Wednesday, March 2, 2011

30 Rock

Sunday February 27th, 2011 I climbed 66 flights of stairs. That's 1,215 individual stairs.  It was an amazing experience and I'm so honored to have been a part of it.

Thanks to Patrick getting up at 3:30 I got a much earlier start to my day than I'd wanted to but it worked out well beacuse all of the trains were running on Sunday schedules which means they are more infrequent than during the week.

I packed a small bag knowing I would have to check it along with my coat. I had a bottle of water, my wallet, my cel phone and my camera.

I arrived at Rockefeller Center at about 8:00 and stood on 5th Avenue staring at this very very tall building I was going to be attempting to master in half an hour.  As I walked, I gave myself a pep talk and promised myself that whatever happened, even if we didn't finish we were going to try our hardest.

Headed downstairs to the concourse to register and check my bag. I now had a dilemmia on my hands. They said no earphones and no cameras were to be allowed in the stairwell but I wanted to try to sneak both in.  Music is super important to me and often pushes me forward when I have no gas left in the tank. My IPhone is also my IPod and  holds all my music.  Did I take that in with me? On the other hand, I love taking photos and documeting an event like this is so important so I can remember the small details after it's all over.

At the last second I opted for the camera and left my phone in my bag. It turned out to be the right decision.
I grabbed a bottle of water and plopped down to wait for my start time to be called.

I watched folks walk by me, all hot and sweaty with medals around their necks. Would I be able to finish and get a medal of my own?  (Everyone who finishes gets one) I honestly wasn't sure. I hadn't done too much in the way of training for this climb. I'd promised myself I'd climb more stairs to train but it really never happened.

Then of course there was the fact that everything I'd read said that this climb was equivalent of a 5k race and if you could run a 5k, you could do this climb.

Great, except...I'm not a runner. Truth be told,  I'm in lousy cardio shape. Give me weights, give me strength training and I'll knock it out of the park pushing myself really hard. Cardio? Icky. I have no stamina or endurance for it and it's one of the things that frustrates me. 

Because of that, I honestly wasn't sure if I'd be able to see this event through to the end.
I promised myself I was going to try my hardest.  I checked my heart rate monitor and discovered it wasn't working. Fan-freakin-tastic. Well then, I'd have to go on "feel" alone. I would have to really listen to my body today and pay attention to the little things it told me.

Then it was 8:30 and time for my wave to line up to head up to the 3rd floor where we were starting from.
Off we went and we were climbing up what seemed to me to be VERY steep stairs! After the first flight I found myself thinking "I have to do 65 more of these?!" but I kept going not rushing it.

At about the 5th floor I had to rest to catch my breath and there on that landing was a woman wearing an orange shirt. That identified her as an MS patient.  We both got back to the climb at the same time and fell into step with each other. We climbed and joked about finding the elevator and encouraged each other. My battle cry for the day was "WE GOT THIS! WE ARE SUPER STRONG!"

She and I didn't rush, we took our time and all of a sudden we were at the 23rd floor at the first rest stop! We grabbed water and she took a bathroom break. I decided to wait for her. She needed to rest a little longer and when she was ready we started to climb again.

We talked to other folks who caught up to us and some passed us, others stayed with us for a while and then passed us, more than a few were taking the stairs 2 at a time and lots were even running.

We got into a groove and didn't have to stop at that many landings for breaks. We kept going, slow and steady and all of a sudden we were at the 43rd floor and the second rest stop!

Here there were EMTs on the landing and when we went into the rest area we found a row of folks getting oxygen and being tended to by the medical staff.  It was about then that I realized just how strong I actually am.

These folks were serious athletes, most were lean with runners legs.  I'm a short, fat stay at home mom who made it to the 43rd floor without illness or injury.  That's rather cool I think.

Patti (my climbing partner) and I rested for a few and I decided to play cheerleader to those around me and reminded them how close to the top we were. We really were almost there and more than half of the climb was behind us.

We started to climb and I noticed a woman with a sash on the landing. She was some sort of beauty queen and I had to get a picture with her. 

Then we got back on track and got moving again. We whooped and hollered and told each other and everyone around us that we could do it! We were all almost there and doing such an amazing job.

Then all of a sudden we turned a corner and there it was. The last flight, sunlight and a cheering crowd!

I couldn't do anything but smile and wipe away the tears. I  had done it. I had climbed over 1,000 steps. I'd made it from the basement to the observation deck of Rockefeller Center. ME.  Victory!

My time was a little over 41 minutes which was fine as I wasn't going for time.

My new pal Patti and I hugged each other and agreed neither of us could have done it without the other.

I'm so honored that I got to experience this event with someone like Patti. A woman who lives with MS each day and yet does not let it define her or hold her back.  She was a complete inspiration to me.

The climb was not easy but it was a whole lot of fun and I'm so glad I did it. I took my time, took plenty of breaks, but never at any point did I feel like I wasn't going to be able to finish. I never felt like my tank was empty or that I had to really dig deep to finish.

I owe much of that to my climbing pals and all the great folks who kept my mind busy talking and encouraging each other all the way to the top.  I never got a chance to doubt that I would finish.

It was an amazing experience and I don't think I'll ever look at that building the same way again!

 I have got to be completely off my rocker. Why did I sign up for this?!

 Gulp! That's a really REALLY tall building!
 The heart rate monitor that picks the one day I really needed it, to not work.
 That's my start time! In the chute waiting to go up!

 At the first rest stop which was the 28th floor.

 Second rest stop on the 43rd floor

 This is the lovely Patti & I at the top. I had so much fun walking with her and was so inspired by her!

I did it! I made it to the top! I will never look at this building the same again.

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