Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Page 11 of 25« First...«910111213»20...Last »


A startling revelation

Filed under: — stan @ 9:59 pm

Tonight was yet another practice session on the staircase at the Wilshire-Figueroa building in downtown Los Angeles. I went there this evening with the goal of trying to climb it in 9 minutes or less. And after that, I planned on climbing it again at a moderate pace as many times as time would allow.

When I got there, I got signed in and started up. My planned pace was 5 2/3 floors per minute. At each time point, I checked my watch to see it ticking over the one-minute boundary. And at each time point, having to mentally add 5 2/3 to it to calculate the next time point was a useful distraction from wondering why the hell I’m doing this insane sport in the first place.

I was able to maintain my pace up to about the 38th floor, when I was suddenly overcome by a wave of ‘What-the-f#ck-are-you-trying-to-prove-here’, which briefly slowed me down. I managed to somehow keep going, and when I hit 49, I did my best to sprint up the last two floors, coming out on 51 with a time of 9:07. It’s not quite as fast as I’d wanted, but it’s still my fastest time in this round of practice, so I can’t complain.

After the elevator ride down, I climbed the stairs two more times. In both, I was trying to do my ‘moderate’ pace, which gets me to the top in about 11:20 – 11:25. It worked once, but on the third time up the stairs this evening, I was starting to fade, and it ended up taking 12:34.

By this time, I was pretty tired. But there was still time to do it again. George was there, and he’d brought his 25-foot tape measure, so we walked up together and took some measurements on the staircase. It turns out that from the door where we start up to 2 is 9 feet. Then from floors 2 to 3, it’s 14 feet exactly. The two floors from 3 to 5 the floors are 14 feet. And then from 5 all the way up to 49, each floor is 13 feet. The last two floors from 49 to 51 are 25 feet and 19 feet each. And doing the math, it works out that the steps on that staircase are 6.8 inches high, and the climb up to 51 is 669 feet, 204 meters. I can now correct my staircase chart for this building. And even though it’s slightly shorter than I’d thought, four climbs is still a half-mile, and five is still a kilometer. This is good for those of us who are irrationally goal oriented.

Fun times.


I did a 1-k this evening

Filed under: — stan @ 9:28 pm

I made a 1-k this evening. That’s harder than it sounds, given that it was 1-k straight up. This is the second time I’ve done this at this building. Each time up the staircase is 210 meters of climbing, so doing it five times adds up to 1,050 meters. The last time I was here, I did my first climb for time, aiming to be at the top in 9:30. But this time, since I was able to get in the stairs right at 6:00, I wanted to take it a bit slower so I could try for five climbs before they close the door at 7:10.

The first time up, I did 9:49. That was a relatively easy pace, and even though the elevator ride back down took 7 minutes, I was on my way up again at 6:17, arriving at the top at about 6:28. This time the elevator ride down took about 5 minutes, and when I started up the third time at about 6:32, I thought I had a chance to make it. The first two climbs, including the rides back down had taken just over 30 minutes, so I figured that if I could come close to that for the second set of two, that would put me back at the bottom and ready for the fifth at just a bit after 7:00.

I slowed down a bit on the third and fourth climbs, coming in at 11:19 and 12:26. And when I got back to the bottom after the fourth, it was 7:05. So I stopped long enough to drink some water, and then I headed up for the fifth time. At that point, I wasn’t thinking about speed. I had two goals at that point. The first was to make it to the top before 7:30, and the second was to not be the last person out of the stairwell. But the last climb was pretty grim. I was tired, and I’d neglected to bring some Gatorade along, so I had no sugar in me any more. So it was a slog. Lots of people passed me, but fortunately, I passed one other person, and I could hear a few below me who weren’t catching up. So I made it up in 17:41, coming out on the 51st floor at about 7:23.

So I made my vertical kilometer. It was pretty hard. I can’t quite feature how I was able to climb the Aon building eight times last March. But still, this was a good evening on the stairs.


Another day, another half-mile

Filed under: — stan @ 9:22 pm

It’s Monday, and time to hit the stairs again. We had a good group today, with four of us from the office heading downtown on the train. My plan for this evening was to ramp up the pace just a little bit over what I did last Wednesday. I’m slowly getting back into doing my first climb of the evening for speed. We’re still climbing the Figueroa-Wilshire building. The climb is 50 stories, from 1 to 51, 1,181 steps. The typical floor in that building is 23 steps, so the climb works out to the equivalent of 51.3 ‘normal’ floors. The last two floors from 49 to 51 are taller than normal.

