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Stair climbing

The Empire State Building Run-Up: Race to the Top of 86 Floors

Written on February 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm , by

The start of my 86 floor climb! (Photo courtesy of NYRR)

We’re all ashamed to say that when faced with the stairs versus elevator scenario, we probably take the easy way out (or up!) and slip into the elevator at the last second. My first apartment in NYC was a five-floor walk-up (aka an old building with no elevators) with a very narrow staircase. Of course, I didn’t think twice because I was just happy to be around the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Even if a 10-floor walk-up was all I had to pick from, you can bet I wouldn’t have been scared away from the stair climbing that would become my everyday life. But it’s true, no matter how much we know about those sneaky ways to get moving more in our everyday lifestyle, when given the option, most of us won’t take the stairs.

So it’s crazy to think that I willingly decided to join the media heat of the famous Empire State Building Run-Up. While my decision to join the team meant I was helping an awesome charity, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), and running alongside my favorite TV host, Kelly Ripa, it also meant I was signing myself up to run 86 floors to the top of the observation deck of the world’s most iconic building.

Before the race I was all smiles.

Leading up to the race I prepared by running up my 40+ floor apartment building a few nights a week. I understood that very, very quickly my body would go into an anaerobic state and tire me out, so I had to start off easy to not lose steam. I even came up with all kinds of stair-running strategies—sprint every five floors, rest for 30-seconds, do it again; or take large exaggerated steps, which might displace my body weight and make it less taxing—but as the gun shot off and my 30 or so companions hit the stairs running, everything I thought I’d do went out the window. As you can imagine, the stairway of the Empire State Building is narrow and the stairs just seem to go on forever. I listened to my head and started off slow, but I was surprised how hard it was to actually run all the way. Throughout 86 floors, I did a combo of run, walk, then hoist myself up, then run some more, then hoisting, then running. After a while, it felt like my legs literally could not go faster. Read more