Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Quad Cities Marathon

2012 Quad Cities Marathon (September 23rd)

20th Place Male
28th Place Overall
8th Place in Age Group

Sunny, calm, 42 degrees at race time, got up into the mid to upper 50's by race end.

My first ever marathon didnt quite go as to plan but overall I cant be upset because I used it as a learning experience.  I knew what I wanted to do and did what I thought I was capable of doing but in the end the second race of the marathon came and bit me is the you know what.  I knew the last 4-6 miles were going to hurt and people told me about it and I could picture it but until I experienced it myself I couldn't believe it or feel what it truly felt like.  Mentally I wanted to finish and push it in and stay on the great pace I set prior but physically for mile 23-26 I couldnt move my legs any faster than a trot.  So hard to deal with, I have never walked in a race in my entire 15 years of running, but I did a little bit for mile 23 where I avgeraged a 12:17 mile.  All Icould do was look at my watch and watch my awesome pace be shot to hell in a matter of a 4 miles of the 26.2.  But thats the marathon for ya.  As I look back on my training yes there are things I would do differently, Im not going to go into detail but I now know I would do a few things differently.  Theres really no way you can prepare for that 4 miles of the marathon in your training than to just stick to a pace you know you can handle and save up for that last 4 miles whether you think you feel great early on or not.
The week of the marathon I think I ate great.  I probably could have used a little more sleep but due to my jobs I did what I could.  Pre race, and I knew this going in, I didnt sleep well the night before but I did two nights out.  I woke up what felt like every hour and when I did I took a drink of water. Woke up and ate at 4:15am, headed out to the race at 5, went for a 30 min walk down the Mississippi River, went to a nearby hotel and chilled in the lobby to stay warm, stretched took my 5 hour energy and continued to hydrate a little.  30minutes out from the race I jogged around the parking lot where I could still here the annoucments.  Got my warmups off and went to the start.  I was two rows back from the elite starters.  Cannon went off and I was underway.  1/2 mile in looked at my GPS and saw 6:09 pace, too fast but it was so hard not to. It felt so easy but I knew my pace was 6:30-45.  The first 8.5 miles the half marathoners and full racers were all together so it was hard to tell who was in what race.  I chatted it up with a few people just to pass the time.  At 8.5 miles the half marathoners turned off and I found myself in 15th place overall.  Went through the 13.1 in 1:24:51, perfect, I was happy with a 2:50.  Stayed at 6:30 pace for a few more miles then I got the bright idea to keep pushing. Dipped down to 6:20 miles and was feeling great.  This one guy and I were cruisin together. Mile 20 I saw my parents and gave them the thumbs up saying I feel great.  I knew all I had left was a 3 mile out and 3 miles back.  Started feeling it on mile 22 when I fell off a little bit and ran a 6:43 mile. I thought OK Im starting to feel it I just slow down a bit and keep it here.  Next mile really started to feel it with a 7:56 mile. Then I thought here it comes. I knew I was in trouble. Mile 24 was a killer and a new level of metal toughness I came into contact with.  Mile 24 was a brutal 12:17, where it was a mix of walking/trotting/and tying up.  Miles 25 and 26 I found somewhat of a second wind and rolled in to the finish.
Great weekend, great race, talked to and met a few new people during the run, had a great experience in my first marathon.  Very eye opening and I learned alot about myself and the marathon race in general.  Whats next...a little down time and then some stairs. Maybe Boston in a couple years, or Quad Cities next year, or possibly Indy next October, but for now Im going to enjoy some downtime.

10k 40:09(6:28 pace), 1/2 1:24:51(6:29 pace), 20mile 2:08:35(6:26 pace), Last 10k 52:53(8:30 pace)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Track Workouts with Justin Stewart

Here are three of my track workouts I have done in the past few weeks. Stair climbing season has come to an end for me and now begins the cycling/running season. I am a runner first and foremost but this summer I am focusing on cycling so I can build my legs up for the fall when the stair climbing season kicks back up. Yet this does not mean I totally neglect the running aspect of my training. Stair climbing throughout the winter has created a huge base for me so that I can pop off great track workouts like I have been here lately. So here are a few samples of my speed workouts I have done here lately.  Check em out...

Workout #1 on Tuesday March 27th, 2012

Workout: 400, 4x200, 400 @85%, 4 min. rest b/w 400 and 200's, 2 min. b/w 200's.  
Splits: 58, 29, 28, 29, 28, 56

Im running the 800 this weekend at the Big Blue Open at Eastern Illinois University.  Thought Id try my favorite 800m workout to see where I stand.  Kind of surprised myself tonight on how much foot speed I still have without doing much running or speed work.  I guess the cross training/stairs/cycling keeps the legs well tuned an strong.  Felt pretty good, not as smooth as a year or two ago but still quick.
Workout #2 Wednesday April 18th, 2012
4 x 200m backwards running
Splits: 34.8, 34.7, 34.9, 35.9
I was trying to see how close I am to the 200m backward running World Record.  Just ended up doing 4x200's.  Felt pretty fast surprisingly. Im a good 2 seconds off the WR in the 200.  I will try some 400's next week or so and maybe an 800. Getting a WR in a backwards running event is one of my long term goals.
Workout #3 Wednesday May 2nd, 2012

Workout: 4 x (400/200) w/ 2min rest b/w intervals and 3min. rest b/w sets

I just kind of threw this workout together as I was doing it. I ran a solid 400 and then decided to run a 200 and so on, cam together nicely though for a great workout.  I was in trainer the first two sets then I put on spikes for the last two.  It was pretty windy going into the homestretch as well. Since I kind of threw the wokout together as I went I didnt have any set times I wanted to hit. I hit 60 seconds for the first 400 and felt good then I hit 30 for the 200 so I decided to see if I could keep that pace for the rest of he workout which I did to a T and even a little faster on the last set.  For the mileage I have been puttin here lately Im very happy with this effort. I am just doing a speed workout every other week to maintain speed and so I can pop off another good 800 or mile coming up here in a couple weeks.

