Monday, December 16, 2013


Do you remember the movie 300?  You know - the movie where the Spartans battles Xerxes' armies with very little armor (none but a helmet actually) and abdominal muscles painted on their stomach.  These Spartans took on impossible odds to defend their families, homes, and land from a Persian invasion.  They are an incredible example of how determination, grit, and confidence can help you succeed against all odds in any challenge.  While you may argue that the Spartans did not succeed because they all were killed, I disagree.  They inspired a nation to ultimately defeated and drive the Persians from Greece.  We are also still talking about their last stand at Thernopylea which shows success beyond the historic events of the 5th century.

I recently tackled a challenge that involved the number 300.  It was nothing as monumental as the challenge the 300 Spartans faced but it was still a challenge.  I tackled a challenge to climb 300 floors in one day.

Yes - I competed in my own 300 challenge last Wednesday (December 11, 2013 - just in case someone is reading this in May).  My challenge was to get my next Floor Badge on FitBit.  A Badge is a small reward for completing some task (steps or floors) that is recorded with my FitBit.  The Floor Badge is given when you complete a certain number of floors in a 24 hour period.  A floor is defined using a tiny barometric sensor inside the FitBit that measures elevation gain.  Any elevation gain of 10' is equal to one floor.  This can be on a hill or stairs; however, floors will not be registered on a treadmill or stair machine because you do not actually gain elevation.

I earned my previous Floor Badge sometime this past July when I climbed 200 floors (or 2000') in one day.  If you are mountain climbing this really isn't that much but try doing that on a work day - not easy.  I had to add 100 floors for my next badge and this task was not going to be easy.  But since it was a challenge, I was committed to the 300 floors once I started.

I got up last Wednesday and fuck, it was a crossing guard day.  I had forgotten this when I accepted the challenge.  This meant I was going to get a very late start on my floor challenge as it wasn't likely I was going to get any floors while helping the kids and parents across the street.  I was bumming.  No problem - despite the 3 hour late start, I knew could still complete the challenge.

Crossing Guard on my Floor Challenge Day
My first challenge of the day was to remember to use the stairs on my way into work.  It is easy to see the elevators and just hop in for a ride up.  I work on the 6th floor of my building and it is 99 stairs to climb the 5 flights.  Each stair is approximately 7.5" tall so I would climb approximately 61' or 6 floors just to get to my office.  Lucky for me, my building has 8 floors plus another flight of stairs to get onto the roof.  The total number of stairs from bottom to top is 154 which equates to just over 9 floors (sometimes the FitBit would register 10 floors from bottom to top).  I now had developed a plan for success - office stairs.

The stairs at work
I set a goal at work to climb 200 floors which would leave 100 floors for me to find/climb once I got home.  I figured I could easily rack up stairs in short 5-10 minute efforts of 18-36 floors at a time.  I blew past my goal and managed 250 floors while at work by climbing 2 to 4 bottom to top stair repeats every 30 to 60 minutes.   My plan was perfect and brought me closer to success than anticipated.

After work, I headed out to catch the bus at the RTD station which just happens to be underground.  The universe aligned perfectly for me with the bus being late.  Normally this is a pain in the ass because it means I pick the boys up late which in turn sets the stage for a late and hurried dinner.  I did not care about being late today though - the late bus meant I climbed another 15 floors while waiting.  The photos below were taken at the bottom of the stairs as I begun each repeat.  I was rolling.

RTD Station #1
RTD Station #2

RTD Station #3
RTD Station #4

RTD Station #5
RTD Station #6

I got another bursts of steps when I got off the bus at another set of stairs bringing my total floors up to 270.  Another 30 floors was going to be a piece of cake once I got home.  I came in the door and immediately started climbing from the basement to the second floor clocking 2 floors each time.  In between getting the boys set with their homework and late afternoon snacks, I completed my 300 floor challenge.  That was a total of over 3000' climbing in one day without going to climb a mountain.  My legs felt good except my calves which I knew would be sore as shit the next day (turns out that they are still sore 5 days later - ouch!).

Next up is 400 floors but I think I will wait a while before I attempt that challenge.  The real question is why did I attempt a challenge like this is the first place?

10 Reasons to complete a 300 stair challenge:

  1. Bragging rights
  2. Increase fitness
  3. Build self-confidence
  4. Follow through on a commitment to myself
  5. Active breaks from sitting and staring at a computer all day
  6. Combat ADD with sticking to a boring task (although the ADD may help with # 5)
  7. Impress a Victoria's Secret Angel (if I ever get to meet one and she even acknowledges me)
  8. Build better calves
  9. Hope the Victoria's Secret Angel notices #8 and calls
  10. Get strange looks from family, coworkers, and strangers

    Victoria's Secret Angel

    In all seriousness, numbers 3 and 4 above are great and real reasons to complete a challenge.  Especially for me - my low self-esteem really needs a boost every now and again.  It felt incredible to watch my FitBit roll over that 300th floor.  I had done it.  I was flying high.  I was high fiving my boys and my FitBit friends sent me congratulations.

    Any challenge in your life can and should be beneficial even if you fail - the trick is to find the positives (something I suck at).  The Spartans failed but their story remains an inspiration for all to keep fighting against all odds.  They believed in themselves!  Even in death, they demonstrated what determination can achieve - success when faced with the impossible.  They not only decimated Xerxes' armies before they died, they inspired a nation to fight.  Believing in myself and refusing to quit fighting despite the challenge is something I do not know how to do - I have ignored or quit challenges way too easily and for way too long.

    I have many challenges in my life right now and most of them have been relegated to the "I am never going to succeed so why try" category.  This has been and still is devastating to my self-esteem and confidence.  My goal in the next year is to turn my attitude around and face my challenges head on regardless of the outcome.  If I don't try, how can I ever be successful?  I am also learning that success does not always come right away but through persistence, remaining positive, and focusing on my goal, I will find success even in failure.

    What all of this really means is that I am going to become a Spartan and conquer my fear despite the odds.  The Spartans were defending their lands and people from Xerxes - I will be fighting for my relationships (new and old), my goals (Center for Snake Conservation), my fitness (finding a Spartan body even if I have to paint abdominal muscles), and my life (beating my anxiety and depression).

    This blog has already been a huge accomplishment for me.  It has allowed me to scream to the world what has been bottled up in my brain for so long.  This is a new experience for me as I normally would hide my feelings deep within the walls and catacombs of my brain.  I also never dreamed that I could stick with this blog or that it would become a focal point in my personal challenge for happiness.  I know I have just touched on the easy things so far but it is exciting to think of the challenges coming up as I tackle the hard things.

    This excitement reminds me of a previous blog post where I used the analogy of chasing my passion and dedication to learn about the Rainbow Snake.  As I have written before, rainbow snakes drive me insane, make me happy, challenge my intellect, have an amazing beauty, and should be celebrated when found.  This is the challenge of life for me - fighting for what I believe in and finding positive outcomes in all challenges (accomplished or failed) I have accepted or will accept in the future.  I won't ever know what life is all about if I never try.

    Rainbow Snake
    There are many challenges ahead of me.  With the rainbow snake, I don't care if takes me another 1,000 nights of walking streams to discover their secrets, I will do it.  With my other challenges shelved away as impossible, I will dust them off and tackle them full on.  If I can do this, I only see happiness in my future.  Hell - if I am lucky enough, maybe that VS Angel will give me a call.

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