parkrun milestones

Three years after my first parkrun, I finally cracked the 50% age grading today! I shaved more than a minute off my PB on this course (set last May!) and was almost 2 and 1/2 minutes faster than my best time this year. Such a great start to the weekend. One of the most positive, friendly and encouraging community events I’ve ever been part of.


Find a parkrun near you and check it out! Despite the name, you don’t have to run – walkers are also accepted and welcomed! And it’s free. All it will cost you is a bit of time and effort to register and print a personalised barcode. After that, all you do is turn up to any parkrun IN THE WORLD with that same barcode for a free, timed, 5km run/walk. Just remember to check local start times as it does vary from one event to another.

068 - 4th March 2017 - Tamworth parkrun 38, New PB Sub 31 50 age grade

I mistimed my wave at the photographer and I think I might have been trying to talk to her as well. Approximately 3.5km into today’s parkrun.

This run was my last “effort” run before the half marathon next weekend. The other runs this week have been a bit tough. They were short but my legs were feeling a bit heavy. I was quite surprised by the result today. I had done a 1km ‘warm up’ before driving to parkrun and that was very slow. I don’t usually do a warm up run so there might be something to that…

The week before last though when I ran my 30 minute 5km also included a 200m swim PB, a local club tri PB and my long run on the Sunday resulted in an unofficial 3 minute half marathon PB as well. I say unofficial because it wasn’t in a race but it’s on my garmin and strava so maybe that’s official after all.

I feel much better prepared going into this race than I did the last one (which wouldn’t really be hard). I am not-so-secretly hoping to crack the 2 hour 30 minute mark for the race. This was my goal for the Gold Coast Half Marathon in 2015 but I haven’t made it yet. I ran 2:35 last weekend on my own so I’m quietly confident that if the weather plays nicely, the race atmosphere will help me get there. (I also won’t have done a triathlon 12 hours before starting the race…) The course is a 3 lap out and back type and I know quite a few people who will be there so it will be nice to see friendly faces. It’ll be like parkrun on a huge scale. And 4 and a bit times as long.

On a completely different note, I also ventured onto the new volcano route in Zwift. The designers for this cycling “game” are so creative. Who would think of riding through a volcano? They’ve released another route up the volcano in the last couple of days which I haven’t tried yet.


The low wattage outputs (top left) are when I was too busy trying to get
nice screenshots to bother pedalling.


The year so far

I am still saying “no”. Anything that requires me to do something or be somewhere more than once at a particular time is getting a blanket “no”. All year.

Okay, so I thought I might post more often because I’m not as busy but it has been soooooo nice just doing my training, pottering around the flat, reading a huge number of books and basically relaxing.

I had no idea how much pressure I had put myself under. I enjoyed doing all most of things I was doing. That’s why I had said yes to doing them in the first place. Now that I’m NOT doing them, I don’t miss them and I seem to finding the right head space to push harder in my training sessions, hoping for improvement rather than being satisfied if I manage to finish.


Running in the early morning before the sun comes out certainly suits me better.

The benefits have been multi-faceted. I am losing weight (and more importantly, body fat)! I am feeling stronger on the bike (power to weight ratio improves as weight decreases). I am swimming faster (less drag). I am running further and faster (just as well since my next half marathon is just over two weeks away in lovely Port Macquarie).

I am still seeing the sports dietician every 3 weeks to keep me accountable (okay, that doesn’t count in my “no commitments plan).

One of the main swimming tips I took away from the January camp was breathing out through my nose instead of my mouth. This has made a huge difference. I don’t get out of breath as quickly, I am not as bloated after a swim session and I’m not as ravenously hungry afterward either. I’ve even been surprised sometimes to find that my set is finished rather than struggling to make it through the full plan.


At Tamworth parkrun recently.

I have been struggling a bit on my Sunday long runs so have opted to volunteer at parkrun from last weekend until the race. Last Sunday I managed to run 16.5km without stopping for a walk. I’ve even learned how to sip water and eat while running. Somewhere in the middle of that run, I ran my fastest ever 10km.


At Tamworth parkrun again.

On Tuesday I did a 6km run and realised that at some point over the last few months, a 6km run has become a short run. How and when did that happen? About 4km into this run my legs reminded me that I’d run 16.5km two days before. I struggled through the next 2km then had to tackle a small hill back home. I almost turned around to do the last km on the flat but would have had an extra long walk home and I would have been late for work. I trudged up the hill and was surprised to see that I’d actually averaged 6:24 pace for the whole run. Faster than any of my recent runs, even parkrun has been slower than that for 5km. The cooler temperatures early in the morning help. I do not enjoy running in the heat but I’m trying to work through that too. In that run, I did my second fastest 5km ever (31:38). My fastest is 31:16. (At some point I claimed to have done a 30:34 but I realised afterward that my watch hadn’t actually connected to GPS so I think it was averaging something.) And those two tough kilometres? I was running at 6:15-6:20 pace. No wonder my legs were screaming.


