Chris Worfolk's Blog


My thoughts on 2019

January 3rd, 2020 | Life

I wrote my traditional year in review, which lists all the things that have happened over the year. But it doesn’t really talk about my feelings. So, here it is. It’s what my therapist would want and I’m a people-pleaser.

2019 has been a smash year. I became an Ironman, which has been my dream since I first heard about Ironman tow years before that. Which was one of 15 triathlons I did, alongside my second ultramarathon and 100-mile sportive. Still, I need to stay on top of my game now my dad is a triathlete, too.

I got my British triathlon coaching qualification, my Level 2 in counselling, and my masters graduation (although that was really a 2018 achievement). Leeds Anxiety Clinic has gone from strength to strength and I launched seven new courses via Worfolk Media, including doing a best-ever month that did twice the volume of sales any other month has done. Elina is making measurable progress with her accountancy career and my little girl is growing up into an actual person.

I’ve also mastered swimming front crawl. That’s massive. I never doubted my ability to run a marathon. It was just a matter when I could be bothered to do it. But front crawl was different. Because of my breathing issues, I genuinely believed that it was something that was impossible for me to do. But I kept trying and got the right routine, and the right support in place. And after getting in the pool day after day, I managed it. Which leaves me wondering: if this was possible, what other impossible things can I do?

Being an entrepreneur is definitely one. I’ve always thought I would make it eventually. But the negative voice in my head keeps telling me that it’s not for an introverted computer geek like me. I don’t have the sales skills or the stomach for risk or the natural talent required.

But that voice is being systematically eroded by two pieces of evidence. One is that I am an entrepreneur. I’ve now started three successful businesses. I’m not a millionaire with a private island. But I am building businesses. And the second piece of evidence: I can fucking swim front crawl, my friends.

Not everything in 2019 has been unicorns defecating rainbows. Being a dad is still really hard. Despite launching seven courses, most of them have performed poorly and growth hasn’t been what I hoped. It looks like the fate of Brexit was sealed, and the Tories look set to destroy one of my businesses, along with tens of thousands of others, as they continue their ten-year rampage of increasing taxes on small business. And I would like some extra time in the day to see friends.

Nor has it been a year of things coming easy. It’s shit getting on a turbo trainer three times a week. And getting in the pool three times a week to do something really hard. It’s shit getting up at 6am every morning to smash out work on my companies. To do uncomfortable things like sales, counselling and interpersonal development until you get good at it. But I’m learning to tolerate more and more discomfort in order to achieve the things I think are valuable.

2019 in pictures

January 2nd, 2020 | Photos

Elina’s birthday at kitty cafe.

The triathlon season kicks off in Skipton.

Map of my first 100-mile bike ride.

Mark Knopfler at Leeds Arena.

Finishing my first full distance triathlon.

Another Yorkshireman photo because a) it was an ironman-distance race, and b) Venla looks cute.

Masters graduation ceremony.

Group holiday in Weymouth.

Venla playing on the beach.

IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth finish line.

My dad completes his first sprint triathlon.

Venla’s 3rd birthday.

New 10k PB at the Abbey Dash.

2019 in review

January 1st, 2020 | Life

Much like in 2018, I started January 2019 with a running injury. Luckily, Dr Venla was on hand to help. I did some bike maintenance courses at Evans and Leeds Bike Mill and started commuting by bike. Worfolk Anxiety launched several new languages.

In February, Super Bowl LIII became the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history as Brady-Belichick set new heights with a record sixth win. The fourth version of the Rauma framework was released and Hyde Park Harriers triathlon launched their spin class.

We paid a long-awaited visit to the Kitty Cafe in March for Elina’s birthday. Then raced the LBT duathlon.

Finally, in April, race season arrived. There was another LBT duathlon and Skipton triathlon. I launched three new courses: one on public speaking, one on social psychology, and one on Facebook ads. I also spoke for Leeds Anxiety Clinic at the town hall, entitled “How to be incredibly productive, even when you have anxiety”.

I did a lot of cycling in May, including my first 100-mile ride and completing the Tour de Yorkshire long route with Bogdan. I raced Tadcaster triathlon, Driffield triathlon, and the open water swim season started. At home, we had Mexican month. Netherlands triumped in Eurovision and Finland took their third ice hockey world championship. We saw Mark Knopfler in Leeds Arena and relaunched Sunday Assembly Leeds.

I had one mission in June: to complete my first long-distance triathlon. And I did! 14:35:12. I also went sub-three hours at World Triathlon Leeds and completed my second 100-mile ride at The Flat 100. Meanwhile, everyone was arguing when Eid was. Did I mention I became an Ironman?!?

England was on top of the world in July, winning the cricket world cup. I completed Allerthorpe sprint triathlon, Castle Howard triathlon, and Redcar triathlon. My dad completed his first Go Tri and I finally got my masters graduation ceremony. For most of the month, I will still pretty sore from doing my ironman, to be honest.

In August I ran my second ultramarathon (and made a film about it!). I also completed the Alltherope Classic triathlon, Coalville triathlon, and Sundowner sprint triathlon. I launched a new course, Mindfulness for Productivity and the Resilient website.

We took a long-awaited group holiday to Weymouth in September (the first since Anglesey three years ago) and I also used the opportunity to complete IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth. I also completed Nidderdale triathlon and Evolve sprint triathlon. Jimbob paid us a visit from America. I launched two new courses: Feel-good Productivity and Mindfulness & Visualisation for Athletes. The triathlon season finally ended with the Evolve mixed team relay and the cycling world championships came to Harrogate.

It was marathon month in October with Eliud Kipchoge running the first sub-two-hour marathon and Brigid Kosgei setting a new women’s world record in Boston. Her time of 2:14:04 beat Paula Radcliffe’s record that had stood for 16 years. Venla celebrated her third birthday and my dad completed his first sprint triathlon in Goole.

In November I completed my Britis Triathlon coaching certification and completed my level two counselling qualification. I set a new 10k personal best at the Abbey Dash and finally made a breakthrough with my front crawl. I launched my biggest course ever: Sport Psychology for Triathletes.

Finally, in December, I reached my first yogaversary while the 49ers continued their long-overdue winning streak. There was an election, it was Christmas and we finished off the year by completing our third Festive Fifty cycling event in a row.

Festive Fifty 2019

December 31st, 2019 | Sport

The Festive Fifty has a special place in our hearts because it was the first sportive that Bogdan and I did. It needs that special place because otherwise who else would be mad enough to do a sportive in winter?

Plus, this year we had a super-domestique on the form of Jon. He warned us that he was going to be taking it easy and on his slower winter bike, but we still struggled to hold his wheel. This was also the first year we stepped up to the 80km route (50 miles).

The ride itself was a mixed bag. I’ve switched to an ISM saddle and it is pretty good for being down on the aero bars but terrible for being sat upright. I had to ride a lot of the course on my drops to get my body tilted forward enough to relieve some of the pain. The 40-50km stretch was tough; after that, it started to ease up. The first 50km was almost pan flat. Then we got a few hills, although I use hills in a very loose term.

The photographer came out of nowhere, hence looking at my computer at the time.

My clothing worked well. Under Armour winter base layers with a gabba and rain cape over the top. Pretty quickly I had to take the rain cape off. My toes stayed toasty, too. Unfortunately, my new Sealskinz gloves broke almost immediately.

Our average speed was 26.3 kph: quite a lot faster than we tottered around at 23 kph last year. It was not as busy as last year, which is a shame, especially for the children who now won’t be able to afford heart surgery (the event was a fundraiser for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund).

Nice company, and a nice way to round out the year. Now to wash my bike…

Christmas 2019

December 30th, 2019 | Life

It’s been a busy Christmas this year. We’re old now so time moves really fast. Plus, between Elina’s new job and me being busy at work, we’re not taking much time off. So, it has all been compacted into a small space.

Venla helped with the tree decorating this year. She did a great job, even if most of the baubles are at a Venla-eyeline height.

Elina wouldn’t let me by the biggest Christmas ham this year, nor would it have fitted into the oven, so we had to settle for a 9kg one.

Christmas jumper

December 29th, 2019 | Life, Photos

I’ve never really had a Christmas jumper. I have a Finnish jumper, with raindeer on, that I trot out each Christmas to join in the festivities. But ideally, Christmas jumpers should be horribly loud garish.

When I saw this one, I couldn’t resist:

It reads:

All I want for Christmas is the means of production

For those who do not recognise the quote, that is a reference to Karl Marx.

Of course, there is a huge amount of irony in someone taking the work of Marx, commoditising it into a jumper that they have then sold me using a global marketplace like Facebook. But surely Marx himself saw this coming?

The 49ers are hot again

December 28th, 2019 | Distractions, Sport

Back in the day (like ten years ago) the 49ers were good. We had Jim Harbaugh at the helm and he was ace. He took us to the championship game consistently, and almost won the 2013 Super Bowl.

Then we went 8-8 and the 49ers fired him. And we entered the dark ages. 5-11 under Jim Tomsula, 2-13 under Chip Kelly, and 6-10 and 4-12 under Kyle Shanahan. Luckily, by the third coach in three years (we’re the only NFL team to ever do that), they decided it might be best to pick one coach and give him a chance.

Third season in and Kyle Shanahan’s team is on fire. We went 8-0, with the only unbeaten team being the Patriots, and even our losses have been close: a missed field goal in overtime allowed the Seahawks to finally deliver us a loss. And the Ravens and Falcons only managed to take the lead at the last minute.

So, it’s great to be a 49ers fan again.

