Check this out: It’s my first-ever FIRST PLACE MEDAL!
I won first place among men aged 40-49 at the Gift of Adoption Michigan Stair Climb in Southfield, Michigan on Saturday, and it was a total surprise when they called my name during the awards ceremony. I was already on cloud nine, having finished my 40th and final race of the year just minutes before, and being handed that medal was the ultimate icing on the cake. I’ve only made it to the podium at a stair race once before, at the Steeltown Stair Climb earlier this month, and I finished in third place there. But this was a first place medal. FIRST PLACE!
But now that I’ve spoiled the ending, let’s go back to the beginning. The Gift of Adoption Michigan Stair Climb is a young race. This is only the third year they’ve put it on, and the first year that they’ve made it competitive. (The first two years were casual climbs, where climbers weren’t timed.)
The race is held at 2000 Town Center, a 28-story tower that’s only about 20 minutes from my house. I’ve known this building my whole life. When I was a young boy, my dad’s office used to be in a much, much shorter building in the same huge complex.
It was a treat to finally have the opportunity to climb it! You could register for a one-time climb, or the Power Hour, where you climb the building as many times as you can (stairs up, elevator down) in one hour. Of course I signed up for the Power Hour – I always sign up for as many stairs as possible!
My bib was good ol’ lucky number 907. I loved the expansive, lush atrium in the lobby, since it was so green, and it was was cold and gray outside.
I knew a handful of friends at the race, some of whom travelled from other states, but I also one of a large group of 13 folks from my office, which was ridiculously awesome. None of them had done a stair race before, and were excited to try something new.
They used two different stairwells – the one-time climbers in one, and Power Hour climbers in the other. I really liked the stairwell. The entrance was tucked away in a back hallway, and while the first few flights were a little erratic, the stairs soon settled into an easy pattern of 10 steps per flight, with all left turns, all the way up. It was great for racing. There were a couple random flights that were carpeted, but the rest of it was concrete.
Climbers started ten seconds apart. The whole strategy behind a Power Hour is to pace yourself. There’s an hour of stairs in front of you, and you don’t want to run through all your fuel in the first ten minutes.
My objective was simple: keep climbing. I didn’t set lofty goals, because the first 39 races of the year wore me out, and I hadn’t been exercising as much as usual during the past month.
The first climb felt really good. I didn’t look at my watch, but I knew I was making good time, because I had only gone through one and a half songs on my playlist. There were volunteers on the 28th floor, holding elevators so Power Hour climbers didn’t have to wait, and soon, I was walking through the lobby to start my second climb.
I managed to get an elevator to myself after my second climb.
I found myself climbing in tandem with my friend Chris, who had came in from Wisconsin. We were pretty evenly matched, speed wise, as we spent most of the rest of the race near each other. Having him right behind me pushed me just a little bit further, and he told me that chasing me kept him moving, too.
Here’s Chris, directly behind me in an elevator, along with Chelsea, Alex, Evan, and Laura. This is after my fourth or fifth climb:
They had water at the top and bottom, and a laundry hamper filled with water bottles on the landing on the 14th floor. I drank water a couple times at the bottom, taking a bottle from a volunteer just outside the elevator, and chugging it as I walked the 60 or 80 feet to the entrance of the stairs.
Most of the hour was a blur. The stairwell is monotonous and repetitive. I tried to double step as much as possible, which was easier towards the beginning than it was at the end. I always cheered on faster climbers as they passed me, and cheered on slower climbers as I passed them. I realize more and more, with every passing race, how important this is to me – forcing myself to be outwardly positive to others helps keep my own mindset in a positive place. I need that help – because the sweat, pain, and exhaustion that a hour-long stair race brings can be pretty miserable.
After 51 minutes of racing, I entered the stairwell for the seventh time. I was achy and tired, but knew I had more to give. I knew I would probably finish the climb close to the 60-minute mark, and decided that I would throw in the towel and call it a day. I crossed the finish line at the top, staggered down the hallway, and collapsed, face-first, on the carpet.
After catching my breath and giving my muscles a much-earned break, I looked at my watch and realized I had stopped it at 58:08. The race rules say that if a climber enters the stairwell before their hour is up, they can finish that climb, and it will count towards their total. With nearly two minutes left on the clock, I totally had time to make my way down to the lobby and start an eighth climb. But I didn’t. And, if I’m being honest, there’s a part of me that’s kicking myself for calling it quits early.
But there’s a much bigger part of me that doesn’t care at all. I had done it. Not only had I climbed stairs for 58 minutes, but I had finished my #40years40races challenge. It was all over!
I pulled myself to my feet, and, as I did so, I glanced down the hall and saw a friend exit the stairwell and promptly barf all over the floor. I won’t embarrass them by mentioning them by name. The only other person up there at the time was a guy from the timing company, who was tracking bib numbers, so I went to the men’s room, grabbed a stack of paper towels, and started cleaning it up. My friend went and sat down, and a few minutes later was feeling fine.
The view from the top of 2000 Town Center was… well, I assume it’s impressive, but I have no idea, because we didn’t have access to a window. The view is back there, on the other side of this conference room!
Let’s crunch some numbers! I climbed 2000 Town Center seven times. That’s 196 total stories and 3,885 total steps! Here are the splits for my climbs:
- Climb 1: 5:18
- Climb 2: 6:47
- Climb 3: 7:19
- Climb 4: 7:53
- Climb 5: 7:16
- Climb 6: 8:16
- Climb 7: 7:28
Add up my climbs, and I spent 50:27 in the stairwell, and another 7 minutes, 41 seconds in the elevators and walking through the lobby to the entrance.
The official results say I did a 8th climb, and I did it in under 2 minutes. That’s inaccurate. I think my timing chip must’ve triggered the sensors when I was cleaning up the barf, which was just a couple feet from the sensor.
Interestingly enough, my first place medal was not for the Power Hour. They took the split from every Power Hour climber’s first climb, and incorporated them into the results of the one-time climb. So, my first climb, which I finished in five minutes, eighteen seconds, was the fastest first climb of any male aged 40-49. Pretty cool!
I was one of four people from my big office group to walk away with medals. Lauren and Chelsea also won age group medals, and Ross, with a staggering 11 climbs, won third overall. Whoa!
That’s a wrap, folks! I’m excited, relieved and incredibly proud that I reached my goal and my #40years40races challenge is over. You better believe that I’ve been compiling statistics on all these races, and the numbers are ridiculously mind-blowing. I’m going to share everything in an upcoming post. Look for it after Thanksgiving!
Now that my 2019 races are over, I’m going to take a break… and then I get to start researching and putting together my 2020 race calendar!
Keep it up, David!
Huge thanks to my parents, as well as Jeff, Jen, Linda, and two anonymous donors, all of whom donated to Gift of Adoption on my behalf. It’s an organization that helps build families by paying for the fees and costs associated with adoption. They reported that the money raised at this event will pay for three children to be adopted into families, and that’s incredible. Thank you everyone for your support!
Follow me! I’m @keepitupdavid on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There’s also a “Sign Me Up” box on this page (at the top of the right-hand column) where you can subscribe to receive new posts via email!