Monday, April 30, 2012

tower sprint in europe

Towerrunning Basel – Basel, Switzerland – April 21, 2012
European Adventure – Part 1 - London
My first European adventure consisted of a short tower race in Basel, Switzerland, and as an added bonus we were making a brief pit stop in London.  Once I calculated the time it’d take to get out of the airport, take a high speed express train to Paddington Station then hop on the underground to the heart of London then do the same in reverse the following day, I figured we’d have about 1-1.5 days of London sightseeing.   I was also lucky because I’d have travel / race companions for this adventure, the Renshaw Brothers!  We joked that their only purpose was to carry my luggage and be my escort / body guards but the truth of the matter is they’re both competitive climbers and I needed the advice of my coach.  Brady and I would be spending the day in London then meeting up with Cody for the Basel portion of the trip.
The flight to London was 8 hours and a straight jump across the big pond, no layovers or dilly-dallying around.  I tried to sleep but kept waking up with a crick in my neck and the flight attendants kept coming around with food, snacks and beverages.  I watched a movie (We Bought a Zoo, which I’d highly recommend if you like that sort of thing) then napped a bit before flicking on my little screen to the map view.  This let me watch a little plane flying over the ocean updating me with flight stats such as distance travelled, ground speed, temperature (-50 F, geesh, that’s a tad-bit chilly), hours left to destination, etc.  I found this amusing and just watched the updates pour in.  When I fly, I usually take the window seat whenever I can, when I can see something, I enjoy just staring out for hours.  Unfortunately it was cloudy and foggy coming into London so I couldn’t see anything until we were practically on the ground, darn.
Touching Ground Again
We finally landed; originally I had decided to take the underground from the airport.  It would take longer and we were most likely destined to stand the whole way but it would be incredibly cheaper than the high speed express train.   But when we got to the public transportation area, there were guys shouting about purchasing tickets for the express train.  I gave in, figured we might get to see something neat.  I handed over my debit card and he said it’d be 34 British pounds per person for a roundtrip ticket, alright.  Then I started calculating the math in my head, I suck at math so I had no idea how much this was going to cost me in USD!!  The exchange rate was like 1 BP = 1.66 USD.  Oh yikes, maybe the underground woulda been better.  The scenery wizzed by and I could barely see anything, we passed by some broken rundown neighborhoods and I hoped that the “real” London would be much nicer. 
We arrived at Paddington Station and made our way to the correct underground train, this was another cost which ended up being more than I thought it would.  I was making some poor financial decisions today, haha, oh well, it’s all worth it and it’s a learning experience.  The underground was totally packed, we were smashed in there like sardines.  I’m actually glad we took the high speed train since it was much more comfortable and had free wi-fi.  Someone finally got up from a seat so I sat down, left Brady grasping a pole for support and fending for himself.  The train doors open and another American lady exclaimed that someone had snatched her phone from her purse!!  Her husband knew it was some shifty character that had been staring at him the entire time and somehow without losing eye contact swiped her phone.  Brady checked his back pockets and sure enough, the guy had swiped like 30-40 BP from him!  Dang, there goes our cash.  At least his passport was safe.  Another financial pitfall for us, haha.  We eventually made it off the train safely and began our walk to the hotel.
The Streets of London
Trying to find our hotel in London was like weaving through a maze, there weren’t any street signs although some random buildings had street names on them.  I had a map of our hotels location and knew the address but random squares would pop up.  So I’d be walking down Belgrave Road, the numbers would be going up then all of a sudden the street would be called Wilshire Square and would jump from 44 to 77.  What the heck?!?  I asked several people if they knew were our hotel was but no one could provide any useful advice.  I think we came within 10 feet of it several times before we finally got there, another learning experience.  The streets are so weavy and windy too, no grid system like here in Chicago. 
We put our stuff down, our room had three beds in it and the bathroom was the size of a small broom closet.  Making a hotel reservation online was confusing some of the rooms don’t have a private bathroom, others would say “shower only” and I was quite sure what that meant.  I looked for the shower, there was a curtain in the bathroom and just a drain on the floor, welp guess everything is smashed into this tiny spot.  The entire bathroom would be soaked if you turned the shower on!
