Grant Harding Ironman Life #29


Hawke's Bay Today deputy editor Grant Harding will start Ironman New Zealand on the first weekend in March, his second tilt at the event which requires a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run. He shares his Ironman life.

Time for the big question

At 7am today, just 47 days remained until Ironman New Zealand 2013 will come alive in Lake Taupo.

It's a scary thought, with only 42 of those days designated for full-on training. In the final week a mere mortal like myself tries to rest the body and control the mind - trick it into thinking travelling 226km inside 17 hours is normal.

All the while one frets about doing anything that will take vital energy. In theory that final week should feature two swims, two cycles and two runs - all short. Maybe, if my body is feeling up to it. It's the next six weeks that will make or break the day.

The programme I'm following requires 41km swimming, 1550km cycling and 310km running over that time. Today I meet with its writer, two-time Ironman (best time 11 hours and 53 seconds) Shane Harrison who will speak only the truth about what I have to do.

There will be no shortcuts. He will laugh when I tell him what I want to achieve, then say if you do this and do that "you never know, but ...". Mostly, however, he will try to stop me from pursuing an oft-travelled Scorpio path of self-destruction.

The bloke is a gem.

Seven weeks to go is crunch time. It's when you ask yourself the same question every day: "How much do you want this, Harding?"

Last Tuesday, I answered that question with a 100km cycle in heavy winds - so in-your-face at times the bike came to a shuddering halt, so powerful between Bay View and Ahuriri that I had to lean against the cross wind to stay upright.

On Wednesday, I answered that question over 3km at Ocean Spa - one of my better swims.

On Thursday I interval trained on the cycle (3x5km hard out, big gear, with 5km ride easy between each set), and later went out to run in heat so intense a co-night worker at Hawke's Bay Today asked me to take it easy because she feared I wouldn't return to help her put out the paper.

I did, and on Friday I was out the door at 5.15am, biking 120km to work - Napier to Tukituki, up Kahuranaki Rd, back down Middle Rd, and into Hastings. Beautiful to ride so early in the day with just one layer of clothing on, something that never happened in the 2011-12 summer of discontent.

But on the weekend I struggled. Having driven to Taupo on Friday night I couldn't muster the energy, or find the enthusiasm to let the moths out of my wallet, to take part in the Epic Swim series. While Janet headed out to swim the 5km on Saturday morning I slept, before going down to watch a highly motivated bunch of people come in.

The likes of two-time Ironmaori champion Kevin Nicholson, who did the event before getting married that afternoon to another Ironmaori champion Tristine Emery.

While waiting for Janet, who came in under 90 minutes, I caught up with family friend Peter Ingram who was preparing for the 10km start.

He'd trained for 18 months, and hadn't had a beer since ... ok, only Boxing Day, but he does like his beer. "Ingramo" went on to finish 17th overall in under 3 hours. A fabulous effort by the 57ish Taradale resident.

Whilst the swim is only the beginning of the Ironman day, it's important to get through it without too much fuss. I need to find the mental hardness I had in 2010 to achieve that, and the mental images of the Epic will help.

Afterwards I headed to town to buy a Timex Marathon GPS watch ($225). It maps time, distance and pace, and is water resistant. No more measuring out courses so I know how far I'm running. Even better I negotiated the sale price down because an internet purchase was cheaper. Finally my Scottish genes are kicking the arse of the French ones.

Then around midday I headed out to run a half-marathon. For 18km it went well, but when I stopped to take on extra water my knee injury flared and I was reduced to walking home. How I handle that will be discussed with Shane today.

After driving home yesterday I squeezed in a quick swim at Ocean Spa before heading to work. It felt good.

How much do you want it, Harding? That is the question.

In association with Hawke's Bay Today.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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