Teacher Triumph: Climbing the Empire State Building

Are you up for the challenge? [Photo: NYRR]

Are you up for the challenge? [Photo: NYRR]

by Kado Simmons, Body Space Fitness

“I don’t care how strong you are in the stairs, there comes a point when it’s a battle to keep running. It becomes almost impossible.” - Paul Crake, course record holder, ESB Run-Up (9:33 in 2003)

I’m not sure how the idea of entering a race up eight-six flights of stairs (that’s 1,576 steps, or about a 1/4 vertical mile) to the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building entered my mind.  Perhaps it was the auspicious view out my bedroom window.

Perhaps it was a conversation with a triathlete client of mine about motivation, and needing something on the calendar to inspire us to work harder during our training.

In any case, I applied to the lottery through the New York Road Runners Association – and got in.  I haven’t raced since the NYC Triathlon in July 2012, and my football season ended over a month ago, so I’ve been itching for some competition.  After receiving the email from NYRR that I had been accepted (and my credit card subsequently charged $100…) I started whispering with a quiet determination, “You’re Mine,” to that twinkling tower every night before bed.  I also started to do my research.

Tower Running is exactly what it sounds like.  People pay money and spend time training to travel around the world to run up skyscrapers.  Nuts, right?  And I’m not just talking ascension at a casual clip.  These people are booking it up.  The only other sports in the world that I can think of that require you to maintain a maximum effort like that for an extended period of time are cycling (Tour de France-style) and rowing.  Most athletes have to give quick spurts of maximum effort then are allotted greater recovery time (i.e. killing a power play for 45 seconds in hockey then getting a two-minute break while your teammates play).   All I’m saying is that this sport is super intense on all energy systems because of the length of the race, and the movements required to climb.

The race up the Empire State Building started in 1978, and is currently powered by NYRR and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF).  Every year, around 600 participants grunt their way up the dusty, dank stairwell, passing and being passed, catching the occasional elbow to the rib and sneaker to the shin.   I’ve heard it can get nasty.  Australian Paul Crake holds the men’s record.  He finished in 9:33 in 2003.  A female Australian, Melissa Moon, won last year with a time of  12:39, but the women’s record is 11:23.  Must be something in that Aussie water.

Get a taste of the race here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQTmuIeF63g

Hardcore, right?

Then there’s the reality of training for this race.  Which is tough.  Basically, I am trying to both get stronger and improve my cardiovascular fitness in six weeks.  I am lucky because most of the training I’ve been doing is metabolic interval training because I usually only have 20-30 minutes to train anyway.  Still, the goal here is to improve my anabolic, or anaerobic, threshold; I need to be able to push myself harder and longer without fatiguing.

Read more about Kado’s training schedule here! Would you try this challenge?

Kado comes from an athletic background, serving as a four-year starter, two-time captain, and All-American, All-Ivy, and Academic All-Ivy honoree for Cornell Women’s lacrosse (’05-’08). After coaching high school soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse for two years, Kado pursued a certification in Personal Training through NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicin). Her first training experience was in an elite New York City gym. Here she was exposed to some of the most well respected trainers and teachers in the field; within four months, Kado became a top-tier trainer with an extensive and varied client-base. 

Kado has taken every opportunity to enhance her knowledge as a trainer, pursuing certifications and attending workshops for functional movement, kettlebells, sports nutrition, corrective exercise, and program design. She embodies a holistic approach to training, which emphasizes mindful movement, balance, and plenty of hard work. 

Kado has run the NYC Marathon and ½ Marathon, placed 7th in her age group in the ’11 NYC Triathlon, loves to practice yoga, and gets her competitive fill as a wide receiver for her Zog football team.

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