Ninety floors and some 1,500+ steps later…what I was thinking this week?!?
Here are my recaps for the two run-ups I, well, ran up this week:
Awkward pre-race photo for the win? (Photo cred to Cait’s awesome sunglasses camera!)
Runner’s World Run-Up
Not to be outdone by the ESBRU, my fellow RW staffers and I held our own run-up at RW HQ. (Yep, all four floors of it!) And boy was it glaringly apparent right off the bat that my stair-climbing technique needs some serious work. (This wasn’t surprising since my steeplechase career proved my overall lack of coordination.) Overwhelmed by the excitement (and hilarity) of the start, I completely forgot to go two steps at a time and take advantage of the railings to pull myself upward. Before I knew it, I was bringing up the rear at the finish of our fake race. Thankfully, I have a 86 floors to nail down that technique and take on the media heat tomorrow. Plus, I’ve got some experience throwing elbows at the start from cross-country! Editors of Vogue, I’m ready for you! Check out the video of our event here.
Empire State Building Run-Up
Holy wow was this race unlike any other that I’ve ever run. I learned that stairs are so NOT my friend. But I also realized that it’s seriously satisfying to say that you’ve run up that ginormous building, especially when you’re standing alongside it taking in it’s massiveness. That feeling–plus the stunning (but brief) views of NYC at the top–made the experience totally worth it.
There it is! The lights were orange in honor of the race!
The race itself? It was *cough* intense.
I lined up at the front of the media heat–my toes were literally on the starting line!–and I immediately noticed the padded doorway into the stairwell no more than 10 meters away. Talk about a dead sprint into a narrow door frame! I felt the usual mix of excitement and adrenaline while I waited for the gun, but there was an added layer of anxiety as I eyed that ominous-looking gray stairwell. What was this going to be like?!? I tried to distract myself with the fact that Kelly Ripa and Natalie Morales had just lined up beside me–how cool?!?–and I attempted to look not like an idiot while the press took pre-race photos of us. (See above photo!) New goal? Beat Kelly Ripa.
The Rodale crew pre-race!
The sound of a horn unleashed the mad rush to the doorway. I actually had an awesome start and was one of the first into the stairwell. (Yay, my years of cross country paid off!) But, like at the RW Run-Up, the craziness thwarted any effort to establish a steady rhythm. I went from one-stepping to two-stepping to using my arms to pull me upward to power jogging without the railing. It wasn’t coordinated or pretty at all.
By Floor 15ish (yeah, I still had 60+ floors to go), my adrenaline had worn off and my stair running turned into a plodding march of survival. The dusty, dry inside air had me breathing heavily and my quads were screaming already, which had me wondering Hadn’t I just run a marathon? Where did all that endurance go? I swear to God I’m fitter than I feel right now! I settled into a two-step hike, using the railings only to keep me upright because I couldn’t figure out how to use them to pull some of my weight. Stupid lack of coordination. I stared (more like glared) down at the steps to avoid the urge to look up at what floor I was on, much like I used to ignore the lap counters when I ran track. I still had way too many floors to go. It was like you could literally feel the weight of the building on top of you.
Around the 40th floor, Kelly Ripa started bearing down on me, and before I knew it we were sharing each staircase. She had a teammate cheering her on, urging her to keep going, and I tried to pretend he was yelling those encouraging words to me. (It was incredibly quiet and lonely throughout the entire race, so there was not much to distract me from my blaring omg-please-let’s-stop-how-many-more-floors?-this-is-insane-consumed thoughts.)
I held off Kelly for maybe 20 floors, but she was rocking this powerful and steady pace. My pace certainly hadn’t picked up any by this point, and she finally passed me somewhere in the 60s. I concluded that she is basically the Energizer Bunny. You go girl!
Done and done. Heck yes!
When we were within a few floors of the finish, I started to feel hints of cool air circulating down the stairwell. Sooooo close! I tried to trot up the last few steps–I wanted to go out with some shred of dignity!–and finally reached the open and wonderfully flat landing at the top. I was rewarded with a blast of cold, fresh air and an awe-inspiring view of the city. I staggered through the finish, totally relieved and happy that that wild ordeal was over.
I bumped into Kelly again after the race, and I mumbled something along the lines of, “Awesome job! That was crazy right?” and she told me she agreed. We high-fived each other (I’m sure my mum is totally jealous of me right now! haha) before I was herded into the elevator.
I ran it in 18:29 and was the 5th female in the media division. One news story described it as a “vertical marathon,” which is entirely accurate. I learned that going up is a much different experience that going forward, and that my runner’s strength didn’t exactly apply to 1,576 steps. Overall, I’m SO glad that I got the opportunity to run it, but I think I’ll stick to my marathons for now and leave that craziness for the pros like our Gear Guy Jeff Dengate (who, by the way, won the media heat!)
QUOTE OF THE POST: “It’s not a stair race, it’s a race to the top.” – Jeff Dengate
Read my other Race Reports here.