Grant Harding Ironman Life #13


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.

The 16-week programme towards Ironmaori, on the first weekend of December, which will be followed by a 13-week programme to Ironman New Zealand on the first weekend in March.

It all looks very easy this week. But that's the mental trick. Don't look too far ahead. It's day by day. Week by week. Enjoy the journey and before you know it, you're there, a large volume of training behind you.

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As I said, it looks easy, printed on a piece of paper. Just like running 100 metres fast looks easy when Usain Bolt is doing it.

The reality however, is that the achieving of any worthwhile goal requires commitment, goodwill, luck and always, hard work. And lots more besides. Sometimes it comes with a price - you know, the price of success. Are you prepared to pay it, whatever that price may be? There are many successful people in the world with a back story of issues along the way.

Not that I'm looking to add any more carnage to an already complicated life. The definition of success where my Ironman 2013 goal is concerned, is going faster than 2010. That will be difficult enough to achieve.

While on the face of it the opening week of my programme is a walk in the park - peppered with the word "easy" - on closer analysis it features three swims, three bikes and three runs (four if you count a short run off the longest bike of the week).

Then you start thinking: when and how? A run before flying home from holiday today, and a short bike before collecting my twins from school - two down; sneak a swim in somewhere tomorrow - but can it be done? Run at lunchtime on Wednesday; bike at lunchtime on Thursday, which means taking my bike to work in the car; rest day on Friday; run and swim on Saturday, swim and bike 50km on Sunday with short run off the bike - goodwill will be required.

This picture may clarify itself, or I may have to compromise this week - do less, bike inside. Family comes first every second week in my Ironman life, and that's how it will be all the way through.

That's not to say it can't be done. Every opportunity has to be taken, and the desire to do that has been aided by the last two weeks.

The Olympics have been brilliant both for the eye and the brain - not so much the body, which has been horizontal and awake for much of it.

There have been so many lessons, much to admire and inspiration to be found everywhere, including in the performances of those wearing the silver fern.

Rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray displayed unshakeable self belief, a quality which only comes from having done the work. They knew how hard they could push themselves without breaking their rhythm. And they could push themselves to places where others could not follow.

That relates well to the volume and varying intensities of Ironman training. By the time of the race you know how fast you are going to go. There is no secret to it. Great performance comes from great build-up. Poor performance comes from not having done the work.

The comebacks from disappointment at Beijing - gold medal single sculler Mahe Drysdale and BMX silver medallist, Sarah Walker - also showcased unshakeable self belief, as well as determination and dedication to complete what has been started. No matter that it was another four years of their lives.

It was interesting that Walker has now targeted Rio de Janeiro for gold, the initial golden goal driving her on.

Her father told an excellent story about an injury she suffered in a Weetbix Tryathlon when a boy knocked her off her bike. She got up time and again to try and run. The "I get knocked down, I get up again" spirit from such a young age.

The third rowing gold medallists, Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan trusted in their race plan, showed mental composure. They never panicked, backed their sprint. In similar fashion a triathlete might make his move on the cycle and hold on during the run, or keep comfortable on the cycle and back his run.

The women's 470 yachting gold medal crew displayed the ability to handle pressure and maintain standards. When they had to beat Great Britain in the final race, they not only did that, they won the race.

Then there was kayaker Lisa Carrington - explosive and gorgeous; both qualities, unfortunately, that I have no hope of attaining. But it was good to watch.

And I have the utmost admiration for our silver and bronze medallists, who accepted their position and enjoyed their moment on the dais. They gave their all, as did the many athletes within our team who come away with memories, not metal.

Valerie Adams, of course, slipped back to silver. While the administrative error was regrettable, "Our Val" will probably reflect on a difficult four years which featured a marriage break-up, and a split from her long time coach. In the end the winner threw further than Valerie has ever thrown. The next four years will hopefully be more harmonious, focused on building a formidable physical and mental state to throw further than ever before. That is her challenge.

Mine is 29 weeks of hard work to be an ordinary Ironman, in an extraordinary event. Wish me luck!

In association with Hawke's Bay Today.

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- Hawkes Bay Today

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