p pol The Adventures of Carboman: Citi Vertical Challenge Report

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Citi Vertical Challenge Report

August was a rather mixed month in terms of running. The excitement at the prospect of playing a big role at spreading the gospel on running at the office place was tempered by the disappointment of missed evening training sessions. Since I've always propagated the need for runners to share the benefits of running with others, the "loss" was easier to take. The organizing committee laid out a series of activities culminating with a Vertical Challenge where teams of 6 runners will tackle 35 floors in the fastest possible time. To get the cubicle dwellers into the mood, weekly walks were organized at the KLCC Park. My role was to give a couple of talks on proper shoe and gear selection, and tips on running. I ended up doing 3 sessions as there were many who couldn't make the earlier talks. I brought along some props and went through some slides and videos. The props included several pairs of running shoes and apparels. I felt that the props were important since it allowed the participants to touch and feel the examples. Not many can visualize the difference between normal foam and the denser medial posts of stability shoes. Nor feel the softer blown rubber as compared to the harder heel material. Some things just needed to be touched and felt.

Close to 45 people attended my talks and though not resoundingly successful, I'd like to think that at least the 45 will now be much more informed when shopping for a new pair of trainers.

On Aug 27th, close to 40 teams lined up at the respective transition areas for the Vertical Challenge. Besides being on a diet of 40 odd Ks per week, and a couple of stair workouts, I put in a Yasso 800 (6 x 800m) 2 days before the race, just to get the juices going. Stair running is totally different from normal running and I made this clear to both the teams I helped put up. Some were getting a little tensed from the prospect of winning the top 3 prizes which carried cash awards. The women's team is pretty strong while the men were no slouches too but as we men found out on race day, there are hidden talents in the bank. The event was managed by FTAAA under Vegi and 21st Century Sports, so we got somewhat the same "treatment".
I was the first runner in the 2nd last wave start. The first runners had the toughest leg since we had to negotiate a short outdoor stretch followed by a slippery 20 meters of marbled surface before reaching the stairs. And it rained up to the start time.

As expected the start was fast and furious, with just a bit of shoving. My wave consisted of 5 runners and I was the 3rd to reach the stairway. Things passed in a blur and I certainly ran faster than in training. I didn't time myself but I think it was about 30 seconds. With another floor to go, I was already in pain but just a few steps from catching the 2nd runner. I quickly passed the ribbon (like those used in the Ekiden Relay) to my team mate and exited the stairway with my quads in a jellied state.

A short while later everyone had gathered back at the ground floor lobby exchanging stories. Our lead woman runner had actually slipped as she entered the building and grazed her knee but quickly recovered to overtake 2 on the stairs! Her team would take the 2nd place and RM450 in prize money. The men? We weren't informed of our position but we weren't in the top 3. I was disappointed. We were 2nd in our wave having battled back from 3rd position but as it turned out, the top 3 prizes went to the teams from the later wave, all of them footballers and majority of them Indians! They covered 35 floors in less than 3 minutes, since their teams were more balanced.

Post race with 1 member missing

The women's team which placed second

Nevertheless, everyone had fun (there were finisher's medals for all), which was most important, and the girls even bought us Thai lunch and dessert the next day. The amount of food we consumed led me to believe that we expended 600 calories but topped up 2,000 calories. How about that for over-replenishment? The downer was I badly strained my left quads so badly I couldn't walk properly. Even the triceps hurt from all the sudden pulling up the stairs' handrails. The quad pain was bad enough to put my participation in the Nike+ Human Race 10K the same weekend in serious doubt. Only after popping some muscle relaxants, and 2 days of heavy bandaging did the leg recover sufficiently to make the trip.

Next report: The Nike+ Human Race 10K

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