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CN Tower Climb Report!
Apologies for the delay in getting this post up! I've been really eager to share with you my adventures as I climbed the CN Tower this year, with friends old and new! The climb took place on Saturday, April 27th, 2013.
Back in January, in what must have seemed like a moment of sheer madness, I went ahead and signed myself up for the CN Tower Climb for the WWF. Although I had done the climb over one year earlier for the United Way, this was the first year that I had done it for the WWF. It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of the WWF, and I donate to them every year. One of my good friends, David, climbs every year, and I always make a point of supporting him. In early March, I asked Ümla's awesome friends at Bebo Mia if they would like to join in on the fun, and much to my delight, they said yes! In fact, Bianca Sprague and Heather Jones, two of Bebo Mia's three owners, joined me. AND, as if that wasn't enough, Heather is also expecting baby #2! How freaking cool is that?! I also managed to enlist two other friends to join me: my friends Kyle and Sarah (Sarah also brought a friend).
We decided to make team T-shirts, and so as a lead-in to our climb, we held a t-shirt slogan contest, and an Earth Hour contest. Janet, both a Bebo Mia and an ÜmlaPhoto fan, came up with the winning slogan, "Baby Power Climbs the Tower". The result was this T-shirt, which I designed (and am modelling - har har):
Bianca, Sarah, and her friend were first-time climbers. Kyle had climbed the Tower with me before, when we did the climb for the United Way, and Heather had done the climb twice before. Sign-in for the event was from 6am to 10am, and on Heather's advice we went in for 6am. (Aside: When I did the climb the first time, it was the corporate climb, so it was much less busy.) Although I don't think anyone was a fan of waking up a the buttcrack of dawn for the climb, nobody complained. I think that the thought of being stuck in line all morning probably had something to do with it. The timing worked great for me, because I would still be home in time to accompany my daughter to ballet class with my hubby.
Since subway services don't start until around 6am on Saturdays, I had to take the streetcar. It wasn't too bad, as the Spadina streetcar is very close to my house. I have to admit that, as sucky as it was to wake up at 5am, I did love the stillness of the pre-dawn air. As I ran to the station, I noted the moon high in the western sky. And of course, I had to take a picture!
As I continued running to the stop, I passed by a frat house, and noted that the Friday night party was still going on. I have a feeling that exams were probably done... I'm pretty sure that I rolled my eyes as I ran past. I must be getting old...
Check-in was at the Skydome , and I was surprised to see so many people already lined up that early. I guess we weren't the only ones with the brilliant idea! Things went pretty smoothly. As an aside, it was kind of cool to be at the Skydome and realize that I was looking out at the baseball field. After a quick trip to the coat-check, we were ready to climb!
There were two security checkpoints at the Tower: one before you get inside (security guards with metal-detecting wands), and then the usual one that they have for visitors to the Tower, on the inside. The CN Tower Climb is a hands-free climb, and unfortunately I forgot that I still had my cell phone on me when we walked from the Skydome to the Tower. Which meant that I had to run back to the coat check to tuck my phone into my backpack, or risk getting the stinkeye from one of the security guys waving around the metal detectors. Public embarrassing moment averted. I felt kind of bad for my group, as it was a bit chilly out there, and they had to wait for me as I sprinted to and from the Skydome.
FINALLY, we got to climb. My friend David, who always volunteers, was at the start of the climb, and I got to say a quick hello. If you've never done the climb before, the stairwell of the CN Tower is basically all concrete, with metal stairs. There were EMS workers every few landings, to take care of folks who ran into any physical issues while climbing the Tower. I heard from my fellow teammates that apparently someone had puked on one of the landings, for example. All that aside, one of the nice touches at the climb was that the walls at the landings were decorated with artwork done by children. The artwork was full of encouraging messages, and of course, had an environmental theme. I have to admit that the artwork ended up being quite motivational.
I had found the climb itself to be much tougher than when I did it the first time. The first time I did the climb, I trained by going up and down the stairs of my house (I have 3 floors plus a basement), for 20-minute stretches, every few days, for a couple of months, and ran outdoors on non-stair-training days. Unfortunately, the training screwed up my right knee, so I was afraid of re-aggravating that injury this time around. So I instead opted to run every morning for 20 minutes, and did 20 minutes on the aerobic step in the evenings. As Heather pointed out to me after the climb, however, you really do have to do activity-specific training in order to be fully-prepared. About 1/4 of the way into it, I was getting tired. I'd started out by running up every step, and there was no way that I could keep up the pace. So I changed strategies, and did what worked for me last time - I slowed down to a steady pace, and double-stepped on the stairs. It made a huge difference. Although I thought that my heart was going to pop out of my mouth, I somehow made it up, without stopping. I'm really glad that I never stopped, because I seriously think that it would've killed my momentum.
My friend Kyle was the fastest of our group, making it up in just over 15 min. His secret? The Insanity workout program! That program sure paid off, because he just zipped up those stairs! I was next, clocking in at 18:10 (beat my time from last time, which was 18:50 - a decent improvement over last time). Heather was next, followed by Bianca, and then Sarah and her friend. We all made it up within 20 minutes or so, which was AWESOME, considering that the average person takes 30 minutes to climb all 1,776 steps! WAY TO GO, TEAM!!! I should note that you don't clock your end time right at the top of the main observation deck level. It's actually about 10 or so floors below that. I *think* it's done that way so that you can cool down from your climb, but it's absolute torture, knowing that you've "finished" the climb, but still aren't done.
After grabbing some water, cooling off a bit in the outer observation deck, it was time to head down. Fortunately, by elevator! There was no lineup for the ride down, thankfully, and soon, we were back at the Skydome, collecting our prizes (you get prizes for raising certain amounts of money), and our T-shirts with our official times written down. And finally, we topped it off with a photo with the WWF Panda, as the ladies showed off their awesome T-shirts:
Left to right: Sarah, me, WWF Panda, Bianca, Heather. Photo by my friend Kyle. It was around 8am by the time we left the Skydome. The sun was up, the lines were looking busy, and I was off to ballet class.
What a way to start out your weekend! Thanks to everyone for coming out. It was lots of fun! The 6 of us collectively raised \about $1,000 for the WWF. The overall amount raised for the WWF was $1,238,920, or 95% of its fundraising goal of $1,300,000 from the climb. I'm so proud to have been a part of this, and bonus: I even got a great workout out of it!
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