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Month: February 2014

FF4CURES Poker chips have hit my desk!

FF4CURES Poker chips have hit my desk!

chipsThe latest project finally was delivered to my front porch today with a special purpose geared toward continuing to promote FF4CURES and paying forward.  Over the last eight years I have looked for a way to say thank you to those donating of significance to events that I am competing in.  Something other than a letter or card or photo is needed sometimes when you have great backing that keeps coming back.  The idea last year however was to change that up and also be able to give something to those who I am competing for so they know people are out there fighting for them.  Last year for a couple very special sponsors I had a challenge coin that I presented, to some that doesn’t seem like much, but it really is.

This year however, I came up with using a custom poker chip from as a token of thought and appreciation.   The Military, Fire, Police, and EMS utilize challenge coins of many shapes, sizes, and colors, with the latest thing getting traded around being custom Poker Chips with your logo on them.  I can’t take credit entirely for the idea as I have seen several of my brothers such as Lt. Fleitz – The Fire Critic and Capt. Wines – Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen utilize their own chips along with several F.O.O.L.S chapters doing the same.  Nonetheless, I wanted a piece that could be multipurpose toward my goals and the FF4CURES Chip is it.

Every part of the chip stands for something and has a meaning.  One side has the FF4Cures logo on it that I designed.  On that logo, I have my blogsite name and website, but more importantly the middle.  The orange ribbon represents my dedication to helping find cures while supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The “Buckeye Stripe” signifies my family’s ties to The Ohio State University and the people of the great hospital that saved my mothers life.   My helmet shield and my department patch also adorn the side as wherever I go, I represent not only my family name, but my department name as well.

On the flip side the main focus is the logo of the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, my prime event, my main event of all competitions, and the one that got me started.  This event changed and perhaps I would go as far to say saved my life.  At the top and the bottom of this side, the red/white/black stripe continues as for eight years I have been the only firefighter from Ohio to represent at the International event in Seattle.  I’m pretty proud of being the only Ohio firefighter to rep at an event of this size and it means a lot to me.

The edge of the chip is simple, “win battles one step at a time.”  It’s something that has stuck with me since my first climb in Seattle.  Here I was, a rural firefighter who doesn’t have over a three story in his first due area standing in front of a talk dark skyscraper going “oh my how am I going to do this?”  Someone told me simply one step at a time don’t look at the whole thing, take it by floors and break it up.  All too often when we look at things, the picture can be intimidating, overwhelming, and even impossible, but when we break it down that changes and we start winning the small battles and keep moving.  That diagnosis of Leukemia or really any other disease is a huge one and the battle for the person afflicted, their family, and caregivers can be a long and arduous one.  Celebrating and focusing even on small accomplishments taking them step by step will get you through and get you there.

I am looking forward to placing several of these chips in the hands of some important people over the coming days and while in Seattle.  No doubt they are going to be put to use very fast.  These are going to be a great tool to not only thank some awesome people, but let others know that there are many of us out there fighting for them and fighting for their cure!  For instance the Seattle climb, 1800 of us competing in the event not to mention the hundreds of support staff that will be on hand, the families that travel out, and the worldwide brotherhood that takes challenges like this head on.

If you’re interested in hopping in on the donation wagon please visit and click on the link to the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb and it will take you to the donation portal directly.

Looking to Seattle, whats happening?

Looking to Seattle, whats happening?

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What’s been going on you ask getting ready for Seattle, plenty!

We’ll start with the last 48 hours.  I’ve never been so…excited to be sick.  I came down with some sort of sinus, ear infection, maybe strep but caught it early and sought treatment.  On the bright side its not the day of the event, but still nonetheless I’d rather be well leading up to the final days so I can hit the cardio hard.  With any luck this will pass quickly and I can get back up and running.  In day two of the crud I’m at least seeing improvement.  Now to keep it out of my

chest and be able to max out as much of my breathing capacity as possible.  Its been a little bit of a let down for me as usually I am beating my body hard with cardio and having big 70-125 floor days of climbing so

Three weeks ago at the prompting of a friend I took a step way out of the norm for me and took on a different type of workout than I have ever done since I started getting in shape.  I began attending aerobics at a local studio where she is an instructor and while nervous as hell setting foot into the unknown I must say I was NOT disappointed.  It started out with the first class I attended being a H.I.I.T. cardio class or High Intensity Interval Training for those not familiar.  The nervousness got shoved to the side as I was more concerned with survival for the hour long beating to push myself to new limits.

