This was a small race, but a good one last year, and i was looking forward to doing it again. The race fee was cheap ( $25, as i signed up early ) and for elites, the fee was waived. $25 for a well run race with elites flying in from out of town? Too good to pass up!
The climb was from ground to the 58th floor, and we'd switch staircases once, with a quick run down a hallway to get to the second staircase. The stairs were narrow, turning right until the hallway run at 22, then left until 58. I recalled the floors/stairs as being uneven.
The previous year, my time had been 9:45, and i felt i had overachieved that race. Roxanne had passed me around 40, and i had hung onto her for dear life, leaving me destroyed on the floor.
Hoping to build on my modest success at sears, i decided to set myself a pace of 10 seconds a floor, allowing 10 extra seconds for the hallway run at 22. That would bring me in at 9:40, and, really, i hoped to come in a bit faster than that by picking up the pace over the last few floors.
Somewhat sore from sears tower, i did yoga monday. Tuesday i woke up super early, and hustled to a spin class at the gym. I still did yoga that evening, and again wednesday. Thursday night, i planned to run 13.1 miles for the calorie burn, but was underdressed for the cold and called it off after only 6.3 miles. Friday night was again yoga, though i took it easy and focused on stretching my legs out.
Thursday, Oz, one of the top racers in the US, called me, and said he had just decided to participate in the race, and wondered if he could stay with me. I eagerly agreed as he's a super great guy, and i knew it'd be fun to hang out.
Saturday was just yard work, and soon oz, then kelley showed up. We went to starbucks to get our pre-race coffees, then out for thai food. Back at my place, we snacked a bit, and watched movie 43, a gross-out comedy in the vein of kentucky fried movie. It was a good choice to keep our mind off the upcoming race and relax us. We went to bed early, to get plenty of rest for race day.
That morning, both oz and i got up before our alarms and started to prepare. I caffeinated and made a smoothie, oz had his coffee and sandwiches. It was nice to be relaxed before a race--i felt ready at 6:30, and we wouldn't be lining up until nearly nine. I checked and re-checked my equipment, no mistakes this time!
We left at 7:25 and go to the race in 25 minutes or so. We parked and were in the building before eight. With an hour before the race, we had time for several bathroom trips, checking gear, stretching, warming up, getting and calming nerves, etc. Getting to the race so early felt great and i will try to do it more often.
|Loosening up pre-race|
But nine approached, and the elites were called to line up. We went to the line and self-sorted in expected finishing order. Jesse, oz, PJ, Josh, scott, me, bob klinko, bob toews. We got sent through with nice long gaps between us, and in a moment, i was waved forward, jogged to the door, and hit play on my audio track.
Right away i had problems holding onto my 10 second a floor pace. The first few floors seemed to be taller than expected. But instead of letting myself fall behind, hoping to make it up later, i'd sprint to catch up. Hitting the floors right at the mark felt good, and my legs seemed to be holding up fine. After surging forward to catch up, I'd climb a few floors at a more conservative pace before needing to pick up the pace again.
Soon i hit 22, and jogged dowm the hallway. I had allotted 10 seconds for the hall, but it probably took more in the range of 5 seconds, as i was halfway up the next staircase before i hit my next time mark. Having the cushion was a nice psychological advantage though. I decided i could slowly give that time back if any tall floors caused me to lose a second or two, though i'd only give those seconds back grudgingly.
Soon, i saw someone a floor or so behind me, bob klinko. He saw me and seemed to speed up. I fought to keep from panicking and speeding up, to stick to my pace and run my own race. Soon he was a few steps behind me, and i told him if he wanted to pass to just say so. he said i was fine, so i kept doing what i was doing.
Soon i must have picked up the pace, or the floors got a bit shorter, because by the low 40's i had picked up a second or two. I decided to hang onto this second or two, because any time under my goal would be a victory, so all i had to do was maintain the extra 2-3 seconds i had.
I kept this up until 51-52 when i decided i had the energy for a finishing sprint. I picked up the pace, pulling hard on the handrails. Bob, who had shadowed me for about 17 floors, dropped away. I felt great, scooting to 55-56 very quickly, much faster than the rest of the race. Suddenly, my legs started to feel a bit wobbly, and i backed off, not wanting to fall or collapse so short of the end. I used my arms even more, dragging myself up the last 2-3 agonizing floors before stumbling across the timing mat, and lying on the ground a few feet past that. A few seconds after i crossed the mat, i heard my audio track announce 9:30, so i knew i'd come in well under my goal time; i estimated 9:25 or so. Victory!
Bob klinko popped through the door soon after me, and i knew he'd had a faster time than me. Bob Towes passed though a minute or two later, and by then i felt good enough to sit up. Bob handed me my headband, which had apparently popped off near the top, my second race headband malfunction in the past week! I felt bad that he'd taken time out of his own race to pick up my headband. We took some team photos and headed down to look at our times.
|Taking a breather at the top|
|The first page of results!|
I had a quick coffee and wondered where mark block was. I was to escort him up, but i thought i'd have time to recharge. Mark has had two separate injuries that could have crippled him, yet participates in a great number of stair climbs all around the country. But he has a hard time climbing, and i worried terribly he was going it alone, so i took off after him, back up the stairs. I was pretty exhausted from my first climb, so i wasn't going a whole lot faster than many of the other climbers. Almost halfway up, i found him and scott stanley, and i was glad to finally slow down. I helped him when he got shaky, and kept people away from him but it was truly inspiring to see how hard he was working to climb the steps, how he was pushing past physical trauma to do something most healthy people wouldn't even consider.
After that climb, i took a break, but mark went back up again with a different group. Soon i heard that they were stuck in the stairs and i went to try to let them out. After much dashing about and grabbing a security person, i looked over the railing at 35 and saw hands on the rails down below. I jumped into the elevator with the guard and we shot to 25, opened the door and came face to face with the lost climbers. Lucky guess!
Afterwards, Oz, Mark, Bob, Kelley and I went to karyn's cooked, one of my favorite vegan restaurants. Everyone loved their food, and we had great conversation. All in all a great day of racing.
Preparation: a+. Was totally ready for the race
Race strategy : a- Could have gone a little faster earlier. Maybe. But i could have crashed too.
Effort : A- Could have started my final surge a little sooner too.
Overall grade: A. Pretty well done race on my part, big confidence builder!
Still somewhat sore wednesday morning, so i guess i pushed it pretty hard!