Chris Worfolk's Blog


Appalachian Trail virtual challenge

October 21st, 2021 | Sport

For the past six months, I’ve been cycling along the Appalachian Trail virtually. After 90 rides and 3,168 kilometres covered, I’ve finished! This was the longest Conqueror challenge until they added Pacific Crest and the last one I have on the go. Time to give my legs a break, I think!

250th parkrun

October 20th, 2021 | Sport

I’ve joined the 250 club! Thank you to all of the marshalls, my parents for coming over and running it with me, and everyone who hung around at Coffee on the Crescent for a chat after the run.

Goole Triathlon 2021

October 5th, 2021 | Sport

My 18th and final triathlon of the year was a family affair with my dad and my sister racing, as well as friends Tim and Sophie. Plus with Elina, Venla and my mum forming the cheering squad it was very social day.

If you are thinking that a triathlon in October sounds like a chilly affair, you would be correct. I had my leggings, Merino base layer, hoodie and coat on and I was still freezing. Still, there was some silver lining: it was dry which was a big improvement on the heavy rain when we went to cheer my dad on in 2019.

Registration was 6-7 am which meant getting up at 5 and driving over in the dark. I had to wait until the sun came up to get the stickers on my bike as I couldn’t see the edges of the sticker sheet. This meant standing around for three hours waiting for my 9:10 start time. Thankfully, the butty van eventually turned up at around 8 am.

The swim

400-metre pool swim. I was in lane one which allowed us a little more space for overtaking. I had to sprint past two athletes on my second length and then got tagged by an athlete halfway through who I then ended up sitting on the feet of for the rest of the swim. Not sure if it was poor pacing on his part of the benefit of drafting but either way I was on the poolside in 8:36 by my watch.

After clocking up an eye-watering 18:51 T1 at Dalesman, this was a faff-free affair and I was out of there in 54 seconds.

The bike

The bike course was pan flat. There was some wind. I didn’t mind the headwind so much, it was the crosswind that made me a little nervous on the aero bars as I had to lean the bike a little in the wind. My speed was not quite what I wanted, I think because I had to stop at multiple junctions to wait for cars, as well as having to stop for cars overtaking parked cars and slower cyclists.

When I left T1, I left my gloves and arm warmers as I felt warm enough. I felt fine throughout the bike but when I arrived in T2, getting my socks and shoes on proved difficult due to numb hands.

The run

Once I was onto the run, I felt great. It was a straightforward out and back route and I went through the first two kilometres in 4:02. I thought about trying to push on for a 5k PB but correctly guessed that the course might come up short. A lost a couple of seconds in the third kilometre working out which way to go but then held the pace for the rest of the run.

The result

I finished in:

1:04:23

Here are my splits:

Disipline Time
Swim 9:04
T1 0:54
Bike 34:14
T2 1:20
Run 18:53

The bike course measured around 18 k so I averaged 31.5 kph. The run came in at 4.68 km which translates to a 4:02 pace. The race winner was about 10 minutes ahead of me, taking 2 minutes in the swim, 6 minutes on the bike and 2 minutes in the run. Very happy with that.

For a brief period, I was 2nd on the leaderboard.

It’s done in swim-speed order so the faster athletes tend to go later. But even after everyone had finished, I was still 28 out of 148. That means nothing in my age group though as 6 of the top 7, including the race winner, were also in the male 35-39 group 😂.

Everyone else smashed it, too. My dad may well have run a 5k PB if it was full distance and Katie was running great, too. I went past her on the way out but she was still right behind me when I reached the turnaround: not bad for her first-ever sprint triathlon!

Swimming Mount Fuji

September 30th, 2021 | Sport

After finishing the English Channel swim and I wanted another challenge. But there wasn’t anything else in the sea so I’ve been swimming up a mountain for the past four months.

Outlaw X

September 29th, 2021 | Sport

Welcome to race 17 in the 2021 Worfolk Triathlon Series (WTS). Based in the beautiful grounds of Thoresby Hall, it was set up to be a lovely almost-season-ender rating alongside Graeme, Naomi, Amy and Lydia. And the weather even held out to kee the lake nice and warm too.

The plan

My previous two middle distance races, Sundowner and IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth were both 6:47 and change. I was 99% sure I could beat that. My spreadsheet had me about 6:10:00 so that was my stretch goal. But if things went better than expected sub-6 would be lovely so I set that as a super-stretch goal.

My estimate was based on a 46-minute swim and 3:15:00 bike, which I got by halving what I did Outlaw with a minute or two off the swim. The sounds pessimistic on the bike but Outlaw full was pan flat whereas this allegedly had 900 metres of climbing in it. Next, I took my Outlaw full marathon time (4:06:ish) and put it into the Run Less, Run Faster pace charts that suggested a 4:06:00 marathon runner could run a 1:57:00 half. Finally, I gave myself 7 minutes and 5 minutes for transition based on Graeme, Aron and Jack’s time from two years ago.

