Archive for March, 2011

Fighting For Air
March 15, 2011

Forgive me if I am out of breath as I write this blog entry. Just writing it reminds of  last year’s “Climb For Air” for the American Lung Association at the Gulf  Tower. The task seems both simple and insane: Climb 37 flights of stairs at the downtown office building as fast as you can.

Pittsburgh’s Gulf Tower: The place for Saturday’s unique athletic and fund-raising challenge.

However, the purpose is not about setting a new personal best time. It’s about raising funds for the American Lung Association and realizing just how important lung health is. As you go higher and higher, you begin to understand that. No matter how good or bad shape I am in, I always find myself at the finish barely being able to breathe while coughing uncontrollably. Your legs burn, Your ankles ache and you go from a modest sprint in the first few floors to a slow crawl where the railing becomes your friend.

The Fight For Air also draws local fire companies. Giving them a chance to practice for the real-life challenge of climbing stars during an emergency.

For some, this is an athletic challenge. For others, it to raise awareness and to run for those who cannot. It’s also the biggest fund-raiser for the American Lung Association. It grew from modest roots. I remember the first time we did this in the Oxford Center — 5 years and 44 flights ago. We didn’t have a large group, but we were enthusiastic. This year, with over 200 people involved, it may take us longer to get everyone across the start line than to actually run the 37 floors.

Nothing beats that feeling going up the final set of steps … the feeling of accomplishment!

It’s also rare to have this chance to run that many steps in a skyscraper in a major city, so it brings out the competitive athlete from outside Pittsburgh as well. We will have people of all ages … and perhaps you will consider joining us on Saturday, March 19th. It’s a great way to start your day … and make someone else’s day as well.

Here’s the link.

Come join us as we fight for air … so others won’t have to.

First Taste of Spring
March 3, 2011

Are you feeling it?

I know we still have wicked wind, cool days and not a bud on any of  the trees, but you can feel spring is almost here. I felt it this past Sunday afternoon when I decide to engage in my new favorite activity. Running.

We’re pretty lucky here in Pittsburgh. Not only do we have trails in the city on which to run and bike, but a view of the rivers to boot. That is where I spend much of my free time …which really isn’t much. I’ll run the Eliza furnace Trail ( better known to some as the “Jail Trail” for its proximity to the Allegheny County Jail ). It goes up the Mon River starting just before the Hot Metal bridge on the South Side.

Its wooded but surrounded by both roadways along the parkway east. You can hear the cars whizzing by, but they never seem to take away from the view of the city. I run all the way to the Smithfield street bridge and cross over, seeing the river through the grates under my feet.

Once I cross, it’s a circular path through Station Square which I often find is quiet and devoid of tourists during the late morning hours that I run. From there its down the Mon along the path which takes me all the way into South Side Works and then back across the Hot metal bridge towards home. I’m guessing it’s about 6-7 miles but who can be sure.

The Eliza Furnace Trail. This is where Ioften begin my run … and my special view of our city.

All I know is that this past Sunday, I had plenty of company along the path. With temps hitting the 60’s, there were couples and singles walking their dogs. I saw plenty of people riding bikes, some look like olympic cyclists and some look like they were just pedaling their way forward with no particular place to go.

And there were children. So many children who were ready to say goodbye to the snow and hello to the arrival of spring. This was who I would share the path with on a spring-like day. There was a healthy share of  dodging bikes and running around  people walking  the path. In my mind, there is nothing that says Pittsburgh than a Sunday in the warm weather.

Whether you run, walk, bike or crawl ( yes there were some little ones crawling ), nothing quite captures the city and its spirit like a lazy Sunday afternoon … and I get to see it all because I’m running!