Grant Harding Ironman Life #22

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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.

After a deep tissue massage on Tuesday my body shut down.

On the surface I'd been feeling good, but just under the skin, Donna from Muscle Mechanix uncovered a whole world of hurt.

I ran soon afterwards and finished with legs of rubber. Two days later, after a lacklustre kilometre of swimming, I was disturbed, left searching my brain for answers.

Eventually the memory bank took me back to the aftermath of the 2009 Tour of the Bay - a low point of my rookie Ironman New Zealand campaign. I had injured myself running just two days afterwards, struggled for three weeks as a result and entered the business end of Ironman training under a dark cloud.

So I was determined not to worry too much. Post-Tour of the Bay was clearly not a time to thrash oneself for the sake of it.

Instead I waited for the weekend, and focused on enjoyment.

On Saturday, my eldest daughter joined me on a 50km ride on the IronMaori course. The 17-year-old struggled into the head wind, but came home strong, buoyed by her ability to pick off other cyclists battling their way back into Napier. Unfortunately, fatigue led to a rookie mistake - she didn't disconnect her shoes from her pedals when stopping and crashed in the driveway.

After establishing she was uninjured I couldn't help but laugh. She was trapped under her bike, lying at an angle where her head was below her feet.

I headed off to Taupo later that afternoon, and awoke on Sunday to terrible weather. It was perfect for watching the final men's race of the ITU World Series. In brutal conditions, on a brutal course, the cream rose to the top. After 51.5km at full noise, it was Spanish Olympic Games silver medallist Javier Gomez who had outsprinted bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee - although the embarrassing amount of times the TVNZ commentator called him Alistair, his absent Olympic gold medal-winning brother, it would have been easy to be confused. Brownlee, Jonathan that is, won the overall series.

The quality of the swimming, the cycling and the running was a sight to behold.

Utterly inspired I allowed my brain to trick itself and headed out into the pouring rain (weather fit for ducks and I saw one) for a 14km run - lake front to Five Mile Bay, and return. It brought back memories of 2010, the Ironman road markings still visible. Managing twinges in my left calf and hamstring, I relived the loneliness of the uphill stretch to the airport, thought about my poor nutrition and hydration on that occasion, and later felt the power surge back into my body as I closed on the township.

The brain is a marvellous tool.

Much of yesterday was taken up with following the progress of the world age-group championships where 30 Bay athletes featured. Among two late local withdrawals was one of the province's brightest hopes. Naomi Fergusson broke her hand when she fell from her bike while riding to check it in, in Sunday's foul weather.

In the sprint (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) Dave Johnson (33rd, 30-34) was Hawke's Bay's fastest, coming home in 1:13:41, while Anna Fuhrer (8th, 20-24) produced the best placing.

But it was the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run) where Bay athletes excelled.

The brilliant Ali Hollington (45-49) added a silver medal to her recent World Long Distance title, and the World Aquathon bronze medal she won last Wednesday. A full set of world championship medals in the same year is a magnificent achievement. She trailed the eventual winner by over four minutes after yesterday's swim leg, then closed on the cycle and the run - despite going the wrong way when she started the second lap - to finish just 68 seconds adrift.

Other top 10 finishers were Simonne Morris (6th, 40-44) and Julie Boshier (5th, 65-69). Jeremy Natusch (33rd, 30-34) was the fastest of the Bay contingent in 2:16:13.

This week will once again be about doing what I can, with the highlight the Napier City Pak'n Save Half-Marathon next Sunday.

Having listened to my body I, fingers crossed, will at least go to the start line with a sound body.

In association with Hawke's Bay Today

Twitter: @GrantHarding4


Coming events


Icebuster Triathlon, Pandora Pond, Sunday - Swim Gym Triathlon (200m swim, 14km cycle, 2km run/walk); Avanti Plus Hastings Triathlon (750m swim, 21km cycle, 4.5km run/walk); Breaker Webb Risk Services Duathlon (4.5km run/walk, 21km cycle, 2km run).

Napier City Pak'n Save Half Marathon, Sunday - For information, visit www.runwalkhb.org.nz

- Hawkes Bay Today

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