Saturday, January 31, 2015

Step Up for Kids - Race No. 2 of 35

Among the many perks of living in Chicago (six major league sports teams, endless free family activities, one of the highest bars-per-capita rates in the U.S., to name a few), are the abundant skyscrapers. Chicago is all about its architecture, and as a result, we've got tons of stair climb events.

Some of the more popular ones, like Hustle Up the Hancock and the SkyRise Chicago (at the Sears, er Willis, Tower) apparently sell out in minutes, at least for the full climbs. So, for people like me who aren't so quick to pull the trigger, I'm fortunate to have plenty of other tall buildings to climb.

Last week I did Step Up for Kids at the Aon Center, an 80-floor climb. This was my first stair climb event, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Overall, I did OK, finishing the climb in about 24 minutes. The winner did it in 9:57, which I can't even begin to understand.

Surprisingly, the climbing part wasn't very difficult. I didn't really get short of breath or feel the burn in my legs. Instead, I was slowed down by dizziness. Doing a climb like this means you're turning 180 degrees every 5 seconds or so. That was the hard part for me.

Part of the appeal of doing an stair climb is the view you get from the top. Unfortunately, this January day featured rain and fog, so here's the spectacular view of the city from 80 floors up:

Aside from the climb itself, this event didn't seem particularly well-organized. Chris and the girls came with me, but the area where spectators were permitted to hang out lacked amenities. The area was on the lower level of the Aon Center, and it was also where they had packet pick-up and bag check. So, lots of people were down there. Yet, there was only one bathroom with three stalls in the women's room. The lines were insane.

In addition, there wasn't any water, snacks, water fountains or anything for spectators, not even for purchase. The one plus was a kids craft zone, which worked out well for Chris and the girls. At the finish line, which only climbers could access, they had lots of kid-friendly snacks and drinks, so I loaded up and brought them down to the girls.

But otherwise, I wasn't super impressed with the organization. It's possible that all indoor events are like this, and I'm just spoiled by large outdoor events. I'll find out in a few weeks at the Fight For Air Climb. It's a climb at the Presidential Towers — there are four towers with 45 floors each. I'm doing all four, so it's a total of 180 floors. Hopefully I'll figure out to combat the dizziness between now and then. Got any suggestions?

Race Summary:
Race name: Step Up for Kids
2015 Challenge Race No.: 2
Location: Aon Center, Chicago, IL
Organizers/Sponsor: KPMG
Beneficiary: Lurie Children's Hospital
Cost: $150 ($50 registration + $100 fundraising)
Distance: 80 floors
Best parts of the race:
- Indoor race in January

Worst parts:
- Lack of bathrooms in general area
- Lack of water, snacks, anything for supporters in general area
- Waiting for the elevators to get back down, which took longer than the climb up. I honestly would have taken the stairs down to avoid waiting in that line, but it wasn't an option.

Upcoming events:

  • Next race: Possibly Cupid’s Undies @ John Barleycorn, Chicago, IL – Feb. 7. Still trying to decide if I'm going to do this one. I would love to run it with Chris, but the childcare situation makes it hard. Anyone wanna run in your undies with me?
  • February:
  • March:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

35 for my 35th: No. 1

I turned 35 on Jan. 1, 2015. In honor of my 35 years on Earth, I decided to give myself a little challenge: within the year 2015, I will complete 35 official races. The races can be of any kind: running, biking, stair climbs, triathlons, mud runs, obstacles courses, etc. But they all must be official races, with entry fees and bibs numbers and the like.

In case you’re doing the math very slowly, 35 races equates to about 3 races per month. So, it’s not exactly an easy challenge. I mean, how many races can you do in January?

So far, one.

I completed the Polar Dash (5K) in Chicago on Jan. 10. It was 16 degrees outside at the time, and I attended my company’s holiday party the night before. And by “attended,” I mean, the libations were flowing, there may have been some G n R karaoke and head-banging on my part, and I got home after 2 am. But the next day, ran I did—nursing a moderate hangover.

Surprisingly, despite the chilly temps and bitter winds off the lake, I managed to overdress. I wore two pairs of pants, three long-sleeve shirts, two pairs of gloves and a knit hat. Most of me was sweating. The only part that got cold was my nose, which lost some feeling part way through the race. But otherwise, it was a great run. I had a blast, and although my time wasn’t great, sweating out the previous night’s vodka was a win in my book.

Race Summary:
Race name: Polar Dash
2015 Challenge Race No.: 1
Location: Grant Park, Chicago, IL
Organizers/Sponsor: Team Ortho
Cost: $50
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
Best parts of the race:
- The swag—a cozy zip-up fleece and an adorable penguin hat
- Time of year and location—proved to myself that an outdoor run in January in Chicago isn't just doable, but better than I expected and fun

Worst parts:
- Crowded start—Everyone lined up by their expected minute-per-mile, but once the starting bell went off, everyone just started moving forward, slowly. Although I lined up at a pace that required running, the race didn't clear out enough to do much actual "running" until about a mile into the race. Staggered start times, even by 45-90 second each, would have been much better.
- Frozen water at the water stations—I had to pick up a few cups before finding one that had actual liquid water inside. But I guess that’s one of those January outdoor race hazards.

As for races No. 2 and beyond, here’s my plan for the next few weeks, although I may add more if I can:
  • Next race: Step Up for Kids (80-story stair climb) @ Aon Center, Chicago, IL – Jan. 25 (tomorrow)
  • February: Possibly Cupid’s Undies @ John Barleycorn, Chicago, IL – Feb. 7 (Trying to find a way to do this one with Chris, while securing a few hours of babysitting for the kiddos, in between Jane's swim lessons in the morning and Maya's gymnastics in the afternoon. So we'll see.)
  • March: