50 flights of stairs - 9:35
2.5 miles to/from building
12 mile road run
This morning I participated in a very different kind of race. Over the past month, I raised about $300 for the Fight for Air Climb, where over 700 people raced up 50 flights of stairs to the top of a Philadelphia skyscraper. The race benefits the American Lung Association, and funds research for diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema, COPD, and asthma.
Site of the climb - building on the left, 3 Logan Square
I arrived at about 8:15 AM to pickup my bib and shoe tag timing chip. I was a bit groggy and dehydrated from the previous night's activities (ahem, drowning my sorrows in IPA's after Villanova lost to UNC AGAIN), but my short run to Center City woke me up a bit.
The atmosphere was reminiscent of a charity 5k, with people congregating in large groups with names of lost loved ones printed on their brightly colored t-shirts. Since I signed up as an individual, I missed that comradery a bit, but I still chatted with random climbers while I waited patiently for my section to be called.
I filled out my own sticker that I wore on my back during the race, honoring my grandfathers, who both passed away from lung disease (cancer and emphysema, respectively.) I'll never forget my grandfathers, but I hope by supporting causes like this, I'm helping to find cures for the diseases that took their lives.
The other person I ran this race for was myself, though I did not write that on the sticker. Since discovering I had exercise-induced asthma about a year ago, I've experienced many ups and downs in my running life. I recall the runs I struggled through just a year ago, when it seemed like my lungs were underwater, and breathing felt like trying to drink a too-thick milkshake through a skinny coffee stirrer. Several of those runs ended in tears, wondering what was wrong with me, and how a marathon finisher could have so much trouble breathing normally.
Though I have my asthma under control now with the help of my doctor and several medications, I still have trouble breathing while running in the heat and humidity. There's no way I could ever compare my struggles to the ones of those who have cancer or emphysema, but they have certainly helped me put things into perspective and never take a run for granted.
View from the Top of the Tower
The climb itself was definitely harder than I expected it to be. I ran the first three flights and quickly realized I'd never finish if I continued running it. It kind of reminded me of long trail running, where you pick your battles and choose which hills you're going to run, and which ones you're going to walk. I kept up a very brisk pace for the remainder of the race, and ended with a final time of 9:35. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my time was good enough to place me 5th in my age group, 8th overall woman, and 82nd finisher overall.
Overall, I loved this race. I will definitely be doing it again next year, and hopefully I'll organize a team to raise more money for the fight against lung disease. The ALA holds these climbs in cities all over the country, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is physically active as a fun challenge for a great cause.