Grant Harding Ironman Life #19


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.

What  a cool day yesterday was, to borrow a line from someone I love.

At the beginning of the winter triathlon season I set the goal of beating my personal best for the Friendly Dental VLK Duathlon long course.

In Race 1, I failed. In Race 2, I withdrew with injury. For Race 3, I was in Auckland. And a bad dose of flu ruled me out of Race 4. So yesterday was my final shot.

From the moment I woke up I knew it was "on". The weather was perfect. I was up early so my over-50 body had time to work into the day.

I'd worked hard during the week (hill work on cycles and runs), although I'd failed to get to the swimming pool. Late finishes at work had ruled out early starts with the Hawke's Bay Multisport Club swimming squad on Tuesday and Thursday. And on Saturday I decided to rest up for the duathlon. Yesterday afternoon my twins wanted to ice skate.

It's a concern, but getting to the pool is now a 23-week project. Not perfect, but then nothing is for a working, amateur Ironman.

Having visited Paul at First Chiropractic on Thursday, my body was not as tight as usual as I warmed up.

The first 4.5km run was swift - that was the people in front of me. And I was worried that I'd gone out too hard!

During the transition Shane Harrison's voice came over the top to tell me to put my helmet on first. Then he chastised me, gently, for having the bike set up on the top chain ring. (You have to love that man's enthusiasm.)

I stayed there for only a few of the 22 kilometres. It was the best ride I've done for some time - down on the aerobars the whole way, averaging just over 31km/h.

Typically, I then stuffed it up, entering transition at the first point, rather than the second where my gear was. It took me some time to work out why my running shoes were not showing themselves. (I can imagine Shane was laughing into his sleeve!)

The second run was magnificent, to a point. Upright, good breath. Yes I got passed by one runner (Anna Fuhrer), but I pulled back to neck-and-neck until an URS (unintended roadside stop). Must have been the second cup of coffee that morning, or perhaps it was the additional wine enjoyed as a result of Ihaia West's magnificent try for the Magpies on Friday night.

It didn't matter. I was thrilled to cross the line in one hour, 26 minutes and 35 seconds - one minute and 29 seconds under my previous best effort.

At prizegiving I learned that I came second in my age-group (first was a visiting circus midget*). Even better was a thermal shirt as a spot prize. The woman next to me couldn't see what she was grabbing without her glasses so hesitated, I couldn't see but grabbed the biggest package. He who hesitates is lost, as they say, although neither of us would know if that was the truth.

Overall it was a fantastic finish to a series which I would recommend to anyone from top triathlete to beginner. With more than 30 Bay people in the New Zealand team for the World Age-Group Championships in Auckland next month, the racing has been hot (Full report in Hawke's Bay Today later this week).

But back to that person I love - persons really.

On Tuesday I went over to support my twins at the Napier Primary Inter-Schools Cross Country.

What a beautiful day it was.

Hundreds of children from Napier and surrounding districts. Brilliant runners, fantastic supporters, happy faces everywhere.

Podium finishes from Arthur Miller to Puketapu to Maraenui to Reignier and more.

Taradale Primary were the overall winners but in the Year 5 girls race Napier Central brought it home, with the six runners finishing between 3rd and 27th.

To see your daughters and their friends giving it everything for each other was inspiring. Sam, hurting, mouth wide open for 12th; Ally boxed in at the beginning, fighting her way up to 23rd. Brianna, only recently recovered from an appendix removal, (3rd), Alia (7th), Lily (24th), Sophie (27th) ... all of them deserved their drinks, sausages and juicies, as did every runner there. Sam wrote in her exercise book: "We won. What a cool day." Indeed.

Oh, and all right, it wasn't a visiting circus midget who came in ahead of me. It was outstanding triathlete James Dever, who, if you really use your imagination, could have been a circus knife thrower.

In association with Hawke's Bay Today

Twitter: @GrantHarding4

- Hawkes Bay Today

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