Tag Archives: Parkrun

Dam Swim

Now, if I was a swearing person, that title would read Dam(n) Swim. Yes, I’m old-fashioned, and “damn” is still a swear word in my book.

As of yesterday, so is “dam”, I think.

I went for a training swim at a dam about half an hour away with some other people who are also in the Trifreedom group of athletes competing in the Port Macquarie Half Ironman event next week. Some are doing the whole event while others of us are in teams. You might remember, I decided to do a swim leg. Swimming is my worst leg but I couldn’t imagine trying to ride 90km. A few months ago I would have been able to do the 21.1km run except that it’ll be the middle of the day and I don’t handle the heat well. If I wanted to be part of the Trifreedom crew, it had to be the swim.

I don’t know what my problem is but I can swim 2.5km in the pool pretty much non-stop but stick me in “open water” (even the enclosed dam) with or without a wetsuit, and I can’t swim more than 10 or 15 strokes before I drop my feet and tread water for a bit.

When I last swam at the dam in February, it was without a wetsuit and the weather turned stormy as we got in the water. I took this video after we got out. It doesn’t show it clearly but it wasn’t pleasant.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day but the swim was HORRIBLE. Like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Swim kind of horrible.

I finished in “just over an hour” according to the lady who organised it but I don’t know how nice she was being as I didn’t wear a watch. (It’s a one hour cut-off for the race next week.)


Just to break up all the text, I received this message from my sister today, who had her first baby a month ago.

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My goggles leaked when I started to swim and I stopped to adjust them 2 or 3 times (even though I had put my head in the water before we started and they seemed okay). The water was disgusting. I couldn’t see the weeds in the shallows. Then there was grass and stuff floating on the top – I don’t know if that’s normal or if the other, faster swimmers just churned it all up for me. I thought about turning back soooo many times on the way to the first buoy. Once I got there I thought about heading straight back and skipping the rest of the buoys but knew I’d never get in the water next week if I did that. I had to tough it out. The silver stripe on the sleeve of my wetsuit was distracting – because I kept seeing it out of the corner of my eye. The zip strap/cord thing came off the Velcro and was hanging over my upper arm and it took me ages to work out what it was. Then it ended up around the front of my neck.

I stopped and hung onto the water safety person’s board (so glad they’d organised some for us) and asked her to attach it properly. I was all good after that – strapwise anyway. I felt like I was out there for hours – at least an hour and a half. I deliberately didn’t take my garmin because it doesn’t seem very reliable in the open water and I figured I was better off not knowing, and just pushing on. One benefit of stopping so often was that I didn’t have a chance to swim off course.

Even when I got to about 50m from shore I still couldn’t get myself to “just swim the rest of the way”. However, I didn’t freak out about washing over the spillway and down the river so that’s progress over last time. 

When I got home, all I wanted to do was curl up in the foetal position in bed and bawl my eyes out. I didn’t. I bought a slab of chocolate and a can of coke instead. I should have opted for the cry because  the junk food didn’t help either. I only ate one row of chocolate and the can is still unopened in the fridge (that’s sooo not me). I ended up texting the organiser and asking how much over an hour I was, and not to sugar coat it. She said about 1:05 so I’m okay with that. I’m told that in the river at Port it’ll be easier because it’s salt water.

I didn’t actually panic like I did in March at the race even though I stopped and regrouped/refocused several times. 

I always struggled writing essays at school (very rarely reaching the required word count) but I’ve just written over 500 words about a 1 hour swim.

I’m not sure if I want to know what the tides and currents will be doing or not. Part of me wants to know so that if I find it hard at the start I can blame the current but part of me doesn’t want to know in case it’s hard and the current is supposed to be helping me. That’ll do terrible things to my head imagining how much harder the swim back will be…

I didn’t think to take any photos of the lovely views on the way out and at the dam. I came home on a back road and saw camels in a paddock!

