Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Last Steps of 2011

This past month has flown by.  It started with two amazing races, the Ascenso Torre Colpatria in Bogota, Colombia and the CF Climb for Life at 300 N. LaSalle in Chicago. 

300 N. LaSalle – 12/11/2011

the lasalle climb is fun since it has a north pole theme and santa is there.  After the race, we chatted with an FRS guy about potential sponsorship so came up with some quirky FRS commercials and gimmicks.  It was kinda comical.  You should definitely check out cody renshaw’s video of this race on youtube – it’s a great flick!

Last year at the lasalle climb (58 floors), bridget carlson beat me by 4 or 5 seconds and I clocked a time of 9:15.  This year I was planning on winning this race, until I found out that cindy harris was gonna be there.  Once I realized that, I decided not to put too much pressure on myself.  I most likely would get 2nd and the race in Colombia was only 3 days earlier so I could potentially be tired from traveling, etc.  I just wanted to be faster than last year so chose 8:30 as my goal.

I started after cindy and brady.  I could hear brady's watch beeping but the sound got quieter the higher we got.

The stairwell turns right until floor 20 or 25 then switches to left. Steps are kinda small and narrow and you can reach both rails. There are a few little landings that you take multiple steps, I liked running those. theres also a long hallway to run down. At this point, one side was blocked off with rope and a guy was directing which way to go, I turned left because the right was obviously the wrong way but the volunteer started yelling this way, this way.  So it freaked me out, I stutter-stepped and turned around and realized I was still going the right way, thanks for messing up my rhythm!  I ran down the hallway, past the volunteers trying to force me to have a class of water and a clifbar, I muttered no
thanks and continued on.

I felt pretty good to start, legs and breathing both felt really good. felt like i was going quick at the start, half was like 3:55-3:57 so decent pace. kept it up. felt like i was getting into a rhythm. with 20 floors to go, decided to pick up the pace and was kinda running up the steps. could use the tiny vertical spindles to pull myself up. picked it up again with 15 and 10 floors to go. with only 3 to go, tried to keep running, legs were really feeling it now!! i could hear cindy breathing really loudly somewhere towards the top and it was getting louder so i could tell i was getting closer, when i turned to the last flight i saw her!!

7:55 on my watch (results 7:57). was shocked about my time. brady beat me by like 2-3 seconds and i beat cindy by 10 seconds!

i cant even fathom what this means. just totally speachless. this was my best race and its the best ive felt, had so much energy towards the end and felt good to be able to kinda run and pick it up. just an awesome race!!  perhaps it was all the rest I had from traveling to Bogota or maybe I had some boost from being at altitude for a few days, who knows.  All I know is that I was quite pleased with my race, I put no pressure on myself, had no expectations and just knocked it out! :)

12/26/2011 – SPRINTS!!

I used to try to hit 2:40 for better for 20 floors, low 2:30s or better were considered a really fast time.  During one of the december workouts, I hit some of my best times for 20 floors 2:43, 2:36, 2:33, 2:19 and 2:20!! 2:19 was my PR and to follow it up with a 2:20 was just incredible. And the 2:19 felt easier than some of my previous best times! I was still on some kind of high from bogota and lasalle so this workout came at just the right time. 

I thought maybe my faster workouts were just a fluke, fresh legs, etc.  but the fast times continued.  I started hitting sub 2:40 consistently for 21 floors, times that I used to think were great for 20 floors, I was averaging with an extra floor!  Im not really sure whats happening but im sure not taking anything for granted.  I still have a long ways to go before the races hit. 

Hit the stairs on Christmas Eve and came away with another set of decent times, 2:51, 2:42, 2:38, 2:36, 2:31.  after that did some special extra curricular activities on the stairs and I felt really good, things felt easier than they normally do and I had an extra burst of energy.