We rushed off to find some cappuccinos!  We both were pretty zonked considering the 8 hour flight shot us 6 hours into the future.  Brady decided he needed a nap and I wanted to wander so I set off towards Buckingham Palace.  I wandered the streets of London for over 2 hours, just going wherever I wanted.  I came across the Palace, a giant green park, another park with all sorts of strange birds, a bunch of other fancy historical looking buildings.  I Just kept walking around.  It was in the 50s and one minute it’d be sunny and nice, the next minute the sky was covered in clouds and it was raining.  Whats with this weather?!? 
I got back to the room and crashed for a little bit.  Then we set off on our trek to dinner.  I picked out a few veggie restaurants and we decided to take the long way there so we could see Big Ben, the London Eye, walk along the river and hit a few other sweet spots.  We grabbed a map from the hotel and were on our way, the weaving windy streets were hard to follow and we kept ending up somewhere in the opposite direction of where we wanted to be!  We finally found the restaurant, it was a bust hole in the wall kinda joint, so we went somewhere else, and of course we had another cappuccino, ha.  The walk home was much easier because I had a better sense of which direction we needed to be heading.
Thursday morning we were off for a run and Brady was taking the go-pro with us, wanted to get some of the sights on film.  Once again, we took a wrong turn and ended up in Hyde Park.  The goal of this run was to run by the designated London hot spots and say hey look at this but that didn’t happen.  It started to rain again and we just kept on running through the park.  After zig-zagging through streets, practically getting run over by a BMW and a double-decker bus, we were finally back on track but at that point, it was too late and we had to run back to the hotel.  At one point, as I was darted through the street, a car whizzed by, Brady reached to pull me back and yanked my hair.  Why are you pulling my hair?!?  Oops, he said he was reaching for my shirt, ha.  We dried off, had some lunch, another cappuccino/ latte, walked around some more then were off to the airport where we had another 1-2 cappuccinos/lattes before meeting Cody to start our trek to Basel!
European Adventure – Part 2 - Basel
The flight to Basel was short, only about 1:45, we were up and down in no time and they gave us a snack.  Some kind of hot wrap with Mediterranean veggies and tomato sauce, fantastic.  We don’t even get a bag of pretzels or peanuts travelling around in the US.  Anyways, we arrived in Basel and had to navigate to our hotel.  Hopped on a bus then missed our stop, got off at the next one and walked back to hop on the bus going in the opposite direction.  We had to transfer to a trolley that would land us near our hotel.   In London, most people were speaking English but now in Switzerland people were speaking either French or German so we were a bit “lost” and I had absolutely no clue how to pronounce any of the trolley stops “rhinering” and “voltzplatz” and “messenplatz” and those seemed to be the easier ones, haha. 
The three of us had a small room with 2 single beds crammed together and another single pull out recliner, ha.  Like a pull out couch but only made for one person out of a chair, interesting, never seen one of those before but at least we had a real shower.  We were up early the next morning, anxious to explore and see the Ramada, the tower we’d be racing up.  We ran over there since it was just few blocks away but unfortunately all the stairwells were locked and the building was highly secure so we were unable to get in.  So we decided to trek to France since the border was practically within walking distance.  We headed off in one direction, it was worn down, old and things seemed abandoned.  Plus it was cold, dreary and raining.  I thought to myself, what the heck are we suppose to do here for 3 days?!?  We ended up in an industrial part of town before finally stumbling upon a coffee shop.  Warmed up for a bit and were back on the road to France.  We made it to a sign that said Frane, not sure if it was actually France or not but we took a picture and got out of there.  Looking at a map, we thought maybe we should head to a little downtown district that seemed to be the happening place; we caught another trolley and were on our way. 
We arrived at the train station in Basel and could tell this was the area we needed to be.  There was hustle and bustle and my eyes lit up when I saw the Frey chocolate shop.  We wandered around there all day (the city not the chocolate shop), we started on a self-guided walking tour which led us to the Elizabethan Cathedral.  It was beautiful and of course there was a super twisty stairwell that went up to the point.  At one point it was so tight and the steps were tiny, I was getting dizzy just walking up.  The boys decided we should come back and race this thing; I wasn’t so sure on that, haha.  The view from the top was amazing!  We explored a few other streets and shops, finding things that sparked our interest.  It was great just being in a completely new place and soaking it all in.
We walked around for several hours, I had plenty of energy but as soon as we’d sit down to have some coffee or eat, I’d feel utterly exhausted.  My body was still a little freaked from the time difference.   That night for dinner, we found Tibits, a self-serve, pay by weight veggie restaurant.  I was in heaven, this place was terrific although the way Brady loads his plate, it was getting a bit expensive.  We went there several times while in Basel, ha.
Tower Time!
The night before the climb, I found an email from the President of Towerrunning, passing along the starting list for our race.  I opened it up and saw that Suzy Walsham was coming.  Dang, there goes my shot at winning.  She’s a short distance expert and is a phenomenal 800 m and 1500 m runner, has some records and incredible accolades in those distances.  Shucks, this lady is a beast and she just creamed the competition in a race in London recently as well.   There were 250 francs on the line for 1st place, plus an additional 500 francs for busting the course record of 3:26 (set by Marie-Fee Breyer the previous year, I’d like to mention this girl is only like 14 yrs old!!).  The tower height is similar to that of the Hilton in Springfield where I can clock about 3:00 but this race also includes a 100 m run to the tower.  This is where strategy really comes into play, sprint the run and your heart rate will be sky-high going into the tower and you’ll be struggling to catch your breath, plus your legs will be shot by floor 10.  Go too slow and that could have end poorly as well but ultimately it’s better to be conservative on the run. 
I’m not a short distance sprinter in running, climbing or anything I do.  So I’m still learning how to race these shorter towers and how to push myself the way I do in the taller climbs.   We weren’t climbing until 3:00 pm so we had plenty of time to loiter around in the morning and think about race strategy. 
We woke up later than expected and it kinda made me frantic, it was only 10:00 or 10:30, we still had plenty of time just wasn’t expecting it to be waking up that late, ha.  We were off to the Ramada to get our packets, figure out our actual start times and check a few things out.  We watched some of the firefighters darting to the stairwell then went back to the hotel to relax for a bit plus Brady and I needed our pre-race coffee.  We sat in the hotel bar sipping on cappuccinos, even took a shot of espresso (not my favorite), we needed that jolt of caffeine.  My pain receptors needed to ignore what I was about to put them through.  We’ll see how my legs hold up after several days of continuous walking; they were feeling a bit sluggish. 
We got back to the race site, jogged around a bit and started chatting with other climbers.  I saw Walsham and Christina Bonacina so hung around them for a while.  Of course, the race was behind schedule so didn’t start until after 3:00.  They sent us off in 30 seconds increments with all the guys going first.  Some of them took off in a dead sprint while others looked like they were out on a leisurely stroll through a park, ha.  I wanted to be somewhere in between.   The run would probably take about 20-25 seconds; there were a couple of sharp turns into the building and the stairwell.  This stairwell was super funky because it turned to the right (good thing I’d be putting myself through lots of 10 floor sprints in a right turning stairwell!!).   The rail was odd too; it was like flat and rectangular, not ideal for gripping.  The flights had an odd number of steps too; one would have 8 then the next 9.  Interesting, the height seemed a tad bit smaller too, which would be beneficial to me.  
I was finally up, the guy was giving a countdown to others but then out of nowhere he said something in German, I just stood there.  Hes like go, go!  Oops, sorry, was waiting for the countdown.  I was swiftly on my way; of course several gusts of wind came during my short sprint towards the stairwell.  It kinda knocked me off balance but I continued along, I was in there.  I wanted to get into a groove.  It took me a couple of flights but then I was pretty smooth, was feeling good.  The floors were ticking by, I thought about those 10 floor sprints and how I could do this, I could have short distance speed.  Hit the halfway point, I checked my watch 2:00, totally clueless about what that meant since the run was factored in, seemed like a decent pace.  Ok halfway, the next thing I knew it was like 10 floors left, oh geesh that’s less than a minute!  This is going by way too quickly; I only have like a sprint left.  I tried to pick it up, I was feeling a bit dizzy not sure if it was from the shorter flights or oxygen deprivation but I continued on.  My legs were feeling it but I wasn’t pushing as hard as I could, 5 floors left.  Shucks, what happened to all the other floors, I needed more time, I needed more stairs, I was ready to be done but at the same time, this wasn’t my race.  I stumbled out of the doorway, took a few steps and went down.  Shortly thereafter, Walsham popped out.  Wow, she must’ve been blazing fast.  I struggled to hit my watch so wasn’t sure on the time, I got up and tried to walk, legs were feeling wobbly. 