At first I felt as awkward as a junior high schooler going to his first junior high dance without a date, the wall flower.  Quickly I picked the routine up little by little, being a former band student its all about doing things to a beat or rhythm and I got the sequences.  That was three weeks and about seven classes ago.  Now I’m into the H.I.I.T. and 3-2-1 bootcamp and feeling great.  HIIT has some really nice peaks and valleys to the workout, rocks my legs well, and pushes the cardiorespiratory.  3-2-1 bootcamp pretty much just worked me into a pulp with around seven sets broken down into 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs.  Now that doesn’t seem like much…except you don’t take a break and you just keep moving.  The music is rocking at all of these and the pace is definitely above where my climb pace is so its pushing me!  Say what you want about the classes, the firefighters and athletes that I have talked to about performance in competition swear by similar practice and it works.  A look around at the people participating that have bought into the routine clearly are an example of what the regiment and determination can do!

The final design was approved for my event shirt with the FF4Cures logo on the back and I should have them in my hands this weekend!  Finding a company that will do less than 25 shirts on decent material is difficult at best for some reason, but I kept it local and got it done.  I’m pleased to not only rep on the front for the FCFD, but my family and my website/blog presence on the back.  Its about branding, its about getting the name out there and a place to go for these kind of events and promote wellness and paying forward.  Although the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb is my main event that I fundraise for and champion for, what I am doing is multi event and encompasses many activities.   I am promoting cures of many kinds for several organizations.

Keep checking back for more updates, there should be another little surprise package being delivered in the coming days that I can’t wait to show off.

Totally rocked the tower

Totally rocked the tower


This one is a little late to the posting…actually its been queued up sitting in WP i just forgot to hit the Publish button…DETAILS…  

In sticking with my goal late in 2013 of hitting as many different climbs, venues, towers, cities, and states, this past weekend pushed me even further.  I traveled on Saturday morning to downtown Cleveland, Ohio for the 12th Annual Tackle the Tower climb benefitting the Ronald McDonald House.  This was the first time in the city for a competition and definitely one that I will keep on my list to come back for.  Whether you are new or a seasoned veteran of climbs this is one to check out!

Registering for the event as a firefighter was simple, so was going back in five minutes later and registering as a civilian racer.  I was concerned it might flag that I was registered, but it worked with no problems.  Getting in touch with the event coordinators on the Friday before the climb was equally as easy.  They posted our start times, and the firefighters were missing from the list.  A quick call and great communication from the office had me the answers I needed.

Arriving on the morning of the event, the air was cold and crisp as the wind blew off the lake.   Parking was a snap and gave great overlook of the tower area to see where I needed to be.  Getting my bib numbers and finding a spot to setup camp at was a breeze.  Even with nearly 1000 racers there, the Galleria was still quite open and had plenty of room for us to spread out.  The snacks and hydration were plentiful, as was the help when you had a question or needed something.

When it came down to a delay in the event there was a volunteer or coordinator that worked his way through the Galleria and staging area to let us firefighters know we were going on about 22 minutes later than planned.  To most that doesn’t seem like much, trying to keep warmed up and stretched, but for us it was doffing the gear, keeping cool and stretched.  Speaking of warming up, there were plenty of places to run around, steps to climb, stopped escalators to climb, and generally a great way to get ready.  The “paddock” area to get into the stairwell got a little cramped at times, but it still kept moving and allowed family to be able to see you and cheer you on.

The actual climb in this building itself was one that I think sets it apart from others.  You have a long first flight of stairs before making the turn going clockwise before starting the main stairwell.  After that, the small groups of 4 stairs that were mid-landing were a nice addition to quickly swing up and clear with no problem.  I haven’t seen that in the various towers I have done to date and definitely like it!  The temperature in comparison to other tower climbs was much lower and no surprise heaters to try and bake you on the way up.   As I continued my way up there seemed to be a decent amount of space for passing and for the water break people to setup shop.  The finish line wasn’t much to speak of as they snagged your pull-off from your race bib and scooted you down the hallway.  Perhaps my only disappointment with this climb was that you couldn’t get to an exterior window to look out because of the offices.  If you want a photo op looking down, you’re out of luck.

For my second climb of the day I had about 45 minutes to hydrate and get ready to Tackle the Tower once again, this time in just typical running gear.  This was the second time I have done a tower climb with, and then without fire gear.  I was very pleased with my time, setting PR for both runs for a building this size.  I felt fast, I felt light, and it was a great run.

If you’re in the state next year during this time, make sure to add this one to your list.  A low fundraising minimum for a great tower that’s ran well.

Climb On!

Breaking down your climb

Breaking down your climb

IMG_3683Like any big project or challenge in life it can seem like a daunting task to try and envision the end result, the reward, and what will be in store, stair climbing is no different.  Whether it is a 20, 37, 40, 69, 110 floor climb, that building can look damn intimidating at the base of the ‘A’ side of the structure when all you see is brick, glass, and metal as far as the eye can see.  My first climb in Seattle I remember looking up thinking oh my God, what am I doing, but when I got to the top the reward was huge.