Two weeks ago, I did the first climb in 9:56, which seemed like a pretty relaxed pace. A week ago I made up split times aiming to be at the top in 9:30, which was a bit faster, but not too much of a strain. So tonight I was aiming to do 9:15. Now, this is starting to feel like a pretty brisk pace up the stairs, without being too punishing. That’s 5 1/2 floors per minute. I found that keeping track of the splits was a useful diversion. I checked my watch at each one-minute goal, and after passing each one, I had to mentally add 5 1/2 to it to figure out the next one-minute goal. And all that arithmetic is a good distraction from thinking, “What the f#ck was I thinking doing this again!?!” And I was pleasantly surprised to make the 45th floor in under 8 minutes, which meant I was a bit ahead of schedule. And I made it to the finish at 51 in 9:12, three seconds ahead of the target.

My plan was to continue on and do three more climbs at my ‘modest pace’, which is 4 1/2 floors per minute, getting to the top in about 11:20. The second climb, I came in a bit under that by accident. The third was a little bit over target, but pretty close. And then the fourth time up, my time sort of fell off the cliff. The last time up, I didn’t even look at my watch. And I kept thinking, “whose idea was this anyway?” It didn’t help when Chris kept reminding me that it was all my idea. Anyway, we slogged up the staircase that last time in 13:07. Not terrible for a fourth time up, but not the steady pacing I did last week when I did four climbs, all in exactly the same time.

Still, all told, it was a good outing. Four times up adds up to 2,756 feet, which is a bit over a half-mile. Not too bad for one hour.


Well, we tried…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:30 pm

It’s another Wednesday evening, and time for more stairs. I went downtown with two goals for the evening. One was to do my first climb at a slightly faster pace than I’ve been doing lately, and the second was to get in five climbs for a vertical kilometer. I should have made a third goal, just so I could start this with, “well, two out of three ain’t bad.”

At the last two practices, I’ve been doing my climbs at a modest pace. Basically, that’s the pace I used for when I did the vertical mile. That’s nine floors every two minutes. In this building, that gets me to the top in 11:22. Last week, I’d gone a bit faster on the first climb, and just by accident, I did the first climb in 9:56. So today, I decided to aim for 9:30 for the first climb. On the one hand, that’s almost a minute faster than I’ve been doing, but on the other hand, it’s also a minute slower than my best time for this building. So I worked out splits so I could figure exactly where I should be at each minute boundary. In this case, the plan was to do 16 floors every three minutes. So 5 1/3 per minute.

I went into the stairs at 6:02, and I started up. I was able to maintain the pace pretty well. It was definitely faster than I’ve been doing, but it was nowhere near maximum effort. At each minute boundary I managed to stay right on target. When I hit the 49th floor right at 9 minutes, I knew I had it down. I kept going at the same speed for the last two big floors, and I came out on 51 with a time of 9:29. Right on target.

The elevator ride down seemed to take forever. Looking at the EXIF information in my pictures, I can tell that it took about 6 minutes to get back down.

The plan was to do the rest of the climbs at my regular ‘modest’ pace. So I headed up the second time, aiming to be at the top in 11:22. But I guess I was warmed up or something, and I found myself getting ahead of schedule. When I got to 49, I was almost 40 seconds up, and I didn’t want to crawl up the last two floors just for the sake of stubbornly staying on schedule. So I just kept going and came out on 51 at 10:43.

Again, the elevator ride down took a bit over 6 minutes. Seemed like forever.

The third and fourth times up, I managed to keep to my schedule, getting up to 51 in 11:18 and 11:22. That was good, since I’ve never been able to maintain that pace on the fourth climb after doing a fast first climb. So that’s good. The bad news was that in between climbs three and four, the elevator ride down took a full nine minutes. That meant that I started the fourth climb at 6:55, and the way things were going, I pretty much knew that there was no chance of making it up and back down before the closed the door at 7:10. And that’s what happened. The ride back down took forever once again, and I got back to the start at 7:12. They were just closing the door, and they wouldn’t let any of us go up again. So that was the end of the vertical kilometer.

Still, it was a good outing.


Climbing the artificial mountain

Filed under: — stan @ 9:00 pm

It’s Monday, and time for more fun and frolic on the staircase. Today’s goal was to try and help my friend Morgan do a vertical kilometer. In this case, that’s five times up the 51 stories of the Figueroa-Wilshire building. Each time is 1,181 steps and 210 meters of climbing.

We had a good group going downtown today. We met up on the Metro and rode the train there. Walking up to the building, we saw that it has a new logo on top. It said ‘pwc’. I suppose that stands for something boring like Pricewaterhouse Coopers, but we thought it was funnier to think it stood for ‘Puking While Climbing’.

We got signed in and headed up the stairs. I did a moderate pace, aiming at climbing the 51 stories in about 11:15-11:32. That meant that we’d do nine floors every two minutes. Chris stayed with me, and I watched the time to see that we stayed on pace. We made it up in 11:21 the first time, and Morgan wasn’t too far behind. We hit the button to call the elevator for the trip down.