The swim

OBS promised us a weed-free swim. “We’ve cut a channel through the weeds,” they said. They had not. Or if they had, it was a very narrow channel. They were everywhere. Possibly they had cut them which is why there was so many floating around. On my arms, on my legs, but worse was on my face: they would cling to me and I had to pull them off to take a breath.

Worse, being at the back the swimmers are not always the best at pacing. And the lake, even in the centre, was hilariously shallow. As a result, some of my fellow swimmers would get fed up, stand and start walking at random intervals. Another swimmer would go super-hard for 15 metres, then have to stop, and just as I was going around him he would go again. And he did this for basically the entire swim.

Thankfully, the weeds did clear up on the final third of the swim and I was able to get into more of a rhythm. It is a beautiful lake when you don’t have a face full of weeds. And I came out of the swim in under 45 minutes.

Transition 1

No faffing! Not even a toilet break or a feed stop. Just bike gear on and on the move. It was a 400-metre run to transition and an additional run up to the mount line filled with slower athletes. It felt like a parkrun where I had failed to seed myself properly as I dodged around slower-moving competitors. Just under 7 minutes in total.

Bike

I started eating as soon as I got on the bike and managed to keep eating every 30 minutes. The bike course was flat. Although it supposedly contained 900 metres of evaluation gain, my bike computer only recorded 650 metres, most of which came at the end.

As a result, the first 70 was pan flat. I forgot that when someone from Yorkshire describes something as “rolling” and when someone from Nottingham says “rolling” they mean every different things. This was great. Me and my aero legs were rolling around at anywhere from 30-35 kph.

I stopped for a wee at the aid station 56 km in. Unfortunately, the sudden braking and veering off into a layby set the Garmin crash detection feature off. I didn’t realise what it was and so it ended up sending an alert to Elina. So, between queuing for a toilet, using the toilet and texting Elina to let her know I hadn’t crashed, I lost a few minutes.

The final 20 km was rolling and my narrow hold on a 30+ kph average speed evaporated. I found myself desperate sprinting up the hills and descending as fast as I could in an attempt to get it back. And it worked! I finished with 30.09 kph on my bike computer (that had auto-pause on).

Transition 2

I braked hard for the dismount line and this triggered Garmin’s incident detection again. This time I spotted it. I ran with my bike on one hand and my bike computer in the other as I tried to read the tiny on-screen text about how to cancel the alert. No luck. Worse, my phone signal died so the second message to Elins didn’t send. I only got a message through to her when Paul kindly lent me his phone after the race.

I treated myself to a gel on the way out and passed the timing mat in under 4 minutes.

The run

As I headed out onto the run course I checked my watch. Just under 4 hours! That gave me 2 hours to run a half marathon and go sub-6. The dream was on!

I went through the first kilometre in around 4:51. I knew if I could maintain a 5:00 per km pace I would finish in around 1:45:00, although more like 1:50:00 or more once I added in some aid station walks and 1-2 toilet stops. But I was also very aware that I felt okay for the first two kilometres of Outlaw before settling into 40 kilometres of hell.

The run course was beautiful. The sun was shining hard by this point but much of it was a train run through the woods with plenty of shade. I kept fueling with a gel, energy drink and coke on each lap. I managed to hold the pace fairly constant despite an increasing discomfort in my hip and my toes starting to rub.

Paul was cheering us all on each lap and I was heading out on each lap just as Graeme was coming back. I actually spotted him on the second lap. That’s very rare for me: poor Amy has endured years of me not spotting her on the canal even though we were running right past each other.

The finish

As I came towards the end, I knew I was going to make it under-6, significantly, and set a half marathon PB to boot. So, I did what I have been meaning to do for ages and dropped down to an easy walk at the finish chute. If there is one thing I have learnt from doing 3 full distance races this year, it’s that it is worth really enjoying that finish. Plus everyone from the club was there to cheer me home.

I finished in:

5:46:47

Here are my splits with my previous races for comparison:

Disipline Outlaw X Weymouth Sundowner
Swim 44:37 27:06* 50:20
T1 6:49 11:15 7:35
Bike 3:03:47 3:46:10 3:34:01
T2 3:45 11:44 7:12
Run 1:47:49 2:11:44 2:09:05
Total 5:46:47 6:48:01 6:48:13

Weymouth swim was cut in half as they could not get the buoys out, apparently, despite it being calmer than Redcar. So, an hour faster than both of those races! I was more than happy to be the last Harrier home given the awesome times everyone else put up as well.

