*Aakkkk* Post Stair Climb … 56 Floors; 1096 Stairs … and I hit every one of those blighters!

22 02 2009

 Photos to come –

Anyway – so let’s just count up the posts here, on facebook, and in letters to friends where I stated in no uncertain terms that I was not going to do the Run the Republic Stair-Climb …

I pulled out after the 5k because I was having problems with the bloody hell 5k and really need to be glued together before the 20k next month. It wasn’t easy to do, and Coach Dave knew that … but he knew I’d made the right decision. He was right behind me … probably doing a goofy happy dance thinking “She’s finally getting her brain on straight!!! Yippy SKIP!!!” Of course, my head was saying “Crap! February is SUCKING!!! Wasting $140 or so in race fees and not doing anything but reading terrible books for class! This SUCKS!!!!” My body was reminding me … “Lizzy … there are 5 reasons why you’re going to pull out … and several races to do this year …”

1. post Disney pain.
2. not able to train decently.
3. post Disney pain.
4. convo with El Diablo … I mean El Coach-0h … agreeing I need to be healthy this year.
5. post Disney complications …

Um … yeah right.

I made the decision to actually go ahead with the original plan really right before the event. I’d already done the fundraising, was going to be number 18, and had friends there. I was going to try to see if I could be the oxygen stop for the folks on my team who really WERE carrying oxygen with CoPD, but I never found the time to do it.

Jackie and I were talking at one of the times we were at the gym and everything was feeling pretty good … I’d done no real training for the thing because my personal rehab for the legs has been far more important. I did a relatively heavy workout with Marty – my trainer at the Englewood Recreation Center – where he happily added some spice to my routine. (It appears he likes having a client as goofy as he is …) Saturday morning, I had some issues with the quads, but whatever.

I got up this morning not exactly in “race form”. I’d eaten a bit last night but gotten violently ill. It’s not that I’m sick … it’s got to be the stress of things that are so far out of my control but have a lot of affect on me. I pulled together a pair of longish capris, a comfy jog bra thing and one of my more favorite tech shirts that isn’t comfortable to race in … a white shirt that reads “Find Your Happy Pace”. Shoes – I did remember to wear the “regular” running shoes and the big thing was trying out that Nathan pack.

Bedecked in a blue bathrobe in my hallway at the “ass crack of dawn” was my buddy Jackie. Bless her heart how she’s as nuts as I am … probably moreso! I was running maybe 10 minutes behind, but I keep forgetting that she’s one of the handful of folks who runs nearly directly on time — but she got to see my new artwork for the Lizzy Races Bathroom (will post photo later) and we were off.

The thing about the stairclimb is that after you’ve done it once … like any race … you kinda know what you’re in for. You know the course … stair after stair after STAIR of cement … I want to say 10 up to the door –> 10 up to the landing –> 10 up to the door –> 10 up to the landing … repeat until you want to die. Every so often the door is open with little bathroom Dixie Cups filled with water and a potential potty break. Between those open doors are a lot of closed ones with numbers on them!!

We are chipped at both ends and are popped in the building at 15 second increments. The “elite” stair climbers … yes there are Elite Stair Climbers … start at 8 a.m. and are done literally minutes later. Starting at 8:15 are the front part of the Groups. Team CoPD+ started at 8:30ish.

Lynn is amazing … Lou, her husband, is amazing … the team is amazing.

Jackie and I got there just giggling. I had told myself that I could bail if I need to and I was having a massage after … at Massage Envy … with Jackie as the therapist! It was already a little full at the 7:30 a.m. that we wandered in the door. I immediatly realized that my new Polar is a bit more of a pain than my easy to use Garmin … but then again, I think the Garmin was a bit of a pain at the beginning too! I just needed the stopwatch function and it kept yalping that it couldn’t find the foot-pod or the heart rate monitor strap. No DUH – they’re in the bathroom at home, silly watch! Then I noticed it was 2 hours ahead … I couldn’t care less what time it was in New York! I had it set for Mountain etc … I was still futzing with it all the way to the moment I started! Jackie was futzing with her i-Pod so I think it must have been a bad day to be a bit of technology.

