After eight Ironman races this year, I am in the thick of my preparation for my longest race yet: the Ultraman World Championships on the big island of Hawaii. This is a three-day stage race around the island, which covers the distance of more than two Ironmans: a 6.2-mile swim, 261-mile bike ride, and finishing with a 52.4-mile run. These are my Ultraman training essentials:
K-Swiss Ultra-Natural II Run Shoes: I love, love, love my K-Swiss shoes, and often have a hard time choosing between the K-Ona, the Blade-Light Run, and the Ultra-Natural II. For the Ultraman distance and the training it requires, the Ultra-Natural II is my go-to shoe. These shoes are light but also have enough cushioning to keep me trucking through the mega-miles -- and blister-free, too.
PowerBar Endurance Fruit Punch Sports Drink, Oatmeal-Raisin Energy Bites, and Energy Blasts: I fill my bike bottles and my Camelbak with this sports drink during my training sessions. My coach has been drilling into me the importance of a prescribed amount of carbohydrate intake per hour during my long training sessions; it is a lot more than I have used previously, but we are training my body to deal with more fuel than normal so that I can get through the first two days of Ultraman at a minimal calorie deficit. Adding sports drink to my solid calories during training is the only way I can possibly take in enough fuel; during my rides, I add the yummy PowerBar Oatmeal-Raisin Energy Bites. During my runs, I love to eat PowerBar Energy Blasts, which taste like gummy candy but contain the essential electrolytes and carbohydrates that we need during training.
Vega: With as much training as I have been doing, replacing all of the energy I burn on a daily basis is one of my biggest challenges. As soon as I finish a big workout, I throw a banana and a scoop of Vega protein powder in the blender with ice and water to make a protein shake. This habit helps me replace what I have just burned within the optimal window for refueling, which means within about twenty minutes of the workout’s completion. Additionally, Vega provides me with much-needed protein, which is essential to repairing muscle damage done in training, but is not easy for me to procure through my mostly-vegan diet.
TYR swimsuits: I have been spending a lot of time in the pool, and it is always more fun with a cute swimsuit! My favorite is the triangle top with a 1” bikini bottom; I have never had such a functional and cute training bikini!
Wilier Tri-Crono, Zipp Wheels and ISM Adamo Road Saddle: One big change in my training for this race is that I have been spending more time than ever on my bike; in fact I never have a day off of it. It is a good thing that I love my speedy and beautiful Wilier Tri-Crono with Zipp Wheels! The real lifesaver during all of this time in the saddle, though, is my saddle itself. This Adamo Road saddle has a unique design such that the part of the saddle where I need to sit is cut out, thereby eliminating pressure this area. I absolutely could not handle sitting on the bike every single day without this saddle.
Cycleops Joule 2.0 Powermeter: This computer helps me ride with a focus. My coach tells me how much power I need to put out for each segment of every training ride, and I watch my wattage measurements on this computer while I am riding, then send the information to him afterward. It allows us to see whether the training is effective and track how I am progressing.
Training Partners: I am very fortunate to have a core group of training partners here in Tucson, and they are absolutely carrying me through these long, hard days of work. While no single one of them has to do, say, all nine hours of a training day with me, they take turns joining me for individual sessions, and their energy keeps me focused and motivated. I can’t explain what a huge difference it makes to have a friend at the pool with me when it is already dark out, I’ve been training all day, am exhausted, and still have one more workout to do. I am so grateful for my “team” here!