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Month: March 2015

Headed to the Big Apple for inaugural One World Trade Center Climb

Headed to the Big Apple for inaugural One World Trade Center Climb

event_photo-55088520ed644I am very excited to announce that I have signed up and will be climbing One World Trade Center in the inaugural Tunnel to Towers Climb in New York City on May 17, 2015. Information about the climb can be found by visiting my fundraising page at Money raised by this event will help support injured military veterans.

This is a timed race up the iconic building that is the fourth tallest in the world. If I didn’t have enough butterflies and emotions enough from the meaning of this climb, the height of the WTC certainly just gave me more. We will ascend 90 floors up to the finish line with the beginning waves being Firefighters, EMS, Law Enforcement, and Military, followed by civilians. Races and climbs for me may be emotional for different reasons or causes, but this ties together a great number of them and I have no idea what this will be like. I can say this with confidence that I am moved to be a part of this and for a great cause.

I have been waiting for something like this to come along, knowing that surely there would be an event organized like this, but I certainly didn’t think it would be this soon after my previous race. The last time I was in New York City was on Presidents Day weekend just a few months after the September 11 attacks. When I heard that they were rebuilding I told myself that I wanted to see it when it was finished, so I guess this is a good way to do both and see the difference in the city.

Unfortunately one of the things which I enjoy doing, which is competing in my fire gear cannot happen at this event. Organizers have very strict rules that don’t permit fire gear of any type, SCBA, nor equipment. I, along with many whom I climb with are disappointed with that, but it certainly will not squelch my enthusiasm for the event. 90 floors are certainly going to be enough of a challenge in running gear as it is. I’ve raced at most 144 floors in a single day, but that was broken down into several events. I’ve climbed the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs (110 floors) all over the Eastern United States, but those are not for speed like this. I want to be that elite and want that solid time to leave my mark at the first event.

The cost of this one was a little steep, but the meaning behind the climb and where the money is going is priceless to me. Please if you can in any way donate, do so by clicking on the link to help me reach my goal. I have to raise $250 to hit my mark or they charge my card. Reaching that goal is simple though. If 25 of you donate $10 I will hit it! If 50 of you skip the morning coffee from Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, or wherever I will hit my goal. Please donate.

9/11 climb, yes you can!

9/11 climb, yes you can!

10468495_1032110740148241_8911195649184658036_oWith FDIC coming up and this being typically the first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb of the year, I think this is a great time to talk it up. When I say it however, I’m not just talking the FDIC climb, but ANY of the 9/11 Stair Climbs all over the United States. I get a lot of questions through email, social media, and events throughout the year regarding the climb. One of the typical statements that is preceded by a huge sigh or some other noise goes like this, “geesh, I don’t think I can do that,” or “no way, I’m too out of shape to do it.”

Let me address the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb first and what it is, versus is not. These climbs first and foremost are not a race, nor timed, nor are there a first place or any awards given. This is a climb simply in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001. Look at it as a solemn way to retrace similar footsteps of our brothers and a way to build the brotherhood up. For older firefighters it is another reminder of why we chose this professional, for the younger firefighters, it is a great way to teach them about the fire service. Not just teach about 9/11, but the ceremony, showing them brotherhood, and maybe a way to pass this down when we can no longer carry on.

There is no first place, as I said this is not a race. You can move through the event at your own pace, you can climb on air, or wearing your SCBA, or only your turnout gear, or even climb in street clothes if you desire. If you get tired, you stop and move aside, take a seat, grab some water, catch your breath and then hop back in. The importance is being there and showing that “we will never forget.”

IMG_2312 copyTo those that question, can I do it? I have literally seen some of the youngest and oldest people climbing in these annual events. From small children of four years clear up to a 73 year old “retired” firefighter. Young parents carrying their baby on their front and donning an SCBA on their back have been seen hitting the steps, so don’t say that it “can’t be done,” because it has.

Importantly noted, these climbs are a fundraiser for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Our registration fees, our donations that we gather from sponsors are helping the families of our brothers, and should the unfortunate ever happen they are helping your own family. What does the NFFF do you ask? First, they honor the men and women of the fire service who have made the sacrifice. They provide resources for the surviving families, camps for children, scholarships, benefits, grief assistance and counseling, and have you ever been to the memorial? These are just a few of the things that the NFFF does. Visit to find out a little bit more on the organization and what they do in the fire service.

