Grant Harding: Ironman Life #15


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.In association with Hawke's Bay Today.

As if it wasn't funny enough that a fellow swimmer recognised me at Ocean Spa on Friday night - "Is that you, Grant?" - despite the fact I was wearing goggles and a swim cap.


Yesterday morning, while checking my emails, the most recent message was from a Danish friend, who had just come in from a night on the town in Copenhagen.

"I meet a Kiwi and we talk about Aussie Rules, Greece and who knows what," Miko said. "And then I mention your name and he's like, 'Grant from Hawke's Bay, yeah man'. And you have done an Ironman."

Considering I met Miko on the party Island of Ios in 1985, Ironman was the last thing he connected me with.

Whoever the Hawke's Bay connection in Denmark was, thanks for putting me in touch with an old mate who took the time to read my blog and offer his congratulations.

As for Mark van Panhuys, who recognised me at Ocean Spa, that's another matter. An old boy of Hastings Boys' High School of my brother's vintage - five years older - he is typical of many of that 1970s HBHS era.

Mark has just had an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, but there he was on Friday night, working that knee back into shape. Soon enough he'll be back on the bike.

I'm not sure what it is that drives many of that vintage to stay in shape, but I guess it was the way we were brought up then. Few luxuries, technology limited to two TV channels and the second didn't arrive until the mid-1970s, always outside naturally honing our sporting skills.

As predicted, my first week of programmed training had its challenges. Ultimately I managed two swims, two cycles and two runs - one run after travelling back from Auckland on Monday, two cycles and a run during lunch hours, swims after work on Friday and on Saturday morning in the company of my twins, Sam and Ally, and one of their friends, Breea Diack.

I'm sure some people would have looked and wondered why I allowed the "troublesome trio" to swim in my lane while I was knocking out 64 lengths. But the fact was they never got in my way, or anyone else's, and Breea's a better swimmer than I am.

Besides, it's my belief that the most important role we have as veteran sportspeople and parents, is to inspire our children. So if that means I have to put up with three "dolphins" in my lane, so be it. I achieved exactly what I needed to.

Unfortunately, my weekend ground to a halt there. There was no room to manoeuvre for a bike ride, and although Janet would have let me run and swim in Taupo yesterday, I woke up with every bone in my body aching and a dose of what has been ailing all of my daughters and their mother over the past few weeks.

Never mind. There's no point thrashing oneself at this stage. And hopefully I will recover quickly.

For another busy week begins and I will be annoyed if I can't make use of the 1.30pm work starts by training in the morning to achieve 4.5km of swimming, 120km of cycling and 30km of running. If I am fit enough, I will take on the final VLK Duathlon in Havelock North next Sunday (go to the Hawke's Bay Multisports Club's website for details) as part of that schedule.

There are still many activities to build in: travel back from Taupo and a mid-term break for the twins today, a haircut, a visit to the chiropractor and a series of events for our long-serving production editor Sharron Pardoe.

Sharron was the one in January, 2010 who walked into the office and exclaimed: "Grant, we think you're too skinny now", as my training for that year's Ironman New Zealand neared completion.

Since then she has changed tack, and over the past year the always immaculately turned out Parron Shardoennay has banged on at me about getting a new wardrobe because my clothes were now "too big".

Yes, Mrs Pardoe is never backward when coming forward. Eventually the wallet opened and recently I've bought two new pairs of pants and a few shirts. I'll need to know, Sharron, before you leave on Friday, if I'm on the right track.

A passionate family person, a passionate member of the Napier Operatic Society, a person who always worked at a consistently high level of performance in the workplace and with whom I had many stoushes - all left on the field, if you know what I mean.

It's not only sportspeople who you can take inspiration from in your life. To regard passion in any worthwhile endeavour is uplifting.

Anyway, I'm sure her response will give me as good a laugh as I had after finding out that my ordinary Ironman skills had made it all the way to Denmark this weekend.


Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- Hawkes Bay Today

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