Running Stadium Stairs

For a couple of years, I’ve wanted to run the stairs at Harvard Stadium. It looked like a killer workout. But I wanted a partner. Even though I usually work out alone, for some reason, I was hesitant to try this alone. Why is a mystery. I used to live in the towers at UMass Amherst and would run the 22 floors; when I cruise with my family, I run the cruise stairs for 10-20 minutes to offset all the cruise eating — why couldn’t I just get myself to run stairs in a different place?

After months, if not years, of false starts with people who said they’d do it with me, one day I read this article Building Endurance Step by Step and decided I was doing it NOW. When you wait for people to do something, it might never happen.

Crap – my car’s in the shop!

If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it. I hopped on my bike to the stadium. Once inside, I saw a couple of people running in an otherwise empty stadium — save for two guys eating their lunch on the seats. Ugh, why were they there right when I am about to start? I don’t need an audience to watch me make a fool out of myself. Oh well, I’ll probably only be able to tackle one small section my first time.

iPod on. Go!

I ran up the first set of stairs, feeling as if I was going to fall. Something about seeing all those gray seats in my peripheral vision was throwing me off balance. Then I focused on counting the stairs.

Holy heartbeat! That was intense.

Coming back down the stairs was much slower. I couldn’t really run them, so briskly walked.

The next time I tried to run the seats, which are much higher than the stairs. Big challenge. I’m barely five feet tall so my legs were stretched to Gumby proportions. By the time I reached the higher seats, my body had abandoned any coordination in favor of momentum. Any sort of limb swinging in any direction was the way I made it up the last few seats.

Damn you lunch eaters. Hope you didn’t see that.

Alternating between the stairs and seats, I worked my way past the 1/4 way point, which was my goal today. I ran up one set and walked down the next so I don’t know if that counts or how people count them, but that’s how I did it. Soon I was at the halfway point.

I can keep going! I can keep going!

By the 3/4 point, my lungs burned, my heart raced. But the end was ahead. Not only would I try running the stadium for the first time, I’d run the whole thing. If only I kept going.

And then — final set. Success!

I looked across the stadium at the guys eating lunch. What — they weren’t going to stand up and cheer? I made it ALL THE WAY AROUND and nothing?!

Nope. They were too busy talking to each other.

I walked to my bike and started riding home.

Bike ride after running stairs? What was I thinking?

Since that day, I’ve been running the stairs every week. But as soon as the cold air hits, I’m out of there!

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