June 5 will always be known as Stupid Sunday because what I did was stupid.
How can I explain this better than to explain why?
Since I was 13 years old, I have been playing in an “organized pickup” softball game in my hometown that runs from April to October. When I play, it is from 8:30 am until at least 11:15 am and sometimes noon. I usually have fun with my GPS watch, and I post my mileage for the day, and it is usually a “5k”, so I call it my Sunday Morning Softball 5k.
Since 2015, each year it has been held, I participate in the Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb at One World Trade Center in Manhattan. This is the Tower that was built adjacent to Ground Zero, the site of the Twin Towers. This event is an event that I am drawn to every year by its uniqueness and its relevance to New York City. I am a New Yorker, and if raising money for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is the least that I can do, then I do.
The Tower Climb typically starts at 5 am, and I am usually in Wave 2 because I am “experienced” in this climb. Every year, I climb the tower, enjoy the post-climb breakfast, and head back home. I then play softball. I have done this every year, and this was how I planned my day.
This was until training at Obstacle Athletics a few weeks ago when my friend/coach Kevin LaPlatney said, “You going to do Deka here in a few weeks?” I had always thought no until he and a few people told me, “How will you know what you are capable of if you don’t try?” I had never considered a DEKA event before. It never really interested me, and I knew that day was busy. I was also meeting friends the night before with 8pm reservations.
Well, on Friday June 3, with no preparation or research, I signed up for the last time window for DEKA Strong at Obstacle Athletics. So, now you have the background, here was my day:
11:00pm – Arrive home from dinner
11:30pm – Get to sleep
3:00am – Alarm goes off
3:40am – Leave house to head to One World Trade Center (37 miles)
3:45am – Disgusted that the local Dunkin Donuts is no longer 24 hours and diverted to the Mobil mart for Green Mountain Coffee, made fresh just for me
4:26am – Park a few blocks from One World Trade, gather my things together and walk to check in
4:35am – Check in for Tunnel to Towers Climb. At check in you get your t-shirt, a bib, four safety pins, a clear arm guard and a bag check number. On the climb, there is no electronics allowed. No phones, Go Pros, Watches, Cameras and more. UPS is there and they give you a clear bag for everything except for your Photo ID. The ID slides in the arm band and everything else is given to UPS for safe keeping.
4:50am – Wave 1 (which is me) is told to head to security to the start line. To get to the start line, I had to pass through metal detectors, and nothing can be carried in my hands. From there, I headed to the starting lineup.
5:00am – We begin to follow the gates toward One World Trade, walking upstairs to the main entrance and then two flights down to another security checkpoint where they check your name against the registration number.
5:04am(ish) – I begin my climb. This is 2,226 stairs, in a concrete staircase that is well lit. The floor numbers are on almost every level, so you know exactly where you are at all points. My goal was to not stop, no matter what. I did some math in my head that if I did one step per second, I would take 37 minutes to complete the steps. My goal was 28 minutes, as I made that up in my head but I really wanted to beat 30 minutes.
5:10(ish) – Water station at Floor 35. Breathing was heavy as there was no air and no matter how you prepare for this, it is hard to breathe in a stairwell with heat rising. Some guy behind me was a mouth breather and I let him by me because it sounded like I was being followed by a bad Darth Vader impression. SO, mouth breather and water behind me, I kept going.
5:20(ish)am – Water station at Floor 70. I was doubting myself. I was sweating and breathing hard but not stopping. I know I had about 34 to go and I was not going to let myself down.
5:33(ish) – I cross the finish line at the 104th Floor at the One World Trade Observatory. My final numbers were 28:58 seconds, 233rd out of 663 overall and 21 of 42 in my age group. In comparison, my three previous times of the full Tower Climb were 33:26 (2019), 31:05 (2018) and 29:12 (2017). After crossing the finish line, I was handed a medal, a water and applause as all the staff and volunteers applaud for everyone crossing the finish line. Now on the 104th floor, the windows are facing north and west as the sun is coming up over New York City. It is a sight worth seeing and feeling of accomplishment. I signed the placard and I thanked Frank Siller of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation for hosting the event.
6:04am – I head downstairs to the breakfast inside the Oculus at World Trade Center. Breakfast is provided, so I took a coffee, an orange juice, a croissant, and a little egg sandwich and ate as I had to head back home for part two of my day.
6:14am – I head out of the Oculus and back up to street level to gather my things and go over to Ground Zero. Walking around, I have never seen as many different agencies of law enforcement there with the guns they had. Everywhere I turned, armed officers were there, and I thanked each one for being there as I gathered my belongings and walked to Ground Zero to pay my respects. It is always quiet there as the area is roped off, but I am still 15 feet from the pools. After a few silent minutes, I took a few photos and quietly began the journey back to my car.
