Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fight for Air Climb

I would say that if you are going to climb 52 flights of stairs, training would be a smart thing to do. My biggest mistake was I started training too early and tried to figure out a way to train for a stair climb and a 10k which turned out to not be such a brilliant idea. I basically overwhelmed myself and ended up not really training for the climb.

On the bright side, I still made it up the 52 flights of stairs, even if I didn't meet my goal time. We had a wave time of 10am and I'll admit even though this was my employer's event, it was a little unorganized. I didn't hear anyone calling out wave times or telling us when to head down to the concourse area. I think we just decided as a group that now was a good time to get in line. The line was long and it had the atmosphere of standing in line for a ride at Disneyland, but somehow I knew it wouldn't be as much fun. Having never done this event before we had no idea how long it would actually take us to wind around the actual stairwell. After what seemed like forever we finally got close. Climbers were sent off in 8 second increments so as not to crowd the stairwell. I got the go ahead and found myself flustered as I crossed the mat and was trying to get my heart rate monitor to start, I had to push it like 4 times before I even got to the first stair after crossing the mat. Just like a run, there is this air of excitement and all of a sudden I realized that I needed to get going! As I ran up the first flight of stairs it was pretty evident that running up the stairs was not going to be an option.  My lungs and legs were burning and as I looked up realized I was only at the 3rd floor. Okay, this is going to be tougher than I anticipated.

Aid stations were set up every 7 floors. For safety purposes water is not allowed in the actual stairwell, so you have to exit the stairwell to get to water. We had been told there would be water at the plaza level before the climb, but there was no water to be found anywhere, so by the time I got floor 7 I was pretty parched. After this it was pretty obvious that I would need to stop at every aid station for water and slow my heart rate down.

As you can imagine, there are not a lot of sites in the stairwell of the B of A building, but every floor felt like a milestone.

I would pass people and then stop at an aid station and have to pass them again. Sure would have been nice if I had been able to carry my hydration pack, but I get it, slippery floors would be really, really bad.  When we reached floor 50, I wanted to scream out with joy! I held back and slowed down long enough for the photog to take my photo. As we came out of the stairwell and crossed the timing mat, there were lots of volunteers ringing cow bells and cheering us on, it just felt so good to be done. The really nice part was that in addition to a bottle of Gatorade I was also handed a hand towel, wow, if only I was handed one of those at the end of every race!

It took me 21:46 to climb 52 stairs, way over my original goal, but despite the fact that I wasn't feeling great that morning, I still got it done. And for my efforts was rewarded with this fabulous view.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What happened to March?

The past two weeks have been rough. Once I returned from San Diego it was all training, running and stair climbing and then someone whacked me upside the side of my head with a case of tummy troubles. No doubt the result of me new and is more stressful than it needs to be job. Luckily, test results came back today and the c-diff is not rearing it's ugly head again. Process of elimination probably means ulcer, the meds the doc gave me seem to be helping. Helping enough that I was actually able to get my 3.5 mile run in yesterday in comparison to last weeks no running at all.

While I'm not as prepared for Saturday's 52 flights of stair climbing as I had hoped to be, I know I'll get it done, it just may not be as fast as I had hoped. But let's be honest, it is my first stair climb, so whatever I do, it will be a PR. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Finish Chelsea's Run

Okay, so maybe I didn't need to get to Balboa Park at 6am. The race was to start at 7:30am sharp and I knew they were expecting at least 3000 runners, I was hoping to avoid long lines to pick up my bib. I must admit that the hotel shuttle driver looked at me a little odd when I arrived in the lobby at 5:45am to go to Balboa. Needless to say, it was still dark when I got out of the van and I'm pretty sure I was the 1st person to pick up my bib. The cool thing about being there that early is the chalk artists were finishing up the huge sunflower at the start line.

The sunflower was Chelsea's favorite flower.

I must say this was a very well organized event. You could opt to be timed or not timed. If you opted to be chip timed you had a blue bib and were directed to the front. All other participants had a white bib and were told to line up behind people with blue bibs, so simple, but brilliant. We were directed to line up at 7am as they promised a 7:30am start, I'm sure a prompt start had to due with their permits. This is sort of a Where's Waldo shot, but I'm in it, I have a light teal headband on, can you spot me???

