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Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Stairway to heaving

By Neil Janowitz
Special to Page 2

Here are the thoughts that were going through my head Tuesday during the annual Empire State Building Run-Up, as I reached each of the structure's 86 floors.

1: This staircase is very effective at providing a means of ascent, but less so at accommodating the simultaneous entry of 85 excited male runners.

2: The ventilation leaves something to be desired.

3: Wow, it smells bad in here.

4-7: Now that the pack is beginning to spread out, I have room to settle into a nice pace and build up some momentum.

8: I'm going to walk now.

9-19: Balls.

20: Oh yes, an extended landing and some water. Finally.

21-28: I can't believe that elderly gentleman is breathing so hard. I mean, that is really loud. It doesn't sound healthy or normal at all. Maybe he should stop, or at least take a break. I hope people are monitoring him. Geez.

29: Man, that elderly gentleman is really hustling.

30-42: Seriously, balls.

43: I've never found less comfort in the knowledge that I'm halfway done with a particular task.

44-47: Considering that I've now spent an indeterminate amount of time running/walking (briskly) up a seemingly endless set of narrow, similar-looking stairs, the onset of dizziness comes as no surprise. But that doesn't make it any more welcome, or helpful.

48-64: OK, for real -- balls.

65: This is a very convenient location for another extended landing and water stop, as my quads are mulling total failure.

66-85: [Unprintable]

86: What? We don't just finish at the top? We have to run outside and around part of the observation deck? Are you kidding me? Why won't this just end? What will it take to end this? This is the dumbest … whoa, 20:02? That's it? That's all it took? Twenty minutes? Wow, that's not bad.*

*Oh, nope, it is.

Neil Janowitz is an editor at ESPN The Magazine.