This is one of the best performance I have ever seen for an Ironman. Greg Harding did an amazing time with minimal training and absolutly loved it. I call minimum training for an IM when you train 7h to 10h per week. Why did he train so little? Because he bought Quest Dandenong and there was heaps of training and work involved. I could not be prouder and more impressed by this super nice guy. Here is his experience:

I entered the Italian Iron man in October 2018 after seeing that it was considered a good entry level course. The IM has been on my bucket list for a while and at age 56 clearly best not left too much longer. I am an experienced marathon runner having completed nearly 10 but am a hopeless swimmer and bike rider.

Why abroad? The overseas aspect was exciting and seemed like a good thank-you for my wife for putting up with the training.

I had no real concept of how to prepare other than to do a bit of research. I had done 4 or 5 70.4’s tri’s after all and a regular marathon wasn’t a problem so how hard could it be?

Anyhow I bumped into a great guy Mike who knows Coach Stephane well, Mike had heard that I had entered an Ironman.

Whose your coach, he asked, don’t have one, I said, He was aghast. Don’t worry he said, I’ll fix it. Sure enough Stephane rang me within a day or two.

We set a course, then I found about Training Peaks and the weekly feedback sheet.

To add to the mix my wife and I took over a new business in March. A Quest apartment franchise in Dandenong. I was actually living on site for 2 to 3 days sleeping over and working a full week as well. Plus I had a commitment with my daughters AFL team. I would attend training one night a week and run for the coach during Saturday matches. We also have a farm in Eden NSW with beehives on it so we need to attend monthly for a long weekend.

Foundation training started OK, not too much of a stretch. I swim like a runner and was only a coffee bike rider so needed to get my head in the game here. Then there was the wind trainer thing. At least the dog was getting fitter! Happy dog.

Being based in Melbourne I trained with the GPC crew infrequently but enjoyed the group training when I did.

Mid phase and the work level picked up. I was probably completing 75% of the required sessions. Coach Steph not happy.

The last 8 weeks and the work load shot up, it was a struggle to comply but I did the best I could in my available time. I had become a regular at the Dandenong Pool, interesting! and was watching a lot of Bondi Rescue sitting on the static bike at the Dandenong Goodlife gym. I was getting the long bike rides and runs done on the weekend but still skipping the odd session. Steph not happy. With the training load up, now wife not happy.

I was definitely fitter, stronger and leaner. Sure a few sore spots and a bit stiff but I am 56 remember. I wasn’t too compliant about the daily core work and stretching regime but I didn’t completely ignore it either.

So off to Italy we go early September. We had a three day walk in Tuscany a week prior to the event. Fifteen to twenty kilometres easy walking between villages with just a day pack. Gorgeous. Wife happy but now Steph extremely unhappy! A few more days in Umbria in a medieval town with friends. Local pool closed but found a nice athletic track and the E-bike was good for spinning the legs without load.

To Cervia for the event, awesome hotel with a room overlooking transition, sensational. Collected rental bike, good decision to hire, excellent bike, far superior to mine, just added my tri-bars and a few bits and bobs.

The town was rocking, 7,000 entrants across the weekend for the Ironman, 70.4 and 51.50. Massive infrastructure and music blasting everywhere.

The swim conditions were good, just under 90 minutes; good one, such a long T1 with so many bikes before we hit the course proper. Being slow on the bike meant I was a net passee rather than a passer. I amused myself by checking out the name, country and age category of the biker as they whizzed by. Why are all Russians called Ivan? 20 kms to get onto the 2 lap circuit – need to find a rhythm. The course was predominantly on the very smooth motorway apart from a lovely old town circuit – narrow streets, cheering crowd, even some cobblestones then a climb up to a medieval fortress town. Was this the Tour de France? 20 kilometres to go, are those guys drafting? where’s that motorbike? Finished strong, 6.5 hours, you beauty, get the runners on.

I had been dreading the transition into the run but I actually felt as free as a bird. The run course was a ripper, essentially 4 laps of 10 k through the old part of town, more cheering crowds everywhere. Laps easy to bite off and chew. Great support from wife Fiona and friend Raoul out on the course. However 25 km in and the bird was now in free fall! Struggled home in 4.15 for the marathon with a total time around 12.5 hours. Best case I had visualised was 12 hours. Coach Steph said I was dreaming! Finally Coach happy!

And I’m also content with that. Have to be. In the end it was about balance and gratitude. I attempted to balance training with work, training with family (done poorly) and a holiday with an Ironman. And I’m grateful for the opportunity, that my body held up, the friends that I trained with, for the Geelong Performance Coaching program and community and that Steph didn’t sack me midstream and mostly for the support of my darling wife.

The only fail on the day was that my Garmin battery didn’t make the 12.5 hours. This was a blow because I think I could have used the pace function to try to lift myself in the last 90 minutes.

So there is my story. Apparently now I am an Ironman. A happy one.