Instead, the only bright spot will be the photo of my brightest fluoro orange swim cap which made a special appearance at the dam – I wanted to be visible! And my new polarised swim goggles. I’m hoping they cut down some of the glare during the swim so I can see the buoys more easily.

 

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On the running front, my physio finally gave me the all-clear to start running again. Yay! I really had no idea how much I would miss it.

I’m almost back to square one again, struggling to run 1km. However, what I’m finding is that when I run, I’m running faster than I used to. I still can’t sustain it for long but if I can gradually increase the distance I might just end up faster overall. The 18 month plateau of sitting on about 7:00 pace might be broken. I was a parkrun tourist at Taree parkrun about a week ago and I was running 200m sections (with walks between) at sub 6:00 pace!!! I could barely do that on my hard effort interval sessions before. All those physio exercises have done something good. So even my injury has a silver lining.

Time to get some sleep before the big race next weekend. I’m determined to come in under that cut-off!

After the Half Ironman swim, my next races are a 5km fun run in Armidale on 1st November and a sprint triathlon at Forster on 8th November. If the weather and conditions are similar to last year, I’d like to think that I can improve on my swim and bike times (new bike since last year) and I’ll just see what happens on the run.

I know many of you have some big races coming up too – so good luck, stay healthy and have fun!

Oh, and here’s a photo of my husband and I at the Tamworth parkrun 1st anniversary celebration on 26th September. It was a “sport theme” dress up day – cheap and easy, and those who didn’t want to go all-out like us could go dressed as “parkrunners” and fit right in. It was so much fun and well supported. We’re in the sumo-suits.

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Long, long, and long

Once again, it has been a LONG time between posts.

In preparation for my first and last half marathon, I’ve been doing some LONG runs.

I made it to Eucla on my virtual journey around Australia so I’m heading for Broome – the LONG way. 4,282km. That will take me a while. 38.4km down, 4,243.6km to go. My family (parents, husband, sister, brother-in-law) is tentatively planning a trip from Darwin to Broome for next year. I wonder if I’ll make it there virtually or in person first.

Broome - the long way around

Since my last post, I have been interstate and visited Hobart parkrun. This was a friendly little group of just under 50 runners. My friend and travelling buddy is currently injured and not allowed to run. We wore jeans so we wouldn’t be tempted to run. We did a fast walk and because of the small number of participants I was second in my age group (!) with a time of 49:50. And I met some lovely ladies who I’d only met online through a facebook group called five30runners. It started as a group for people of all ages and ability with a common goal of running 5km in 30 minutes but it has basically turned into a free-for-fall for any interested runners (in a good way).

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If you are interested in viewing more photos from my Hobart trip, you can check them out here. One of my favourites is this one from when we recreated a photo taken back in 1986 (oh so LONG ago).

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I’ve also reached, and now passed, a couple of milestones in my running training.

Taken when we did a 14km run – our longest to date at the time.

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I did a 16km run after that, but I did it on my own and wore a different shirt to normal and ended up with bad chafing (another milestone – I’ve never had chafing problems before). I had to buy a long-sleeved running top to wear for the last few weeks because I couldn’t put my arms down against my body the skin was so raw. It’s been interesting – since I run in a singlet even in temperatures barely above freezing so I don’t overheat. Today I ran in my normal singlet again and no chafing so I’m good to go for next weekend’s half marathon.

Most people I’ve spoken to or read about have said that you only need to run up to 17 or 18km in preparation for a half marathon (21.1km). Because my mental game hasn’t caught up with my body yet, I wanted to know for sure that I could run the distance within the cut off time. So, after discussing it with my coach, the 20km run on my plan last week turned into a “20km if you’re doing it tough, and 22km if you are feeling good”.

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So much “stuff” needed just to go for a little 20+ km run.

