Hustle Done!

Hustle up the HancockI did it!

And that’s probably fairly obvious, seeing as how I’m writing this entry– but for a while there, I wasn’t so sure I would actually do it.

My start time was 8:30, which meant I had to be down there by 7:30 for photos and other preparations, and which meant I had to be up and out of bed by 5:30 to get ready at home.

Well on Saturday night there was a massive ice storm.  And by massive I mean ENORMOUS.  Everything was caked in ice about 2-3 mm thick.  I know this because I was at a friend’s place the evening before and had to drive home afterward, and scraping that ice off my car was no fun at all.

So, thanks to the ice storm, at some point in the night the power had gone out, and all of my clocks were blinking.  I woke up to discover this and quickly grabbed my cell phone.

7:20.   Lovely.

I sprang out of bed, wolfed down a banana and some yogurt, ran through a shower, and grabbed my things.

I checked to make sure everything was there– shoes, CHECK. T-Shirt, CHECK.  Shorts, CHECK.  Bib and timing tag…

Shit!  They were still at my desk at work.

So I flew out the door.  Thankfully the storm had somehow turned to rain during the night and melted all the ice away, so I didn’t have to scrape my car.  Thank goodness for small miracles.  I raced down Lake Shore Drive to work, ran in, grabbed the things I needed off my desk, and bolted back out to get to the John Hancock Center.  By the time I parked the car, got inside, dropped my things off and got myself ready to climb, it was 8:45.  My team had already left.    So I turned on the iPod and started on my own.

As it turned out, that was probably the best way to go.  I didn’t have any distractions (save for a few hotties passing me by in the stairwell), and I could go completely at my own pace.  I kept my music selection mellow, so I could remain at a fairly slow pace, and it worked really well.

At every fifth floor there were ‘cheerleaders’ encouraging the climbers onward and upward, and at every tenth floor they had water stations set up.  At most of those floors they also had medical personnel to help in case people needed it.  So I knew I would be okay.

The first 20 floors were hard, as they always are.  I just kept taking breaks as much as I needed and continued when I felt ready.  The next 20 were easier.  The third 20 I started to feel the burning in my legs, so I took them a little slower.

But the next 20 were pretty brutal.  I felt something else brewing, and it wasn’t my head or my legs.  It was my stomach.  I probably did myself more of a disservice by wolfing down that banana and yogurt so fast in the morning, because by the 85th floor, I knew I wasn’t going to keep it for much longer.  That floor happened to be a water/medical station, so I stopped and drank some water and rested, thinking maybe it would pass.  It didn’t.  After about 5 minutes, I finally went to the medical guy and said “I think I’m going to be sick.”

He brought me into the hallway area and had me sit down, and handed me a large, gallon-sized Ziploc bag.

I never realized how strong those Ziploc bags were.  But yeah, they’re pretty strong.

So after a few rounds of getting rid of my breakfast (and probably last night’s dinner as well), I felt 100 times better.  I drank some more water, wiped my face down, and said I think I could finish.  I only had 9 floors left by this time.  There was no way I was not finishing.

Those last 9 floors were a breeze.  And when I reached the top, I felt this amazing sense of accomplishment.

I dedicated that moment to my Mom, who was probably my biggest cheerleader through all of this.

I dedicated that moment to my Grandma, whose life was cut way too short by lung disease.

I dedicated that moment to my friends and family, who supported me through this entire endeavor.

And I dedicated that moment to me, for making the choice to challenge myself to do something I had never done before– and doing it.

Unfortunately you couldn’t see anything from the Hancock Observatory, thanks to the storm in the area.  But I didn’t care.  It was a beautiful moment, and I took it all in.

My time was about 45 minutes, which shocked me.  It felt like forever in there.  But I’m not complaining.  I wasn’t doing this to be the fastest anyway.  I just wanted to finish.

So… thank you to everyone that supported me through all of this.  Remember, I am still taking donations until March 23, so if you would like to donate, click here and make a donation.  Every little bit counts.

