Stephanie Abrams has worked in New York City since last summer. She visited the city as a child. And yet, the Weather Channel meteorologist has never been to the top of the iconic Empire State Building.
That will change on Wednesday night, when Abrams emerges onto the observation deck for the finish of the 36th-annual Empire State Building Run-Up Powered by the MMRF.
And does she think she’ll be able to enjoy the view after running up the 1,576 steps to the 86th floor?
“Holy cats, I don’t know!” she said in a telephone interview last week. “It depends how worn out I am, but I hope to take a good look at the city before I reach the finish line.”
In addition to Abrams, several other well-known members of the media are planning to attack the stairs of the Art Deco landmark: Natalie Morales of NBC News's Today Show, who is running to support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation; Pat Kiernan of NY1; Amy Freeze and Rob Powers of WABC-7; and Kelly Ripa of Live! with Kelly & Michael, who will run for NYRR’s Team for Kids.
Abrams, who was a sprint triathlete until a bulging disk in her lower back made cycling painful, was set to run the ING New York City Marathon last fall—her first attempt at the distance.Ironically, it turned out that the storm she and her Wake Up with Al co-host Al Roker were following up the East Coast in late October would alter her plans. But even after Hurricane Sandy forced the New York race to be canceled, Abrams would not be deterred: Instead, she headed south to run the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18. She wasn’t the only one.
“Tons of people wore their orange shirts, and there were tons of signs welcoming the New York runners,” said Abrams, who finished in 4:49:47. “It was cool to represent New York in their race.”
Abrams loves living in NYC. “I want to take in everything that I can,” she said. “It’s a big deal in New York to do the Empire State Building Run-Up, and so few people have the opportunity to do it.”
When she tells people she is doing the Run-Up, she said, “Any New Yorker is like, ‘Oh, that is so cool!”
Other people, she reports, will often remind her that there’s an elevator.
Her training has been going … actually, Abrams confessed that she hasn’t exactly been training, other than a smidgeon of StairMaster at the gym and a couple of trips up and down the steps of a friend’s building for a total of 86 floors. She’s wondering how hot it will be in the stairwell, wondering if she should wear her fuel belt, wondering if the climb will take her 30 minutes or two hours.
Going in blind, she acknowledges, could be a really good idea. Or a really bad idea.
“I’m really just hoping not to pass out,” said Abrams, whose only game plan is to go slow, go steady, and fight for the handrails. “I don’t care if I’m last. I’m more worried about tripping over the stairs than anything else, because I’m a complete klutz. But I don’t care if I’m on my hands and knees: I will get up [to the top].
Besides co-hosting Wake Up with Al from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. EST on weekdays, Abrams also co-hosts Your Weather Today with Mike Bettes from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. EST.