On Monday night, I took the subway down to Wall Street to climb some real, actual steps.
My friend's building is 25 stories. I told myself I would absolutely do it twice, and hopefully do it three times. I was prepared with my gloves, with my gum, with my ipod set to metronome, and with some gatorade that I figured I'd leave with the doorman to drink when I got to the bottom (although I'd prefer in theory not to have to stop during the race itself, but there are water stations set up on Floors 20 and 65).
I made it up the steps twice with no problem. I decided at that point to bail and call it a day with 52 flights under my belt, but when I got back to my friend's 3rd floor apartment, she somehow talked me into completing the third round. My quads were burning at that point. I stopped to pick up my water from the doorman, and he was getting into it, trying to talk me into a FOURTH! I adamantly said no, but he did talk me into doing an extra 5 flights, for an even 80 climbed.
I didn't set my watch right, so I don't have a time (unfortunately), but it was still helpful. I feel confident I'll finish and optimistic that I won't be last.
A few notes:
First off, keeping a tempo is hard. I knew better than to go with my instinct and run up the first few flights, but it was hard not to go faster than the set pace. Of course, about 15 flights in, it was getting harder to keep up with the set pace. There was a lot of back and forth the whole way: faster, then slower. Eventually I turned the metronome off and just listened to up tempo music. I now have a playlist just for stairs - lots of Lady Gaga and Britney and some embarrassing choices (ahem, Party in the USA, ahem).
The dust is totally an issue. I didn't feel too bad about it going up, but my throat was and still is scratchy afterwards. Cough, cough, cough.
Weightlifting gloves were a godsend. I tried at first to take the steps two at a time - not as hard as I expected, but not really easier. I forgot my gum, so I can't comment on whether that helped or not.
Dizziness was a slight issue. I gather that the ESB has fewer tight curves. I hope so, because that was rough.
The burning, the burning! My quads were hurting. It doesn't get easier, and I didn't get into a zone like I can on the stairmill, but seeing the floor numbers climb up is satisfying.
On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"