Tuesday, November 4, 2014

2014 Willis Tower Sky Run

2014 Willis Tower Sky Run

1st Place Overall
13:37

103 floors
2,109 steps

Pre Race

One, among very many more, good thing the stair climbing community does for each other is we help each other out whenever need be. Good friend and fellow stair climber great Jesse Berg was kind enough to let me crash at his place the night before the race.
I took the Amtrak from Springfield to Chicago Saturday morning. At the station I ran into Oz and chatted it up with him on the ride up, which was enjoyable. Once we got downtown we milled around downtown for a while with Bob. I went to go pick up my race packet and then found a place to get some reading and studying done.
After that I headed to the group dinner and it was great to see everybody again and catch up. The stair climbing community tries to get together as much as possible the night before a race over some dinner. Its one of the perks of this sport, the people who share a common mindset and love of the sport.

The Race
Went into the race with a relaxed feeling of Ive been here before. I knew I was at an interesting place training wise so I was interested to see how I would fair in the race. Last year I trained very hard in the stairs for this race but this year I didn't do any prep in the stairs except for one key workout I do every year before Willis. This key benchmark workout "secret" is a good indicator for me on how prepared I am for the climb. 30 minutes till race time I found myself across the street in the parking garage jogging around and climbing the 4 story stairwell a few times. Dropped my bag off and did some drills trying to fire up the stair climbing muscles.
Lining up before the start I really didn't want to go first but ended up going first anyway.

Game plan was to just work into the climb staying right at threshold pace until 50-60. Just focused on my breathing and rhythm on the railing and turns and to not get hung up on the doorway transitions where the railing was minimal. Got to floor 60 and was feeling not great but decent so I slightly picked it up and did a mental check. Floor 70 came along and I started feeling a slight slowing of pace. Around floor 85 or so I believe the stair format changes to the shorter skinner sections. Here I started picking it up again and did a watch check at roughly floor 90. Cant remember exact time I saw but whatever I saw I knew I had to pick it up if I wanted to get close to 13 flat. The last 10 floors I was really grinding it out and finishing with everything I had. Not quite the kick I would like but I pushed it and gave 100%.
Finished up at the top on floor 103 and collapsed on the ground. Checked the watch and of course it was still running so I didn't have an estimated time. Congratulated others as they finished up and milled around talking to others on how they did. Another year and another great Willis experience. This race is hard to figure out for me. Its truly a difficult and grueling race. I'll definitely be back next year to try and get that 13 flat mark. It is in me I just have to train harder for this race specifically.

 
Results:
 http://theracershub.com/results_view.php?id=2511&result_type=db

2014 Chicago Men's Health Urbanathlon

2014 Chicago Men's Health Urbanathlon 

1st Place Overall
1:04:03

Course: Flat, mostly pavement, some grass & gravel, & lots of stairs!!!

Pre Race
For starters I have been wanting to do this race for years. Finally this year I was able to get up to Chicago and compete. I had high expectations of winning this race. I went in confident in my ability. Night before I got about 4 hours of sleep after driving up to my friends place in North Park and crashing on the recliner chair. Woke up 4 hours later and ate some breakfast. Took the L down to Soldier Field. Walked around for a good 45 minutes trying to find the race site. Good thing I left early. Picked up my bib and found a place to get ready. Warmed up in the parking lot with some jogging and drills.

The Race
Anytime you toe a line at a race you can instantly pick out who looks competitive. I spotted two guys that looked promising. I signed up for the first wave which is considered the more competitive wave. Gun went off and a good group of 10 or so went out like a bat out of hell for the first quarter or so. I stayed comfortable and waited for some of them to fade. At about the half mile mark, what seemed to be a serious road runner, took the lead. I stayed on his shoulder for a little bit and instantly realized he was on a much faster pace than I would like to be this early in a 10 mile race with obstacles. I tailed him for a while and he slowly pulled away.

