Welcome to the self-supported Ultraman show, also known as "The Ultrababy!"
With the help of many friends and family, I went out and did a 6.2 mile swim, followed by a 93.6 mile bike ride, slept, then did a 176.5 mile bike ride, slept again, and then did a double marathon. All-in-all, I went 328.8 miles.
The second half of the double marathon is where the heat finally hit me hard, but my spirits were boosted when Kai pulled up next to me on the bike with this sign he made all by himself -
A photo posted by Brett Blankner (@zentriathlon) on Oct 11, 2015 at 8:07am PDT
This show is co-hosted (attacked?) by none other than Spartan Ultra Beast Masters champion and pro triathlete John Hirsch. He adds lots of flair and insight, posing some really cool questions I wouldn't have thought of on my own. Thanks, man!
Back to the "race", below is the setup of my bike for the two bike rides. I was going through about 2 liters of water and fuel per hour to try to keep cool. It was crazy!
A photo posted by Brett Blankner (@zentriathlon) on Oct 10, 2015 at 5:30am PDT
I picked the hilliest routes I could find here in College Station, but I couldn't quite match the part where they literally ride up a volcano. But let me tell you, the HEAT. Oh, the heat. Holy crap. Texas has that in spades. I went an extra 8.8 miles on the bike to try to make up for the elevation gain difference. (Keepin' it real out of respect.) And we had a high of 95 degrees, no clouds with full Sun, and powerful humidity during the double marathon. Also, I found out after the fact that my run route had nearly twice the elevation gain of Hawaii's. I didn't notice it too much because it was still relatively flattish, but I was just trying to keep moving forward at that point anyway.
A photo posted by Brett Blankner (@zentriathlon) on Oct 9, 2015 at 2:51pm PDT
Brian Brode and Kai both helped out a ton. I needed to get in a shot of them together at the lake before the swim started.
A photo posted by Brett Blankner (@zentriathlon) on Oct 9, 2015 at 5:20am PDT
About a dozen parents and kids ran parts of the run with me, marking the aid station driveway with chalk as we did loops around the neighborhood. It's tradition!
A photo posted by Brett Blankner (@zentriathlon) on Oct 12, 2015 at 9:50am PDT
There is LOTS more about what this was like inside the show, so tune in! And I will go over tips and tricks in Part 2 next episode so you can get some ideas on how to do your own epic event.
Thanks and stay safe!
Today's bike ride was fantastic! Even after 172 miles, I ended up feeling good enough to ride an extra 4 miles to try to partially make up for the difference in elevation between here and Hawaii. That's not to say that today's course wasn't hilly, hot, and really windy. It was! It was also super safe, fun, and well supported by Brian, Emily, Kai, and Dana's husband, Ed.
Each loop was 22 miles, and Dana and I rode the first one together, just chatting, so that I could point out any hazards and give tips. After that, we split up a bit to ride our own paces. By the end of the day, I was glad that we took the first loop so easy.
Our aid station setup worked great. I would roll up, chat for a minute with everybody, all while grabbing more water bottles and sometimes more fuel. I used the same formula as yesterday - Maple syrup, Hornet Juice, matcha green tea powder, and sea salt.
When I felt bad or sick, I would just wait it out and drink some water and poof, I'd feel fine again soon. I've really found my fuel with maple syrup. At least on the swim and bike! We'll see how it pans out tomorrow on this crazy long run. Anyway, I felt great for the vast majority of the day, just plugging along and listening to podcasts. I sent Joe Rogan, Rich Roll, and Adam Carolla a thank you tweet, and Adam tweeted back!
I also got a text message of support from my Ultraman godfather - Rich Roll. I have to say, that was really cool and put a nice pep in my step. Thanks, Rich!
I'm repeating the same recovery drill as last night because it seemed to work so well. Burger and fries, pizza, cookies, and lots of salt added to everything I'm drinking.
Thanks for all the tweets today, they really helped. Let's keep going!
I thought I should do a quick recap of how day one of Ultrababy went for those that want to know more details of what it was like than can be crammed in a few tweets.
Swim and swim conditions. Our local lake is great for open water swims. It's 2.4 miles out and back, so I swam the 6.2 by going back and forth nearly three times. We had no boat traffic and the lake isn't big enough to develop huge waves, so it was mostly calm with only a bit of texture. It felt like it was around 74 degrees, so no wetsuit. It's also freshwater (obviously), so the swim was possibily a bit slower than what could be done at the real Ultraman in salt water with wetsuits like they get. But they also get currents, so who knows for sure. Anyway, I made sure I went over the distance a bit just to validate that I wasn't cutting corners. 6.23 miles
Brian paddled next to me in a kayak. We did feedings every 20 minutes (Maple syrup, Hornet Juice, matcha powder, and salt tablets.) It was pretty uneventful, which is exactly what you want. And I met Dana for the first time ever, right in the middle of the lake, as she was knocking out 2.4 miles of her own. Emily was crewing for her in another kayak. Shoulders got a bit tired towards the end.
Bike. I had to assemble my bike during transition, putting the rear wheel on and a bunch of other stuff. This is because nobody was watching our stuff as we were swimming, so it was all crammed inside my car. It was fun and I was feeling fine, so no big deal.
The course was four loops, totallaing 93.6 miles. Ultraman is 90 miles, but with more elevation gain, so I was going overdistance again on purpose to settle the difference. About half the course was hilly, and the flatter half was made from some of the most intense chipseal you can find, slowing progress significantly. It was a real grind, very challenging.
The interesting tidbit you wouldn't think of is that your arms cramp up when reaching into your jersey pockets. 6.2 miles of swimming does a real number on the shoulder and arm muscles! Reaching for those behind-the-back bottles and goodies was pretty painful at times. I also had a rear bottle cage snap in half within an hour of starting the bike, so I had to jam an additional water bottle in my jersey pocket, adding to the "fun."
I felt good the first two loops, but I think I was shorting myself on sodium the second two. This combined with high humidity and heat (heat index of around 94 degrees) pushed me to my limits. I was going as slow as I could the whole day, but still was struggling to keep going by the end. Still, when you but it into context that it was an 8+ hour day of exercise in the Texas elements, it starts to make sense.
Day 2 (172 mile bike) will be the same heat as day 1, but I'm a bit smarter about the sodium intake. And I ate McDonald's, pizza, cookies... all kinds of crap after we finished day one to reload the calories too.
Overall, I'm having tons of fun and everybody is doing great. The heat for the day 3 run (53 miles), has me a genuinely worried, and I finished today too dehydrated, so I definitely have my work cut out for me and have to stay on top of things. I originally wasn't concerned about day 1 at all, but it proved to be far more difficult than I planned. It was definitely a reality check. If I finish this thing, it will be a true accomplishment.
Ok, back to eating cookies and more sleep!