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.


Time for an update 

My “year of no” is going so fast! I realised at work the other day that I only have three more fortnightly payrolls to process before the end of financial year. Again. Already. Wasn’t it Christmas last week?

With all the public holidays around Easter and Anzac Day, we took 5 days of annual leave and had a relaxing time visiting my parents at the coast for 12 beautiful days. Time for some long runs and rides without having to stress about getting to work on time. And a casual ride with Dad one afternoon.

I volunteered at their local parkrun as tailrunner on Easter weekend. It was also my birthday and some friends from Tamworth travelled over primarily to check out a new parkrun and to run with me on my birthday. It was really special.

Before that though, in early April, I had a medical appointment in Newcastle on a Monday morning so we decided to go down for the weekend so I could notch up another tourist parkrun. I went to Stockton parkrun and managed another sub 30:00 min 5km. The only one I’ve achieved since my previous post. It’s yet another beautiful, waterside location. I now have 24 different parkrun locations under my belt. Considering there are only three (including home) within a two hour drive radius of home I think that’s pretty good.

While chatting to people after parkrun, the Hill to Harbour 10km run was mentioned. It was being held the following day. I had nothing planned so I signed up! Since when did I become someone who could decide to do a 10km race the day before? It started with a long run uphill before dipping down to the harbour and finishing with a lengthy flat run. (And a 10km PB!)

At the end of April I did my first 100km bike ride on a supported ride (vehicles with warning signs). It was a long day in the saddle. I’d had several friends trying to convince me to give it a crack. I resisted a long time but eventually bowed to peer pressure and am rather pleased to have achieved it. This was at the 80km rest break.

A few of us have signed up for the Coffs Harbour version of this same ride in July (part of Cycling NSW’s #five100 series). Road trip! We have a chauffeur organised (husband of a friend) and bike racks consolidated.

Speaking of road trips, the same group of us are heading to Port Stephens Triathlon Festival this weekend. We had all signed up for the Sprint distance (750m swim/20km ride/5km run). Until yesterday when I changed my registration to the standard distance (double the sprint).

One reason was because the organisers offered free entry into a “Superhero” wave in the enticer event with any other race entry. We all signed up for that too and bought matching costumes (to wear over our trisuits). When the race schedule was released we realised we are all too slow to finish the sprint before the superhero race starts. Especially with our waves starting later. By changing to the standard race I will have time to do the superhero race with another friend from Sydney who bought a costume to match ours.

We deliberately chose one without a cape (don’t need any extra hindrances in the water) and we probably won’t bother with the mask.

Another reason for changing was the start times. The sprint starts at 1pm! The standard at 8am so I should hopefully be finished by 12pm. No afternoon running required.

The third reason for changing is that I need to get an idea of how fast I ride in a race these days over a longer distance. Because I also signed up for the LCW Jervis Bay. It’s a kind of choose your own adventure race. The swim is on the Friday, ride Saturday and run Sunday. There are a range of distances for each leg so you can do a short swim/long ride/medium run combination, or no swim or just a fun run. Whatever you like! I signed up for the full ironman distances – GULP! 3.8km swim. 180km bike ride. 42.2km run. My first marathon will be the day after a 180km hilly bike ride. My coach has her work cut out for her! My biggest concern is that I don’t currently ride fast enough to meet the 8 hour cutoff even if I don’t take any loo breaks. I haven’t mastered eating on the bike yet either. I don’t know how the ironman competitors do it. At least I know that I can have a good meal and sleep after the bike. I don’t have to run straight away.

I figured that with this being my year of “no”, now is when I’m most likely to have time to train for these bigger distances at my pace.

The medals layer over each other. One for each leg you do. And there’s a special 4th medal for everyone who completes the three longest distances. The bling might have been the deciding factor.  It will be similar to this one.


(Above picture sourced from LCW Jervis Bay’s facebook page)

I’ve been astounded by the impact my mental freshness  (due to lack of commitments and deadlines) has had on my ability to focus on my training! And my nutrition but I think that’s enough for today.

What’s your biggest goal or achievement this year?


I can’t remember exactly when I started a C25K program for the first time. It was most likely about seven years ago. After multiple attempts, I eventually made it to the end and have kept going from there.

Fast forward to today. I finally cracked the 30 minute barrier for a 5km run at my local parkrun. It’s been a long time coming.


