2018 Back to Basics

As it took me quite some time to relinquish my responsibilities during my “year of saying no” in 2017, I am only just starting to fully reap the benefits and think I might continue into a “year of mostly saying no”.

In November, I also decided to put my triathlon coaching on hold temporarily. Although I was still enjoying the training, it was still “one more thing” that I should have been doing each day. So I’ve been winging my exercise, and it’s showing. I haven’t been able to find any pace in my running since the marathon. I was thinking of having another crack at the marathon distance at the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival in September this year but decided I need to work on getting faster before I go longer again. I have registered for the half marathon, a distance I really enjoy.


Who would ever have thought I would run over 1000km in a year. That’s an average of more than 2.5km every day!


I have started a C25K program again – with a twist. I have programmed the sessions into my garmin watch and set a pace goal of sub 6:00 for all the run segments. I’m hoping this will mean I can gradually increase the distance/time I can hold the faster pace. We’ll see. I’m still in week 1. The marathon will still be there in 2019.

My nutrition has gone off the rails and all the body fat I’d managed to lose over the past two years piled back on over about 8 weeks. The one positive things is that I finally managed to kick my diet coke addiction. 91 days clean and counting… Next up is the chocolate addiction, which increased as the diet coke disappeared.

Some friends and I signed up for the Coffs Standard Distance triathlon which is in just under 6 weeks. This was my “do an olympic distance before I turn 40” race 3 years ago. I thought it would be interesting to see how much I’ve improved since then. Again, we’ll see. The extra kilos I’m carrying aren’t helping. It should still be fun though.

Three weeks later, I and some other members of my tri club are going to the NSW Club Championships.  It’s a 1km/30km/8km race – an odd distance I’ve never tried before. We are not aiming to win our division, we are going for the atmosphere, and for fun. And the excuse to take a Friday off work.

I am also planning to do the City 2 Surf (Sydney) for the first time. The biggest fun run in the world I’m told. So many people – I’ll try not to get trampled.

Perhaps the biggest highlight on my calendar so far is my 100th parkrun which is coming up on 3rd February. It has been a looooong time coming.


As you might recall, I’m a little obsessed with parkrun. It is almost four years since I travelled to Newcastle to do my first one and find out how it all worked. I was hoping to start one in Tamworth but had only ever read about it. I have now completed 97 parkruns, mainly at Tamworth but also at a number of different parkrun locations around Australia (one day I’ll do an overseas parkrun). My 30th different course will be at Moree parkrun later this month. I will be running and/or walking my 100th parkrun on Saturday 3rd February at Tamworth parkrun. One of the current Event Directors who volunteered at Tamworth’s launch, and has been a dedicated volunteer from day one, is doing her 100th parkrun that day too.

If you are reading this and have thought you might like to try parkrun “one day”, have been “meaning to get back into it” or you’re already a parkrun tragic, please join me at Tamworth or at your closest parkrun (www.parkrun.com.au or www.parkrun.com to see the list of 19 countries).

The free t-shirt parkrunners earn for achieving the 100 milestone is black. I’m always up for a “dress up” excuse so please feel free to dress in a black/white theme. I’d love to see your photos! Please use #heatherandmargarets100thparkrun so I can find them. Don’t forget to let us know that you’re joining in the fun.

If it’s your first time, make sure to register beforehand (it’s free! and print a personalised barcode to take with you!)

If it turns up in time, I will be running/walking in one of these inflatable zebra rider costumes:


Anything to make people smile. 🙂

I have completed Armidale, Blackbutt, Cairns, Callaghan, Campbelltown, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Dubbo, Forster, Ginninderra, Hobart, Inverell, Lake Mac, Logan River, Maitland, Mt Penang, Narrabri, Newy, Orange, Parramatta, Port Macquarie, Rockhampton, Singleton, Stockton, Tamworth, Taree, The Beaches (5km on sand on New Year’s Day dodging beachgoers, waves, sandcastles, surf life savers and 400+ other runners), Tuggeranong and Wauchope.

It’s been a blast! I hope you can join me on 3rd February, wherever you are in the world.


Port Macquarie Running Festival 2017–Half Marathon

I went into this race with a lot of writing on my hand. I had three average paces and what finish time they would give me:

6:58 pace –> 2 hours 27 minutes (pipe dream, over the moon goal)

7:04 pace –> 2 hours 29 minutes (realistic goal based on training)

7:18 pace –> 2 hours 34 minutes (would still be a PB)


I met with my coach the night before the race (she lives in Port Macquarie) and we discussed my plan to “just go with it” if I was a bit faster than 7:02 for the first few kilometres. I often start a race fast (zig-zagging around other competitors) then settle into my normal slower pace. I didn’t plan to do this if I was insanely fast (sub 6:30) because I know I can’t sustain that for long but I thought 6:45-6:55 would be okay. She didn’t like my plan and assured me that even if I felt okay at the beginning, I would pay for it at about 19km.

So, I also scribbled 7:02 15km – 7:15 on my hand. She had calculated that I could run at 7:02 pace for the first 15km then drop back to 7:15 for the final 6.1km and I would meet my 2:30 goal. I would have needed to be at 5km at 35.11, 10km at 1:10, 15km at 1:45 and 20km at 2:22. This was all scribbled on the back on my hand.


15 hours later

The race started and I was very quickly at the back of the pack. I had people behind me but I didn’t think there were many. No zig-zagging required because there was a lot of space. No sprinting to get around people. I settled into my “comfortable pace” pretty much straight away. It was too fast though. I was averaging around 6:43. I have always struggled to run at a target pace. I seem to have run or walk settings. Sometimes the run is fast, other times not. Today happened to be a fast day.


This was a good race for spectators – I ran past my support crew and chauffeur
(AKA hubby) 6 times. This was at about 6km I think.

I made it to the 5km mark early at 33.33. I kept waiting for my body to reject the fast speed. This was the pace I had been training at back in August/September before I got sick but I haven’t been able to run longer distances as quickly since then. At 10km I was still ahead of schedule (1:07.11) and at 15km I was 4 minutes ahead of schedule (1:40.52) with an average pace of 6:44 still. The wheels did start to fall off a bit then. I walked some water stations. It was getting tough but I finally found my “race” mentality and thought, what if I can finish this with a 6:45 average pace? I couldn’t calculate what my finish time would be but I knew it would be under 2:27 from my pipe dream notes. (I’m sure there was a bit of determination not to give any opportunity for my coach to say “I told you so” as well.)

The 20th kilometre was my only one which dropped below 7:00 pace. I had one kilometre that was 6:28 but all the others were between 6:34 and 6:58 so I’m quite happy (#understatementoftheyear) with my consistency. I pulled out a 6:49 for the final kilometre and finished in 2:23.27! A huge PB. 12 minutes faster than my training run two weeks ago and 15 minutes quicker than my last half marathon race.


The time on the clock behind me was for the 10km event which started before I finished. Some people completed the “Treble Breakwall Buster”. They ran the half marathon in under 2 hours, then backed up for a 10km in under 1 hour and finished off with a 5km. There was no cutoff time for the 5km.

2017-03-12 20.42.12

I didn’t finish last, but even if I had, I still would have been incredibly happy with my finish time.


Nice bling and a well-organised event.

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.