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Short Strides and Odd Thoughts: Journey to Flagstaff

So after more than two years we finally touched down in Flagstaff. Scheduled to travel here for April vacation in 2020, we were postponed two years due to covid and even had a bit of a scare this year as a week ago wildfires broke out 14 miles outside the downtown proper. But after a 2am wake up call, a 6:22am flight from Boston, and a noon time arrival at the Pulliam airport in Flagstaff, we’re finally here.

The airport in Flagstaff is actually 5 miles outside town and sits as 7014 feet. Not only that but it’s the smallest airport I’ve ever taken a commercial aircraft to with the whole thing not much bigger than our gymnasium. We even debarked on a portable airwalk that was pushed into place by hand and walked right out onto the tarmac. Very cool.

After gathering our luggage and securing our rental, ( a Kia Soul… seems like that’s all they rented), we did a little recon to our airBNB and then with time to kill before we checked in, we decided to aim for the Run Flagstaff running specialty store for some insight on where to get a shake out run in. Run Flagstaff is a cute little store with pictures of some great local runners gracing their walls. The best intel sent us to fabled Buffalo Park, and while I was looking to run a workout at Buffalo Park later in the week, I decided to scope out the Nate Avery trail, a two mile loop used by NAU for sub tempo work. While mostly flat, the beginning of the loop does gain some slight elevation before closing the main trail about ¾ of mile in and then dips slightly over the next mile. The loop culminates with a ¼ mile climb back to the starting point.

And the loop kicked my butt! The rarified air of 7000 feet left me desperate for air about 2 minutes into my run. By the halfway point I was trying to figure out how to gracefully bow out of the second mile. But being a mile from the endpoint of the run I really had no choice. As I crawled back to the entrance of the park I realized exactly why the boys from NAU can handle everything the rest of the NCAA and those difficult 10K courses throw at them. I started creating my excuse list: five hours crammed on an airplane, dehydrated from not drinking as much on the plane, not getting enough sleep, …. But truth be told my real issue is my lack of fitness and this old decaying body.

After a nice meal at Lumberyard Brewing, we descended on our home for the week. After a shower, some resupply and settling in, we finally were able to kick back, relax by the firepit, and simply bask in the late evening sun, happy we finally made it.

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