Monday, February 28, 2011

MS Stair Climb

I did it! Yesterday I climbed 66 flights of stairs or 1,215 individual stairs.
What a super fun event it was. I've always been a huge fan of Rockefeller Center and it's massive art deco building and going "behind the scenes" to see a part it that not many folks get to see was a real honor.

The day started out way too early when my oldest son woke me up at 3:30am. I hadn't planned on leaving home till 6:30am but because he got me  up at such an ungodly hour I was out the door by 6am.

It turned out to be a good thing since I didn't arrive to the event till almost 8am with all the trains running on a Sunday Schedule.

I had a choice to make. Take my cel phone or my camera. I didn't want to have something in each hand while climbing in case I needed to pull with the railing to get up the stairs (It's a stair climbing trick. When your legs get tired, you use your upper body to pull you up the stairs wtih the hand rails) The cel phone doubled as an IPOD so I could push myself with music but the camera...We all know how I love my photos!

I knew they frowned on cameras in the stairwell but I was going to try to get mine in anyway. It was simply more important for me to have photos than music.
I checked my whole purse and coat at the bag check area and just had my camera. I made the mistake of picking up my event tee shirt before the climb so I was stuck with a shirt around my waist which I hate.

I sat on the ground getting myself prepped mentally (telling myself what a total badass I am...) and watching all the folks come off the course with their medals around their necks. (The firefighters in full gear were insanely inspirational! Easy on the eyes as well!)
Would I be one of those folks? I truly wasn't sure. I kept reading that this event was the equivalent to a 5k race in distance and if you could run a 5k this event would be cake.

I'm not a runner and have never attempted a 5k (Thank you shin splints!) which is why I  wasn't sure if I would finish. I promised myself I would do the very best I could and go as far as I could so that no matter what the outcome, I would be proud at the end.

All of a sudden they were lining us up to head to the starting line and we were off going up to the 3rd floor where the event began.

They spaced us out so that we weren't bunched up and then I was at the stairs climbing. My first thought was "Holy mother of GOD these are some steep-ass stairs!" and they were. There was nothing gradual about them. You were going UP and you were going to work at it.

At about the 5th floor I had to stop to catch my breath and at that landing there was a woman wearing an orange shirt which means she had MS, the very disease we were climbing for.

She and  I fell into step and never left each others sides. We were loud and we encouraged each other with war cries of "WE GOT THIS!" "COME ON! WE CAN DO IT!"

Everyone that walked around us, or by us or fell in step with us became an unofficial pack member and they all picked up our war cries till the stairwell was filled with our cheering each other on.  It was an amazing experience.

I've always thought that I prefer to do this sort of event alone, but after yesterday I'm not so sure. It would be really nice to have a team pushing and supporting.

I struggled to the first rest stop on the 28th floor and marveled when we arrived there. Patti my new pal had to rest and she went to the bathroom. We were at the rest stop much longer than I would have been if I were alone but I wasn't going for time and so it was fine.

Once we caught our breath and our legs were strong again we moved back out into the stairwell and started climbing again. We weren't in a rush at all and took it one step at a time, one floor at a time and all of a sudden we were at the second rest stop on the 48th floor! More than half way there!

Here there were EMTs who were busy administering oxygen to more than one person and checking pulses on a few others. At that moment I felt very very strong. Here I was, a fat stay at home mom who couldn't even run a single city block and I was in better shape than these "athletes". Maybe it was just that I had better luck but I didn't think so.

In the landing we started to climb again when a yellow shirt caught my eye. I turned around and a beauty queen was standing there. No lie, no hallucinations. A woman with a sash declaring her "Ms. Belliza Latina" was on the landing cheering on the climbers. I of course needed a photo with her. (Super glad I brought the camera with me!) and we started to climb again.

As we climbed I could feel a faint breeze and realized how close to the top and the finish line we were. We were ALMOST THERE. All of a sudden off to the side we saw a girl who looked like she was in distress so Patti and I stopped for her and her team mate. Turns out the gal had Asthma and was having a hard time breathing. We decided we couldn't leave them and would wait and all get to the top together.

Thank goodness yesterday wasn't about time for me because we were there about 10 mins or more waiting for her. We then all took it super duper slow up the last 6 flights together.

Turning that corner and seeing that open door to the rooftop deck was the most amazing thing. I teared up and couldn't speak. I'd done it. I'd climbed 66 flights of stairs. I climbed over a thousand stairs.

Patti and I hugged each other and agreed that we made an awesome team.

Honestly  I'm so happy I decided to make it more about the experience and not about setting time records or seeing how fast I could get up.

I had the immense pleasure of meeting so many wonderful folks on the way up and it was like one big family with all of us supporting each other and cheering each other on. Sure the fastest ladies time up was a little over 11 mins and the fasted men's was a little over 8 mins but they didn't get to take home the cool memories I do.

Because I took my time and didn't race, I'm going to be sure to be a part of this event for as long as my body will allow me to. It was fantastic and so much fun.

I did not struggle at any point with the idea of bailing on the course. I never once felt like I wasn't going to be able to finish or make it to the top. That alone is enough for me but I DID finish. I climbed all those stairs on my terms and in my time and I had a blast doing it.

I'm glad I could be part of such a special event for such a wonderful cause!

Next year I'm recruting EVERYONE I know, including my oldest son (who will be 8 at the time) to do this with me. It's that much fun!

SERIOUSLY?! I'm not sure I can get up to the top of THAT!
WHAT have I gotten myself into? And the lazy bitch in me sighed and said "We can still go home..." but we didn't!
 This was not an easy event and I had to take breaks but the floors flew by!

At the first rest stop. I don't look happy but I actually am! Just exhausted.

The lovely brave inspiring Patti and I. I don't think it would have been as much fun without her!


Dani- danielleislosingit said...

That is so cool! Great job on the stair climb. Im sure you can handle a 5k :) I actually just posted a video of my first 5k on my blog, and it may or may not have been sponsored by girl scout cookies ;)

Diana said...

I have icky shin splints that keep me from running. I focus mostly on strength training and have become obsessed with Kettlebells.

Anonymous said...

I came across this blog when I was looking for normal people such as myself who are doing the climb-

Having no formal training, I have signed up and am a little scared since running up 5 flights of stairs takes my breath away-

Are you doing it again this year and I am intrigued to hear more about having no training but being able to have completed it...

I have MS by the way and just back on my feet in the last 2 years and March 2014 will mark the 30th anniversary of being diagnosed- I am registered to do it but am scared sh@#$%ess-