The day of Christmas, we were back in the stairwell.  Today was the day of sprints, I usually try to avoid sprints because i'm no good at them.  Im an endurance freak, a cardio junkie so sprints just arent my style.  But sometimes ya just gotta listen to your coach and do things that suck and are quite painful.  We started off with a normal warmup climb, felt ok.  Then did a 10 floor sprint, wow that was a long way, my legs were burning after like 5 floors.  After that, we decided to hit 5 floors and keep the rest around 60 seconds.  We did 6 sets of 5 floors, the first couple werent too bad.  My legs still felt fresh and bursty.  By the time the next 4 sets rolled around, it was a different story.  My legs were feeling trashed about 3 or 4 floors in and I found myself hunched over on the landing gasping for air.  After 5 sets of 5 floor sprints, I was done for.  If I coulda collapsed I wouldve,  my legs were wobbly, I felt like I was gonna be sick.  I still had another 5 floors to go, and those last 5 floors included the 2 monster floors, ugh.   I let the guys go in front of me and carried my dead legs up the steps the fastest I could, I finished in 0:31, 4 seconds slower than the 1st time I did that same exact set of 5 floors so guess it wasnt too horribly slow.  Wow sprints suck!how can something that only lasts 20-30 seconds be so unpleasant and painful?!?  But I realize I need to do them more often, theyre good for me. 

After that a cool-down climb seemed like the right thing to do, we took a huge rest and started back up the stairs.  That was definitely the worst cool-down ive had in a long time!

12/27/2011 – Snake

in december, I also discovered the snake workout.  Its killer and im obsessed with it.  Brady tried it out and said its one of the worst things ever.  The other day I added on an additional 10 minutes and called it the cobra, good stuff.   I also decided that going backwards is fun too. 

11 Lessons / Realizations in 2011 -

1. sometimes the best races and workouts come when you least expect it, when you let down your guard, put no pressure on yourself and just go for it. 

2. hard work pays off, results in faster times especially when its extreme cardio.  Extreme cardio is also a guaranteed mood changer, I can feel unmotivated, down, had a bad day but as soon as I start climbing, running, biking my mood like instantly changes and I just have to smile

3. new found hobbies, such as cycling, can be quite addicting.  But the excessive cross-training doesnt translate all that well to running, cycling's effect on stairs on the other-hand is a whole different story

4. I had some great road races when I was focusing on stairs, not really running all that much but when I picked up the mileage, I got slower. running doesnt always make sense, more running doesnt necessarily seem to equate to faster race times.  And bad races are a way of life, accept them and move on.   oh and don’t forget to congratulate those who had a good race or might’ve beat you.

5. When temps soar into the 90s and 100+, weaving around in the shady region of busse specifically between the 3 and 5 mile sticks, is the only way to go.  and bring your own water

6. going flat after going vertical, feels really fast and easy

7. always remember the reason why you race, why you love what you do. Show interest in others, provide advice to newbies.  The greatest feeling is helping someone gain insight in how to be better at a sport you love so much. 

8. meeting new people and exploring new opportunities is one of the best things about climbing and running.  time spent with “step”-sibs is well worth the pain, were the best looking carnage around! 

9. breakfast with friends tastes so much better after a long run, race, or climb and is even more delightful when lots of coffee is involved.  Meeting for coffee before workouts is one of the best ways to start your day.

10. dancing before stair climbs is bad luck and strictly prohibited however my pink WCL jersey (thanks mark!) and black calf sleeves are good luck.  Speaking of calf sleeves, compression anything - tights, socks, sleeves, arm warmers, also became an obsession in 2011


we've reached the highest floor of 2011, enjoyed the view, and took elevator down.  I now find myself on the ground floor of 2012, gazing up and realize its gonna be a long journey to the top floor but its a journey that im excited to take and am looking forward to.  New challenges face me, I may stutter-step along the way or take a wrong turn down the hallway but I know i'll make it up somewhere and will be stronger for it.  Bring it on 2012! 

Countdown to 2012 Stair Climbs (Season 1: January – March)

Aon Chicago – January 29
Empire – February 8
Oakbrook – February 12
Springfield – February 18
Hancock – February 26
PT – March 11
Milwaukee – March 17
Aon LA – March 31

Then who knows what might come about, perhaps an adventure somewhere!


  1. Im dying laughing right now on the expression on my face in that pic after the race. Thats a face that says Im about to puke, which I did, lol. Great blog Kristin, keep it up.

  2. justin - i think all of us look a bit rough around the edges in that picture, haha. i seriously thought i was gonna puke during the sprints we did the other day, ugh!

  3. Wow, 8 races planned in 60 days! Best of Luck! You're already off to a great start in 2012. Cheers! Vern (