Self-timer through the weeds.

This morning, I set out for an easy 5km. This might sound weird, but for the first time I felt like I looked like a runner. Usually I feel like if anyone looks at me they’d think “oh well, good on you for having a go”. I have no logical basis for this. About 3km in I realised a 30 minute 5km was within my grasp, I was averaging about 5:58 and anything faster than 6:00 would get me under 30 minutes. I scraped the 4th kilometre in at 5:54 but then I needed to walk. And stop and spit (which I NEVER do). Then I sprinted a bit to try to get average pace back under 6:00, then walked, then sprinted and so on. Until I hit 5km with an all-out push and my watch said I averaged 5:59. YAY! But when it uploaded into the app it was 6:00. Strava kindly deducted the time I’d spent trying to spit and wipe dribble and gave me an average pace of 5:58 and a time of 29:56. However, if I add up my 5 km splits from garmin, my time was exactly 30:00, to the second. So, I am claiming today as a 30 minute 5km and will save the sub-30 for another day.


Thank you strava!

Rest day tomorrow, then local club tri Saturday night before a 21km run on Sunday. I won’t be running either of those at 6:00 pace I don’t think.

New records

I have also decided to go back to running in my Altra zero drop shoes rather than the other shoes the running shoe shop recommended for me. I thought they were great when I first got them, but I do really like the extra toe room in the Altras. I have bought another pair which don’t resemble ten-pin bowling shoes as much as these ones.


If you’ve made it this far – thank you for persevering.

I passed!

I passed the first test. I was asked to participate in a new women’s group that is starting up. Something I am actually interested in and ordinarily would have said yes. But I said no! I wished them well and said I hope it is still going next year so I can join in then.


It was my first day back at work today after 3 weeks off. The office was closed that whole time so I had a crazy day working through a backlog of emails and phone messages.

However, I came home, hopped onto Zwift for 30 minutes, had some dinner, and found myself with an entire evening looming ahead with absolutely no obligations, deadlines, must-dos or should-dos.


The Zwift mountains reminded me of the rides around Jindabyne just two weeks ago. Except I was on the wrong side of the road today!

This feeling of “free time” is WONDERFUL! I’ve known for a long time that something had to give. I’m so glad I finally made it happen and I am excited for what 2017 will bring.

That is all.


2017 Jindy Training Camp

I survived the training camp at Jindabyne. What a relief. 


Climbing to the top of Mt Kosciuszko

Completing my longest bike ride to date. There were some rests in this time.

Riding from Little Thredbo to Thredbo and back. I walked up 3 or 4 hills.

Where to for 2017?

Half marathons in March and September

Sprint triathlons in May and October
How will I do it? Careful planning, time management and no excuses. 

Over the past two years I have been deliberately removing possible excuses from my life.

I replaced my shoe laces with elastic laces so I have no reason to stop and check/tie laces when running.

We have downsized our home from 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2 acres of grass to a small 2 bedroom flat in a duplex (less cleaning, less tidying, fewer belongings). 

I am no longer on any committees.

I have no regular commitments other than work. I don’t usually make new year resolutions but this year I am determined to avoid being too busy to do grocery shopping and cooking. If asked to do anything requiring regular attendance, whether 2 weeks or 6 months, my answer will be no. Just for 12 months. 

My theory is that this will mean fewer late night deadlines which in turn will hopefully result in fewer skipped morning training sessions. More consistent training, better eating and time to reconnect with family and friends at short notice.

It will be hard, I’m sure. I thought I would have time to commit to posting regularly on this blog but that’s another commitment. I will probably post more often but I won’t be committing to a regular schedule. 

No excuses left! 

2016, where are you? 

It is hard to believe that it’s already late on 2nd January 2017. 2016 has flown. 

In October I signed up for the Forster Sprint triathlon at the last minute. I still wasn’t feeling great and training was ordinary but this was just for fun. No expectations. 

I was happy to see one of the official photos showing me actually leaning into a corner!

Then at the end of November, I completed my second half marathon (Central Coast). The course was out and back and hugged the coastline of the bay. It was hot though and I am still struggling to get back to where I was with my running. I went into the race with a plan to run 5 minutes then walk 1 minute. Unfortunately, I was stuck near a group running together. I think it was wonderful that they were all out there supporting each other but they were using both sides of the path and I had to sprint to pass them. Then when I got to my walks they would pass me again. I eventually managed to get far enough ahead by skipping a couple of walks but I overdid it. 


My original goal for Sydney was 2:20. My modified would-be-super-happy goal for Central Coast based on training quantity and paces was 2:30 but I wasn’t confident I would even make 2:45. Final time was 2:38 which was more than 10 minutes faster than my first half. So much easier when you don’t injure yourself. There was A LOT of walking in the second half. 

Approx 16km in. One parkrun to go. Photo credit to my very supportive husband.

