I had a pretty good week of fitness this past week: Weight training, plenty of sit-ups, ran 23 miles, 13 of which were on Saturday. Then to cap off the week, I climbed 70 flights of stairs on my rest day.
This was my first time participating in this event. I hate stairs. I sometimes wish I lived in a ranch instead of a colonial to avoid daily stairs. So why did I sign-up to climb 1,035 steps to the 70th floor of the Detroit Ren Cen? Well there was the cause – raising money for the American Lung Association – and receiving a free entry didn’t hurt, either.
Yep. I mentioned it before, but I can’t mention or thank them enough. Brandon from Renewal by Andersen Detroit is a smart businessman. He could spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ad-space in papers, magazines and billboards (some of which they do), but its incredibly cheap in comparison to sponsor a few runners by paying their race fees and giving them a nice tech shirt to wear. There are plenty of runners out there that would love the opportunity and I was happy to be one of them. If you want to try and get free entries, be sure to like their Facebook Page and look for chances to win.
Not knowing how to prepare for this, I went minimal. I threw on a pair of shorts and grabbed a water bottle. Skipped breakfast (for now) and headed down early. I wanted to get descent free parking. Once I made it to the Wintergarden of the RenCen, I spotted the Renewal table with Brandon. I introduced myself and he gave me my shirt and a buff. I was happy to get a new buff; the one I had was lost at the Detroit Marathon. Having an hour to kill before I could check-in and get my bib, I decided to walk around. Kind was there giving out bars and granola. I never tried them before, I stashed the blueberry pecan bar, but made the granola my breakfast. I didn’t really know anyone there, but I did manage to bump into the Quadzillas, Mary Beth and Cara Jo and met their other teammates, Nick and Reid.
Hey, when did the line get so long?
The packet pick-up lines were pretty short all morning. Then once my designated window of time to check-in started, the line grew to a 45 minute wait. A few people around me were complaining of how much more organized it was in prior years. I did notice that they were collecting donations at the check-in table, which was causing a huge part of the backup. Oh well, the line wrapped around past all the companies, which gave you an opportunity to look at their displays. Besides Kind, there were tables for Chobani, Einstein Bros, Garden Fresh and a few others.
While in line, Antony and Chrissy showed up to ‘watch’. There’s not much spectating. You can watch the participants run 10 ft into the stairwell and then you wait to see them comedown the escalator, back into the Wintergarden. And that’s what they did, oh and hold my gear bag.
Chrissy, who did the event last year, highly recommended that I take advantage of the water stops. You aren’t allowed to carry anything in the stairwell, so there are 3-4 stops every so many floors. With that, it was my turn to enter the stairs. They send up up one at a time every 10 seconds. I flew up the first 3 flights, then realized there was no way I could keep that pace the full climb, so I pulled back. At level 15 was the 1st water stop – I passed. The next stop wasn’t until level 40, but I figured I could make it. I made it, but was very glad to see that station. I grabbed a few cups. They could have filled them a little more. They were tiny cups that weren’t filled half way. I could spit more. Moving on I left the station after about 15 seconds.
I kept an eye on my watch, not for time but my heart rate. I figured this would take 10-15 minutes and with some short breaks I could keep it at 90%. It didn’t take long to hit 90%. By level 50 I think I reached 94% and pulled back a little. Small, mindless, repetitive motion is what was going to get me to the top. I got into a rhythm and just kept at it – using the handrail the entire time. By level 60 my legs were on fire. Some people behind me started counting down the remaining flights. A photographer was at level 69 (great) and before I knew it, I had reached the top.
The top floor had a suite being used to catch your breath before running down 70 flights of stairs – just kidding. We took the elevator. Luckily we were all oxygen deprived or else we might of noticed the stench of 12 sweaty runners packed into an elevator. The elevator only takes you to the 1st floor, but the Wintergarden is one more down an escalator. At the bottom is the cheer team waiting to congratulate the finishers and give them a medal.
I made my way back to the Renewal table to meet up with the other climbers and thank Brandon once more for the entry. He took a few photos of us for the Facebook page and then I was off.
My official finish time was 12:52.
I ranked 267 out of 1093 (25th percentile) overall.
Not bad for running a half marathon the day before.
Thanks again to Brandon and Renewal by Andersen for the opportunity to participate in this event.