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Feb 25 / Jane

Providence Stair Climb 2013

So here we are again, climbing for the 6th time, the 5th annual Providence Fight for Air Stair Climb (they don’t count the 2007 Wind up the Westin anymore). Alex and I have been participating since college in this fun event for the American Lung Association with my college roommate, Jackie and her family. The event, which takes place the last Saturday in February, sets participants off every 20seconds to race up 29 stories/56 flights/597 stairs. It’s a race up stairs.

Now, while it’s a race, it’s definitely nothing like running. Just a month ago, the New York Times did an article about stair climbing, and the athletes that are competing in these events worldwide (link), they hazard the next big names out of the stair climbing field will be cyclists over sprinters due to the muscles utilized in both sports. And it definitely makes sense. I cross trained at the gym on the bike and ran stairs at lunch at work for several weeks leading up to the event, in addition to my running schedule. It’s the first time since college I actually trained for the climb! My office has 4 floors (if you include the basement), so I would run 10-15x 4 stories/6 flights/71 stairs 4-5x a week. It really was a great workout and it absolutely prepared me for this climb.

The stairwell at my office

The stairwell at my office

The climb itself has undergone some changes throughout the years, I mean, they don’t even recognize the first year they held the event anymore since it was in a different location (“Wind up the Westin” December 2007). They go by the first year they moved to One Financial Plaza (“Peak the Plaza”) in February 2009. Back then, they had everyone meet in the lower lobby in a crowded hallway and had the after party at McFadden’s, which was across the street. In 2010, they moved the starting/meeting place to the 14th floor lobby, where we had a lot more room and DJ’ed space with breakfast included all to our own for the event. That remained until this year when McFadden’s went under and the upper lobby was not available to us, so we had to register and meet back at RiRa Irish Pub a couple blocks away. Not the ideal circumstance since RiRa is significantly smaller than McFadden’s and not as close (and the free parking is on the other side of One Financial Plaza from RiRa). Of course our logistics changed this year as well.

About an hour before Alex and I left on Friday, Jackie called and told us to meet in Providence instead of their home in Massachusetts . We would stay over in a hotel in the city with her father’s hotel points to make the whole event easier on Jackie’s mother who was watching their 18month old son, Jordan. No problem. We arrived at exactly the same time, lounged in the room a little, checked in at RiRa (got our bibs and t-shirts), and then headed out for dinner at Fire and Ice. We walked off dinner at the Providence Place Mall, then hung out in our hotel rooms until we were too tired to stay up any longer.

Alex and I before the climb

Alex and I before the climb, my 80’s gear was a hit!

We got up much later than we would have driving in from MA, walked to DD for a quick coffee and breakfast, then jogged over to the start at One Financial Plaza in our neon semi-coordinated 80’s theme wear. Our team, being one of the “originals,” was one of the first to climb. We took some pictures, piled up our outerwear, and lined up to run. I felt good, prepared, my goal was to take the whole thing 2stairs at a time; no matter how slow, it would be more efficient than single-stepping. Alex was behind me, and I expected him to beat me. Jackie and Jarrod were behind us. Jarrod passed me around floor 20, but no one else came up behind me. There were cheerleaders in the stairwell, every other floor or so, fraternity brothers this time. In the past, there were actual cheerleaders, from the Providence Bruins, etc. Having men this year was a little strange, and not as encouraging as in past years, since most of their cheers and chants related to their fraternity and not to the racers climbing 29 stories. I heard cheers as Alex would get close to me, but he never passed.

At the top, we regrouped, grabbed water, a shot of protein drink and a lollipop. After another “after shot” group photo, we celebrated at RiRa with their beer and burger special. I had an AMAZING white bean veggie burger instead, something McFadden’s never offered (a vegetarian option). The food overall was a big improvement over McFadden’s; the service was good too. Unfortunately the space was small and crowded and our table by the door was drafty and cold. But it served its purpose. We stayed through the awards; Jackie’s dad, Joe, placed in his age group, the rest of us were not far off though, having almost all PR’ed. I completed in my fastest time ever, 5:30! I ran almost a minute and a half faster than last year, my previous best time. I was still the slowest on our team, but I’m incredibly pleased with my improvement.

Team Passing on the Left

Team Passing on the Left

Results, Team “Passing on the Left”:

Clayton 4:01
Jarrod 4:10
Joe 4:14
Josh 4:46
Jackie 5:18
Alex 5:26
Jane 5:30

5th place team overall, in the non-firefighter division, with a time of 22:29, 4:30 average. The first three teams were all police departments, and the 4th place team a Crossfit gym, so really, of friends and family, non-police, non-fitness-pros, we were first! Too bad they don’t classify teams beyond firefighter and non. Jackie, Josh and I were recognized for having participated in the climb for all 5 years.

All 5 years we have had a different team name, I think for next year we need to pick one and stick with it so people will see us appear over and over again on the roster, since we will be there! In 2009 we were The Stair Masters, 2010 Getn’ It Done, 2011 Don’t Look Back, 2012 Two at a Time, 2013 Passing on the Left. I’m thinking “Don’t Look Back, the Stair Masters are Getn’ it Done, Two at a Time, while Passing on the Left, FOREVER” might be too long? What do you think our team name should be next year?

After the ceremony, we rounded out the weekend with a trip to Alex’s grandmother in Cranstron, and back to Jackie and Jarrod’s before the snow hit. We stayed in, chatting and catching up while it snowed. The next morning, Jackie and I completed the plyometrics workout from p90x and Alex and I headed out as the snow stopped. Another great trip to RI/MA to race and catch up with friends. I’m already looking forward to the next event!

Jordan's a winner with Joe's medal!

Jordan’s a winner with Joe’s medal!

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