Coming into the willis tower race, my training was a bit haphazard. For much of 2010 and the first 1/2 of 2011, i had experimented with a raw food diet, and even had a raw chef living in my house. It had its good aspects that improved my diet, but i gained weight and lost speed, and all my 2010 and early 2011 races suffered.. I won't blame the raw diet outright, but i think the version of it i was on, with a lot of nuts and oils and sugars ( unprocessed or not ) are not conducive to fitness and speed. For athletic pursuits, Tim Van Orden seems to have it figured out. I do partake heavily of green smoothies.
I had hiked up and down the grand canyon 2 months previous, and was doing a lot of yoga and hitting stairs when i could, but i wasn't on the efficient training schedule i was hoping for. I felt as if i was recovering from the eating raw and trying to find my way in the food world. Still, i climbed the stairmaster often, and My weight was the lowest it had been in a long time.
Still, i went into the climb feeling pretty good. I finally got an early start, but rather foolishly, i accepted a differ invite from my raw vegan chef friend, and ate much of the yummy food. Not smart! My stomach felt upset as i rose the next morning, not a good way to start! Still, i didn't feel too off, but i didn't need any more stress.
I got the the tower in plenty of time, changed, used the bathroom. I met my internet friend jordana there, and we chatted a bit before lining up. I went to the corrall, and watched the elite climbers line up. I could have hopped in line right behind them, but my stomach was bothering me. So i sat and stretched, and went to use the bathroom again. A friend saw me and asked me what the hell i was doing out of line, as my wave was lining up. She was right! The stairs were crowding, but i didn't feel ready.
I used the bathroom, made sure i was really done and wouldn't feel the need for another trip, and went to line up. I was already in the wave after mine, after the "competitive athlete" so i wasn't going to get a clear stairwell. I had hoped for 20 minutes, and had made a timing track counting off the floors. I pressed play as i went over the timing strip, and off i went.
I found holding my pace easy for the first few floors, as i hit no significant traffic. After about 10 floors, i began to hit some knots of 2-3 people that took a little time and planning to pass. By the time i hit 25, i was 2-3 floors behind my 20 minute pace. I felt tired, and just worked to not fall behind anymore, hoping for a late sprint or a second wind to get me back on pace.
I began to catch up a little, even when i had to pass, but it was costing me energy. Close 45, i was about on pace, but feeling too exhausted for so early in the race. Then i got behind a fellow that was going at just about my pace--perhaps just a shade slower. I decided i would use him as a pacer for awhile.
This worked, in a way. He made all the passing moves, perhaps not as carefully as i would, but it was easier to copy him--at least mentally! This often left me running wide on the landings, not on the flats. Very poor use of energy. Also, he was falling steadily behind of where i wanted to be. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to stay behind him, but in retrospect it was a poor decision and likely cost me a significant amount of time.
After 35 floors of poor pacer decision ( bear in mind, he was wisely running his race, i was a dope for using him as a pacer, i'm the poor athlete here ) i passed him on 80 and took off pretty fast, about 6 floors behind. Between 80 and 90 i went fast, and made up about three floors, and hoped i'd be able to make up the remaining three i was behind by the end.
It was not to be. At 90, the stairs became completely clogged, and i just sort of gave up trying to make up the remaining three floors i needed to hit my 20 minute goal. In fact, i fell about 3-4 floors behind. I did pick my way through the pack a little at the end, but when i crossed the line, i knew from my audio track that i had hit about 21 minutes.
I went to sit down. I felt ok, not completely spent. I thought about the race, and felt i'd made a number of foolish choices and cost myself time in several ways. Eating a strage meal not conducive to racing the night before. Not getting into the stairs as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Using a slower climber as a pacer to save energy. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. But--i'd beaten my previous best time by 34 seconds. So not too bad.
I went to the door to watch racers emerge from the stairs. Soon christie came through, and i talked to her after she caught her breath. Soon jordana popped through, easily visible in her entirely pink outfit. I talked to a fellow wearing a camera and sporting a pair of sticky wide receiver gloves. I was to get to know him as a great and supportive friend later.
We all headed down to check our times. I saw mine was 21:02. Not bad, and i couldn't feel too bad, as i had placed over 30 seconds better than my PR and nearly a minute faster than last year. Still, it was not what i knew i had in me.
After that, jordana and i went to Lou Mitchells and had breakfast. I had an omelet, she pancakes. Good food. After that, i kicked around for a few hours and did yoga. I wasn't particularly sore or tired, just annoyed with myself.
* Don't eat anything out of the ordinary the day before the race. Turn down social occasions that aren't optimal. Bring food with you if necessary.
* Even if you feel weird, go up as soon as possible.
* Adhere more strictly to pacing. Don't stick to slower people.