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Month: February 2015

Jonas…bottle changer

Jonas…bottle changer

FullSizeRender[3]This little guy might as well be in charge of the motivation aspects of my competing.  Jonas even a five is starting to get “it” when it comes to helping people.  Certainly his level of competitiveness and wanting to win, help, and be involved is awesome.  He’s got the SCBA bottle changes down pat and I’m looking forward to getting him more involved.

While I’m not doing a bottle change at the 40 this year and finishing with one bottle I know i could count on him to get it done.  I’m looking forward to him coming to Seattle in the future.

Welcome to the firehouse Brian

Welcome to the firehouse Brian

_JHB3794It’s not everyday that we have visitors at our firehouse, but it’s far from the first. I am blessed with volunteering with a very family friendly and service oriented firehouse. Doors are open, you want to stop in, check it out, get the tour, go all through the trucks, you name it we are proud to do it.

Knowing that and having a local honoree for the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb this year I invited Brian to my firehouse recently. Brian had a short stint outside of the hospital where he was able to spend some time at home before his bone marrow transplant. With limited time before he would go in I wanted to seize the opportunity with both he, myself and my family were well. Knowing that even a small sniffle can be bad for someone I was so happy that we were all healthy and at less of a risk for a problem.

Brian and his family arrived at my firehouse and while it took a few minutes for him to warm up to the place, his brothers and sisters were full of energy and ready to see just what we have. Some of them had visited a firehouse before, but clearly not gotten the hands on tour the three of my firefighters and myself put on for them. They went from top to bottom of the firehouse, trying on fire gear (yes cleaned), going through the fire trucks and even a ride in our new Rescue 415. It was a great night for the kids, myself, and my firefighters to see and understand more about what a family is going through.  To see his smiling face as he adventured around and then took that ride on the rescue was a boost of energy for everyone.

This year I am climbing for Brian Ford!

PR x2 in Cleveland

PR x2 in Cleveland

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 6.57.44 PMSaturday morning I traveled north to Cleveland to “Tackle the Tower” for the Ronald McDonald House. The 37-floor climb at the Erie tower on the shore of the frozen lake was the last major event before I head to Seattle and I used it to gauge my training and look and pace. Call it a test and tune of the racing world, this event was very important for me to hit to help my premier event.

This was the second year that I have competed at the event in Cleveland and what a great time that it was. I knew going into it how the stairwells were laid out and how to swing the clockwise railings to my advantage. I had a plan, I had goals set, and while they weren’t crazy, my goals were going to take some work.

Goals for Cleveland

  1. PR in both events
  2. Break down into the 5 minute range on the solo
  3. Break down into the 8 minute range on the firefighter climb
  4. Not stop…unless someone is having an emergency

I must say that the day or so leading up to Cleveland I was a little dinged up, some extremely sore muscles around my ribs, possibly something out of place in my upper back, and fighting some allergies or something coming on. Unless I was hanging my head in a bucket I was not going to miss this race. The morning of the race I woke feeling slightly better but still with some messed up muscles while breathing. The trip up while early was a piece of cake. Thanks to some work with the organizers of the event and those running the timing I was able to get an early flight time up for the solo so I had some time to rest before the firefighter climb.

As usual I setup camp toward the tower end of the galleria and had a great spot to people watch and be close to the climb area. Got a great warm-up, run, and mingled with people before my solo climb. Surprise to me as I’m standing in line and switching lists from pre-climb to climb I look up and see Channel 3 doing interviews and unknown to me, doing a LIVE SPOT… See that link here.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 5.34.44 PMI was pretty happy with most parts of the solo climb, I mean afterall I did PR and meet other goals.   I had a time of 5:47.9 in the solo which earned me 4th place in my age group, 39th overall, and cut my time by 38 seconds from 2014. I nailed it, but I didn’t crush it as much as I hoped. When I finished I knew that I still left some out there and could have pushed further. I guess to go back and look at it now I would say that the first staircase I know I should have had more of a burst up and there was a section of five floors or so that were interesting. On the up side those short staircases I grabbed the rail and swung myself up and leg my legs get some rest.

The firefighter climb seemed to sneak up pretty quick, but I remembered that last year there were some issues that they had to delay the start for. The climb overall felt good, I kept a decent pace and other than checking on brothers in the stairwell there was no coming to a full stop ever. 37-floors with 46.5 pounds of gear on is a challenge I’m not going to lie, there were a few sections that I wanted the pain to go away, but the end was so near and the pain would stop. I finished with a 9:18.8, earning a 12th place and cut my time from 2014 by 9.8 seconds and my second PR of the day. The only goal I didn’t reach was getting down into the 8’s for my firefighter climb, but I have another goal for next year and something to push for.

The conversations with volunteers, those from the event, and brother firefighters were great. The opportunity to talk on the way DOWN the stairwell and hear from newer firefighters on the job was equally as great. Awesome local representation from fire departments up north and to Elyria for bringing home the trophy for most firefighters climbing. Hats off to you!

