Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Climbing the tower

Filed under: — stan @ 10:51 pm

Sunday was the big day. We got up early and got dressed to climb lots of stairs. We walked over to the building from our hotel. When we got there, we met up with our group and got ready to go. This event is very well-run. It has to be, since they have something like 6,000 people doing it. We went off in the first group to go up, which was nice, since it meant that the stairwell was relatively clear. Pretty much everyone in front of me was going faster, so I really didn’t see anyone on the way up, aside from a few people who passed me. As I’ve been doing, I didn’t go particularly fast. But I maintained a steady pace, and I didn’t stop. I figure there’s no point stopping. There’s no scenery to look at in a stairwell. So I just kept going until I got to the top.

When I got to the top, I walked around and looked at the views. This is one of the few races where we come out in an observation deck level in the building, so there are views to look at on all sides. So I just hung out there until Kathleen came out of the stairs. Then we took a picture together before heading back down.

At the bottom, we didn’t hang out for very long. We had to get back to our hotel to get cleaned up and checked out. And then we were going to meet my cousin Irene for lunch before heading back to the airport. We rode the train to near where she lives, and then we went to lunch from there. Afterward, we got back on the train for the short ride to the airport. When we got there, we went looking for some food we could get to bring aboard with us, since it was going to be dinnertime when we were in the air. In the process of scouting out the SeaTac airport, I was very amused to see that Sub Pop had a store there. Overall, it was a fun trip.

One thing I thought was a bit odd, though. On the way back, at least four times, we passed very close by other airplanes flying the other way at nearly the same altitude as us. I thought it was unusual for air traffic to pass close enough that we could look out the window and recognize the airline flying by.


Visiting Seattle Again

Filed under: — stan @ 9:48 pm

It’s March, and time to visit Seattle for the Big Climb again. We did this last year, and it was a fun time, so we signed up again.

We flew there on Friday morning on JetBlue out of Long Beach. That little tiny airport is so easy that it made up for having to get up too early to get there early in the morning. We made it to Seattle by lunchtime, and we took the train from the airport to our hotel in Pioneer Square. Our plan was to play tourist for the afternoon and then meet up with my cousin Irene for dinner. I’d read recently about the EMP museum there, and I thought we should pay a visit. We’d seen it last year when we rode the monorail, but we didn’t have time to go inside then. So that was our plan for the afternoon.

We rode the train to the end of the line downtown, and then got on the monorail to get to the museum. Going in, we didn’t quite know what to expect, but once we were inside, we realized it was a great collection of odd and interesting stuff. We started off with the “Star Wars” costume exhibit. We’d both seen a similar exhibit some years ago at the Fashion Institute in downtown Los Angeles. After that, we wandered through the gallery about the history of Nirvana, complete with hand-written notes on songs and guitars smashed by Kurt Cobain at the end of shows.

Wandering upstairs, we found a gallery about music videos. They had an exhibit about variations of music videos. The “Gangnam Style Without Music” video was funny, and they had examples of “literal music videos”. Look them up on YouTube. They’re hilarious.

Heading back downstairs, we saw the gallery of costumes and artifacts from fantasy and magic movies, including costumes from “The Wizard of Oz”, some of the “Harry Potter” movies, and others. Then we went down to the bottom level for the horror movie gallery, where we saw Simon Pegg’s bloody shirt from “Shaun of the Dead”. All told, the EMP museum was great fun, and well worth the visit. Next time we’re going to plan on getting there earlier so we don’t run out of time.

After that,we rode the train back and met up with Irene for dinner, and we made plans for playing tourist on Saturday.


CFF Climb, 2014 Edition

Filed under: — stan @ 3:00 pm

It’s time for the last race of the year here in Los Angeles. The 54-story climb up the Wilshire-Figueroa building. It’s 1,245 steps to the roof. I know, because I counted them. This year marks the fifth time the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has held this event, and the fifth time I’ve done it.

I’ve not been going especially fast on the stair this year. But after the sciatica and other issues I had last winter, I’m glad to be able to do stairs at all. So my goal for the day was to try and do a decent pace, and I was hoping to make it to the roof in under 10 minutes. My target pace was 5 1/2 floors per minute. The staircase is very consistent all the way up to 49, so my plan was to check my watch at 12, 23, 34, and 45. At each of those points, I should be at 2, 4, 6, and 8 minutes. Last year, when I was in somewhat better shape, I did it in 9:29.

