Tag Archives: Fight For Air Climb

Emptying Out The Tank …

10 Apr

Now I know you’re aware that I’m not the greatest morning person, I lived with that my whole life, but climbing 63 stories in the evening wasn’t something I had in mind, especially after a 7 a.m. hockey game, 10 am Jesus class, a two-hour-visit to the school carnival, and two-hour baseball game.

Nope. Not what I envisioned.

However, the Powers That Be at the American Lung Association thought it would be an awesome idea to scale Los Angeles’s second tallest building just in time to see the sunset. You know … during epic traffic encounters on the 101, 5, and 110 freeways.

They thought that after the exhaustion of scaling 1,039 steps in claustrophobic environment with close to 500 people the skyline would be one to remember.

They thought that because it was my fifth trip to the top of the AON Center that it would be a laid-back workout, that I knew what I was doing.

Whoever said, “it’s just like riding a bicycle,” never stair climbed in his life. Like. Ever. Let me tell you, scaling this monster for the fifth year in a row was not easier the fifth time. It’s never easy. I still felt just as suffocated in the enclosed stairwells as I did the first time around. I still felt my calves burning and my knees aching by the 27th floor. I still tried to not look up at the signs because 63 stories seemed so far away when I was still on the 31st floor. I still thought those volunteers with pom-poms were lying to me when they said, “you’re almost there, you’re almost there” because they were, well everyone was lying except for that chick on the 61st floor. I still felt like I was going in slow motion as it became harder and harder to breathe. I still felt all the heaviness, and weariness of every nook and cranny of my Ben-Gay-Icy-Hot loving 41-year old muscles. I felt it all with every step and every breath.

But one thing kept me going.

One.

I kept seeing my hands hold his hands at the hospital. I kept thinking I was the last one to talk to him before surgery and the last one to see him before he passed away. I kept seeing moments from my childhood sporting awesome polyester bell bottoms and moments from adulthood where talks and laughter surrounded us. I saw them all, and just when the exhaustion of the 45th floor hit me, when I thought I was losing the pictures in my mind I saw the poster. There it was taped on the stairwell, a picture of my Dad, my sister and me, “Why We Climb”.

Yup.

That was all I needed to pull whatever reserve I had remaining in the tank, and I pushed passed the I’m-gonna-pass-out-right-now-feeling. I ran by the people sitting on stairwells, clinging onto bannisters for dear life, and standing at the last water station.  I saw number 61 and pulled the Ninja-Warrior-Gatorade-Commercial-Worthy athlete out and stormed up those last steps.

I hit the roof running and the burst oxygen filled up my lungs as I stepped outside. I raised my hands up like Rocky and put my finger up to the sky. I got there in 16 minutes and 16 seconds and 16 seconds.

They thought the sunset would be a memorable one …

IMG_7832

🙂

They were right. I still remember it.

 

 

The Countdown Has Begun!

27 Mar

10 Days!

The countdown is on and my Randy Macho Man Savage quads are preparing for this battle. Don’t know if my calves are ready though. But the rest of my body seems to think that I’ve got this.

In 10 days, my vitamin-D-deficient-but-glucosamine-fueled body will be sprinting, running, jogging, walking and then crawling up 63 stories,  along with hundreds of other sweaty and out of breath climbers in claustrophobic conditions to help raise money for the American Lung Association.

But why?!

Why does this insanity take place?

I’m not a morning person.

But I see his smiling face under a Dodgers hat, I hear his hearty laugh, and I smell that Jovan Musk aftershave in the hallways … and I wake up with purpose. I wake up ready to run stairs. And what kind of elevator-loving-stair-hating person does that?! What kind of person with BenGay-Advil-Ice-Pack-loving knees laces up her Saucony running shoes to storm high school bleachers or winding staircases hidden in the hills, instead of hitting the snooze button?

 

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Me … I do it … because he’s worth it.

63 stories.

Yup.

He’s worth the trip to the anti-aging aisle at CVS.

Every year I still bake the cake, even though he’s not gonna blow out the birthday candles. Every year I tell the story of why they call him Chito 7 Pantalones. Every year I replay the messages left on my answering machine just to hear his voice again. Every year I decide to make the excruciatingly difficult journey up 63 stories, painfully possible. Every year I go in believing I’m Lindsey Wagner, putting my bionic knee to the test, climbing over 1,000 steps just for him. Every year I finish knowing full well I have nothing bionic in me.

