Sunday, February 22, 2009

If you don't get faster, are you still Hustling?

I survived my second Hustle up the Hancock today. And even though it felt significantly easier and faster than last year's climb, my time was still 19:09 ... just like last year. Sigh. But I guess I should be proud I didn't do it slower. Speaking of just like last year, the climb and all the dust it kicked up gave me another rust-flavored hacking cough. So I am currently the sexiest man on earth to sit next to. Take a number and you could be next!

Here's my team—The Social Climbers—all freshly scrubbed and decked out in our cool team shirts and ready to scale the mighty John Hancock Center this morning:

Here's the pre-climb chaos in the Hancock's subterranean staging area. The John Hancock Center, for all its famous height, doesn't sit on a very big footprint. So launching over 4,000 climbers and who knows how many volunteers through a day of exertion involves a lot of unavoidable crowdage:

My fancy new Canon Powershot (metallic blue!) made its debut at the Hustle this this morning. And while we waited in the basement to begin our climb, we all grabbed our cameras and took pictures:

And mugged for each other:

And took disturbing self-portraits:

And mugged some more in the hallway outside the stairs:

Hustle up the Hancock isn't just a local mountain to climb. It's also a fund-raiser for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. My team raised $2,171 of the million-plus dollars the event raised today. (I personally raised $1,201 of that through 30 donors. Which means I have a shit-ton of thank-you notes to write.) To thank—and motivate–all the climbers, the RHA posted inspirational signs about victims and survivors of lung diseases along with details of successful RHA programs all over the waiting area, the stairs and the 94th floor deck where we all celebrated our victory. You can see a few of those signs along the line here, taken when we were only about 20 people away from starting our climb:

This being Chicago, you can't even climb 94 flights with 4,000 strangers without running into someone you know. Here I am with my marathon-training buddy George after we ran into each other all sweaty and victorious at the top of the Hancock. Note to self: The new camera doesn't take good directly-into-sunlight pictures:

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