I went up in the first group. I went behind the really fast guys, and I was alone for most of the climb. I think one person passed me. The first photo was taken by a photographer in the stairwell. I don’t know what floor it is, but because of where my feet are, I know it’s above the 21st floor. And because I have no memory of seeing a photographer, I’m guessing it was probably above the 40th floor. At the roof, I stumbled out of the stairs and collapsed as soon as I’d crossed the timing mat. And as it turned out, I was perfectly placed to photobomb Mark and Lisa’s picture. After a few minutes, I was recovered and able to stand up for a picture before heading back down.

At the bottom, I found Kathleen, and we got in line for her climb. I was going to climb with her to keep her company. While we were waiting in line, Madeleine came up and took a picture of my knee. I’d gotten a bloody scrape from the concrete helipad on the roof, and I hadn’t even noticed it.

Kathleen and I walked up the building. At the top, we took a picture, and then we came back down for the post-race party. It was a fun little outing.


Last practice

Filed under: — stan @ 9:44 pm

Tonight was the last practice on the stairs before Saturday’s CFF Climb. I was sick last weekend, so I missed the practice on Monday. I’m only just now recovered, so wanted to go tonight, but not to try and go fast.

I ended up going up three times tonight. For some unknown reason that I won’t complain about, my knee that has been giving me problems has decided to go back to feeling normal. So I was able to climb the 51 floors three times tonight, and I didn’t even take any ibuprofen or anything else beforehand. So I guess that means I’m as ready as I’m going to be for the race Saturday.


Last few practice climbs

Filed under: — stan @ 9:36 pm

There are only a few more practice sessions on the stairs before the CFF Climb on November 15th. And now that we’re back from Chicago, I don’t have to think about that any more. Now it’s just a matter of trying to see how fast I can get the the building one time. So tonight, I thought I’d try an experiment.

I’ve been aiming for five floors per minute as my target pace for the Sears Willis Tower, but for this, event, only 54 stories, I want to aim higher. So tonight I went for 5 1/2 floors per minute. That’s easy to calculate, and easy to follow. My two-minute goals would be floors 12, 23, 34, and 45. I hoped to get to 51 in just about nine minutes.

The first five minutes or so were fine, and I kept on pace. Nearer the top, I slowed down a bit, losing a few seconds each minute on the floors above 35 or so. So I got to 51 in 9:13. Not too bad, but nowhere near my personal record of 8:33 for the climb to 51. Still, considering that I’m not in the same shape I was last year or the year before, and I’ve been having knee problems the last few weeks, I’m not going to complain. I guess my goal for race day will be to try to make the finish line on the roof in less than 10 minutes.

I went up a second time, just because I could. I timed it, but didn’t push for speed. And by the end of the second climb, my knee was feeling a bit swollen, so I stopped there.


Chicago 2014

Filed under: — stan @ 11:08 pm

This weekend was our yearly trip to Chicago to visit, play tourist, and to climb the stairs up the Sears Willis Tower. After the ordeal we had last year on this trip, we were hoping that things would go smoother this time. Last time, our trip out was delayed a day by the shootings at LAX, so the odds seemed to be in our favor this time. We got to the airport at about 9:45 for our 11:05 flight, and everything seemed all right. But almost immediately, they said that the flight was delayed to 12:15. And a little while later, that was pushed back to 1:20. So we had some lunch and waited some more.

The next time I checked, our flight was listed as ‘Canceled’. It was about this time that we started to hear talk of bad weather in Chicago, and that air traffic bound there from all over the country was being delayed. I went to one of the check-in kiosks to see what I could find out. It told me that we’d been rescheduled for a new flight at 3:41. So that didn’t seem too bad. It was about this time that I finished reading the book I’d brought along. And since we weren’t going anywhere any time soon, I went looking for something else to read. I picked up a copy of The Martian and started reading it.

When it came time to get on the airplane, as soon as we were all aboard, they said that we were going to be delayed another hour, and that if we wanted to, we could get off and walk around some. But soon after that, they announced that we were going to push back from the gate. We weren’t leaving. But they needed the gate for another flight coming in. So we got to sit in the airplane for about an our, parked out on the taxiway. I was glad that I’d found an entertaining book to read, otherwise the waiting would have been even worse.

We finally got under way at about 5:30. The flight was pretty uneventful, and we got to Chicago at about 11:45 Friday night. By now, it was far too late to go for dinner, and almost everything in the airport was closed. So we walked over to the Airport Hilton, where they had a bar and restaurant still open. We stayed there for a short time, and then rode the train to our hotel.