But every year I do it because I am my father’s daughter and his spirit is still with me.

It’s with me on skydiving adventurous or beach bum days, it’s there on the passenger seat when I’m hearing that feel-good song, it’s  with me when I’m chasing dreams, and when I’m trying to be a better parent. He’s there in one of his many baseball caps that I wear with a smile, he’s my TV buddy when I’m watching The Walking Dead, Peaky Blinders, or Narcos. He’s there high-fiving me when SC wins, and he’s also a member of my Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Support Group.

He’s there when I’m climbing stairs.

I got 10 days.

The countdown is on.

 

 

Morgan Freeman Knew My Name

18 Apr

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.

Bastards.

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.

16:28.

That was it.

The toughest sixteen minutes this year. But definitely worth it.

 

 

 

Yup … It’s Worth It

2 Apr
Duuuuuuuude. There is a lot you do for the people you love.
Travel, sacrifice, work, fundraisers, sleep …the list goes on and on.
For me?
It’s stairs.
I’ll be taking the stairs. And in fact, I hate stairs, I hate the StairMaster. It produces nothing but pain. I hate whoever invented it. They should be thrown off a cliff. I’m more of an elevator enthusiast.
So it might sound strange to say that in two weeks I’m going to be scaling 63 stories 1,391 steps. The Ben-Gay and ice pack will be waiting for me.
In two weeks  it’s gonna happen … It’ll be claustrophobic. I won’t be able to catch my breath. My muscles won’t be getting enough oxygen, and I’ll feel like I need an EKG. And it will only be the 37th floor.
Everything in me is gonna be like … duuuuuuuude you need to stop. The music is not even helping. This isn’t funny. Every muscle in my body that thought it was 20 years old is gonna be like, ‘C’mon now, stop playing these games, you’re 40, this is what 40 feels like.’ My left knee will be aching and my calves will be ready to give out, just hoping for an Achilles Tendon mishap. Every part of my body will be asking … is it worth it?
I’ll close my eyes and see my Dad …
Dad

My Dad … talking about dreams … me trying to listen.

My best bud, and the Wingman to my dreams …
Yeah, he’s worth it.
I’d do anything to get him back. So I do this in his memory. I do this for him. I do this to help find a cure. I do this so that someone else won’t lose their Dad.
Yup.  It’s worth it.
In about 15 days I’ll be one of the masses, climbing to the top of the AON Building in Downtown Los Angeles participating in The American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb to honor my pops.
My yearly ritual to honor the man who rooted for the underdog, who believed in random acts of kindness, who paid it forward, who carried my pictures in his wallet and my Father’s Day cards in his briefcase,who loved his family and sacrificed so that we could have a better life.
Yup. My body will be in desperate need of Ben Gay, and my knees will be out of commission but he’s worth it.
Buen Camino, my friends.

 

It Was Definitely On … Definitely Exhausting … But Definitely Guatacular

15 Apr

I needed a minute.

I actually needed a minute, when it was over. And that’s never really happened.

You know the minute right after your Rocky Balboa moment when you raise your hands in the air victoriously, right after step 1,393, right after your picture gets taken, right after the you-can-do-it adrenaline wears off and the volunteer guy hands you a bottle of water that you so desperately require and it feels so heavy, reminding you that your superpowers to climb stairs in claustrophobic spaces was only temporary.

Yeah … I needed a minute.

1,393 steps.

I needed a couple, actually.

And the reason why?

The 58th floor … followed by the 59th.

They seemed so close to 60, which seemed even closer to 63, and that seemed to fuel the fire. I began pushing even though my gas tank was clearly on empty and my calves were burning up. They were on fire and suffering from I’m-getting-close-to-40 syndrome, but all I could see was the finish line.

Then I hit the deadly 61st floor, and I thought I was about to pass out and just crawl my way up the stairs, because at that point you’re thinking there’s no shame in crawling really.

But no … I decided to do it the badass way … the Gatorade-Commerical worthy way. I raised the volume on the iPod, and I thought of my Dad and said you can do it!

The deadly 61st floor ignited something in me, something that should have just stayed dormant that late in the race, something that would eventually take out the ice packs from the freezer and empty out the BenGay jar later that evening. The I’m-almost-done-I’m-almost-there feeling bubbled inside, the-I’m-doing-this-for-my-Dad feeling kicked in, and then it was on.