It wasn’t first, second, or even third climb that I came to the conclusion that my stair climb is no different than a marathon, or a business project, or anything else taking extended time and resources.  Where am I when I start, what is my end goal, and in between what benchmarks do I want to make?  The end result for me is survival, beating my own personal record, and achieving something that to the normal person might seem a little insane.

When I finally applied the concept of breaking it down, I found that I saw changes in how I envisioned and performed at the events.   I sat down one fall before a climb and I drew out the tower that I was training for to make a plan.  It wasn’t to scale by any means, but a crude drawing of the building, the start floor, the top floor, and several points in between.  A building that is 69 floors, has 1311 steps, and 768 vertical feet was not built without preparation, nor was it climbed without the same prep work.  A climb is indeed a race, you must pace, you look at split times, have to listen to your body and know when to turn it up or slow it down to keep going and finish your best.

Part of breaking it down is finding out some of the details in order to help make a plan.  Is it clockwise or counterclockwise, are there landings or smaller 4-5 steps on the turns that you can swing up, is it narrow or wide, are they heaters or are they blowing air through it, the list could continue on.  Know your buildings, just as runners know their course, terrain, rise and fall, we don’t always have the option of being able to run it ahead of time.

The Scott Firefighter Stair Climb in Seattle is held in the Columbia Center Tower and sends you up 69 floors with the start on the fifth floor lobby and ending on the 73rd floor at the observation deck.  With this climb we compete in full structural firefighting gear while on air from our SCBA.  At the 40th floor we pull in much like a pit stop for an air bottle change and with any luck are sent quickly back into the stairwell.  The trip to the 40th is no easy trek, in fact it can screw up the entire race for you if you aren’t careful.  Too fast and you burn your legs out, too slow and you’re in your gear longer and building up heat.

I take a quick moment at the 20th floor to quickly check gear, catch a breath, and check my time to see where I am, not really a stop, but a change of pace.  I stretch the legs out some differently and keep moving.  I have still have a decent climb ahead until I get that bottle change, so air consumption is on my mind at this point.

The 40th floor really is the halfway point in the race.  For those of us changing SCBA bottles or entire packs out, this is the firefighter version of a pitstop.  We announce as we are coming up the last flight of stairs the department as they are reading our department name to the people inside.  We enter the floor following people and arrows on the floor briskly pulling into the spot with our bottle changer and drop down.  There is no taking off the mask if you’re smart, as quick as they can get the bottle changed and throw some water down your coat.  You merge back into the “lane” and back out into the stairwell.

Around about the 50th floor I’m checking air again, yes that was only 10 floors ago that I got the fresh bottle, but we are breathing through it and in the hardest part of the climb.  We are hot, the building is warm, our arms, legs, and lungs are on fire.  I’m quickly checking my time because what I do from here forward can make or break the climb.  If I need to take a moment and stop to let others pass, can I?

My other points are at the 60th and 65th floors to go through those checks and sometimes do them while I am moving.  By around the 65th you can hear the finish line above at the 73rd, you can hear the excitement and the encouragement.  That finish line seems like forever to reach.  As I near it, can I sprint, do I need to swing the railings on the way up, dear God don’t let me collapse.

Does it work for everyone, no, it depends all on how we prepare and do our events, but it has changed how I perform and where I am.  As I said, it doesn’t just have to be climbs, it could be that 5k you’re training for or another event, but have a plan.  Just getting out and running or climbing works if you just want to finish, but if you want to see numbers improve, have a plan!

Am I the fastest, no, but I am getting better every climb and constantly looking for ways to improve on my way to paying forward and making a difference.


Tackling tomorrow

Tackling tomorrow

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 9.11.54 AMI’ve had a few weeks to bounce back from the Bop in Indy and continue to build my focus on the upcoming events, fundraisers, and goals for 2014.  What an amazing year this feels like and we are merely a month into it.

Tomorrow morning (early), I will be traveling to Cleveland, Ohio to take on the Tackle the Tower that benefits the Ronald McDonald house.  The 37 floor building will once again let me gauge the progress leading to Seattle, but also let me compete a little more in two separate climbs that day for a total of 74 floors.  I’m registered in the individual race category and also in the Firefighter race as well.  I am aiming for speed on both of them, but I know there are going to be some solid tower runners there so I want to see how I compare with them.  If I haven’t mentioned, it’s a lot different without all the gear on.

I’ve tried some new things over the last week in getting ready, I’ve changed up the routine a little and climbed more, added some new cardio, and going to spend some time meditating and improving my mental shape.  I started the week out on the stairmaster with three SCBA bottles, gear, and determination to climb for a few fallen Brothers from Toledo.  I’ve climbed, ran, and lifted as usual, but then added a new H.I.I.T aerobics class that a high school friend teaches.  The later was what did me in and pushed my body in new and different ways.

I’m looking forward to a new challenge, new building, and the chance to further educate and information people not only about why I climb, but encouraging fitness and paying forward.  Look for an article, photos, and results hopefully tomorrow evening.