Why do I climb? First and foremost there is the obvious reason of honoring the memory of our 343, but also the building of brotherhood and the experience. I can’t say enough about the people that I have met at these events and the relationships that I have built over the last several years. These climbs can be very emotional and solemn with the right venue and the way they are operated. Thinking about every footstep knowing that we can go home, while remembering others sacrifice is humbling. The ringing of the bell, bagpipes, honor guard, guest speakers, the benchmarks announced through the event, all play a part of this.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.22.20 PMSecondly, I do use this climb as a great day of cardio endurance. I eat, hydrate, warmup, and prepare for this event just as I would any competition that I am doing, because I use these to help keep me in shape for other events. If I can climb 110 floors, then a 35-69-floor race will go a lot smoother. More importantly on the fireground back home, if I can tote my gear 110 floors, then my typical bread and butter fire in my first due area with nothing taller than three stories will be even better.

So if you’re thinking about it and been putting it off, make this your year! There are literally climbs all around the United States and held in varying venues. You’ll find me at FDIC, Yellow Springs Ohio, Firehouse Expo, Columbus Ohio, and who knows where else this year. Sign up, make the commitment and stick to it. Get there early and be a part of the ceremonies, you won’t regret it.

In brotherhood…

In sickness…and in health we climb. Scott Firefighter Stair Climb wrap-up

In sickness…and in health we climb. Scott Firefighter Stair Climb wrap-up

Crossing the finish line at the 2015 Scott Firefighter Stair Climb. A huge thank you to my family, my friends, my sponsors, LLS staff, volunteers, and everyone that makes this a success.

What a whirlwind of events the last two weeks have been for me here at FF4CURES. This is only the second time in nine years of competing at the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb where I have been sick. The last time was a sinus infection, and I must say I’d rather go through that again than what felt like the stomach flu. I left for Seattle with a little bit of the bug, got feeling slightly better the day before and the day of the climb thankfully.

I’ll insert the very exciting part here. I finished with a PR time of 28:12 up 69 floors, 138 flights, and 1311 grueling steps with some of the best brothers I know. I beat my time by 49 seconds. Not bad considering how sick/nauseated I’ve been the last week.

What an amazing year this was for the climb. First of all I went all out throughout the year getting physically ready for it, road racing, stair climbing, biking, tabata, HIIT, aerobics, yoga, and dedicated a lot to taking care of my body. Secondly I worked hard, but fell a little short of how big I thought I could be fundraising. I DID however hit the VIP status this year and raise $2560 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through this great event.

The day that I arrived to Seattle I tried a few new things, including taking the light rail into downtown. I spent the day trying to get my legs limbered up, meeting people at the hotel from the climb, and talking with firefighters that were doing the event for the first time. It was a great time getting to meet Dennis, a new climber that I had been chatting with back and forth for the better part of a year. Headed out on the town and got to talk a lot about the climb, why we’re doing it, and what we’ve done to get here. Given some circumstances the last month or two it was exactly some of the conversations that I needed.

By the Saturday (day before the event) I was running into firefighters on just about every other block in the downtown area. To say that we were a big part of the city that weekend is an understatement, 1900 strong, not even counting our families and support staff! A phenomenal breakfast over at Lowell’s was had, something that is my yearly stop on Saturday to get me fueled up for a day of walking, and doing things ahead of the climb. Over 13 miles on my feet that day definitely got my legs a workout and helped kick some of the sickness. Picked up my race packet and again talked with several teams.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling the best that I would for over a week, seriously. Somehow I managed to hold it together for the climb. The morning seemed to keep moving right along. Thanks to our sponsors Scott Safety and MES Fire along with others that made all of the SCBA at the event possible. We had a phenomenal number of air units filling this year and that seemed to help greatly. Camp was setup in the usual spot on the lower level and I managed to listen to several of the guests in the morning before all the battalions started going up. Climbing in Battalion five it gave me JUST enough time to hydrate more, grab a bagel & fruit, and get my game face on. As we lined up, names were announced, and off we went up the escalators to go through final inspection. I got to see my photographer ladies for the first time, get all my gear connected and step up to the line.

