Grant Harding's Ironman Life #17


Hawke's Bay Today deputy editor Grant Harding, who will be participating 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.

I woke up exhausted yesterday morning.

The plan was to go for a 1km swim, then head out on an 85km cycle with a 3km run to finish. That would have completed a full "hard" week of scheduled training.

But 6.30am soon became 9am, before my brain finally convinced the tired body it lives in that it had to train.

Thankfully the hard wiring decided to drop the swim, and swap next weekend's ride of 70km with a 2km run off it, for this weekend's. After all I had to work a full shift from 1.30pm.

So away I went from Napier Hill to Poraiti Hill, to the top of Swamp Rd, over to Hastings, out to Paki Paki, over to Havelock North and back to Napier. The wind blew, there were cyclists everywhere, and a moron yelled at me on one of Napier's bridges (Yes that was my middle finger, Dick Whacker! Incredible, I even knew his name).

Underestimating the circular route I ended up doing more than 6km further than planned. Don't you hate that!

Then it was on with the running shoes to complete the job, into the shower, down with a plate of peaches and off to work.

Although I was drained, the past week has given me immense satisfaction. I've worked really hard - and had much fun, thanks to my daughters.

Ashley turned out on the first three days of training.

On day one, scared of the big downhills she lagged behind on the bike, but as I came down Puketapu Rd Hill there she was on her way up. At home we ran a km off the bike, and afterwards she said, "I felt like I was running on air". I replied: "That's good." But thoughts gathered, she added, "No, I couldn't feel my legs." I didn't admit that her programme didn't require a run off the bike!

On day two she talked me into taking our dog, Beks, with us. After the first lap around Pandora I stopped to put the 11-year-old in the car. But the 11-year-old had taken itself off for a swim and delayed me while the 17-year-old hared off on the second lap. It was game on, and about a km from the end "the old man" was the winner. She had made me run harder than I normally would have.

Of course, victories at my age come with a price. She lay on the couch watching television while I tucked her in with a blanket and fed her, before taking her to work.

Wednesday got even better, when I watched my twins come in first and third in the Napier Central Year 5 cross-country. I mention this not to boast. Well, okay, I was incredibly proud of them.

But it was the sports psychology which really interested me.

Sam has been in the cross-country team the last two years, by filling the sixth and last spot each time. Ally had missed out, coming 8th and 7th, despite finishing as fresh as a daisy.

This year, the acknowledged best runner was ill. Before that was known the twins had, without any encouragement, been taking themselves off for runs around their mother's block.

Sam, you could sense, saw an opportunity. Ally just had a sore ankle.

On the day of the race Sam was up and showered by 7.30am - she is normally not up before 8am! And on her feet were her running shoes. The race couldn't come quick enough. Ally's dreadfully painful ankle suddenly wasn't sore any more.

Their front-running tactics were perfect, Sam came home strong, Ally was satisfied to make the dais.

Sam has a feel for winning, a brain for sport. Ally has all the physical ability, but is not as win-focused (although the boost to confidence carried into the weekend where she cleaned up a junior squash tournament).

As I reflected on it I couldn't help but think, "the harder you train, the luckier you get".

An older friend told me, when my father died, that as you age the achievements of your children become far more important than your own. And that's how I felt on Wednesday.

But it also injected extra enthusiasm into my own veins for the Ironman challenge, which had been building anyway due to the improvement in the weather.

The following day I arrived to collect Ashley for our first swim squad session with the Hawke's Bay Multisport Club. Predictably at 5.13am the text came: "I don't want to go to swimming. Had a crap sleep. I will just go and do my own swim later." Yeah right. The sharp response: "Get up. You can go back to bed after. Outside now."

After an hour with those nutters (Deputy Editor: word used in the nicest possible sense, because there were lanes full of scary swimmers) both of us were blown apart. In the slow lane Colleen Youngquest had given me tips on pull buoy swimming. She must have got sick of touching my feet. Reece Kennedy started to give advice and then left it for a day when my "swimming fitness" had improved.

Fred Koenders tweeted: "... Good to see @GrantHarding4 there. Arms now hanging by a thread." I knew he wasn't talking about mine, because they needed surgical reattachment. But later that morning I went out cycling again, on Friday (nothing in the tank) and Saturday I ran, I also swam on the latter day, and then there was that brutal ride yesterday.

It was a solid week - the best for a long time.

Ashley won't be around this week. She leaves for Christchurch on Wednesday to play squash for Hawke's Bay Lawn Tennis and Squash Club in the National B Grade teams event, alongside her mother. Upon her return it's IronMaori training all the way to the first weekend in December. I will miss her.

But another week of training looms, and I'm adding in the Waipukurau Hatuma half-marathon next Sunday as a challenge. I couldn't be more enthusiastic than I am now. Thanks kids.

In association with Hawke's Bay Today.

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- Hawkes Bay Today

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