When one of our inspiring Pilates clients, Pam, invited me (Lynnea) and my running buddy Denise, to join her Kaiser Permanente Team in the Fight for Air Climb, I was both honored and stoked! This charity race up 120 flights of Portland's US Bank Tower benefits the American Lung Association and their important work and research. I initially agreed to do it because as any of my clients at Circle Studio will tell you, I have a warped idea of fun; this meant a lot to Pam who is very inspiring to me and my fiance, Steve, has lung damage from an illness that he had many years ago. The benefit was very close to home to say the least.
When we arrived at the US Bank Tower in downtown, excitement was in the air and amount of neon-shirted participants in the lobby was inspiring. I was feeling that familiar mix of excitement and to avoid being dramatic; terror, that I have before most races. After some team photos, Denise and I threw a banana down the hatch and got in line for our start time. Waiting at the door to 'Stairway A' was a volunteer who yelled "GO!" every 15 seconds. I started out taking two steps at a time and was already feeling the burn by the 10th floor...only 30 a little bitty 30 more floors to go. Denise, always speedy and strong, was already floors ahead of me and Pam was halfway done. I heard Denise's cries of encouragement from up top and as I rounded the corner on the 40th and last floor, I saw Denise with a familiar and again, somewhat terrifying smile on her face that usually means she's about to have an idea about our workout; "That was fun!" she said, "You wanna go again?" Heck yes I did!
We took the elevator back down and got in line again. After we finished our 80 flights and collected our high fives and "I did it!" stickers, Denise looked at me again and said, "Next year, we do all 120." I groaned like a Wookie (per my usual reaction to her ideas) but she is the Han Solo to my Chewbacca; of course we're doing 120 next year! We met up with Pam who said that she felt the same way...great (and crazy) minds think alike, I guess.
Steve met us with snacks and our jackets for the cold walk back to the car. On the way out, Denise and I were talking about how much our lungs were burning and we couldn't imagine that so many people feel like that every day without any excursion. Then I remembered a conversation I had with Steve after a training run up the Alameda stairs: I said, "Gawd my lungs are on fire!" and he said, "that's the way I feel every day." The only thing I could do was to kiss him and tell him that I'm sorry his lungs hurt...what else can you do? It's a very helpless feeling not being able to relieve someone you love of pain.
Shortly after we got home, I got a text from Pam saying that she had come in 2nd in the women's 20 floor division, Russ (another teammate) had come in 1st the men's 20 flight division and that Denise had come in 2nd in the women's 40 flight! Any day that you can have fun with friends and family, raise money for a good cause, win some medals, see something from other peoples' perspectives and have some snacks is nothing short of miraculous in my book.
Lynnea Amend Co-Owner of Circle Studio
Click here to read more personal stories of people affected with lung disease.