New Personal Record (PR) for a 94-story stair climbing event; surpassing timing at 2011′s Hustle Up the Hancock, by 4 seconds.
18:49 official timing for the event; 5th Consecutive PR for the event; 1st event PR for 2012; 28th event PR since 2007.
In October, 2007 a colleague came to me with an idea for our company to participate in a stair climbing competition at the 94-story John Hancock Center.
I couldn’t wrap my head around such an “idea” that day and thought about it overnight, giving the employee the greenlight to sign us up for 2008′s competition and have participated in the event ever since.
However, it wasn’t an instant love affair, as climbing stairs is much different than running on flat ground. But I stuck with it and pared nearly 10 minutes off my 2009 timing for the event in 2010 and 2011.
So hopes were high as I arrived at the Hancock Center on Sunday morning, but I worked hard to “keep things real” with my training and preparation over the past month; slowly chipping away at my timing and not peaking in training, like I did before several events in 2011.
It turned out that the “keepin’ it real” approach was the most prudent strategy today as the event unfolded.
Compared to the terrified “Fat Brian” of 2009, I was ready to “get it on” today, so ready that the event volunteer had to grab me before I prematurely activated my timing chip for the event.
Shortly afterward, the volunteer released me and I hit the stairs, blasting past the event photographer and not posing for the second year in a row. However, I overheard the photographer tell her colleague that she captured a “good shot” of me. We’ll know if she’s right when they release those images in the coming days.
I made strong progress during the early floors, hitting the 20th floor around the 4-minute mark and passing several slower climbers.
There was a martial artist instructor who was in line behind me, participating in his first Hancock, who surprisingly caught me around the 10th floor and stuck with me like glue until the 35th floor, until he started to fade.
At this point of the climb, a strong climber with the largest calves I’ve ever seen, blasted past me. This “middle portion” of the event ( floors 35 to 70) was challenging as lactic acid built up in my legs and my timing started to fade.
However, the real wake up call was at the 54th floor which I reached around the 10:30 timing mark, where you know you have 40 floors to go, your legs are burning, and a little more than 8 minutes before you lose an opportunity to PR or improve upon last year’s timing.
So you start to “dig in,” maintain a consistent cadence, and strategically pass slower climbers.
The “dig in” strategy worked well and ate up more floors, but I was shocked when another strong climber passed me on the 75th floor. In 2011, only one climber passed me during the entire event, so to have 2 climbers pass me was a bit of a bummer, but that’s life. I’m certain that the 3 dozen climbers I passed today, weren’t happy to see me either. :o)
By the 83rd floor, I started to make my “push” to close the event, but had a difficult time passing a strong climber who hogged the left hand side of the stairwell, (the prime climbing position) as well as slower climbers hugging the railing on the right.
I frustratingly put up with this bottleneck for 4 more floors until the 87th floor, when I made a move to the middle of the stairwell, and tripped, only avoiding injuring myself by catching my fall with my left hand.
However, my “trip move” worked as slower climbers on the right yielded way and I passed the left-sided climber in the closing stages of the event.
When I reached the event’s top floor, there was absolutely no time to pose for the event photographer stationed in the doorway as there were only seconds left for me to secure a PR for the event.
So I sprinted past the photographer, crossed the timing strip, and waited for the event’s announcer to call my name.
It was officially over; 2012′s Hustle Up The Hancock was now for the ages.
I had higher hopes outcome-wise before today’s competition, but I was much more “event hardened” by this time in 2011, having competed in 2 half marathons, and the brutal Austin Marathon a week before last year’s Hancock. So to improve on last year’s performance is nothing to sneeze at.
I’m also proud of how I “stayed with it” during the Hancock’s challenging middle floors and kept my composure and sense of humor when I did the “87″ today.
So here we go, event number one for 2012 is on the books, with a shiny new PR to show for it.
Not so bad; not so bad.
Today’s event benefitted the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago; marking the 15th anniversary of Hustle Up The Hancock and raising more than $1.03 million for research, local advocacy, and community programs in Greater Chicagoland.
Brian Adkins is a Chicago-based runner, marathoner, endurance athlete, writer, editor, essayist, and independent scholar. You can contact Brian at: email@example.com