Run Up the Empire State Building - 1 February 2011
We drove up to New York on Monday afternoon and arrived at the Hotel Metro which is a brief 2 minute walk from the Empire State Building. We had dinner immediately and went to bed as the drive was exhausting. I set two alarms, but kept waking up during the night. In fact I was awake at 3am and never got back to sleep again. I was supposed to be at the ESB at 7:30 for my number pick up, and indeed, after a short snowy walk, there was the stunning Art Deco building looming in front of us, that is the Empire State Building. It provoked quite a strong emotion, as it is so aesthetically perfect and knowing that I would be running up those iconic stairs also made me pause.
When we got to the number check-in, it was chaotic! I had just collected my number and t-shirt, when the first call to line up was announced. I sent Stuart off to the bag check-in whilst I pinned on my number, and asked a very nice lady to pin my tribute bib on my back. Then the timing chip went under the shoe laces and I lined up, ready to go to the start line. It was all a bit hectic, as I had not even had a coffee, and eating anything was out of the question. I did not even have a chance to warm up and had to do a few lunges at the start line! I also met another colleague from Millennium, Beth, and we had a nice chat just before the horn sounded about 5 past 8.
We lined up downstairs, the horn sounded and we all rushed off toward the stairwell. On first entering the stairwell, there was a strong smell of pot which accompanied us for the first 5 flights. All stairs are not alike, and these proved to be a revelation. Modern buildings have staircases which are placed in such a way that you can run up them two at a time. Naturally an Art Deco building has matching Art Deco stairs – so these stairs were quite high and could not be taken two at a time. Instead, I had to run up each of them individually! The time seemed to be flying by, and I just kept going, though it tough going in some places. It was over before I knew it. That is the downside of a stair climb: time flies by really quickly. I arrived at the observation deck and it was raining large chunks of snow. I did a very quick lap of the deck, and then we were ushered indoors, to make way for the others coming up. I collected my medal and went to meet Stuart. Every one was full of congratulations and good wishes, and it was also nice to meet up with Beth again and we had a celebratory hug at our achievement. There was no time to dawdle as we had to leave immediately before the weather got too bad. It was a bit rushed, but I think it will still take a few days for all this to sink in. I am still not sure about my finish time, as my watch said 25:56, the finish line clock said 30:56 and my official time came out at 31:06.
This race though, was about so much more. What started out as a race goal (to climb the Empire State Building), soon morphed into a desire to raise money and support the vision of the MMRF. I had asked some friends to advertise my climb on their blogs, and I soon received a donation from a woman I did not know. I received an email from her in return to my thank you, and she told me that both her mum and her cousin were in remission from multiple myeloma – though her cousin is not yet out of the woods. My race was in tribute to her mum Kathy, and I wore her name on my back, all the way up those 1576 steps. I thought about her a lot during my climb, especially when my legs and lungs caught alight. Although I feel excited about having done this race, I feel prouder about the fact that I managed to raise some money for the MMRF (with all of your help) – admittedly it might only purchase 10 mice, but it is one small step nearer to finding a cure for cancer – something we all aspire to. What is even more awesome and inspiring is the kindness and generosity of all those who contributed to my climb, and who share that goal and vision. I have never done an event for charity before, and did not quite know how to raise the money. But I asked, and family, friends and colleagues did not hesitate for a moment. I also had many contributions from people I have never even met. In fact this has been such a great experience that I am going to do it again next year and improve my time. In fact, some of my regulatory colleagues have already committed to joining me. If anyone else wants to join, please let me know as we are going to have the climb of our lives! Please see the link below for some pics.
Words cannot express my deep thanks to all of you for your kindness and generous giving spirits. I may have physically climbed the Empire State Building, but you were all right behind me. As Sir Isaac Newton once said, "If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants".