Stan’s Obligatory Blog


The Vertical Mile

Filed under: — stan @ 9:46 pm

Tonight was my third attempt at the Vertical Mile, and this time the magic worked. Well, the magic, combined with a quart of Gatorade.

I rode the train downtown as usual. And this time, I stopped in at Famima!! on the way in and got a quart bottle of classic lemon-lime Gatorade. I’d also brought along a big bottle of water. The plan was to gulp down some of both of them after each ascent. I was hoping that the little shot of sugar would keep the bonk away this time, and prevent the troubles I had when I’d tried this stunt last Tuesday.

The first four times up were pretty straightforward. Each time, when I got to the top, I headed straight for the elevators to go back down. I snapped a picture of my stopwatch to record my time while I was riding the elevator back down. I managed to keep it under 12 minutes for all four times, which meant that at the halfway point, I was about five minutes ahead of schedule. That gave me a little extra time to drink the Gatorade, towel off, and change to a dry headband for the second half.

The fifth and sixth times up were slower than before. My plan for the first four ascents was to do 4 1/2 floors per minute, and I kept an eye on the clock to maintain my pace. The plan for the second set of four was to dial that back to four floors per minute, and I was pretty much able to maintain that pace for the fifth and sixth climbs.

By this time, I was lying down on the floor in the elevator during the ride down. I wanted to get everything I could out of that 40 seconds or so of rest.

When it was time for the seventh climb, I resorted to counting down the floors, starting with “51″ when I took the first step. It gave me something to think about, other than, “What the HELL was I thinking when I decided to try this!” At the top of the seventh, I checked the time, and I had 20 minutes left before they closed up the stairwell. At that point, I knew I had it in the bag. I went back down, finished the last of the Gatorade, and started up for the last time.

The last time up, I had to keep reminding myself to not think, and just put one foot in front of the other. I felt a bit like the hamster-stair-master. Once again, I counted down the floors. I switched my watch back to display the time. I didn’t really care how fast I went the last time up, as long as I got to the top before 7:00. I even passed a few people on the stairs. That was a pleasant surprise.

One thing that helped a lot was that all my friends who were there knew what I was up to, and they were very nice about it. They gave me encouragement along the way, and the last time up, George even held open the two fire doors on the 44th floor, and then he shadowed me up the last 11 floors. And at the top on the eighth time, I ran the last three floors, and then collapsed on the landing. It was good to be done.

Just to put it in perspective, George made up a picture to show what a mile-high climb would look like:
mile-high building

The final tally was: 408 floors, 5,520 feet, 1,680 meters, and 9,008 steps. Total elapsed time was 1:58. I finally landed the White Whale.

5 Responses to “The Vertical Mile”

  1. Jeff D. Says:

    Nice work Stan! Hope your legs are OK today……..

  2. G.M. Grena Says:

    Woo hoo! Another impressive accomplishment, especially so soon after your recent sickness. I was astonished when you left me in the dust around 52 on the last lap! I’m very happy for you, & hope you get big endorsement checks in the mail next week from Gatorade & Famima!!

  3. G.M. Grena Says:

    Thanks, Stan, for inspiring me to take my own fitness-insanity to a new “height” tonight! And thanks to Alberto for pacing me on my first 4 laps to hold the doors & get the elevators. Thanks to Jeff & all the other voices I heard in the background along the way encouraging me. What an awesome bunch of friends y’all are!

    This was an especially poignant occasion because a 42-year-old friend-of-a-friend died unexpectedly in his sleep last week after a month of symptoms like I had back in February, so I’m grateful to God for enabling me to recover & reach this point in my life.

    When the going the got rough during the last 4 laps, the dominant thoughts running through my mind were: 1) Alberto’s advice telling me to slow down but don’t dare stop, 2) PJ’s voice from his X Gym #1 DVD I began using today, reminding me to push past the mental fatigue & focus on the physical exercise, and 3) reminding myself how easy it was for Stan!

    Lap #1: 5:03:25 PM – 5:14:45 PM = 11:20 (metronome @ 53 bpm)

    (1:40 rest)

    Lap #2: 5:16:25 PM – 5:28:30 PM = 12:05 (metronome @ 52 bpm)

    (1:45 rest)

    Lap #3: 5:30:15 PM – 5:42:15 PM = 12:00 (metronome @ 52 bpm)

    (2:00 rest)

    Lap #4: 5:44:15 PM – 5:57:10 PM = 12:55 (bonk midway; metronome off)

    (1:50 rest)

    Lap #5: 5:59:00 PM – 6:14:00 PM = 15:00

    (2:25 rest)

    Lap #6: 6:16:25 PM – 6:31:30 PM = 15:05

    (2:00 rest)

    Lap #7: 6:33:30 PM – 6:48:50 PM = 15:20

    (1:50 rest)

    Lap #8: 6:50:40 PM – 7:03:30 PM = 12:50

    (average rest = 1:54)

    This last time was measured between the 47th & 48th floors, which technically is the vertical mile point, an annoying 5 seconds over the 2-hour mark. So technically I didn’t quite make the vertical-mile club in 2 hours, but now that I know my times, I can slow down my pace next year & have that as a goal.

    I reached the 55th @ 7:05:40 PM for a full lap time of 15:00 (2:02 for comparison to Alberto’s 1:57 & Stan’s 1:59). Despite notifying the guard after my 7th lap that I’d be finishing about 10 minutes after 7PM, the door was unmanned & locked, so I proceeded up to the 59th-floor intercom, reaching it at 7:08:00 PM. Maybe the judges will be lenient, & let this extra section count as a penalty climb to make up for being 5 seconds over the 2-hour mark for the club!

    And thanks for one of your award-winning cookies, which I managed to pry away from the guard on the way out! What an exceptional chocolate flavor, & great way to end the evening!

  4. Jeff D. Says:

    Well done George! I think we can let the 5 seconds slide, especially since you took some time in between climbs to make some calculations, etc.

  5. G.M. Grena Says:

    Stan, I can’t thank you enough for the encouraging words, turbo boost, & chase during my 8th lap tonight! Not quite 1 year later, I was able to do the full 8 laps in 1 hour, 53 minutes. My video stored safely, & I’ll eventually post a time-lapse on YouTube & calculate the exact VM time when I reached floor #47.5. And thanks to Johnny for chasing me at the end of my 7th lap. Note that he told me he’s done 8 laps in roughly 1:45, but said he never times himself; so even though he & others (like Jeff) can do it faster, right now I appear to have an official building record, with Johnny being the unofficial record holder. (Also note that the world-record VM time appears to be just over 1 hour at the world’s tallest continuous staircase.) Okay, now it’s time to celebrate with a hot dog wrapped in pastrami (the poor-man’s “meat log”)…

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