Today's Fight For Air climb in Austin (benefitting the American Lung Association) marks the start of three years as a stair racer, and one year as a member of the West Coast Labels/X-Gym national stair racing team. It's been fun, even if it is a ridiculous sport, and I have no intention of stopping now. I really enjoy getting to see my "step siblings" at these races, since none of them live in Austin to run into the rest of the time. While my result at today's race is not what I had hoped, considering I've had a cold most of the week, it was better than I thought it might be. I was nearly a minute slower than last year in the "extreme" double climb, and my third single climb (later after some recovery time) was nothing spectacular. None of my climbs were under 4 minutes, but at least none of them were over 5. I wound up finishing fourth in the extreme, 10th in the single. I would have been second in the extreme if I had matched last year's time. Oh well. I'll come back next year.
Being a home town race with a quite reasonable 9am start time, I didn't have to get up early at all. I left the house at 8 and had plenty of time to see my friends and get a warmup. I ran up Congress, around the Capitol and back to the Frost Bank Tower, just over a mile. After some words and the national anthem, they started sending us with a 15 second gap between climbers. j
I started third, behind Scott and Robert. At 30 stories, this race is considered a sprint. While I didn't go out quite at 400m pace, I was running. That went alright for 20 floors, at which point I had to slow down to more of a fast walk, still doing two stairs at a time. My legs were getting a little wobbly, and I single stepped from 29 to 30, at least partially to catch my breath for a good run for the last story to the finish line on floor 31. Usually when I finish a climb, I want to keep moving until I can catch my breath. This time I wanted to collapse, or more specifically it felt like my legs were about to collapse. I compromised and walked to the elevators before collapsing. There was a guy there who asked if he should call EMS; I declined. I had missed the memo that there was a maximum of 5 minutes between climbs, so I was trying to get as much recovery time as possible. I eventually got to my feet and took the elevator down to the lobby. I was kind of milling about trying to get some blood flow through my legs when Sarah and Heather came through. I figured I would stick with them as they went back to the start line. I certainly wasn't timing, apparently I did make the 5 minute cutoff. My second climb was much slower. I fast-walked pretty much the whole way, double stepping and using the railing. I passed Heather and then caught Sara when she took a breather on 20-something. My body wanted to slow down, but I wanted to stay ahead of Sarah. I did slow down to single-stepping between 28 and 30, but had enough of a lead that she didn't catch me. My climb times were 4:11 and 4:53 by my watch, but a cumulative 7:59 for my chip time. Super speedy Zack wasn't originally part of the extreme climb, but they let him do it later in the morning. If not for him, I would have been third and gotten a little trinket. On the flip side, I was only one second ahead of Robert, so I could have just as easily been bumped down a notch.
I stretched, drank a bottle of water, ate a banana, and did whatever I could think of to recover. Around 10 I figured it was time to line up for my third climb. I jumped in with Sarah and her extended family who live in Austin. There were a lot more people in the stairwell the third time (it was nearly empty the first two times). They mostly stayed out of the way, and the oblivious ones didn't slow me down too much. My time was between my first and second, 4:25. There were a lot more people strewn about the elevator hallway than previous times, and evidently they weren't waiting to go down as nobody had pushed the button for the elevator. The volunteer made a comment that I was the first three-peater he'd noticed, which seemed to impress some of the exhausted-looking people sitting on the floor.
Some more water, a delicious cupcake, a change of shoes and shirt, and I went for a little run. I did the 5-mile loop, but really only ran about 4 miles. My left knee was bothering me a little. I made it back to the tower as awards were starting and cheered on my friends who got medals. Most of us went to IronWorks afterward for tasty barbecue.
Overall I think the race went well. There was good airflow in the stairwell. Other people were saying it was hot; maybe it was because I was already hot from my warmup run, but it felt fine to me. I didn't get the track hack I sometimes get; I think I was actually coughing less after the race than when I woke up in the morning.