Grant Harding Ironman Life #31

By Grant Harding

Hawke's Bay Today deputy editor Grant Harding will compete at Ironman New Zealand early next month. He shares his Ironman life for the final time.

Sometimes I feel like I'm, "That Ironman Guy", due to the recording of my world in Hawke's Bay Today

Billie Herewini told me recently that her stepfather is taking on Ironmaori this year, and she's going to participate in the Tamariki event.

The talented young sportsperson added, "Mike says he's going to beat the twins' dad."

It was music to my ears: the primary reason I have continued to write this column after the initial wide-eyed madness of Ironman New Zealand 2010.

While Ironman isn't for everyone, exercise for improved health can be. And I was happy that Mike had been inspired by my columns to take the first step.

It's fair to say, he's currently carrying weight.

When I dropped Billie home later that day, Mike and I had a chat. His story is no different to many of us. He was a good sportsman once-upon-a-time, won this-and-that at school.

Gently I stressed to him that "coming back" would take much effort, and even more discipline.

I wish him well on his journey, as I have wished many others well since that cool July of 2009 when I rolled off the couch, tied up my shoelaces, causing shortness of breath, and headed into the unknown world of Ironman.

It was a 30-week journey I would never trade, which ultimately led to the finish line in Taupo the following March.

Sometimes I feel like I'm, "That Ironman Guy", due to the recording of my world in Hawke's Bay Today - and how people have reacted to that.

I have always stressed my ordinariness, but Ironman's requirements have had some thinking otherwise. Recently on Twitter I was called "Hawke's Bay's Chuck Norris", as apparently "during the Running of the Bulls, the bulls actually run away from Chuck Norris".

I reminded the tweeter that, "Chuck also kicks butt ... doesn't get a sore one", like I had after 160km of riding.

As much as I would like to be an extraordinary triathlete, I have yet to move beyond the realm of "struggler".

To quote a loveable big guy, Napier Port worker Dave Makea post-Ironmaori 2010, "If I can do it, you can do it". Dave was more than 140kg when he completed that half-ironman, and now in the "130s" he will be on the start line in Taupo this year.

With a knee injury confining me to just two runs in the last three weeks, and just four weeks left until Ironman New Zealand 2013, I accept that I will be challenged to finish faster than my modest rookie effort of 2010.

But it matters not. I will be there on the same course as the best in New Zealand, the best in Hawke's Bay. The personal examination of my qualities of endurance and mental strength will be thorough.

Not only that, I will be representing local - the theme I have tried to embrace during this campaign.

My tri-suit will be Ironmaori merchandise, inscribed with the words, "Tane Toa", which translated means, "male warrior". Pretty cool, eh?

Also personally meaningful, as making the documentary, Ironmaori: Movement of the People for Maori Television in 2011 was one of the most satisfying experiences of my quarter-century in the media.

This is my last Ironman column, as on Friday I leave Hawke's Bay Today. My five years have coincided with my employer winning Qantas (now Canon) and APN Regional Newspaper of the Year Awards, and personally I was honoured with APN Columnist of the Year.

They are the outward signs of hard work undertaken by my colleagues and I, much of which goes unseen. I'm comfortable to say that I leave with my head held high.

And that's exactly how I intend to leave Taupo on the first weekend of March.

Kia Kaha, Kia Maia. Keep healthy. And for goodness sake, harden up!

In association with Hawke's Bay Today

- Hawkes Bay Today

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