Monday, March 9, 2009

Up Up And Away

The Renaissance Center. Home of beleaguered General Motors, and 1035 steps to be ascended.

Ah, stairclimbing. A surprisingly humbling activity, to be sure. At 2008's Tackle the Tower I bounded off, full of hubris, thinking, "I'm a distance runner! This will be a piece of cake!"

Ha.

When I joined a team comprised of my co-workers to raise money for the American Lung Association at Climb Detroit, we had it beaten into our heads during practice that THE MOST IMPORTANT THING was to not go out too fast (sound familiar?). Nothing will crush you faster on a stairclimb than starting too quickly. Pick a steady, sustainable pace and STICK WITH IT from the beginning. After experiencing firsthand what happens when one does take off running up stairs, I was determined to not make the same mistake twice.

Yesterday was the big day. I woke up to a steady rain, and wondered if it would taper off in time for me to do some running later or if the stairclimb would end up being my only activity for the day.

O Canada: Windsor, Ontario, as viewed from across the Detroit River. I ran past this spot on both sides during the Detroit Marathon.

The Ren Cen was a zoo, with people milling around everywhere. We were there with plenty of time to spare and so there was a lot of standing around...eating...standing around...more eating...

Munching on multigrain bars from Trader Joe's.

Standing around. No eating, for once.

Around 10:00 am the event got underway. Our team was fast-tracked to the front of the very long line because we were a top fund-raising team. In retrospect this was a huge break for us because if we had gotten trapped at the back of the line we would have been waiting for hours for our turn to go.

I had my three favorite Animal Collective songs queued up on the iPhone, and I didn't expect to hear them all the way through as I estimated I would finish in 13 minutes. They staggered the starts of each climber about 15 seconds apart, and I started fifth on my team. I crossed the chip-timing mat, hit "play" on the iPhone, and let "Brother Sport"1 carry me. I resisted the almost overwhelming temptation to charge up the stairs. I had 70 flights to climb. Let's not blow the wad in the first five flights, shall we?

One foot in front of the other. I settled on a pace which was neither overly slow nor unsustainably fast. I concentrated on staring at my feet. The first time I lifted my head to see where I was, I had ascended 25 floors already. I was breathing hard but not panting. "Brother Sport" ended and "My Girls" started. I was over halfway done. The next time I looked up I was somewhere in the 40s. Head down. I bypassed all of the water stops. I was in the zone, man. Look up, I'm on the 59th floor and there are only 11 to go. Head down, step a little faster. And then, just like that, it was over. I crossed the timing mat, took a bottle of water and my finisher's medal, and hopped on a downward elevator. I didn't even get to hear the end of "My Girls"!

When preliminary results were posted, my unofficial chip time was 10:53. Considering I estimated a 13:00 finishing time, I was pleased with this outcome. I ascended at a rate of 6.4 floors per minute, 95 steps/minute, and 1.5 steps/second. It was a perfect pace. When I finished, I didn't immediately crumple against a wall, exhausted, as I had after completing the Tackle the Tower. I had run (climbed?) a smart race.

As it turned out, the rain did not let up at all for the remainder of the day. I completely wimped out on my long run. My quads and calves were achy and my foot was bothering me. Once I got home from the climb I crawled under my comforter and took a long nap instead. Clearly I need to turn in my hardcore runner card.

I have no idea what I was talking about here. Feel free to suggest captions in the comments. I know some people will have a hard time avoiding the obvious.

1: Live track from here. And can I just say how freaking excited I am to attend their concert in May? Oh yeah.

11 comments:

jen said...

Holy CRAP girl! That is amazing!!!

You are incredible. Way to pace yourself. You did great!!! I honestly don't think I could do it. You rock.

tfh said...

70 flights in under 11 minutes? That's pretty darn close to scaling buildings in a single bound.

Viper said...

It's obvious to me what you're talking about. We all know size matters. Especially when it comes to cocktail glasses.

raulgonemobile said...

Cool! That sounds like a fun race and fundraiser

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Obvious? I got nothin'.

O! You could be talking about the size of my PENIS ...

... if it were folded in half.

Good job on the climb, sister. If the thoughts of my folded-in-half penis helped you make it to the top ... you're welcome.

Kristin said...

Wow! That's crazy! You act like finishing that was nothing! I would be DEAD. Way to go!

bunnygirl said...

That's great! So did you train for this? My calves get crampy when I do a lot of stairs.

Spike said...

great race, that is some fast step'n! I would have skipped my long run as well after that race. And, congrats for having a team finish in the top for fund raising!

MCM Mama said...

Great job! Way to "climb" a steady race!

ee said...

Suggested captions:

1. It was a hoagie this big!

2. ... but there were no bell peppers on this half of the sandwhich...

3. I'd say a standard size maraca has to be about...

4. ... about this long, and just rock hard...

5. You think THAT was a big donut twist? Well let me tell you about...

6. Cobra Commander gave very specific directions.

mr loser said...

Congrats on a great clump. Can't resist the silly fun of the quote challenge

"No, no, the stairs were this wide."

"Can you believe I finished this far away from eleven minutes?"

"Look, nothing in my hands, now watch me pull a rabbit out of this bag."

"A bacteria marathon? I guess it would be about this long."

"This is the distance between being an obsessed runner and being a complete lunatic."