Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stair climbing

I'm in midtown Atlanta this week, where most of my colleagues work. A couple of my buddies regularly do a lunchtime stair workout in the Atlanta office building, and asked me to join them.

Let me give a bit of background: I don't know these guys exact ages, but I believe both are probably 5-10 years older than me. (May they forgive me if I am wrong.) Also, last year we all ran in the "corporate challenge" 5-kilometer race, and I finished a good 3 minutes ahead of these guys.

So I joined them in the lunchtime ritual just to see what it was all about. I was going to show them...

Man, was I surprised.

They kicked my butt from the start.

We started on the 10th floor of our 14 floor building. After a warm-up to the top of the stairs, they gave me some details of how they do this, and we were off. Immediately they dropped me going down. I truly believe that "running" down stairs is something that is learned with practice, and these guys have been doing this 4 days per week for years. But still... They left me in their dust. They reached the bottom while I was probably still on the 3rd floor. As I met them on their way up, I was already spouting excuses. "I ran a marathon last weekend." "I ran intervals yesterday." Pure BS, every word of it. They were beating me, fair and square.

I managed to make up some distance on the first climb, but at a cost that I could not afford. I was winded and already soaking my dress shirt with sweat by the time I completed the first lap. They do three laps, their best in under four minutes. I decided half-way up the first lap that two would be my limit. At least that way I could meet them at the bottom and have my wits about me to talk about what we just did.

These guys have something I don't have. I run ultramarathons. I can run a hundred miles without stopping. Just a few months ago, I beat these guys in a 5k by a minute-per-mile. But today on the stairs they put me in my place. Big time.

What applications could stairclimbing have on the kind of mountain trail runs that I enjoy? How could regular practice on the stairs make me a better trail runner? I hope to find that out as I practice on the stairs in my office building at home. Because the next time I come to Atlanta, I'm not going to let these guys whip me like they did today.

Run hard out there.

With great sacrifice comes great reward. -- Tito Ortiz


ncultra said...

Neal, I came within a whisker of being drafted to participate in a panel discussion for your employer in ATL this week, which is why I suspect you were there. Too bad, I could have run stairs with you.

Neal Jamison said...


No, that's not why I'm here, but I know what panel you are talking about. I had to miss it to work with CA on another project.

Would have been great seeing you.