Chris Worfolk's Blog


Electronic textbooks

April 20th, 2018 | Life

Academic textbook publishing seems like a right racket to me. Take the above book, for example. It’s an electronic textbook in Leeds Beckett’s collection. You’ll notice they have three copies. It’s electronic, but they have presumably had to buy three copies to allow multiple people to read it at once.

Facebook ad fail of the week

April 19th, 2018 | Business & Marketing

Live Strong is back with a new ad this week. They’re not suggesting I’m over 40 this week, but it still seems a strange use of your advertising budget to show me this.

Skipton Triathlon

April 18th, 2018 | Sport

Skipton triathlon is often considered the first triathlon of the season and claims to be the UK’s largest pool-based triathlon with around 900 people registering to take part. For me, it represented my first professional distance event: I’ve done a lot of mini triathlons but this was my first chance to get my teeth into an hour-plus race.

I arrived two hours early to give myself plenty of time to faff around and get comfortable. The car park is Skipton auction mart, where we make our annual pilgrimage to Yarndale. It feels like the only bit of Skipton I ever get to see.

Despite all of my preparation, I made some silly mistakes. Foremost of them was leaving my goggles hanging on my handlebars: something I only realised once I was sitting at the poolside ready to go. I also forgot to vaseline all of the key areas and managed to misplace my energy gels. However, none of this was fatal to my race and I finished ahead of my target window of 1:45 to 2 hours.

1:34:02

This breaks down to 9:36 for the 400m the swim, 5:46 in T1, 53:05 for the 22km bike, 1:56 in T2 and 23:40 on the 5km run.

I’m pretty happy with all of that. 9:36 in the swim suggests I should swim without my goggles the whole time: perhaps some improvement is needed in my technique. 5:46 in T1 is a long time. But it didn’t feel like I was messing about: it just takes time to get your shoes and socks on, and I would rather take care of my toes than shave a few seconds off.

53:05 on the bike represents an average moving speed of 25.6 km/h. This certainly isn’t the 40 km/h the pros race at but given I often struggle to hold 21-22, I’m happy with the result. I was expecting the course to be hillier than it was as the GPS said 240m of climbing but it was actually only half that. 23:40 is only 32 seconds slower than my Parkrun PB, so no problems with the run.

For comparison, the winner finished in 57:26, so 36:36 quicker than me. I was 368th out of a total field of 759 that made it to the end. The lantern rouge finished in 3:35:13.

The event was very well organised. At every point there was an army of volunteers helping out with registration, poolside, checking people in and out of transition and marking the route. The event starts at 8:00am and the last person doesn’t finish until around 4:30pm, so the volunteers do an amazing job.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

April 13th, 2018 | Books

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel by Audrey Niffenegger, and a rare gift of one at that.

Like most great novels, it is a love story. In this case between Clare Abshire, a normal and well-to-do girl, and Henry DeTamble, a man who suffers from chrono-impairmen, which causes him to time travel randomly and unpredictably, living him to fight for his life in a variety of situations.

It sounds like science fiction, and technically it is. But it’s not for science fiction fans, so if sci-fi isn’t your thing, don’t let that put you off. It’s a love story through-and-through with interesting philosophy thrown in to boot.

I can’t honestly say I was gripped the whole way through. At first, the ideas are novel, which keeps it interesting. But, the middle of the novel dragged for me. I had to put in some willpower to keep reading.

The effort was well rewarded, though. The ending is powerful, moving and bittersweet. I don’t really do crying, but if anything came close, this was about it. If you enjoy fiction, this is well worth a read.

Bramley Baths triathlon

April 12th, 2018 | Sport

Last weekend, I headed back to Bramley Baths for another Go Tri event. The first was an indoor triathlon that took place in February. This one was a more traditional affair with the bike and the run outdoors.

The distances were a 230m swim, 5km bike and 1.5km run.

We set off in waves three minutes apart. I was in the third wave. The swim went well. I was 5:30 despite getting stuck behind someone else, which suggests I should easily be able to hit the 11:00 minute target at sprint distance.

