Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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August 27th

Filed under: — stan @ 9:58 pm

Today is August 27th. It’s a holiday in Texas. That’s because Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on this day. But here in Los Angeles, it’s just Thursday, and time to go downtown and climb the Wells Fargo building stairs again. They told us that there was another elevator problem, so we could only go to 44 tonight. But that meant that I could get in five climbs instead of four, and that works out to be basically the same total amount of climbing. My goal for tonight was to do four climbs up to 44 in 9:33 or faster. I was aiming for a target pace that would get me there in about 9:30.

The first two times up, I was holding back a lot, and I still got up faster than my target. The third time I was just cruising, not holding back, but not pushing, either. And the fourth time, I had a push a little to maintain my target pace. But I came out on 44 right on time, so I guess I made my goal.

My reward for making the goal was to go up a fifth time, but un-timed and taking it easy. George was there, so we walked up together, talking and stopping at the fans at 11, 27, and 41. It was a nice evening on the stairs.


Getting more consistent

Filed under: — stan @ 9:38 pm

Tonight was yet another session on the Wells Fargo staircase, and tonight I managed to make three climbs up to 55, all within one second of each other. That’s a big step, since I haven’t been able to do anything like that in a long time. The first time, I was holding back quite a bit. I made a conscious effort to slow down, and I came out on top in 12 minutes even. The second time, I was still holding back a little, but maintaining the same pace. And I came out on top in 12:01. And the third time, I had to push just a little bit the last five floors or so, but I made it up in 12:01 again. This is the most consistent pace I’ve been able to do over , multiple climbs since 2013, so that’s a Good Thing.

Any my reward for making the three climbs at a steady pace was to do the fourth, untimed, and stopping to cool off at the fans on 11, 27, and 41. I just took it easy the fourth time, and made it up in about 15 minutes or so. Good times.



Filed under: — stan @ 9:26 pm

Tonight’s stair session was another attempt at maintaining a consistent pace over multiple climbs. And this time, the magic worked better than it did on Tuesday. Still not as good as it was two years ago, but better than I’ve done in a while.

On the first climb, I held back a lot. I was aiming to get to the top right about 12 minutes, and 11:56 was nicely close. The second time up, I had to hold back a little bit, and I made the top in 11:59. The third time, I was feeling it. But I managed to maintain the pace, although I fell behind by a few seconds in the mid-40s. But I still had enough in the tank to be able to speed up a little bit and make up the time, and I came out on 55 with another 11:59. So that was pretty good.

After doing the three climbs, I still had plenty of time for a fourth, and my reward for hitting my goal on the three was that I was going to take it easy the fourth time. I didn’t time it, and I just plodded slowly up the stairs. I stopped in front of each of the four fans that blow cool air into the stairwell. Taking a minute to cool off at the fans was a nice treat.

I guess the next step will be to do this a few more times and see if I can get to a place where the first three climbs won’t be too much of a strain. When I can get to that, I’ll try for the fourth.


Trying for a steady pace

Filed under: — stan @ 9:35 pm

Tonight, there was some sort of problem with the freight elevator at the Wells Fargo building, so they told us we would only be climbing to 44 this time. I did some quick math, and worked out that climbing to 44 five times would be 215 floors, which compares favorably to the 216 that going to 55 four times totals. So my goal for the evening was to do five climbs, and try to do them at as close to a steady pace as I could. I worked out that my target pace would get me to 44 in about 9:35, so that was the goal.

The first time up, I was holding back a lot, but I still got there quite a bit faster than planned. The second time was slightly faster than planned, but close. The third time, I made it up right on schedule, but I was feeling the strain. I had to push a little bit to keep on pace the last 20 floors or so. After that, I knew the fourth climb was going to be hard. I managed to stay on target up to about the 20th floor, and then I kind of started to fall apart. I managed to keep moving, but I was losing time at each checkpoint, and in the end, I came out about a minute behind schedule.

Still, I’d made four climbs from the street up to 44, and there was still time for a fifth. I figured there was no point in timing it. I went in the door at about 7:08, and as long as I made it to the top before 7:30, everything was good. And since it was only 43 floors, even though it felt like snail’s pace, I made it up in about fifteen minutes. So I guess I can’t complain too much.

So my goal for Thursday is to try the same thing, but to go slower at first and see if that will leave enough in the tank to keep up the pace longer later on. We shall see.


Another attempt…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:17 pm

Today’s goal at the Wells Fargo building was to see if I could do four climbs at a steady pace. I used to be able to do that. One evening at the PWC building, I was able to do four climbs with the times varying by only about a second from the fastest to the slowest. I worked out that that pace at the Wells Fargo buildling would be just about 12 minutes for each climb. So that was the goal for the evening. To climb it four times, and try to come as close as I could to 12 minutes per climb.

The first time up, I had to hold back a little bit to stay on the target pace. That’s always a good sign. And I got to the top in 10:56, which was right on target. The second time, I wasn’t holding back, but maintaining the pace wasn’t too hard. And that time, I made the top in 12:06. Again, right on target.

