Grant Harding Ironman Life #10


Temuera Morrison is having a Dry July I've been told, and I'm with him - at least in action.

The actor, who gave a once-in-a-lifetime performance in the film adaptation of Alan Duff's superb novel, Once Were Warriors, is one of several celebrities supporting Dry July which partners with a number of hospitals and organisations throughout Australia and New Zealand to fund projects that support adult cancer patients. My cause, however, will be closer to home.

Like myself, Ann Robottom, is a Vet 2 athlete. Unlike myself, the two-time Ironman has qualified for the age-group World Triathlon Championships in Auckland in October.

For Ann, just getting to the start line will be an incredible achievement, given the emotional rollercoaster she is most certainly experiencing right now.

All of her achievements have come against the backdrop of a family life, which includes Kimberley, the youngest of her two daughters, who was born with cystic fibrosis.

Last month this beautiful young woman had a lung transplant to prolong her life. She has to remain in hospital in Auckland for about three months.

A support person is required following this major operation, and Ann has taken leave without pay to be with her daughter.

The Hawke's Bay Multisport Club is gearing up to raise funds equivalent to Ann's weekly wage, and has asked members, and those who know Ann, to consider a small weekly donation or lump sum payment they can afford.

And "afford" is the operative word in these cash-strapped times.

I learned about this initiative while I was sulking about my lower left leg injury for the first three days of last week.

And it helped to turn me around.

Well, to be honest, Tony Snell started the process.

He wasn't about to let me off when I hobbled into Plus Rehab in Taradale on Wednesday afternoon. The esteemed physio just gave it to me straight: you are not flexible enough, you are not stretching enough, your injury is a result of this.

It brought me back to the notes I wrote months back, on the day I decided to take on Ironman New Zealand again.

At the top of the page it said, "Fun", "Weights", "Flexibility". I had been having fun- doing events - but the other stuff was left on the page.

The dates for IronMaori and Ironman New Zealand were inked in underneath, followed by the words "Zero Alcohol". Well that hadn't happened.

Then came sub-headings: Swimming, Cycling and Running.

Written under "Swimming" was: technique coaching/tri-squad/drills; "Cycling": big kms/interval work/Ramblers races/Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge; Running: volume/intensity/events - half marathons/half ironmans.

So after seeing Tony, and reading my notes, I went to the gym the next day with a compression bandage on my leg and put together a 45-minute workout including 30 minutes on the static bike, weights and flexibility. Then I went again on Saturday for an hour. And then early this morning, I was at Jetts again.

And looking at that piece of paper I marvelled at how worlds collide.

I met my 2010 swimming mentor, Reece Kennedy, in the supermarket recently. Technique coaching, drills, tri-squad - he's the man! I told him I will be joining him soon, and he offered that "you'll be amazed how quickly you'll improve". Always that positivity.

Then last week I took a phone call from Hilary Green of the Ramblers Cycling Club. He wanted me to highlight the importance of sensible riding in winter (any time really) - the need to make oneself visible to drivers of vehicles, to not hug the white line in cycle lanes, to

keep as far left as possible, to respect the weather conditions, and for drivers to exercise patience.

Before hanging up he asked me when I was going to have a ride with Ramblers, to which I said it was on my "to do" list.

So as I contemplated a few weeks off running, all of that was being processed in my head. The Multisport Club's initiative in regard to the Robottoms made me think: What did I have to worry about? A temporarily sore leg. Kimberley Robottom has battled all her life, and with her all the way has been her mother, Ann.

I also remembered, like it was yesterday, when one of my daughters spent time in hospital for a burst appendix in 2007. How your world stops. How there is only one thing on your mind. One place you need to be. Everything else is too much to consider.

On Saturday night, looking into a raging fire on a cold night with a glass of wine in my hand, I changed my mindset about Ironman, about life really. 2010's "No Excuses, Just Commitment" needed freshening up. I have decided that Ironman New Zealand 2013 is just a part of "Seeking Excellence" in the remaining years of my life.

I recognise that training will always be compromised - looking after my twins every second week is a major consideration, and a joy. Being an "excellent" father is more important than Ironman excellence, although by 2015 I want to have fully examined my potential in this incredible event. So every second week I will do what I can without feeling guilty about it, while making sure I do plenty in the other week. But every week of July I will forego my supermarket wines. It will be better for my health, better for my sport, better for my long-term goals - seeking excellence, the optimal experience from everything.

And as I am on holiday, and out of town, from late July to mid-August, for a mix of reasons including training, and there will be absolutely no space for wine, it will allow me to push myself in readiness for joining Reece and his squads, the Ramblers, and the Multisport Club when I am injury-free.

Most importantly, however, it will allow me to make a donation to help a special mother be where she needs to be.

Payments can be made to Ann's account: 12 3145 0252608 00; and Kimberley's progress can be followed on: http://www.hbmsc.org.nz/default.asp?PageID=24285

For more information contact Glen Yule at yule@vodafone.co.nz

In association with Hawke's Bay Today

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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