Monday, December 6, 2010

Vetical Running

Being one with my finger on the pulse (sometimes literally) of current fitness crazes, I know all about the latest vogue for vertical running. For those that haven't heard of it, the Vertical Running organisation describes it thus
The world’s tallest skyscrapers and towers are the scenario for this fast-growing sport where thousands of amateur athletes and top international specialists can race up 100 flights of stairs in just a handful of minutes

Hundreds of flights of stairs....... in a handful of minutes!!

I've become an unwilling participant in my own minor version of this new sport which I call 'Vertical Staggering'. In this one, a handful of unfit office workers are forced to careen breathlessly up 12 flights of stairs to reach the free levels of the carpark because the lift shuts down at 4.45pm.  I mean, who on earth shuts down a lift just before all the workers kick out from their cosy little offices? Well, Wilkinsons, that's who. They own the lift which would normally sweep us majestically to the upper levels where we get free parking for 23 hours, the odd hour being obviously to discourage any local travellers from setting up camp, but for reasons best know to them, it only operates within office hours.

So, twice a week, I join my fellow workers in the long upward slog back to our cars. The first two flights are easy as we all nip up pretty sharpish to avoid the dreadful smell emanating from the urine-soaked walls, the locals obviously finding the short walk to the public toilets just a step too far. That's where the French have it right. They just pee anywhere rather than in the relative confines of the carpark stairwell, diffusing the odour like a urinary Air Wick freshener.

By the third floor, 6 flights later, the thighs are starting to burn a little and the heartbeat is up and you try not to think about the 6 flights still to go. You reach the fourth floor and have an overwhelming urge to trip up that uber fit, tight buttocked fitness freak who's actually jogging past you. Bastard!

Floor 5b (10 flights)  hoves into view and you are breathing hard and the pounding in your chest has taken on industrial proportions. The air seems thinner and you are sure that there is more gravity here. You can feel it pushing down on you.  A woman in tight jeans with a disgustingly pert bum passes you. You wonder whether to feign an asthma attack but you worry she may call the paramedics and your sham will be discovered. You decide to adopt a more aerobic approach to your climb that will also be kinder on your muscles. It's called crawling.

You are reminded of the warning on the website

“Stair climbing is a gruelling, strenuous sport and should not be embarked on without first consulting your physician. If such a strenuous activity as this is started without being ready or fit, physically and/or emotionally, serious consequences could result, including death.”
 A nice touch that, the death bit. Just the thing to set you up for the last few flights.

By Floor 6b (12 flights) you are hanging on to the door like an old drunk, fighting for breath like an emphysemic cow.  You decide to stop and look for your car keys, for no other reason that you can't speak or walk and it will give you an excuse to try and catch your breath and slow down your hammering heart.  Bugger, you still have to walk up one final ramp. Note to self: Get to work earlier so you can park on one of the lower levels.  You dream of a spot on Floor 4a.

You reach your car and slump across the bonnet in a poor facsimile of a Pirelli calendar girl. Your thighs are numb and your lungs feel like they've been massaged with broken glass from the inside.  You think you can probably feel your eyeballs pulsating.  You struggle to get the key in the lock, the sweat leaking from every pore is now blinding you. The old adage that 'ladies glow' doesn't apply. If this is glowing, you would be visible from Outer Space, only marginally less visible than the Great Wall of China.

That's it. You've made it! Until the next time at least.  Next stop, the Vertical Rush

I don't think so.



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