The third time, I was having to push to try and maintain the target pace. And I fell behind a bit. My time of 12:40 was a bit of a disappointment, but at the same time, this was the first time that my time didn’t fall off a cliff on the third climb. But I knew I was pretty much toast for the fourth climb. I made it back down, had some water, and headed up. I didn’t bother to time it. I stopped to rest and cool off in front of the fans. And in the end, I made it up in about 17 minutes or so.

At least I was able to make three climbs at something approximating a steady pace. And I guess I’ll try again next week.


More stair climbing fun and frolic at Wells Fargo

Filed under: — stan @ 9:48 pm

It’s Tuesday, and time for yet another installment of pain and suffering on the Wells Fargo building staircase. I’m still trying to remember how to push the pace on the first ascent. I used to be able to do it. The other staircase we used to practice in is one floor shorter than this one, but at the speed I was going back in 2012, I would have been able to climb this one in just about 9 minutes. But I’ve forgotten how to push that hard. And I suspect that I’m not in quite as good shape now as I was then. So my times are correspondingly slower.

The first time up, I was trying to do five floors per minute. That used to be my ‘relaxed’ pace. For this staircase, that would get me to the top in 10:55. And it appears that I was able to make that. So I guess the trick for next time will be to see if I can improve on that just a bit. And I was glad to see that I didn’t slow down quite as much as last time on the second ascent. The third time up was grim, though. I was lucky to make it up the third time without stopping. And the fourth, I didn’t even bother timing. I didn’t particularly try to go fast, or even maintain a steady pace. I stopped several times at the fans to cool off. I’d gone into the stairs at 7:04, and as long as I got to the top by 7:30, I was good. And even then, I made it up with some time to spare. So I guess this counts as a good outing. And I’ll be back on Thursday for more ‘fun’.


Second time at Wells Fargo

Filed under: — stan @ 9:34 pm

Tonight was our second stair session at the Wells Fargo building. I was hoping to go a little bit faster on the first climb, and also hoping to get in four climbs. I borrowed a water bottle, so I was going to be able to drink some water between climbs. I figured that might help, since I forgot to bring water on Tuesday.

The first climb started off all right. I’d worked out some informal split time goals, and I managed to stay close to them for the first five minutes or so. After that, I started to fall a little bit behind. If I’d made my goal pace, I would have made the top in about 11 minutes. But instead, I had 11:24. Oh well. After an elevator ride down and some water, I started up a second time. This time, the goal was to just try and maintain about the same pace as the first time. It used to be that kind of pace was just loafing for me. But these days, I’m just not going as fast any more. And the second time up was considerably slower than the first. But at least it was faster than my second on Tuesday.

After another elevator ride and some more water, I headed up for a third time. I didn’t even bother timing it. I just wanted to see if I could make it to the top fast enough to get back down before they close the door to the stairwell at 7:10. And I did. It was probably about 15 minutes or so, and I made it back down with four minutes to spare before the door closed.

Heading up for the fourth time, I had 26 minutes to get to the top before the official end of practice at 7:30. I just took it easy. Well, as easy as it can be when each step takes a conscious act of will, and it’s nearly all I can do just to keep moving. There are fans blowing cool air into the stairs about every ten floors, and when I got to those flights, I stopped and laid down on the steps to feel the breeze and cool off. And in the end, I made it to the top in about 18 minutes, which was before the end of practice. So it was a good outing. I just want to work on trying to get more consistent times in. After all, I did reasonably well at the Towerthon in June.

So I’ll be back next week to do it again. And again, I’ll be asking, “Who thought this was a good idea???”


A new look at the Wells Fargo building

Filed under: — stan @ 9:16 pm

It’s summer, and time to start stair practice for the U.S. Bank building stair climb in September. In previous years, they had us start off in a smaller building, and then work up to a larger one. But this time, they decided that we would just practice in the Wells Fargo building from the start. And just to shake things up, they moved us from Stair 1 to Stair 2. This meant that we were starting from the door on 3rd St, and starting one floor below the lobby. But that’s all right. That means that even though the building skips the 13th floor, it’s still an honest 54 stories to the top. And it turns out that Stair 2 also has three murals painted on the landings near the top, but different ones than the murals in Stair 1. (Murals in Stair 1: First | Second and Third )

I got there a little late, and started my first climb at about 6:15 or so. I was hoping to make it to the top in under 11 minutes, but that didn’t happen. Still, at least my time meant that I maintained just over 1 foot per second vertical on the climb. If I was under that, I’d be pretty embarrassed. The second time up, I slowed down a lot. And the third time up, I didn’t even bother to time it. I just wanted to try and make it to the top without stopping. And even that didn’t work. They had ventilation fans blowing air on some of the landings, so on the upper floors, I stopped by fans to cool off a little bit before continuing up. And in the end, I finished my third climb and got back down just a few minutes after they’d closed the door. So three was my limit tonight. Next time I’ll try and get there on time.

George was there with his tape measure and a notebook. So i was able to make a second stair chart for this new staircase. And we know now that it’s 1,147 steps to get to 55. That’s 709 feet and 216 meters vertical, which is pretty good. So I did 2,127 feet and 648 meters of climbing this evening. It was a good outing.