Splits:   60, 30         60, 29        60, 28       58, 27

Overall Thoughts
The past couple months of training have, in my opinion, been some of the best weeks of training I have every had. I feel amazingly fit and quick of little miles 10-15 at most, running wise. I have completed two cycling races already this summer and have finished in the top 5 in both races, and I am still trying to learn the sport of cycling. I have also ran a solid 1:56.4 in the 800m.  A couple weeks ago I felt like my body was dragging a little bit and thought maybe I need some downtime since it has been a long haul of training since last year. But I think my training right now is low miles but high intensity; so I think I can keep this up until the end of May and take a couple down weeks and then kick back up.  That way I dont lose all that I have gained. Im taking one day at a time right now and training as I feel that day, which is a good place to be right now. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Belleville Criterium Cycling Race Cat 4/5

Belleville Cycling Criterium  30min. + 5 laps

Category 4/5

4th Place/50

First cycling race of the season. The day started out kind of rough. On the drive down I hit a storm and it was still raining at the course site when I showed up.  Once my race came around the course for the most part was dry which was a relief.  The race was 30 min. + 5 laps, which means we races on the crit course for 30 min then once the 30 min was up it was a 5 lap race.  I did my share of work in the group took a couple breaks and pulled a couple laps as well. I wanted to stay up in the top 10 the entire race, one I new I was strong enough to and I wanted to stay out of trouble i.e. crashes, which happened twice.  Both crashes happened just to the outside of me which a sight to see. They were both close calls and I was lucky but in this sport there is quite a bit of luck because you just never know what the rider next to you is going to do. Going into 5 laps to go I was sitting too far back for my liking so I pushed hard on a downhill postion while others just kind of rested.  Pulled back up in the top 3 and sat there till the last lap. 2 or 3 guys flew by me on the downhill portion and I bridged them quickly because I knew that the race was going to be in the uphill portion.  Going into the last sharp curve I could feel a crash coming on and sure enough "the big one" happen.  This sharp curve had been causing problems all day for riders, its a very sketchy curve with a slick brick crosswalk and it was still slick from the rain so when the back tires hit it the bike sometimes jumped out.  Thankfully I took the curve on the inside and crash pushed outside.  There were 3 guys still way off the front so it was a race for 4th.  Going into the uphill portion I knew the race going to be won there so I pushed hard but so did 2 others.  They were still ahead of me going into the final curve and the final sprint stretch.  I grabbed their back wheel and waited till I was about 75 meters out and wnet for it.  I threw in a sprint but I feel it was kind of half assed.  I guess the two guys in front of me were gassed.

Overall, it was a great morning of racing.  All things considered Im happy with a 4th place.  Its only my fourth cycling race ever and I am still considered a cat 5 racer which is considered a "beginner" I sure dont feel like a beginner, I train with cat 2-3 guys on a weekly basis and the training rides are much much harder than the races.  This particular race was a combination of cat 4 and 5's so it had a mixture of beginners and more experienced riders.  So for me to pull off a 4th place finish is good in my book.  Some of these guys have been racing for years and years and this is there main event. I do this sport as a secondary sport and I dont race often.  After the race I was talking to a couple of guys that congradulated me and asked me how many races Ive done and I told them only 4 in my life time, they were floored.  So I must be doing something right. Its a scary fast sport that has a great adrenaline rush and great benefit for my stair climbing and running. Ive got about 8 or so races scheduled this summer so well keep theball rollin and hopefully I can "cat up" meaning move up in category or experience as a rider and get into some more competitive races.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stair Climbing "Off Season"

Since the stair climbing year goes into an "off-season" during the summer in the U.S. I have to find something to do during the summer to keep me fit.  I am kind of in a rotation the past few years of alternating and focusing on biking and running.  This summer just so happens that Im motivated to bike.  Last summer I focused on running and had a great summer of racing but come fall my stair climbing legs I think werent quite where I wanted them to be going into the Willis Tower race.  So this summer I am going to focus on cycling, all summer long while still maintaining 10-20 miles of running a week.  Cycling legs = stair climbing legs no doubt about it.   So if you were wondering how I am going to train this summer, miles and mile and more miles and races on the bike.  As well as a little backwards running.  Possibly going for a couple world records in backwards running, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

From a couple summers ago.  2nd place in Peoria Crit
Sprint for first, unfortunately I got 2nd
                                                                                   Tuesday night sprint ride

2012 Presidential Towers Stair Climb

2012 Presidential Towers

2012 Presidential Towers Stair Climb
4 x 45 Floors=180 floors
1st Place
15:41 (New Course Record)
Splits: 3:28, 3:59, 4:05, 4:08

Another great weekend of racing in Chicago in the bag.  This was the final race for me until November when I tackle the Willis tower once again.  One factor of this racing scene that sits heavy on my mind is my points total as of right now going into an unofficial off season of stair climbing for me.  In the U.S. there aren’t very many stair races in the summer.  Yet in Europe their climbing season is in full swing.  To be competitive points wise on I had to build my points as much as possible so that the Europeans couldn’t gain ground in the summer time when Im not racing.  With the new factor points and ranking system I feel it favors the Europeans more.  I say this because for one there aren’t as high of factor races over here in the US as there are in Europe.  Granted they may have a deeper field of competitive athletes in races across the board but that’s not to say some of the best in the US couldn’t compete if not win over in Europe.  While all of the master races over here in the US are 1.5 factors with the exception of ESBRU which is a 2.5 factor, most of the races over in Europe turn up factors of 2.0.  As a top athlete in the US in this stair climbing sport I have earned 666.6 points heading into my hiatus until November.  I feel this total might not hold up come August.  I am so concerned about this because usually in August they select the top 3 ranked in the world for an all expenses pain trip to Bogota, Columbia where the World Cup Championships are held.  I would love more than anything to compete there at that race with that type of competition.  So far this season my only downfall that would hold me back from competing there is my results at the Empire State Building Run Up where I finished a disappointing 17th.  I didn’t receive the amount of points needed to build a more comfortable lead over my European friends.

