Nelson Quong

Birthdate: 16 October 1966

What is your occupation? Fatal Accidents Analyst for the California Higway Patrol

What/when was your first climb? November 2009

How many climbs have you completed? Approximately 24

Why/how did you start? I saw a short blurb about the Empire State Building RunUp years ago in Runner's World, and I promised myself if we ever had a climb in Sacramento, I would do it (never expecting we would have one!).  I also thought it would be great cross training for my bike racing.  I ended up loving it so much, I instead used my cycling to train for stair racing!

Do you have a favorite climb? Why? Yes, my favorite climb is still my Sacramento climb because it was my 1st stair race, and I was surprised how well I did despite how horrible I felt!  A close 2nd favorite would be AON because that's where I first nervously approached Mark to wish him luck and tell him I had seen him in climbing videos.  That is also the first race I did with you, Jane!!!

Least favorite climb? Why? I don't really have a least favorite, but since my knee injury after only one year of climbing, every race I've done has been slower for me.  It's very humbling.

Why do you climb? At first, it was to crosstrain for cycling and because I loved the extreme mental and physical challenge of it.  That's still true, but now I also climb for the wonderful bonds I've formed with my teammates.  They are truly bonds formed by mutual suffering!

Are there other sports you’re passionate about? Yes.  Before my knee injury, I was an amateur bike racer for 17 years.

Did you have injuries or issues you needed to overcome to climb? Yes. Originally, I had pretty severe social anxiety.  Bike racing was pretty insular activity.  I did meet some good friends through it, but there really wasn't the same comeraderie or closeness that there is in stair climbing.

How do you train? Before my knee injury, my main form of training was cycling.  I also trained with weights at the gym and climbed at a local college parking structure.  Since the injury, I haven't been able to cycle, but I still do restricted workouts in the gym and climb the parking structure when the pain level is down.  The structure is only 5 floors, but it is the tallest staircase I have access to, so it has special meaning to me.

Do you have a special relationship with any of your step-siblings? It's funny, but I feel like I have a special relationship with all of them (of course you know I think the world of you, Jane!).  We really do have a special climbing family.

Who inspires you? That's a great and a tough question.  You know that you inspire me!!  Also, many of our step sibs inspire me for so many different reasons.  We've all had such different challenges to overcome.  I honestly believe that’s one of the reasons we're drawn to the sport and to each other.  In stair climbing, everyone suffers, but we are the ones that always get up and fight.

Do you have a good luck charm or any superstitions or pre-race rituals?  I try not to adopt any superstitions or rituals because I travel for most of my races, so I don't want to adopt anything that I can't easily replicate in another city.  I don't want it to throw off my race.  That being said, I do tend to look up to the sky at the moon the night before a race.  I was very close to my grandmother when I was little, and when she would babysit me, we would sit on a step and look at the moon together before bedtime.  She's been gone for many years, but this still comforts me to this day.

What's on your iPod during workouts/competitions? Anything fast or inspirational.  Hard rock is always good.

If we had numbers on our jerseys, what would your number be? 8 or 13.  8 is good luck in Chinese, and 13 because it represents overcoming challenges or "bad luck" while racing.

What would you like to tell others about yourself and your experience with stair climbing that might inspire them in their lives? Stair climbing has helped me live outside the box.  I've had pretty severe social anxiety most of my life (I used to have a very hard time leaving my house, and even used to go running at night, so no one would see me), so I never would have imagined I'd be flying all over the country and have great friends from all over the world.  Stair climbing opened up the world for me.

Climbing means even more to me now with my injury than it did before.  Although I'm climbing much slower now, I actually think I'm pushing myself mentally more than when I was healthy.  Before, I knew if I slowed down the pain would eventually go away.  Now, even if I slow down, I know the pain will only drop back to the same level it's at every day when I'm not climbing.  I use this knowledge to keep pushing myself.  In stair climbing, we all suffer and push ourselves despite our circumstances.  To me, that's both the challenge and the beauty of the sport!