I visited Pittsburgh, my husband’s home ground, last week. Dear friends offered up tickets so we could see my father-in-law’s old team, the Pitt Panthers, squish William & Mary on Pitt’s new court.
The Petersen Events Center is a beautiful new facility. Not a bad seat in the house. This translates to seats set on 45-degree planes. And that means walking up and down those stairs. And up and down, and up. While this kind of terrain is pretty comfortable to native Pittsburghers, I live in flat country, where ups and downs can generally be avoided.
Running to the restroom during timeouts meant sprinting those stairs. Many stairs. Many. I lost count. Getting to the top, I was aware of my heart beating a little harder, but more than anything I was aware of what I wasn’t doing.
I wasn’t clamping my lips to cover openly panting and wheezing.
I wasn’t blacking out around the edges or seeing stars.
I wasn’t looking for a post to coolly lean into while my legs recovered.
I wasn’t sweating.
I wasn’t shaking.
I did not stop in the middle to pretend to take in the view from there.
I wasn’t coughing.
In short, I wasn’t doing all the things that 100 extra pounds on my frame made me do every time I climbed even a short flight of stairs.
Now I remember stairs. I remember losing my breath reaching the top of even my little 13-step flight in my old home, every time. I remember sitting in the middle of that same short flight to recover when a cold or low blood sugar would knock me down mid-climb.
I lived in fear of the steep. When traveling, the opportunity to climb an extra set of stairs into a tower to catch a view was out of the question. Kid stuff. I would route around hills, pyramids, switchbacks, canyons. I chose seats near the tops of stadiums, or took elevators to the bottom. I bought a house with no stairs. No basement. No down, and most importantly, no up.
So at this Pitt game, while Pitt squashed their opponents, I demoralized those stairs. I’m taking extra flights of stairs this week every chance I get, just to celebrate. Maybe get in a little time on the stairmaster too.
It’s good to climb up high. You can see so much more.