With 724 total finishers this years’ Empire State Building Run-Up was the largest field ever to run the 86 flight of stairs challenge. To be honest when I got notice that I was selected to run this race I was expecting a small crowd of dedicated stair runners. What I found when I got to the start was this…
A big crowded event!
Some people might see this as a negative but I found it really cool. I mean how many times can you say you and a bunch of athletes took over the Empire State Building?
New York Road Runners, who host the event, did a great job at keeping the crowds pumped before the event. Unfortunately there is a lot of down time before the start of the race because of the cramped stairwells, so don’t get there early if you don’t have too.
8 o’clock at night on the dot the pro’s took to the stairs. This years male first place finisher came in at 10:12, amazing! Around 8:15 the media field started the race. I got to see Kelly Rippa, she is so athletic looking. She also killed it in a time of just over 18 minutes. I often wonder how she does it all, family, career and a smoking hot body. Around 8:30 PM they started gathering up the normals aka time trial athletes like me to head to the start. I really liked the way they spaced out the athletes with 8 second in between every person. It’s much better than the crowded trampling start that the pro’s have to endure!
The bad part about the staggered start is that it takes forever! Time trial numbers started at 600, I was number 735 but didn’t start until after 9:05PM even though my expected start time was 8:45PM. Sort of kills the mood when all you want to do is just get started!
As I got closer to the start I definitely grew more nervous. I had never ran actual stairs of more than probably 5 flights. I knew I didn’t prepare properly for the event because of my marathon training schedule, but I had to put that all aside. No time for negative thoughts in a 20 minute race!
About a minute away from starting… You lined up on the starting line and a volunteer shouted out “Go!” every 8 seconds.
Going from 0-86 flights is KILLER on your lungs. For me the first couple of flights were the hardest for my legs. At that point your muscles are asking, “What the heck are you trying to do to me”?
The stairwells are pretty narrow so you can grab both handrails to pull yourself up. Everything is grey like what I imagine the inside of a submarine looks like. Since we were spaced out it really wasn’t bad with people running past you. Everyone was pretty polite giving you the heads up that they were coming up behind you!
There are two water stops during the climb at floors 22 and 65. Most people say skip the water stops but there was no way I could have. My mouth was so dry. Why does that happen to me in short distance events?
The first water stop at the 22nd floor was the only time I stopped to take a breather during the event. I think I stopped for about 10 seconds to gather my composure. Floors 22-65 I pretty much zoned out of. It’s so hard not to look at the numbers on each of the floors!
At the seconds water stop I grabbed a sip and kept on going, 21 more flights, it couldn’t be THAT bad. I used a simple counting strategy to get through to the end. I took two flights a step at a time and then two flights two steps at a time. It really helped me to be able to focus on smalls goals and not the 20 something more flights I had to go!
Before I knew it, with my heart pounding out of my chest and my head starting to hurt more and more I made it to the top and out onto the observation desk. I didn’t think I would be able to sprint to the end but I did. It was an awesome feeling!
That awesome feeling of accomplishment lasted about 15 seconds until my pounding headache took over. Unfortunately they funnel you back down pretty much immediately after getting a cup of water and your medal. It was really hard on my equilibrium. But a good 10 min breather downstairs did the trick. Thankfully Peter was there to help me at the end as I was a bit discombobulated.
My finish time was 21:26 MUCH slower than I expected. But I only paused once for the first water stop and I know I did it as fast as possible without me passing out.
Overall the event was fun. I wish I would have done more stair specific workouts I think it would have been really beneficial. The only problem I had with the organization of the event was the finish. Give me a few minutes before you force me back down 86 flights in an elevator!
The medals and shirts were pretty cool. Unfortunately I only was able to get a large. That always makes me mad! Why do they never order more small sizes?
I have now done just about ever major athletic event in Manhattan. The NYC Marathon, The NYC Half Marathon, the NYC Triathlon and now the Empire State Building Run-Up. A pretty awesome accomplishment!
Have you ever done a stair climb?!?