Later winter/early spring race recap megamix

Unfortunately for me, I’ve had a few not-so-awesome personal shakeups in my life that have sort of sapped my interest in keeping up with this blog. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been training or racing. On the contrary — I’ve definitely been keeping up with those things. In fact, fitness and racing have played a role in keeping me sane through all of this.

However, as the dust is now settling, I feel the need to play a little bit of catch-up with things here.

I’ve actually even updated my results page! That goes for my upcoming race schedule widget on the side of this page (web only, I think?), too!

Quick note about that: June is a busy racing month for me. They’re all short, intense races, too, including a one-week span where I’ll be competing in three races — Fight For Air Climb Miami (yes, Florida) this upcoming Saturday, June 6; The WISCO Mile on Wednesday, June 10; and the Walleye Weekend (Fond du Lac) Reporter Mini-Run (2 miles) on Saturday, June 13. I round June out with the ever-challenging Schlitz Park Miler on Tuesday, June 23. Beyond that, I’m not registered for anything. I’m leaning toward the 2-mile race at the New Berlin National Dash on Thursday, July 2, but I’m not sure yet. After that, I have a few different options of things for July and August. I’ll probably figure those races out as I nail down my summer plans.

Okay, on to the recaps!

ALA Fight For Air Climb Detroit
GM Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI
70 stories, 1,035 steps
Date: 03/01/15
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Finish: 8:17
Overall: 17/938
Gender: 16/336
Age: 8/92

I vastly underestimated this race. This race tends to draw only locals, and no one I know from “the stair climbing circuit” has done this race. I saw that the step count was roughly the same as that of Milwaukee, even though it’s a 70-story climb. And from what I understood, each floor was a flight (for most buildings each floor is two flights), which meant less turning.

All that said, I expected to finish closer to the 7 minute mark, since that’s what I’m at in Milwaukee, and possibly challenge to win the race (based on previous years’ finishing times). My expectations were WAAAAAY off.

What I learned here — or, rather, learned AGAIN — was not to have expectations at a building I’ve never climbed before.

If I were try to guess my time beforehand, firstly, I should’ve looked at building height, not the number of floors or stairs. The building is about 100 feet taller than Milwaukee. Additionally, the railings didn’t wrap around from floor to floor, and the stairwell walls went all the all the way up; it was not conducive to quick, efficient turns. It was also a pretty dry stairwell — one of the drier ones I’ve climbed in.

I had a pacing plan I was trying to stick to, but thanks to the rougher conditions and my false expectations, I ended up burning out roughly halfway through the climb. It might have been one of my worst stair racing experiences. That said, I’d love to do this race again some time now that I know what to expect.

ALA Fight For Air Climb Chicago
Presidential Towers, Chicago, IL
Four towers: 45 stories, 585 steps each
Date: 03/08/15
Time: 7:00 a.m.
Finish: 21:36 (4:49, 5:28, 5:52, 5:27)
Overall: 27/1,119
Gender: 25/529
Age: 10/157

With the general idea of “finishing faster than last year,” I had two specific goals for this race: 1. Finish my first climb sub-5 (I didn’t finish any sub-5 last year), and 2. Finish all four climbs in a total faster time than last year.

I got my sub-5 for my first climb, which I was very happy with, but beyond that I somehow managed to TIE my exact time from last year. I’m not sure what the odds are that I would complete four separate climbs in a time totaling the exact amount it took me to complete those same four other separate climbs one year earlier, but that’s what I did.

I can’t say whether it was a pacing issue, a fitness issue, or something else. In any case, I did manage to finish four places higher than I did the prior year, so if we’re grading on a curve, maybe I improved over last year?

This is one of my favorite stair races. Unlike most climbs, there are no windows at the top to see down, but I really like powering up four short buildings in consecutive order. With proper rest breaks between buildings, of course.

ALA Fight For Air Climb Milwaukee

US Bank Center, Milwaukee, WI
47 stories, 1,034 steps*
Date: 03/21/15
Time: 7:00 a.m.
Finish: 6:55
Overall: 10/2,729
Gender: 9/1,200
Age: 6/329

(*other counts list this building at approximately 985 steps)

This race was my big race of the stair season, as it’s not only home turf, but the building I’ve raced the most. I’ve been gunning to go sub-7 for the past few climbs here, with my most recent prior to this clocking in at 7:02.

I registered for the power hour for this race (climb as many times as you can in an hour), but I honestly didn’t care about my power hour performance. I could pace myself and climb a bunch of even-tempo climbs, or I could go all out for sub-7 and then just climb as many times as my body would let me afterward.

I opted for the latter. And I PR’d with my long-strived-for sub-7. I thought I could finish even faster, but I’m perfectly pleased with my 6:55. Of course, I’d like to build on that moving forward, especially the power hour portion. If I can stay sub-7 for my first climb, but drop my subsequent times (10:16, 9:05, 9:13, 9:43) to below 9, and squeeze in one more total climb, that would be ideal.

This race was also the first race for the team I set up for the competitive stair climbing club I’ve been working on. We had a lot of pretty quick climbers on our team, including the reigning two-time single climb champion. He won again with a 5:12, which set an event record, and was the 8th fastest climb in building history. Our team’s average time (thanks in great part because of his ridiculous time), which reflects our top five fastest climbers, was 7:00-flat, which destroyed the event’s team record.

Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K
Veteran’s Park, Milwaukee, WI
Date: 04/26/15
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Finish: 20:59
Overall: 12/1,174
Gender: 9/299
Age: 2/51

This had been my target race for some time. My goal was to go sub-20. As it always is.

While I’d been climbing in stair races most of late winter, I’d still been training for this. That’s not to mention that stair climbing doesn’t exactly diminish fitness.

However, this race came at a time when my personal shakeups were at their peak. One of those shakeups was that I was moving, and for the couple days prior, I’d been doing a lot of lifting and carrying, which didn’t necessarily feel like it was spending my legs, but I’m sure it had an impact.

The morning of the race I also ran into a construction detour downtown that set me back about 10 minutes, which forced me not only to be pushing it close to the start time, but then I also drove around looking for a place to park longer than I wanted, and ended up parking farther out. I didn’t get a proper warmup, and I was approaching the start area right as the race gun went off. And I still needed to hit the port-o-potty.

I tried to calm myself, knowing I was too late to get in the first start wave (8:00-min mile & faster) and I couldn’t do anything about it. So I hit the port-o-potty really quick, and then skipped over to the start line and cut in near the start of the third start wave, which had just been given the go-ahead to commence racing.

All I’m saying is if the first start wave had a cutoff of an 8-minute per mile pace, what in the world was the standard for the THIRD start wave??? I dropped pretty much everyone in that start wave immediately, and then spent roughly my entire first mile weaving through traffic to pass everyone in the second start wave.

I don’t really remember much beyond that, other than I was pretty spent halfway through the second mile and didn’t rebound until well into the third mile. I tried finishing strong, and I definitely felt it for a good few minutes afterward. But then I had drive back home to go finish moving.

* * * * *

Hopefully now that the dust has settled decent bit with these personal things, I can get more back into the swing of things and return to the enjoyment of these fitness pursuits, rather than relying on them to simply keep me in a routine and keep me distracted.

After all, I do have a bunch of really exciting races coming up.

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One comment

  1. i think it’s important to try and stay focused on your fitness as a point of joy not necessarily distraction. it should add to your life if you know what i’m sayin’… i think you do. i’m glad that your stressors have calmed down and you are feeling better over all mentally/emotionally. let me know when you want to hit the trails. i get the feeling you might really enjoy it.

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