Thursday, March 12, 2009

Getting in shape... going downhill?

The Hustle Up the Hancock was in the news again a couple of weeks ago. The Hancock event is a fundraiser for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. The idea is that people voluntarily run (or walk or, one might think, crawl) up the stairs of Chicago's iconic John Hancock Building; runners can choose the full 94-floor course or the "half course" -- 52 flights of stairs.

I need a rest just from typing that last sentence.

And I always feel worse after watching the news stories about the climb. At least a couple of Chicago TV stations will have one of their sports reporters participate in the event -- seemingly without breaking a sweat -- and then, to add insult to injury, they interview some of the other runners -- perhaps a 95-year old great-grandmother who just finished the full course in a personal best time.

It seems unreal to me. I plan my commute to work around escalator repairs -- in order to avoid climbing stairs. I'll go to a different station; I'll ride on the front of the train instead of the back. I mean, if I wanted to walk uphill or down, I could always move to San Francisco or something, right? I'm a flatlander.

Of course, sometimes I get fooled and an escalator has gone out during the night and I get stuck climbing... c...l...i...m...b...i...n...g the stairs, legs feeling leading, breathing heavily, seeing spots....

My office is on a floor in the low teens in my little corner of the Loop. I could no more climb up the stairs to my Undisclosed Location than I could fly there.

But, recently, after seeing the news stories about the Hustle Up the Hancock, I thought, you know, maybe I could walk down the stairs.

I know I need to walk more and the weather in Chicago is seldom conducive to taking a lunchtime stroll. Just walking down the stairs on my way to court would probably double what would otherwise be just a block-and-a-half walk. At least it would seem like it to me.

Thus it happened... just a week or so ago... I screwed my courage to the sticking point and, instead of waiting for our unbelievably slow elevators, ventured into the adjacent stairwell.

The door locked behind me.

For fire safety reasons, people have to get into the stairwells. For building security reasons, except on the first floor, most of these doors automatically lock to prevent reentry from the stairwell.

So I didn't worry about the ominous clicking. I forged ahead.

I stepped bravely downward... and twisted something.

No, seriously.

I was cringing by the time I reached the 10th floor....

Limping by the 5th....

Barely holding up under the strain as I opened the lobby door.

I was embarrassed to tell Long Suffering Spouse about what had happened when I got home that evening. I tried to tell her, in hushed tones, outside the hearing of Youngest Son.

But kids -- teenagers in particular -- have an uncanny ability to hear things they're not supposed to hear. Youngest Son burst into the room where we'd been talking and immediately interrupted: "You pulled a muscle going down a flight of stairs?"

It took me a couple of days to heal up enough to make the attempt again. I still had pain... but I made it.

A couple of days later I went down the stairs three times without incident. I proudly whispered my achievement to Long Suffering Spouse -- but, still, somehow, Youngest Son heard it from the other room and came running in.

"Feel the burn," he said. And then he laughed.

Sometimes I really hate kids.

6 comments:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh curmy! i feel your pain! i live on the 19th floor and if the elevators went out like they did in that hurricane a few years ago and the generator failed, well, i'd either have to just stay in or jump over the balcony rail. a few years ago i thought i could do taibow or however you spell it. i thought i was doing pretty good too for a while. then i realized that was only the warm up part and the real part was yet to come. tossed that bugger!

smiles, bee
tyvc

Shel said...

Kids haven't improved since I was in high school, have they? Me, I'm allergic to stairs, up OR down. Also, found this site you might like, as it's also written by a Chicago lawyer - albeit she doesnt' have the experience that you do: http://thekitchensinkrecipes.com/about/

landgirl said...

Tell youngest that going down uses different muscles than going up stairs so it can be just as strenuous. And remind him that he, too, will be old(er)some day--sooner than he thinks.

Steve Skinner said...

Just take peace in knowing that old age and treachery will trump youth and enthusiasm any day of the week!

Shelby said...

similar thing happened to me in my building not too long ago.. I'm too "experienced" (old) to do stairs.

done that been there..

hopefully not again.

sari said...

It's actually harder on your body to go DOWN the stairs than UP the stairs. There's more stress on your knees.

This I learned from my father, who in his 60's is racing in marathons.

I can't race across the backyard without feeling like my legs don't work properly so I feel your pain.