They sent us down a flight of stairs to a gathering area, I was feeling sick and I just stood at the top of the stairs because I knew my legs would go out from under me if I attempted my way down.  Brady came up to find me and told me my time was 3:35, Walsham was a blazing 3:11 and Marie-Fee Breyer got me by 2 seconds, dang!  2 seconds, I coulda found 2 seconds!!  My throat was on fire. 
I’m happy with my efforts but at the same time, a little lost in what happened.  In taller climbs and longer races, you can reach halfway and still have time to make adjustments.  You can pick that go floor and start your surge.  In the shorter towers, the surge is the whole thing.  Mentally I’m not adjusted to that; it was over way too quickly.  I gave it my best shot but I know I left something in the stairwell, maybe 5 seconds.  No way was I gotta take out Walsham though, ha.  But I’ll take 3rd no complaints, not too shabby for my first European race!   At least a lot of the towers here in the US are taller :)
France, Germany, Cathedrals, Chocolate and Cappuccinos
We were back off to Tibits for a celebratory dinner that night; of course we’d have some cappuccinos too, we used my prize money :) We also stopped by the expo where the race was, there was a lot going on so wanted to check it out.  The expo was shut down but there was some kind of German band playing music and a bunch of older people were dancing the night away.  Brady and I gave our best effort at a little jig but I think we should both stick to climbing!
 The next morning, we had a jam packed day.  We’re gonna head to the cathedral for our stair “race” up that then wanted to head to France and Germany as well.  We went back to that expo first, there was a whole coffee expo going on inside.  Fancy espresso machines and different coffees you could try, a German lady scolded us for trying to use her machine without permission. 
After that, we hit up France, we crossed the border and it was somewhat disappointing.  Not like I expected to see the Eifel Tower and all sorts of outdoor cafes but I thought there’d be something unique, haha.   We did come across a guy near the border who started asking us some questions, he was an interesting character.  The whole situation was kinda funny. No one even checked our passports either, I wanted another stamp!  It started to rain so we went back to the trolley to make our way to the Cathedral. 
We got there, the door to the tower was closed and there was a sign saying “tower closed”.  It didn’t feel right sneaking in there so I let the boys do their things.  I took a walk outside, found a few other outdoor staircases and ran up those then made my way back.  They did some filming while they were in there and then we filmed a shot of us running up some outdoor steps to the Cathedral so at least I was in that.  Back to Tibits for lunch and stopped at the Frey shop for some fancy chocolate, time to say goodbye to Basel. 
Time to move on to Germany, hopefully it wouldn’t be a bust like France.  There was a trolley that would take us right there, about a 20-25 minute ride.  It was getting a bit more scenic.  We sauntered across that border and once again, no one there to stamp our passports, drats!  We kept on walking, found a crick with a mini waterfall that made for some good photos.  Germany seemed better than France, ha.  
Goodbye Europe
We flew back to London that night, and then we had a flight back home on Monday morning.  Got up early to go for a run, kinda weaved the streets around the airport.  My legs felt great, it was good to be running again instead of walking.  I finally got my porridge at the airport too, well worth the wait. 
It’s good to be home and the European adventure was well worth it.  I wish we would’ve had more time to venture into the countryside or to the mountains, maybe next time.  Overall a terrific experience that I am incredibly grateful for and I desperately want to start a completive climb here in the US!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

63 Floors in LA

Fight for Air Climb – Los Angeles, CA – March 31, 2012
Sunny CA
It’s always nice to get away for a few days especially when you get to see other friends and climbers.  The day before the race, Brady and I went for a short jaunt in the AM to loosen up our legs.  We weaved around downtown LA, exploring little nooks and crannies.  Found a steep hill to run up and a set of stairs, saw a farmers market, some dogs, all sorts of things.  It was an enjoyable run.  I love exploring new places on foot!