I kept within visual contact of him hoping that I could reel him in on the obstacles and especially on the stairs section. It felt like a got 2 miles before the first set of obstacles. First few obstacles came up with some over under barricade obstacles as well as some tire high knees. Route took us up the lake front towards Navy Pier onto an onramp over the river and onto the board walk. After the board walk I rounded a corner and came across the uneven balance beam. I saw the leader struggling on it. I maneuvered across it and moved into the lead. Headed back towards the stadium along the lake front. The 2nd place racer was reeling me in on the lake front path and we were shoulder to shoulder heading into the Tissot Soldier Field Stadium Stair Climb obstacle. I instantly opened up a significant lead and knew there were only about 2 miles left. Figured I had a minute and a half lead on him. Really used the down ramps in the stadium to my advantage to gap him as much as possible before getting back on the path and heading back towards the finish. Finished up strong and completed the VW crawl, the taxi cab jump, cargo bus and finally the 8 ft. wall.

Results:
http://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-7677?lc=en


2014 Spartan Chicago Super

2014 Spartan Chicago Super

Justin Stewart
2nd Place Overall Elite Male 
1:05:48

Course: 8 Miles, 25+ Obstacles

Haven't blogged in about a year it seems like. Finally got some free time to sit down and recap the 2014 season. Thought I'd recap the 2014 season specifically because it was a great year for racing. I found myself doing a wide range of races from indoor 800m to trail races to towerrunning to obstacle races. I had no plans for it to end up this way but it did. Especially with obstacle racing.

Pre Race
I had just been putting in my regular miles during the summer. I had done a Warrior Dash 3 years ago but never really pursued anything after that. I got 7th overall in my first obstacle race. It wasn't until I did my first Spartan race when I realized that the Warrior Dash wasn't even really, what I consider, a true obstacle race.
Had a spark light up in me after I stumbled upon the 2013 Spartan World Championships youtube video. Looked around for local Spartan races and found a race in Marseilles "Chicago" IL on September 27th. I signed up for the race a couple weeks out. I then started adding in little obstacle type workouts into my running regimen. Like with any race I did my research and found out the who's who in the Spartan racing world. Heading into the race I had a goal of winning. Coming out of nowhere and turning some heads. When I looked at last years results I was hoping the same big names where going to be there this year as well.

Headed north on Friday night in the good ole Xterra. Had plans of sleeping out of the back of the SUV. Got there just as the sun was going down. Daylight was running out much quicker than I would have liked. Got on the course some and messed around on some of the obstacles. I had never seen such obstacles in my life. Had no clue what I was getting into. Talked to the race director and asked if I could park in the lot and camp out. Got shut down and was told there was a lot back down the round. Found the spot and camped out for the night in the back of the Xterra . This is how I like it the night before a race.

Race Day
Woke up at 5am and ate some breakfast I had prepared the day before in a cooler. As I was eating and daylight started to peak out from the trees I noticed the spear throw obstacle right in front of my car. Didn't see anybody around so I pointed the headlight of my car at the hay bails and took my attempts ever....and what do you know I hit 7 for 7, first time ever throwing a spear. Jogged around the parking lot to shake out the legs. Drove back down the road and parked in the lot. Talked to a couple guys and wasted some time throwing a spear that a guy made from scratch. Went for a jog got my packet and did some drills and before you know it I was on the line of my first Spartan race.

The Race
First thing I noticed as I was toeing the line was that the starting line was not very big at all. Shoulders were rubbing and nobody wanted to move from their position. I was in the second row of people. Race started and I found a clear space on the side of an instantly narrowing trail. Bumped around a little bit and fought some branches. A couple hundred meters into the race and I was in 2nd place. Over, under, through obstacles were fine followed by a long section of trails. I was feeling good and ended up in 1st place. Spear throw came up next, took a deap breath and nailed it. Straight into the tire drag and pull. Got done with this first and headed back into the woods. A group of 3 or 4 packed up heading into some low barbed wire mud rolls, creek running and a cargo net. Then headed back into some pretty hilly technical trails. Found myself alone and what felt like gapping the field. I wasn't expecting this and I was nervous that maybe I was making a mistake of taking it out too fast. I was alone and in the lead till mile 5 or so.

