Today was the “Fight for Air” stair climb put on by the Lung Association. This is my fifth time doing this event. Oddly enough, it never gets any easier. But after all the practice sessions at the building for the last three months, I think I’m about as ready as I’m going to be.
We rode the train downtown, since that’s just so much easier than driving. We got there just a few minutes before it was time to line up. I was in the lead group, given the lucky number 13. We were roughly lined up in order of our finishing times from last year. I’d made up a little card to rubber-band to my arm with floor targets of where I planned on being at each one-minute mark on the way up. I was hoping to do roughly the same time as last year, which was 11:31.
When it was my turn, I trotted into the stairwell and headed up. I managed to stay on schedule up to about the 24th floor or so. Then I started to fall behind a bit. It wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t feel as good as I had at my last practice run on Tuesday. And by 45 or so, I was fully into the “OMG! What the HELL was I thinking when I signed up for this?!?!” mode. And that’s not conducive to doing a good time. Still, I managed to keep going, and I stumbled out onto the roof with a time of 11:45.
At the top, we got the whole West Coast Labels group together for a picture on the roof. I also got a picture with George. He had found a couple of errors in my chart of the staircase, and one evening we walked up together, counting and taking measurements. He has a real eye for detail, and I’m glad that he was able to check out and fix my chart. He was also excited that his time of 11:49 was only four seconds behind mine.
After coming back down, we hung around and visited with everyone I’ve gotten to know in this crazy sport, and I finally walked up the stairs a second time with Jane and Lisa. We did it at a moderate pace, so it was fun. And we still passed lots of people on the way up.
In the end, the day was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I didn’t go as fast as I’d wanted to, or as fast as I think I can. But on the other hand, I came in 20th out of 617 climbers, so I really can’t complain. At least not without looking kind of stupid. So overall, it was an all-right experience.