After going long three times this year, racing at the middle distance felt more like short format. That doesn’t mean it is easy: short format means going hard and putting out as much power as possible. But there is a lot to love, too: no discipline takes too long, there is less time to get sick of your nutrition and you get to finish with plenty of daylight left and the bar still open.

For now, it’s time for me to put my feet up and relax. Until the season-closer next weekend.

Cognitive psychology course

September 23rd, 2021 | News

Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes. In this course, we will cover all of the core topics in cognitive psychology including perception, attention, memory, learning, language, decision-making, emotion and much more. We’ll also look at research methods and how neuroscience is allowing us to see inside the brain.

Preview the course on Udemy or watch the trailer below.

Ilkley Triathlon

September 21st, 2021 | Sport

Ilkley Triathlon was a record-breaker for me. But not one based on time or result.

If you have ever been to Ilkley, you may have noticed that there is very little flat around there. We did a course recce on Thursday and did a quick lap of the course. The climb is not too bad: it averages around 5% and is hard work but if you drop down to your lowest gears you can keep a high cadence. The downhill is rather steeper, though!

The swim was lovely for a pool swim. There were only two other people in my lane and the pool itself only had three lanes so there was plenty of space for overtaking if needed. I drafted Aron for the first six lengths before cutting the water for myself. I wasn’t entirely sure how to pace 500-metres but had a little something left to give so sped up for the final two lengths.

The bike course was three laps and each lap hurt the legs more than the previous one. the descent was steep enough that I did some comfort breaking. And it is comfort breaking: on the second lap I had just overtaken another cyclist and didn’t want to hold them up, so descended faster out of politeness 😂. That said, I actually set my maximum speed on the third lap.

It was getting warm by the run so I doused myself with a cup of water. Alas, there was no bin for it so I ended up tucking the cup down my tri suit until I could find a public bin on the course. As we headed up the hill I managed to overtake a bike: probably the first time I have done that! Coming down was probably the hardest bit of the course: the steep descent really went into my knees and the leaves on the pavement didn’t provide much confidence. As I rounded the final corner I realised I still had some to give so I decided to sprint to the finish.

My total time was:

1:12:38

And my splits were:

Disipline Time
Swim 11:26
T1 1:33
Bike 33:56
T2 1:40
Run 22:02

My final place was 74 out of 279. Top third is not bad.

Some interesting comparisons to The Dalesman. My swim time at Ilkley was 7 minutes faster than my T1 time at Dalesman and my total race time at Ilkley was 21 minutes faster than my swim time at Dalesman. I can see the appeal of short format!

In what way did it break a record? In 2019, I completed 15 triathlons. Ilkley was race 16 of the 2021 WTS (Worfolk Triathlon Series).

Thank you to everyone at LBT and beyond who volunteered, marshalled and generally made the event happen. It turned out to be a wonderfully social day with so many club members and friends there. Grahame and Paula didn’t even realise the race was on until they cycled past looking for ice cream. Thank you to Tony, Ralph and Naomi for the photos.

Chevin Forest parkrun

September 19th, 2021 | Sport

First time at Chevin Forest parkrun. It’s beautiful. Every time I go there I think I should go there more often. The parkrun course is pretty hilly but no worse than Temple Newsam. Muddy, though, even in summer, so it is going to be a challenging course in winter. Great to see plenty of fellow HPHers there, too. And I’ve increased my Wilson Index to 4.

Does the government really provide 30 hours free childcare?

September 18th, 2021 | Family & Parenting

The government claim to provide 30 hours of free childcare for children over three who have working parents. But this is not the case. We are getting somewhere around 5-15 hours per week. In this post, I will explain how it works.

How much childcare is provided?

The government say they provide 30 hours a week of free childcare. But’s more complicated than that.

First, it is only during school term time. There is nothing underhanded about I’m not sure how well known it is that it is only 38 weeks per year’s worth of childcare.

Second, it only starts the term after your child turns three. Our daughter was born in October, so the funding did not kick in from January.

Third, childcare providers often just deduct the funding from your regular bill. And the government funding is not £5.28 per hour.

Fourth, childcare providers sometimes charge you more for using government funding. In our case, they said that although our daughter attends full time because she attends part-time as a government-funded placement and part-time as a private placement, she is no longer eligible for the £55 per day rate, but instead must pay the £62.50 per day rate.

What was our original bill?

Our daughter was paying £55 per day, 5 days a week, 51 weeks a year, minus two training days. The days are 10.5 hours long. So, we were paying £14,025 per year and getting 253 days in total, which is 2,656.5 hours. Thus, we were paying £5.28 per hour.

What does this look like with funding?

Because we are now on the higher tariff, our annual bill is now £15,937.50. The government provide £4.30 per hour in funding (£4.36 from April 2020), so this meant autumn term (not eligible), winter term (360 x £4.30 = £1,1548), spring term (360 x £4.36 = £1,569.60).