After that, we scouted out a Peet’s coffee shop.  Since were on a mission to become coffee snobs, we decided to drink fancy coffee and loiter.  We got a pressed pot of Uzuri coffee, it was good and aromatic (direct quote from Brady).  After that we met a couple of my friends (who I haven’t seen since back in college) for lunch at a vegan restaurant.  The food was awesome and we chatted for a long while.  
That evening, we were off to dinner with the WCL crew.  After leaving the restaurant, I pulled out of a brightly lit parking garage onto the street heading back to our hotel.  The next thing I know, I hear a siren and flashing lights behind me.  One of the Renshaw boys, was like yea that’s for you, I don’t think your lights are on.  Danggit, they were right.  Darn rental car!  I pulled to the side and a women cop told me that my lights weren’t on, asked if I had been drinking (which I eagerly exclaimed NO!!) and wanted me to pull over around the corner.   She took my license and asked me to step out of the car.  I told her I was sorry about the lights, it was a rental and we were in a brightly lit garage.  She asked why we were in town; I told her that the three of us were elite climbers, here to climb the Aon building.  I also told her that I was the #1 ranked female climber in the world because I wanted her to understand that I was here to compete, not to drink.  She asked me if I had anything to drink, I responded with “water with lemon and no ice”.  I pointed at the Aon building and told her that was the one we were gonna climb.   She made me stand there while I followed her pen with my eyes without moving my head.  I kept thinking, oh gosh, did I move my head, are my eyes following her correctly.  I was having a funky eye issue so my one eye was all red and bloodshot, I’m sure that didn’t help any, ha.  I was stone cold sober (haven’t had a drink of booze in over a year) so I was very adamant about not consuming any alcohol.   Anyways, I passed the test.  She told me she just wanted to be cautious and that drunks are the #1 thing they’re looking for, told me to keep my eyes peeled for anyone suspicious.  She might’ve wished me good luck too.  Brady and Cody got a kick out of me telling the cop that I was the #1 female climber.  I usually don’t play that card but thought it might help in this situation :)
Previous Years at Aon
The Aon LA race back in 2010 was when us Midwest climbers (Brady, Oz and myself) first met the WCL/X-Gym crew.  Back then we were watching their videos and really gaining interest in the sport, I was a little too shy to approach any of them but at least Oz had the courage to say something.  At that point, they were hesitant of who we were and were probably shocked by the times we put up especially since I ended up winning the race for the females (10:40ish).  We were the no-names from the Midwest but I think everyone took a liking to us after that race. 
We ventured out to LA again in 2011, this time Kourtney beat me by like 4 seconds.  I was somewhat bummed about losing but was stoked because I chopped a huge amount of time off from the year before, finishing in about 9:48. 
The Morning Of, During and After
Four of us were cramped in a hotel room, I felt like it was impossible to sleep.  Once someone stirs, I’m up as well.  Brady and I went down for coffee at like 6:00, I was super tired.  We sat around in some comfy chairs trying to kill time since the race didn’t start until 9:30.  We went to another coffee shop across the street as well, gotta mix things up. 
We got to the race around 8:30, it was cloudy and chilly out, I didn’t find it enjoyable standing around outside.  A camera guy from the Vice was there filming a documentary on climbing so he interviewed me for a bit.  We lined up outside and counted down till the start, it was really cold now since we had to peel off all our outer layers. 
I hadn’t given this race much thought either.  I was still feeling burnt out from all the training and racing, was feeling somewhat mentally discouraged and physically felt out-of-shape, haha.   I knew I could probably take 20-30 seconds off my time from last year, so set the goal at 9:10-9:15 (or randomly, 9:07).  Thought I’d check my watch at halfway (Floor 32 – 4:30-4:35). 
My hands were cold on the rail as I started my vertical quest up the Aon building.  This race has all sorts of funky switchbacks, jaunts down hallways and random mid-landings.  It’s quite funky and different, but I like it.   It’s not cookie-cutter like the Aon Center in Chicago.   Towards the early stages of the race, there was an unmarked turn that took most people by surprise, I think almost of all of us probably darted left instead of right, causing us to lose a few seconds.  They should really have these things marked with arrows or a volunteer directing “foot traffic”.   I was somewhat annoyed by the lack of direction. 