I did 21.2km. That 19th kilometre was the hardest of all and I didn’t want to stop after that kilometre or I might not have run again. Ever. Besides, from the 20km mark I could tell myself “only another 8 or 9 minutes and you can stop. The last kilometre was much better than the second last. And I had a little bit of time up my sleeve for the cutoff to allow for unexpected toilet breaks. I ran with my friend up to 17km then she headed back to the car to finish off her scheduled 18km run while I kept going to clock up my extra kilometres while she patiently waited.

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All smiles after we’d finished!

A couple of days later I had a short run to do. I’m not sure exactly when a 30min run became a short run to me, but it did. It was such a relief that my legs still worked!

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One of those “I’m feeling silly so let’s take a silly selfie” moments.

Today I had my last long run before the race next weekend. I was on my own again so no photos but I didn’t follow my plan. I was supposed to do 8km at my “race pace” then 4km easy to finish off. I have no idea what my race pace should be since I’ve been running so slowly recently so I ignored my coach’s plan and decided to just run and see what happened (for the record, I don’t recommend this approach). What happened, was a PB for the first 5km (32:26 – previous PB 32:28 in December last year), then a PB at the 10km mark (1:09:00 – previous PB 1:14:02 two weeks ago), and a full 12km at a sub 7:00 pace for the first time in a very LONG time.

I am heading into the half marathon with no concrete expectations. My goals are to finish, within cutoff, without needing medical assistance. I have taken some annual leave from work so I don’t have to travel back until the second day after the race which will be much nicer than driving home the same day which I usually do. I’ll have a WHOLE day off to recover.

To tri or not to tri

As I type, I am trying to decide whether to participate in the next triathlon I have entered.

I earned a free entry into a Sprint distance triathlon on 23rd May by volunteering at Challenge Forster. It might be free but it was hard-earned! I had everything arranged (training plan and accommodation) but now I’m not sure I want to do it. The mental games (Olympics?) have started in my head.

If I don’t turn up, I’m not out of pocket because I didn’t pay the entry fee anyway. Instead, I can save the money I would spend getting there and put it towards my birthday trip to Hobart with my BFF in just 26 days.

26days to go

I emailed my coach:

I am not coping well with trying to fit everything back into my life that I gave up while training for Coffs. I have decided not to do the Port Stephens triathlon. It being in the middle of the day and the fact that I have only swum once since Coffs, and my poor nutrition every day, and lack of exercise this week have all led me to that. I’d rather finish the season on the high of Coffs than what is likely to be an afternoon of misery.

I then told the aunt I was planning to stay with that I wasn’t going anymore. Then I pulled up the registration information so I could let the organisers know I wouldn’t be there.

I typed the email but I couldn’t send it.

 

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I think I might buy one of these. Click the image to go to www.sunfrogshirts.com

 

Part of me wants to head into the off season (it’s hard to believe I know what an off season is, let alone that I have one – albeit filled with training for a half marathon) on the back of my Olympic Distance triathlon back in March.

Another part of me is worried that the swim leg in that race was a one-off and my next attempt could end up like my attempted swim near Port Macquarie. Since my next planned swim race (if I don’t do this one in two weeks) is for a team at a half ironman event, I’d like to know I can repeat the successful swim.

Yet here I am, considering throwing in the towel for Port Stephens because I think I might not enjoy the race. Before I even start.

There’s still another (small) part of me that wants to attempt the triathlon to prove to myself that the Coffs swim was not a one-off, and that despite my lacklustre lead-up and preparation, I can still suck-it-up (as the saying goes) and have a crack at it. Who knows, it might be a cold day and I won’t have to deal with the heat? The sprint race starts at 11.30am so I’m likely to be hitting the run at about 12.45pm.

  • Will I regret it if I don’t go?
  • Will I even fit into the borrowed wetsuit since my diet for the last month or so has pretty much consisted of fast food, cake, chocolate and diet coke?
  • Will it be too warm for a wetsuit at that time of day?
  • Can I do an ocean swim with a wetsuit?
  • Was it the ocean or the wetsuit that freaked me out?
  • What are the odds of having a good swim vs a bad swim?
  • Would I be able to get over a bad swim (that might not even happen) and re-focus soon enough that it doesn’t impact my half marathon training?
  • Who knows?

