Vertical Challenge

5 Minutes…..

That was all I kept telling myself, only 5 minutes, you can do this!!

Ok, backing up here… I saw a post on Facebook from Phil over at Fleet Feet Davenport. It was the one year anniversary of the store opening, so he was hosting some events.

In a rare moment of time, Josh and I both didn’t have anything going on, when I saw the event for Friday night, I asked Josh if he would be interested.

What was that event? Well Altra Running was sponsoring the Vertical Challenge: How far could you go on a treadmill, set at 15%, in 5 minutes? (5 Minutes…)

We were both in! Josh didn’t seem too worried, but I was a little nervous. I wondered if I would blow out my calves or any of my leg muscles? As you know I have the Hawkeye 50k in a week, and the Illinois Marathon in 3 weeks.

I really have no experience at this. I mean I run around Iowa City, and if you run the right hills, you can climb some elevation, but nothing more than average of 100 feet over a quarter mile.

I also don’t regularly run on a treadmill, nor is it ever set at an incline over 1%. I did move a workout to a treadmill the night before, and cranked it up to 15 just to see what that was like… I quickly put it back down.

Friday night: We arrived at the store where the challengers had gathered. When you walked in you signed up for a time slot. In the back of the store was the fancy treadmill and the Altra Running shoes. We also saw runner friend Kevin, he was there for the fun.


Phil did a quick introduction and a rundown of how the challenge would work. He also said that the top male and top female would win $40 gift cards!!! This was actually doable for me, because there were only 2 women competing. (Hello, ladies?!??! Where you at? You need to show up!)

We sat around, browsed the store, tried on the Altra shoes, and watched the competitors who went before us. That incline really didn’t look too steep – as a spectator.


Then it was my turn… I got the feel of the treadmill, a short little warm up. Then it was go time.

Only 5 minutes….

I am pretty sure life comes to a stand still when on a treadmill. I have run up to 20 miles on one, but time just never moves.


Ugh – I was like ok, I can do this… and one minute went by, I was only running at like 3.8 mph…seriously, I think I walk that at no incline… Then the next minute took forever, I had to slow down. I think there was some walking. Then I bumped it back up.

Josh, Kevin and the competitors were cheering me on, it was cool. I was dying! Come on, only 5 minutes…. Josh even took to covering up the time. I think I might have cheated, I hung on to the handles.

FINALLY – 5 minutes was over! I had only went .31 miles. My lungs were on fire! My legs felt fine. I coughed.

Next up, Josh. He got the familiar with the treadmill and pushed start. I stood around coughing, feeling the burn in my lungs, but also cheered on Josh with everyone else. I could tell he was having trouble. I covered up the time for him, kept encouraging him.


He was done! He complained of the burn in his lungs too. However he as asthma, and didn’t have his inhaler. He was coughing too.


The challenge continued, there were some beasts on that treadmill!! Not sure if they were just showing off or they were just that awesome.


We talked to others, learning of their running stories (I met a guy, Chris, who will be at mile 18 of the Illinois Marathon,) and also telling us how they couldn’t stop coughing and how their lungs hurt.

There was cold beer and pizza when we were done…. you thought we just went to the running store for this…nah …. I run for beer!

I need to find this beer! 


It was time for the results. The first male ran just over .5 miles. DANG! The first female ran … drum roll please… .37 miles (or something like that.) Yep, I came in last…. oh wait, I came in second!!

What a fun time though! When I started running, a mile seemed impossible to run without stopping. However with each passing year, I try to keep pushing to see what I can do. There was the first half marathon, 50k, then I ran a marathon a month. While this wasn’t a huge goal. I just wanted to see if I could do this, and I could…..I was also one of only two women who showed up!

I woke up and ran 12 miles the next day. My legs don’t feel like toast. Did push hard enough? Oh my lingering cough, tells me I did.

Side note: The Barkley Marathons started this weekend, I have been following the only live coverage I know about via twitter. I came across the training schedule of John Kelly (who is performing well this year.) For his training, he ran 13.1 miles at 20% incline…

So yeah… it was JUST 5 minutes….