I continued along my way, I couldn’t tell my pace and I could hear Mark behind me.  He told me he started off fast and I kept expecting him to be hot on my heels but he never got right up behind me.  His breathing faded into the distance and I kept on climbing. 
I had no idea what pace I was going nor did I feel all that great.  My legs felt a little sluggish and my breathing / heart rate seemed like it was harder and higher than it should be for early on in the race.  I checked my watch at the halfway point and was around 4:37, ok not too far off from where I wanted to be.  Before the race, I picked a “go-floor” as usual and this time around it was floor 50 which meant I’d have a little over 10 floors to go. 
I reached Floor 50 and my motivation to really pick up the pace was lacking.  I just wasn’t feeling it mentally or physically.  I know I wasn’t pushing my hardest or having my best race but I was giving it my all on that given day.  My attempt at pushing the pace and enduring pain reminded me of my climbs last year, where I’d half-attempt to push myself thinking that was all I was capable of.   This year I exploded past my previous limits and pushed myself way over the edge, this race kept me a few steps back from the ledge.  I think my body and mind were telling me something, they didn’t wanna go over the top, and they wanted to stay somewhat conservative.  They were trying to save themselves. 
I reached the last couple of floors which have longer flights and you can see the light from the sun, the first flight tricked me because I turned the corner and thought it was the dash to the roof but it wasn’t.  I still had another flight before I got there.   Turned that final corner and tried to run up those last few steps, staggered to the mat.  I looked around and there were rocks everywhere, not the perfect spot to collapse so I teetered to the side and cautiously laid down on the ground. 
I saw Brady and Kourney across the way, Brady was in his usual face down position and Kourtney was curled up in a little ball.  Both of them looked like they had pushed it pretty hard.   9:21 according to my watch, that’s not too shabby.  Still a big PR, smidge slower than I thought I might be capable of.  I wasn’t sure what to think about this race since I didn’t feel all that great in the stairwell.  I told myself the outcome didn’t matter, I busted a PR and that was good enough for me. 

The results were finally posted and I saw that my actual time according to timing folks was 9:17 (everyone’s time was like 4 seconds faster than their watch for some reason), cool, I’ll take it.  and I saw that I had won and set the course record!!  Kourtney clocked in at just over 9:30, setting PR herself (and breaking the course record she set last year) and Veronica took a huge chunk off her time (approximately 60 seconds!) to round out the top 3.   I love these award ceremonies because I always find myself surrounded by lovely talented speedy ladies!!  So lucky to have such wonderful step-sisters. 
Now I own course records at the Aon Center in Chicago and LA, I think that’s kinda cool :)  Wonder if there’s one on the East coast? haha
Culver City
After the climb, we were off to Culver City stairs again.  Personally, I am not really a fan of racing these things because the steps are huge, my legs are small so not the best combination.  I can start off running but towards the end, it’s not pretty.   I took off towards the top and finished in just under 3:00 which I guess is a decent time, can’t really remember what I did last year.   The VICE guy was there filming as well, so I did a few short sprints to the top so he could get some action shots and they interviewed me regarding the race and how I feel about these outdoors steps. 
Wandering the Beach
The next morning, we found another Peet’s Coffee shop so got another pressed pot of coffee.  I think it was becoming an addiction.  Then we wandered along the path by the beach, the change of scenery was pleasant and it’s enjoyable relaxing / walking around.  Good trip. 
International Exploration
Next up is a race in Basel, Switzerland on April 21st.  I am super incredibly excited!!  I will be traveling with Brady and Cody.  Brady and I will spend a few days in London before heading off to Basel for 3 days including the race.  It’s a short tower, only like 31 floors so not my cup of tea but it’ll be fun regardless and of course an incredible experience.  Bring it on Europe!! :) We’ve been practicing some 10 floor sprints turning to the right, it was awkward to start but I think I’m getting a hang of the whole right turn thing now.   
