This morning I did the race up Telstra Tower, 403 stairs. I was pretty confident, even though I had hardly trained at all, that I could run up quite a few of them and get a decent time (I was hoping for something like 6 minutes, my primary goal being that no-one from the following group overtook me). But then we got there and found that they get you to run a few hundred metres to the Tower first.
For any runner, those few hundred metres would seem like nothing. But I would say (going by my body's response) that it was probably further than I've ever run before. They sent small groups off every three minutes, I was in group 26 with three young fit-looking men and two slender young women dressed in cute leopard costumes. We started, and I was instantly lagging behind the group. Up a short hill, then around a marker and back down the hill past the onlookers (it's the only place they could see us as the rest of the race was inside the Tower), looping round behind the building and into the basement. The others in my group were well ahead and out of sight by the time I got halfway down the hill.
I got to the bottom of the stairs completely exhausted. I'd run at a good pace (for me) because everyone was watching, but I had already depleted most of my energy and hadn't even climbed a stair yet! Gone were my dreams of sprinting up. I started to walk up. And up. And up. They had a steward every 100 stairs or so to urge you on. It was a narrow stairwell with metal steps, no windows or anything. My legs were ok, but my breathing was horrible. I was gasping, my lungs burning, the whole way. At the halfway point, people from the next group started to pass me. They were strung out, but by the end I think six people had passed me so that would be the whole next group that left three minutes after me.
At about 250 stairs I was starting to wonder if I could even do it. I had to stop and crouch for a moment, trying not to vomit or pass out, and got my panting under control a bit. Very short break, then off I went again. Finally made it to the top, and out into the fresh air of the viewing balcony.
I don't know my time yet, I didn't check my iPhone at any significant moments but I am guessing around 11 minutes. A bit over my goal!
Oh well, I did it.
As usual, I was too tired to feel a real sense of achievement (I don't think I've ever had any kind of high from exercise). Also a bit disappointed that I didn't do nearly as well as I'd hoped, the run at the start completely undid me. The whole thing was a lot harder that I had expected, and I let myself down with my lack of fitness. I am not feeling at all keen to do this 5K in three weeks, that I also haven't trained for (yet). But I'll keep trudging on.