That’s a total of £3,117.60, which comes off our bill of £15,937.50. So, the final bill is £12,819.90. Remember that our original bill was £14,025.00, so this has reduced our bill by £1,205.10.

We calculated our fees at £5.28 per hour, so based on this the government are paying for 228.2 hours, which spread across the 51 weeks is 4.5 hours a week. Or, if you want to argue that it should only count for school term time weeks, we can divide it by 36, in which case the government is providing 6.0 hours per week.

For the next academic year, we should be eligible for funding for all three terms. So, 36 weeks x 30 hours x £4.36 means £4,970.40. £15,937.50 minus £4,970.40 is £10,967.10. That is a reduction of £3,057.90 from our original bill of £14,025.00, which is 579.1 funded hours of childcare, or 11.4 hours per week over 51 weeks, or 15.2 hours per week over 38 weeks.

Therefore, even with the most liberal interpretation, I believe the government are only providing less than half the amount of free childcare they claim to be.

Are they allowed to do this?

That’s not clear. We spoke to our MP, who was helpful but ultimately had to refer us elsewhere. We spoke to the Department of Education who said it was down to local councils to manage the funding. And we spoke to Leeds City Council who said they were not going to do anything about it.

The issue is that the rules are unclear. They cannot charge parents for using the 30 hours, but they can charge whatever they like for any additional time. And they can charge for “extras” like food and nappies. So, if they provide the 30 hours for free but then the money for the extra time you spend there is magically the same as if they had just deducted the funding from your regular bill, well, that is certainly a crazy coincidence.

Why don’t you go somewhere else?

Because we have no option. There are only two daycares near where we live (including the one we use, so one alternative) and you cannot just walk up to them and sign up: they often have long waiting lists. There is not an abundance of childcare available so you have to take what you can get and pay whatever they ask. Hence why we all spend over £1,000 a month on childcare.

What should change?

If you have followed the maths so far in this article, you are doing really well. It is complicated to work all of this out to the point where many parents may not even realise what is happening.

I myself have already had to redo the figures once because I calculated it on 36 weeks of funding. This is because our childcare provider said there are 12 weeks available in winter and spring. But the government website said there are 38 weeks per year available. I have therefore assumed that autumn (the term we missed out on) will provide 14 weeks of funding. But neither the government nor our childcare provider has confirmed this.

The current process is too complicated for parents to understand and needs to be made clearer.

Second, the difficulty is that childcare is not a profitable business. We could ban childcare providers from charging these additional top-ups fees but the most likely outcome is that the childcare providers would simply stop out of of the government-funded places and we would just have to pay their private fees.

Therefore the government needs to offer a realistic amount of funding. If it costs £5.28 per hour to run a daycare, £4.36 per hour (around 17% less) is not enough.

Third, childcare providers should be banned from profiting from the funding. Even if they just took the government funding and deducted it from our bill, we could probably live with that and blame the government for not providing enough funding. However, as we get moved onto the higher tariff, the childcare provider is charging us £1,912.50 per year more than if we were not using the funding.

Conclusion

The government claim to provide 30 hours of free childcare. But, in reality, parents can expect somewhere between 5 and 15 hours of free childcare per week depending on how it is calculated.

Best tri tops

September 17th, 2021 | Life

I have been trying to find a new tri top as they don’t make my current tri top anymore. They have a slightly different model but with one fewer pockets (my current one has three!). So, I have been hunting for the best tri tops with a high UFP rating and enough pockets for all of my snacks.

Orca 226

This is my current top of choice. Good shoulder stretch and three pockets at the back. It does bounce up and down a bit, though, so could use some grip at the bottom. Also, the zip only goes halfway down which probably helps with comfort but makes it a little less practical. It has UPF 50.

Castelli Free Speed

This looks nice but is only UPF 16.

Zone3 Lava

I bought this but it has one big pocket at the back and when I put my phone in it, it bounced up and down like crazy. The shoulders also felt a little constricted. UPF 50, though.

Zone3 Aquaflo

I ruled this one out because it does not mention a UPF rating, which means it will probably be bad.

Pactimo Summit

I ruled this out because it has a single mesh pocket at the back.

Huub RaceLine

I ruled this could because I couldn’t work out where the pockets were. It says it has nutrition pockets but I am not sure what that means. It has UPF 30 but it is not clear whether that is all over or just on the shoulders and upper arms.

Roka Elite Aero

I ruled this out because it does not state a UPF rating.

Santini Cupio

This looks like a real option and has UPF 30 but was not available from any UK supplier I was familiar with. You can buy it directly from Santini but shipping is £20 and there may be import taxes on t top of that.

Santini Audax

I ruled this out because it does not state a UPF rating.