Gravity Sucks

As you may have determined, I successfully climbed the stairs of the CN Tower. The part you will not know – I fell flat on my face in the streets of Toronto.

First, let’s start from the beginning.

I wanted to do the CN Tower Stair Climb as one of my challenges for this blog. When I first told my husband about it, he mentioned he wanted to do it too. I was thrilled not to have to go it alone for this event.

In the last week before this event, we reviewed details and somewhere read that water would be provided, and that there would be rest stops every 10 floors.  We planned to pull over on the rest stops when needed, in order to conserve energy, and so that we did not hamper the efforts of other climbers. We also planned to go fairly early in the morning as we read that we should start early: “in order to avoid long lineups.”  We both thought it was a good plan.

I also planned to bring a knapsack that would hold wallets, medication, cameras (so I could get pictures of the climb) water, and a cell phone or two. However, a couple of days before this event we were told everything would need to be checked when we arrived. We were not permitted to bring cell phones, cameras, or water. Knapsacks were not permitted. (We were told that water would be provided. It was, but not until the very end. As well, there were no designated rest stops every 10 floors. You just pulled over whenever you needed it.)

Initially I was annoyed. How dare they forbid me from bringing a cell phone, water and a camera? But, I was only annoyed for a few seconds. It dawned on me fairly quickly, that the last thing the organizers needed were a bunch of climbers that were taking pictures, spilling water on the stairs in the stairwell, while other climbers were trying to squeeze by the photographers. It would be a recipe for disaster. 

On Sunday morning we woke early (me at 5:30 AM) so that I could take a shower and forge a little caffeine-kick and food before the event. My hubby had cleverly stole two Kashi trail-mix bars from home before we left and he planned to have one that morning. I realized I may require more food than that, and showered early so that I could set off on a hunt for Starbucks.

Alas, I was unable to locate an open store. Instead, I sauntered over to Tim Hortons that I had seen on my quest to find Starbucks. It was literally around the corner from our hotel and time was running out. We want to go early. I purchased a coffee, tea, and a raisin bran muffin.

When I was back in the hotel room my hubby drank his coffee, while I drank a little bit of my tea, and eat 1/2 my muffin.  (From my experience training for marathons and half-marathons, I know you don’t want to be full for a physical event, but it’s bad to run out of fuel half way through an event as well. It’s a very fine line.)

As we left our hotel room it was sunny, but cold. The winds from the previous day had subsided but it still made for a chilly, let’s walk briskly to the Metro Toronto Convention Center to register before we freeze out here kind of start to the day.

We felt the excitement as soon as we arrived, with people pointing in the direction of where to go and what needed to be done. They thanked us for coming out to the event, and cheered us on as we went this way, went that way, and checked our items. I stripped down to a tank top and sweat pants and checked my sweater and coat. The organizers led a long line of climbers as we went up some stairs, and headed out in the cold.

As you all may have guessed, I was fearful about this climb. I have not been in a particular optimistic, I CAN CONQUER THE WORLD! mentality. It’s been more along the lines of: Oh god. It’s raining again. Please, don’t make me go outside. There’s really no point. Nothing good ever happens out there. 

That being said, my husband in the last few weeks has tried to reassure me and rally my spirits. He said, You’ll be fine. You got great cardio. You run. 

I refused to believe a word he said, as I increasingly saw myself as a sloth.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love sloths. They’re so cool. But if I moved that slowly, my dog, and my husband would never want to walk with me. EVER.) In truth, the day before the event as we walked around the streets of Toronto, I felt sluggish and tired. I quietly questioned my sanity of willingly signing up and paying to climb up 1,776 steps in the CN Tower.

After all, they have elevators. 

When we finally entered the CN Tower and began our ascent I was huffing like a mad woman. They labelled each flight and as I past 5, I thought, oh no.

Then, the same thing happened to me as it did when I trained in the stairwell at work a couple of times for this event.  Once I got past the 5th flight, it was almost as if something turned and my body said, oh right! Stairs! Here we go! 

Now, hubby and I were still sweating and panting, as we climbed up past the section that said, 35. As well, somewhere around 40, I really needed to know how many flights were involved in this quest. I cautiously and quietly asked the next paramedic I saw that was stationed in case a climber needed help, “How many flights are there?”

To which he replied, “I don’t know. But 76 is the half way mark.”

Slightly crushed, I continued to climb, and hoped that hubby had not heard.

But we made it to the top in a fairly good time. Hubby had said that the average time was around 45 minutes. In the days leading up to the event, I warned him that it might take me a little longer than 45 minutes. He is a little more competitive than me, and I don’t like seeing him disappointed, so I informed him that he could go ahead without me if I was slowing him down.

We made it together – in 32 minutes and change. I was elated! There is something to be said for getting up early in the morning, completing an event that you thought was impossible, and doing it better than expected.  It gave me such a sense of accomplishment. I felt so great that after we had come back down in the elevator, and were crossing a bridge outside to make our way back to the Convention Center to retrieve our items, I looked up at the sun shining down on us and when I heard a band playing in the background I couldn’t contain myself – I danced in my tank top, and sweatpants in the cold on that bridge.

I raised my eyebrows and said to hubby, “Maybe we can go dancing tonight?”

He smiled and said, “Maybe.”

After we went for breakfast, I continued to glow from my accomplishment. We talked about how I felt in the weeks and days leading up to the event and I said, “I feel the best I’ve felt in weeks.”

As we finished our breakfast and packed up our stuff we decided to check out the St. Lawrence Market as it was only a few blocks away.

And that’s when it happened….

My husband was a little bit ahead of me, and I have really no idea what happened. I tripped on a curb, or tripped on a crack, and went flat-faced down in the middle of the sidewalk. The scariest part of this was the sheer terror when I realized I was not going to recover from my fall. As well, as I hit the pavement, I felt something crack on the right side of my face.

I was terrified. My biggest fear is falling. I know how random life can be. How people can survive plane crashes, and others will trip on a curb and suffer a concussion. 

My husband said that when he turned around all he saw was my plaid jacket, and my brown hair spread out across the concrete. He came over in a panic. I got to my knees and continued to worry about the cracking sound I heard. My neck was stiff, but I could move.  The right side of my face hurt and I looked at my hand as I stared down at the peeling, bloody, scrape that sat above my palm.

I realized a small group had gathered. I remember a blonde woman who had a couple of kids came over, and asked if I was alright. I was still freaking out a bit and I felt like I had to explain. So, I mentioned my brother and his accident. A few moments later, another man came over and asked me again if I was alright. A crowd of concerned pedestrians had gathered.

The second man that had approached said he was a physician and asked repeatedly if I was alright. And then, with a wonderful bedside manner said, “I know it’s embarrassing. Maybe you want to go over there and get cleaned up.” He pointed to a store nearby, that I think may have been Tim Hortons. (I really can’t remember.)

I reiterated several times that it was not because I was embarrassed. I finally calmed down enough to convince everyone I was alright. Just before we left, I broke into laughter as I realized how ridiculous I must have looked.

Me and hubby both laughed because I fall down all the time. I’m a clumsy little person. I joked, “Sure, don’t worry about me climbing the CN Tower stairs. The thing you should really worry about – is me walking down the street.”

The order was:

1) CN Tower Stair Climb

2) Fall

3) Wine (Yeah, I definitely earned it that day.)



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