..we’ve got a CTA subway pass, half a granola bar, it’s freezing cold and we’re wearing shorts.
So today was the big adventure. The stair climb up the
Sears Willis Tower in Chicago. All the way up to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor.
I got up very early to be able to make it there for the 7:00AM start. There wasn’t a lot of time to think about what was about to happen. But when I thought about it, I felt like this:
I got in line at the back of the ‘Elite’ group. I knew there was no chance I’d be able to keep up with them, so I just didn’t want to be in anyone’s way. When it was my turn, I turned on my metronome and trotted into the stairwell.
The first thing I noticed was that the steps there were taller than other buildings I’ve climbed. The stairs at Millikan Library where I practice are 6.4 inches. Most skyscrapers have steps that are about 7.7 inches. These felt like they were over 8*. By the time I got to about 30, I knew that my pace was set too high, and I was burning out. I adjusted it down some, but there was no easy way to do this.
Along the way, I was passed by two other runners. This was a first. I’ve never been passed before. But by that time, I was happy just to still be moving, so I didn’t worry too much about how fast I was going.
When I got to 75, I was hit with the realization that this was as high as I’d ever climbed before. And there were still 28 floors to go. By then, it was a struggle for survival just to keep moving. Somehow I managed to keep going up. When I got to 100, I perked up a bit, since the end was in sight. I managed to do the last three floors at a decent pace and somehow stumbled across the finish line. There was a photographer taking pictures on the last flight up, and I have no memory of seeing him there. After I got across the line, they handed me my finisher’s medal and a bottle of water, and I curled up on the floor for a few minutes to work on paying down my oxygen debt.
At the top, Randy and I took a few minutes to look at the view and to go and stand in the little glass booths that stick out the side of the building. Then we went back down. They had some results available already. This time, I’d remembered to start my stopwatch at the start, so I had an idea of my time. I’d been hoping to do about 20 minutes, but that was not to be. The computer gave my time as 22:49, which was about what I was expecting from what my watch said. Still, that was good enough to be in the top 10%, which is not too bad for bein’ 51 and all. But now I have the goal of improving on that next year.
It was a fun little adventure, albeit in a kind of weird way. It’s hard to describe something so incredibly painful as being ‘fun’. But it was.
* They say it’s 1,353 feet from the lobby to the skydeck, and 2,109 steps. That works out to 7.7 inches per step, but these steps felt taller than the ones I practiced on last Tuesday.