wasn’t the best start: my digestive system woke up unhappy which meant I marched up to the start not feeling great. But I thought I would give it a go anyway because perfect days don’t come along by accident very often; they’re made.

As such, I tried to go through all of the preparations for assuming it would be a good day. Carb-heavy breakfast of Frosties 90 minutes before, a caffeine energy gel 30 minutes before, I took my coat to keep my warm before the run, did a 15-minute warm-up and some activation exercises to get my body ready.

I got myself right on the start line to get a good position and ended up going out too hard. This was sort of the plan though as I didn’t want to get held up by other runners. And despite all this talk of negative splits, many PBs are run by someone running beyond themself in the first half and then somehow managing to hang on.

I clocked through the first kilometre in 3:48, so with some sliding room, but with it also being downhill and going out too hard. The second one was 4:08 but this wasn’t disheartening because I realised I had forgotten to turn GLONASS on for more accurate tracking and thus the course was likely to read short.

By the 2k mark, I was hurting and suspected my pace was unsustainable. I wanted to give up and walk so many times. There was wind. And the slight uphills feel like a lot when you’re already on your limit. I managed to go through kilometre three in 4:02 but the pain just got worse and my fourth kilometre was 4:17.

By this point, I didn’t really know where I was at. I knew I was behind the 4:00 per kilometre mark, but given my GPS was off, I felt like I was still in with a chance if I just kept the legs turning over.

As I got to the bottom of the final hill I checked my watch and saw I had 90 seconds left. It’s all a gradual hill but the first 2/3 is very gradual and the final 1/3 is a little steeper. I allocated 30 seconds to each section and knew that if I got to the bottom of the pivot point with 30 seconds to go, I could sprint to the finish.

I made it through ahead of that and opened up everything I had left. I closed the line in:

19:39

I had done it, I was a sub-20-minute runner!

My final kilometre was paced at 4:04 so about in line with the rest given the slight changes in elevation. My watch registered 4.83 kilometres meaning that the 4:04 pace it said I was running was actually more like 3:56.

My calves were screaming after I stopped. Even walking down the finish funnel was a strange limp of not bending my legs and they didn’t stop hurting for the rest of the day.

It turns out I wasn’t overestimating the pain I was in. My average heart rate for the run was 198 and it reached a maximum of 209. I’ve held an average of 190 before at the Abbey Dash, but it usually maxes out at 205 and I’m several years older now. As a little bonus, I was also 1st place in the VM35-39 category.

Thank yous: thank you to all of the marshalls that make parkrun possible. I try to thank them as I run past but today was just a head-down day with an occasional wave of thanks. I hope that’s understandable!

Birthday wishes: happy birthday to Poppy! I shamelessly went for a PB rather than joining the birthday run train and she still gave me a birthday biscuit. Also thank you to Anne for handing out the chocolate mini bites.

Hubble Bubble half marathon

November 2nd, 2021 | Sport

Hubble Bubble is a Grim Up North Running event that I first did at the ultramarathon distance in 2018. Since I got faster over lockdown and I’ve been wondering whether I could place at a smaller event. There were spreadsheets making predictions but the half marathon distance didn’t look impossible, but not was it likely.

It was raining heavily during registration and the race start which led to big puddles along the towpath.

I had the flu a few weeks ago and I can still feel it in my chest in a little so I don’t think I’m on top form yet. But I decided to give it a go and see how it went. As we set off a pack of four runners formed in front of me but I decided to follow the plan and give it 10-15 minutes before deciding whether I should continue to push.

As it happened, a few hundred metres in one of the runners ahead got fed up with the mud and puddles and turned around. I caught the third-place runner around two kilometres in. The front two disappeared off into the distance but in the remaining three kilometres I managed to put 30 seconds into fourth place.

My watch was no help. The GPS was way off and recorded a total distance of 18.5 km. I knew the canal so well that I knew it was way off but that meant I didn’t know how fast I was running. Garmin suggested I was running around 5:15 per kilometre but in reality, I was averaging 4:32. I just ran to feel (as usual).

I crossed the line in:

1:35:36

Four minutes behind the two front runners and just over five minutes in front of the fourth-place finisher. My first official placing! There were only 24 of us in the race but a podium is a podium. It also beats my previous half marathon PB, set at Outlaw X, by 12:13. I modelled a good run as 1:40:00 so very pleased with the time.

parkrun 250 t-shirt

October 30th, 2021 | Sport

Chuffed. I took me 21 months for my parkrun 100 t-shirt to turn up so I was super excited when this arrived just nine days after I did my 250th parkrun. The new set fee regardless of where you are in the world seems to be working well.

Abbey Dash 2021

October 29th, 2021 | Sport

I was hoping to set a new 10k PB at the Abbey Dash this year but then I picked up the flu the week before and spent the week in bed. When I got up on Sunday morning, I was still feeling exhausted and decided not to go. But then I looked at all of my previous blog posts from the Abbey Dash and decided not to break my streak.

So, I put plenty of warm clothes on and toddled around in:

1:04:57

23 minutes behind where I would have liked to have been but technically a finisher.

Well done to everyone else who ran, including Toby who achieved his first sub-35 and Will hook achieved his first sub-40. And thank you to everyone from HPH and beyond that was out cheering.

Leadership in Running Fitness

October 28th, 2021 | Sport

I’ve been looking to bolster my coaching with some additional training from British Athletics. To do this, you have to go through their entry-level qualifications to access them, regardless of your coaching background in other sports. While this would usually be a routine thing in normal times, it is a little more complicated during COVID times.

British Athletics’s strategy for dealing with COVID was to stop running in-person training and require people to film an activity and submit the video. I did not find this clear when I signed up (perhaps I didn’t read closely enough) but it shifted the responsibility onto us, even though we were in a lockdown at the time. Thus there was a three-month delay between doing the theory webinars and delivering some coaching.

After that, we also had to complete a safeguarding course, the same week as I was doing my British Triathlon safeguarding course, and complete a DBS check, all of which has now been done.

Therefore, I think I’m now a LiRF? It’s a bit messy working with British Athletics because they have Athletics Portal, and Athletics Hub, and DREAMS, and they don’t necessarily say the same thing.

Thank you Curtis for supervising and filming our practical, and Danni and Jonathan for teaming up for the group practical.