Hustle and Flow

John Hancock Center and the surrounding areaYesterday morning as I drove to work, driving south on Lake Shore Drive and approaching downtown Chicago, I glanced ahead of me at the John Hancock Center as it grew closer… and taller… in front of me.

Man that sucker is big.

It’s frickin’ huge.

And as it grew closer, I stared it down.

94 floors. From the ground to the top. That’s my goal.

A slight shiver of fear ran through my body as I traced the graceful incline from the bottom to the top. The slope upward makes the building seem taller, and more ominous, than it probably really is. And the fact that it is, by far, the tallest building in its surrounding area makes it appear even more intimidating.

But I am ready to conquer it. And conquer it, I will.

I sent an Email to my family last week to let them know about my participation in this event. They have been overwhelmingly supportive– especially my Mom. I think she checks my personal donation website more often than I do. Each day she calls me to get an update on my progress, and tells me about groups she found on the Hustle website, where they are from and how much money they have raised. So far, Team Jenner (my team) has raised close to $20,000, and is ranked #3 of all teams climbing. Those are some pretty impressive numbers. I guess lung disease has touched a lot of people in many different ways.

Hustle up the HancockToday I reached– and surpassed– my $1,000 fundraising goal for Hustle Up The Hancock for the American Lung Association. I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support of my friends, my family, and the readers of this very blog. Thank you a million times over. I just don’t know how else to say it. I’m deeply touched by your generosity.

Of course, if you still want to contribute, you may– I will be taking donations until March 23. The link to my “Hustle” hompage will remain active until then. Click here or on the button at the beginning of this post if you would like to donate.

My next post will be post-climb. I will make it. I will survive. And I will live to tell about it!

Clumsy Clumserson

Sometimes I hate being tall.

I feel like such a klutz sometimes.  It’s as if something is out of proportion with the rest of my body– aside from my expanding waistline.  My feet aren’t enormous: I wear a size 10 1/2 shoe.  But sometimes I feel like they are 10-ton weights being swung around at the end of 50-foot chains, crashing into everything– and everyone– around them.

Then there’s my arms.  They’re the only part of my body that remained long and lanky when the rest of my body “blossomed” into its full-figured glory back when I was in about 7th grade.  And because of this, they swing out of control and knock things over that any normal-proportioned person would have missed. 

For instance: Earlier this week I broke my desk chair.  I was simply preparing myself to sit in it when I broke the left arm off the chair.  SNAP.  It just came off in my hand.  And this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.  Oh no!  I’ve had it happen at least FIVE times since I started working here.  Our Office Services department has to think I’m a real rough-and-tumble type of guy.  But I’m not… I’m just clumsy.

Today when I got to work I bought a tall coffee (or “Venti” for you Starbucks-lovin’ types).  I don’t always get such a tall cup, but I needed it this morning.  Or so I thought.  I barely drank 1/3 of it, and left the rest to sit on my desk for the rest of the day.

So when I decided it was time to give up and dump it out, I reached for it, but reached just a bit too high.  I wrapped my long, lanky fingers around the plastic “sipper lid” and promptly popped it off the cup, which caused me to react in a surprised manner, which caused me to tip the entire cup over… all over the contents of my desk.

There was coffee everywhere.  My blotter calender was soaked and destroyed.  My cell phone was swimming in coffee.  And my rolodex was drenched in brown coffee drippings.

This is not an unusual occurrence for me.  I’m knocking bottles and cups and papers and pens around all the time.  I can’t seem to get a good grip on anything lately.  Maybe something is wrong with my hands… or maybe I’m just a massive klutz.

So call me what you want– Calamity Jane, Disastrous Denny, or just plain ol’ Wreck ‘Em Rick… I’m a Clumsy Clumserson.  If you see me coming down the street, you might just want to cross and walk down the other side. 

This has been a public service message courtesy of RcktMan’s Launching Pad.

Hustle and Bustle

Hustle up the HancockOh my freakin’ God…

What have I done to myself?

