Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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It’s getting harder to get motivated for this for some reason…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:01 pm

Tonight was yet another session at the Wells Fargo building. Four times up the staircase. The first time, I was trying for a moderate pace. I just don’t have the will to really push the pace these days. The second time, my only goal was to make it to the top in less than twelve minutes. By the end of that climb, I was pretty tired. So the third time up was a real slog. And the fourth time, I didn’t even bother to time it. Still, I made it up. Four times is a vertical half-mile. So I really can’t complain too much. But still, it’s a long way since the times when I could do five climbs in a row, at a consistent and brisk pace.

On the way home, I saw the message board in Union Station was having trouble displaying the times for the Gold Line trains. Back in July, I was happy to see that Metro had finally given in to common sense and set the board to display useful information for once. But tonight, something was wrong. Not only did it not know when the trains were running, but it didn’t even remember the name of the line. Well, I still appreciate the thought.


Back downtown for more waiting-in-line practice

Filed under: — stan @ 9:32 pm

Time for another session on the Wells Fargo building staircase. This time, Morgan from my office came along, and we rode the train downtown to do battle with the stairs.

We only got in two climbs this time. And in the end, it worked out to be a 3:1 ratio of waiting in line to actual climbing the stairs time. That’s kind of pathetic. They say that they do it this way so that the stairs don’t get too crowded, but then how come I still got stuck being groups of people who wouldn’t let me go by? It all seems kind of pointless. But this is all we have right now, so we have to make the most of it. Last year, the guards at the Wilshire-Figueroa building were very nice to us, and I made them muffins and cookies. And I also made some for the Aon building guards. They were all good to us. But I’m certainly not going to bake any award-winning muffins or cookies for the Wells Fargo security people. They act like just having us there is the biggest imposition on them. So even though the building is a good one to practice in just because it has a good staircase, they still manage to make it an annoying experience.



Filed under: — stan @ 9:31 pm

I just couldn’t muster up much enthusiasm today for trying to go fast. So I just went up the stairs, trying to maintain a brisk pace, but not really trying to push hard. Still, I managed to get in three climbs, which is pretty remarkable, given the way they make us wait in line and only let a few in at a time at the Wells Fargo building. I still fail to see what bad thing they think they are preventing by making us wait outside. But whatever it is, they seem quite adamant about it. Anyway, it was a so-so outing on the stairs.


Up we go…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:50 pm

It’s Monday, and time for yet another installment of climbing the Wells Fargo building staircase. Once again, I rode the train downtown and got checked in at the YMCA, and then headed over to the building to wait in line to get in. But this time, it wasn’t so bad. Sure, I had to wait a long time, but I got to see Michael there for the first time in several years. So we got to spend our time in line talking and catching up.

When it was time to climb, I resolved to try and do a somewhat-brisk pace, but I also resolved not to be checking my watch all the time. I just wanted to see that I made it to 6 1/2 by one minute, and then I wasn’t going to look at it again. So I made 6 1/2 on schedule, and then I just kept going. Mentally, I like to break the climb down into five-floor segments. That helps to distract from just how many floors we are climbing. And I was very pleasantly surprised on 55 when I got there in 9:53. Sure, two years ago I did 8:49, but this is still my fastest so far this year.

After a very slow elevator ride back down, we had to wait in line for another 15 minutes before we could get back in. The second time up, I was aiming for my ‘cruising’ pace of 4 1/2 floors per minute. That would get me to 55 in 11:50 or so. And I was pleased that I managed to go a wee bit faster than that.

After yet another slow elevator ride back down, there was no more line, so we headed up a third time. I didn’t bother timing it. I just wanted to go up at a relaxed pace. And at 43, I stopped to look at the mural on the landing. I’d never noticed before that someone from Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher had added a bit to the mural. I gather that they occupy a couple of the higher floors in the building, so I guess they just went in there one day and did it.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad stair outing. I still wish it didn’t involve so much standing in line, but we take what we can get in this insane little sport.


More fun and frolic

Filed under: — stan @ 9:36 pm

Tonight was the second time on the Wells Fargo building stairs, and I was feeling the dread on the train down there. As a result of that, I decided that I was going to take it easy, and not worry too much about my time.

When I got there, they told us that they were going to make us go back outside and get back in line to climb again. For some reason, the guards at that building have this idea that they only want to let in 10 people at a time, and only one group every five minutes. They say it’s something about not getting too crowded, but then they send all 10 off at once, so the traffic in the stairwell is still pretty congested at first. I have no idea what bad thing they thing they’re preventing by insisting on doing things this way. But I do know that, based on this, I won’t be baking them any of my award-winning cookies or muffins like I did for the guards at the Wilshire-Figueroa and Aon buildings.

The first time up, I decided I was going to try for a brisk pace, but that I wasn’t going to pay much attention to my watch while I was doing it. I just focused on doing five floors at a time, and at every floor ending in a “5″ or a “0″, I switched which leg was leading on the 11-step flight. Because 11 is an odd number, there has to be at least one single step on that flight, and so I alternate taking the single step at the beginning or the end of the flight. This evens out the load between the right and left legs. Also, by only thinking about five floors at a time, it cuts down on the “OMG… I’m only on 25, I’m wiped out, and I still have 30 more to go” feeling.

At the top, I stopped my watch, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I’d gone six seconds faster than on Monday. I think taking a more relaxed attitude sometimes helps.

I went back down, and I had to stand in line for something like 15 minutes before getting back in. While we were standing there, Whitney from the YMCA came by. She was the one I did the original survey of the U.S. Bank staircase with. She was just there to see how things were going, and she said she would try and see if the YMCA could get the building security people to lighten up a bit.

