i looked forward to the empire state building run-up ("esbru") for one reason; i could wear a singlet for the first time since late last fall - ha. but, seriously, even with the snowfall outside (and we'd finish the climb on the 86th floor observation deck in the snow), the stairwell was hot, humid and (to some) dusty. this would be my second time (the first in 2007) at this event (and my 5th stair climb overall).
my primary goal was to beat my 15:35 2007 finish time. while i really wanted a sub-15, since i hadn't done any race specific training for the event, that target wasn't realistic. when i arrived at the empire state building we were directed upstairs, to the second floor, for check-in. last time around the staging took place in the basement. we moved up in the world :D
the first person i ran into was ruth, who was being interviewed by a local paper. i thought that was a funny coincidence because i first met ruth at this event - and have seen her at dozens of races since then! as i was changing into my running gear, mike, a reporter from the journal news interviewed me for his coverage of the event. that was a lot of fun!
i also ran into another friend, anna, as i waited for emmy (her 7th esbru) and our friend john, to arrive. she came down via metronorth, and john ducked out of work for a little bit to cheer us on. when emmy arrived, she too was interviewed by a local reporter. at this point, with the brokers run-up and preliminary heat having already gone off, it seemed there were as many media on the second floor as runners!
the women ran the first wave. they lined up and were brought downstairs for the start just before the first wave of men (who would follow 5 minutes later). on the ground floor, we could see the women lined up in front of us, and cheered them on when their race went off. notable among them was running legend nina kuscsik - running her 8th esbru! mary wittenburg, was the master of ceremonies.
after the women went off, we moved up to the start line. the toughest part of this event is the actual start of the race. honestly, the greatest risk of injury is in the crush of runners pushing into the very tight doorway to reach the stairs! once inside the stairwell, it's elbow to elbow climbing the first few flights of narrow staircase. by the third story, the staircase widens a bit, but it's still a "wrap-around" climb for each flight of the lower floors. eventually, it becomes a straight climb up to each new floor.
i reached the 43 floor in just under seven and a half minutes (7:26). given the slow going during the crush of the first few floors, it seemed like a decent half way split. but even though the 15 minute goal looked enticing at that point, there was no way i could sustain that pace for the second half. i was already using my upper body to pull myself along via the handrails. plus, the seriously loud breathing of a couple of nearby runners was disconcerting.
i refocused my attention to the task at hand and just kept climbing. aside from two aid/water stations and the occasional photographer, the stairwell was empty except for runners. at one or two points on the way up, the reentry doors were open and there were a few of office workers standing there as "spectators." eventually i felt the first cool breeze of fresh air coming down from the roof!!
the final challenge, after all that vertical distance, was to simply cover the few horizontal steps on the observation deck to the finish line! the snow and wet ground didn't bother me in the least. it was my legs, that had suddenly forgotten how to move forward, that scared me once i had gotten up there! thankfully, muscle memory was intact, and i avoided falling on my face inches from the finish - ha. and the doorway back inside was just a few steps beyond the finish, so had no time to get cold.
after some water, we headed back downstairs (via a pair of elevators) to the 61st floor, where the post-race activities were held. the food included pastries, which given the number i ate, completely negated any exercise related benefit i may have derived from all the exertion to reach the top - ha. my finish time, 15:56 was mildly disappointing (21 seconds slower than hoped for) - but i still had a great time!
here are my race photos.