What is My Fitness For?

Arizona Daily Sun (October 25, 2020) by Julie Hammonds

The other night, I was sitting at my computer searching for real races to enter: the kind with a finish line and aid stations and post-race parties. I appreciate the flexibility of virtual races, but I miss the thrill of measuring myself against others on the same course on the same day.

Over this pandemic summer, I’ve built up a solid running routine and banked some fitness. Everything has a purpose, and my feeling as I searched was that the purpose of being as fit as I was certainly had to be racing; otherwise, what’s the point?

The next night, I saw a Facebook post from Neil Weintraub about our friend Larry Phoenix, who is running the Arizona Trail in segments. Neil was inviting people to join him and Larry at Buffalo Park in the morning to run the next piece of the AZT. I decided to go.

It was the perfect Flagstaff fall morning; just enough bite in the air to encourage motion, but not so cold that you had to layer up to your eyeballs. Five of us took off in the early light, taking it slow, talking as we ran. Larry and his girlfriend, Tiffany, would be doing a 20-mile day. Neil, Hannah and I would peel off after about 5 miles.

Larry laid out the rules: “We walk the uphills and the rocky parts, and there will be no falling.” Good rules! He also told us he and Tiffany had seen bear tracks on seven of the past eight days. Sure enough, he was soon pointing to fresh tracks pressed into the trail’s dust.

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