by Mike Smith
The final day in Flagstaff got off to both a slow and a fast start. Slow because of yesterday’s adventures, but fast because I wanted to get my final run in early before we got around to cleaning up and packing.
I decided to go to Buffalo Park one more time. Originally, I had ginned up the idea that I’d bookend my Flagstaff experience with a two mile circuit of The Nate Avery trail seen within the NAU sub T workouts. The idea being that if I saw improvement in my “performance” that would show the benefit of training at altitude, the main tenant of Victoria’s independent study in Exercise Science, part of the reason she accompanied me on this trip. But we already had returned to Buffalo Park on Tuesday, looking to find an easy three for Elizabeth prior to her Grand Canyon experience. The data was inconclusive so I figured I’d check out BP again.
Of course this time I have 10 miles in the Grand Canyon in my legs so there’s a solid chance we’ll get inconclusive data again. But what’s the harm?
The harm was that my calves and quads were jacked from all the descending and ascending that there was no way to get on a roll. However even though my gait was hampered by overly tight muscles, the time I ran was again with a 40 second range of both my first run (20:09), and my second run (19:37) by ambling to a 19:53 run. The heart rate for each of the runs stayed below 137bpm average, with the first at 131bpm, the second at 134bpm and this last one at 137bpm. So again, the results from six days of elevation training were inconclusive.
After a solid breakfast, some last minute packing and a thorough check of the airBnb we were off to the smallest airport I’ve ever flown into for our flight out to Boston. While rustic and quaint, we soon found out that being small and cute isn’t necessarily the greatest quality in an airport. With the plane loaded as they were going through the preflight check it turns out they needed a maintenance check. NO big deal. But with so few planes at the airport they also don’t have many mechanics and what started as a 10 minute check turned into a 90 minute wait, making our connection a tenuous one. With 20 minutes on the clock as we finally approached Phoenix and our transfer flight, the winds were so strong on our approach that we needed a second try to get the plane on the ground. As we taxied to the terminal our flight into Boston was ascending to traveling altitude. We’d spend another night in the Southwest.
In the end, the airlines took care of us, put us up in a solid hotel with a return trip out the next morning, and we had a fantastic dinner at the Perfect Pear in Tempe, AZ. To be fair, it would have been tough for our travel to rival the week we had, so all in all I guess we can’t be too upset. The plane landed, right side up and no one went hungry, making for a memorable trip. Not sure when I’ll be back, but I’m pretty sure I will.