Who Races Up the Empire State Building? I Did!


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Who willingly runs up the Empire State Building? Me, that’s who. It’s quite ironic considering I have an aversion to stairs. Seriously, if there is an elevator, I’m taking it. I even take the elevator to my second floor apartment. (Stop judging!)

But I love a challenge…and running up 86 flights seemed liked a pretty big one.

So I agreed to run the Empire State Building Run-Up Powered by the MMRF. My training schedule was simple: find stairs and run up them.

Work travel and life, though, got in the way, and I didn’t train as hard or as long as I wanted or needed. I did get a couple of stairwell sessions in at my friend’s 42-floor building, though. (Thanks Beck!)

After running Beck’s stairs a few times, I was sure that I could get through the first half of the Empire State Building with little problem. To my surprise, there was no “easy” part. The first seven or eight flights, which I ran at a steady pace, were a wake-up call. My legs began stinging instantly. Partly, I think, because the flights were steeper and had more stairs per flight than the ones I trained on.

So I had to switch gears, literally. I slowed my pace WAY down. By the 50th floor my butt was on fire and my legs felt like Jell-O. My chest burned, making it hard to breathe. Surprisingly, I was also very nauseous, which I now attribute to the persistent cough that worsened with each flight. Still, I kept on climbing.

When I reached the 80th floor, I felt a surge of energy, so I quickened my pace. Upon ascending that final torturous flight, I hurled my body through the door to the observation deck; a rush of cold air stung my sweaty body. I had made it! (Well sort of, I still had to run a lap around the deck before I was “officially” done, but that’s just semantics.) And honestly it was an amazing (and exhausting) experience!

The funny thing: The race is only a quarter of a mile. It was, however, the longest and most challenging quarter-mile of my life. Looking back, I don’t think anything could have really prepared me for this run. Running coach Jonathan Cane, disagrees. He said I needed better conditioning coupled with specific stair work and techniques. I guess that means I’ll be signing up again next year!

Check out this race footage from Kelly Ripa who also conquered the Empire State Building— and if you look closely you’ll see me (in the pink shirt!) running behind her at the start!

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