My first Tower Race

Run4Papa v. Hancock Building

Today felt different.

Waking up Sunday morning February 26th, 2012, I was excited, motivated and refreshed for today’s race. Before getting out of bed, I rang Barcelona wishing my studying/traveling abroad sister a Happy 21st. Following the call, I hopped out of bed as my feet hit the hardwood floor with an overwhelming sense of positive energy and optimism.

I was ready to climb.

As is my superstition with all races, the running shirt (race bib attached), shorts, socks, and shoes were all meticulously laid out the night before. I showered (yup routine), grabbed a Gatorade and power bar and walked from Gold Coast toward the Hancock Building on a clear-skied, 40-dgree (no snow I might pleasantly add) with a typical Chicago-an wind hitting my face. Rounding the corner of N. State St and E. Delaware Place comfortably lay the 100-story Hancock Building with its elliptical-shaped plaza out front and the skyscraper’s distinctive X-bracing exterior boldly enticing all racers to enter.

After filming segments for the campaign, I went inside to prepare for the climb. I met two friends-Adam Silver and Kevin Connolly- who were also participating in their first Tower Race along with my parents whom drove from Michigan for moral support. Patiently waiting for our wave to begin, we inched our way near the opening stairwell. My adrenaline was flowing quicker than Wily Coyote chasing the Roadrunner.

Like a wild animal eager to be released from its cage, I saw the race official motion to climb and I was off! During the first 30-flights, I climbed every other step hoping to gain momentum by strategically cutting down the number of overall steps. While hustling up the Hancock, I was grabbing the railing with my left hand in order to take valuable pressure away from my calves. This approach initially felt good until I hit a mini-wall on Floor 30. I was using too much energy and my body was screaming “slow down or I’ll shut you down.”

I listened.

The stairwell started to heat my internal body temperature up and I proceeded to take it step-by-step moving forward. From flights 30 – 40, I kept looking at each floor number as I looped left again and again and again. I refrained from using the railing because I wanted to simulate the Great Wall of China Marathon race (no railings are available on those steps). Upon reaching the 40th floor, I made a conscious decision to keep my head down. Normally when running a half marathon or marathon, I intentionally refuse to watch the clock or view the mile-marker, preferring to feed off the crowd’s intensity and absorb the surrounding scenery along the route. This is a proven psychological tactic (for me) and I stay loyal to these routines. Since there was no clock, no crowd and only a handful of EMS and water stations during this climb, I kept my head down rising flight after flight.

Step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, floor. Step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, floor. Step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, floor. Step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, floor. Step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, floor. Step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, floor.

It wasn’t until I heard someone yell “20 more left!” that my heart started pumping rapidly. I couldn’t believe how quickly the last 34 flights went and my momentum instantly picked up knocking down one flight after another up the Hancock Building. Seemingly minutes later, I heard “2 more flights to go” and proceeded to sprint through the finish line eyeing my parents cheering in the distance. What a pleasure to see those two familiar faces…21 minutes and 18 seconds later!

94 Flights, check. 1,632 steps, check. 1,500 feet up in the air, check. Running in my first ever Tower Race, check. Exhausted, check.

And in case you are wondering, the record time for “Hustle up the Hancock is 9 minutes and 30 seconds if you are looking for a challenge one year from now.

I know my dad is in…

To see more photos, go to: Hustle up the Hancock

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