Checking In 7/11/2021, from Flagstaff

I took a weekend trip to Flagstaff.

The original plan was to wake up early Saturday, take a day trip to Big Bear Lake in California, and run long there.

But I couldn’t get to sleep Friday until late, and I woke up too late to get to Big Bear before 10am, which may have been too late for a long run, and definitely would have been too late to avoid traffic and parking problems in a popular destination.

With Las Vegas temperatures up to 115-120°F this weekend, I decided this was the weekend to experiment with a short road trip for a medium-long run in a high-altitude location, which I had been considering for some time. Locations I considered included Big Bear, Navajo Lake in Utah, and Flagstaff in Arizona (nearby Mount Charleston is a bit too tough to run in for now).

Big Bear was spatially the closest of the bunch, allowing for a day trip. Lodging isn’t cheap (lodging on this much notice is typically $150+ a night), so I wasn’t looking to stay the night for now. But to get in a proper long run I knew I needed to get there very early. Having woke up late Saturday, I could not. I also didn’t want to postpone the trip outright, because part of the reason for going was to get out of the extreme Vegas heat.

I had considered going anyway and taking my chances, but I looked up lodging and found Flagstaff had hotels available that night for $118. I quickly booked one, decided to make the trip and to run long Sunday. I hurriedly packed gear for the night, topped off the gas tank, had breakfast and coffee and took the drive.

A drive that should have taken less than 4 hours became a somewhat harrowing 6.5 hour experience, stuck in a massive traffic jam on I-40 west of Seligman due to a wrecked semi-truck, a horrid detour attempt that landed me on an isolated rocky dirt road (thanks Google Maps) and a subsequent 2 mile adventure to try and get back onto the gridlocked highway, then a long detour towards the Grand Canyon at Williams and back down US 180 to avoid another horrid I-40 backup east of Williams, before finally arriving in Flagstaff around 5:30pm.

Though I hoped to get in a shorter run and a gym session when I got into town, I was pretty gassed from the whole experience. I did manage to go visit Historic Downtown for a bit, but barely had it in me otherwise to get dinner down the street before turning in.

This morning, I took water with me and ran an extended route I hurriedly planned the day before, going up towards Buffalo Park and back down towards Downtown before turning up Route 66 back to where I was staying. It was exactly the 8 miles I was looking for, and despite the altitude it honestly didn’t feel too bad. I was constantly on the lookout for extra distress but nothing came of it. I didn’t stop for breaks or anything either. While I paced myself well and it was cool outside, I was expecting it to be harder.

After taking it easy over coffee I’ll gas up and head back west into the Vegas oven. If the thin air was indeed a limiter then the upcoming treadmill runs this week should feel a lot easier, even if they feel a lot hotter.

The Big Bear trip can wait for a future week. I think I can handle a long run on the turbo this next weekend, but if another scorcher weekend approaches I can take a shot at a Big Bear long run then.


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