While some of us are still dating everything with ‘/13’, the first month of 2014 is done and dusted. The summer track season is in full swing, crop top and shortie tans are well baked in and the average athlete protein intake has been upped by a mouthful of insects per dusk training session. So what has the new year brought?

Sticking with the old favourites: The first Saturday of the year brought a rare chance to run Newy Parkrun with my boy and some friends back home for the Christmas break. There is nothing like the gaggle of smiling faces and friendly high fives of the Newy crew to kick off a positive weekend! Ratio of running to chatting? Probably about 1 to 5! Top that off with a café breaky along Darby St and that is what I call an ideal morning!

Exploring new trails:A week-long summer holiday with my extended family (all 30 of us) at Blacksmiths Beach meant throwing on the running shoes and hitting some new loops. Always a good place to start is meeting the groundskeeper at the local oval whilst doing 400m reps – the result of our dawn conversation was that he strategically set up sprinklers for me to run through and offered to ride home and get me a drink mid session (what a champ!). I found a good way to kill extra minutes on a recovery run is to get lost amongst the mangroves and learnt to time my training runs according to the schedule of the bridge opening over Swansea channel. My favourite part was arriving home to an excited bunch of little cousins all bright-eyed and ready to play!

Connecting with the community: As I am completing my final year of a physiotherapy degree, this year will see me uproot and move every 5 weeks to a different hospital for practical placement. Last week I arrived in sunny Grafton on the NSW north coast to begin my musculoskeletal unit at Grafton Base Hospital. I have been overwhelmed by the welcoming and friendly triathlon and cycling community up here! Be it at the pool, the oval or out cycling the back roads, people have gone out of their way to invite me to training sessions or offer suggestions of people and places. It makes the world of difference to be able to say “gday” to a friendly face and be greeted by name around a new town.
TRI-ing a new event: Taking advantage of being based up north, I entered the team event at Goondiwindi Hell of the West triathlon. My boyfriend’s local crew, Moree Services Triathlon and Cycling Club, had a bunch of people heading up to compete and someone agreed to cycle while I did the swim and run. What a whirlwind experience we had! The hot, dry and endlessly flat wheat and cotton country and the confusion of crossing over the Queensland border and changing time zones was one thing. And then there was the enthusiasm of the local triathletes who had built a successful and popular event in the middle of nowhere, in conditions which I would probably describe as absolutely brutal for endurance events. On race day, we woke at 3am for a 5am start. Given that we swam in the river which formed the state border, we actually swam upstream in QLD and back downstream in NSW! It was adrenaline-pumping to cheer on my cyclist, Noakesy, and then to take off for the 20km run leg. I was lucky to be adopted for the day by the Moree guys who cheered us all the way home and made me feel like one of the gang! Thanks Moree!

All in all, 2014 has had the goods so far, with many new experiences and reminders of what I love about running! Here’s to the next 11 months living up to expectations!