Towerthon 2015

Filed under: — stan @ 4:29 pm

It’s June, and time again for the two-hour suffer-fest known as the San Diego Towerthon. Climbing a 20-story building is really no big deal in my book. But doing it over and over and over for two solid hours is a whole different experience. Last year, I managed to climb the building twenty times. This time, I wasn’t feeling quite so confident, and I didn’t think I could manage that. But I wanted to see how close I could come to it.

When it was time to go, I started my watch as I headed in the door for the first time. The rules of the event are that your two hours begin then, and as long as you’re in the door and climbing when the two hours runs out, you get credit for the last climb. So I started up the stairs. My target pace was 4 1/2 floors per minute. This used to feel like a very slow pace, and it used to be that I could climb a 50-story building five times in a row at that pace without slowing down.

I managed to do the first three or four climbs averaging about 4 – 4 1/2 minutes each time. But after that, I started to slow down. It was very hard to just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. It was hot in the stairwell, and we were all suffering. They had powerful fans on the landings at 7, 11, and 16, and those helped a bit. It got to where when I came to those floors, I went up the flight below the fan on all fours to stay low and get the maximum cool air exposure. Still, I was dripping sweat and soaking my clothes.

I took a small cup of water at the top at the end of each climb, and I stopped briefly at the bottom at 30, 60, and 90 minutes in to swill some Gatorade that I’d brought along. That helped a little bit. But by the last half-hour, my socks and shoes were completely soaked. My shoes were heavy, and my feet were making squishy noises like I’d stepped in a puddle. Yick. By that time, I’d lost count of how many times I’d gone up. So I just kept on going. I was going slow near the end, but I didn’t stop. And when I got to the top and my watch said something like 1:52, I knew I’d have time for just one more climb. I rode the elevator down, and headed back up for the last time. I knew that it didn’t matter much how fast I went on the last time, but I wanted to get to the top as soon as possible, since it meant that I could stop. So I kept up my pace, and even had a little bit left for a burst of speed at the end. And then, like I’d promised myself, I got past the timing mat and immediately collapsed on the floor. And apparently, Madeleine was there to take a picture. I don’t even remember seeing her there.

So the final tally was nineteen climbs. That’s 361 floors, about 4,560 vertical feet, 1,390 meters. Truly a unique experience. And in the end, that was good enough for 3rd place in the 50-59 age group. Only four people older than me did more. So I can’t complain. All told, it was a good outing.


We’ll meet again…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…
But we’ll meet again, and I’ll climb the stairs…

(Apologies to Ross Parker and Hugh Charles)

Tonight was the last practice at the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles. In past years, we had two practices a week for three months leading up to the race there next Saturday, but for some unknown reason, this year they only held six sessions. So most of us hardcore-nutball-stair-climbers were disappointed, but we still showed up. I’m still working on building my fitness back up after the troubles with my back last year, and other issues. Each time I came downtown, I’ve been doing five climbs. The practice course runs from 4 to 55, which is 51 floors, 1,186 steps, 690 feet, and 210 meters. So doing five climbs makes for a vertical kilometer. With my reduced speed this year, it’s an attainable goal, but just barely. The Vertical Mile is right out. Still, I’m making some progress.

The other times I came here for evening practice, my goal was always to do five climbs. The first one, I always aimed for my vertical mile pace of 4 1/2 floors per minute, which gets me to the top in about 11:15-11:20. Then for the subsequent climbs, I just tried to see how close I could stay to that pace, and it usually wasn’t all that close. By the fifth climb, I usually didn’t even bother timing it. But tonight, I was feeling a bit stronger, and I’d remembered to bring along a quart bottle of Gatorade.

The first time up, I managed 11:16, which was right on target. The second time, I kept an eye on my watch for splits. At the mechanical floors on 22 and 42, I lost a few seconds going through the fire doors, but I still felt strong enough to dial the pace up for a few floors afterward to make up the time. And I came out at the top in 11:18, which I was pretty happy about. The third time up, I was starting to drag a bit. I was falling behind the pace by the 20th floor, so I just kept an eye on how far behind I was, with the idea that I just wanted to make the top in under 12 minutes. Having three climbs all under 12 minutes would be the fastest I’ve gone at this since last year, and I managed to make it to 55 in 11:48.

The fourth time up, I was really feeling it. I knew there was no chance of making it under 12, so my goal became to make it as close to 12 as I could. And 12:33 was still not bad, considering that the last few times I’ve done this, my fourth climb was in the 14-16 minute range. So with all that done, I went back down and got ready to do it a fifth time. This time, I started my watch, and my only goal was the make it in under 13 minutes. When I got to 45, I could see it was going to be close. But just knowing that when I got to the top, I could stop. So I was able to put on a burst of speed for the last four floors, and I came out on top at 12:54.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this evening. It’s the best I’ve done in a long time. But on the other hand, I still have a long way to go to get back to the level I was in 2013. For comparison, about a year and a half ago, I was able to do five consecutive 51-story climbs, averaging under 11 minutes each time. That’s not even a pipe dream now. But I’m going to keep plugging away at it. We have the Aon race a week from Saturday, and then the San Diego Towerthon in June.

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