Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cinti #FightforAirClimb, Any Monkey Can Win

Except if I was late to work, I never ran up a single flight of stairs.  The longest “run” I’ve done since Christmas is 90 seconds.  I’m not rubbing it in or bragging about finishing tied for 3rd at the American Lung Association's Fight for Air Climb at Cincinnati's Carew Tower.  Aside from giggling at my dumb luck, I am pointing out that “run” and “stairs” are not the operative words.  Climbing the Carew Tower is not about running stairs.  It’s pretty much climbing like a monkey, a very fit and determined monkey. 

Me 2nd from Right with the Rewind 94.9 Rump Shakers
Climbing is the operative word.  In fact, I’m pretty certain I heard a hair raising cackle echo in the stairwell on my way up that gave me chicken skin.  “Ooh ooh ah ah ah ahhh!” No doubt I am half man, half monkey.  Ask my wife.  If I could’ve clawed the handrails and walls with my feet, I would have.  Now I’m not saying it was easy.  To the contrary, it was donkey wheezing, sniveling, spastic arms flailing being chased the boogie man hard.  Bounding is a good term.  Tree-squirreling would be another.  It was not pretty, but fast and effective.

Evil Monkey in Full-Effect
Aside from finding a similarly tight stairwell with handrails within reach on both sides, the 2nd best training would be boarding a cruise ship as it pulls away from port.  You’re not running a gangway so much as getting from the dock to the ship before the rope-railed gangway goes crashing into the ocean.  The 3rd best training would be running from an axe murderer in your basement.  You would not run.  You would not step on the stairs.  With your heart rate pegged at max you would go from basement to 1st floor by whatever means possible, a foot on a wall, a hand on a pipe.  If you must run stairs, the closest analogy is running the pedestrian stairs over an overpass...as it crumbles onto the freeway below.  That is the Fight for Air Climb.

Secret Weapons
As it turns out for me, cyclocross bike racing was a near perfect training.  You don’t run up the stairs.  Hands reaching and grasping, you pull your way up, your feet cross-eye aimed at two steps higher.  Look at the position of a cyclist.  Handlebars become handrails.  Pedals are two-stairs high.  In cyclocross and mountain bike racing, we’re used to getting the “holeshot”, first into the first corner with quick fast twitch speed, trying to essentially eliminate your competition by the first turn.  Most races are all about the first lap, the first 7 to 7.5 minutes of the race.  My time at Climb The Carew was 6:27.  I trained for the Cyclocross Masters World Championships in January with months of 30 and 15 second sprint intervals.  Obviously, some of that fitness is still with me.  The cycling training success fits the advice Marty Sanders, 2012 Vertical Mile Winner, gave me before the start.  He said, “Take two stairs at a time, use the hand rails, don’t run and give ‘er hell when you hit the hallway with 15 stories to go.”  Marty is also an accomplished cyclist and half monkey as well.

I’m not kidding.  I don’t think I could race a 5k without being laid up with sore hammies for two days.  To confess, I have been running, if you want to call it that.  I “run” on a treadmill.  My fastest and longest run is 90 seconds at 7.5mph.  High speed intervals.  In my head I run like Jason Bourne for 90 seconds, and then walk for a minute.  In reality I run like I'm escaping a house fire and walk like a zombie.  Then I do it over and over again for about 15 minutes.  That’s it.

The Next Best Thing to Monkey Feet
I will confess.  I did inadvertently have a secret weapon, maybe two, okay 3.  It was chilly, so I wore a thin set of full-finger gloves on a short jog from my car the Carew Tower.  Made for cycling, they had sticky grippers on the palm and fingers, perfect for gripping handlebars and as it turns out 45 stories of railings.  I wore a pair of tall day glow green tall striped socks (pictured above).  They make me go fast to run away from the heckling.  Oh yeah, and I just got a new pair of Pearl Izumi Peak II trail running shoes.  They’re light, have a snug and soft close fit, and are the perfect color of blue.  While most running shoes might come close to those attributes, the killer grip of Pearl Izumi's sole stands out.  No matter where my feet happened to land, I didn’t slip once, obviously the next best thing to having monkey feet.

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