None the less against all this I feel I have had a stellar season as of yet.  This will be my first full year of stair climbing as well.  In my first full year of racing I have…

2012 Stair Climbing as of yet

2nd Place         300 Lasalle Tower                            Chicago, IL                 58 floors
1st Place          Bop to the Top                                  Indianapolis,IN          37 floors
1st Place          Bop to the Top (Triple)                    Indianapolis,IN          3x37 floors
1st Place          AON Chicago                                      Chicago,IL                  80 floors
17th Place       ESBRU                                                New York, NY             86 floors
1st Place          Oakbrook Terrace                            Oakbrook, IL              36 floors
1st Place          Oakbrook Terrace (Triple)              Oakbrook,IL               3x36 floors
1st Place          Springfield Hilton                              Springfield,IL             32 floors
1st Place          Springfield Hilton (Ultimate)            Springfield,IL             32 floors…
1st Place          Hustle Up the Hancock                     Chicago, IL                 94 floors
1st Place          Presidential Towers                         Chicago, IL                 180 floors

The Race

Heading into the race I felt very confident and comfortable.  During my warmup my legs felt great and I felt like I was in a good frame of mind to compete that day.  Last year I finished second to Jesse Berg.  Last year this race was only my third race ever in the new sport.  This year I feel that I am twice as strong as last year and the times showed that.  Last year I finished in 17:01, this year I finished in 15:41, a huge jump.  In this race I had the number 1 bib which meant I was first to go up.  I was fine with this but I knew I had to keep the pace moving not knowing what the others where doing behind me.  Going into the first tower of 4 I wanted to keep a good tempo but nothing all out.  With a time of 3:28 for the first tower I think I acheived this, not too fast but just fast enough to keep things moving.  Got done with tower 1 and I was feeling good.  Took the elevator down and got the start line of the second tower, took 3 minutes or so to rest then got after it.  I went up the second tower first as well.  I wanted to be under 4 minutes.  I knew it was going to be hard to stay under 4 but I just wanted to stay on a good tempo and push the last 10 floors.  Finished in 3:59.  Heading into the third tower was a longer run portion before you enter the tower staircase.  Jesse Berg went first then I went.  I sprinted the run part because I knew I could make up time on this part.  Passed Jesse even before we got into the staircase.  Just stayed mentally tough on this tower because it really started hurting half way up.  Finsihed in 4:05 Headed into the last tower starting to feel it but I knew Jesse was close in time and I past years have shown he is strong in the last tower.  The last 15 floors of 45 really started to hurt and I was shutting down, just grinded it out to the finish.  Finished the 4th and final tower in 4:08.  15:41...I saw that and was in disbelief.  I was in more disbelief when I realized Jesse was only 2 seconds behind me with 15:43.  We really brought out the best in each other this race. 

It was so nice in Chicago later that day I decided to go to the beach to get in a run, a 7 mile run that this.  Really felt great.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 Hustle Up the Hancock & (New World Rankings)

After my win at this years Hustle Up the Hancock I moved into first place in the world.  This is my first time ever being in the number 1 spot.  It was short lived though.  Two days after my win Thomas Dold from Germany won a high level race in London which moved him back into the drivers seat.  Check it out!!!

Here are a couple of pictures from the race as well...

Jesse Berg & I at floor 93 of 94 finishing whats left of our kick.

2012 Springfield Hilton Stair Climb Pictures

Quite the spread of pictures from the 2012 Springfield Hilton Climb.  This race was filled with drama from start to finish. My first time up the 32 floor Hilton was 2 minutes and 7 seconds.  Breaking my previous course record last year (2:21) by 14 seconds.  Equivalent feats would be comparable to cutting a 2:00 minute 800m race PR by 10 seconds in a matter of on race. I surprised myself with this run up.  Continued on to climb the Ultimate, where you continue after your first climb for a remaining hour.  Climbed 13 times total in an hour for 32 floors each.  I felt amazing, unexplained energy, maybe the adrenaline from my first climb carried me through that hour of pain.  Once I saw my time from the first climb it didnt matter to me what happened the rest of the race.  Anyways here are a handful of pictures that captures the moments of pain and suffering and joy as well.

 In mid sprint towards the beginning of the first climb.

Somewhere on my 2nd or 13th time up the Hilton.  After the first climb I settled into more of a consistent pace, while using the railing more to make life easier, my legs thanked me for this later on in the race, but my triceps and traps not so much.

There were 80 total runners in the Ultimate Climb for an hour.  On my first climb up I had a clear stairwell but after that there was quite a bit of traffic in that small staircase.  This was two fold, because it slowed down some of my times yet I received and handed out many words of encouragement, which in the end is what its all about.

One of my more favorite pictures of the day.  In this shot I am glancing at my watch after my first climb; looking at 2:07 in amazement.  

The look on my face says it all here.  This is definitely towards the end of the Ultimate climb.  Looks as if Im about to up heave my breakfast. 

Paced Travis Liles an Ultra Runner and racer on our Team Fit Club up the 32 floors.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Hustle Up the Hancock

