Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tackle the Tower Stairclimb

This weekend I am visiting my parents in my hometown near Cleveland, Ohio, in order to attend my sister-in-law's baby shower. Being the Obsessed Runner that I am, I always check a race calendar to see if there is anything going on in the area every time I come down here. At Thanksgiving I ran a Turkey Trot race with my dad. This time, however, there were no road races going on. I did see this "Tackle the Tower" thing that sounded interesting, so I registered. It took place at the Galleria at Erieview high-rise in downtown Cleveland. 37 flights of stairs for 646 total steps.

I drove downtown by myself; my parents live only 25 miles away from Cleveland. I stood around for a while until it was time to line up; participants were staggered 10 seconds apart and were ordered numerically. My start time was just after 10:13 am. I was #380. At the bottom of the stairs, a race volunteer with a stopwatch stayed me until it was time for me to head up; with a simple "!" he lifted his hand from my shoulder and I was off. I went up the first five or so flights with a perky spring in my step. Then my thighs started aching. My heart rate shot up. I started breathing extremely hard and fast. By the eighth floor I was plodding. I couldn't believe how fast I had deteriorated. And I still had 29 flights to go!

I trudged onward. Eventually I started trotting up the steps again. My heart rate wasn't coming down at all and I was breathing just as hard when I walked as when I trotted, so I figured, why not just trot? It will make this torture end sooner. The flights were laid out in three segments: a stretch of seven steps, a small landing, a second stretch of three steps, another small landing, and a final stretch of seven steps to the next floor. I would trot up the initial stretch, take a walk break on the second, and trot up the steps to the next floor. In this manner I grindingly continued upward. I eventually passed three people who had started just before me. I was passed near the end by someone who had started behind me. I was done. Utterly spent. I trotted the final flight to the 37th floor where someone ripped the tag from my race number and I staggered through the stairwell door onto the top floor of the building. I grabbed a bottle of water and sank down against the wall. I thought running was hard. This was by far harder than almost any physical exercise I have ever done.

Results were posted this afternoon and I finished 14th out of 42 women in my age group with a time of 7:21. Longest, hardest 7 minutes and 21 seconds of my life.

Anyone who wants to really test their mettle should do a stairclimb.


Anonymous said...

I give you a ton of credit for trying this. I take the bus most days, just so I don't have to walk up the two flights of steps to get to the subway in the morning (this is sometimes after I've gotten up at 5:30 to run 4 miles; my laziness applies itself randomly). Have you ever heard of the Empire State Building Run Up? Check it out here:

Nicole said...

Damn! I can't even think about doing something like that without wheezing. I went from the basement to the upstairs one night and thought I was going to die.

Even in my younger, (much) slimmer days I couldn't do the steps thing. DH and I climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and well, let's just say we took a loooooooong-assed time to get up there. And I don't think I would ever do it again.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your first Tackle the Tower. I am right there with you. I ran 16 miles the next day and it was nothing to compared to the 37 flights of stairs. Did you notice the dry air at the top. Next year I would recomend a cough drop before and after the climb. It really helps.

Sun Runner said...

Did you notice the dry air at the top.
I noticed the dry air everywhere. At one point I took a moment to try and moisten my lips and my mouth had dried out so much it hurt to move it. Afterwards I couldn't stop coughing and my throat felt like it had been blow-dried. That feeling lasted for hours.

Robert said...

Yeah, I'll definitely try not to go out too fast. Of course, that's always easier said than done...