Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Schooled by Sproule

The results of One Penn Plaza are in! See the results here. The Tower Masters came in 2nd, 3rd, & 4th behind stair racing legend Sproule Love.

The night before the race, I took the bus from Albany to NYC, stopped by One Penn Plaza (near Madison Square Garden) had a light meal in Korea Town. I then took the subway to my friend Michael’s apartment to stay overnight. Michael, having been a tower far longer than I have, has built up an impressive set of trophies and awards. He also has a collection of miniature buildings representing some of major towers and skyscraper he has climbed. Very cool!

The next morning I ate a light breakfast consisting of 6 ounces of blueberry Greek yogurt, an apple, and a raisin English muffin and then took the subway to midtown. Although it was snowing, the subway system was running smoothly and we arrived at One Penn Plaza with plenty of time to spare.

After checking in, downing a bottle of 5 Hour Energy*, and hitting the rest room, I started my pre-race warm-up: Active stretching, jumping jacks, burpees, and power pushups. I even did a few dance moves with SuzieQ, a local celebrity fitness trainer who was guest starring at the event. Check Suzie out at her website.
 *Note to self: 5 Hour Energy is pretty nasty… next time drink coffee.

Midway through the warm-up, Michael pointed out Sproule Love in the crowd.  At that point we knew the Tower Masters weren’t going to sweep the event. I had hopes for a 1st place finish, but with Sproule Love in the lineup, all thoughts of a win were dashed. On the other hand, there was one benefit with Sproule in the race: I’d have a good data point for benchmarking my progress.

Minutes before the race, I introduced myself to Sproule (after all, I know so much about his athletic achievements) and chatted for a few minutes. At the start line, several folks had already entered the stairwell. I guess I chatted a bit too long with Sproule J. The other elite racers let Sproule get to the front of the line and as soon as he left the gate, I checked my stop watch and set my clip-on metronome to 90 beats per minute. Fifteen seconds later I was off!

Right out of the gate, I tried to step to the beat of my metronome for the first few steps, but 90/60 seemed much too slow. Instead, I raced up the first 9 flights. Right around floor 10, I realized that my current pace was much too fast to maintain and I finally slowed down to my metronome’s pace. I passed several other folks on my way up including some of my team mates (who gave precious encouragement). Somewhere near the middle of the race, it began to get more difficult to keep up with the metronome’s pace. Through sheer will, I continued onward although I know I was losing half a step around some of the turns. Finally, around floor 47 or so, I picked up the pace getting faster and faster with each flight. Before I knew it, I had finished! My stopwatch indicated I beat 7 minutes (my goal time) although I knew I didn’t meet my stretch goal of 6:40. Although I was winded, I wasn’t on the ground like I should have been. Next time, I need to start my last kick with 10 flights to go J

At that point, I asked Sproule his time and I was completely shocked when he said he finished in just over 6 minutes. I was expecting a 20 or 30 second gap… not 50 seconds! No wonder he owns the record at the Sears Tower!

While waiting for the other climbers to finish, I chatted with Sproule for a bit and received a couple tips about stair climbing. When he set the record at Sears he had even splits between the first and second halves of the race, so pacing is critical. He didn’t think a metronome was necessary, but he did advocate checking the stopwatch at set intervals in order to adjust the pace accordingly. The final bit of advice was to suffer a bit during training J

Although he didn’t tell me anything new, it certainly helps to hear it again, especially from a living legend.

Interview with the Tower Masters
After the race, Michael, Steve, and I did an interview with SuzieQ for her website. We talked a bit about nutrition and fitness and during the interview and then she asked us to show off our stair climbing “attributes”. By popular opinion Steve had the best abs (he is ripped!) and I had the best legs.

Alex & SuzieQ
Sproule & Alex
Last but not least, the team went over to the post-race bar to eat, drink, chat, and pick up our awards. Sproule didn’t stay for the awards ceremony, but I managed to take my picture with him after the race.

1st Place Female, 5th Place Male, & a Future Tower Climber!
All the Tower Masters!
During the rest of my stay in NYC I did a little sight-seeing. Can you figure out where I went based on the photos I took?
Hint: I'll be here on February 8th!

Hint: The Knicks play nearby
Hint: A Popular TV Show is based here
Another view of the same building
Hint #1: Taken at a Museum.
Hint #2: The artist cut off his own ear

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