PJ's Fitness Blog

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Schooled by Firefighters

I got schooled big time at the 2016 Big Climb.

I was allowed to participate this year in the LLS firefighter stair climb up the tallest building in Seattle. I’m not a firefighter, but the LLS staff is like family, so they let me in. I didn’t have a chip either, so it was basically just for fun.

Yes, I think stuff like this is fun.

Here I am, pictured right, lined up before the race, trying to keep cool, onnaccounta that gear is freakin’ hot just standing there in it, let alone climbing up a skyscraper. Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.36.10 PM

So I says to myself, I says, “How much harder can an extra 60 lbs. be and how hot can it get anyway?”

Well, my legs certainly protested loudly about all that extra weight, starting at about floor 9. But the worst part was the heat. It felt like hot yoga, starting around floor 20. That’s about when I started to fall off pace too. I picked 70 steps per minute (double-stepping) and that seemed pretty doable until the hot yoga part started. Then I just endeavored to keep double-stepping and quit listening to the metronome. I probably should have single stepped, at least for some of it, but I wanted to see if I could do the whole way up with double steps. I made it, but I’m sure it cost me time.

Floor 40 is the bottle change floor because that’s about the time most people run out of air and need to swap out for a fresh bottle. My low air alarm had just started, so the staff scooted me out for a bottle change. I wasn’t technically on a team though, so after walking around for almost two minutes, we gave up trying to find someone to help and I just went back into the stairwell. That added a bunch of time, but “meh – NBD” because I wasn’t being officially timed anyway.

Besides, that helped me set a bar so low I can roll over it, in case I ever do this race again.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.54.11 PMEven with the nice little regrettable rest on floor 40, this event still kicked my butt. Here I am, pictured left, at the top, with my face stuck that way. This was how my face looked all the way up, as I labored to suck air from a tank, inside a claustrophobic, steamed up mask. My mom always told me not to make faces too long, or it will stay that way. She was right, but it thankfully, it wasn’t permanent this time. It only stayed that way for about 14 hours. I’m glad it went back to normal because I wouldn’t want to have to go to work like that tomorrow.

And that’s not hair gel you see in this picture either. That’s some nasty sweat – about 3 lbs. worth, in fact. That’s about as much as I remember sweating in an hour of hot yoga, back when I tried it – once.

Notice also there’s no “thumbs up” going on here like there was in the picture at the start line. I woulda if I coulda, but my thumbs were too tired to lift at this point.

If it weren’t for the nice ladies who were there at the finish line to help peel off my tank, pack, helmet, mask, gloves and jacket, I’d probably still be stuck in those too. I hear there’s a wait list for that job BTW. Apparently, the “undressing the firefighters” positions are the first to fill up.

Here’s the link to my Suunto data if you’re a biometrics nerd like me: http://bit.ly/firestairs

And the official race results are here: http://www.racecenter.com/results/2016/res_ff16.htm

But like I said, I’m not in the official results, onnaccounta I’m not a firefighter, but if I was, my 17:34 would have placed around 244th out of 1793. In other words, I got my butt handed to me by 242 fellas today and two chicks. The fastest female smoked me by more than 2 minutes in fact! I think I might have a new crush…



One Response to “Schooled by Firefighters”

  1. Well done, PJ! I’d be lying if I said I haven’t glanced at first responders at stair races and thought ‘how hard could it be?’ After reading this, I know better. Thanks for sharing!

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