An amazing 5000+ people showed up for this inaugural event. As an event planner I can only imagine in my wildest dreams having 5000 people show up to my event, let alone my first one! And if you have ever wondered what 5000+ people look like, well here you go.

The King's moved out of state after Chelsea's death. But Brent, Kelly and Tyler all ran the race. Kelly actually trained for the run and I know Chelsea would have been so proud of her Mom.

Before I knew it, we were off. The magnitude of the event was just huge and very emotional. All along the route were Chelsea's favorite inspirational quotes, it was difficult to not push hard based on the overwhelming amount of inspiration on the route. I looked down and realized my heart rate monitor was not registering, and I think there is no way to not look a little odd when you lick your finger and pull your shirt up to try and get the sensors to work on your heart rate strap, it didn't work, so I figured I was going to have to wing it and just try to find a nice pace. When we reached the 1 mile mark they were calling out times and I passed right at 10 minutes, I was surprised to say the least, I'm a slow runner, so it was nice to know I had a good first mile. the course was beautiful, I tried to grab a photo, but it doesn't do much justice to how gorgeous it was.

We actually got to run on the freeway. I saw a Chippy out there as we entered the 163. I was very tempted to yell a "HuRah" as I ran past, but he was in his patrol car and I figured it would be wasted. Kind of cool to run on the freeway. We ran down this amazing hill and I must say it was fast and fun, so fast that someone behind me actually fell down it, she was fine. As we got to the bottom of the hill we hit the 2 mile mark and once again they were calling out times. As I passed she called out 20:33. Holy crap, I thought, I might actually be able to PR. And then I quickly thought of the fun hill I had just run down and realized that we would have to go back up, okay, maybe no PR for me today. We passed through the back side of some mountain and it was nice and cool and shady back there. And then I saw it, the hill I would have to get up. Holy crap, once again. The entire time I kept pushing thinking of Chelsea and how she wouldn't give up, her spirit kept me moving through out most of the race. But that hill, I slowed to a walk when I felt like my heart rate was too high and my lungs were burning. I looked around and there was no one around me running. I've tried to determine the elevation of said hill, but I'm ending up with somewhere between 85 and 150 feet of gain in .33 miles. We all know that math is not my strong point so lets just say it was painful. We had almost reached the top when we hit the 3 mile mark. Okay, .10 miles I can run. As I ran to cross the finish line, I found myself once again emotional with the magnitude of the day. While it was a day of celebration of Chelsea's life you couldn't help but think of the tragedy that occurred to bring us all together.

The shining light in all of this is to witness and be part of what a community can do when they band together, the power of the people truly is amazing. I was so proud to be part of this amazing day and I hope to make it back to San Diego every year to be part of Finish Chelsea's Run.

Official Time: 33:36 76/123 in my age group (of the folks that were timed anyway :))

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Remembering Chelsea

Today marks the day of my return to running. I haven't run in over 2 weeks due to the stomach flu and how it stuck around for an extra week after I thought I had recovered. On the plate today is 2 miles, just to ease back into things and make sure I still have legs and lungs worthy of actually running.

Friday I head out to San Diego to race in the Inaugural Finish Chelsea's Run. I am thrilled to be taking part in such a beautiful way to remember and honor Chelsea King. For those of you that don't know, Chelsea King was a bright 17 year old who embraced life to its fullest. Chelsea loved to run and on February 25th last year headed out on a training run where she fell victim to a horrible crime. As a Mother, it's completely unimaginable to even think of losing a child, it's difficult even for me a year later to try and process what happened to Chelsea. I worked with Chelsea's Dad at World Savings/Wachovia and their loss and their courage to fight each and every day to make sure our children are safe is inspiring. Passed in a record six months Chelsea's Law creates a true one-strike penalty for violent sexual offenders who target children. Chelsea's Light Foundation is working on passing Chelsea's Law in additional states.

A few weeks after Chelsea's death, several of her friends decided to go and finish her run to remember her. Word quickly spread and 3500 turned out to finish Chelsea's run. This year marks the first Inaugural Finish Chelsea's Run. Money raised from this event will go towards the Sunflower Scholarship Fund. The Scholarships will be awarded to teens who embrace everything that was important to Chelsea, including her "service over self" motto.

I run for Chelsea on Saturday.