Thursday, December 12, 2013

Inspired by a record -- my stair climbing journey

A few weeks ago, i verified a world record for guinness!  It was a stair climbing record, predictably enough.  The specific record was for climbing the most vertical feet in 12 hours.  The event was amazing and seeing Justin churn away for 12 hours was really inspiring. The old record was 33,000 feet and Justin eclipsed 38,000 feet, crushing the old record.  Seeing what a dedicated and elite athlete could accomplish is something that will stick with me for a long time.  Seeing what Justin could do is helping me to focus more on my own fitness and diet.

What is interesting is that not that long ago, almost 2 years ago exactly, i was considering quitting stair climbing.  I was doing 3 races a year, and they were expensive, not fun, and i wasn't getting any better at them.  I'd climbed sears tower 3 times, and was stuck in the 21+ minute range.  My times at hancock and Aon had both slipped.  My weight wasn't changing.  I saw the elites on facebook, but

Now, i'm top 40 in the US, #126 in the world, have raced all over the US, am vice-president in charge of statistics and scoring for the US tower racing association, and many of my best friends are people i've met through stair racing.

How did this happen?

Mostly, because i took a chance.  The empire state run up was the granddaddy of races, the most competitive in the world, the unofficial world championship.  I applied for it, knowing it was a lottery and my odds were slim at getting in.

But i _did_ get in.  Lottery, but going was going.  Now i had to fly to new york for the race.  I was going to put real time and money into this.  I'd better do some research..  I'd better focus more in training... I'd better watch my diet!

So i started networking.  I met cody at sears tower because he was wearing a gopro, tracked him down on facebook, and he added me to a stair climbing group. I mostly watched and listened, and got some good training advice.

At empire, i saw a few of the elite climbers i knew from facebook, but didn't introduce myself before the race.  I was happy with my time at empire, and met Madeleine after the race.  I signed up for oakbrook and springfield.  I wore my empire shirt to oakbrook, and that broke the ice with a number of the elite climbers i'd seen on facebook--Karen, Roxanne, Oz, Jesse, Eric, Justin, Cindy. It was an amazing experience, especially when Jesse, Eric, and Justin invited me for a fun climb.

Down in springfield, Oz's wife, Kristie, invited me to a after-race party at their house.  What an opportunity!  It was there i met Kristin and Brady, not knowing not much more than a year later, we'd be traveling to the pacific northwest together!

Later that year, i started following the world ranking system, and decided it didn't work for the US all that well.  I wrote some programs to create a US only scoring system, pretty much on a lark, and stated posting results.  Before i knew it, people cared a lot about it, and were contacting me for their places.  I got involved with PJ and got myself appointed VP in charge of statistics and scoring for the US tower racing association.  That is what made me eligible, and the main option, to verify the record for guinness.

It's been a great journey, and has improved my life greatly, and wouldn't give it up for anything. If i've learned one thing it's that choosing to just do something well pays dividends, almost no matter what it is.

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