There have been moments of insane jealousy when friends reached this milestone sooner. I know I should have simply been happy for them but the truth is I wasn’t. Not 100% anyway.

The support of the parkrun and triathlon communities is incredible. I would like to send a huge thank you into the universe for every post like, strava kudos, high five and comment, whether in person or online.

And if you are currently where I was, feeling jealous, wanting to “unfriend” people on facebook so you don’t have to see their fast run posts, please tick with it. You’re not alone!


I am over the moon. This run topped off a pretty awesome couple of weeks for me. I did sneak in a small 30 second walk at 4.3km when I was debating whether I really wanted the sub-30 enough to keep pushing. I gave myself a stern talking to, reminding myself it was only another 5-6 minutes to the finish. Not another 2 hours like last week… so off I trotted.

And yet, I ended up with the least flattering parkrun photo I think I’ve ever had.


I’m not sure if this was the eye-roll at the photographer for waiting at the top of a small incline, or wondering if I really wanted to keep going. This was just before my walk break.

Usually I manage to smile or wave or at least look like I’m enjoying myself. I always enjoy parkrun. It’s so friendly and encouraging. I see it as more of a social activity rather than part of my training.

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.

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!

parkrun statistics

On Saturday, I completed my 50th parkrun. It took me over 2 1/2 years to reach this milestone. There were a couple of reasons for this:

1. There were no parkruns within 3 hours drive of home until about 5 months after I did my first parkrun

2. I’ve been heavily involved with getting Tamworth parkrun up and going so I have volunteered a lot more than most parkrunners (although not much more often than the rest of my super-supportive event team).


If you haven’t yet discovered parkrun (which begin in the UK but has now spread to 14 countries) you should look it up. It’s a free, weekly, timed 5km run (or walk or combination). Every parkrun I’ve been to has been welcoming and friendly. (Check them out here www.parkrun.com or www.parkrun.com.au.)

I visited Darwin parkrun on a recent holiday and another lady there was visiting from Brisbane but I had met her when she used to live here in Tamworth!

Hot and humid at Darwin parkrun:

047-2 Darwin parkrun

My parkrun statistics:

Number of runs 50
Times volunteered 36 (officially)
parkrun PB 31:20 (28th May 2016)
parkruns visited 15
Armidale (3), Cairns (1), Callaghan (1), Campbelltown (1), Darwin (1), Dubbo (1), Hobart (1), Lake Mac (1), Logan River (1), Maitland (1), Newy (2), Port Macquarie (2), Singleton (1), Tamworth (30), Taree(3)
Next parkrun Parramatta parkrun (17th September)


Other news:

– “Life” got too crazy and I withdrew from the 70.3 triathlon I was going to do in October. I could not manage the training load with everything else that was going on at the time. It was a difficult decision but I am confident it was the right one to make.

– After 11 years as a volunteer with the NSW SES, I have recently resigned as a member. Priorities and interests have changed over that time (I discovered triathlon!). I will probably join again sometime in the future when my work busy times don’t compete as heavily with SES peak periods.

– I registered for my second half marathon in February (a rematch after the last attempt when I sustained an injury partway into the race). That was supposed to be this coming weekend and until a few weeks ago I was on track for a goal time of 2:25. However, about 1 1/2 weeks ago I was struck down by an unidentified virus and was pretty much bedridden for about 8 days. Under doctor’s orders (but it was a no-brainer really) I have withdrawn. I was able to defer the entry to next year with no penalty. I was back at work today and will do my first short run tomorrow. If it goes well then I may consider entering the 9km race option instead (since I was a cheapskate and purchased non-refundable tickets and no travel insurance). If it’s all too hard then I will attend as a spectator and cheer on the many friends who are running in various events. My last big training weekend was 3 consecutive days of running with a goal pace of 6:45. I nailed the first two (6km run to parkrun followed by parkrun, then a 7km run the next day) and mostly managed the third (another 7km run).

The first two days:


At the moment, I am goal-less, race-less and restless. My main focus will be getting back to 100% health (and I’m not prepared to risk my health just to run a race this weekend even if it is over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and finishing at the Opera House). Other than that, I’m still working on that sub-30 minute 5km!

Hope to see you at parkrun somewhere! Tamworth parkrun’s second anniversary celebration is coming up on 24th September with a “p” theme. Stay tuned for this year’s costume. At least this year I should be able to run in my outfit – unlike last year’s sumo suit.