KristEn’s mom trekked down from Wyoming with her and it was great fun explaining chips and numbers to her. KristEn is a vet now …. kinda! She had been teasing me that she was going to handcuff me to her to make me do the stairclimb … however since I’m not one to be on the “receiving end” of handcuffs … anyway – she came in around 48 minutes … so I’m NOT the one she would have wanted to be handcuffed to anyway. Of course, silly enough to say, she … like Jackie … like anyone who really knows me … when it’s a race … I race.

I had a feeling my quads were going to be a bit of a problem and after floor 6 they were … but WORSE than that were the folks wearing PERFUME or flowery body lotion … There is nearly no air flow in this and please remember that Denver Starts Out at a mile high and we just go up from there. Hold on – a story:

On Monday, I was at the Englewood Recreation Center trying to do my track work-out indoors. I’m still working out indoors these days. Jackie came with me (swearing I was trying to kill her) and we did part of the pre-track exercises. I didn’t have a lot of time, but that’s the beauty of this indoor thing. Anyway – there were a few folks on the track and I’d eyeballed them because, quite literally, I see little to nothing when I’m picking up my paws and doing a track work out. I actually like them (‘cept when I see mile repeats on my schedule) so I’m looking forward to getting outside again. First lap … fine … a little overheating with the glass and all that … rest lap – caught up with Jax and she asked me if I smelled something like entirely too much patchooli perfume. I remembered smelling something but since I tend to breathe out of my mouth, I taste it too. I hoped it was passing and started on lap two … and I got CREAMED with this patchooli smell. I mean it made a Grateful Dead concert seem like nothing! I couldn’t breathe and slipped a bit on the wood. I tried one more set and instead of the stench being a cloud … it was all the way around the track. I caught up with Jackie and said “That’s it. I can’t breathe!” I could only taste pachooli, smell it and in small doses Pachooli is fine … but oh my God!

Back to the race.

I visualized myself as a turtle — slow and steady – but a turtle with arms that would use the hand rails! Quads started talking before I was in there and I was giving them the Mile 15 “Ok – look, Guys, I need you to keep going to the finish…” chat. I hit door 4 and got a mouthful of warm sickly flowers. Oh no … please … medicinal taste … yup … someone in front of me had squirted on their perfume and it was taking over the area. This is just WRONG! The gal was on the landing of door 5 looking like she was going to die. I felt like if I had to breathe her evil perfume, I might and bopped on by. 

I kept it pretty easy and even. Since I really didn’t have many people around me like I did last year, I was able to use both of the hand rails. If you’re passing someone, you pass on the outside. I hit every stair and kept close to the inside rail. Sure I could have maybe done the skip a stair thing, but that would have been more pressure on my quads and knees … and I didn’t want to cause them any more problems.

It’s hot in that cement, stair-lined cave. I was really happy that I had the Nathan Woman’s Pack. It’s more like a vest with an oval that fits easily in the middle of my back. Pockets in the front, a nice little zip pouch in the back and the holder for the mouthpiece can be either on the waist or looped on the shoulder. The best part of it is that the bite piece actually pulls up so it can be pushed down and locked or pulled out and bitten. Even when it’s not ‘locked’ it’s not leaking water. Ok – cool.

Had to stop at floor 10. I was having some problems breathing. I do have asthma. I just don’t aknowledge it! I don’t have a perscription for inhailers … nor did I have an inhailer. Not exactly brillient, but that’s me. I was also starting to loosen up all the Winter Crud in my lungs and wanting to hack. I did notice that the water stops finally had bags hanging at the walls or boxes for the cups for the subsequent couple of floors … perfect to spit in.

Door 16 and I thought I was going to die. Double whammy of flowers. One more medicinal than the other. My guess was that there were two gals just up ahead someplace. In the corner of floor 17 were two gals and they just looked at me pulling myself up. I’m not kidding, one was handing the other her hand cream “It smells lovely doesn’t it. It makes me feel better.” I glared, hacked, spit in the box and put as much distance between me and these two as I could.

