Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Big Climb was totally AWESOME!!!

The Big Climb Seattle 2011

After all my worrying and fretting about being a Big Climb team captain, after kicking myself in the butt a zillion times because I didn't lose twenty or even ten pounds for the event, I would say today was one of the best days of my life!

My husband took a ton of pictures today (and many of them not at all flattering to me), but the one below is my absolute favorite.

The guy on the left is Steve, and our team was Alaska Airlines Climbing for Steve. Steve was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (preleukemia) last August and had a stem cell transplant last fall. The guy on the right is one of our pilots, Paul. He was in the exact spot last year that Steve is now, recovering from a stem cell transplant after being diagnosed with MDS. This year Paul did the climb, and next year, both Paul and Steve will do the climb. I really love this picture. That's me in the back, on the right (with the bleached blond hair hiding behind people).

The anticipation and excitement was in the air when my husband and I entered the lobby of Columbia Center at 8:30am Sunday (my team's start time was 10:30am). It's a huge space, and it was packed with people, many wearing their team t-shirts. Most people were very fit and healthy looking. You could feel the adrenalin, as well as the fear that some of us first timers were feeling.

We arrived extra early because I wanted to make sure we had a space next to Starbucks on the main floor. It turned out not to be a problem because the Starbucks was located in an out of the way corner. I was a little worried no one would find us, but they all showed up.

Our company had two teams, my team, Climbing for Steve (since most of us knew him we wanted to honor him with a team just for him). The other team wasn't climbing for anyone specific. All together we had 60 people. Between the two teams we raised $8,500 dollars, which I thought was pretty good for a first time effort.

I was very surprised to see Steve show up to thank us in person. He had told me he would try to come, but if he wasn't feeling well, he might not make it. He's had a rough few weeks lately so I wasn't sure if he'd make it or not. Steve is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I've ever met. He made a little speech of gratitude to our team before we took off on our climb. It was very touching and made me cry.

As we were going up the escalators for our 10:30am start time I heard someone shout my name, "Diana!". I turned around and there was Alan from Pounds Off Playoff, with his wife and two kids. I recognized him from his blog picture. I yelled back a "Hi Alan, and Alan's wife and two kids!". I wish I could have spoken to him and his family. It's so cool to meet people that write blogs. It's like you know the person before you even meet them. But we were on our march to the start of the climb and there was no going back at that point.

I'm not going to kid you and say the climb of 69 floors or 1,311 steps was easy for me. It was not easy. It was hard. I slowed down a few times to let younger, more fit people pass me, but I never stopped and rested. My heart rate got up to 161 and stayed there for the last ten minutes. When I work out on the StairMaster at the gym (which is NOTHING like the real thing) my heart rate is usually in the 135-140 range, occasionally going up to 151.

A heart rate of 161 for ten minutes is extremely high for me, especially because of my age (55) my target heart rate (85% of maximum) is 140. I really felt like I was pushing myself hard, and I kept repeating over and over in my head, mind over matter, mind over matter...I can and will do this.

The hardest part was the first ten floors, because I knew how far I had to go and it seemed like a really long way to the 69th floor, the last ten floors were killer because I was exhausted! They number the last ten floors, each floor with a big sign, only ten more floors, only nine more floors, etc. Plus as you get close to the top there was a person at each landing cheering us on, saying things like "good job!" or "you're almost there!" The floors left numbers and the cheering really helped.

One thing that was so emotional for me was the big 8 1/2" x 11" photos on each floor. Several said "In memory of" and a name and date. Some said "In honor of" and a name. This gave me momentum to keep going. I couldn't help but think what each of these people and many others have gone through with cancer. If I could honor them by making this small sacrifice, then it was worth it.

The team t-shirt that really touched my heart the most was a team called Project Trevor. On the back of a bright orange t-shirt it had a picture of a young boy. Below the picture, it said "Dad, I have a question. Is Leukemia life threatening?" ~Trevor 2002. I saw some people wearing the t-shirt in the elevator and said to a woman, your t-shirt made me cry, but what a wonderful way to honor Trevor. She pointed to a man standing beside her and said that Trevor was his best friend's son. Then we all started to tear up a bit and someone said, "No tears here today! Only happy thoughts!" and we all laughed.

I looked up Team Trevor's web page and this is what their greeting said:

Project Trevor is the Big Climb Team Honoring Trevor Price, a young man, lost to Leukemia at 12 years of age. We have been a a key team in the recent growth of this fantastic event. We are encouraged by a young man that will forever be 12 years of age; a young man that was always older than his years.

Here's a link to more about Trevor. What's even sadder is that he lost his life five months after he was diagnosed with leukemia, at 12 years of age. Team Trevor raised $15,808.59 for today's event. Wow.

