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:


  1. Nice recap Justin, and congrats! I wish I could be hitting these races too. Cheers, Vern

  2. Congratulations! It was great to be there too. Reading your blog is definitely inspiring, thanks. Cheryl