Race Blog – Kit Walker
Posted on: August 7, 2017
Doing The Double
The Immortal Sport Half is a race that is always going to be close to me. Not only was it one of my mother’s favourite places to visit for a walk around the stunning estate and gardens it is a race that I have done all 3 versions of so far and learned from each of them.
The first year although in my head was a complete disaster going from leading to 4th in a matter of seconds with only 1km to go put a rocket up my ass and lead to some better races later in the year. The second year went much better, keeping my cool with bottle and nutrition issues and running my first strong half marathon off the bike to take the win and some redemption from year one. This year I came into it from a different perspective. Only 8 days after the race in Mallorca and not knowing what my legs would have I had a tactic in mind of swim and bike as hard as I could and see what happened on the run. Hoping to successfully “do the double” with wins at Immortal and also back to back weekends of middle distance racing.
With the sprint event on the Saturday evening we arrived in full with all kids Lisa and myself on Saturday afternoon to spectate and help out along with cheering on some Team Walker athletes and some local Bustinskin guys. The weather was nice and apparently the lake was warm, it was good to see bits of the course again and catch up with the guys that run the event.
Staying in Wincanton for the night we got back a little later than planned but got some food and hit the sack ready for an early start Sunday. A 4.30 alarm followed by a coffee and breakfast and before we knew it we were on the road. I got transition set up ok and my wetsuit on and walked down to the lake with Lisa and the kids. I had almost forgotten how far it was but was soon reminded that it was one of the toughest swim exit to transition runs I have ever done. A quick safety briefing and we were in the water, although not quite the temperature of the sea in Mallorca it wasn’t bad and with not alot of time for a warm up did a few strokes and headed to the front for the start. Off the start it’s a lovely straight line to the first buoy, I felt smooth but tried to keep the initial effort in check. Swimming in the week had been ok but my arms and shoulders had certainly been tired and mi didn’t want to blow up too early. I was first to the first buoy and settled into a good rhythm feeling quick and strong through the shallow lake. Finishing the first lap my arms were starting to feel it a bit but I tried to focus on my technique and a strong pull and got round the second lap well.
Swim exit onto the pontoon shot a few notes of cramp through my hamstrings which sent the alarm bells ringing but the long run up to transition soon ironed that out! In and out without much fuss and on the way out saw that I already had a couple of minutes lead.
From here the plan was simple – ride harder than I did last weekend and hope I don’t need my run legs too much. Initially the course is fairly flat then goes down a fast descent before a predominantly rolling loop,Not a slow course but no world records either! The weather was good although a bit cool to start and I felt pretty good initially. The power was ok although not fully flowing but I was feeling ok and happy to push a bit. Unfortunately at some point in the early part of the ride my rear bottle jumped ship with a full contents of around 600 calories! Not ideal but I kept my head together was sure to have finished my front bottle by the time I got to the aid station then I stopped for a minute to fully restock.
Trying not to pay too much attention to the overall time of my ride I was pretty pleased to go through the end of lap one in around 1 hour 10. I knew if I could hold that for the 2nd lap i would hopefully ride quicker than last year. Halfway into the second lap my legs were starting to feel the effort and let me know about it, keeping the power up was becoming harder work but I tried to stay smooth and consistent and made the turn to transition happy with my ride and just sneaking under 2 hours 20 by the time I hit the timing mat. Another fairly smoothly transition and with my Salming speed 3’s on my feet and more familiar OTE gels in hand I set off on one of the toughest half marathon runs I have done.
The course is a fairly simple uphill for around 3-4 kms then downhill offroad back to the lake where you run the steep hill back to the start at the end of each of the 3 laps totalling over 1000ft of climbing on the whole run.
I set off feeling ok but aiming to keep it steady and controlled. Ticking off the first predominantly uphill 5km in around 21 mins and enjoying the off road run down to the bottom. The ramp up onto the road put a sting in the legs and I was steady on the climb to the end of the first lap but happy to tick off lap 1 and collect my lap band. Seeing Lisa and the kids there she said I had around a 12 minute lead out of T2 so just had to hold together for another 15km or so.
Slightly slower on the second ascent up the road but more people were appearing on course now so i had people to chase down and to take my mind of the rest of the run. I was feeling stiffer and my cadence slowing and doing the maths in my head about how many seconds a km I would have to loose to give up 12 minutes. Grinding up the second ascent from the lake the course was getting busier and support growing. This definitely helped and there was a good atmosphere developing on the hill and finish area. Getting my next lap band and hearing I still had 10 minutes was a big relief. All I needed was my legs to keep going for 7.5km and I should be good!
The third climb again was slower but my breathing was controlled and I wasn’t pushing super hard. The legs were slowing though and it seemed to go on forever, hitting the top was pure relief and I was on the downhill for a while. Trying to relax into my stride I was still moving ok and was very happy to hear my watch beep for 20km. Down to the lake for the last time and up onto the road, my legs were really hanging now though and even on the flat it felt like I was going backwards. The final climb from the lake felt like walking speed and I still wasn’t fully confident until I entered the finish chute. Thankfully there was still no one there as I would have definitely lost any sprint finish!
Down the chute and across the line and it was awesome to see Lisa and all the kids there waiting for me. I got my medal and t-shirt and flopped onto a beanbag laid out for the
athletes post race, relieved, satisfied and glad I came and raced.
Overall it was a very succesful day! Although a slightly slower overall time than last year with a slightly slower run I had a great swim on a much more accurate course this year and rode strong with a new best power for a half ironman race. The run was a case of just trying to manage the decline in pace too much without fully destroying the legs.
Very solid couple of weekends of weekends racing which I couldn’t have done without the support of Lisa and the kids and the fantastic companies that are supporting me this year. For now I am hopefully starting to recover from these events and can start to plan and work on the build to Outlaw on the 24th July. Very excited for the summer to kick off and for some more great events to come.