Happy Training!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

4 Towers of Pain - Presidential Towers, Chicago

Fight for Air Climb – Presidential Towers – Chicago – March 11th 2012
Craving Normal Training
I’ve been racing so much that I kinda miss my normal training routine, I feel like everything now is either rest or easy days with a splash of intensity tossed in for good measure and that intensity was usually in the stairwell.  My days of mountain snakes were long gone and I really wanted one.   A few days after the Strat (Tuesday), I decided it was time to take on a cobra head.  My legs were feeling it since I hadn’t done one in a while and had just raced (twice!) over the weekend.  We hit the stairwell and I made it through 2 climbs then called it quits, my heart rate was through the roof and my breathing was much heavier than normal plus my legs felt horribly tired.  The effort for the times I was hitting was harder than it should be, I knew my body needed rest.  I did a single relaxed easy normal people paced climb during work on Friday and had the same reaction.  Went on a 4 mile easy run after work, still wasn’t feeling normal.
I woke up Saturday morning and was extremely sore, my quads, my calves, my entire legs.  What the heck?  I hadn’t done anything too abnormal or extreme, why would I be this sore?  ah, the cobra head.  I know I hadn’t done one in a long time but to be as sore as I was seemed unnecessary.  I’m sure my body was already feeling the demands of racing so much; it was worn down and tossing the snake on top of it, didn’t make it feel any better.   I had a feeling my climb at PT on Sunday wasn’t gonna feel pleasant, not that they normally do, ha. 
4 Towers of Pain & Glory
Presidential Towers is an interesting race because there are 4 towers, 45 floors each and you run from one to another on the skybridge.  The stairwell is very narrow, there’s a rail on the inside and only about 6 steps per flight so its really tiny.  I tend to get kinda dizzy in this stairwell because you’re constantly turning!
The run is included in your overall time however the rest is not.  Here’s how the timing works:
Tower 1 – Climb Time
Tower 2 – Climb Time + Run Time from Tower 1
Tower 3 – Climb Time + Run Time from Tower 2
Tower 4 – Climb Time + Run Time from Tower 3
Total – Combine All Tower Climb Times + Run Times
Usually the fastest climbers will try to stick together ensuring that everyone is getting about the same amount of rest, trying to level the playing field, keeping it fair.  Last year, this is where I got myself into trouble.   I was on the slower side but found myself racing off when everyone else was, I was sticking with the top guys and Cindy (who was extremely faster than me in 2011) so as the climbs went on, my rest was getting shorter and shorter because my climbs were getting slower and slower.  It was a no win situation because I didn’t wanna get left behind or for someone to say I was taking too much rest.  My final time in 2011 ended up being slower than my time in 2010, ugh!  I learned my lesson, this year I figured I’d talk with the top girls and we’d set a fair rest period or try to stick together.  That way it’d be a bit more even. 
This race is also tricky because you have to pace it accurately, blaze that 1st tower and you’re in a world of hurt for the next 3.  But start off way too slow and you may not have enough left in ya to pick up the extra time. 
Tower 1
Brady was wearing a go-pro camera and was gonna start behind me so he could film me weaving up Tower 1.   Cindy started 2 spots behind me and before Brady caught up to me, I could hear him telling her that he’d let her pass, that he wasn’t racing.  He also told me not to speed up.  In no time Cindy was right on my heels, I think I also told her to let me know if she wanted to pass.  I didn’t wanna start off too fast, 4:20ish seemed like a good goal.  I looked at halfway (floor 26) and was at like 2:08, seemed to be on pace.  I kept steady and started to get kinda dizzy.  My legs did not feel good, I could tell within 5 or 10 floors that they weren’t gonna cooperate but oh well, it is what it is.  Just do my best and keep on climbing.   Reached the finish in 4:17, about where I wanted to be so no complaints about my time.  I knew since Cindy finished right behind me that she was like 20 seconds faster than me.  I had no clue what the next tower would bring.  Brady and I discussed the rest; we thought maybe 3:00-4:00 would be acceptable since that’s what we normally take during our training climbs so after that first tower I planned on 3:00.
We took the elevator down and waited for my watch to hit 3 then I took off down the skybridge.  The run was short about 15 seconds then it was on to Tower 2 which turns right, switch it up a bit.