2012 Hustle Up the Hancock
1st Place 9:44
94 floors
1,632 steps

This event in my opinion is the premier stair climbing event in Chicago; an even bigger deal than Willis.  I say this because it attracts more attention in my opinion, with over 4,000 participants and the largest fundraising effort of an upwards of 9 million dollars since the race started roughly 15 years ago.  The combination of great event setup and help, media attention, number of participants, and the events past history of fast times gave me the sense that this race really meant something more than some others.  Even though Ive raced Willis once I already feel I have a love hate relationship with the Willis Tower but the Hancock race for some of the named reasons gave me a sense that something great has happened here in the past and great things can happen here for me in the future years as well. 
One guy by the name of Terry Purcell has won the Hustle up the Hancock race the past; forgive my figures here if they are off, 7out of 8 years.  Terry is from Springfield Illinois, as am I.  He has been racing on and off for the past 20 years or so.  It wasn’t until 2011 when he decided to hang up his climbing shoes.  Each and every year at the Hancock he runs consistently fast times with his fastest time clocked at 9 minutes and 30 seconds.  Another name that the Hancock tower race is familiar with is Christopher Schmidt who has clocked a fast time of 9: 36, I believe.  My 9:44 ranks as the 3rd fastest time ever ran at the Hancock tower.  Granted I believe Terry has run faster than 9:44 a couple of times but I am the third fastest individual to race this event.  Since this is my first time running this race I feel very confident that other fast times are to come in future years as I get stronger at the longer races.
As a runner I found my niche in the middle to long distances.  Yet as a stair climber I came into the sport as a sprinter.  A sprinter in the stair climbing world likes building that range from 30 -40 floors usually.  In my opinion 30-40 is a sprint race, 40-60 is a middle distance race, and anything above 60 just plain hurts.  Back in February of 2011 when I was introduced to this sport I won in just my first race ever which turned out to be a 32 floor sprint race.  It was also a local race held at the Springfield Hilton.  Once I caught the stair climbing bug I raced the Master the Metropolitan Building (40 floors) in St. Louis, MO.  This race is usually 42 floors but due to construction that year they shortened it.  I won this race in record time as well with the next racer a full 50 seconds behind.  After a few sprint races I started to attempt some longer races such as the AON Tower in L.A. (60 floors) , Presidential Towers (180 floors) that were coming up on the schedule.  I didn’t feel near as great or consistent in these races as I did in the shorter races.  Granted I still had solid results but I didn’t run anything record breaking like I was in the sprint races.  So I decided to start focusing on the endurance side of this sport.  Tinkering with my training so I could become better at the longer races.  It wasn’t until this year at the Hancock that I felt I have made gains at the longer races.  So this race was more so of a break through race for me. 
The Race:
The night before the race I stayed at my good friend Jesse Berg’s house along with Kevin Crossman.  The three of us who ended up staying together also ended up in the top 3 of the race.  Since this sport is not well known and still growing we end up seeing a lot of the same people at the races.  Unlike some other sports we end up forming a friendly competition when we race.  We push each other; we help each other out, trying to make each other better. 
Heading into this race I was pretty comfortable.  I knew I was in shape and ready to race I just had to apply my fitness and hold nothing back.  I ended up getting the number 2 bib number which meant I was going to be the second one up the tower behind Jesse with Kevin starting behind me.  We went off in 7-8 second intervals.  I caught up with Jesse on about floor 8 and Kevin ended up catching the both of us around 10.  Instantly this worried me because I knew Kevin had made up 8 seconds on me already and 16 on Jesse.  Pretty much the entire way up we formed a nice little pace line.  Jesse and I ended up pulling away a little bit around floor 80 or so.  For most of the race I was just zoning out and keeping a nice tempo.  I have found that this works well, just finding a nice comfortable rhythm with the floors and steps while maintaining a good speed to stay competitive.   Then if I feel good towards the top I throw in a kick if I have one.  In this race I am sad to say I had too much left in the tank at the end.  I think I did a little bit too much zoning out and looked up and realized Jesse and I were already on floor 84, we only had 10 to go.  I slapped Jesse on the butt and said time to go, let’s go.  Then we sprinted the last 10 floors together.  In hind sight I wish I made a move on 75 or so but didn’t want to crash and burn in an unknown building.  Now that I know this I will just head into next year’s race in better shape and push the pace even more.   I already have a goal in mind for next year and that is Terry’s 9:30 record.  I feel if I can race to a 9:44 on my first attempt, still have energy left in the tank, and not realizing we only 10 floors a little too late; that I can cut 15 seconds off. 
Overall it was another great weekend in Chicago and I am becoming quite familiar with the city from racing here so much.  It just stinks with these races that you have to wait around for a year to do it again.  It’s not like a 5k where you can find a race almost every weekend so that you can better your time.  Until next year. 

Media Attention:

Results: or

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Springfield Hilton Stair Climb

2012 Springfield Hilton 
Springfield, IL
(32 floors)
1st Place Ultimate Climb 46:01
1st Place Single Climb 2:07

As I type 2:07 in this blog I had to chuckle to myself.  Ill be honest, this past Saturday I really surprised myself.  Sometimes in racing and in training you really surprise yourself.  Pieces of the puzzle seem to fall in place on a certain race day or a certain workout and you feel great.  At this years Hilton climb I was on cloud 9, feeling only adrenaline and no pain as I scaled the 32 floors over and over and over and over and....

As a type "that you can really surprise yourself sometimes", I dug up my log on Excel where I keep all my splits and workouts from the Hilton.  Several weeks back I did do some sprint workouts where I would sprint 16 floors rest for only a minute and then sprint the rest up to the 30th floor.  They are not even splits because you start 2 floors down in the basement of the hotel but they are close enough in training terms to split them 16 and 16, the first 16 floors being a little longer as well.  On Sunday November 13th 2011 I did a workout that the starting point of what was to come.  

Workout: Sunday November 13th 2011
16 floor sprint, rest 1 min., 16 floor sprint
Times: 1:14, 57 = 2:11
 (Combing those two times I figured that would be a good idea or range of what I could do come race day.)  I figured adrenaline and nerves and race day energy would surpass that 1 min rest you have during that workout.  I did this same workout 3 more times periodically up until the race on February 18th 2012.  Here are my workouts and times of those training climbs.

Workout: December 7th 2011
16 floor sprint, rest 1 min., 16 floor sprint
Times: 1:08, 57 = 2:05
(When I got done with this workout I honestly thought maybe this idea of projecting an accurate race day finishing time was not so accurate.  I honestly thought 2:05 is a bit too much.  But this is when surprising yourself comes into play.)

Workout: January 14th 2012

16 floor sprint, rest 1 min., 16 floor sprint
Times: 1:08, 59 = 2:07

The Race: 

This event is put on by the American Lung Association and is in its 3rd consecutive year.  It offers a single climb and for those crazies an Ultimate climb, where individuals climb the 32 floors and take the elevator down and repeat for an hour, trying to see how many times they can climb 32 floors in an hour.

Last year, this was my first ever stair climb race, where I came out of nowhere to pull off a win.  I was literally the second to last wave of the day to go, 3 hours after all the elites have finished up.  I didnt do this on purpose, it was just how it worked out.  I was new to the unknown sport and didnt know any better.  Thats why I never assume I have won a race just because Im sitting in first place after the elites have raced.  There is always somebody out there faster than you and you never know who signed up for a race that day.  Never take a second for granted.  I take this mind frame into all my races that I do.

