Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I'm Now Known as Anna S. (11.5 years & 52 flights of stairs)

I can picture it just like it was yesterday.  However, in reality it was 11.5 years ago.

I had just moved back to the Chicagoland area and was on one of my first dates since my return.  Somehow, someway during the course of conversation I started telling my date about a stair climb event called "Hustle Up the Hancock".  It was organized and benefited the Respiratory Health Association which is in the Chicagoland area.  Completing such an event sounded like my cup of tea... Especially considering the fact at the time I aspired to complete a 5k race.  Of course, neither happened that year... or the next ... or the next .... or the.... well, I'm sure you get the picture.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would like to join my friend's Hustle Up the Hancock half climb (52 flights of stairs) team.  Wow!  Talk about random and unexpected.  I did not see that one coming.  Especially considering that I hadn't thought about HUTH in a very long time.  At first I hesitated.  For several reasons.  First, there was a chance I was suppose to be in Indianapolis for a book event thing.  Second, the event took place on the same day as Purim, and quite frankly Purim is my FAVORITE Jewish holiday so missing the celebration is a HUGE deal to me.  Lastly, and probably the most important reason, I wasn't 100% sure I was in good enough physical condition to successfully climb 52 flights of stairs.

At this point in time I feel it's important to share with you that I am probably in the best shape physically that I have been in ever in my life.  Sure, I've be lighter than I currently, but I can't say the weight has ever come off the best way. (I don't believe the American Medical Association will ever endorse what I call "the stress diet".) 

So there I was trying to make a decision.  Then, I decided the circumstances leading up to me being asked was a sign that I WAS in fact ready.  That's when I decided to join my friend's team.

This past Sunday was the 2013 Hustle Up the Hancock event at the John Hancock Building in downtown Chicago.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  Seriously, what would you think if you made the decision to climb the stairs of this builiding?

John Hancock Building (center), Chicago, IL

Yeah, that's what I thought!  Really, I know it wasn't the full climb, which is 94 flights of stairs, but 52 flights is still pretty intimidating.  However, I wasn't going to back out.  If anything I'm sure the event had proper medical staffing "just in case".  Since the event attracts so many people, participants are assigned a "wave" time.  The team I was part of was scheduled for 9 AM.  If you ask me, that a good time.  We didn't have to get up the crack, crack ass of dawn to get there for the 7-something wave, but weren't assigned to the last wave which started at 2:30 in the afternoon.  (If you ask me, having to wait around all day would have sucked.)

Once my friend and I were at the John Hancock building, and our coats were checked our next order of business was to find our team members.  This was a bit challenging given the number of people at the event at any given time.  All I can say is that the below pictures don't really show the massive amount of people at the event, but it at that the very least give you an idea...

Random people...

More random people...

After waiting for an hour/hour and a half it was finally my team's turn to head to our starting point.  Cue an even more massive surge of nerves than I had waiting around. 

Once in the service areas of the building, we were taken up to the 42 floor - halfway up the building, and our starting point.  this is where I went into race mode.  My earphones were on and I was focused on "psyching-up" for what I was about to attempt.  Doing this was a bit difficult being in a group.  Everyone was talking to one another and I didn't want to totally ignore my team members. 

Instead of sending participants up all at the same time, each individual was sent up approximately 8 seconds after the person in front of them.  Before you could go, the guy from the timing place had to enter your number.  Because I had to be different, I wore my number on my leg.  I picked this up from S during the various events we've participated in.  Once the guy realized where my number was he entered it and I was told I could go.  As I made my way to the door I took this picture of my starting time.  Can you tell the exact time I started at?

9:.... ????

If you can, please comment because I couldn't tell you.  (Taking the picture seemed like a good idea, in theory.) 

So, I was off.  The 5 -10 flights were nothings.  This was a surprise to me.  Then, I started to get winded.  My throat got dry which made me wish I had brought some gum or a mint to suck on to keep my throat moist.  It was somewhere around floor 72 that I realized I might actually complete the task at hand.  At that point I had made it up 30 flights of stairs.  There were only 22 more flights to go!  As I rounded the corner to get to floor 94 I saw the finish line ahead of me.  I have to admit, this put an extra prep into my step.  As I crossed the finish line I was awarded this finishers metal:

I climbed 52 flights of stairs, bitches!!!

Ok, I know it's "just" a finishers metal and not because I placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd in any category, but damn it I am REALLY proud of this metal. 

After I stopped climbing stairs, the shock of what I just did really hit my body and I have to admit I didn't feel well for a moment.  Thankfully, taking in water helped me feel better.  The other thing I felt while recovery was a HUGE sense of pride.  I mean even more than when I first finished.  As I was taking in the magnificent views of the Chicago skyline, it hit me I had just accomplished a goal I set 10 years ago.  I thought of that date where I mentioned the event.  At that moment I shed a tear.  It was the same way I teared up when I completed my first 5k.  I had just done something that I had only talked about for years... and years... and years .... and ... well, you get the picture. 

Of course I texted every person I could possibly think would appreciate what I had just done.  I also updated my Facebook timeline like I was doing prior to the race.

Like other "big" accomplishments, I cannot put into words what doing this has meant to me.  What I can say is that it has given me the drive to attempt even larger event such as a 103 flight stair climb event and a 10 mile run.

Oh, for Purim I was "Anna S.".  You are probably wondering who Anna S. is.  Who she is exactly will only be known by my close friends and family, and my team members.  What I will say about Anna is that she gave me the opportunity to fulfill my 11.5 year ambition of climbing 52 flights of stairs. 

One of the MANY magnificent views I took in while recovering from the climb.
For that I am thankful!

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