Sunday February 27, 2011 I climbed the highest building in Denver, CO. The money raised from the Anthem Fight for Air Climb helps the American Lung Association fight for cures, clean air and smoke-free kids. I raised over $300 for the cause! No one should struggle to breathe. I was recently diagnosed with Exercise-Induced Asthma, so I know what it is like. That is why I choose to join Team Life Time Fitness and take on the challenge.
Wow 56 floors, 1,098 steps, this would really be a workout. Have I ever done something like this before?? NO! The most stairs I had done in the recent days were the steps up and over the freeway to get to the train every morning. Those felt long, so how was this going to feel?
In 1928, the Republic Building was built with financing from Republic Drugs. The former U-shaped medical tower housed a drugstore and some of Denver’s most prominent physicians and dentists in its 12 stories. The Republic Building was demolished in 1981 to make room for Republic Plaza. Construction was completed on the 56-story office tower in 1984. Republic Plaza is Denver’s tallest office building and a prominent local landmark. Located on the 16th Street pedestrian mall, Republic Plaza is in the heart of downtown Denver’s central business district. Republic Plaza includes 1.2 million square feet of office space, and three retail levels devoted to shops, restaurants, and business services. This elegant building is renowned for its spacious three-story marble lobby that features a quarterly “Art in Public Places” program of Colorado and regional artists.
I work in 1999 Broadway, which is the 5th tallest building in Denver. It is a 544ft (166m) tall skyscraper, was completed in 1985 and has 43 floors. 1999 Broadway has a unique shape, it is shaped like a triangle with a scoop in the side. This is caused by the desire to retain the historical Holy Ghost Catholic Church at the base. The church stands partially inside this scoop, where there is an interesting curved concourse at ground level. Firefighters often come to our building to practice on the stairs. Many mornings I let them in before the building opens, as I come in to start work at 5:30am.
It is fun being in the heart of downtown. I would love to see the view from the top of each building. That Sunday in February, I was finally able to get the view from Republic Plaza.
There was free parking in a garage down the street from Republic Plaza. As I arrived my two other team mates, Brentnie and Jonathan, from Life Time Fitness were standing on the corner waiting for me. After meeting up with them, we headed to the building. I kept looking up and thinking OMG what am I about to do?
Upon entering the lobby, the smell of sweat overcame us all! WOW! So glad Life Time Fitness does not smell like this (due to their fantastic ventilation system). There were several booths of vendors set up with a lot of people milling around. We headed down stairs to packet pick-up and registration. I had already picked my packet up on Friday after work. Then it was on to gear check to unload our sweats and coats. We found the end of the line that led to the start. It was quite long, but went rather quickly. Each person was let up the stairs in 8 second increments. There was a timing clock and an official at the bottom of the stairs letting each runner go one by one.
I ran up the first 5 flights, then thought to myself, ok better pace myself a little better there are still 51 flights left! The ventilation system was blowing into the stair well, which was nice and cool. Floors 10, 17, and 35 would be the water stops along the way. There was NO ventilation from floors 18 to 30 – that was brutal! My heart rate was through the roof during most of the climb. At floor 15 I said out loud, “Who the hell talked me into this?!” The people in front of me said, “I was just thinking the same thing.” One step at a time I kept telling myself. On the 20th floor I had to use my inhaler, that helped.
As I reached the 28th floor, there was a guy sitting on the steps. I rested on the landing, and saw him using his inhaler. Raising my inhaler up, I asked him how he was doing. He said it was brutal. Told him to just take it easy, that is was not a race and he could sit there as long as he needed to. Then he told me he was really dizzy. I asked him if he wanted me to get someone, and he said no. I patted him on his back as I went by him and said hang in there and rest, then up I went to get help for him. Since the next stop was not until floor 35, I tried to hurry for him. At floor 30, I found a volunteer and told them about him, and they said they would go take care of him for me.
Chugging up and up and up I went. Everyone was to stay to the right and pass on the left. It never was really very crowded. Once in a while a big surge of people would come through, so I just stepped to the side on a landing and let them pass by. As you would get closer to a water station floor, you could hear cheering and cow bells ringing. It made you push a little harder.
Floor 35, the last water stop before the top! This is it! Take a break and push through the pain. Actually I felt slight burning in my thighs, but my knees were not hurting like I thought they would. So, this was a good thing, all of my training for running was paying off. Really the only annoyance was my heart beating out of my chest to the wall. I didn’t need my heart monitor to tell me I was above my anaerobic threshold!
Sounds started filtering down from the top… I was almost there I could taste it! Just a few more floors and another accomplishment would be added to my list. Now the legs were feeling really heavy, but not painful. Just keep going, don’t stop, the top is near… Rounded the last landing and the final stretch of stairs. “I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD” Ok, maybe the top of Denver, but it felt like the world. Once I grabbed some water and caught my breath, I found Brent and Jonathan. We got our team photo taken and I got my individual photo taken. I DID IT!!! My final time was 22 minutes and 55 seconds. Will I do it again next year? Maybe…