Recent Tower Training
The weekend before I was off to Vienna, I planned to see if I could break my 5 climb record. That morning I entered the stairwell, with positivity but somewhat disheartened. My legs didn’t feel super, it definitely wasn’t my best feeling workout physically but the times showed otherwise. I didn’t smash my record but I did break it by 1 second, I’ll take it. I pushed it so much on the last climb, I used everything I had, and my arms were taking on some of the work when my legs were feeling it. I felt totally spent when I reached the top of the last one. I was elated to set a 5 climb PR; it was a good sign of what’s to come.
Leaving Drama Behind
Recently, I’ve been going through some personal melodrama and was really looking forward to escaping, to finding myself while wandering through the streets of Vienna and running in the mountains. We moved into a new office for work and were having issues getting access to our files so I saving the few files I had to my desktop instead. Tuesday afternoon, the IT logged onto my computer to try and solve the problem remotely, he quickly moved the mouse, deleting things and clicking this and that. The next thing I know my desktop is almost completely bare. I frantically searched for my files, they were gone, deleted!! My past 3 days of work were lost and I had to get them to the client before I left the country, I searched my personal files and my training log had also been deleted. My heart sank; my training for the past 6 months was erased. That thing is so important to me, I had 2 versions and of course they were both gone. I tried not to freak and before I left for the night we started a program to recover the deleted files. When I got to work on Wednesday it was done but the files were corrupt!! I spent several precious hours on the phone with the IT guy, frustrated and annoyed. All I wanted was an easy morning at work to tie up a few loose ends before heading to the airport but I didn’t get any of that, we found my training log but the files were useless. (After note - I recalled that I had recently sent the calendar version in an email so all is not lost!! I found it and am just missing a few random days in August, its not the detailed version with the guts of my every feeling and move but at least I know the quantity/gist of what I had done)
I left work to go for a run, planned on an easy jaunt through the forest by work. Wanted to burn off some steam and excess energy before being cooped up on a plane for 11+ hours. As soon as I started off, I realized I locked my keys in the car. Great… at least my office is close by and luckily enough I work with my dad. I ventured down the path, picking up the pace and raced into the building, even darted up the stairs. Found my dad, we drove to my parent’s house to get my spare key and at this point, I was on the verge of a mini meltdown. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I was so frazzled and knew I needed to find positivity and was worried that my race would suffer because of my poor mental attitude. I felt better after my 5 mile run and a smile crept across my face, I wanted to put it all behind me and knew that I would find relief once I was on my way.
Friday morning rolled around, it wasn’t all that nice out which was disappointing because I really wanted to sit outside enjoying a cappuccino or latte and reading but oh well, found a great indoor café. So I loitered for a bit, and then wandered a bit more and stumbled into a starbucks to do a little more reading. That afternoon, Norbert was going to show me some sights around Vienna. First we went to Millennium Tower so I could get a glimpse of the stairwell. It’s funky because a floor is 17 steps straight, no middle landing or turn. And the rail was super high and close to the wall, kinda awkward for me but I’d have to make do with it. I tried a few floors and actually felt refreshed; my legs felt pretty good going vertical despite feeling somewhat tired wandering around.
Saturday morning, I woke up after about 3 or 4 hours of sleep and hit the pavement to loosen up my legs. Wandered to a café for a bit then was off to the tower. I wouldn’t start my climb until at least 3:30 pm so had practically the whole day to kill. Got there and came across the friendly faces of other European climbers, its great coming together at an event. It was only 1:30 so I sat around, got a coffee, I was trying to stick to my normal morning race routine. Ate a banana about an hour before my race. It was kinda cool and misty out so I decided to warm up inside, the tower is part of a mall so I weaved through the shoppers, unique warmup.
3 by 48 floors, this should be interesting. They started us by bib numbers for the first climb, not really sure of the rhyme or reason for starting numbers, some of the elite guys were behind me, perhaps it’s by registration date, who knows. I knew I would have to pass people. We started upstairs and then one by one walked down an escalator, across a hall to the stairwell, I just took my time. I was in no hurry and the timing mat was right before the stairwell anyways. But the timing guys were always waving me forward, alright, alright, I’ll pick up the pace to a slow jog to appease you.