Came up on the uneven monkey bars. Was doing fine until I noticed Brakken coming up on me. Tried to move too quickly on the last rung and slipped. He took the lead while I dropped down and did 30 burpes. There goes the win I thought. Headed back into the woods and did a few more obstacles, "Hobie Hop", Atlas carry, etc. Then came up on the zig zag balance bean. Failed miserably and couldn't believe it. 30 more burpes. Saw the 7 mile mark and finished up with some water obstacles and a rope wall jumped the fire and finished 2nd place overall in just my second obstacle race ever behind what I found out to be a Spartan Pro in Brakken.
Learned a lot from this race. Caught the obstacle racing bug and met a lot of new people. Found out what these races entail and found out some technical stuff I could improve on. This type of racing I was always skeptical about but I am finding that training for these races is putting me in a place fitness wise that I like to be in. The constant pounding of the pavement gets old after a while and this type of racing is so new and foreign to me but its something I want to improve at and I feel I can be competitive with the best of the sport very soon with some more focused training for obstacle races.

1st Brakken Kraker 1:01:16
2nd Justin Stewart 1:05:48
3rd Robert Muzikowski 1:09:29

Results: Spartan.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Willis Skyrise Stair Climb


2013 Willis Tower Skyrise Stair Climb
Sunday November 3rd 2013


Justin Stewart
1st Place/2,300
13:29

Race Morning 4:00 a.m.
This race is always interesting waking up for because it lands on day light savings time. Woke up around 4 to get a shake out run in. Ran easy just shaking the legs out, getting the blood flowing for 10 minutes. Got back to Jesse's house and stretched out then ate some breakfast.

Race Recap
I went into this race pretty confident, relaxed, and in shape.  This race comes at a weird time of year for me as far as stair climbs go. This year I was ready due to the fact that Ive been training for the 12 hour stair climb. The strength that I have gained from those long hours in the stairwell paid off.  When we were lining up I really did not want to go first. I climb better when I know I have to catch people and it keeps me motivated to climb and catch the next person. I usually go first but this time I was stubborn and started 4th in line behind Jesse, Oz, and David Tromp with Tim Danahue and Gorge Hermann right behind me.  I had a game plan of working into the race and thats exactly what I did. I remained focused on keeping a nice uptempo pace the first 50 floors then working into it if I was feeling good. I didnt know much about Tim but I knew he trained with Sproule so I knew he had to be good. Tim caught me by floor 15 or so and was moving but I never lost sight of him. He was breathing quite heavily so I stayed calm and hoped he wouldnt be able to keep that pace.  He later faded around 70 were I passed him back.  He had huge long legs and it was hard for me to get around him, his 4 steps equaled my 3. From 75 ish on I was all alone and focused on picking up the pace every 10 floors and putting as much time as possible between me and everybody else behind me. The last 20 floors I caught myself really looking at my watch quickly on the landings because I was really wanting that record. At floor 94 I glanced and saw 13:01 and thought damnit....but I could still get in a solid PR. The last 10 floors I actually had what I would consider a sprint finish in the stair climbing world.  I was really moving and grabbing the railings for everything I had left. Stopped my watch and saw 13:29 and was pretty pleased considering my finish and time from 2 years ago was 14:49 and 10th place. 2 years ago I had a rude awakening with this tower but this year I was ready and more prepared.  Then I just played the waiting game on finding out everybody else's times.  Overall I was really happy with my performance and time and effort I put forth in this race. I really wanted that 13:03 record but itll have to be next year. I know what I have to do. My 13:29 ties for the 4th fastest time every ran up in that race with some pretty big names in the sport next to me, which is a good feeling.


