Heidi Smith's favourite place is one of Taranaki's jewels - Pukekura Park.
"It's a special place in the middle of town . . . beautiful trees, peaceful and some great running tracks through it," she said.
"I enjoy running through there, it's nice being off the road."
Staying fit is a big part of Smith's life.
One of Taranaki's leading netballers, she was a member of the Inglewood side which won the Taranaki premier-one club title for the second year running in August.
The Woodleigh primary school teacher is also into running and multisport.
She has completed two marathons - the Mountain to Surf in 2007 and Rotorua in 2009 - has run three half-marathons, and is training hard for her first half-ironman event at Tauranga on Saturday. Before that, she was into body sculpting.
"I'm new to cycling, new to swimming but I can run. I may not be the fastest swimmer, but I can get from one end of the pool to the other. And cycling's not too bad. It will be the mental challenge more than anything," she said.
"I'm swimming three times a week, up to 2km each time and cycling between 40km and 60km three or four times a week. And I usually run three or four times."
Surprisingly, that's where her year 3 class has helped out.
"I've talked to the children about my goals and the challenges I have. They've been giving me sensible and worthwhile ideas to help me through."
Those tips include: You've got to be brave. You have to have a can-do attitude. Never give up.
"Children realise things in life aren't easy and you have to put in the hard work to get results."
Smith, who went to primary school in Waverley where her parents Ian and Nancye farm, said she loves teaching.
"It's all I've known," she said.
After leaving school - she was a boarder at Wanganui Girls' College - she went straight to Massey University.
"My first two years' teaching were at Whenuakura Primary School and then I had five years at Norfolk. I've been at Woodleigh for seven years," she said.
"I enjoy the children's honesty, their humour and their spontaneity. Sometimes they make you see the world through their eyes. Their curiosity and their desire to learn, it's exciting to see. Every day as a teacher, you learn something. Children can teach us a lot."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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