A Game of Inches

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been posting about the Empire State Building Run-Up. I got ‘drafted’ into the cause by mentioning it as a bucket list item, but since then, I’ve been active in training and increasing awareness to meet both the physical and fundraising challenge.

MMRF at the start of the ESB Run-Up

The physical part hasn’t been easy. Training for a stair climb is very different than training for a running or cycling challenge. In most running and cycling events, once you get beyond the race-start jitters and settle into your pace, it’s just a matter of staying within your training and chugging along to the finish. In a stair climb, however, it’s relentless. It doesn’t take much to reach the top of your cardio capability, and there’s no way to slow down or ‘coast’ to relax, short of just pulling off to the side and waiting for your heart rate to come back down and the stairwell to stop spinning.

Then there are the physical obstacles – In my first days of training, I was brand new to stair climbing, and I developed a couple pulled muscles in my lower back, which made it hard to walk normally, let along keep working on stair climbing. I had to modify my training and dial it back a bit to allow my body to recover while still working on building my climbing muscles.

Next, was my (allegedly) broken toe – When I first started training, I was running up the stairs, hitting every step. What I didn’t realize was that vertical impact was doing a real number on my feet. I’ve either broken or sprained my 4th toe (If it were a hand, it would by my ‘ring’ toe). I avoided going to the doctor for fear that they might sideline me and keep me from doing the Run-Up. With a number of donors already committed, I couldn’t let them down. Even if I had to hobble up the entire building, I was going to keep working. I did a lot of Googling and reading WebMD…and found that fortunately or unfortunately, they don’t really do much for broken toes. Unless it’s poking at a 90 degree angle, it’s pretty much tape it up and move on. So….I made a couple changes. Instead of ‘running’, I’m ‘hiking’ the stairs, going up 2 @ a time, and pulling myself up. It’s just as fast as the other way, and much less stressful on my feet.

Then there is the fundraising challenge. When I signed up, I committed to raise $2500 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. If I didn’t raise the full amount….I was on the hook for the balance. Frankly, it was a little scary. I’ve never done a fundraiser before, and I don’t like asking for money. Since the cause is so important and my friend is impacted by the disease, I had to get over that really quickly to get moving on fundraising. I started generating publicity via a number of channels – through work, through social networking, e-mail….and calling up news outlets to see if they would run the story. I was lucky enough to get my story picked up by the Fairfax Times. Thanks to Kate Yanchulis and Shamus Fatzinger for taking the time to do pics and write up the story. That story got picked up and re-printed by the Washington Post. Even my hometown newspaper picked up the story.

The response has been humbling – I’ve received donations from friends, co-workers, business acquaintances, and total strangers. I’ve had donations from as far away as Australia, and as close as next door neighbors. I’ve had a number of donations from people whose relatives have been impacted by cancer.

Climbing to the top!

What have I learned? That it’s a game of inches. There has been no one thing that’s made this happen…but a lot of little things. Facebook, LinkedIn, Patch.com, Nextdoor.com have all helped get the story out. The newspaper articles have raised visibility. E-mail requests have made the requests more personal. All these things have worked together to make this goal a reality. With a little over two weeks to go, I’ve climbed as many as 145 flights of stairs in one day, and we’re only $300 away from the original goal……which gets me thinking – why stop when we hit $2500? I want to not only hit the goal…but to blow it away! So, I’ll keep working all the pieces to keep the story visible, and keep asking for donations. I know not everyone can donate….but I don’t know that until I ask. Every dollar I raise helps bring us one step closer to a cure….so that on February 5th, I can focus on not just one step…but 1,576 of them.

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