There was no stopping me or my weary broken-down knees.

It was on.

The 73-year-old IronMan Champion looking dude, whose name I later found out to be Aaron Asher, was pushing his way up the stairs and gaining on me like some kind of Terminator.

I thought Holy Crap … it’s definitely on.

I pushed my way to the top and raised my arms to the sky …

And then I took my minute, several of them. Something that hadn’t happened in previous races. But something quite necessary and I didn’t want to be the only one to pass out on the rooftop, so I slowly drank my water and appreciated the view of Downtown L.A.

I thought … even Superman needed a minute.

I clocked in at 16:54.

63 stories in less than 17 minutes to honor my father, the man who thought I’d be somebody, the man who supported me and my dreams, the man who was a good grandfather, the man who had untold adventures, the man who struggled with depression but still managed to fight his way through and find the lightness in being, the man who enjoyed laughing, the man who was my friend, the man who was my family, the man who had a big heart and who passed away too early.

I made my way toward the helicopter landing pad, thinking of this man, thinking of my dad, and I did my best Hulk Hogan-Randy-Macho-Man-Savage victory pose. I had stormed the Fight For Air Climb and it was a Guatacular moment.

Exhausting, but Guatacular.

Special thanks to Peter, Erdmann, Gisela, Estela, Alissa, Karina, and Sandra for their generous support.

My Dad

My Dad

.

.

When BenGay Isn’t Gonna Be Strong Enough … But You Do It Anyway

21 Mar

I’m confessing something big tonight.

HUGE.

Duuuuuuude

There is fear living in the Guat Household.

My knees are freaking out.

Now normally I’m not afraid of much. Neither are they.

I’m fearless.

I’m a badass, not afraid to fly my freak flag. Not afraid to chase Bucket List Adventure Challenges. Scared of what? Bungy Jumping. No. Skydiving. No. Triathlons. No. Warrior Dash Mud Run Obstacles that make you jump through fire. No. The Mommy-and-Me-Mafia-PTA-Looking group of ladies that take over the park. No. Gaining weight. Hell no bring it on.

But there is one thing that makes my close-to-40-year-old-worn-out-and weary knees tremble.

Wobble.

63 floors.

Close to 1,400 steps.

Ain’t no BenGay strong enough, no ice pack cold enough …

But there is one man that’s inspirational enough …

My Dad.

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My Dad and me sporting our awesome bell-bottoms.

He lost the 12-Round-Heavyweight Championship Bout against Interstitial Lung Disease at 62 years young. It was an all out battle and he fought hard, but in the end he lost his fight against the disease, and I lost my father.

So this is it.

Time for me to cowboy up.

On April 11th, I’m taking on The Fight For Air Climb again in what seems to be the ultimate battle of strength and will for my bones and cartilage. It’s become a tradition now. Exhausting and claustrophobic, but worth it.

Honoring family is worth it, and that’s what I aim to do.

Hanging with Dad.

Hanging with Dad.

So I’m going to take my Hulk Hogan-Randy-Macho-Man-Savage-Tina-Turner-looking quads and run down knees through the ultimate test of the year.

I’m gonna do it for my Dad.

My Dad ... just being Dad

My Dad … just being Dad

He’s still with me, sometimes on my shoulders whispering in my ear while I’m chasing dreams, and sometimes in my heart when I’m raising my kids and I’m trying to be awesome at something. He’s the champion for my life. He’s the spirit behind my drive. My Dad is there in one of his many baseball caps and smile, being my friend, my TV buddy, my support group, and the TV remote control ruler of the house.

I’ll be taking this on next month and if you’re feeling generous with the need to donate to a good cause, feel free to click the link on the bottom and it will guide you to my personal fundraising page.

Buen Camino Everyone!

Fight For Air Climb Fundraising Page

… Siganme Los Buenos!

My Gatorade-Commercial-Worthy Moment … 63 Stories

7 Apr

I saw the orange lightning bolt.

I saw my legs climbing up the steps. The beads of sweat forming in slow motion. I heard the sound of my heart pounding. And I saw it … the orange lightning bolt.

Is it in you?

Duuuuuuuuuuuuude.

Yessssssssssssssss.

It was a Gatorade-commercial-worthy moment.

That was me …

 

 

I belong in that Gatorade commercial.

My calves demand it.