My bones ache.  My muscles ache.  My head is spinning.

I must finish this.  I must do it.

I will do it.  I hope.

Today I climbed 50 floors at work.  Our building is 50 floors tall.  It’s actually a misnomer, because there are a few extra floors that have heating/AC equipment and other electrical stuff.  So it’s probably closer to 54 floors tall.  But still.  I climbed it.  I’ve done it twice now.

But it’s still not enough.  I need to climb 95 floors at the Hancock Center.

Good God, I must be mad.

But doggone it, I’m gonna do it.

I’ve raised $720 so far.  I still need to raise $280 to meet my $1,000 goal. 

The event is this Sunday.  I have to be there at 7 in the morning.  And I am SO not a morning person.

But…

When I think of my mom, and all of the people who suffer from lung disease, and all of those who have died of lung diseases…

It makes it all worth it.

So if you have thought of helping me out, now is the time.  Click here (http://hustle2007.kintera.org/aiello) to make a donation. 

Meanwhile, my training hits fever pitch this week.  I fully intend on climbing my building TWICE in a row by Friday.  Even if it kills me.  And it just might.

Until then, me and my aching body are going to bed.

Heroes

I just updated my MySpace page, probably for the first time since I created it.  There were a few things I had to delete, and a few things I had to add.  And while I know that MySpace isn’t the end-all-be-all of the networking world, it is important to keep up appearances.  You never know who might happen by!

While going through the categories, I noticed one that I hadn’t filled out yet.  It seemed curious to me that I would have missed it, because I knew exactly what my answer would be as soon as I saw it.  They must have added it recently.

The category was “Heroes.”

Heroes have been enjoying a resurgence lately.  The NBC-TV show has brought the word back into the limelight– even though I don’t watch the show.  But it seems that the general public has taken kindly to the idea of placing admiration upon one or more people who they would most like to emulate in life.

The typical idea of a “Hero” is a caped crusader, saving the day with a whoosh of a cape or a swing of a golden lasso.  But those kinds of heroes are reserved for comic books and cheesy 60s TV action shows; or maybe a movie remake or two in the present day.

Instead, when presented with the option to choose a hero, some people choose a celebrity or an icon– someone who has paid their dues and made it big.  Some choose a sports figure: a star athlete or an underdog who came from behind and won it all.  Some choose a musician: someone who represents how they feel through their songs.

But for me, the choice was easy.  I have but one hero.

My mom.

As far as I’m concerned, moms have the hardest jobs in the world.  Not only do they have to bear their children, they have to be there for them from birth to adulthood, giving every ounce of their strength, body and soul, and of course love, to make sure they are happy, healthy, and following the path that suits them best.

They will be there to wipe the tears.  They will be there to administer the hugs.  They will be there to cart them to school and dance class and soccer practice and swimming lessons.  They will be there to answer the tough questions and help their children understand why the answers are what they are.

But a mom’s job doesn’t end.  Ever.  Even as children enter adulthood, the mom is still there as a guiding light; encouraging, but never pushing.  Giving advice, but never coaxing.  And always– ALWAYS– loving.

Even when the mom’s health is diminished by age, or time, or other outside sources, she remains strong.  That’s the magic and the power of motherhood.  It’s a God-given gift that cannot be denied.  It’s a bond between mother and child that can never be broken.

My mom is my hero because of all of these things and so much more.  With everything my mom has been through in life, she manages to remain calm, confident, nurturing and loving to me and my sister.  She has been the rock upon which my life has been built for as long as I can remember.  I can’t remember a single time when she has shown a crack in her armor of love for us, because it simply has never happened.

None of what I’m saying is meant to diminish the role of the dads in the world, as their role is equally as important and meaningful.  And I’d be a fool if I didn’t say that my dad was a hero to me as well.  He most certainly was, in many ways.

But my mom has survived health problems, marital problems, family problems, births, deaths, early retirement, and so much more, and yet she continues to look at life with a positive outlook. How can I not find that inspiring?

Who is your hero?  And why do you count that person as such?