94 floors. About 28 minutes. That's my time, the YouTube video is not me, just the best I found for this year's Hustle Up the Hancock
Oh, I made it up the John Hancock Center Sunday for the annual fundraising climb for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago .
But I would be a liar if I said it was easy.
By the fourth floor, I was sucking air.
Afterward, I talked to top fundraiser Ann Baker and felt like a true weenie, but more on that later.
By the 25th, I thought of quitting or puking my light breakfast of coffee, a mini bagel and a banana.
But I pushed on, remembering what Scott West had said. West was a large man from Cincinnati whom I talked to before the climb. He came into town for his fifth one and looked like the sort of guy who might have perfect advice.
And he did. ``Pace yourself and don't stop,'' he said.
So I kept going.
Then I hit the 50th floor and knew I was halfway. By that point, I figured out my right pace for my wind. And a trick to rest my thighs. On the landings, I took a large loop on the outside and gave my legs a break before taking the next set of stairs.
And at some point, I reached the point of pushing through the wall and the endorphins kicked in. It reminded me of my younger days when I did a lot of long distance backpackingm and at a certain mileage if you pushed through you could hike all day.
For me, it came about the 60th floor. Then it was simply a matter of finishing up. All the same, it was mighty fine to hear the cheering young ladies say on one landing, ``Only nine more floors.''
Then as the timing chip on my shoe crossed the finish line, they announced my name and I joined the hundreds on the observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan and Chicago on a gray and cloudy but beautiful morning.
It was time.
I had started at 7:28 and finished at 7:56. So my official time should be under my goal of 30 minutes.
But my God was I whupped. And I had more work to do, including an interview with Baker.
So whupped that for the first time in my life I postponed a scheduled interview because I was so beat.
I talked to Baker on the phone this afternoon and had to laugh.
``It was a piece of cake,'' said Baker, who did the [correction] 52-story half climb. ``I kept thinking, ``I should have done the full climb.' ''
Put this in context: The Cary woman was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer about 16 months ago.
Talk about full fundraising. Within three days, she surpassed her original goal of $!,000. She upped her goal to $5,000, $7,500, then $10,000.
Fundraising is important to Baker. Much of the money associated with lung cancer goes into smoking cessation, so she, as a non-smoker, is glad to see a focus on research, advocacy and education.
That's personal for her. She credits continuing to lead a normal life because of new drug, Tarceva.
``I work fulltime,'' she said. ``It is an oral drug. It is a pill. I just take a pill once a morning. There are some side effects. I did lose my hair [originally]. . . . I do get a little tired. But I lead my life like everybody else.''
It was personal for me too. I'm a reformed smoker (13 years and counting) and I feel like I need to atone and give back.
If you want to contribute to my fundraising efforts (I hit my original goal, a more meager one than Baker's), click here.