They ran, they stomped, they climbed, they pumped, and then literally danced their way to the top with the power of Los Tucanes de Tijuana’s La Chona and Vintage Trouble’s Strike Your Light. The rooftop crowd was impressed with my Zapateado, Quebradita and James Brown dance moves and the fact that I still had enough energy and strength in my legs to pull those off as I reached the finish line.

My lungs felt a surge of air, I saw sunlight. I raised my hands up like Rocky Balboa. I had made it.

But it wasn’t easy.

It was the same building. The same amount  of steps. The same claustrophobic staircases. The same heavy air restricting the oxygen levels being sent to my muscles. The same insanity. I knew what was coming. My mind knew it. My knees knew it. My quads knew it. The four-dollar coupon for Advil from the CVS knew it. My calves did not. Apparently they didn’t get the memo. I thought I was prepared, but my calves flipped me the bird by the thirty-second floor and I couldn’t believe it. In truth they were pissed off by the fifth floor. I felt them weakening and cramping up just as the air circulation ended.

I heard them saying … Pinche Guat!

But I didn’t understand it, I stretched out.

Apparently air is important when exercising. It oxygenates my muscles. However by the fifth floor there was no gentle breeze or ventilation from the open door at the starting line. Thus the hostility of my calves.

I was on lock down with close to 1,000 other climbers making their way to the rooftop and no Febreeze in sight. Granted we were in waves, but the lack of cellular respiration was the same … apparently I was choking my calves and they were responding by cursing me out.

But I hung in there. I had that orange lightning bolt in my sights. I had a cause, and I had my Dad.  With friends and family I helped raise over $500, contributing to the $195,000 raised collectively by all the climbers. I was part of something bigger, trying to make someone’s life better and that felt good.

So even though my calves were ready to strangle me from all that I was putting them through … It was on. The Fight For Air Climb was on.

63 stories.

Close 1,400 steps.

My Dad … He’s worth it.

 

The challenge waiting for me...

The challenge waiting for me… I thought I got this.

 

But upon closer inspection ... Dude. Duuuuuuuuuuuuude

But upon closer inspection … Dude. Duuuuuuuuuuuuude!

 

Once I arrived I made my way to registration to get the magic number.

Once I arrived I made my way to registration to get the magic number and my shirt.

 

Although there were some people with pretty awesome shirts and badass mentalities. This chic just finished a marathon at the crack of dawn and was reading to take on the 63-story challenge.

Although there were some people with pretty awesome shirts and badass mentalities. This chic just finished a marathon at the crack of dawn and was ready to take on the 63-story challenge.

 

However carrying 60 pounds of extra weight on your back seemed more badass.

But some climbers were carrying 60 pounds of extra weight on their back … that seemed more badass.

 

... However I thought I was wearing a better shirt.

… However I thought my outfit was better.

 

This shirt got my emotional juices up and ready to go.

This shirt was pretty badass. It got my emotional juices up and ready to go.

 

After I warmed up I passed up all the memory markers on the way to the starting line.

After I warmed up I passed up all the memory markers on the way to the starting line.

 

But once I got there I needed to wait for the big guys to go first.

 

Waiting for the 3-2-1 Go ... but looking down you would think after a whole year I would have bought new sneakers. But it was all good ... I made it to the top.

Waiting for the 3-2-1 Go … but looking down you would think after a whole year I would have bought new sneakers. But it was all good … These sneakers have experience and a little wear and tear, just like their owner. They’ve got character and they got me to the top.

 

After 63 stories, an awesome playlist, and angry calves I made it. The view was Guatacular. :)

Climbing 63 stories with an awesome playlist, and angry calves, earns you a Guatacular view 🙂

 

After having my Rocky Balboa moment I waited for one of the perks of the post-climb festivities.

After celebrating my Rocky Balboa moment I waited for one of the perks of the post-climb festivities.

 

After the muscle relaxation and thorough oxygenation of my muscles, I checked out the results ... 63 stories, 1,400 steps. I clocked in at 17 minutes and 47 seconds. Faster than last year. :)

Once the muscle relaxation and thorough oxygenation of my muscles was complete, I checked out the results … 63 stories, 1,400 steps. I clocked in at 17 minutes and 47 seconds. Faster than last year. 🙂 I high-fived myself and called  Gatorade Inc … I’m ready to film my commercial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guts, Playlists, and Rocky Balboa

2 Apr

It’s their job to pump you up, to get you moving, to inspire you … to get you to 63 stories … 1,400 stairs.