The biggest question, and the hardest to answer, is am I going to be more annoyed with myself for not having a go at all than I would be if the swim goes badly?

On a brighter note, when I actually do my training, it is going well. I’ve managed to work some of my runs so that I can run with some friends who are also training for the same event but following a different plan.

Yesterday marked the start of my “marathon in a week” challenge. I ran 5km from home to parkrun early in the morning, had about 45 minutes break, then ran the 5km parkrun. And only a minute or two difference between the two 5km runs.

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This morning I did the Mothers Day Classic fun run as well. Another 5.5km down.

Aside: Can you believe I’m less than 150km from my virtual journey to WA?

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Feeling Fab at 40

Today, I have finally turned 40. The last few years have been an incredible journey. Many people who knew me five years ago would not believe what I have done recently, and plan to continue doing.

So many people have encouraged, supported and inspired me from the sidelines, through cyberspace, or in person. If I tried to list them, I’d miss some I’m sure, so I won’t. And I’ll hope that if/when they read this, they’ll know who they are.

I am now in training for a half marathon. When I turned 30, I’m not sure I really even knew what a marathon was – other than “a long race at the olympics”.

Over the Easter weekend, my training plan had three 8km runs! 24km in four days with just one rest day between runs two and three? Hard to imagine, but I did it. Sure, I walked a bit – dolphins just have a habit of stopping foot traffic. But I did it.

Friday 3rd April: 8.06km, 1 hr 6 min

Beat the surfers to the beach, a rare off-road stretch, pelicans waiting for their version of fast food, completed run pic, beautiful crucifix orchid (or so I’m told) which was rather fitting for Good Friday.

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Saturday 4th April: 8.06km, 59 min 28 sec in the rain

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Monday 6th April: 8.06km, 56 min 56 sec – no photo stops

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I also celebrated my birthday early – in style. My mum made and decorated this wonderful cake.

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In more detail, here is the swim,

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bike,

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and run. Complete with jelly baby spectators!

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It tasted as good as it looked!

Last weekend, I travelled to Coolah for a good friend’s 40th. Sunday morning, I did my first 11km run in a long time.

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On the Saturday morning, I had taken more than a minute off my PB for the Tamworth parkrun course (under 34 min for the first time on that course). I was surprised I had anything left for the 11km Sunday run (which was 1min/km slower than Saturday, but within the goal pace range).

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Today, I received my training program for the next month. Just for fun, my coach has set me a plan to run a marathon in 8 days (remember not so long ago when I was happy that I ran a marathon in a month?) Saturday 9th to Saturday 16th May I have runs from 2km – 10km but mostly 5km for a total of 42km. I’ll have to get that pesky 0.2km in as well.

I’m meeting some friends in the morning for a run so I should head off to bed.

Today:

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Thank you one and all, I’m feeling incredibly blessed, spoilt and special.

Tamworth parkrun

I ran my first parkrun in my home town today. It was event number 4 but I volunteered at the first three. It was a lovely, sunny 15°C when we started at 8am. I still struggle in warmer temperatures although I didn’t get a headache today (which I have been getting after about 3-3.5km). Probably because I’ve made a very concerted effort to drink more water and less diet coke.

It was so much fun! The lady who was Run Director for the day made a fuss during the briefing drawing attention to me and my efforts to get it started. As a result, I was rewarded with lots of thank yous, high fives and smiles as I ran (and walked) along the out and back course.

Then as I neared the finish line, I was cheered and clapped and generally encouraged. That is what parkrun is all about! I am so glad we finally have a parkrun here that I can be involved in. I still don’t look like a runner in photos, but I am starting to feel like one more often when I am running.

