Keeping A Badass Frame of Mind

8 Apr

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.


My gear from the registration table.

My gear from 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.


The Challenge. 63 stories and about 1,400 steps.

The Challenge. The AON Center. 63 stories and about 1,400 steps.


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.


The memory markers hanging near the starting line.

The memory markers hanging near the starting line.


As I passed the memory wall I noticed a group of firefighters approaching.


Heading towards the front of the building.

Heading towards the front of the building.


I was like dude … did someone pass out already? But they seemed to be walking pretty slowly to be rapidly responding to a crisis.


The rest of the crew, getting geared up for the race.

The rest of the crew, getting geared up for the race.


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.


Standing at the starting line.

Standing at the starting line.


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.


Most definitely.

Most definitely.


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?

Hell yes!

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.


One of the views from the top.

One of the views from 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.


22 Responses to “Keeping A Badass Frame of Mind”

  1. klsprout April 9, 2013 at 4:42 AM #


  2. TBM April 9, 2013 at 6:44 AM #

    Wow that’s great. And the firefighter, I can’t believe that. Army dudes with full gear walk the entire Boston Marathon. They start earlier than the runners. Can you imagine carry that much weight 26 miles. Then again, firefights and army guys have to do this stuff for their job.

    I’m proud of you an you’ve inspired me!

    • The Guat April 9, 2013 at 11:54 PM #

      Dude. No I can’t even imagine Army dudes doing that. I had no idea they did the marathon that way, but you’re right both firefighters and army do this for their jobs, which made me appreciate their jobs a little more. I swear if I had any extra weight on me like they did I’d probably be crawling up the stairs. 🙂

      Sooooooooooooo glad I inspired you! Glad I can pass on the good mojo 🙂

      • TBM April 10, 2013 at 12:05 AM #

        No way could I carry a pack or even a granola bar. When I climb the mountain in Malaysia I’m really contemplating having a Sherpa carry my bag for me. Seriously. I’m horrible.

        • The Guat April 10, 2013 at 9:52 AM #

          Hey. You do what you need to do to make it to the top.

  3. susielindau April 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM #

    Way to go Guat! I wouldn’t have thought of the claustrophobic aspect either…

    • The Guat April 9, 2013 at 11:59 PM #

      Dude I know … it was a killer. That whole enclosed space and the lack of flowing air dude … definitely a Wild Rider adventure 🙂

  4. Susana April 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM #

    You are a true bad ass VIP. You have also been upgraded to a VIP somebody:). Muchas felicidades mujer. So proud of you.

    • The Guat April 10, 2013 at 12:26 AM #

      Thanks chica! I sooooooo appreciate the VIP somebody upgrade. Thanks for stopping by and for the awesome support. 🙂

  5. 76sanfermo April 9, 2013 at 11:39 PM #

    Well done , baby! I’m proud of you!

    • The Guat April 9, 2013 at 11:59 PM #

      Thanks. It definitely felt good to stand on top of the building and check out the view.

  6. lameadventures April 10, 2013 at 6:23 PM #

    I think this is one of your best posts ever. It made me wonder if you finished and as I was reading it I kept thinking, “She has to finish,” but I was worried that the stale air and claustrophobia got to you. I appreciated the suspense. Coming in 87th out of 350 woman sure impresses me. You were in the top 25%. I am sure that many of those that came in ahead of you were probably younger and didn’t have two small-fry. For someone 37 with two kids, you probably were #1. And you made it up 1,400 steps in 18 minutes? I think that’s quite an achievement. I couldn’t do that in 18 hours. Congratulations. You’re The Woman, Guat! But if you prefer, you’re a Badass alright.

    • The Guat April 12, 2013 at 12:01 AM #

      Thanks so much, coming from you duuuuuuuuude … that really puts an extra spring in my step. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed the suspense. Yeah I almost stopped there on the 40-something floor, but I told myself if I stopped it was going to be hard to continue, so I kept going. And yes you’re right! I don’t know if those 86 chicks in front of me had two kids, or even one for that matter. The chick who finished in first place did it in eight minutes and change. Crazy! She was in the first group to go up so she had less sweaty people to impede her. Plus, I don’t think she had any kids. So yes that still makes me the Woman, baby! Thanks for the props 🙂

  7. The Hook April 12, 2013 at 6:30 AM #

    On a side note, this was one of your best posts ever!

    • The Guat April 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM #

      Thanks! It was one of the most challenging races…so glad I came through 🙂

  8. Cayman Thorn April 17, 2013 at 4:12 PM #

    You are SUCH my bad ass heroine. I knew you were gonna do this. Right from the get, I knew it. Congratulations on throwing back the obstacles and getting it done. Top o’ the world, baby!

    • susan swiderski December 9, 2013 at 6:01 AM #

      What a terrific post! The thought of the firefighters climbing those same stairs in full gear brought tears to my eyes, but YOU! You girl, are a troopers. My “kids” are older than you are, but I can’t imagine any of them completing that climb. Wait, I take that back. Our younger son used to be in Special Forces, and he might still be in good enough shape to pull it off. But YOU! You did it through raw determination. I’m glad your 37-year-old knees held up so well. My old lady legs would have been screaming after ten flights or so. (They’re very rude.)

  9. poppytump December 9, 2013 at 7:48 AM #

    Terrific ! feel out of breath reading it 😉

    • The Guat December 12, 2013 at 7:19 PM #

      Dude. It was totally crazy, but well-worth and definitely for a good cause. Got to gear up for next year.


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