Heading into this years race I signed up for the Ultimate climb and had the #1 position.  This means a clean and open staircase with nobody to pass.  Just you and the stairs and the pain that comes along with it.  I had a plan going into today and I wanted to stick with it.  Go all out, balls to the wall, pedal to the medal, 100%, redline the first climb up.  Then for the rest of the hour try to get into a rhythm and muster up what you can to survive an entire hour of climbing 32 floors just after you laid everything you had in a single climb.  I did just that.  My first climb I clocked myself at 2:05 which I thought was pretty darn accurate but in the end the timing company came through again 2 seconds slow with a final time of 2:07, which Im still more than happy with.

Ill walk you through what I was thinking about and feeling on that 2:07 climb up 32 floors.  When I hit the first timing mat mentally I was thinking first 10 floors conserve somewhat or else the last 10 floors will come and bit you in the ass, yet at the same maintain a good tempo.  There were also a lot more people cheering/taking pictures/giving out water in the doorways this year compared to last year from what I remember. Then again I did go last year towards the end of the day.  Either way I think having those people in the staircase doorways and having a spectator presents fueled me up the stairs a little bit as well.  Floors 10-15 are when mentally, you cant help it but think, did I go out to fast, maybe I did but I couldn't look back on it, I had to push through to 32 or bust.  Got to floor 23 and glanced at my watch. I cant remember now what my time was but I remember thinking I was happy and when I saw that time I pushed it hard the rest of the way knowing that i was on pace to get close to 2 flat.  I was grabbing whatever I could find it that stairwell and clawing my way up.  After I touched the mat at the top I looked at my watch and saw 2:05 as I walked to the elevator.  From that point on I honestly did not care what I did the rest of the day.  My adrenaline from what I saw on my watch fueled me through the rest of the hour.

 I can relate this to my track years in HS and college.  It always seemed whenever I had a break though 800 or mile and ran a good time it always carried over into a break through 4 x 400 meter relay split.  I guess it is just because you are fired up and the adrenaline carries over and you race more relaxed.  That is what I felt in the Ultimate after my first climb, relaxed and not a care in the world just doing what makes me happy and thats racing.

Another thing that surprised me today were my splits from each climb up within the hour.  My second climb was expected, which was much slower than my first one.  I was basically stumbling up 32 floors and gasping for air.  It took me until the 3rd and 4th time up to really get into a good rhythm.  Once I got into a rhythm there was no stopping.  I was running from the finish to the elevator, and jogging in place waiting for the elevator, getting impatient sometimes because I wanted to get down there to go up again as quick as possible.  I was prying the elevator doors open with my hands and sprinting out of the elevator to the starting mat.  I dont know where this energy was coming from, I never specifically trained for the hour of climbing.  The most repeats I had done in a workout was back in August 2011 when I did 9 repeats.  I had an unexplainable (if thats even a word) energy and mindset that just carried me up those steps.  When you find that feeling in racing it is an ephoria that can only be felt when your racing and doing what you love to do.

My splits were also very even.  Granted the staircase did get quite crowded a few times up which slowed things down but that was an element of the race that had to be dealt with.
Splits: 2:07, 4:16, 3:55, 3:45, 3:54, 3:35, 3:34, 3:23, 3:30, 3:32, 3:27, 3:27, 3:36.  Average 3:32
I also found it interesting after my second climb I only deviated 32 seconds on each climb for the hour.
I didnt stop after the Ultimate climb though.  As PJ Glassey likes to say I have two screws loose.  Not even 15 minutes later I paced one of my runners on my track team that I coach up the Hilton.  His goal was go under 3 minutes so I paced him to a finishing time of 2:56.  A good 20 minutes or so after that I paced a guy by the name of Travis Liles who was on our Fit Club team who happens to be an Ultra runner up the Hilton.  I assumed he could go at or under 3 minutes so I paced him to a finishing time of 3 minutes flat.  So for a total on the day I climbed the Hilton's 32 floors 15 times today, that a total of 7,950 steps.  Then I added on a two mile cool down run.  A good day at the office.

I usually down listen to music before or during a race, I like to be alone with my thoughts and my surroundings but today I listened to two songs to get me jacked up.  Metallica-Some kind of monster  & Creed-Bullet.  So there ya go, if you wanna climb a 2:07 listen to those songs, lol.

This is a great event and great race that has great people in this sport.  I heard nothing but encouraging comments and pats on the back and pushes up the stairs (Joe Anderson) haha, but this is a great sport that has amazing people around it.  I want to thank all the people who have supported me and encouraged me this year and at this race.  I hope this race continues on every year.

A sign for things to come... 
A sign that this sport is growing and gaining more interest every year not only locally but internationally.  Some interesting figures I found while looking at this years results and past results from the last three years at this event.
Three years ago in 2010 Terry was the winner in 2:24, 2011 I was 2:21, this year I was 2:07.  In 2010 there were only 4 under the 3 minute mark, 19 under the 4 minute mark.  In 2011 there were 7 under the 3 minute mark, 48 under the 4 mark.  In 2012 there were 10 under the 3 minute mark, 58 under the 4 minute mark.  This event is getting faster and faster with more participants every year.  I also noticed in this years results there were 16, 18 and 19 year olds right at or just under the 3 minute barrier.  I better get my record as low as possible so future studs like these youngsters cant get my record.  A sign for things to come for this race in Springfield and sign for things to come in the sport.  Congrats to all who competed.

2012 Oakbook Terrace Stair Climb

2012 Oakbrook Terrace Stair Climb
31 floors
1st Place (Single Climb) 2:41
1st Place (Tiple Climb) 9:19 (2:41,3:05,3:33)

This was a fun event and fun weekend to get away.  I drove up to Lake Zurich in the northwest suburbs to stay with my friend for the night before the race.  Doing this made things easy for me traveling wise and it was much appreciated.  The night before I also got to see a bunch of my college teammates over some dinner at a rather risque restaurant called Tilt a Kilts where girls wore skimpy pieces of cloth that barely covered anything.  One waitress even yelled across the table, "Hey bald guy, hey baldie, what do you want to drink?"  I said well there goes your tip, Ill have a water.  Good times.  Anyway, got to bed around 11pm, maybe a little later than I would have liked but when you get to catch up with old friends time flies.