Tower 2
Brady started behind me again but Cindy quickly caught up to him again, I could hear her behind me but just kept on pace.  Doing my own thing, this one was feeling a bit more rough than the 1st one and the right turns are awkward but just put my head down and trudged along.  The race goes by quickly since the floors are so short.  But I started getting dizzy again.  Checked my watch at halfway again and was 2:15, bit slower than the first time around but still reasonable.  Kept on climbing, hit 4:32 at the top.   Not too shabby.  Was feeling really dizzy and lightheaded as I stepped out of the doorway and kinda meandered down the hall in a daze.  Brady and Cindy popped out a bit later then we headed back down for Tower 3. 
now we had caught up with Jesse, Justin and Oz.  Figured we could use the extra rest since they were still loitering around.  So decided to take about 4:00.  The run to Tower 3 is a bit longer, 25 seconds.  Weaved around the hallway and zipped back into the stairwell. 

Tower 3
Yay, left turns again!  I still didn’t feel all that great, my legs just didn’t have it today.  I wasn’t really all that upset about it, nothing I could do, just wanted to finish with a decent time.  Hopefully under 19:00 and I had to be under 20:00!  Whenever I’d try to pick up the pace, I would literally get dizzy.  I just felt like I couldn’t push myself 110% in this race.  The stairwell and 4 tower combo really isn’t all that accommodating to that.  The pacing is tricky and one would think the tiny steps/flights would work well for me since I’m so small but that wasn’t the case.  I looked at my watch again at the halfway point and was like 1:13 so a bit faster than Tower 2. I was having some major cotton mouth issues at this point, my mouth was incredibly dry and it was hard to breathe.  Finished this one in about 4:23, I took a chunk of time off from the slower right turning Tower 2 so that was encouraging.  Just one tower to go, time to give it my all!  Cindy finished a bit later, we were both feeling it. 
Once again we were with the top guys waiting to start Tower 4.  This time we needed the extra rest and they were waiting around so gave ourselves 6:00.  Not sure if it would help but figured it was worth a shot and since we were sticking together, neither one of us was getting shafted on rest time.  The run to Tower 4 is short again only 12 seconds. 
Tower 4
Back to the right turns, ugh. So annoying.  Left is so much better!  But guess it’s nice to switch up the direction every once in a while.  Brady started in front of me on this one, he was gonna try and blaze it since he took it a bit easier on the first 3.  I was feeling alright with the extra rest but still just didn’t have that extra umpf that I normally do during the last 20 floors of a climb.  Came through the half at about the same pace.  I really tried to pick it up the last 10-15 but was getting dizzy again!! Darn dizziness, sucking away my faster pace.  And the cotton mouth struck again, nothing seemed to help, I was totally parched.  Mentally I had no idea who was gonna win this race.  Cindy blazed the 1st one so she got me there but I think I stayed ahead over the next 2 towers.  Kourtney was nowhere in sight since she started in the back of the elite group so who knew what kinda times she was putting up.  I really wanted to finish strong so put forth my best effort and came through at 4:27,  think the right turns were the cause of the few second delay from Tower 3, ha. 
A volunteer was repeatedly shouting, you got this, you got this!  Kinda encouraging, haha.  I stumbled out again, kinda crawled on the floor.  More because I wanted to look dramatic for the camera than me actually needing to do so. 

Finish and Beyond
I was feeling bleh about this race, knew it wasn’t my best ever and didn’t really know how I would finish up compared to Cindy and Kourtney.  I don’t think I pushed myself as hard as I could, maybe because my legs were sore or maybe because I've been racing so much and pushing to my limits, just wanted to take it on the easier side. 
I left not knowing the results.  Was kinda kicking myself for not pushing hard enough but at the same time I was content.  I tried to calculate my time in my head but I suck at math so kept coming up with something that seemed way to slow.  I finally figured it was under 19, maybe 18:30-18:40 so that would be pleasing. 
An hour or so later, I got a text from Kourtney saying I had one.  I was like who me?!? Honestly I was kinda shocked because I had no idea how it was gonna end up but a win is a win.  Cody also sent me a message saying I finished in 18:34 about 20 seconds ahead of Kourtney and 35 ahead of Cindy. Wow.  What a strange turn of events, I was quite happy with that. 
Tower 1 – 4:17
Rest – 3:00
Run 1 – 0:15
Tower 2 – 4:32
Rest – 4:00
Run – 0:25
Tower 3 – 4:23
Rest – 6:00
Run – 0:12
Tower 4 – 4:27
Overall – 18:34