Ironman life #8 What's a dry retch between friends

By GRANT HARDING IRONMAN LIFE


Hawke's Bay Today deputy editor Grant Harding, who will participate in Ironman New Zealand 2013, having completed the event in 2010 and gone to the start line this year only to be denied by the weather, shares his Ironman life.

It's not every day you can slip and bang your knee on a wooden bridge, run into blackberry, then top it off with a quiet dry retch, and claim to have had a bloody good day out.

But that was the story of my participation in the second event of the Inov-8 Hawke's Bay Trail Run Series yesterday.

The Plus Rehab Pickled Pukeko at the Pukeora Mountain Bike Park - now there's a tongue twister for you - in the shade of the snow-capped Ruahines, was always going to be challenging after Saturday's rain, although weather for the event was glorious.<inline type="photogallery" id="11529" align="outside" embed="yes" />

The first clue as to how challenging it was going to be came before the starter's gun when a runner in the half-marathon field stopped to inform organisers that a competitor had just rolled her ankle in the forest.

Once again I took on the medium course - approximately 14.4km - two laps of the park.

The first featured the slip and a battle with a tight right hip, the second featured the wander in the blackberry, the brief pitstop, probably courtesy of a few wines watching the All Blacks-Ireland test the night before, and a battle with a tightening left Achilles.

The blackberry incident showed that trail running is much like riding a bike. You can't lose concentration, you can't take your eyes off the road ahead.

The moment you do, you're slipping or tripping on a tree root, which I did several times even when concentrating, or embarrassingly running off the path into blackberry and giving yourself a bleeding knee. On a bike it will be road debris or a vehicle roaring by that will catch you out.

Despite all of the trials I am warming to trail running.

It can only build strength. And it is so much more fun than pounding the roads.

More than 150 runners participated in the three distances - the shortest just over 7km - and during the second lap the races merged, somehow providing a mental and physical lift at just the right time.

I was comfortable with my time of one hour 28 minutes 18 seconds for 19th placing out of 59 competitors (17th out of 34, males only; 12th out of 26, men's over-40 age-group), and in awe of the seven athletes who went under 1 hour 20 minutes. Vernon Preston (1:11:45), whoever you are, you need to watch more rugby!

Overall, it was a great way to finish an average training week featuring three runs, a cycle and a swim - under what I had set out to achieve due to a variety of factors including an incredibly cold morning on Saturday.

The high point was finally getting into the pool.

To be honest the 2km session I completed late Friday morning was my perfect scenario for swimming. The sun was shining, the pool was warm and as a consequence, unlike much of last summer, I really felt like it. More of that please, weather gods.

With 37 weeks to go to Ironman, it's all about doing what you can, when you can, to maintain fitness over winter.

It's only seven weeks until full-on Ironmaori and Ironman training schedules come into play, and what is most pleasing as that looms is how enthusiastic I am.

Roll on the Friendly Dental VLK duathlon in Havelock North next week (see www.hbmsc.co.nz for details).

No wooden bridges or blackberry on that course, but there is a test match the night before!

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

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