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1576 steps to a reward for a cause

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1,576 steps is all it takes to get to the Observatory on the 86th Floor of the Empire State Building. For Sally Kalksma of Pine Beach NJ it was a challenge she gladly accepted at the Annual Empire State Building Run up on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. She and a field of 650 participated in the annual event for their own personal reasons.

In Sally’s case according to her she participated for three reasons:. “1) The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)sponsors this race and I wanted to help this organization since it helps me, and so many other people with Multiple Myeloma. 2) I wanted the challenge. 3) I love to tell my oncologist all the crazy things I do at my 6 month checkups.”

Sally trained hard for about 6 months for the event primarily at her stairwell where she works. She would sprint up 5 stories and take the elevator down some 20 times for a total of 100 flights. She did that twice a week, then she run 3 days a week and lifted weights to strengthen her upper body used to pull up on the hand rails.

For Sally the toughest part was floor 30 and up. Her legs felt like they couldn't go any faster and her lungs just felt like they were bleeding. She really had to use her arms to pull herselff straight up and that strength training really helped.

The reward according to Sally was reaching the top,” It was amazing to get out of the stairwell and out to the fresh air. At first my legs couldn't move and then I got them back and started to run around the final lap of the observation deck in the snow. It was an amazing feeling. It was dark, yet all the cameras were flashing & the snow felt great after being in the dusty dim stairwell.”

When asked whether she would do it again, "Last night I said no way since it was the hardest thing I ever did. But my legs feel ok today. My lungs still hurt but I'm still so high from it.so I just might have to.”

Sally’s next challenge is a bit less difficult but equally exhilarating, The Jersey Shore Running Club banquet on Saturday, Feb 11, 2012 in Spring Lake Hts, NJ. And then after that she is looking forward to running in the Pine Beach 5K which she had been the long time Race Director and never had a chance to run.

Sally summed up her experience, “The whole Empire Run Up was a great experience: from checking into the building & waiting in the coral, and being brought to the lobby. All the cameras flashing & media, The anticipation for the unknown on the starting line, and then the race., the stairwell was greyly, dim and dusty. I was told not to look at what floor you were on. Water was on 20 and 60 so that helped me gauge where I was at. i peaked around 40, 70, then in the 80s. I had a guardian angel run with me and we pushed each other to the top. You could only pass on the landings since the stairwell was only arm’s length width and you use both arms and take two steps at a time!

I want to thank everyone for their support. It helped me train, and on race day that day when I had to get myself psyched up.”

The men’s winner of the run up was Thomas Dodd of Stuggart, Germany in a time of 10:28. For the women it was Melissa Moon of Wellington, New Zealand in a time of 12;39

Sally completed the 1576 steps in a respectable 19:35. Other local finishers included: Sameh Mikhail of Long Branch 16:22, Liz Komas of Rumson in 17:35, Amy Sloane of Freehold 19:02, Cliff Rigby Fair Haven 20:10, Chris Fotache of Middletwon 20:31, Nikhil Raswant of Holmdel in 22;08.

Other interesting but maybe not so challenging local events. - check them out.

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