Grant Harding Ironman Life #3


Hawke's Bay Today deputy editor Grant Harding, who will participate in Ironman New Zealand 2013, having completed Ironman NZ in 2010 and gone to the start line this year only to be denied by the weather, keeps us up to date with his training.

Ashley, my 17-year-old daughter, left school last Tuesday morning.

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While on the one hand I was disappointed that she didn't want to complete her Year 13 studies, on the other I was philosophical. School and her had become an uncomfortable fit. And some time over the recent term one holidays she decided that NCEA Level 3 was not in her life plan.

It's rumoured that upon hearing the news teachers broke open the champagne, took off their shoes and danced until dawn (Any excuse. You know teachers.). The deputy principal declared a teacher-only day, then extended it to a week ("Snake" would have declared a "teacher-only month" had they had such things when I left Hastings Boys' High School!) It's only a rumour, mind.

The upside was that I had a running partner, of sorts, later that morning.

Like many teenagers she's still a bit awkward. She neither wants to run ahead of you, or alongside of you. Maybe I'm not cool enough to be seen conversing with (although I have got a 2XU hat, adidas shades, a Blue Seventy tri-shirt, black running shorts that my ex-wife always tried to steal, Mizuno Wave Nirvana shoes ... oh, and legs not seen since Twiggy). Therefore I go for a run by myself. My daughter is somewhere in the vicinity.

On Tuesday our goal was to run 7.6km - two short loops at Pandora.

So away we went on a beautiful day. I wasn't looking to push the pace two days after the Country2Coast, but in a deviation from the norm, I felt really good.

Conversely after one lap Ashley tried to pull out. I encouraged her to keep going, to at least make it to the end of the off-road path before turning back. "That way you'll do 5 kilometres," I said.

To cut a long story short, she kept going all the way and looked comfortable finishing a few hundred metres behind me. My father's sermon for the day was to tell her that she should always complete what she sets out to do, even if walking part of the way.

It was a good effort when you consider that school cross-country's are over much shorter distances, and we still have 30 weeks to get her in shape for the local half-ironman (2km swim, 90km cycle, 21.1km run), IronMaori.

The IronMaori participation was entirely her idea. Perhaps the seeds were sown when I did my first Ironman in 2010, and we took on the Williams Harvey Corporate Duathlon together in the build-up.

She has been running and swimming, and is now also adding strength exercises ... as well as playing her normal full quota of squash.

I have supported her: paid for her swimming sessions at Ocean Spa, bought running shoes as a birthday gift, given her my old bike, helmet, and bike shorts. And last week we picked up new bike shoes (without cleats) for $85 at Cranked Cycles. The cleats have been added, so this week cycling starts.

That run was the only training we did together last week, our commitments taking us in this direction and that. And that, I have concluded, is how it will be throughout the build-up. Therefore I am making her keep a diary on what she gets done. The aim for each of the next 12 weeks is two swims, two bikes and two runs per week.

I am hopeful that the discipline required to do the training will create self-discipline. Time will need to be carefully managed when she hits the 18-week beginners' programme Hawke's Bay Multisport club stalwart Shane Harrison provides free for IronMaori competitors. Time at work, time for friends, time for training, time to sleep - it's never an easy equation.

And it's not an easy business for me. I want to encourage and train with her, but will our dual goals, Ironman 2013 and IronMaori 2012, be compatible? I have a further 13 weeks of training, and twice the distance to cover.

On the day of IronMaori I will sacrifice any personal goals to go around with her. On one level I'm totally comfortable with that, but on another - the fact the men start five minutes earlier than the women - I am not. We will cross the finish line together but she will beat me by five minutes!

Perhaps not. The fact that she tensed her stomach muscles and invited me to give her a jab last week, tells me that she is enjoying the changes already happening to her body. All that awkward youthfulness could turn into a "dangerous" athlete, and the "old man" could be left in the dust. I'm sure that will be the teenager's plan!

As long as she stays the course, and there are not too many tantrums along the way, nobody will be prouder than her Dad on December 1.

In association with HB Today

- Hawkes Bay Today

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