Race Day:

Woke up 3 hours before the race and had my breakfast of champions.  I usually or try to have the same thing before every race.  Two pieces of toast, either with Nutella or crunchy peanut butter, a banana, dry cereal, a quarter of a glass of some sort of fruit juice, and water.  Got dressed and packed said bye to my good friend amigo and drove 40 minutes south to Oakbrook.  Arrived on time, checked in and took some pictures and footage of the power hour or ultimate climb.  Some of the others decided to do the hour climb so I hung around and threw in some words of encouragement.  Once the ultimate climb was finished the triple climb began.  Jesse Berg and I were really the only two elite in the triple climb.  Jesse went first and I went 5 or so seconds after him.  From the get go i went for it, since it was only 31 floors and the first climb counted towards the single climb results.  I could hear Jesse one or two flights above me the entire way up.  I never saw him though.  I tried turning it on the last couple floors but couldn't quite catch him.  since I started 5 or so seconds behind him though, I put 2 second on him.  I finished my first climb in 2:41 and Jesse was 2:43.  I clocked myself at 2:39 which I thought was pretty accurate.  At every local American Lung Assoc. stair climb they use the same timing company and they unanimously are 2 seconds slow.  Even a week later in the Hilton stair climb, same timing company, had me 2 seconds slower than what I had on my wrist watch.  Im pretty darn accurate when it comes to timing myself on climbs I think.  there must a 2 second delay in the process.  Anyways, my second and third climbs were decent.  Nothing earth shattering.  Jesse and I decided to take 10-12 minutes between each climb so that we were on the same playing field rest wise.  The race is short but the staircase is not too conducive to a fast time.  Its broken up by a landing between each floor.  Which when you spend more time turning that slows things down.  Unlike, what I call its sister building the Springfield Hilton which is 32 floors and pretty close in the step count.  The Oakbrook Terrace tower has 680 steps while the Hilton in Springfield has 530.  The Hilton is a much faster tower and race because it does not have a  landing between each floor, so it is a super fast building to race.

Speaking of the devil the Springfield Hilton stair race is just 6 days after the Oakbrook Terrace stair climb.  at first I was signed up to do both the Power hour climb at Oakbrook and then 6 days later do the Hilton Ultimate (1 hour) stair race, then head to Hancock Center in Chicago a week after that and expect to do well at Hancock...I dont think so.  I called the race director at Oakbrook and changed to the triple climb to save the legs a little bit.  So far I think it was the right move, since the Hancock tower is the main focus of the 3 races in 3 weeks.


2012 Empire State Building Run Up

2012 ESBRU
(86 floors)
17th Place

I look back on the race that was now 12 days ago as I am just getting around to typing this post.  As I try to recall the events that took place on my visit to NYC it just seems like a big blur.  I’ve always wanted to visit New York and my chance came through my new found passion of stair climbing.  As I land in LaGuardia Airport I was unfortunately on the wrong side of plane so I don’t get a view of the skyline, which I was hoping for.  None the less I did get a quick shot of adrenaline when we landed.  The airport is right off the water, so when we were landing, for a second, it looks like we were going to land on water.  You may think big deal, but I rarely get to fly so it’s exciting for me.  I always make sure I get window seats and I never sleep because I’m to busy looking out the window the entire flight.  At the airport I waited for Kristen Frey’s flight to arrive so we could split a cab into the city.  A half hour later Kristen and I were scrounging $55 dollars together to pay for a 30 minute cab ride.  A $55 dollar cab ride into the city, are you kidding me.  I’m from Springfield IL and sheltered from any big city living but that just blew my mind.    Once we were dropped off we walked down the streets of Manhattan to our hotels.  On the way we stopped and looked at the Empire State Building and thought about what it had in store for us the next day. 
The ESB is a funny sight to see because on the NY skyline it sticks out like a sore thumb but in a good way.  When it was originally planned and built people thought it was a horrible place to put a building that size on that side of Manhattan because it was so far away from the financial district that office space would never fill up.  For a long period of time it was just that, a vacant structure, with only 25% of the floors taken up.  Even today, with much taller structures around the ESB it still sticks out above everything else.  The grandeur of the tower even continues inside with huge marble walls and hallways with copper embroidered pictures and doorways.  

Once I arrived at my hotel I decided to go out for a little shake out run to get the blood flowing from the long flight.  I intended to go out for a 20 min easy run.  My easy shake out run turned into a 50 minute long run at a decent pace.  I don’t know what it was.  Maybe a combination of just running the streets of NYC for the first time with all the people, the sights and sounds, exploring and dodging traffic.  Once I spotted the new freedom tower I decided to run that way and get a glimpse of the new WTC area.  I didn’t realize security would be as tight as it was down there, I guess I should have known better.  Also when I got down there it was dark so I decided to loop back toward the hotel.  Then I found myself on the other side of the city running on a bike path along Hudson River.  50 minutes or so later I turned in a solid 7 miles.  Not the ideal prescription for the night before a race but oh well Im in NY for the time what do you expect. 

