By: Sarah Brust
Client Services CRM Coordinator
Sometime in mid-2014 I began swapping cigarettes for exercise. I didn’t quit completely until January 10, 2015. Around that time I heard about the ALA Fight for Air Climb when a friend was looking for recruits. At the time I was running four days a week, and I was pretty intimidated – climbing 32 floors seemed like a lot. I decided against participating, and the event came and went. That spring I developed plantar fasciitis and a heel spur, thus ending all running activities moving forward. I was going crazy without an endurance-testing exercise outlet, so I joined the Springfield YMCA and began to use the stair climber. I worked my way up gradually, week by week, picking up speed and lengthening my workout to increase my endurance.
So this year, when I saw the article about the stair climb, I knew I was ready. I asked around at work to see if anyone had climbed in the past, and my coworker Aimee (Craft) had. She gave me some pointers on how to practice and what to expect on climb day. (She emphasized that a walk down a flight of stairs as soon as you’re done can make your legs feel like rubber bands).
I told our marketing department I planned on climbing, and they told me INB would be making a sponsorship donation as well. The bank’s donation took me over the top of my financial goal and helped me work with the ALA team to get a time picked out. I began practicing more on the Y stair climber without holding on to the bars or rails, and my workouts sure felt a lot harder than normal.
Finally, climb day arrived. I was nervous; a coworker’s wife who had just finished the climb asked if this was my first, and I told her it was. She said it was a blast, to use the railing, and then re-doubled over attempting to catch her breath. Then it was my turn, heat #7. We climbed down the stairs, signed our medical waivers, tagged our shoes, and lined up to climb. I haven’t experienced an adrenaline rush like that since high school track, which was almost 15 years ago. By the first drink stop I couldn’t catch my breath, so I stopped and forced my breathing to slow; then I was off again. I passed some people and was passed by others. By that time I was began noticing the floor number in the stairwell; I was at the 20th floor – almost 10 more to go.
Having a specific goal to count down to always helps focus my energy. I passed one final climber and made it to the top, being ushered out by volunteers assuring me it was really actually the end. My chest was on fire, and my legs burned, but I was mostly overcome with pride. I had made it. Aimee’s rubber band reference was dead on – I had to hold on to the rails every step down to receive the medal. I got several high-fives and ‘congrats’ from the volunteers and fellow finishers, and made my way downstairs – by way of the elevator. I got my time, 5:32, and was told that next year they’ll provide me a comparison. Having a speed goal in mind and knowing INB will help me with the donation, lets me focus on what really counts – staying healthy and active until next year!