I’m headed off to Denver this weekend, for my next stair race. I’m getting excited… and nervous. It’s in the 56-story Republic Plaza:
The race ends on the 53rd floor… but starts two stories down, in the basement… but the lobby is twice as tall as the other floors… and I don’t know if there’s a 13th floor or not… so I’m not sure of the exact floor count. It’s a lot. And in the tallest building in Colorado. And there’s one big secret that I haven’t shared with you about this race… UNTIL NOW!
Most stair races are a one-time ascent: you start at the bottom and climb until you reach the finish line at the top. Some stair races are multi-climbs, where you climb a set number of times, taking the elevator back down in between, and taking as long a break as needed. (My recent races in Seattle and Portland are examples, as is the Dallas race I did last year.)
The Denver race is something different altogether: They call it the Ultimate Climb, and the goal is to climb as many times as possible in 60 minutes. Nonstop climbing, folks – minus the couple minutes it takes to ride the elevator down.
These types of races are sometimes called Power Hours, and man oh man, they are tough. I’ve only done one before, nearly two years ago. It was the San Diego TOWERthon, where we had two hours to climb a 20-story building as many times as possible. I did 17 climbs and burst into tears afterwards. It was the hardest physical challenge of my life, and a huge source of pride.
I expect this race to be just as challenging. Sure, it’s only one hour, as opposed to two, but the building is 2.5 times as tall as the one in San Diego. It’s a different challenge.
Plus, after the Ultimate Climb is over, there’s a second event: a one-time race to the top. I’m doing that too. It’s gonna be a long morning!
Plus, it’s a high-altitude race. Denver is a mile above see-level, and it’s harder for your lungs to pull in oxygen at higher altitudes. That’s why I’ve been going bonkers training with my elevation training mask. It makes me look creepy, sure, but it replicates the struggle to breath that I will likely experience.
I started training with the mask on New Year’s Eve Day at the mask’s lowest setting: 3,000 feet. Since then, I’ve been systematically bumping it up every few weeks:
- Dec. 31: 3,000 feet.
- Jan. 11: 6,000 feet.
- Jan. 26: 9,000 feet.
- Feb. 7: 12,000 feet.
I don’t wear the mask for every workout, but I use it a few times a week, and for all intense cardio, and I feel the difference and impact. Breathing is much tougher. I’m familiar with it at this point, though, which was my goal. Exercising with the mask will never be easy, but knowing what that struggle to breath is like, and powering through it – that’s what I want to practice. That’s why I’ve been pushing myself to use it set at higher altitude settings than what I’d need for Denver. If I can push myself to keep going with the mask at 12,000 feet, than climbing at 5,000 feet in real life shouldn’t (hopefully) be too bad!
There’s one more aspect of the Denver race that I’m super excited for, but I’m keeping my big mouth shut for now. All will be revealed in my Race Recap – so look for that next week!
I also wanted to share a fundraising update: You guys are rock stars. Last month, I shared links to my fundraising pages for 7 upcoming races, and within a day or two, your donations pushed me past my goals in all but two of them! GRACIAS!
Then, this week, you pushed me way past my goals for the final two! I’m all done asking for money… for now… until I sign up for more races!
On a completely unrelated note, a few days ago I dressed up all nice and volunteered at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s annual gala. It was held at the gorgeous Millenium Biltmore Hotel downtown, which is over 100 years old, hosted the Academy Awards in the ’30s and ’40s and the 1960 Democratic National Convention, and has been featured in dozens of movies and TV shows. Lots of history in that building! Here I am in my dapper duds:
And a selfie:
That room, by the way, was one of four that was used during the gala, and it totally reminded of every room ever shown on “The Bachelor.”
I clean up nice!
Keep it up, David!