Race Day:

Woke up and grabbed breakfast with Kevin Crossman at the hotels breakfast cafĂ©.  Not too bad of a spread.  After that Kevin, Norbert Lechner (from Austria) and I went down to see the WTC Memorial which was definitely eye opening.  I watched what happened on 9/11 on TV and I have seen pictures and videos but you really don’t get a sense of what really happened down there until you see just how tall these buildings are and how close they are and the amount of people around.  It gave me goose bumps just thinking about what went down that day for that city and those people.    Afterwards we grabbed some Whole Foods for lunch.  Relaxed a bit and took a nap.  Went for another short, and I mean it this time, short shake out run.  This year the race landed on a Wednesday night which was unusually for this event.  Walking down the streets of Manhattan towards the ESB it starts to snow.  We look up and the tower is lit up in an orange color, which happens to be Kristen Frey’s favorite color so it was a good omen for her.   Registration was simple enough.  I found a spot to myself to warm up, a nice long hallway to do some drills and running to warm up.  Mentally and physically I felt ready to go.  The race director called all the elite racers to the wave area.  But only 6 of the elite field were actually where they needed to be.  The corral area was somewhat crowded and hectic.  As we were lined up Dold is just getting back from his warm up while everybody is ready to go.  We walk down in order down some stairs, down a hallway and to the start line.  There were cameras and media everywhere.  I had never seen such a thing for a stair race.  Usually at the stair races I got to in the US you race and they mail you a ribbon a couple weeks later, if you’re lucky. 

This was my first time doing this race but from what I gathered this year was a lot different and not in a good way.  I sensed a lot of negativity towards the setup of this years event from past years.  For one they changed the time and date of the race.  It has always been on a Tuesday morning.  This year it was on a Wednesday night at 8 pm.  Also, the elite wave has always been 50 individuals deep.  This year there were only 21 elites toeing the line.  There is usually a lot of pushing and shoving with people losing shoes and getting trampled down but this year it was a clean start with only 21 guys.  I was mentally prepared for all this but it was just not what I was expecting.   Even though the elite was smaller the talent was still there no doubt about it.  European world mountain running champions and highly sponsored athletes were there and here I am in just my first season of stair climbing.  I felt a little over whelmed by the atmosphere. 

The Race:

I was in the 3rd row, which any other year would be great but this year the 3rd row was the back row.  No matter I still got a clean start and got some running room for the first few floors.  The pace went  out just as expected, unrealistically FAST for a stair climbing race.  I knew this race would go out fast but when it came down to actually getting into race mode, the pace was just ridiculously fast for a stair climb of 86 floors.  The mass start produces this effect.  I thought I went out fast yet the leaders pulled away like I was walking up the stairs.  I got up to floors 40 and I looked behind me and noticed Tim, Jesse, and Kevin closing fast on me.  I let them go by and floors 40-60 became a blur.  I remember floor 66 because I found a big wall waiting for me.  The last 20 floors I was held to a crawling, just surviving pace.  I was miserable.  I was thinking you have got to be kidding me.  This is what Ive been training for seriously for 3 months now and Im not racing up the ESB Im crawling up to the finish.  All that hard work I put in was just not showing today.  Frustration and a loss of words.  Everybody tells you good job, you just climbed the ESB, you did it.  In my head I didn’t though.  I finished in a time of 12:35.  The first female was only 4 seconds behind me.  Granted she is not human but none the less.  I was shooting for something close to 11 minutes.  Was my goal to lofty, maybe.  People told me nobody races well their first time at Empire and that 12:35 is solid.  But Im not satisfied.  Next year.

Bottom line I didn’t race as well as I would have liked.  It was good experience for me though.  My first season of stair climbing and Im still getting stronger overall over the course of the year.  I have room to improve on my longer races and Im fixed on doing that.  I tell myself there are some people out there who can even breath, walk, talk, they have a limb missing, etc. and that makes my problems of not having the race I wanted seem so small.  Those people would kill to have been at a race like this and to climb such an iconic building.  After every race when I have a chance to be alone on a cool down run or something I do thank God my talents that he has given me.  I am lucky to able to run, and climb, and breath and travel to these places and do these races.  I can’t take anything for granted, take everything in stride and take in and enjoy the little things that happen along the way.  Next year I am going to come back an animal and in even better shape than this year.  It is a long ways away but the long road realistically starts the day after the race.  Day 13 now of training, here we go.
Javier Santigo, Kevin Crossman, Erika Akufi, me, Tim Van Orden

Race Footage provided by Tim Van Orden


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 AON Tower Stair Climb, Chicago IL

AON Tower Stair Climb Chicago IL
80 floors 1,643 steps total
1st Place/2200   9:35

This was an unbelievable race.  I went into it with the attitude whatever happens happens.  I knew from past races the longer climbs havent been my forte but today it was.  I think my change in training for ESBRU is due to this result at AON as well. 
I never really hit a wall, at floor 60 or so I just mentally and physically yelled at myself in the stairwell not to slow down when I started feeling it.  I let out a good and loud "Come on"  to get me fired up, seemed to work.  At floor 50 I started to slowly pull away from the second place guy (Jesse Berg at the time) Eric Leninger ended up finishing 2nd though, Jesse was slowly faiding from my hearing and I couldnt hear him breathing anymore or hear his ring clinking against the railing so I knew I was putting distance on him.  He is a great racer and it was a confidence booster when I realized I was the one pulling away. 

Also, this tower is pretty easy to take splits in.  Most towers either have a weird hallway or odd number of steps that throws off any want to take accurate splits.  This tower on the other hand is consistant.  80 floors, so the 40th floor is an accurate half way point.  I negative split the race 4:52, 4:43 which is usually a good sign of a well thought out pace and race strategy.  I told myself and others I was going to go out alot slower than what Im used to and work my way up into a quicker pace depending on how I felt.  It paid off in the end.  Because in the end I even had a late push/kick for the last 5-7 floors.  At the half way point I looked down at my watch and saw 4:52 and thought "ok decent" not knowing if that looming wall would come on floor 50 or 60 or 70 to slow me down to a finishing time of over 10 min. My goal was just to be under 10 min.  First time in an unknown staircase and building you never know how your body is going to take to it.  Fairly steep staircase as well, all left turns broken up by 10 or so steps between each landing.  From past years results I thought Id be happy with going under 10.  Boy did I blow that out of the water, setting my standard high for years to come.  I just hope I can feel as good as I did at this race for other longer stair races.

