Jill Paha

Name: Jill Paha

Birthdate: 24 January 1981

Do you have a nickname? You can call me whatever you like

What is your occupation? Clinical Chemist

What/when was your first climb?:There are 2.
Oakbrook Terrace circa 2007
Hancock Half-Climb 02/2015

How many climbs have you completed? ~15 that I know of. There are some more I don't remember. You'll see why.

Why/how did you start? Keep scrolling.

Do you have a favorite climb? Why? They're ALL my favorite! Just kidding, I don't like Milwaukee that much because the US Bank of America's stairwell reminds me of a fun house. But I run it anyway because it's close by.

My favorite climb is Presidential Towers in Chicago. It has 45 floors that are completely even ALL the way up.

Least favorite climb? Why? See above. Actually, it may be Aon in Chicago, but I've only run it once so maybe I'm just not used to it.

Why do you climb? Climbing is the ultimate drug and mistress all wrapped up as one gigantic euphoric high.

I also like the way climbing makes me look 

Are there other sports you're passionate about? I once was a NCAA D1 track athlete, I was a hammer thrower. Nothing more thrilling than whipping a glorified weapon of war into a field to the awes of spectators. Not only that but in the 2 years of tenure in this sport I had a wonderful coach who laid the foundation of what it means to train as an elite athlete. Not just the physical training but the mental and emotional training. 16 years later I still incorporate my throwing training into my climb training. Such training values should not go to waste.

Do you have injuries or issues you need to overcome to climb? Where do I begin?
Ulcerative Colitis. Diagnosed at 20. Effectively ended my college track career.
Glaucoma. Diagnosed at 30. It's "cured" for all intensive purposes but I am legally blind in my right eye. Effectively ended any event that requires depth deception, but oddly enough I have no problems climbing/training. 
Alcoholic. Diagnosed never. Effectively ended...everything.
Cured 12 May 2014.

How do you train? I consider my training highly experimental but am at a place where I know what works. I stated earlier that I incorporate many elements of my track throwing career into my current career. I train in plyometrics, jumping, bodyweight conditioning, sprinting (flats and hills), stairmill cardio intervals, and for the first time ever, on actual stairs. I train 5/6 days a week for about an hour. My workouts change when a change is required but my basic plan is climbing, endurance and plyos/bw conditioning 2/week each. I throw core work and cycling in the mix as well.

I primarily train for Sprint climbs and Ultimates. It's a personality thing.

Do you have a special relationship with any of your step-siblings? : You're ALL special 

Who inspires you? Dexter Morgan.

Do you have a good luck charm or any superstitions or pre-race rituals? My lucky charms are magically delicious. 

Actually I really don't have a pre-race superstition. I treat my climbs as if it's regular training, which calms my competition anxiety. However, I must have music. I cannot deal with the sound of my creepy loud breathing on the way up 

What's on your iPod during workouts/competitions? Skillet, Muse, Drop-Kick Murphy's, Evanescence, Mahler, certain tv show soundtracks, it's a very eclectic mix.

If we had numbers on our jerseys, what would your number be? 3

What would you like to tell others about yourself and your experience with stair climbing that might inspire them in their lives? I was introduced to the wonderful world of tower racing by a fellow personal training friend/co-trainer at the now extinct Bally Total Fitness. Oakbrook Terrace, 200.....5? Maybe. I did quite well for a newcomer. The only problem was that I was shitfaced-drunk for the occasion.

Such was the routine for most of my climbs prior to 2015. Hungover, still drunk, completely drunk, or planning to get drunk. There are climbs that I don't even remember. Who does that? Apparently I had some descent races, too.  

I'd love to share all of the gory details of my 8 or 9 years of drinking 3-4 bottles of gin or vodka a week almost consecutively. I'd love to brag about how, for a time I was able to train and compete decently, teach kickboxing well (sort of) while drinking before class, start and finish a second college degree and hold stable positions for a time, and generally enjoy my relationship with the people in my life. All while drunk. But I won't; that's a whole other story in my memoir that I shall call "50 Shades of Completely F**ked Up".

I quit climbing because of my habit. Then I quit my habit because my liver failed at 33. I technically shouldn't be here.  

That was May 12, 2014.

When I was was released from ICU I could not walk, talk (intelligently), take care of my basic human needs, and looked like that blueberry girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for about a month. I moved in with my parents because I refused inpatient treatment. Glad I did, inpatient addicts are crazy. My apologies in advance if I offend.

And so I relearned everything. EVERYTHING; how to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, drive, walk, talk (intelligently), feel, deal, live. All without my beloved liquor.

It may surprise you to hear that it wasn't that hard; I knew I was done before I quit. I remained home for 4 months, attended IOP, did the AA thing for a time, and eventually got a new job in my career field. And moved home.

As soon as I could walk, I began to do what I could to build up my body. Liver failure is no picnic; I was quite weak for many months. I actually had not eaten in months before I quit. My joints were painful from lack of exercise, my muscles were just atrophied beyond what they were. The week before I was hospitalized I weighed 117 lbs at 5'10". My feet have permanent peripheral neuropathy but luckily it's not and issue. But baby steps pay.

Walking led to skipping. Skipping led to running. Running led to sprinting. Sprinting led to jumping. Jumping led to more jumping, then bounding. Bounding led to Climbing.

I cannot tell you the exact day that I decided to rekindle my relationship with Towerrunning. All I can tell you is how insanely grateful I am that I did.

It's over 3 years later. I have a life, and it's pretty alright. Do I miss alcohol? Yes. I miss the oblivion I could slip into when times were tough. But I simply don't want to drink badly enough to do it again; addiction is like an Ex in many ways. 

I completed 3 climbs the first season back, 5 the second, and 9 in this past season. I'm here when I may not have been, I do things athletically that probably should never have been possible again. I've fallen hard in love with this sport.  

That's why I climb.