The first transition took two minutes. Seems okay given I had to dry my feet and get my shoes and socks off. But now all of my stuff is covered in talc.

The bike was a mixed bag. I forgot to stop my watch until I had racked my bike, so although my average speed is 21.1 kmph, I think it was actually more like 23 if I had recorded it properly. In general, it feels like I overtook a lot more people than caught me.

The run was good. I was 4:25 per kilometre, which is a faster pace than my Parkrun PB. I overtook two people with no places conceded.

The results

I finished the race with a total time of:

27:53

Which translated to 8th out of a field of 31. The winning time was 23:45, with the first female home at 28:46 and the last person home at 51:48.

The event

Bramley Baths did an excellent job of organising everything. There were loads of volunteers including people lane counting in the pools, managing and helping out in transition and marshalling the bike and run courses.

Venla walking

April 11th, 2018 | Family & Parenting

Venla has been running around for a while now. She never stops. I’m tempted to attach my Garmin to her and see how many steps she does each day. Recently, though, we’ve moved up to walking outside. She has walked home from daycare a few times.

Coriander seeds

April 10th, 2018 | Life

The Schartz herbs and spices bottles are better than the Sainsbury’s ones. They’re taller and thinner, meaning that you can fit more of them within the same shelf space. The labels on the top are also clear.

But the Sainsbury’s ones are cheaper. And, in any case, Sainsbury’s have refused to stock the Schwartz ones anymore because they want people to buy their own brand ones. So, I buy the Sainsbury’s ones and re-fill my Schwartz bottle.

What is odd, though, is that Schwartz sell 20g bottles and Sainsbury’s sell 25g bottles. But, when you tip the 25g of Sainsbury’s coriander seeds into the 20g Schwartz bottle, they all fit in.

Parkrun #148

April 2nd, 2018 | Sport

The weather did not invite running. It had rained overnight and it was still raining when I woke up. Worse, I felt terrible. I normally feel pretty poor on the way there, but this time I had to walk some of the way there. Even my watch agreed that my condition this morning was poor.

Still, I had set off early so that I could start right at the front and I didn’t want to waste it. As the other people around me discussed whether it was too muddy to attempt a sub-17 or not, and prepared their starting stance (one leg bent, leaning slightly forward) I thought I would at least sprint off with them and see how it went.

As it turns out, not many people did come rushing past me. Although, this could be due to the reduced number of people that had braved the weather. I kept my pace just within the limits needed to set a new PB (personal best) and a gruelling five kilometres later I crossed the line, punching the air.

As it turns out, I was way ahead. Although I was only 10 seconds per kilometre ahead of where I needed to be, because I start my GPS at home and keep it running until then, it didn’t factor in that I ran the first section and the last section of Parkrun way above this pace.

I hadn’t just beaten my previous PB of 24:36, I had crushed it. It now stood at:

23:08

It almost seems too good to be true. But, reexamining my Garmin data, and comparing it to what I’ve been doing in training, it seems to fit. Indeed, potentially I could go faster: I wasn’t feeling great (though you often aren’t when you set a PB) and I had my rain jacket on. Or maybe I can’t: we’ll find out soon!

Here’s an updated graph:

Next week I may or may not be able to do Parkrun depending on whether it clashes with the Bramley Baths triathlon, and the week after that I will have to go easy in preparation for Skipton. So, it might be a while before I get to run another fast one. We’ll see how it compares.

Introducing Rent A Goat

April 1st, 2018 | Life

Are you looking for an eco-friendly way to remove weeds from your garden or land? Then look no further than Rent A Goat.

More advertising fails

March 31st, 2018 | Business & Marketing

Last month, I wrote about people wasting money on advertising. I said it happens a lot: and it does. Here are two more examples I found this month.

First, here is a Google AdWords advert by Treatwell. Except the page does not work.

And here is an advert from Live Strong. The link does work: it takes you to the article on tips for women over a 40. Bear in mind that you put the targeting parameters in when you create a Facebook ad. Facebook knows I a man under 40, so they could easily exclude me from seeing an ad I obviously have no interest it.