The second time up, there were two guys who decided they wanted to shadow me up the stairs. I was planning on aiming for 4 1/2 floors per minute, which would get me to the top in just under 12 minutes. That’s my ‘take it easy’ pace. But then with those two on my tail, I just had to turn up the heat a bit. They said they didn’t want to go ahead of me, but I was determined to shake them by the time we got to the top. I maintained a steady pace, and one guy fell off the train at about 40. The second hung on up to 50, and I managed to make 55 with him about 1/2 floor behind. I managed to average just a hair under five floors per minute on that climb, which was as fast as I went in my first two races, and back then, I felt like I was gonna die! So that’s still progress.

After the second time, the crowd that thinned out considerably, and we were able to just turn around and head up a third time without waiting. I really took it easy this time. I started my watch, and then I turned it off at about 5, because there was no point even timing it. I just kind of meandered up the stairs. I stopped a couple of times to answer text messages from Lucinda. And I thought about what I wanted for dinner. I got to the top, and then headed back down, got changed, and went home. Fun times in the stairwell.


Back to the Wells Fargo stairs

Filed under: — stan @ 10:18 pm

Today was the first practice session at the Wells Fargo building. 1,125 steps to go from the lobby to the 55th floor. It averages 21 tall steps per floor, and that’s the equivalent of climbing 53 1/2 floors in that building. My best time ever on that staircase was 8:49. I didn’t think I could even come close to that today, but I was hoping to maybe get around 10, or perhaps a bit under.

I aimed for a pace of 5 1/2 floors per minute. The main staircase flights are 10/11, so I worked out a stepping pattern to efficiently make the turns without wasting steps, and to balance the load on each leg. My gloves were washed and sticky for gripping the railing. It was about as good as it was going to get.

I managed to stay on pace for about the first 30 floors. Then I started falling behind. Not by a lot, but some. And when I got to the 55th floor, my watch said 10:13. I took the requisite ’sweaty arm with stopwatch’ picture to record it, and then I went back down. I went up two more times, but they were a lot slower.

When I went home, I got cleaned up and started my laundry. And after a few minutes of not being able to find my phone, I realized it was still in my pants pocket. In the washer. So the sweaty arm photo is lost to the ages, and I had to simulate it here. But such is my dedication to my craft…


This was supposed to be “The Vertical Kilometer”

Filed under: — stan @ 9:30 pm

Tonight was the last time at the Bank Formerly Known as Mellon building. So wanted to try something different. I did the math, and it turned out that climbing up to the 20th floor twelve times would total 990 meters of climbing. So if I did that, and then just continued up three more floors on the last time, that would make a vertical kilometer. I haven’t done anything like that since the Towerthon.

I started out doing my regular relaxed pace of 4 1/2 floors per minute. That got me to 20 in about 4:20 – 4:30 each time, and I was able to maintain that pace for the first five climbs. The next two, I slowed down slightly, but then, on the eight time up, I kind of fell apart. Climbs 8-11 were very hard.

They close the door to the stairway at 7:15. I think that’s kind of silly, since they advertise the practice session as lasting until 7:30. So I was racing that deadline when I headed up for the 11th time at 7:08. I made it to the top, took the elevator ride back down, and ran back to the start just in time to hear the click of the latch as they closed the door. So the Vertical Kilometer was not to be tonight.

And that wraps it up for stair practice at the Bank Formerly Known as Mellon building. Next week, we start at Wells Fargo.


Here we go again, again

Filed under: — stan @ 9:08 pm

It’s Monday, and time for another installment of, “who thought this was a good idea?” So I got on the train and headed downtown to join in the fun. As with last week, the plan was to aim for 11 seconds per floor for the first three climbs, and then just keep going, but taking it easy for three or four more times.

I was a little tired from yesterday’s bike ride, so I wasn’t feeling terribly energetic at the start. I managed to come in pretty much on schedule, but just a fraction over 11 seconds each time. But that’s all right. And I ended up doing the staircase seven times total.

On the way home, I had a pleasant surprise. For years now, when we get back to Union Station, we have to walk up out of the subway to get to the Gold Line back to Pasadena. And for years, I’ve said that the monitor at the top of the stairs coming out of the subway doesn’t need to be telling us when the next train to North Hollywood is. If we’re coming out of the subway, that means we’re not going to be taking the subway, and the information about when the next subway train leaves is completely useless. So for years, I’ve said that it would be useful to know when the next Gold Line train is, since it would be good to know if we have to run for it, or if we can take our time, since it’s a bit of a walk to the Gold Line platform. And this evening, I came up the stairs out of the subway, and there it was. The monitor was telling me when the next Gold Line trains left. Finally, Metro did something that makes good sense. Something that’s non-moronic. This almost makes up for them putting Big Belly solar-powered trash compactors underground in a tunnel at Union Station.


Turning up the heat slightly

Filed under: — stan @ 9:24 pm

Time for another stair practice on the 20-story building downtown. Tonight’s plan was to turn up the pace slightly, and aim for 11 seconds per floor for the first three times up the building. That pace is about equal to my best climb at the U.S. Bank event. I just wanted to see how that pace felt, and see if I could maintain it three times up the short building.

My times for the first three climbs were right on target, so I can’t complain. And then I did it three more times, just because it was there. Good fun.


Time to get moving

Filed under: — stan @ 9:17 pm

Now that our wedding is done, and we’re back from our trip, it’s time to get moving again. So tonight was yet another practice on the stairs at the Bank Formerly Known as Mellon, in downtown L.A. Tonight, my plan was to do it three times up to 20, aiming for five floors per minute. And then after that, I did it three more times, just taking it easy.

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