With one distinct downside. I pay a lot of money for NFL GamePass, which allows me to stream all of the games. However, Sky Sports show two on Sunday evenings and these are blacked out on GamePass. When we were crap, nobody wanted to show our games. But now we’re got again, Sky Sports are once again showing the 49ers games. You can’t have it all, I guess.

Hyde Park Harriers cycling gear

December 27th, 2019 | Sport

As Hyde Park Harriers Triathlon continues to grow, we’ve been expanding our club kit.

I was a little worried about ordering because when I ordered my tri suit, it took months to turn up and I missed a lot of races. However, I did get a full apology, and ultimately the club decided to stay with our current provider. It’s a monopoly, so it was either take the chance or not be able to wear the club kit.

This time things have been better: it turned up just before Christmas meaning I had it in time for the Festive 50. And it looks pretty snazzy. Yeah, I’m old, “snazzy” was a word when I was a kid.

I haven’t worn the jersey on a ride yet as I also picked up a Gabba in the Black Friday sales (and Elina has now bought me a long-sleeved jersey for Christmas, too), but I have been wearing the arm warmers which seem to do a good job.

Roll on summer when the club rides start again.

Swim, swim, swim

December 26th, 2019 | Sport

I have been pretty quiet over the past few months because I have been busy with a lot of stuff. I’ll blog about most of that, but one thing I have been putting a lot of time into is my swim.

I have problems breathing through my nose, and so for many years, I thought it was going to be literally impossible for me to do a good front crawl. I was going to focus on it last year, but then I signed up for The Yorkshireman and prioritised improving my cycling.

This off-season finally gave me the opportunity to nail it down. This included private lessons at The Hilton and their silly 14-metre pool, working with my previous coach, Lucia, and workshops with Jack Maitland as well as one booked in for next year with Morgan Williams.

But mostly it has involved a commitment of getting in the pool three times a week for the final three months of the year. That’s a lot of swimming, as well as a lot of walking to and from the pool, washing my hair and trying out my kit ready for the next swim.

The effort has paid off, though. From feeling exhausted after 100 metres, I found I could confidently swim 400 metres, and then 1,500 metres. These are important milestones because these are the two distances that come up most often: pool-based sprints and standard distance open water events.

Most of all, though, it is a testament to anything being possible if you have enough perseverance. By and large, if you do a thing enough times, you will get there.

Abbey Dash 2019

December 26th, 2019 | Sport

I love the Abbey Dash as it is a great chance to get together with the running club over a few beers. It’s almost a shame there has to be a run before it.

My 10km run PB was in a strange place. Officially, it was 49:47, set at the 2017 dash. But in 2018 I ran 47:36 at Wetherby Triathlon and 47:12 at World Triathlon Leeds this year. Where they short? Too down hill? Or just my best runs?

I wanted to put that question to rest and so resolved to go out at 47-minute pace. The 22:30 ai ran at parkrun the week before suggested I should be able to run a 47:04 but I was worried that a year of Ironman had eroded my top-end speed.

The weather is always cold so this year I came prepared. The day before I popped down to a charity shop and bought a hoodie to wear before the race. There was a little rain before the race, but otherwise cold and sunny: PN conditions.

This year, the start moved from Wellington Street to The Headrow. Julie says this is the way it used to be. This meant cutting out the congestion point around Cardigan Fields. No speed bumps to jump this year.

My target pace was 4:42 per kilometre. My first km was downhill and came in at 4:32 but I then slowed down to 4:49 for the second. I tried to pick the pace up but couldn’t and slipped a few more seconds behind all of the way to the abbey.

I went around the turn at 23:40, ten seconds behind target pace. I was hurting and wanted to give up, but convinced myself that it might get easier, and even if it didn’t, I wanted to get as close to those triathlon times as possible: 47:10 would still be a PB after all.

The return journey starts with a downhill and I put in a 4:30 kilometre. After that, I didn’t slow down. Harriers kept screaming my name. I was head down racing, it thank you to everyone who did: I did hear you!

By kilometre seven and eight ai had realised that I was slightly ahead and just needed to keep it going. That was a scary prospect given there was a slight climb to The Headrow but I hoped I could rely on the adrenaline of being so close to keep me going.

I kept checking my watch to try and hit the perfect pace. I did not want to go too hard and blow up. I turned on the Galileo tracking (Europe’s GPS satellites) and my watch was pretty spot on with the distances.

As I crossed the line, I stopped my watch and looked down. It read 46:12. I couldn’t believe it. I have no idea where I found that minute. My official time came through via text 30 minutes later.

46:11

I am happy with that. It represents the fastest 10km I could run right now. I paced myself the whole way, pushed hard and kept a consistent heart rate of around 190 bpm.

Thank you to everyone on the route that was cheering us along.

Since the event, it has turned out that the course was 23 metres short. Even with an additional 23 metres, it would still be a PB, so I’m counting it.