And there was a medal. And a longest run on my new watch. My longest training run leading into this race was only 12km.

Also in November, my home parkrun won a local council sports development award. Our team was quite stoked. Over 180 different people had volunteered at Tamworth parkrun in the 12 months of the award period. Such a simple yet amazingly effective concept.

In December, I stood down as the Tamworth parkrun event director and did a bit of parkrun tourism. I was hoping to visit my 20th different parkrun by the end of the year. I did my 20th on 31st December.

Mt Penang parkrun, November

Narrabri parkrun, December. This one was special as a friend from Tamworth joined me for a road trip leaving at some ungodly hour to be there and we met up with another friend who was a Narrabri local. It was a very small crowd and I ended up first in age category with a slowish run/walk.

Forster parkrun with my mum, December. This was only their third or fourth week. I’m so excited about it launching because I was travelling 30min to Taree whenever I visited my parents. Usually the morning after driving 3.5 hours to their place. This is a stunning 3 lap coastal course.

Ginninderra parkrun, 31st December. My 60th parkrun, 20th different course and 5th State/Territory (NSW, Qld, Tas, NT, ACT). Also the first single loop parkrun I’ve done. Another pretty location but a bit lonely behind the runners and ahead of the walkers.

Tuggeranong parkrun, 1st January. I look like I’m running alone but I was one of 263 who turned up for the New Year’s Day event. No 1st in age category at this one. And the friend from Narrabri was also there unexpectedly! It was nice to see a familiar face amongst all the other friendly faces.

So what does 2017 hold? Who knows. I considered quitting triathlons and running altogether several times recently but I really do enjoy it, especially the running. Right now, I’m in Jindabyne at a triathlon training camp which I’d booked in July. I didn’t think about the terrain  (winter ski country) at the time. Tomorrow’s ride from Little Thredbo to Thredbo, on the roads no less, is going to be both a mental and physical challenge. I generally avoid hills as much as possible. 

The lake is beautiful though. We did a swim and run today along with some tyre/tube changing practice.

Still hoping for a sub 30 min 5km. I have signed up for the Port Macquarie Running Festival half marathon in March. I have the deferred Sydney Half Marathon to doin Sydney and a few triathlons thrown into the mix. 

I hope you’re all having a great start to the year. All the best for 2017!

Tamworth parkrun turns 2

My home parkrun turned 2 on Saturday. For 104 consecutive Saturdays, volunteers have hosted this free, timed 5km run. The previous two weeks looked like they would need to be cancelled due to imminent flooding but were able to proceed at the last minute.

Our theme for the birthday celebration was to come dressed as something starting with P. Some costumes were a little abstract (person, participant, puppy walker) while others were more obvious (pirates, police, patients, pink panther, Penelope Pitstop). Others wore purple or pink or PJs. Pirate seemed to be the most popular and that was also my choice.

My co-event director was Pikachu. Our photographer was a princess. You can see all the photos here.

These are my favourites.

I was recognised for my 50th parkrun (along with two others). We had a lovely cake too. After a couple of miserable days the sun popped out for us.

Near the turnaround point. I need to learn to time my thumbs ups better to avoid looking like I’m attempting the chicken dance.

Towards the end, I was starting to overheat. I struggle to keep cool even with a visor, let alone with a scarf and eye patch. The patch was see through.

Someone needs to design costumes for runners that are breathable. This nylon/polyester dress was also quite transparent so I wore short tights and an ordinary singlet underneath. H.O.T.

There were about 5 more pirates but they had left by the time the photographer tried to get us all together.

I’m not quite back to 100% yet but still managed to run 33:30. I was grateful to be up and about again. Back into half marathon training this week.

Sydney Running Festival – 9km Bridge Run 

I ended up participating in the 9km Bridge Run race today. I ran with a friend who has also been sick recently. Neither of us were anywhere near our peak or even recent fitness level. We agreed to implement a plan to run 800m then walk 200m for the entire distance. However we also agreed that if either of us needed to walk further or run slower, then we would. This race became all about enjoyment of the scenery and company and simply encouraging each other.


On the bridge

At least when I return next year for my deferred half marathon entry I won’t be as tempted to stop for selfies on the bridge. (I need to do something about my hair I think.)

It makes sense now that I think about it but I had always pictured aircraft carriers with a flat deck…

And it’s over. Nice bling. Possibly the prettiest in my collection to date.

Not a fast run but quite enjoyable. I’m grateful to have even been able to move after the lead up I’d had.

Post race 

As you can see, it was overcast and drizzly. Perfect weather for me to run in.

We caught a City Cat ferry (catamaran) home travelling under the bridge again. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at this bridge or the Opera House.

I’ll probably never stop being a tourist either. 

We also managed a mostly-walk at Parramatta parkrun yesterday. 

And since the deferred half marathon is still a year away, I found another one to do as a consolation prize. I will now be running the Central Coast Half Marathon at the end of November. 

Happy running!