6:31am – Got in my car and started the drive back home. I opened my window (my car doesn’t have AC now) and put on the seat warmer to keep my muscles warm and drove back to my home on Long Island.
7:25am – Back home. Changed my clothes. Did some laundry. Fed the cats. Did a little social media for OCR Buddy while I rolled my quads, hamstrings, and calves. I ate a little bit and got myself ready to play softball. Finished up chores around the house and packed up what I would need for the rest of the day.
8:20 am – Walked back to the car and drove to softball.
8:30 am – After a stop at The Sandwich Express for some Gatorade, a went to softball. Let me explain this for those who do not know me that well. I have been playing in an organized “pickup” softball game since I was 13. This is, literally, my 40th year playing with this game. It is not intense; it is not a weekly world series. It is a place where I can go and have fun. Before my Dad passed away, he played also. I played in this game, along side my father for over 30 years. I use his bat my first time up every week and I write “DAD” in the dirt with his bat. So, while “softball” can mean a lot to many people, to me it is a fun, relaxing couple of hours.
8:35am – I start my GPS watch and jog and stretch before playing. I believe that certain stretches prevent me from getting injured as I play. I had a twinge in my right quad since the Tower Climb, so I knew to stretch and take it a little easier than usual.
11:15am – Softball is done. I put about 3.32 miles in during the morning playing softball. I finish up and get back to my car to change into what I will wear for DEKA, clean up a little bit and head out to Obstacle Athletics which is about 25 minutes away.
11:42am – I pull up to Obstacle Athletic for DEKA Strong. I get out of the car and go inside to register. I was signed up for the 11:30am to 12:00pm time slot, so I knew I was on-time. I had never been at or seen a DEKA Strong before. So, after I registered I just sat down and started to take it all in. I know I was going to be near the last one, so I tried to get an idea of the order and watch as I had no done some of these stations before to any extent. The stations were in this order: 30 Alternating Reverse Lunges with the 55lb RAM on my shoulders, 500M Row, 20 Box Jumps/Step Overs, 25 sit ups with a medicine ball (25 pounds, I think), 500M Ski Erg (which I had never touched before), 100M 120 pound (60 pounds for each hand) Farmer’s Carry, 25 Cal on the Air Bike, 20 Dead Ball Over the Shoulder (60 pound I believe), 100M 100 Tank Sled Push/Pull (which I had never done before) and 20 Ram Burpees (with 33 pounds or 44 pound Ram, I believe).
12:10pm – I get told to go to the starting area and wait. One of the Obstacle Athletic guys, Brian was going to be my judge and he came and got me started. I had no ideas on time, I just knew I was going to start, and I was going to finish. I remember the twinge in my quad bothering me during the reverse lunge, but I pushed the leg to the side slightly and that helped push through that. I seemed okay through the Farmer’s Carry and I had to drop the weights once to readjust the weight in my hands. I was losing the grip. The push/pull was tougher than expected, but I remember reading about form and got lower down for the push and did more of a leaning back for the pull, and it seemed to make the second half a little easier than the first. I hate burpees, I get dizzy doing burpees so I had to pause during the last station at times. I finished with a time of 24:04. If I get more practice on the row, the Erg, heavier farmer carry practice and work on more burpees, maybe I could cut a minute or two off the time. Overall, I was happy with my performance and everyone at Obstacle Athletics (my home gym) was awesome, supportive and it was a very well-run event.
12:55pm – I left for the house and was asked if I would take my twins and their cousins to an animal fair event at a local Veterinarian, so when I got home at 1:25pm I quickly changed, cleaned up best I could, and quickly set out until 3pm playing with kittens, puppies, making donations and spending good Dad time with my twins and their cousin.
5:30pm – The dreaded food shopping. It wasn’t dreaded because I do not enjoy it. It was dreaded because I had to push a shopping cart and then walk-up steps into my house.
10:30pm – Fell asleep after being awake for 19 ½ hours, participating in two medal events, softball, a pet fair, food shopping and doing my normal Sunday things with my family.
Some fun stats for the day (remembering the watch was removed for the Tower Climb):
28:58 – Time on Tower Climb – 2,226 steps
3.32 miles (after taking off the mile driving when I forgot to stop my watch)
24:04 – DEKA Strong
Watch states I walked over 12, 500 steps but that seems a little low, while burning over 4000 calories.
During softball, my heart rate was between 105bpm and 146 bpm. At the peak during DEKA, it was 173 bpm.
That, is my Stupid Sunday!