I love scents. My relaxers are the Citrus ones. I love roses and flowers … especially when they’re in a pretty vase or in a garden … but NOT IN A STAIRWELL WITHOUT MOVING AIR!

I want to say it was around floor 18 when my hands got really cold. I’d been using the bannister. No shame in that … Mom used to tell me to hold the bannister before her klutz of a 2nd daughter went ass-over-tea-kettle rolling to the bottom. We were getting near the one place where there was air forced through. I remember I’d stopped several times before this last year and I was doing better this. It wasn’t easier, I was just more consistent (aww crap – I used that word).

Floor 21 and I had to stop. I was hacking pretty badly and feeling a smidge concerned. I had how many floors left? The funny thing is when I need to get my brain back onto the task at hand in a race, I start figuring out roughly my pace. I suck at it, but I do it anyway. This time I was thinking about how we start the race from the basement so there are less floors at the top … and I can never remember exactly how many less. I looked at my watch and figured I’d really buggared up hitting the “start” button because I couldn’t be moving that easily.

Floor 25 and it wasn’t just women’s perfume but some really cheap, overly gaky men’s rubbish! I mean I was looking for some overly furry dude in a really loud lounge lizard suit … and there he was by the door of 26 with a couple of gals in equally aeromatic stuff. I got past them quickly but the odor caught up to me when I had to stop at 28 because I really felt terrible. AEEIIII!!!!! and I was off again.

34 is a great floor because you know you’re more than 1/2 way done. I don’t remember if it’s there or on 28 where you walk over from one stairwell to the other, but skinny cheerleaders with black and white pom-poms were there directing us. It was nice and they were fun. The sad thing prior to that were the people at the water stops weren’t cheering at all. If you’re bored, get off your rumpus room and give this a shot!

Coming out of 36 there was another nasty hit of men’s cologne … oh please! The really sad thing was it was the overdone stuff that this guy – who works out between 3:45 and 4:30 M/Th/F at the gym – uses. He’s just disgusting because I swear he slathers more on before he goes on the treadmill. Of course the Coach-O-Rama would say “Well – at least he gets you on the track where you can truly pick up speed …” but I like the treadmill for the hills! That aside. I have NO CLUE where this odor was coming from. I’d passed a lot of folks and the only thing I could think of was maybe the ‘water’ stop?

40 found me with my head against the coolness of the wall. I’d had a headache going in but I was well hydrated. I just wanted to finish. It wasn’t terrible, I just don’t like the hacking feeling. I didn’t feel clastrophoic … I just knew that it was getting to the point where I was going to start hacking and not be able to stop.

In this event, people in terrific shape hack and spit like camels. The hardest part is once you’re at the top, there is very little room and you’re in a tight space with a lot of folks and nobody thinks to turn up the air so there is air movement. They also push to have teams have their pictures taken up at the top. I love the team photo because Jackie and I have a reason to jump up on the window ledge and stick our butts out over Denver.

Floor 50 … ok … we’re almost done … then it was 53 … and I was. Yeah 53 … it’s because we start in the basement! I keep forgetting. I got caught in a line leading to the mat and I looked at my watch … 16:18 … that can’t be right … I wanted 20 minutes and I did 16. No … I must have buggared up hitting the start … I don’t know about that but I do know I buggared up hitting the stop. For all I know, the watch STILL thinks I’m out there!

A guy named Chris flew up there and I never did see him again. I did remember the break room at the end of the hall and made a bee line to it after I got some water and a tissue. I needed to hack. I came out about a minute or two later and saw Jackie. It was too hot again and I went back into the break room and hacked. I finally got sick with the only thing in my stomach – a couple of raisins and red power-aid. I’m glad I remembered the power-aid was red or I would have completely freaked out spitting red into the sink!