Last week I did the vertical kilometer at practice, and that time the elevator trips back down averaged about 5:30 each time. So I figured that if we could get up the stairs in less than 12 minutes each time, we’d have a chance of doing four climbs before they closed the door at 7:10. And as long as we could get back in the door by 7:10, we’d be good for a fifth time up.

The next three times, Chris and I went up together, and I kept the pace pretty precisely. This is the first time I’ve ever done multiple climbs at almost exactly the same pace every time. Sadly, Morgan fell off the pace on the third and fourth times up, and when we got to the top of the fourth climb it was already 7:15. So we’d missed the cutoff. But we still did four climbs, and that adds up to 1/2 mile vertical, which is still quite a bit.

The final tally was: 204 floors, 2.756 feet, 840 meters. My total climbing time for that was 45:21. That works out that I was making 230 watts of useful power for 45 minutes. I really can’t complain too much about that.


Back to the Stairwell

Filed under: — stan @ 9:39 pm

It’s summer, and time to start practice for the U.S. Bank Tower stair climb in September. This year, the YMCA people arranged for us to practice in the Wilshire-Figueroa building downtown. This is the same building where they hold the Cystic Fibrosis stair climb in December. It’s a nice stairway. 51 stories, 1,181 steps to the 51st floor. Of course, I made a chart of it.

The practice sessions are on Monday and Wednesday evenings, from 6 to 7:30. I took the train there, walked to the building, signed the waivers, and then I was ready to go. Ready to go, that is, aside from the feeling of dread one gets before walking up the stairs for more than 50 stories. For some reason, the feeling of dread was stronger tonight than usual. So I decided to take it easy for this first time out. I figured I’d do a moderate pace, and maybe be able to do five climbs, which would add up to a vertical kilometer. I did a vertical kilometer in practice at the Aon building last winter. So even though the practice time is an hour and a half instead of two hours, I thought it was possible.

The first three were pretty easy. I started to slow down noticeably on the fourth climb. They had said that they would close the door at 7:10, so I had to start my final climb before then. But when I started the fourth, it was only 6:45, so I knew I’d be able to get in five. I got in the stairwell at 7:05 for my final climb. As could be expected, the fifth time up was a bit of an ordeal. But I made it.

Afterward, I changed into a dry shirt for the ride home. I didn’t have any place to change pants, though. So I just put my shorts on over my sweat-soaked running shorts. On the train home, I sat on the floor, since I didn’t want to make a wet sweat spot on the cloth seats on the trains. And when I got off the train in Pasadena, I was treated to a view of a very nice sunset.

The final tally was five ascents, 255 floors, 5,905 steps, 3,445 feet, 1,050 meters. Yikes. Of course, I’ll be back on Monday to do it again.



Filed under: — stan @ 8:33 pm

This past weekend was my second attempt at the San Diego Towerthon. And it was a mixed bag. Fun in a weird sort of way, but also funny in a weird way.

Last year, I’d gone in to this race with no expectations. I’d never done an endurance stair climb before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. And I think I did pretty well. I climbed the staircase from 1 to 25 seventeen times. That was enough times that I was able to later make the staircase chart from memory. And, more importantly, I calculated later that if I’d done it eighteen times, it would have been a vertical mile. More on that later.

So for the past year, I’ve been thinking about the vertical mile as a goal and a challenge. And I even did it once at one of the Aon building practice sessions in downtown L.A. last March. So I went into this race with a goal of doing the vertical mile.

A few days before the race, I got an email from P.J. saying that they’d had to change the course for the race, and that we were only going to be going up to 24 this time. The organizers had already said that they were going to make up some sort of special award for all climbers who went a mile or more, so they wanted to know how many times up would make a mile with the shorter climb. I ran the numbers and came up with 18.6, which meant climbing the staircase 19 times. I worked out a pace for that, and I set an alarm on my watch for 6:20, since that was how fast I’d have to do each lap, including the elevator ride down and the run from the lobby to the staircase entrance outside.

So race day dawned, and when I was in line and about to go, my friend George told me that he’d measured the steps in the staircase, and they were a bit taller than I’d figured in my calculations. They were something like 7 3/8 inches instead of 7. At that point it was too late to redo the calculations, so I just started up the stairs. I think that’s why I look a bit haunted in the starting line picture.

All the way up the first time, I kept thinking about how the taller steps threw all my careful calculations off by about 4%. Which is enough to notice over a 2-hour climb. Still, I made it up on target, and I managed to keep on pace for about 5 or 6 climbs. But then I started to fall of behind. Expectations are a terrible thing. Once I knew I was off my planned pace, I kind of lost the will to go on. And my lap times for the middle set of climbs were kind of slow. I managed to perk up a bit towards the end, but by that time, I’d lost count of how many times I’d been up the stairs. You can see in the pictures the wear that going up that staircase over and over caused.

