Monday, October 24, 2011

Reflecting on Climbing Mount Everest (well almost)... The CN Tower

Yesterday a team of National Team Athletes, Olympians, ParticipACTION Sogo leaders and our great Minister of State (Sports), Bal Gosal and Minister Lizon (MP of Mississauga) braved the CN Tower’s 1,776 stairs for United Way! And everybody did a phenomenal job!

As I entered the base of the tower, my mind was clear - I was going to go at a steady pace.  Not sprint, and certainly not walk but jog.  I mean, after all I am an Olympic Track & Field athlete, and if Adam Van Koeverden can run these stairs in 12 minutes, I could certainly do the same…. Or so I thought.

My hopes were dashed away when I hit the 8th floor and felt winded, and it suddenly occurred to me I wasn’t exactly sure of the amount of floors I had to climb.  Here I was at the 8th floor feeling the beginnings of lactic acid, that uncomfortable burn, and my anaerobic lungs were beginning to hate me… and I had how many more floors to go?

But, I dug deep.  I kept trucking a long, 2 steps at a time, finally reaching floor 67 and hearing the EMS personal stationed there saying “You’re almost there… You’re half way!”  And that was hope!  I was feeling good and thought I’d take a break as I prepared myself to attack the next 67 steps.

That was until I reached the 80th floor and someone again yelled out “this is the half way mark!”  I felt deflated.  I thought I had passed the half way point, and now I’m told that this was the half way point.  I realized then no one knew where we were in this beast of a climb. For all I knew I might be only 1/3 of a way into the climb.  I was feeling deflated, and kicking myself for not remembering how many floors there were, and failing to use my track knowledge to use a more defined strategy including splits… It was at this point I made up my mind to just survive the climb. 

The AquaHumans - swimmer Richard Hortness and rower Darcy Marquardt – had made a clear plan to just enjoy the climb and walk it and had now caught up to me as I lingered on the 80th floor.  Minister Gosal, who was just in front of me, was well out of sight.  My guess was he probably had arrived to the top of the tower by now, enjoying his drink of water and on his way down.   I hung with the AquaHumans for a bit and then decided I’d finish my climb with a sprint-rest-sprint approach, sprinting the last 20 flights.  (In true anaerobic athlete style!)

Bad idea… as we approached the top there was an astonishing back-up of people, limiting us to a snail pace as we timed out.  But, in truth it didn’t matter.  I was just excited to see an end to this labyrinth of a climb.   It was actually fun and really satisfying!

As I stood on the staircase and saw so many people braving these stairs I couldn’t help but feel how possible anything is for us to achieve if we have the will power to do so.

The United Way is a laudable organization, touching a wide array of lives, and to be a part of a team of athletes taking time out of their busy training schedules for this worthy cause was incredible.  Furthermore, I believe we were all blown away to have our Minister of State (Sports), Bal Gosal join us in this climb!

Pretty incredible and yes, I definitely want to do this climb again, next year.  But, next time instead of running 21.10, I’ll aim for a more modest but determined time of 16 minutes.  My approach will be simple sprint-rest-sprint (accounting for my anaerobic athletic qualities) with a measured timed approach of timed splits for every 30 flights of stairs!  

A special thanks to the sponsors and organizers of this Climb.  Also, I will be collecting donations until November 18, 2011 for this climb, so please click here to sponsor me and show your support.

Climbed for a better Community,
Nicole