Stan’s Obligatory Blog


New horizons in insanity

Filed under: — stan @ 5:24 pm

Today was a new adventure. We’ve gone to San Diego twice now for the Lung Association stair climb, and that’s been fun. But it’s been mostly an excuse for a weekend in San Diego and to visit my father. At 31 stories, the climb itself just isn’t all that hard. But this weekend was the first San Diego Towerthon. This was a stair climb up Columbia Center in San Diego. We were only going to climb up to the 25th floor, but this time, the race was to see how many times we could do that in two hours. This sounded both insane and intriguing to me. After all, back in my bike racing days, I always did better in longer races than I did in short ones. So I thought this would be an interesting experience.

The climb was early on Saturday, which made it difficult to plan to come down that morning. So I hitched a ride with some of my other stair climbing friends on Friday and spent the night at one of the guest rooms at my father’s place. In the morning, I took the bus to the trolley, and rode the train downtown. This was my first time riding the San Diego train, and it was really quite pleasant.

When I got to the building, I checked in and got changed. Then we lined up, and they sent us into the stairs. They had timing mats in the entrance and at the top, and the computer was going to time each of our climbs up the building, and we had two hours to climb, starting from the time when we first stepped on the starting line mat. When it was my turn, I started my stopwatch and headed up.

At the top, we came out in the hallway on the 25th floor. There were volunteers handing out bottles of water and towels. Then they had other volunteers operating the bank of six elevators doing a continuous shuttle from 25 down to the lobby. That worked out well, and we never had to wait more than 20-30 seconds for an elevator for the trip down. One of the elevator operators was a priest, and when he had a look at us, he reminded us that he was qualified to perform last rites, just in case any of us needed that service.

I’d planned on being conservative and taking about 6 minutes to climb the building. But that turned out to be too slow. In the end, I averaged about 5 minutes each time, and in retrospect, I think I could have gone faster. After all, look at the picture. I’m smiling. So that definitely means I could have been going faster.

In the end, I climbed the building 17 times. I was pleasantly surprised by that, since I’d thought I’d only be able to do something like 15 at the most. The stairway was very consistent, and I was able to adapt the stepping pattern I’d worked out at the Aon building last spring to find the minimum-steps method to climb. And because I went up it so many times, I was able to make a chart of it to add to my collection. Sadly, it’s pretty competitive in the over-50 age bracket, and the overall winner, with 21 climbs, was Michael, who’s in the first picture. And I was fourth in my age group. The number three guy also did 17 climbs, but he did them a little bit faster than I did, so he got the medal. But that’s all right. I still got a medal for being part of the West Coast Labels/X-GYM group, which was by far the fastest team there.

After the race was over, I met up with Kathleen and Lucinda. The drove down in my car. We went and checked into our hotel for the night, and that was when I realized that I’d developed a huge blister on my left thumb from swinging around all the left turns on the stair landings. Ow. And also, I thought it was funny that our room number was 408, which is also the exact number of floors I climbed that morning:

Climbing from 1 to 25 = 24 floors;
17 x 24 = 408

What are the odds?

The 408 floors add up to 8,602 steps. That times 7 inches per step means the total climb I did was just a bit over 5,000 feet. Yikes.

Results are here:

I also made a graph of how many runners did how many climbs. The bars represent the number of people who went up N times. The far left bar is the 26 people who climbed it once. And the far right bar is Michael, who climbed it 21 times. I’m fairly pleased to be pretty far out on the tail on the right-hand side of the graph:

bar chart

One Response to “New horizons in insanity”

  1. G.M. Grena Says:

    Stan, I noticed that on the website for last year’s Towerthon results, there’s a separate link to “Elite Sprint”. Did you not participate in that? Was it on a different day?

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