Sorry, I digress. Back to the actual climb. First of all, I didn't run it, but I was in the "racer" group so I could be timed. When I got to the sign that said "Five floors left!" I could hear the Rocky theme music (Gonna Fly Now). That really helped. It got louder and louder as I neared the top. You know the music, where Rocky is running up the steps in the movie.

So, are you wondering about my results?

Time:  19 minutes and 38 seconds
Place overall:  2635 out of 3242  <---these were the timed climbers, there was another 3,000 untimed
Pace by sex:  1100 out of 1499
Place in my age group:  91/131

Now those numbers aren't super fantastic, but dang, I'm kind of proud of it for my first time. Especially considering that I'm 55 years old and at least 30 pounds overweight (but not next year!).

Are you wondering how the 80-year old woman placed? Actually, this year she's 81.

Shirley Lansing, 81, 36 minutes and 36 seconds.

I hope I do that well when I'm 81!

My goal for next year, 15 minutes! I saw several people in their fifties did it in 15 minutes or less this year. Imagine how easy it would be if I was thirty or even fifty pounds lighter?

Overall, I really enjoyed this event. I talked to the other team captain and we're already scheming how to have one big team next year of over 100 people. If we raised $8,500 with 60 people, we can raise at least $10,000 (or more) with 100 people.

Speaking of weight
I weighed this morning when I got up.


Holy Crap Batman!

I've been stressed out a little over the Big Climb. It had some sort of negative effect on my eating. I realize that doesn't make any sense but it's almost like I had this overwhelming pressure to lose weight. I mean seriously, the fat girl is going to climb 69 floors and not have a heart attack? The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to eat. It was really odd how it made me feel.

Looking through all the pictures my husband took of me today, I'm looking very fat. There's just no other way to say it, but I can really see the weight on my body and face and I don't like it one little bit. Not to mention hauling this body up 69 flights was a lot harder than it should have been for me.

We have a Weight Watchers at work group that just started, and I'm joining it. It's on Wednesdays at noon for 17 weeks. We have over 20 people signed up so we get an extra discount with Weight Watchers for having over 20 people, and our company is paying for 30% of the fee. Plus I'm staying in my Saturday meetings and paying my online fee. So I'll have two meetings and two weighins a week for the next 17 weeks. I feel really excited that I'm going to finally make some headway on losing weight again.

Battle: Los Angeles
This post is already too long, but I have to tell you about the movie we saw this afternoon. Battle: Los Angeles. I loved it! It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire movie. I laughed, I cried, and was thoroughly entertained for almost two hours (but it seemed like twenty minutes).

It's a sci-fi with aliens-war-suspense-scary movie. All the stuff I love rolled into one movie. I'm sort of a weird female because I love war movies. I'm sure it's from being married to a big history buff for the last 23 years. I've seen more than my share of war movies (but I kind of like them now).

Anyway, I loved it. I know the ratings aren't the greatest, but it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

I must still be high from my climb. I'm a real chatterbox tonight!


Roxie said...

Brava, Diana, Brava!

I'm so glad you had a good time. You are awesome!

bbubblyb said...

Way to go Diana i'm so glad everything went good and it was a great day for you .

Alan (Pounds Off Playoff) said...

Diana, it was so great to see you, if briefly. What an amazing team you put together! Folks, they were all over the place, and they even had their own airplane mascot! Hey, I am very impressed with your 19 minute time. Congratulations. My post will be up first thing in the morning.

Mommyto3andahusky said...

Love your blog! I am your newest follower! :) Erin

Ron said...

Congrats on your climb and the money raised!!!!

Helen said...


~ Lyndsay The Kitchen Witch said...

Yay you!! You did amazing - and you look fabulous! Thanks for the inspiration. Onward to a brand new week...

Dawn said...

I'm so so so pleased, I've been willing you on for this event and even though I've read all your posts I hadn't grasped the scale of the event....19 minutes climbing up stairs...thats one big climb.
I'm delighted in your success and look at you already saying do it again next year. Brilliant xXx

jinxxxygirl said...

Yeah yeah yeah!!! You did it! But girlfriend you gotta stop looking at the negatives. Like most people like to tell me when i talk negatively.....'Most people haven't even got off the couch yet' !! You did an awesome job!Embrace that. Love that moment of reaching the top. Don't wish your life away to next year when your thinner. Big hug girl! Good job! deb

Saints and Spinners said...

Thanks for this account of The Big Climb. You have a lot to be proud of. I raise my glass (of water!) to you.

Yesterday is kind of a blur for me, but one of the highlights was coming home and having my daughter make an "award" for me. I'm going to treasure it.

Pamela said...

Wow, Diana!!! I am SO proud of you! You're, as always, my hero!

Grace said...

I meant to comment earlier...way to go, Diana. I'm very proud of you.