Guts … Guts and Playlists.

It’s their job to get you to the finish line.

I’ve got plenty of guts. I think was born with them. I’m good in the guts department. However I’m in the process of creating the fuel that’s gonna get me passed that wall I’ll probably hit at midpoint. That dangerous 30th floor, where your knees are really feeling it, where it smells like teen spirit, where it feels like the oxygen is running out, and where everyone is clinging to the handrails and you have to dig deep for every ounce of strength just to make the wide turn and pass them up.

Rocky Balboa

Rocky Balboa

 

Yeah … this is where a really kickass playlist brings out the Rocky Balboa hidden inside.

So other than The Eye of The Tiger, I think I’ve come up with some tunes that will help me survive the Fight For Air Climb this Saturday. Now the opening songs is something that needs to get to you. It’s a melody. It’s a lyric. It’s something that helps you envision raising the bar.

For me … it’s Tim McGraw’s Felt Good on My Lips. That opening sequence gets me. I hear that guitar and feel like I can just shake off whatever is trying to hijack my emotional juice. I hear that guitar and it’s on. I feel like I can be in a Gatorade commercial.

The rest of the tunes with their upbeat tempo build up and I eventually get so pumped up going up the stairs that I won’t realize how old I am until the next morning when I have to buy some BenGay for my quads and Advil for my knees. But it’s worth the sacrifice. It’s for a great cause. It’s all for one dude … one of the most important men in my life … my dad. All of this is for him, so I definitely needed a playlist that would keep me going no matter how tough the climb.

And this is what I came up with. If you have any suggestions, feel free.

 

Felt Good on My Lips — Tim McGraw

Eye of The Tiger — Survivor

Counting Stars — One Republic

Break Your Heart — Taio Cruz & Ludacris

I’m Gonna Get You — Bizarre Inc Featuring Annie Brown

Another Night — Real McCoy

Back In Time — Pitbull

Feel So Close — Calvin Harris

Camaron Pelao — Los Polifaceticos

La Chona — Los Tucanes de Tijuana

Strike Your Light — Vintage Trouble

and the one song I want to hear when I get to the top …

Happy — Pharrell Williams

 

Up For Round II

3 Mar

You were able to fight, jump, and claw your way through it. It was a total Gatorade-commercial-worthy moment. You held your arms up like Rocky Balboa, out of breath but doing the boxer shuffle and feeling pretty badass.

But … Do you really think you’d do it again?

Dude. Yeah. I would.

I’d buy a lifetime supply of Ben Gay, Advil, and CVS ice packs just to show how much I love him.

Yup.

I’d need all those medicine cabinet supplies for my weary bionic leg, because climbing 1,400 steps in honor of my Dad is a mission.

A crazy one, but one worthy of all my efforts.

 

climb-banner-1

Image via FightForAirClimb.Org

Yup. I did it. I’ve signed up for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb Adventure … again.

Yup … 63 stories of grueling adventure await me.

I wouldn’t do that for just anybody, but for my pops I’d do it twice.

 

My Dad ... talking about dreams ... me trying to listen.

My Dad … talking about dreams … me trying to listen.

 

He was a Rooter of the Underdog, A Laugh-Until-You-Crack-Me-Up Enthusiast, My HBO-Watching Buddy, The Remote-Control Master, The I’m-Broke-Right-Now-Can-You-Help-Me-Out-Financier, The Bucket List Adventurer, The Random-Acts-of-Kindness Missionary, The Häagen-Dazs Hogger, and The Wingman to My Dreams.

My Dad … the fierce adventurer who couldn’t swim very well but often jumped into the deep end of my uncle’s pool with, no floaties, just to prove that anything is possible if you’ve got heart and guts lived an unfinished life. He died of Interstitial Lung Disease about three years ago at the age of 62. But I carry his spirit on my shoulders in everything I do and with every adventure I jump into … he’s there.

He never said I couldn’t do anything even when others constantly believed it. He was the Rocky Theme Song to my life, and now I carry that soundtrack with me as I travel through life’s journey without him. And it is in honor of his life, and of his spirit, that I choose to scale the second tallest building in the city and race my way to the top with my best Chapulin Colorado efforts in hopes of raising money to further research and find a cure.

The countdown is on … stay tuned.

 

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.