Sunday, August 2, 2009
Jason Sissel

Day 2 of Ultraman Canada was a very challenging 170 mile bike over flats, steep and/or long climbs in the Canadian Cascades, then one very long section of very windy flats, followed by a steady 20 mile climb which was an out and back so you get to go downhill to bring it in to the finish line.

The day started off an hour earlier than normal (6am) due to the extreme heat we are getting up here.  As I said in my post about Day 1, yesterday was around 104 degrees most of the day which is obviously not too conducive for intense endurance athletics. Assuming my body bounced back from its issues yesterday, my plan was to go out strong and get as many miles in before the temperatures starting hitting 100 degrees and from there just ride a comfortable pace and finish strong.

I felt great from the start and my legs felt normal.  But as you can probably imagine, 170 miles is a long way to bike and things can quickly change.  I felt like I was rocking along pretty well and had a good climb up the first climb known as "The Wall" at about mile 65.  The Wall is about a mile long and features an elevation gain of roughly 1,600ft.  At this point, the temp was starting to heat up and after I climbed The Wall, I just didn't quite feel the same.  I wasn't hitting on all cylinders like I was the previous 65 miles.  But I kept going and chalked it up as my mid-ride lull I usually get into.

But after getting through some other tough climbs and enduring the pain I was feeling, we hit a long flat that tortured riders with strong headwinds of probably 20mph.  Although it wasn't as hot as yesterday (it was "only" 97 today), I still just didn't feel like I had much left in the energy tank.  I quickly realized that I had to build on yesterday's lesson and just finding a way to make it happen.  So I decided to take a quick break for some air conditioning and food in our crew vehicle at around mile 120.  As I expressed my concern with how my body was feeling and how exhausted from the heat I was to my crew member, Paul, he tried to assure me that I had done well enough up to this point that we could make it if we just keep going at light but respectable pace.  I told him, "I feel like I've reached the walls of my soul." and he looked at me quizzically before I continued, "So let's just go push those walls outward."  We shared a laugh and I took off and finished strong, again, with plenty of time to spare.

One thing I am finding that I love about Ultraman is that it's so unbelievably long that it really tests the limits of your soul.  You must find a way to overcome or you won't.  These lessons can also easily be applied to daily life which is another reason I love this type of event.

Here's a preview of Day 3: This stage is a double marathon or, a 52.4 mile run.  Sound fun?  I am not a runner so I will again have to will my way through this stage of the event.  I have never run farther than a full marathon of 26.2 miles, so this definitely make for an interesting experience.  The course is quite hilly and about half of the run is on a gravel road with crowns and sloped angles which presents various challenges.  Upon completion tomorrow, I look forward to writing to you about the experience.

About Jason Sissel
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