Grant Harding Ironman Life #18

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.

Early  yesterday morning an unmistakable pain woke me. Gout!

Anyone who has ever suffered from this condition will know what I mean. God knows what caused it, but it had arrived at a most inopportune moment.

How could I start the Hatuma Half Marathon later that morning?

The same thing had happened prior to the 2009 IronMaori where I swam the 2km swim leg for a relay team, then headed to the chemist.

At Marewa Pharmacy, top triathlete James Dever prescribed Sonaflam, and it did the trick. I returned to run a half-marathon leg for another relay team.

So at 8am yesterday I hobbled into a Napier pharmacy and found a pack. I took the recommended dosage of two tablets, and an hour later on the way to Waipukurau I overdosed with another two.

Sadly, there was no altered state.

Safely at the Waipukurau Racecourse I tried to warm up. I could walk but I couldn't run without pain.

As I lined up I determined that the first loop of about 600 metres was make or break. After that we were on our way around the entire circumference of Lake Hatuma.

Adrenalin, or maybe Sonaflam, kicked in. Because once I started the ankle wasn't on my mind. No, I just had a tight right hip for the first 5km.

A running and walking event for teams and individuals, there must have been more than 200 competitors.

I had twin goals for my first competitive half-marathon. First was that I wouldn't run slower than the event's fast walking record of one hour 57 minutes and 16 seconds held by Graham Jones and former New Zealand representative Gabrielle Gorst. My real goal, however, was to beat 1:50.

The previous day I had read an article about "training through", which was exactly my approach to this event. This was week five of my programme and the longest run to date had been 14km. While I didn't see this as an "A" competitive effort, it was a chance to push the boundaries out, get an elevated benefit for future training from a "B" effort.

So I stayed solid throughout. A Central Hawke's Bay couple, who were also members of the Hawke's Bay Multisport Club, helped me through some crucial kilometres in the middle section.

When they slowed to have a drink at the 16km mark I pushed on with a runner who had caught up to us. I visualised Pandora Pond and told myself there was just one lap to do. I'd been tired entering that situation many times before.

The sub 1:50 was on, so I pushed away from my running counterpart and went on to achieve my goal.

The scenic run, the undulations, the time, the drink bottle spot prize all made for a good finish to a low-key week (thank you to the Carters Hatuma Half-Marathon organisers and volunteers).

That said, everything I did this week was worthwhile. The short ride uphill to the Te Mata Peak Gates, the short run was on a cold day when others weren't game to venture out, the 85.17km cycle featured much work into a head wind on the way out, and a 3km run to finish, and the 1km swim on Saturday was continuous.

And I spent some time working on my programme for the weeks ahead with everything now planned out until IronMaori on the first weekend of December. My mind is on the job.

While my ankle is tender I'm confident it will be fine for the week ahead (4.5km swimming/140km cycling/37km running), with the highlights being two early morning swim squad sessions, an 85km cycle on Friday with a 3km run off it, and the final in the Friendly Dental VLK Duathlon series.

That will be another "B" effort, the last training session of a big week. But I will be going as fast as I can on the day. Here's hoping that I won't need Sonaflam.

In association with Hawke's Bay Today.

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- Hawkes Bay Today

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