Aravaipa Strong | Finger Lakes Trail | Trail Running
I enjoy running as an outlet, as a way to socialize, and as a way to stay healthy. What I enjoy even more than running is just being outside and adventuring. I have not really just gone out adventuring in a while. I don’t know if was due to a lack of motivation or inspiration, but it just hadn’t really happened since my last big race. Then along came this interesting opportunity.
I love social media and I especially love certain content creators. One of my favorites has been Jamil Coury of Aravaipa Running. He creates so much awesome content on YouTube that is both entertaining and inspiring. I would love to run an Aravaipa race, however they are located in Arizona and I have no idea when or if I will ever be out that way. Then we are hit with the Corona Virus Pandemic. This obviously has not been fun for anyone, but to look on the bright side for me it caused a pivot to virtual races and that included virtual races from Aravaipa Running.
Aravaipa Running announced their first virtual race, Aravaipa Strong. I am not usually into virtual races, but the chance to run an official Aravaipa race was very appealing. Plus if you are having a virtual race you have to have good swag and the Aravaipa team put together great swag. Even better was that you could choose your own distance from 5k to 100 miles. I had not been training for any long runs but this opportunity for adventure was one I could not pass up.
The past two years I had trained for early spring 50k’s and then threw in a half marathon during training just for fun. This year I trained specifically for a half marathon and would be throwing in a 50k at the end just for fun.
I had an idea for what I wanted to do. I have loved exploring our regions long hiking trail over the last several years. I wanted to do more of that. I wanted to explore more of the Finger Lakes Trail.
I shared my idea with a friend who was able to give me an idea of where to start at to finish where I had planned to finish and that part ended up working out almost perfectly. My plan was to start out on the main Finger Lakes Trail somewhere out towards the small town of Watkins Glenn and follow that to the junction with the Crystal Hills branch of the FLT. And then follow the Crystal Hills branch to the parking area in the town of Painted Post where I have started many runs from before. It was determined that the optimal place to start would be at the Sugar Hill fire tower in Sugar Hill State Forest.
I have never run from that location before. I have run on most of the trails I would be hitting during this 50k. But I definitely have not run this far on them nor have I run this route before. That is part of what would make it fun. The only part I was very familiar with was the last 5 miles or so. That way I would know when I was close to being done. That knowledge really helped me push through the end.
The first six miles out from Sugar Hill felt really good and a lot of it was nice runnable downhill. Ten mile sin I felt fine. Not good, but not bad. My legs were just moving at a comfortable pace whatever the terrain necessitated. By mile 15 I was getting tired. Between mile 15 and 20 I really started to feel it. Twenty miles had been my longest run of the year so far and that was just one time and it was seven miles linger than the next longest run I completed and it was obvious from the fatigue. Miles 20 and beyond were all a struggle. I was mostly walking. I would do some run/walking mix. Run a very short distance then walk a while. My running didn’t even feel like running even when on what should have been runnable terrain.
Most of the time my legs actually felt ok. Nothing more than normal pain and fatigue that one would expect on this type of run. But constitutionally I just felt off. I felt slightly nauseated and weak at times. I don’t know if that was a result of it being surprisingly cold in the forest despite a pretty good forecast. It was cold enough that I had my light weight shell on until 2 pm after starting around 8:30 am. I would even have my hood n at times. Warm up take hood of, cool down put hood on, warm up take hood off unzip shell, repeat. I just could not find a comfortable body temperature. The mix of hiking, running, and walking plus my ability to sweat insane quantities of liquid out of my system I am sure did not help.
Despite not being trained at all for a 50k I got through it. It took me a lot longer than I was hoping. I was hoping, probably unrealistically to take around 8.5 hours. It ended up taking me 10+ hours. The big take away is that I was able to find the incentive I needed to get outside and have an adventure and despite the adversity enjoy myself.