The run set that I had on my programme for last Tuesday and again on Thursday was a 15 minute warm up followed by 8 x 3 minutes at 6:50 pace (fast for me) with 2 minutes of easy jog or walk between. Tuesday I did this straight after my bootcamp session so I skipped the warm up. I ran/walked exactly 5km for the 40 minutes.

Thursday I was repeating the same set. This time I did a 5 minute walking warm up followed by 10 minutes “just running”. Then I repeated the 8 x 3 min/2min set. I had my garmin watch set to display only pace and time so had no idea of distance. It didn’t get to auto-lap every 1km because I was resetting the laps for each new 3 minute and 2 minute segment. By runs 7 and 8 I was feeling a little weary but pushed on (which is unusual for me – I have a bad habit of giving up). When I checked my distance at the end of my run I had covered 6.93km. No wonder my legs were complaining. It didn’t “feel” like 7km – so I felt great!

I headed off to work, then managed to do a 1700m swim set on my extended lunch break. After work it was back to bootcamp.

I digressed. Back to parkrun. I ran the 5km in just a few seconds over 35 minutes. This is nowhere near my goal of 33 minutes for the Armidale Fun Run in two weeks but it is my fastest parkrun out of five attempts (I’ve run at three other locations). I’ll still be volunteering often so I won’t be running every week but it’ll be interesting to see how I progress in the months to come.

I cannot recommend parkrun highly enough. You should check it out whether you’re a runner or a walker and if there isn’t one close to you, start it yourself – I did!

After four weeks, I’ve received more thank yous from strangers than ever in my life. So many people have commented that they’ve been hoping parkrun would come to town. I haven’t heard of a single person saying they didn’t enjoy the experience.

If you’re ever in Tamworth on a Saturday morning, please drop in and run or walk with us.

Details are here: www.parkrun.com.au/tamworth It is free and the only requirement is that you register as a parkrunner first, print a unique, personal barcode and bring it with you on the day. No need to RSVP. Just turn up. At any parkrun in the WORLD! All with one simple, FREE, registration. Every parkrun is 5km. They are all free. They all operate under the same basic policies and procedures.

Which reminds me, I need to find the closest one to where I’ll be at Christmas and for my next holiday.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

I ran a marathon

I have started this post too many times to count.

But first, a clarification. When I selected the title for my previous post “Life“, I had intended taking an entirely different approach. It was to be a rather melancholy essay on the number of half-completed books, projects and plans I have and how demoralising it is.

It was over a month ago that I wrote that post and it was nothing like what I’d planned in my head. It’s hard to believe we have been back home again for four and a half weeks. I’m back into my training plans (recover week this week – yippee) and have registered for a couple of fun runs.

When did I have time to run a marathon? Never. But I did run 48.52 km while away on our trip! It’s amazing how quickly I can notch up the kilometres when I’m not trying to swim or ride as well. And when the busyness of life’s commitments isn’t stealing my exercise time. I’m not sure I’ve EVER run that many kilometres in a month. I am staggered when people say they’ve run over 200km in a month.

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I just looked at the totals history on my garmin watch for the first time, and I have recorded over 1,000km of running and cycling since I bought it, and have used it for over 100 hours!

I haven’t given an update on my virtual training journey from Melbourne to Port Augusta for a while either. I have just 145km to go. It took me two years to complete the 600km or so virtual trek from Sydney to Melbourne and now I have almost completed this 1051km leg of my virtual journey in 9 months! I must be fitting in more training than I realised, and I guess I’m a little bit faster too now so I can cover more km in the same time.garmin

Life has been pretty crazy again recently (how many times have I said I’m trying to get it under control?) and parkrun launched in my hometown last Saturday. I have been part of the main organising team so it was a huge relief when everything went smoothly for the 131 participants. 121 of them were first-timers who had never done a parkrun before. Most of the volunteers had never done a parkrun before either. Looking forward to this Saturday – and every Saturday after that. Tamworth parkrun is here to stay!