The last 4 floors are smaller, more turns like a normal stairwell and the rail changed too. Was white and spindly, I tried to use the vertical poles as leverage and the turns were awkward because it was very square and a large pole was up the middle that would sometimes disrupt my rhythm. I didn’t really push myself at the end, just kept a relaxed pace. Didn’t wanna burn my legs on the first climb, checked my watch as I crossed the mat – 5:06. Umm, alright, I guess that’s ok. I saw Suzy in the way down, she clocked at 5:07, sweet, I had a second lead and it showed on the leader board. I knew that both of us had held back but I had a feeling that she held back more than I did but I did think to myself “could I possibly win this”, the thought quickly crept into and out of my mind, I didn’t wanna focus on that and knew that she would probably blaze the next one.
Started off the 3rd climb, the rail was just so awkward, with it being so close to the wall; I could tell that my left arm had to swing in an unusual movement to reach up. It was also quite high for a person my size, haha. Most of the other climbers were running up the steps but I stuck to my technique, sometimes I’m amazed that most of the other international climbers run the steps and I just stick to the inside, using the rail and I can keep up with them! Seems encouraging to me, not sure how I’d do if I tried their style, would I perhaps be faster in shorter climbs? I’ve been doing some 1 step running the past few workouts; my legs really feel it around 10 floors so it’s something I would need to get used to. I think in the shorter towers the strategy is just fine but not sure how well they’d do in a beast like sears!!
Then it was off to the mountains!! We started with the Durnstein castle track first, this one is mostly steps and takes about 5 minutes to run up. I’m not a huge fan of running outdoor steps, my legs are too small and I just kinda seem to struggle but I did my best to keep up. The view was amazing! The only problem with the mountain training is having to go back down so you can do it all over again, I can feel it in my joints and muscles. We got to the bottom and decided to head over to another track down the street, Norbert hadn’t ran this one yet so it was totally new to both of us. It was a narrow trail; one step in the wrong spot could send you toppling over the edge. I loved the trail, this was more my style and seemed much easier than the steps!! We cruised to the top, I was carrying my phone so I could snap a picture at any moment and at one point, it buzzed in my hand I looked to see a text asking if I was busy. Haha, I thought well I’m running up a mountain so yea, I’m a bit busy! At the top Norbert was shocked that I could run and read at the same time, seemed like it was too easy for me. That run was great, the trail took about 10 minutes so a good chunk of verticalness.
That night we met his parents at a wine house / cellar. I had some fresh grape juice mixed with seltzer water instead of wine, good choice! Also had some bread and veggies, everyone else was eating meat platters so obviously not my type of thing, haha. We were able to go into the cellar; it sure is chilly down there!! But neat to see.
Sunday, I took off on another morning run. This time I hit the streets for some vertical running, kept it at 20 minutes because I knew the mountain that was waiting for me in the afternoon would be brutal. My legs were actually feeling really good, I was feeling fresh and wasn’t sore at all from the day before. I think all the easy/rest days leading up to the race gave me some time to recover so I was ready to go despite the triple race and 2 mountain climbs plus an easy run that took place during the past 2 days. I went to breakfast and was extremely tempted by all the fresh breads and jams, I think I over loaded on tiny slices of whole grain bread packed with sunflower seeds, the fresh jams were just too good to resist – strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, apricot, etc. plus there was tons of fruit. I’ll get to talking about being vegan and raw while traveling at the end of this.
More wandering in the morning, I was searching for trinkets which mostly means chocolate souvenirs, ha. Found some special apricot chocolate and bought a few different varieties to share at home. We met Norbert’s mom for lunch at a café on the Danube, I had a fancy cup of fruit. I really wasn’t that hungry after my bread explosion at breakfast and didn’t wanna overload before the mountain run.
We went to the halfway mark to run back up to the top, this time we planned to dart off on another route. This path seemed much steeper!! I could tell I was really pushing it during that time. My calves were getting worked. Of course there were several steps before the finish but also a long flat run, I sprinted and my legs felt surprisingly great. I thought they’d be wobbly and worthless but I really gained some speed – finished the half climb in 4:39.
Norbert then wanted to head to the bottom for some 60 second sprints; I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. As we were wandering down, I saw a good spot without any steps so decided to do some sprints there. I could do my own thing on the mountain which seemed like a good idea. I didn’t know how long this section would take me but I was gonna give it my best shot. The first time I finished in 1:30, I turned around and ran back down then turned around and right back up again. Pushed it a bit harder time and hit 1:24, cool cut off 6 seconds. Turned around and back down and back up, really wanted to get faster again. I turned the corner and wanted to give my final push, felt like I was creeping along, I could see my finish spot and just really turned on the burners, my legs were giving it their all. My calves screaming – 1:22, super!! I was pleased with that so I started the trek back down. I got there and saw Norbert sprawled on the ground, he was totally spent. I was feeling upbeat, perky and happy, kinda wanting to do some more, haha. He told me I could do a cool down or run some more but I declined because the Danube Tower stairwell was waiting for us. A stair workout after this, we must be nuts!
