Tonight was my third attempt at the Vertical Mile, and this time the magic worked. Well, the magic, combined with a quart of Gatorade.
I rode the train downtown as usual. And this time, I stopped in at Famima!! on the way in and got a quart bottle of classic lemon-lime Gatorade. I’d also brought along a big bottle of water. The plan was to gulp down some of both of them after each ascent. I was hoping that the little shot of sugar would keep the bonk away this time, and prevent the troubles I had when I’d tried this stunt last Tuesday.
The first four times up were pretty straightforward. Each time, when I got to the top, I headed straight for the elevators to go back down. I snapped a picture of my stopwatch to record my time while I was riding the elevator back down. I managed to keep it under 12 minutes for all four times, which meant that at the halfway point, I was about five minutes ahead of schedule. That gave me a little extra time to drink the Gatorade, towel off, and change to a dry headband for the second half.
The fifth and sixth times up were slower than before. My plan for the first four ascents was to do 4 1/2 floors per minute, and I kept an eye on the clock to maintain my pace. The plan for the second set of four was to dial that back to four floors per minute, and I was pretty much able to maintain that pace for the fifth and sixth climbs.
By this time, I was lying down on the floor in the elevator during the ride down. I wanted to get everything I could out of that 40 seconds or so of rest.
When it was time for the seventh climb, I resorted to counting down the floors, starting with “51″ when I took the first step. It gave me something to think about, other than, “What the HELL was I thinking when I decided to try this!” At the top of the seventh, I checked the time, and I had 20 minutes left before they closed up the stairwell. At that point, I knew I had it in the bag. I went back down, finished the last of the Gatorade, and started up for the last time.
The last time up, I had to keep reminding myself to not think, and just put one foot in front of the other. I felt a bit like the hamster-stair-master. Once again, I counted down the floors. I switched my watch back to display the time. I didn’t really care how fast I went the last time up, as long as I got to the top before 7:00. I even passed a few people on the stairs. That was a pleasant surprise.
One thing that helped a lot was that all my friends who were there knew what I was up to, and they were very nice about it. They gave me encouragement along the way, and the last time up, George even held open the two fire doors on the 44th floor, and then he shadowed me up the last 11 floors. And at the top on the eighth time, I ran the last three floors, and then collapsed on the landing. It was good to be done.
Just to put it in perspective, George made up a picture to show what a mile-high climb would look like:
The final tally was: 408 floors, 5,520 feet, 1,680 meters, and 9,008 steps. Total elapsed time was 1:58. I finally landed the White Whale.