Tamworth parkrun

I don’t have any major triathlon races planned. I had considered the sprint distance at Forster next month but can’t justify the expense of getting there (or the entry) after our little trip to the other side of the world…

However, I have registered for the 5km event at the Armidale Fun Run (I did this last year too). My not-so-secret goal is to go under 33 minutes for the first time ever. 6:30 pace kilometres would give me a 32min 30second result. I am currently running 7 minute kilometres over that distance. I am running at around 6:30 pace over shorter distances – I have 32 days to work up to it over 5km.

 

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I love this photo of our parkrun volunteers preparing for the “volunteers of the week” photo.

 

I have also registered for a 5.5km Variety fundraising Santa fun run which should be a lot of fun! A santa suit is included in the entry fee!

I managed to come home from our trip the exact same weight I left. It’s a shame I can’t say I’m still at that weight. However, I am determined to get serious about it. Again. My 40th birthday is creeping up on me and I’d like to be mostly on my way to fit and healthy before then. To that end, I have also registered for an eight-week bootcamp which starts next Tuesday.

So yes, I still have those half-read books, half-completed projects and half-cleaned house but I’m dealing with it and moving on. Life’s too short but the days are getting longer so it’s time to enjoy them. And strangely, I do enjoy my new exercise regime. *Words I never thought I’d utter.

Happy running, cycling, swimming, whatever-it-is-you-do-ing!

Until next time, Heather.

parkrun power

I have skipped almost every session on my training plan for the past month because I’ve been “too busy” yet on three of the last four weekends I have driven over an hour (each way) to the new parkrun that has just started in Armidale.

On one of those Saturdays, the temperature at the start of the run (8am) was just 0°C. Brrr. It wasn’t a fast run. I think my toes thawed out at about kilometre 4 (of a 5km run). This was the Armidale parkrun launch event.

We are heading off on our holiday (one month in the UK) this weekend and the only thing I regret about booking an organised bus tour is that we will be “so close” to several parkruns on Saturdays but I won’t have the flexibility in our schedule, or a means of transport, to go and participate in them.

There’s just something about parkrun that has me hooked. You can read about my first parkrun experience here. Maybe it’s the anticipation of the email within a few hours of finishing the run with soooo many wonderful facts (I like statistics). Maybe it’s the thought of scrolling through 300 photos on facebook that afternoon, hoping there are some decent ones of you. Or maybe it’s the non-competitiveness of the event. Sure, people are trying to do their best but there are no prizes. There’s no wasted entry fee if you just can’t win the mental battles on the day – it’s okay to walk. There are plenty of other people to chat with and encourage (or leap frog as you take it in turns to walk and jog). And there’s always next week.

One week after the freezing launch (which saw 168 people participating) I was back there again. This time it was 10° which felt quite warm by comparison. The course is mostly on grass and some gravelly surfaces (not much concrete) and I usually only run on hard surfaces. I haven’t researched it so I could be wrong, but it certainly felt like I was using different muscles in my lower legs.

My next parkrun will be the launch of Tamworth parkrun in my own home town! I won’t actually be “running” because I’ll be volunteering but I’ll still be experiencing parkrun at its best. And I can’t wait.

Here are some photos from Saturday’s run. Looks like I fell back to my default “plodding” (incorrect) technique. Photos taken by the volunteer photographer on the day and downloaded from the Armidale parkrun facebook page. At least I was smiling! To top it off, I ran my fastest ever parkrun (36:12) and was 9th in my age group (out of 14 – not 9). I don’t think I’ve ever had a top 10 finish before!

Where is your closest parkrun? Have you tried it out? Maybe I’ll come and visit!

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Oh, and I look like I’ll be able to finish my Melbourne to Port Augusta virtual training journey inside of 12 months! It took over two years to cover the distance from Sydney to Melbourne and I’ve already swum/ridden/run further than that this year. And it’s only July!