Saturday morning, we went downstairs and got breakfast. Then we rode the train downtown to pick up our race packets at the Sears Willis Tower. And after that, we had to immediately head over to the Weird Chicago tour we’d signed up for. It was three hours on a bus, traveling around the city, visiting sites significant to the city’s Mob history. It made a nice companion piece to the time we went to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. After the tour, we got on the train and headed over to the West Loop neighborhood to meet up with all our stair climbing friends for dinner.

On Sunday morning, we got up bright and early and headed downtown. We got to the building at about 8:15, and I got right in line to climb. There was kind of a lot of traffic in the stairwell. On several occasions, I had to push through groups of people. There were a few people who were climbing who were obviously handicapped, using canes and such. For them, I went around the outside. But they were going slow enough that going around wasn’t a big problem. For everyone else, I just pushed through, up the inside railing.

I managed to maintain my target pace of five floors per minute up to about 65 or so. Then I started to slow down a bit. In the end, I made it to the top in 23:10. Not blazing fast, but not bad, either. That works out to something like 4.6 floors per minutes average. It was pretty close. I was originally planning on going back down and walking up with Kathleen, but my knee was not feeling good, so I just sent her a message that I’d just stay at the top until she got there. I took a guess at when she’d get there, and I made a point to go over near the door then. And when she came out, she started crying. It was a hard climb. The stairs there are steeper than most normal office building stairs, and psychologically, that’s hard. But she perked up pretty fast. We went around and looked at the view, and we got our picture taken on the south side of the building, where the sun came in. That way, we could get a picture of us with the view, but without us being just silhouettes against the window. Most of the time, when people try and take those pictures, it ends up looking like Witness Protection climbed the tower.

After the climb, we went back to our hotel and got cleaned up. After that, we went back downtown to meet up with my old friend Laura. She’s in the restaurant business and recently moved to Chicago to oversee the setup and opening of the restaurants in the soon-to-be-opened Virgin Hotel there. We had a nice lunch, and after that, we went to Union Station to get the train to Libertyville to visit Kathleen’s aunt and uncle there. We spent the night at their house, and we all went to the Chicago Botanic Garden the next day. And after that, they dropped us off at O’Hare for our flight home.

Our flight home was not delayed like Friday’s flight out. In fact, the delay coming back was only about an hour or so. Still delayed, but nowhere near as much as on Friday. So all told, it was a fun trip, aside from the actual traveling part. And yes, I liked The Martian. It’s not that often I chew through a 350+ page book in under 24 hours.


Last practice before Chicago

Filed under: — stan @ 9:11 pm

Once again, I missed Monday stair practice, since we had gone to San Diego on Sunday night to visit my father. But I came out for Wednesday practice, since it’s the last one before next weekend’s trip to Chicago to climb the Sears Willis Tower. Once again, my goal was two climbs at a consistent pace. I did all right on the first, but the second time up, my knee started to hurt, and I kind of fell apart. And when it was over, I didn’t even do a third climb.


I missed Monday…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:05 pm

I missed stair practice on Monday, since I was sore from hiking Mt Baldy last Saturday. But today, I was refreshed and ready to go. I rode the train downtown and headed up the stairs. As before, my goal was to do five floors per minute for two consecutive climbs up the building. The idea being that that’s about the closest I can come to simulating climbing the Sears Willis Tower, which is on the agenda for the weekend after next.

I did my two climbs right about on my target pace. I was pleased with that. After that, I went up one more time slowly, just because there was time. Unfortunately, on the third climb up, my knee started to hurt a bit. This is potentially a very bad thing. We shall see. It was just about this time last year when my back went to hell. Now that that’s better, I’m not in the mood for something else to go to hell.


Still going…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:27 pm

It’s Wednesday, and time for three more climbs up the Wilshire-Figueroa building. I was kind of dragging tonight, but I still did all three climbs. And tonight on the train home, I got farther along in that damn game than ever before. It makes the train trip go faster.


And again…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

Once more, it’s time for two climbs up the 51 stories of the Wilshire-Figueroa building, aiming to do about 10 to 10 1/2 minutes each time, followed by a third time up, just because there’s enough time to do it. On the third time up, I was counting the steps, just to see where the 1,000th step was. As it turned out, I was off by a few, but when I checked my chart, I saw that the 1,000th step is the landing between 44 and 45. Not that that’s significant in any way, but it was something to think about on the way up the stairs.

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