4 ultras in a month

Intro: In preparation for my Nolan’s 14 attempt and to hit my ridiculous goals for the year, I needed to have a killer July. This means pulling off the 50 states 5k (a 157 mile stage race over 6 days) and then running 3 ultra-marathon distance races/FKT’s in a 14 day period. Probably shouldn’t try this at home.

***A sidenote: Injury prevention is my number one goal when attempting this. I took 5 days off after the 157 mile stretch in 6 days. I took 4 days completely off following the first 50k and did only active recovery and shakeout style light jogs between the FKT and final ultra. Ice baths, foam rolling & clean eating were constant companions during the recovery phase.***

Ultra #1 - The 50 states 5k event. Running a total of 157 miles over 6 days and 7 hours in all 50 states of the USA was nuts. The temperature was often over 90 degrees, there was no time to warm up/cool down and sleeping, eating and living in a van for days takes it toll. I wrote a seperate blog post for this event here: https://www.joshsanders.net/blog/50states

Ultra #2 - The Dirty Burg 50k Ultra (2nd Overall) The course is 5 laps which each conclude by running up and down the ski hill. The plan was to drop after the second lap if I wasn’t feeling great. The race start was exactly one week post 50 states 5k. Felt pretty descent through 2 laps and was 30 seconds off the lead, so I just kept going. It was stupid thing to do. Quads ended up getting sore around mile 15 after 2 gnarly descents of the ski area. After the 4th lap, I was hurting. I used the race as a hot weather practice race. Did pre-cooling with a frozen towel while warming up and used ice in different methods on the back of my neck and head. That part of my race was great. Didn’t feel over-heated. I love ice like Sven.

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The last lap I was 15 seconds off the lead and just trying to survive on dead legs when I badly re-sprained my left ankle. I first injured the ankle, complete with ruptured blood vessels, 3 weeks earlier during the Potawatomi Trail FKT. This re-sprain was worse. Could barely limp for a few minutes. Ended up losing by 4 minutes. Thanks for setting a new PR in this race, Jake (j/k… Jake run with so much guts and 100% deserved this win). You win some and you lose some. My legs were wrecked and I technically “shouldn’t” have raced and ultra this soon after the biggest mileage week of my life… but I regret nothing. You have to take chances to do big things and I need an ultra-marathon win in each calendar season. I think I won a $10 Gazelle Shoes gift card but kinda just left without my finisher medal as I had to run home to ice bath before going on dad-duty with the boys ;-). My goal of a ultra-marathon win in each calendar season this year would have to wait.

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Ultra #3 - Twin Valley Trail FKT - 4:37:32 (New Speed Record). I took 5 full days off after the 50k to get my legs back. Did a few very easy recovery jogs and then one decent 90 minute run with Jordan at CSGA on Sunday. Took a very easy day Monday and went for the speed record Tuesday. Put the kids to bed (#DadLife) at 8pm and drove to Ohio (4 hours) and slept in my car in a rest stop area… dreaming of when Wisconsin beat Ohio State under the lights on Saturday night football to ruin their chances of a title #OnWisconsin

Woke up at 5am, drove 45 min to the trail and got on my way. The history of the attempt was self-supported. I prefer unsupported but usually just follow the history of the route, so I left myself some coconut water at a junction. Kept my heart rate super low and did the gnarly sections first. There was pretty poor footing due to erosion. Ugh, Ohio.

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The heavy rains the last week left the trail muddy. Some parts were easily the most mud I’ve ever run through in my life. It was soul sucking mud. There were a few pretty rad ascents on both sections, so that was cool. I guess Ohio isn’t all bad ;-) Legs got really tired around mile 18. Low point at mile 22 was solved with 2 gels. Took off at mile 25 to try and get KOM for a segment and badly re-sprained my left ankle AGAIN. I had to completely stop moving and scream a few profanities before gingerly limping the next mile.

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Luckily, I had this ranked as the 2nd easiest FKT to break in the midwest, so I was still able to break the old record by 39 minutes. What I learned: Even at efforts that aren’t full race pace the whole time, I have to keep up on nutrition, even small lapses lead to low points. Also, it’s crazy how the sections that are supposed to be easiest turn out to be hard. It’s like we know we should just crush those sections, so we relax or delay things like nutrition and the chill parts end up sucking. Also, Ohio rest stops aren’t great for sleeping.

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Anyways, I also have to figure out this ankle thing. 3 nasty sprains in 4 weeks means it’s just not healing between runs. I’ve managed swelling fairly well and the brusing is gone by the time I’m attempting another nutso run but dang. Saturay’s 50+ mile is on less gnarly trail, so hopefully without the gnarly descents and crazy rocks/roots, I can rock and roll.

Ultra #4 - Loopty Loop 8 Hour Ultra (1st Overall, Course Reccord). Last year I ran the 4 hour race at this event and won a super sweet chair and got my first course record. This year I decided to go for the 8 hour race as a final long run before Nolan’s and to take one more crack at getting my summer ultra-marathon win. As a fun bonus my college roommate Kyle Fraser came from Milwaukee to run his first ultra in the 4 hour event.

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The course is a 6.5 mile loop on mostly single track mountain bike trails through the woods. Not a ton of elevation gain but lots of zig-zags and a few little hills. My legs were tired by the half marathon point but I had planned on a 50 mile day and was only stopping if something structural started acting up. The shade kept the temps slightly lower than the mid-80’s in the sun. Kyle got the win in the 4 hour and broke my course reccord from last year. Super pumped he crushed his first ultra!

The last 2 loops (13 miles) weren’t really fun but I was incredibly grateful for the chance to run on truly wrecked legs and get some great practice in for Nolan’s. I tried some ultra-lite fueling (potato chips, protien cookies) to test for Nolan’s where I’m trying to keep 10,000 calories under 5 lbs. The last two laps were slower but I managed to break the CR by 22 minutes.

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In the 28 days from June 30th to July 28th… I ran 322 miles and in all 50 states. I completed one of my major adventure records for the year, broke another FKT, captured my summer season ultra-marathon win and extended my streak of podiums at an ultra-marathons to 11 (you know, providing you throw out the 2018 Hennepin 50k, which was my 2nd ultra of the day ;-)

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