last year, 19:50. I was really hoping to be closer to 19, so I was kind of disappointed. But with the kind of views you get from the SkyDeck, and to be able to hang out with old and new friends, it was a pretty nice weekend overall in Chicago. As a minor consolation, my finish position improved from 81 to 75; some of the fast people sat this year out, I guess.
The biggest difference this year from last is that I have joined the West Coast Labels/X-Gym stair racing team, probably the only national stair racing team in the US. In addition to meeting a bunch of people I previously only knew through Facebook, we got together last night for dinner. I'm pretty sure the top three, and most of the top ten, men today were there, as well as some very fast women. Mark, the team captain, even got some of the guys who came over from Germany to show up for dinner.
I actually slept pretty well last night, other than waking up numerous times. The extra hour thanks to daylight time ending was nice for some extra winks. I woke up about 5, went for a warmup jog (not as long as Dallas two weeks ago, not sure the effect), and picked up some sugar for breakfast on my way back to the hotel. I ate my muffin and walked over to Willis. Breakfast was not sitting well at first, but fortunately it resolved itself before the race started at 7am. As the "elite" wave was assembling itself at the start, people were talking times, and I seriously felt like I was in the wrong line- the people around me were saying 16, 17 minutes. I let a lot of people go ahead of me once the line started moving, until the folks looked closer to my pace. They were sending one person every 6-7 seconds, so it was about 7:03 when I started.
My vague plan was to go at a sort-of quick pace for the first 40 stories, take it easier until 80, then pick up the pace for a solid finish. Hardly a winning strategy, but I thought it could work for me. Other than slowing down for a sip of water at 24, I pretty much followed that plan. I was doing two steps at a time, pulling up on the railing with both hands. I thought maybe I could continue the whole way like that, but around 43 the wheels came off and I started walking one step at a time. I continued like that until above 88, where the stairwell gets narrower and the flights get shorter. This section is narrow enough that I was using the rails on both sides. It was only a short ways from there to the proverbial, and somewhat literal, light at the end of the tunnel, the doorway to the SkyDeck observation level, and the finish mat.
I passed a couple people in the lower floors, I don't think either passed me back. Several people passed me, mainly in the middle region where I was going slow. For a while I heard slapping feet of someone sprinting up every flight. When I saw the source of the noise, it was 11-year old Robert Liking. I was sure there was no way he could keep up that pace, but he kept coming. He passed when I paused for a sip of water at 24, and I didn't see him again until the finish.
After chatting and comparing notes at the top and back down in the lobby, it was 9:30 before I headed back to my hotel to shower and change. Of course I'm nuts, so I spent several hours wandering around the city, taking some cityscape photos. At 3 I went back to my hotel to chill for a bit before heading to the airport.