Just when I thought I was badass, The Fight For Air Climb made me think again.
I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t think it would be so challenging. I thought I had trained for this. I was Rocky Balboa for about two months and I thought I was ready. I stormed bleachers and stairs and thought my Hulk Hogan-like quads were sculpted enough and ready to take on the 1,400 steps waiting for me.
Yeah … I thought. That was the problem right there …
I mean the morning started off all right, just a few jitters at the registration table.
But when I saw my t-shirt I laughed. I knew I was in the right place. I was still in my badass frame of mind. I mean you’d have to think you were a badass to climb this monster.
And so I remained in this state for most of the morning. However, I did have some help. The DJ pumped up the crowd with a few tunes and everyone was excited for the climb to start. Then I noticed the memory wall — names of people being honored during the climb — and I saw my dad’s name and it gave me an extra boost. It reminded me that this was more than just another BenGay moment.
As I passed the memory wall I noticed a group of firefighters approaching.
I was like dude … did someone pass out already? But they seemed to be walking pretty slowly to be rapidly responding to a crisis.
No. No crisis. They happen to be walking to the starting line to join the multitude of elite climbers designated to go first. Apparently these firefighters were also participating in the race, however they were not wearing t-shirt, and shorts attire. They were in full-on firefighter gear. I really thought I was badass, but this … this seem to put me in the minor leagues. I couldn’t imagine climbing with all that extra weight. I could barely climb with an iPod. But I was here, and I was going to finish no matter what league I was in.
In truth, I thought I was going to do well. As always I watched clips from Miracle, Rudy, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, Rocky, Glory Road, The Natural, Invincible, and Breaking Away. I listened to inspirational coach speeches. I thought I had prepared, both physically and mentally. I’m a nerd I always prepare. I reached the starting line, got the countdown, and took off. I thought … I got this.
Uh … think again. When I reached the eighth floor. Something happened, and I had to think back to my training.
There I was in the outdoors storming the bleachers of the local high school and community college stadium, working up a sweat after about forty minutes and thinking … I can do this. But there was only one problem … I was outdoors, breathing fresh air. Fresh being the key word here. So I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier. I guess I should have known that fresh air, or fake air for that matter, does not circulate in skyscraper stairwells. It does not.
You know what does circulate?
Sweat, smell, and claustrophobia. Yeah … it spreads itself up and down those 63 stories, crop-dusting itself all over, in every nook and cranny. I couldn’t understand why my legs felt heavy after only twelve stories. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t storm these steps two at a time, like a real athlete, like I had during my training. I couldn’t understand why I got so tired so early and why my heart was beating so quickly.
And then it hit me. I was learning this lesson the hard way.
Oxygen. Pinche lack oxygen.
I was in the American Lung Association‘s Fight For Air Climb and I was literally fighting for air. This is when my fake running began. You know when you’re running at the park or track and you see some chick or dude half-assing it. They’re running in slow motion, it’s not even jogging. It’s slower than jogging, but they think they are actually sprinting because they’re pumping their arms and bobbing their head up and down. They’re going at the speed of walk. Yeah … that was me. I had become the half-ass chick because there was not enough oxygen and everyone around me was feeling it. We were in full-blown hypoxia mode.
Thank God they opened a few doors on various levels, and thank God for the high school volunteers trying to fan me with signs. That definitely helped boost my energy level a bit. And then just when I thought I was getting closer I looked up and saw the sign. I had barely cleared the 24th floor.
Holy crap. This climb was definitely going to kick my ass.
But I didn’t want to stop, so I grabbed hold of the handrail and kept climbing. Once I hit the halfway mark I just stopped looking at the signs. I hated the fact that I was climbing so many steps only to realize that I had gone up a few flights. All I wanted to see was the 60th floor approaching, but I was so far off. This floor countdown was not cool, so I just tried to avoid the signs.
But, did I make it to the top without crawling, without hanging on the stairs for dear life, or without throwing up like many of my fellow climbers?
I rose to the top. I did it by any means necessary. Mostly jogging, the running had stopped at the eighth floor. But there was some dancing as I passed by my fellow climbers. I fought through the lack of oxygen and smelly hallways to finish in 87th place out of 350 chicks. It may not seem fantastic, but it was good for me.
So thank you Double Dutch Bus, thank you Mr. World Wide Pitbull Don’t Stop The Party, thank you Devil Went Down to Georgia, thank you Eye of The Tiger, thank you Michael Jackson’s Mama-Say-Mama-Sah Ma-Ma-Coo-Sah. You came through for me once I reached the 40th floor. But most of all thank you Tucanes de Tijiuana because La Chona helped me run my way to the top.
63 Stories. 1,400 stairs. I clocked in at 18.41.
Surprisingly there was no BenGay this time, maybe it was because of the VIP sports massage I got after I finished the climb. However, there was plenty of ice for my weary 37-year old knees.
But the question remains … Still, badass?
Yes. Hell yes! Most definitely.