Next up is the Empire State Building Run Up in New York, NY.  86 floors against the best competition in the world, literally.  This AON race is a confidence builder and a good indicator that I can handle the longer races with a good result.  I feel good going into the race.  The only thing that worries me is my starting position.  Its a mass start race with a 30m sprint into a sharp turn on marble floors wearing bald racing flats to a door that goes into the staircase.  A recipe for disaster if you ask me but who wants to disrupt tradition for safety and accuracy of racers best efforts (sarcasm).  But the race is what it is and I have to deal with the fact that I may be further back than row 3 at least.  If Im not in the first 2 or 3 rows I might as well use it as a training climb, which I dont want to do.  I want to go and compete.  If I get stuck any further back Ill be walking the first 10-20 floors until it clears up...sort of like the effect of the start of a packed marathon, except they dont take off the time it takes you to get to the line. 

Anyway, it was another great weekend of traveling and racing and hanging out with friends.  Thanks to Roxanne and her boyfriend Zach for driving and letting me tag along.  Also to Jesse Berg, Shannon and Indigo for letting me crash at their place for the night.. Thats what it is all about in this sport and others for that matter...helping each other out to achieve great things.

For a short news clip of the race:

For results:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last 2 weeks of training

Monday Jan. 9th
3 miles  21:00 (7min. pace)

2 mile warm up
leg press tabata
light lifting
1 mile cool down
Tuesday Jan. 10th
4 miles
1.5 mile warm up 10:00
2 x 10 50m steep hill (7:05, 6:37) .5 jog between sets
1.5 mile cool down 8:40

3 x (100 jump rope, 20 push ups, 20 sit ups, 20 up downs, 20 mountain climbers) no rest in between 

Slowly getting back to 100% from being sick for a while, Im getting better sleep and eating better.
Wednesday Jan. 11th
Indoor Trainer
Bike-30 miles (Interval Sprints)
Thursday Jan. 12th
5.75 mile Tempo Run

Had to hit up the treadmill tonight, crazy snowy weather out there today.

2mile tempo (5:50)
.5 mile 15% grade hill
2.25 mile tempo (5:30)
.5 jog b/w sets x 2
Lifting circuit afterwards.

Friday Jan. 13th
Indoor Trainer
Bike- 15 miles (Cadence work)

Saturday Jan. 14th
3 x 32 floors at the Hilton Tower, 5 floor sprints (5min. rest b/w)
3 mile run

Sunday Jan. 15th

Monday Jan. 16th
3 mile run
4 x 32 floor @ the Hilton stairs
leg press tabata
light upper body lifting

Tuesday Jan. 17th
5 mile easy pace run (7:10 pace)

Wednesday Jan. 18th
Thursday Jan. 19th
Friday Jan 20th
Pre Race Drills
2 mile run
box jumps

Saturday Jan. 21st
2012 Bop to the Top Stair race
One America Tower Indianapolis IN
37 floors
1st Place
1st Place (Triple Step Climb)
13:37 (4:51, 4:24, 4:22)
2 mile cool down run

* I will admit now that I am posting this and thinking about it.  I should have been incorporating more bike into these past couple weeks.  I am not one for excuses but work has taken up a big chunk of my time here lately.  Thats just a part of life I guess.  Cant wait till the summer when the days are long and I have more time to get a solid bike ride in.  Im also really torn on what I want to focus on this summer, running (which tends to hinder stair climb results come fall time) or biking (which is two fold; it takes up much more time but it produces much greater results when it comes to stair climbs come fall.)  I have a great passion for running still, I am still competitive in my road races in the 5k and 10k and even half marathon but I also have lofty goals this year for Willis Tower.  We shall see.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Bop to the Top

One America Tower (37 Floors)
Indianapolis, IN

First race of 2012 and it went off with a bang.  Traveled to Indianapolis, IN for the 29th year of the Bop to the Top stair climb race.  In the stair climbing world the 37 floor race is considered a sprint race.  I was excited going into this race because sprint races are my speciality when it comes to stairs.  A guy by the name of Marty Wilkey has won the past 7 or 8 races here averaging winning times around 4 minutes each year.  I went into the race confident that I would at least be competitive with Marty and other top racers at the event.  Initially my plan was to go behind Marty and just try to catch him in the stairwell and pace off him and then kick it in, since Ive never done this building before, I didnt know what to expect.  It turned out since its a shorter race the time between runners was 20seconds, so I decided to just go first and go for it, no looking back.  It worked out I guess.  I turned in a time of 3:38, bettering second place by 23 seconds, and in a sprint stair climb over 37 floors that a good margin of victory.  But I didnt stop there.  I continued on to compete in the triple climb race.  In this race you had 3 hours to do 3 climbs, where they would add up your 3 climbs and total them.  In this race I was pretty exhausted from the single climb and really wasnt worrying about my rest between each climb as much as I think I should have been.  In the end it tured out fine.  I turned in anote win.  Winning both races at this event has never been done before either in its 29 year history, so it was a real honor to win both. 

Overall, it was a great event, it was a very well ran event.  Got to see some of my college teamamtes at IUPUI as well.  Had mexican after the race too which was a bad idea.  I will definitely be back for this event next year. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dealing with sickness while training

How to deal with being sick while trying to maintain a high level of training for an upcoming race.

It is now week 4 in my serious mode of training for the upcoming season and more importantly the Empire State Building Run Up on Feb. 8th.  I have come down with a sinus infection and I am finding it hard to maintain a high level of training while my body is aching, my appetite is down, and my sleep is off.  But heres what Ive been doing in order to maintain fitness without losin ground on my training.

A few things I have been doing is...
1.  Get sleep-This is when your body fights off infections and has time to recover and recharge.
2.  Push the fluids-I went out and bought a pack of VitaCoCo All Natural Coconut water, and I have been downing those.  High in all natural Vitamin C. 
3.  I have been working out but in moderation.  If you push your body too hard while your bodily systems are down and focusing on fighting the infection, over straining your body through a workout will only make things worse.  On the other hand working out can help you recover from sickness through the release of endorphins which in turn helps fight infections. 
4.  While there are many other little thing one can do to help get through a sinus infection while training, I am not going to get into great detail on these.  Lastly, just be patient.  If you have been training and you are fit a sinus infection will not set you back that far.  Your body will be able to maintain a high level of fitness where you left off from.  Unless you go several weeks on end without doing anything you will not lose fitness.  Once you are over your infection, ease back into it and get back to training seriously.