This event left me very excited for Seattle and the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb. I mean a 37-floor time of 9:18.8, that’s over halfway up the Columbia Center Tower. I know that second half in Seattle is an ass kicker, but if I can get there in under 10 my time is going to be looking good. A lot can happen in the next four weeks and staying healthy in body and mind is important. One thing is for sure, my times have me extremely excited to see what a firefighter with nothing over three stories in his first due will finish like in Seattle.

Congratulations to all the competitors from this weekend and everyone that is championing for great causes. Best wishes in your upcoming climbs. To those climbing in Seattle we have a lot of work to be done. Climb Conquer Cure!

Tackling Ronald

Tackling Ronald

IMG_7586As I’m recovering from the 2015 Tackle the Tower in Cleveland, Ohio I thought I’d take the opportunity to put together a few thoughts and on this great event that benefits the Ronald McDonald House. Before I even talk about my successes today, I want to talk about this gem of a climb and hopefully get a few more people motivated into the sport. Yes, I said sport because it truly is. If you’re new to this whole tower-climbing thing, take your “race” out, and put it UP. Take away the wind, rain, most light, humidity, and add dust, heat, and at the end the feeling that you will cough up a lung. Yes that’s stair climbing or tower climbing.

The Tackle the Tower is held annually in downtown Cleveland at the Erie Tower. I’ve now had the pleasure of climbing this one for the last two years and let me tell you, this one is a great event. I mean really, you’re benefitting the Ronald McDonald house…KIDS!!!! Come on. It’s a 37-floor climb with several options from the single race, to a fun walk, teams, firefighters, and mascots. Yes I said firefighters, so unless you’re new to my blog you realize that I not only climb in my gear, but I promote it and the competition amongst our brotherhood quite frequently. Gather some guys from your firehouse, maybe neighboring ones and come up. It’s a great time and probably one of the least crazy things we do.

Venue… It’s amazing, plain and simple the area at the galleria that they have to work with is HUGE. They host over 600 people at this event and honestly it feels like they have the space for twice as many. The whole lower level of the galleria has plenty of space to setup “camp” as I like to and move around. Restrooms that are close, and before you even get there…the PARKING for this across the street is cheap and plentiful! Once inside if you want to warm up, sure you can stretch wherever you are, but the upper level has plenty of space to jog and get ready. By plenty of space I mean that I know fitness centers with a running track that’s smaller.

Goodies… The shirts are heavyweight and not junk. The area for sponsors to come in and hand out goods was well stocked again, and let me tell you about food. They had fruit, bagels, granola bars, drinks of all sorts, and bags to tote it all back to “camp” if you were hitting it pre-climb. You NEED to stop here and get something! In the goodie area, at least the last two years has been a hidden gem for AFTER the climb. Smyle’s Touch, LLC has tables and a massage chair setup as well to work out that post climb pain discomfort. Never had a massage after a race or climb before? Don’t miss out on this.

The start… The starting line for this event is not in the galleria, but at the far end of it, so it actually aids the flowpath for finishers and those headed to the starting line. Again, the venue really helps make this work well. This climb is not done with timing chips or RFID tags on the race bib as many of the newer races so knowing your start time offset is important. They line you up in numerical order at the start and its important to be there before your flight time. I repeat…its IMPORTANT to be there BEFORE your time. If they tell you you will start nine minutes OFFSET from the beginning of the race and it begins at 9:00am that means at 9:09 you already need to be lined up. It moves quickly

The climb…I don’t know that the actual climb could be called “fun” because honestly if you can walk away without being drenched, you didn’t do it hard enough. This tower however is a fun one. From the starting line you have a long ascent followed by an interesting clockwise climb. Where the stairwells I have raced elsewhere you climb, hit a landing, and repeat. At this tower there are many shorter sets of 4-5 stairs instead of a landing. The ability to swing these and skip a few steps keeps you moving. I like it, it’s a change and something different to mix it up and make it not just another monotonous tower. Up the tower there are several water stations and plenty of motivational signs to keep you into it. The finish comes up quickly and spits you out into a narrow hall where water, volunteers, and paramedics are waiting. It’s a little tight, but there are plenty of elevators to take back down.

The people…you will meet some of the nicest people at races, climbs, and competitions. Show up with fire gear and you can multiply that by 100 as they are curious about your gear, why you do it, and to check out what you use. It’s a great opportunity to talk to kids and even educate public even more. Event coordinators and those volunteering and running this event were great to work with and had answers when I needed them.

I can’t say enough about this event and how much I enjoy it as a close race to attend. If you’re looking to try one out and see if it’s for you, the entry fees aren’t bad and I think you will love it. You can check out my video from the 2014 climb here on Youtube: Whatever you’re doing out there, enjoy yourself, have fun with it, and make a difference!