At the end, I got to the top and then immediately flopped face-down on the floor. The top of the climb was an unfinished floor, and we discovered that our sweat-soaked shirts made sort of prints on the concrete. These were dubbed ’sweat angels’. After a suitable recovery time, we got together for a team picture before heading down for the awards.

When the posted the results, I found I’d climbed the staircase 17 times. Not bad, but not a mile. And when I had a few minutes, I recalculated, and found that with the taller steps, 18 times up made a mile on this year’s course. So I really didn’t need to aim for 19, and if I’d aimed for 18, I might have made it.

The really funny bit came later, when I was on the train leaving downtown to go back to my father’s place. I wondered just how close my 17 climbs last year were to a mile, since the steps were taller than I’d thought. So here’s the calculation:

Climb from 1 to 25 -> 506 steps
506 x 7.35 = 3,719 inches = 310 feet
310 feet x 17 climbs = 5,270 feet

This is just short of a mile. But on every lap, there were four steps we had to go up when we got out of the lobby. So doing 17 laps meant climbing those four steps 16 times, and they were about 6.5 inches. So those steps added:

16 x 4 x 6.5 = 416 inches = 35 feet

5,270 + 35 > 5,280

So the funny thing is that I actually did the vertical mile last year. But because I’d thought that I hadn’t, it became a year-long obsession. I talked about it, and other climbers took it on as a goal as well. And the whole thing took on a life of its own. Which I found tremendously funny.

Overall, even though I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I really can’t complain. It was a good experience, and good fun.

Full results are here:


I’m oddly excited about this

Filed under: — stan @ 9:48 pm

I just heard word that the San Diego Towerthon is on again for this June. I did this last year, and I did pretty well, climbing the 25-story building 17 times in 2 hours.

That evening, I was adding it up, and 17 times up the building totals 5,015 feet climbed. And this planted the seed of an idea. I figured out that 18 times up that building would make a vertical mile. I made this a personal goal, and I finally made my vertical mile stair climb at one of the practice sessions at the Aon building last month. And along the way, I managed to convince several other people to do it, too. It’s a deliberately crazy idea, and I’m a bit surprised that it caught on.

So my goal for the Towerthon this year is to do 18 or more times up the building. That totals 432 floors, 5,310 feet, and 9,108 steps.

How hard could it be?

Vertical Mile stair climb


Well, I really can’t complain…

Filed under: — stan @ 3:48 pm

Today was the “Fight for Air” stair climb put on by the Lung Association. This is my fifth time doing this event. Oddly enough, it never gets any easier. But after all the practice sessions at the building for the last three months, I think I’m about as ready as I’m going to be.

We rode the train downtown, since that’s just so much easier than driving. We got there just a few minutes before it was time to line up. I was in the lead group, given the lucky number 13. We were roughly lined up in order of our finishing times from last year. I’d made up a little card to rubber-band to my arm with floor targets of where I planned on being at each one-minute mark on the way up. I was hoping to do roughly the same time as last year, which was 11:31.

When it was my turn, I trotted into the stairwell and headed up. I managed to stay on schedule up to about the 24th floor or so. Then I started to fall behind a bit. It wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t feel as good as I had at my last practice run on Tuesday. And by 45 or so, I was fully into the “OMG! What the HELL was I thinking when I signed up for this?!?!” mode. And that’s not conducive to doing a good time. Still, I managed to keep going, and I stumbled out onto the roof with a time of 11:45.

At the top, we got the whole West Coast Labels group together for a picture on the roof. I also got a picture with George. He had found a couple of errors in my chart of the staircase, and one evening we walked up together, counting and taking measurements. He has a real eye for detail, and I’m glad that he was able to check out and fix my chart. He was also excited that his time of 11:49 was only four seconds behind mine.

After coming back down, we hung around and visited with everyone I’ve gotten to know in this crazy sport, and I finally walked up the stairs a second time with Jane and Lisa. We did it at a moderate pace, so it was fun. And we still passed lots of people on the way up.

In the end, the day was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I didn’t go as fast as I’d wanted to, or as fast as I think I can. But on the other hand, I came in 20th out of 617 climbers, so I really can’t complain. At least not without looking kind of stupid. So overall, it was an all-right experience.

Full results are here:


My five minutes of fame!

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

A couple weeks ago, I went downtown to meet with Evan from KCRW so we could climb the stairs at the Aon building and talk about the sport of competitive stair climbing. The final piece that he made was broadcast yesterday. And here’s the link to the blog posting at KCRW about it, including a Soundcloud link so you can listen to it:

Page 11 of 25« First...«910111213»20...Last »

Powered by WordPress