Staff Interview: Andrew Hassard, triathlete

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 8:50pm
Category: Triathlon

This Iron Distance race will consist of a gruelling 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile cycle followed by a marathon (26.2 miles) – every day for 10 days! In preparation for the event we spoke to CRC's Andrew Hassard, who's currently busy training for the Decaman.
Age: 31
Occupation: Category Manager within CRC Trading Department
Hometown: Ballyclare, Northern Ireland
Competes in: Long Distance/Endurance Events
What got you into Ironman?
Andrew:My initial dabble into the world of triathlon in mid-2009 was to 'prove I didn't like it'; I joined a local triathlon club (Hi-Elbow) to get fit for an adventure race I had entered, with absolutely no intention of ever doing a triathlon (who could possibly enjoy that!). After several excuses (including only having a hybrid bike with front suspension and mountain bike tyres) and repeated refusal to enter a tri, I gave in just to prove I hated it. A 250m swim, 20km bike, 5km run later and I was in pieces…but hooked. My immediate thought was, 'I wonder if I can go a little bit further,' and so the self perpetuating cycle began. A month later I did a sprint triathlon, two months later a Half Ironman (both still on the hybrid) and a year later a full Ironman in Nice, France.
I guess the underlying drive was a desire to understand where my limits were and try pushing them on a bit. Ironman just seemed the holy grail for me (because I didn't think there was anything longer/more stupid!) but I still have just as much respect for anyone who gets out there and pushes themselves to complete a shorter distance event.
Did you find the move up to Ironman difficult?
Andrew:Yes. No. I can't remember! Training for any endurance event is tough. Take a sprint triathlon, for example. Swimming 750m, cycling 40km or running 10km are all recognised race distances on their own; combine them and it's a lot more than three times harder! Ironman distance racing is just another step up that requires commitment, dedication and a stubbornness to keep going no matter what. Looking back at preparation for my first Ironman in France I have totally got rose tinted glasses on. I have pretty much forgotten all the swimming, cycling and running I did early morning, after work and at weekends, never mind the carnage of the swim, cycling in the Alps (hills/hills/hills) or heat of the marathon during the race. The last 50 metres and the finisher chute make it all worthwhile!
2087b.jpgWhat does your average week look like in terms of training? Do you find it hard to fit around the day job?
Andrew:Monday to Friday I am either on the bike or in the pool by 6am for a one-two hour session before work. Evenings usually involve another two-three hours of running, swimming or cycling (sometimes I will run to the pool (10 miles), swim then run home). Weekends are when I do longer sessions of run and/or cycle; I might do a six/seven hour cycle then run for an hour, or just go for a four or five hour run. I also try to break training up by doing a few events as well e.g. ultra marathons and adventures races. 
There is also that thing called LIFE which also demands some non-triathlon time too. My wife understands and supports my passion for all things endurance which deserves my time and energy as much (and more) as training does. That means not doing a session every now and again, and I'm at ease with that.
Ideally I'd like not to have to work…ha ha – wouldn't we all! Unfortunately my aforementioned wife and bank manager dictate otherwise. Triathlon is really important to me but it doesn't define me. I choose to set and chase my goals, pushing myself a bit further every time but that is also applicable to everything I do. I genuinely enjoy my job within CRC (it has its trying moments just like every job) and work for a pretty exciting business. There's lots going on and plenty of tough targets to achieve but the business recognises the benefits of having staff who are passionate and driven within their respective pursuits outside of work (we have top level mountain bikers, BMXers, roadies and triathletes galore in CRC Towers!).
The mighty beard!
Basically, I do what I need to be successful; if that means staying late at work a few evenings, so be it. If that means going for a run at 10pm, so be it. I'm flexible with CRC and they are flexible in return.
You've just completed an Ironman out in Lanzarote, how did that go?
Andrew:Good and tough. The event was run by Enduroman and they don't do easy. I got fourth place in 12h01m…never let anyone tell you a minute here or there isn't important in an Ironman, 90 seconds would have put me sub-12 hours! Happy with the result, Lanza is a tough place to race. The sea was pretty choppy to start (had to have a strategic vomit), extremely windy out on the cycle (I'm really not an aerodynamic build) and lava fields are mentally draining (once you've seen one black rock you've seen them all!) and then begin the nightmare that is the IM marathon. All in a day's ironman I guess!
Your focus for 2012 is the NI Decaman, tell us a bit about it, and how are your preparations going?
Andrew:Quite simply it's an Ironman a day for 10 consecutive days. Realistically it's a nightmare a day that just keeps getting worse! Initially my reason and motivation to keep pushing farther was an ego based thing; proving myself to myself and others around me. This totally worked for a couple of years but I got to the stage last year where this wasn't completing the whole picture. In every endurance event there's a little dark monkey who appears on your shoulder telling you to stop, making you question why you're doing this. How you deal with him relies largely on your mental strength and being able to let your motivation keep you trucking. That little monkey got close to breaking me! Ulster Cancer Foundation approached me late last year about getting involved in this event to help raise funds for them and that basically was the missing piece of the jigsaw; using what I'm doing to actually benefit others around me. Don't get me wrong, there's still a part of me driven my ego but the fundraising and ability to help a fantastic cause is much greater.
Training is going well and I'm starting to build up into longer, harder sessions as well as drill exercises to be technically the best I can (speed over 10 days isn't as important as being efficient). I've planned out a few tough events before the Deca to test fitness levels and break up the training, as well as give the dark monkey a few outings and assess my mental resolve!
Andrew celebrates after finishing his double Ironman
You can support the fantastic Ulster Cancer Foundation by donating via the following Just Giving pages. Andrew's spiced things up a bit too, putting his moustache on the line in the name of charity – with your sponsorship you can also vote whether to keep or have his moustache shaved off!
Should the Mo stay? Vote here by donating £1 minimum (all proceeds to Ulster Cancer Foundation).
Should the Mo go? Vote here by donating £1 minimum (all proceeds to Ulster Cancer Foundation).
Please leave witty, funny, supportive, cheeky (within reason!) or any other kind of comment you like. There are a few little spot prizes available for the best.
• Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra Marathon (56 miles) 10h40m
• Tri-Limits Half Ironman5h20m
• Ironman France (3.8km Swim, 180km Cycle, 42km Run)12h30m
• Causeway Coast Ultra Marathon (40 miles)8h30m
• Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra Marathon 10h20m
• Tri-Limits Half Ironman4h55m (9th)
• Belfast Marathon3h40m
• Double Ironman UK (5 mile Swim, 240 Mile Cycle, 56 Mile Run)33h15m (6th)
• Energia 24hr Ultra (24hrs on 400m Athletics Track)86 miles
• Ireman (Ironman Distance)11h40m (1st)
• Causeway Coast Ultra Marathon8h15m
• Enduroman Lanzarote (Ironman Distance)12h01m (4th)
• Lost Worlds Causeway Crossing (100km Ultra Marathon)March 2012
• Tour of the Glens (120 mile Cycle through Glens of Antrim)May 2012
• Belfast Marathon (Day after Tour of the Glens)May 2012
• Slateman Triathlon (Olympic Distance)May 2012
• Tri-Limits Half IronmanJune 2012
• Celtman (Iron Distance in Scottish Highlands)June 2012
• NI Decaman (1 Ironman/day for 10 days)July 2012
• Quarryman Triathlon (Olympic Distance)Sept 2012
• Ironman Western AustraliaDec 2012

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