9 observations from climbing Corning

Climb Tower

I'll never be able to look at that building in the same way.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

I've wanted to see the city from top of the Corning Tower for quite some time now, but I'd always planned on getting there by elevator.

Then I heard about yesterday's climb for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

As tall towers go, the Corning - at 42 stories - is not one of the greats. That title goes to the big guns: The Sears Willis Tower, the Empire State Building and John Hancock Center. At 100+ floors each, my legs thank me for not attacking those.

Here's some of what I learned in my 7:40:00 climb.

Corning Climb 41

The Burn
My lungs burned like they have never burned before (during and after the climb - including right now). If you've ever had bronchitis, imagine that feeling: raspy breathing, painful inhales, a constant need to cough up phlegm (mmm) - that's what it is like.

But that's also what every day is like for people with CF. It was pretty eye-opening.

Lack of Burn
My legs - they're fine. It's weird. They felt really fatigued once I hit floor 10 and got progressively worse, but it wasn't what I was expecting. I was thinking my quads would burn, but instead it was just an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. My guess is the lack of oxygen did me in.

Corning Climb Stairs No artistry here either, just an out of focus shot because I was so. over. it.

Because my legs were feeling so fatigued I used the railings a lot. I grabbed and pulled and used them in any way they could help. It got a bit congested in the stairway at some points, so it was difficult at times to do so, but I definitely recommend grabbing on.

One Step or Two
The initial adrenaline had me jumping two stairs at a time but once reality sunk in (that's right, you have 35 more stories to go) I switched to the one-step method and it wasn't a jog, or even a trot. It was more of a shuffle: The Stairclimb Shuffle.

Corning Climb Firefighters

There is a special race for firefighters. Those guys are impressive. They wear close to 100 lbs of gear and climb the same steps as everyone else. (And finish in times close to everyone else).

Corning Climb Art 2

Corning Climb Art

The Art - While you're in line waiting for your turn, there's some art to enjoy. A statue of a man window-washing? A giant colorful mobile? Anything to take my mind off the fact that I'm climbing 42 stories.

Corning Climb View

The View
Honestly: I didn't care too much about the view after getting to the top. I did take a photo for good measure.

For Next Time
Coughdrops (to help with the lung burn) and my iPod (so I can play music to distract me from the lung burn).

Oh and it turns out that 7 minutes and 40 seconds was 2nd in my age-group and 32 overall.


Did you notice that the church near the tower (next to NYS Museum) is shaped like a big cross. Very cool view from the tower observation deck.

A good friend has a child with CF, and sponsors a running race every year in DC. I can't really run, but I can climb stairs. (Slowly.) I'm TOTALLY doing this next year (wish I'd known...)!!

Congrats Liz! Great climb and a very good time. I used to climb 40 floors every day at lunch (I worked on floor #2) when I was stationed there. I recall going back to work with a shirt drenched in sweat.

Ugh, the burn! As an asthmatic, I'm not sure what a great the climb was - still burning almost 24 hours later. But, I agree, I was totally surprised that my legs are just fine.

Get Rich Quick, actually most Catholic Cathedrals are shaped in the sign of the cross. Not all, mind you, but most.

My god, this was a strange posting. I expected interesting tidbits on the tower, but instead all I read about was the physical exhaustion of the writer. The view from the observation deck is one of my fabulous, and it's normally closed to the public at night -- so I hope the writer appreciates that fact.

Doesn't it say "climbing Corning" in the title?

Apparently during World War II some bombers would avoid bombing churches because they knew they were the cross-shaped buildings.

I did it a couple of years ago and believe me... all you will think about during and afterwards is the lung burn/nonstop coughing that you will endure for days. There's no "Ooooo look at the pretty view" at the top it's "Where is the oxygen". I don't think I looked out the windows at the top as much as used them as support and hoped I didn't crumple into ball on the floor.

Yes titles are everything! Why the burn Liz? And is it a feat to experience what CF may be like? I would want to know why my lungs were burning days later. Were you warned that you should expect that?

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