Editor’s note: On Feb. 6 club member Bruce Yang completed the Empire State Building Run-Up, an 86-story, 1,576-step stair race to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Bruce finished 62nd out of more than 570 entrants, despite being weakened by a viral condition that greatly curtailed his training. Here is his first-person account of the race.
By Bruce Yang
I was very much looking forward to the 2013 ESBRU. I was keeping myself pretty healthy and have not gotten sick since the winter of 2011. Unfortunately, just 10 days prior to the ESBRU, my body was severely weakened, first possibly due to some common cold virus and then possibly viral pneumonia got into my system. I focused on just resting, sleeping, drinking fluids, and fighting off with my own immunity for one week, and I quarantined myself for pretty much that whole week. When my body started recovering, I went out for a test climb and it was no good. My lung capacity was so week and merely jogging would weaken me severely. So I decided to continue to rest until the race day. My original goal of beating my 2010 time was out the window. By estimating my own condition at that moment, if I could even make it to the start, I would be lucky to finish the climb within 20 minutes. I felt my lung capacity was at 20 percent of what it normally is. I did not know how far I could push and how many floors I could go up with my body just recovering from the severe illness. (Wife) Di told me to consider not doing it this year and wait for the next year. But I told her that this is ESBRU and it is not something that is easily signed up to get into. Of course, as an experienced athlete, once again, the experience could tell me how to push hard without inflicting life-threatening situations.
On the race day, I was still feeling very weak and dizzy. However, the symptoms pretty much cleared up and thus were not contagious to the other participants. I was in the Time Trail wave in which the starting order corresponded to the bib number which in turn correlated to the last names. Since my last name starts with a Y, I was in the last wave and did not start running until 9:30 PM. Perhaps it was good because I actually took a nap near a quiet corner of the starting area to rest more.
I decided to use the first 20 floors as a testing ground on how hard I could push. Going up to the 20th floor, I was taking it easy. But I did pass a lot of climbers already. The ESBRU has evolved drastically since the first time I participated in 2008. That year there were probably around 200 finishers. This year it had 724 finishers, and my Time Trial subgroup had 573 finishers. After the 20th floor, I felt that I could push hard enough to do the best I could, so I went up with a hard but cautious effort to finish the climb in 15 minutes and 49 seconds. It was disappointing that I did not beat my 2010 time of 15:43. I also had to utilize a lot of effort to pass about 160 climbers on the way up. Back in 2010, I probably only needed to pass no more than 10 total.
As I am speaking, I am still recovering but my physical condition is fine and I am almost completely back to my normal status. My overall place in the Time Trial grouping was 62nd, 58th for my gender and 11th in my age group.
I wore the wonderfully designed new RRR singlet throughout the race, and since I was probably the only person at the race wearing the new RRR singlet, it probably helped me and forced me to push through it.
And by the way, I was looking to hear if Thomas Dold won for the eighth time. I was shocked to find the winner was not him. But no, he did not get beaten by the new winner. He apparently probably got beaten by some winter cold virus also. The news report said Thomas Dold did not show up this year due to some illness. I guess I was not the only person who got really sick during this cold winter season.