Fight for Air Climb – Los Angeles, CA – March 31, 2012
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.