I never realized what kinda tower this was until we came upon it, reminded me of the stratosphere in Vegas or space needle in seattle. A tall and skinny tower, you run inside the core of it. The new tower director was pleased to show us around and to meet me. He took us into the stairwell, showed us the different levels at the top. Norbert was familiar with the tower but this was new to me. It was awesome being welcomed with open arms considering most buildings shut their doors and refuse to let you in the stairwell. The director was off to Seattle to visit the space needle for some tall tower conference, I told him they should get a race in the needle. So he gave me his business card, told me to give him my contact info. He was going to bring it up and wanted to share any additional information with me. Sweet!
The stairwell was very dark and dirty!! You could see dirt piling on the steps and the rail. It was creepy in there; steps were metal and see through. There wasn’t much space to grab the rail since there was a fence connected to it as well; there were a few long landings to run and other spots where you’d hear a loud crash/thud as your foot pounded the ground on a turn. The floor numbers started at 60 and were decreasing, that was kinda nice. Never seen that before, meant that I could instantly tell how much until the finish and didn’t have to do the math. I started off at a comfortable pace and just kinda did my own thing. 5:22. My hands were covered in dirt by the time I finished and I was constantly wiping them during the climb, even came across a few spider webs that I had to avoid. Went for a second climb and finished in about the same time. I probably coulda cranked out a few more climbs but really didn’t wanna spend much more time in there, the darkness and dirt was getting to me, haha. I don’t think I couldn’t train in there, would leave me feeling depressed and discouraged, haha. But if it was all I had then I supposed I’d make do with it. But what a unique place. Always interesting to try out different stairwells. There’s a race there in the middle of November and I might get invited, if that’s the case guess I’d have to suck it up, ha. But it’s a bit short for me, not really my best height.
Veganism While Traveling
I try to stick to my vegan ways while traveling but at times it gets hard, I knew before leaving for Vienna (and Italy in 10 days) that I may not be able to be completely raw while in Europe and that some vegan things would be set aside but there was no way I’d eat meat – vegetarianism is not something I’m flexible with!! But vegan and raw, can be toyed with at a moment’s notice depending on my mood. I would never flat-out drink a glass of milk, have a bowl of yogurt or ice cream, nor would I eat a plate of eggs but if it’s intermingled in the ingredients then I may let it slide. I have to be flexible; otherwise I’ll go nuts and just stress myself out. I know in Italy my parents will go nuts too if I refuse to eat anything.
At Yamm, I was lucky enough that they have some raw salad options; I also tried some of the pre-made salads with beans and some roasted pumpkin which was well worth it. For breakfast in Vienna, I would just take down a banana and have a cappuccino or latte. At the cafes, I’d ask for soy and if they told me it was unavailable, then cow’s milk it was.
That night at the wine house, I ordered a sandwich, gave the meat to others and transferred the tomatoes, cucumbers to a grainy baguette and smothered it with spicy mustard! That sweet spicy mustard is another thing I really tend to like.
The next morning, I went a bit crazy with the bread again. It’s like I was making up for lost time, haha. I now remember how much I used to enjoy it and why I had to give it up, hard to control myself when I’m around it.
I’ll be home for 10 days then it’s off to Italy with my parents. I think I’ll keep the same strategy of trying to stay vegan but being flexible. I think I’ll probably try some Italian pizza, sans cheese and perhaps fresh pasta. I can’t remember the last time I had pasta, I don’t miss it the way I miss bread so we’ll see about that.
Whenever I travel, I pack plenty of snacks in case I can’t find things to eat. I’m stocked up with fruit, bars and trail mix, which can all be good alternatives and snacks. I know there will be fresh markets in Italy and I’d love to buy some veggies but might be hard to just whip up a salad while sitting at dinner with my parents in an Italian restaurant, haha.
I wanna go back…
Of all the places I’ve been, I think Vienna has now become my new favorite with Taipei in a close second. The city and atmosphere was something I thoroughly enjoyed, I would love that in the US. And the mountains are just amazingly breathtaking; Chicago is so dull and boring. I wish I lived somewhere with scenery and somewhere cool I could train, I’m stuck with the flat land and maybe some hills here and there but they’re no rival for mountain trails. I really hope I get the opportunity to return to Austria because I would go back in a heartbeat :)