Monday, February 16, 2009

Up, Up and Away

Well, I did it. I climbed the stairs at the U.S. Bank building to raise money for the America Lung Association. And … it wasn’t so bad.

After several weeks of “training” I was ready to go. (I prepared by taking the stairs at school instead of the elevator.) The morning of, I took my water bottle and envelope of donations, picked up my sister -- who was going along as moral support -- and headed downtown.

When we got there, we were directed to take the elevator to lobby – which I thought was sort of ironic.

In the lobby, I turned in my donations, picked up my t-shirt and got my number. Miss Waukesha signed me in. How great/funny is that?

After a brief warm-up, I was off to the start. They had us line up in bib order, because they were starting us in waves according to how fast or slow we might be. So they let us go in groups of ten, and then we made our way to the basement. I probably would have gotten lost, but there were volunteers all along the way to point us in the right direction.

Finally in the basement, we again lined up in bib order where they let us start up the stairs one by one in ten second intervals. I had to laugh at the countdown (shown below). The start guy counted down very deliberately “ 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … GO!” and then the person would saunter to the steps and start up … very … slowly. Maybe earlier in the day there was a mad dash to start, but not with this group.

At last it was my turn to start.

ouch. ouch. ouch.
My legs were on fire, my mouth was dry and my back ached … and I was only up to the fourth floor. So, I didn’t start out well, but after about seven stories, the pain subsided and I began to enjoy myself (really). One thing that helped was looking for my name. They had put up a piece of paper for each participant with their name and a motivational message. Unfortunately, they ran out of names half way up. Then there was nothing but stairwell to look at.

The other climbers were really fun to talk to. I met one lady – Barb – an we walked together for a couple minutes. She kept telling me that she wasn’t competitive and that she was going to stop and rest as often as she needed to, after all, there was no reason to kill herself. I thought that was a pretty sensible philosophy – especially since we had to sign a waiver saying that we wouldn’t sue if we did die. (Yes I know I look awful in this picture ... that's because I felt awful.)

At last I could see the end. I made it! I could just see it in my mind – walking through the door onto the observation deck, helping myself at a banana and bagel bar, laughing about the experience with other climbers.

No such luck. I came through the door, was handed a medal and a bottle of water then steered immediately through another door into a boiler room. From there, straight back to the freight elevator and back down to the lobby. (sigh) Not the most romantic end to a stair climb, but it makes for a good story.

So that was it. Not too bad. I met up with Nora in the lobby where I showed off my medal and got a snack. Also, I spent a few minutes chatting with some firefighters who were about to head up the stair in full gear. Yikes.

On the way to the car I ran into Ali (one of my students). She was just on her way in. And so the process whole process starts over again. It was a great morning.

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