Results:

http://theracershub.com/results_view.php?id=2270&result_type=file&PHPSESSID=ef4d91f7d52c7742bfb9e65f174413b9

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 Springfield Marathon

2013 Springfield Marathon 

Marathon
1/2 Marathon
10k 

October 20th, 2013
Location: University of Illinois-Springfield


10k Results
Pre-Race 
Justin Stewart
Place: 1st Overall/324
Time:  34:37 (5:32 pace)
Speed: 10.8 mph

10k Race Recap
I decided to run in this race last week.  My base mileage has been going really well and with only 3 consistent weeks of running I feel stronger than ever.  Over the years there have been plenty of times where I havent ran in a while and then I start my base training which usually consists of a couple months of increased mileage and easy runs with a few fatlek and dynamic runs as well as tempos mixed in there.  So far my weekly mileage started at 15, 20, 20, 30. I will keep increasing the mileage up to about 60 miles a week then start to incorporate some speed work getting ready for some indoor and outdoor track races this winter and spring. In the past my base building mileage usually consisted of 6:45-7:00 minutes pace miles. This year with my stair climbing training included in my base building I am hitting 6:10-6:30 paced runs easily and feel stronger than ever. I believe this strength showed in todays 10k I decided to hop in on a whim. I went out with the mindset of working into the race. Start as a tempo for the first couple miles then work into it. I honestly was expecting 5:45 pace but ended up hitting 5:32 pace which I was thrilled about. I led the race from start to finish and was out by myself the entire race. It wasnt until mile 2 when I started coming up on the tail end of the marathoners which helped in me keeping my pace honest and uptempo. The mile markers werent consistent and I only saw mile marker 2 and 3. I went threw the 2mile marker in 11:26 and the 3 mile mark in 16:54.

Overall, it was good race to get into last minute. Its always nice to win a race especially the inaugural event, so I guess you could say I have a course record as well. After the race I also was interviewed by 3 time Olympian and record holder Craig Virgin which was pretty cool as well. Overall great event and hopefully this event only grows bigger and more competitive over the next years to come. Congrats to all who participated and thanks go out to the fans, family and friends who came out to support.

With Craig Virgin after the race
Finishing stretch



12 Hour Stair Climb Training

Week #7 

Workout: 8 hour stair climb training session
Goal: Stay at a nice tempo that I think I can keep up for 12 hours and eat right. 
Location: Springfield Hilton (32 floors), Springfield IL


Done with 8 hours of stair climbing at the Springfield Hilton. I got through 7 hours and 40 minutes just fine, tried to pick it up the last 20 minutes and paid for it and crashed. 79 times up in 8 hours. Climbed the equivalent of Mt. Everest. Probably could have gotten the record today if I had climbed another 2 hours with better pacing and eating better. This will be my last long climbing session in my training. I figure if I can do almost 80 time up in 8 hours and feel pretty good then I can manage to climb at least 20 more times in 4 hours to get the existing record of 33,000 vertical feet. At the pace I had going today I could have gotten the record at hour 10 and still had 2 more hours to climb. I figure a whole lot isnt going to change from here on out till the event. Once theres people there encouraging me I think itll be a ton better mentally for me instead of being alone like I was for the 8 hour training session. 

Splits:
4:45
4:45
4:44
4:44
4:44
4:43
4:44
4:43
4:44
4:43
-----
4:43
4:41
4:41
4:40
4:39
4:41
4:39
4:38
4:39
4:39
-----
4:39
4:38
4:34
4:42
4:38
4:33
4:36
4:33
4:38
4:36
-----
4:39
4:37
4:33
4:31
4:24
4:32
4:34
4:26
4:28
-----
4:26
4:19
4:23
4:26
4:20
4:30
4:25
4:19
4:22
4:21
-----
4:18
4:22
4:21
4:15
4:19
4:20
4:22
4:21
4:18
4:20
-----
4:19
4:20
4:14
4:12
4:15
4:16
4:13
4:14
4:12
4:11
-----
4:14
4:11
4:10
4:03
4:00
4:01
4:07
4:13
4:38
4:45

Totals:
42,028 steps
26,268 vertical feet

Sunday, October 6, 2013

12 hour stair climb training

Week #6 

Down Week

Workout: Sprint workout
Goal: Give myself a down week without a long climb and do some sprints.
Location: Springfield Hilton, Springfield IL

Splits: 

1.)  4:40 warm up climb
2.)  3 x (sub 3 minute climbs with 2 minutes rest between)
             2:45
             2:47
             2:55
5.)  4:50 cool down climb
6.)  12 x 5 floor sprints with 1 minute rest between