Grant Harding Ironman Life #9


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.

Perhaps it was the six-day working week I completed on Friday. Or maybe it was the new jeans I bought on Saturday - slim fit which made me feel like Graham Brazier of Hello Sailor in his heyday (they will stretch, won't they?). Then again it could have been the cord of wood I put away later that day. And one can't underestimate the fact that I wore underwear under my tri-pants - not normal triathlon practice.

Whatever caused it, I broke down starting the second run leg of the Revolution Bikes Duathlon yesterday.

Just how badly injured I am will have to be determined today. Experience tells me it will be a few weeks before I am fully sound again.

My lower left leg had played up in the latter stages of last weekend's trail run, and on Friday night after the big working week I felt shocking during a late night run. Then again, running on a Friday night when everyone else is unwinding never feels that good.

I felt my leg again late in the first leg of the duathlon - a 4.5km run. I was, however, travelling well.

Then it was on to the bike for a 22km hit-out which was notable for a few things.

The first, that one of my twins, or their friend, had changed my speedometer while I was out running. Being virtually blind without reading glasses I was perplexed as to why I couldn't move my average speed above 30km/h. It felt like I was at that pace, but it was showing in the 20s - I thought.

Soon after I realised that my speedometer had been moved to the "trip distance" setting, because I certainly wasn't doing 40km/h. Through squinting eyes I realised I had merely travelled 4.1km.

I also realised as I started the second 11km loop that I was in a riding position akin to heading off to Hastings Boys' High School 34 years ago. My aerodynamic helmet was until that stage, according to Miss Coruba 1979 (my former Ironman mentor Jeanette Cooper), next to useless. Because I had my head in the air looking straight ahead, she said I would be known from this day forward as, "Head-down Harding". That was a technical fault; it was a physical one which was about to ruin my day.

In transition as I prepared to head off on the second 4.5km run I attempted to pull the whole bike shoe off my left leg without loosening the Velcro straps. As it resisted my attempt I felt a sudden pain which rippled up my leg. I immediately knew it was serious.

I tried to get started but had run up the white flag before Janet, who was over from Taupo and tracking me like a Mountie, had left her bike.

She went on to finish second woman home (1:26:03), four seconds behind Anna Fuhrer, after putting in an excellent second run - especially considering she's battling a heavy chest cold.

I just went on ... and on ... and on about my injury. No I didn't. I'm not like that.

I'm realistic enough to know that I wouldn't have matched Janet's finish, even if I was on track to challenge my personal best of 1:28:04.

Conditions were excellent and some superb times were posted, including a brilliant race record time of 1:06:17 by rising multisport star Luke Osborne. (Read the full Friendly Dental VLK Duathlon Series Race 2 report in Hawke's Bay Today later this week).

And besides triathlon, for me, isn't about racing against others, it's about racing yourself. From Luke to the last person home (1:52:18), to this DNF - each and every one of us would have started the day with our own personal goal.

In the end, a major factor in how good you will be, is the equation: time plus energy equals ambition. You have to be realistic.

Just as you do with injury - deal with it, remain philosophical. It's not cancer.

Together, Janet and I analysed a few issues. Too much sitting at work without regular breaks. The need for new running shoes - ? was stupidly still using the pair I had for Ironman New Zealand 2012. The lack of a recent visit to my massage therapist or chiropractor. (I also had a shocking night's sleep, probably because the brain and body wanted to party after the All Blacks' great performance.)

Certainly I need to be smarter.

Whatever caused it - and I'm not discounting the superfluous underwear cutting off blood supply (For those without a sense of humour - I'm joking! Please don't cancel your subscription.) - I will now have to visit Plus Rehab for a diagnosis.

Dr Evil (Tony Snell) or one of his assistants is sure to give me grief.

The gym membership I took up at Jetts on Saturday will come in handy, but I'm hopeful that I can continue swimming and biking (at least statically) without interruption.

In association with Hawke's Bay Today

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- Hawkes Bay Today

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