Grant Harding Ironman Life #12


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.

On holiday, and out of town, training is somewhat compromised.

I was going to bring my bike to Auckland, but getting it packaged for travel was just one job too many in a busy week before I left on Thursday night.

The gym will have to suffice over the next fortnight, with a combination of solo and spin class sessions.

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Since arriving I have tested my new running shoes, Mizuno Wave Nirvana 8, on Friday and Saturday.

Yesterday was a one-hour bike and weights session in the gym, which was just as well as it was blowing a gale outside.

Not having my bike however, is not the major impediment to training during the next two weeks. Distracting me is the Olympics which I, like the rest of the world, am watching.

Ever since I discovered the four-yearly festival when I was 7 years old those five rings have been under my skin.

Back in 1968 I pretended to have a cold so I could stay home from school and listen to the radio. New Zealand recorded a famous victory over India in hockey that day, and I was hooked.

A decade later, this time it was the Commonwealth Games, Frank Crist, then principal of Hastings Boys' High School told the assembled seventh form when he heard I was absent from a meeting: "That's all right, he'll just be at home watching the opening ceremony".

So during the next fortnight it's not likely I'll be getting much sleep.

Briton Chrissie Wellington, the current and four-time World Ironman champion, is luckier in that respect. But she, too, was captivated by Day 1, and tweeted: "Watching the passion and the determination on the athletes faces gave me goosebumps today, and made me want to go out and smash myself."

That was my feeling, too, but having tried some of the opening ceremony dance moves, in private, of course, I had been quickly reminded that I'm 51, never liked dancing, and those pretty girls are, and always have been, for those pretty boys.

The Kiwi rowers superb start was the day one highlight, and the fastest-ever time by the coxless pair, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, the absolute standout,

For these guys, seemingly certain gold medallists, the accelerator is down all the time, and just a little further during competition.

They are an inspiration to all athletes who aspire to perform to their best, and their words are worth pinning on the fridge.

"Talent's nothing," Bond said, "at the end of the day you've got to work bloody hard to make use of it."

The equally pragmatic Murray said: "Whatever pain you get put in front of you, you've just got to do it ... that's what makes champions. The ability to say: 'Let's go and do it again'. Those are the rows that really count; the ones when you don't want to be there."

For me that's the long swim at Ocean Spa in the dark when nobody else is there because they're having fun.

It's the ride out the back of Puketapu when the ranges are covered in snow, your nose is dripping all the way, and then it rains.

It's the 20km run on endless plains when your legs are beaten up, you've been driving a desk all day and your body wouldn't know an endorphin if it tripped over it.

All of that will feature some time in the next 31 weeks.

Interestingly, it was the swimming which most caught my eye. I studied the form of the freestylers closely, and could see the lessons Reece Kennedy taught me back in 2010, admittedly, in overdrive.

The underwater shots showed the technique beautifully, and it has encouraged me to make a real effort with my swimming this time; to at least get back to where I was in 2010.

So the pool will be my first stop today. I want to be in shape to join the tri-squad at Clive when I arrive back in the Bay.

During this holiday I am determined to stay in shape so I might feel fit enough by mid-August to take on the final trail run of the Hawke's Bay series at Eskdale. Then there is another Multisport Club Duathlon, before a half marathon in Central Hawke's Bay in September. You'll find if funny, but I have never run a competitive half marathon. Also my programme kicks into overdrive on August 13.

In the meantime, however, I'm with two-time Ironman world champion, Australian (Kiwi mother) Chris "Macca" McCormack, who tweeted: "Got to love the Olympics".

In association with Hawke's Bay Today

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- Hawkes Bay Today

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