The smell of Ben-Gay no longer lingers in the air and my left knee is miraculously still in tact.
Wobbly and weary, but still in tact. Like the rest of me.
I felt the same heaviness in my legs. I knew the burning in my calves very well. The tightening in my chest as I tried to catch my breath was something I remembered. I was familiar with these ailments that accosted me on the 27th floor. They couldn’t even wait until I hit the half-way mark of the race. They stalked me all the way to the top of the AON Building.
I was sweating and working as hard as those athletes in a Gatorade commercial, but I sure didn’t feel like one of them. I felt like a 40 year-old mom climbing stairs. I tried listening harder, but couldn’t hear Morgan Freeman narrating my journey. All I heard was the heavy breathers trying to drown out my music.
But among all the breathing and stuffiness and claustrophobic drama of the Fight for Air Climb I remembered my sister’s words.
The old man will be waiting for you at the top.
I got a little choked up as I read the text before I started the race. I was nervous, and I really don’t get too nervous before races. But I did for this one. This one wasn’t for fun or for glory or for Bucket Lists. This one was for him. It meant something more.
She was right. He was watching, probably smiling.
So I had to make it.
No matter what.
I had to.
Nervous. Exhausted. Running out of air. Ready to stop. I was feeling it all. But the stubbornness and Guatemalan will power pushed and dragged my ass to the top of those 63 flights.
I heard the bass and boom, boom, boom of Tucanes de Tijuana, Mr. World Wide Pitbull, Venga Boys, and the Charlie Daniels Band. The rhythm took over and my body responded. The Gatorade-Commerical-Worthy Athlete was busting out of me and Morgan Freeman knew my name. As I looked up I couldn’t believe it. I saw the 60th floor sign … Dude …
I ran up those last three flights, crossed the finish line, and smiled because I had made it.
That was it.
The toughest sixteen minutes this year. But definitely worth it.