My arm crossed the mat and I took off with the pace that I had practiced and practiced until I couldn’t get it wrong. The metronome that I have practiced with had me in step for the pace that I knew I could handle for a huge PR this year and I was on step all the way to the midway point. I was 11 minutes to the bottle change floor, and for me that was cranking right along compared to previous years. With a 45-minute bottle in my Scott Pak, I was not stopping for the bottle change because I wanted the time. Shortly after passing the bottle change floor things started to change pace a little, the pain, sickness, and shortness of breath from the last couple days started taking its toll. At some point up in the mid 60’s I was pulling the rail hand over hand leaning on the wall to keep going. I looked at the watch and knew it was going to be close. The volunteers in the stairwell were along with each and every one of us cheering each other on to the top. The posters of the honorees on the wall encouraging us to trudge forward and not give up was enough for me

The end, the finish line mat in sight we all entered to a hall and room of screaming people cheering us on and wanting to rip our gear and equipment off. Well, maybe not quite that violently, but after profusely sweating in it for a climb it certainly feels like a weight LITERALLY taken off your shoulders. With 2-3 volunteers around you they strip away the gear as they walk you to a place in rehab. What a relief getting off your feet and cooling off as volunteers check on you and you get to talk with your brother firefighters, snap pictures, and check out the view from the top. Its not too often that view is almost as perfect as it was that day where you can see almost every mountaintop possible. Getting to meet people like Emily Harig who climbed for her sister Julia, and many others with similar stories added to the life changing event. A part of the pushup crew, to see one of the several proposals that day, and to meet more honorees and their family members just added to the whole experience.

Coming down from the top there was two things on my mind, get out of my gear, and find out what my time was. One very awesome stop over at the massage area later and the times were posted on the wall by the time I made it downstairs. Seeing the 28:12 time on the wall was not only a relief, but a huge moment for me.

I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with friends, photographing the event, and well recovering. The mere fact that I survived with how I felt and PR’d by 49 seconds pushed me to thinking about next year and what I knew I could actually place.

I’m looking forward to seeing videos, more photos, and keeping up the conversation with all my brothers from literally AROUND THE WORLD that came in for the event.


Thanks for a great year!

Experience the climb

Experience the climb

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 3.55.35 PMI put this video together to show off a little about what the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb experience is like, and what to expect as a climber if this is your first time.  I’ve got this one posted over on my Facebook as well its getting some views.  I can’t say enough about just how big, organized, and amazing this event is for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Check it out.  These are the views and experience through my eyes in 2014. Click the image above to pull up Youtube and take a look!

Week of the climb!

Week of the climb!

Another practice climb with a 45 minute bottle. Thankfully I have my own structural gear and my own SCBA. Sponsors like Finley Fire keep me up and running with my Scott Pak.

It’s hard to believe that the week of the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb is here and that a year of training, education, dedication, and the furthering of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has passed. When I finished up 2014 I didn’t know if I would be able to keep pace with 2015 and making it better, but I simply have with a lot of support. Even with some expected and unwelcome changes toward the tail end of 2014 I am finding that they were a blessing in surprise.

Amidst all of this chaos I have been in touch with so many people involved with the Seattle climb and many other events as well. I never thought that in 2004 when I started my changes in life that it would turn out like this. I certainly didn’t expect that in 2007 when I did my first climb that I would be where I am either. The social media presence, the contacts, sharing advise, promotion, the pa forward mentality, firefighter fitness, and everything is just moving forward.

The last couple weeks with work and life in general have kept me hopping from one thing to another and unfortunately while promoting the message of health & wellness along with climbs; some of my workouts have been affected. I’m not letting that get to me however and instead pushing that much harder and focusing this week.   I’ve told new competitors that this is just as much about a mental game as it is physical and I’m certain that this year based on my times I am physically ready. The coming week is all about mental preparation while continuing to hit the cardio and keep up.

I am looking forward to the training this week, the packing, travel, and most importantly the people that I will be reunited with or meeting for the first time.