The first practice I did at about an 80% effort just to see where I was. I started out at a slower pace and didn't push it through the tough floors in the 20's. By floor 36 I was able to increase for a final kick letting me know I had some left. My time for 40 floors (training was 2 floors shorter than the real thing for building reasons) was 7:38. Pretty slow, but I still had a month to put in and I wasn't hurting all that bad. I was about where I expected.
Instead of the usual stairmaster that has a sort of escalator step on it, I used the older version with the little step pedals. I feel that that machine forces me to push my whole weight up. I also used the elliptical machine a lot more. I wasn't able to go to as many of Beth's "boot camp" classes (okay, I didn't go to any, just her pilates classes instead), but I did make it to several spin classes. I don't own a bike anymore but spin class really strengthened my legs and built some endurance over the weeks in December and January.
Student teaching really cut into my time and energy this year. Some days I only worked out for 15 minutes because I no longer have the luxury of waking up and strolling into the gym at 10:30 anymore.
By the next practice which took place 2 weeks before yesterday's event I was ready to see exactly where I was timewise. I gave a full 100% and by the top of the 40th floor I was at a 5:07. I told them "that's not right," as I walked away upset that they had messed my time up. Beth and our team captain Kenny came too and helped me recover as best they could but I still ended up puking in the parking lot...after a practice.
I prepared the best I could for the next two weeks tailing things off by Tuesday and only doing light bike and elliptical in the gym. I was so upset that they had messed up my practice time because I really didn't know what to expect. What really worried me was the headaches I was getting after the practice. They was a sharp pain in the back left "corner" of my head after practice for a few hours. It finally went away but then came back when I went to bed. The next day I was okay but as soon as I put any effort into lifting (I think I was bench pressing) the pain came back which started to freak me out. I've been taking Motrin which always helps.
Race day came and I decided to get up at 6:00 and eat 2 pop tarts at 6:15. I showered and we headed down to The Met to arrive at 7:30. This year I had the advantage of starting 4th overall. There were 1445 runners and the practice runs and previous years have always been plagued with slow runners in my way. Passing on a stairwell is much more difficult than passing in a road race. The #1 bib was Missouri's Lt. Governor. The #2 runner was missing. #3 was a guy who ran his practice in 5:55 and was overconfident.
I had a lot of adrenaline going and decided to just shoot up the first 8-10 floors. I passed the Lt. Gov. by the 6th floor (he started 27 seconds ahead of me). I passed the #3 runner around the 18th floor which put me in the lead with (as they say in NASCAR) clean air ahead. Each floor has volunteers letting the runners know where the break floors are (every 10 floors). I ignored them as they offered rest and water (as if!). Could they not see the crazy look of determination in my eyes? I'm a complete nutjob for this event and yeah, it's great to raise money to fight lung disease, but this race is the competitive highlight of my year...so no...no water stops.
By the 30th floor I was back to the living hell that makes this race so hard. Everything in the body says stop. It's kind of like drowning because every muscle is out of oxygen. I took two Motrin with breakfast so my headache wasn't getting to me. I used my arms to pull myself up each set of steps (two at a time the whole way). Ignore the pain, it will go away. This is one of the few interesting things you'll accomplish and have to
I crossed the line first to an applause of strangers and immediately found a table to lean on. No chairs. I begged for one and threatened to puke, but no one helped. I wasn't as "sick" as I normally am though. It's not that I didn't give 100%, my body just didn't have to puke this time. My teammates crossed the line a minutes later including my lovely wife who clocked in at 8:48 (I promised her $160 boots from ALDO if she broke 8 minutes so she was a little upset). My time ended up being 5:58. I felt like I went faster at practice so maybe if you take away the 2 extra floors and the landing on the 41st floor, I actually did run a 5:07 at practice. The good news was I improved from last year's time by 22 seconds. Sadly, the result was the same. 4th place overall (that guy who won the St. Louis Marathon was repeat champion at 4:48). I won my age group of men 30-39 because top 3 runners don't get to place in age group as well. Still, I guess I can say I'm happy with the result. I may have run faster at practice, I'm still not sure. I'll be back next year most likely. I know what works, I just have to do more of it. I don't fear the headache pain anymore. Spin classes, elliptical machine, and running are the key. I talked to the 2nd place guy and he's some hardass runner who travels the world with his wife doing marathons and 10K's. Like I said, the winner is a marathoner training for the Olympics. The 3rd place guy was some personal trainer looking guy...and then there's me. I figure those 3 all run a few miles every morning and watch their diets. I was the guy drinking 4 pints of beer afterward instead of a cool down. (Scary--5th place was the overall woman's winner just 17 seconds or so behind me!)
I'm proud of myself, my wife, and our efforts. Thank you again for those who donated. I'll try again next year and see if I can finally crack the top 3!