“We’ll take it easy,” my Storm the Stairs partner said. “I’m pretty tired today.” I don’t know why I agreed to do this anyway. When it was all said and done, though, I didn’t have any regrets—not bad for a self-professed couch potato.

The weather was cloudy and it was around  that time of day when you’re not really sure if the sun is setting or if it was just the autumn skies messing with you.

VIU’s “Storm the Stairs” card, which times your run. They can be linked up to your student account for free at the VIU Gym.

VIU’s “Storm the Stairs” card, which times your run. They can be linked up to your student account for free at the VIU Gym.

I was bundled up in my thickest pair of sweatpants (in all its baggy, high school logoed glory), my favourite blue sweatshirt, and bright pink running shoes—the image of sportiness and health. When Danielle Caron, kayaker extraordinaire, suggested I “storm the stairs” with her someday, I had imagined a hardcore, intense workout leaving me breathless and wishing for salvation. What I found was that it actually wasn’t as ridiculously demanding as it looked.

We started off by the lower cafeteria, simply walking up the steps, students passing by as I tried in vain to look in shape. We made it to the library, and by then I was starting to feel the  burn. After hitting the first physics building, I decided to run all the way up to the sturgeon tanks, because why the hell not. Ultimately, it  wasn’t the worst decision of my life. Me, who thinks yoga twice a week and the occasional Westwood run counts as being active.

I had not only managed to impress myself, but my running partner as well. Apparently lots of prior “stormers” hadn’t made it that far.  After taking a little time to catch our breath and explore the untold wonders of upper campus (I still can’t get over the fact that there’s not only a wood cabin building, but there’s also a museum and a fossil display), we made it back down the dozens of flights of stairs. Back at the lower cafeteria, we made a second go, but this time, faster, and climbing stairs two at a time.

“Try stepping on your tippy toes,” said Caron as we got back up to the physics building.

“What does this do? Does it make a diff… Oh,” I said as my calf muscles burst into flames.

I somehow pushed through the burn and made it all the way back up on my toes. As we parted ways back on lower campus, I felt elated. For someone who tends to avoid exercise, I will give this much: that “after workout” buzz gets pretty addictive. “Let me know how you feel tomorrow,” said Caron with just a hint of sass. I promised I would, and the morning after I felt like I had avoided being run over by a train during the night. I had a slight pain in my thighs, but I certainly wasn’t in lactic acid hell.

After some initial research on the VIU website, it turns out I missed a Storm the Stairs relay this past October, and some of my friends had told me about a card I could get to time the climb.

I asked the girl at the VIU Gym front desk for more information on this mysterious card, and in less than two minutes I had my very own. Armed with my new acquisition and the knowledge of a Storm the Stairs race sometime in the spring, I think it’s safe to say that my “light drizzle” will probably work itself up to a “storm” in the near future.