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"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skyrise Chicago Sears or Willis or Something Tower Climb

On Sunday of this past weekend, I climbed the Sears Willis Tower.  I have trouble calling it by its new name.  
Let's pretend it says "Sears Tower," okay?
As you remember... because I keep repeating myself over and over again... because I'm proud of my little brother, I was doing this stair climb to accompany my brother.  He's recently lost 80lbs (HOLLA!) in large part due to some serious hours spent on the stairmill.  He flew to New York to stand in Brooklyn and hold a sign while I ran the marathon and we didn't even make it to Shake Shack after; I can climb the Sears Tower with him.
Who's Doug?
Somehow he conned me and two of his closest friends into doing it with him.
We bought a copy of this picture.
It's so delightfully fake.
I didn't train, at all.  My office is on the 4th floor at work, and I haven't taken the stairs in months.  I haven't been to the gym since the summer, and I don't even do any non-running cross-training.  Heck, I haven't even run up a hill since Mt. Washington.  I wasn't prepared.  Oh, sure, I told myself.  Your marathon glory will carry you up 103 flights of stairs.  Because that's how these things work, obviously.
Where is that glory? This is how I looked
from flights 2-103.
It was hard.  Like, really hard. I don't know how else to describe it.  A hot stairwell, full of sweaty people, and it just goes up and up and up.  I was dizzy and tired and I held my brother back.  He had trained to rock this race, and instead he had to give me 2100 stairs' worth of pep talks to coax me up another flight.

Of course, the reason to make it up to the top is for The Ledge.  The Ledge: a terrifying glass box that juts out from the side of the building and purports to be structurally sound and weight bearing, against all visual odds.  It's just freaky.  Seriously freaky.

First, I tried to scoot out on my butt.  That was scary.  Okay, what about on my back?

Still kind of scary.  I don't like to fly, though, either.  

I never got comfortable with it, but I did get to the point where I could stand out there, for team photos at least:

This is a real photo.  Not edited.
I wish I had more adjectives to use to describe this one, but (like Sarah pointed out), I'm over-raced right now and it's all a blur.  This race was disturbing.  But worth it.  That said, this is a race that will not make it onto my calendar again next year.  Let the more intrepid have it.


  1. That one picture of you just cracks me up, Tracy! Hehehe. I have goosebumps from just looking at those photos over the city. EEK! So glad you guys had a good time :)

  2. Call me a bad girl, but that photo of you in the stairwell made me laugh out loud! Hilarious!

    At least you kicked that tower's butt, and the Skydeck Ledge would have freaked me out; I'm such a coward!

  3. Well, sheesh. Your brother looks hot, you look hot, and you both look sweaty. I'll be honest, the thought of doing a stair climb is one of the most miserable things I can imagine. I'm a relatively in-shape person, too, but I can't go up stairs for the life of me. How long did it take you to finish? And, yo, nice headband.

  4. For some reason this post reminds me of the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Thanks for the report; it looks like you had fun.

  5. Thanks, you guys!
    It took us something like 40 minutes - a total travesty, and completely my fault (my brother was angling for about 30 minutes, and his two friends did it in the low 20s, and my sister's times for it usually hover around 20). Last year I did the ESBRU in like 23ish, and that was very, very slow. This one was only (ha ha ha ha) 17 flights more, yet it was much longer. The layout of the stairs - with no substantial landings btw the flights - actually fatigued me more than the ESB (where there were lengthy landings between that provided a few second respite).

  6. You guys are AWESOME. I did a (shorter) stair climb here in Seattle last year and all I have to say about that is: OMG EVIL HATE. Seriously. I didn't enjoy any bit of it, and as soon as I was done I was all, "Never again!" Which is an opinion that I have not yet overturned.

    Also, I am so impressed that you got out on The Ledge. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to - I would just freeze up and be physically unable to step out into it. I'm getting the willies just thinking about it. GAH.

    In short: you are my hero. Way to rock, yo.

  7. The only stairs I climb is the ones to my basement and back. Major props to you for completing this climb! I was in Chicago the last two Saturdays and my 9 yr old knew about the ledge, I did not, I kept telling her that she was thinking of the observation deck over the Grand Canyon. I'm so out of the loop!

  8. Thank you...
    After my experiences with the Sears Tower, I will NOT be heading out on the Grand Canyon one any time soon. Seriously terrifying.