5 Things I Learned By Climbing 1,088 Steps

On Saturday morning, I tried something new – something crazy – something adventurous.  I participated in the Fight for Air Climb in Philadelphia, PA.  The Fight for Air Climb is a 50 floor (1,088 step) stair climb from the street level of Three Logan to the top.  The event raises money for the American Lung Association.  After climbing to the top, I felt like I might need a new lung.

Here’s what I learned during this crazy experience:

  1. The climb is not completed all at once.  It’s not like taking the elevator to the top.  It took me just under ten minutes to complete the stair climb.  Ten minutes may seem like a short time, but it seemed like an eternity when my legs and lungs were burning twenty floors into the climb.  We live in a culture where we expect immediate gratification.  Life is hard work.  It takes effort and time.
  2. The climb is completed one step at a time.  I’m nearly six feet six inches.  For a short period of time, I can skip three steps at a time.  This is not sustainable for most people.  The first several floors, I skipped every other step.  With a little more training, I may have been able to keep this up for most of the climb.  In reality, I had to go one step at a time.  If I missed too many steps, I would lose my balance and rhythm, and I would begin to slow down.  In life, it’s important to proceed one step at a time.  When we skip steps, we miss out on key details required to complete the overall journey.
  3. The climb requires focus and determination.  While I was climbing up the stairwell, I had to keep remembering that the end would eventually arrive.  Without this focus, it would have been easy to give up.  I could have stopped on the tenth, twentieth, thirtieth, or fortieth floors where race volunteers were offering water to the climbers.  I knew it was important to keep moving.  I had to stay focused on the end at floor fifty.  Life can be pretty challenging.  In the middle of life’s ups and downs, we can lose heart and give up if we don’t keep our eyes on the prize.
  4. The climb is better in community.  I was part of a team in the Fight for Air Climb.  We joined together to raise funds as a whole, and we started together at the bottom and finished together at the top.  Actually, we started in fifteen second intervals.  Two of my team members were in front of me, and two of my teammates were behind me.  As formal Climb participants, my teammates gave me valuable tips on how to go about my climb.  When I made it to the top, they cheered me on and supported me as my lungs and legs recovered.  We need people in our lives who will cheer us on and who will give us tips for how to handle life.  We might be able to go about things alone for a little while, but life is so much better in community.
  5. The climb is temporary.  My legs felt like jello, and my lungs felt like fire while I was completing this “adventure.”  But it was only temporary.  After the climb was complete, I caught my breath.  I took the elevator back down to the street, and I headed over to the post climb party with my teammates.  Soon I was talking about doing it again next year.  We all go through challenges.  Some challenges last longer than others.  If we follow Christ, we have the promise of a future.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be easy in this life, but things will get better.

This is an experience I won’t soon forget.  The climb left me with a new appreciation for people with lung problems.  It also gave me great respect for first responders who climb up skyscrapers with eighty pounds of gear to help rescue those in need.  I’m thankful for another stretching experience.

Have you ever climbed a lot of stairs?  How many steps have you climbed this week?  What did you learn along the way?

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