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

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