We went back into the finishing area to see if others had made it in. I decided to go to the end of the “chute” to make sure our three Air Toters got across. Holly was bound and determined to beat Lynn and she did … but it was a good thing she totes her own air! She looked like she was going to pass out coming through the doorway. I started yelling at her to come my direction … “Over HERE …” they let me through when I said “She’s one of mine.” The last place I wanted Holly to go was in the main area because it was extremely crowded and hot. I wanted to get her to the relative peace of the break room so she could try to glue herself back together. I pointed her in the right direction and asked for one of the medals for her … I found out later she gives her stair climb medals to a friend with lupus and he’s just keeping alive with them. She hacked and tried to come out of the post-race fog. A few other team-mates came to the break room where she was being tended to by the paramedics. She didn’t really need them.

Mike Mc. looks terrific and is going to be going to the Boston Marathon. I’d not seen him since he got his trach and I thought it might freak me out … but you know the snaking tubing going to his nose freaks me out more so with that gone the world is a better place. He did ask me to turn down his oxygen and I inadvertently knocked the supply tube off the tank. Yeah – I stopped the air for one of my best friends at the top of a damn building in Denver! Realizing something was wrong, he used one of the oxygen/pulse meters and said “Lizzy – can you turn the air back up?” It was then that I realized the frozen rubber tube was disconnected. Holly (the expert as she has to deal with this) and I (the friend who felt terrible) got the tube back on and Mike back on his air! PFEW!!! Two of the guys who are inventors or marketers (not sure which) were there and I said under no uncertain terms that a locking mechanism that is easy to move but locking none-the-less was necessary and gave them a couple of ideas. They were hip to it.

RESPECT ... we're nuts!

RESPECT ... we're nuts!

We got our group photo and it was time to go downstairs … by elevator. Jackie, Holly and I are sticking our tushies out at Denver and everyone is probably looking grand. Mom Blume came in around 20 minutes before KristEn (daughter) and did really well. The rest of the team simply rocked. You know, I wouldn’t miss this for the world … even with my bitching and moaning. It’s a really hard event on my lungs. My legs … ok … another lesson learned … get the quads and such stronger. I know I can *do* the event. For the feets – those “regular” running shoes rock.

Jax and I wandered a little before we left. I saw a place to get photos taken and what the heck … it didn’t cost. They were playing Aretha Franklin’s Respect and we were dancing and goofing in the booth. After two photos, Jackie said we had to switch places before the last two. We’re nuts!! We had to get out of there, however. Jackie had to get me home and chill before her job at the Denver Tech Center Massage Envy … her first client was at 1 … someone named Lis Shepard. Wonder who that is! An hour and a half massage later and chatting with my buddy Scott who owns the place and I felt better. I’d hacked through the whole thing … and I’ve got this nasty headache … I’m still pounding water … but I’m in one piece …

Had a great time … enjoyed myself … and after over a month of post race blues … including my head not liking my Disney times … yeah I *KNOW* I did the half right before the full and was injured … that’s all logic … I got close to my PR in the 5k at the top of the month and I really did quite well in this event.

What’s next — The 20k in Huntington Beach.  Until then … I’ve got to catch up on homework with huge projects due on Tuesday and Wednesday … and I’ve not started either … Sigh!

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2 responses

22 02 2009
Steve

You guys are just plain crazy…Excellent race report though!
I love the part about accidentally disconnecting Mikes O2…..I can just picture that.

Your quads must be on fire. Id be afraid to fall asleep tonight for fear of my quads with cramping up.

Congrats to all involved!

22 02 2009
teamshep

Yeah … crazy like a fox … ok maybe not!
OMG – Last year, Mike’s O2 connecting thing froze and broke off and we had to get him down to the back up. This year I disconnect him! Friends like me, hu? All I was trying to do was turn down the flow! AEIII!!!
Actually the quads are pretty happy … but remember I went in for an hour and a half massage. Actually it was an hour but Jackie had it extended to an hour and a half because there was no way I was going to be OK.
The perfume, Steve, nearly killed me! They did clean the stairs so there wasn’t any dust, but I really wanted to toss those folks down the stairs!!!
Rock ON my Brother!!! Hugs and love – Lizzy

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