Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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The Vertical Kilometer

Filed under: — stan @ 9:14 pm

Tonight’s staircase adventure was going to be my friend Morgan’s second attempt at the Vertical Kilometer. Last week she got to the building a little late, and ran out of time. This week, she was going to be downtown a little early, so she could start climbing right when practice opened at 5:00. I was going to get there late, since I had to take Lucinda to art class after work. So while Morgan was heading up the stairs at 5:00, I was just getting on the train for downtown. The plan was to meet up at the building so I could pace her up the fourth and fifth times.

She texted me each time she started a lap, and she was starting up the third time when I was about to get on the subway for the final three-stop ride to the 7th St Metro station. I got to the building at 6:03, and she had just finished the third lap. So after some Gatorade, we headed up for her fourth lap. I’d brought my camera along, since I figured this would be a good chance to get some more good action shots in the stairwell.

When we were at about the 50th floor, we heard some people coming up behind us. And then Veronica and Madeleine went flying past us. Veronica went so fast the camera’s autofocus gave up. I went up to the next landing to have a little more room, and I was able to get a good action shot of Madeleine.

The final climb was a grind. Morgan was tired, but she knew she had it in the bag. We started up the final climb at 6:30, and we had until 7:00 to finish, so she had it made. Still, it was hard. Just look at the fourth picture. But she made it, and she even perked up a bit for the last few floors. At the top, we got a souvenir photo, and then we headed for home. It was a good stair outing.



Filed under: — stan @ 9:54 pm

It’s Tuesday, and time to go downtown and do battle with the Aon bulding staircase again. I’m trying to take it easy, but still get in some climbing without messing up my back. The practice climb course is 1,126 steps from the 4th floor up to 55. That’s 690 feet, or 210 meters vertical. My goal for this evening was just to be able to do it four times. I’ve not done that much in one session yet this year, and not since my back went to hell last fall.

The plan was to try for my vertical mile pace from last year. I was able to maintain that on my first climb last Tuesday, but not tonight. I started to fall behind by the 35th floor or so. And instead of getting to 55 in 11:15, it took 11:41. Oh well. I can’t be too disappointed, since as recently as four weeks ago I couldn’t even walk around the block. So I’ll take progress where I can.

The second time up, I went a little slower. I walked up alone, just doing an easy, steady pace. After that, when I got back to the bottom, I saw Jeannie, so we walked up together for my third climb. We just walked and talked all the way to 55. And the last time, I saw Nathan at the bottom. He was heading up for his fourth climb out of a planned five. He was going to do the Vertical Kilometer. So I walked up with him for the fourth time. When I got back to the bottom, I had enough time that I could have done it again, but I figured I didn’t want to push my luck. Four climbs still adds up to a half-mile vertical, and I’m trying to build back up slowly.

Maybe by April I’ll be able to go fast again, but for now, I’m just glad I’m physically able to do it at all.


A vertical kilometer attempt

Filed under: — stan @ 7:18 pm

I went downtown this evening for some more fun and frolic on the Aon building staircase. My friend Morgan was going to try for a vertical kilometer this evening. That’s five times up the practice course from 4 to 55. I did this here last year in my preparations for the vertical mile climb. I knew I was going to get there a bit late, so I said I’d pace her for the final ascents.

As it turned out, she got there a little late, and only had two laps in by the time I got there at 6:00. So we headed up at a slow, but steady pace. We ended up doing that twice, and then she decided that she’d had enough at four laps. There probably wasn’t enough time for a fifth anyway, but if she gets there closer to 5:00 to start, the vertical kilometer is in reach.


Still feeling my way up the stairs

Filed under: — stan @ 9:34 pm

It’s Tuesday, and time for yet another assault on the Aon building staircase. My back has been worse this weekend, but still nowhere near the levels of pain I was having back in January, so I thought I’d make the attempt.

I got there relatively early, and I started up the stairs at my ‘moderate pace’ of 4 1/2 floors per minute. This time, I was able to maintain that pretty much all the way up. And today was the first time since last year that I did the 51-story climb in under 11 minutes. And it didn’t hurt my back, so I guess that’s all right.

I went up a second time, just taking it easy. I turned it up a little bit for the last few floors, since I saw that I had a chance to get to the top in under 13 minutes. After that, I went up a third time, just because I didn’t feel bad. Nathan was there, so we walked up together, talking and just taking it easy.


A quick stair session

Filed under: — stan @ 9:17 pm

Only two times up the stairs today. I had to take Lucinda to art class again, so I got a late start for downtown, and I didn’t get to the building until 6:00. I tried to go a little faster on the first time up, but ended up not really doing it. And the second time, I just took it easy. It didn’t feel bad, and it didn’t hurt my back, but I’m still kind of afraid to try and push the pace.


Another attempt at the stairs

Filed under: — stan @ 9:13 pm

I’ve been in physical therapy for two weeks now, and I’m able to walk a lot better than before. Still not back to ‘normal’, but enough to try and make another attempt at the stairs. This time, my goal was to do at least three times up, and to do the first time at my vertical mile pace of 4 1/2 floors per minute. I was able to keep to that all the way up to about the 40th floor, and then I fell a few seconds behind. But in the end, I made it up in 11:25, which was only about 10 seconds off my target time.

The second time up I went somewhat slower. I’m still not really using the rail, so I’m missing out on the pulling. But that seems safer for my back for now. I was also trying to avoid twisting, so I was taking extra steps on the landings just to make for easier turns without having to grab the rail and swing around like I usually do.

The third time up, I went a lot slower. This was my first time doing three climbs since November. Veronica was going up on an ‘easy’ climb, single-stepping, and I wasn’t able to keep up with her. So I was going pretty slow. I did catch up to George at about 48, but he was wearing his 40-pound weight vest, so he had good reason for going slowly. In any event, I made it to the top the third time, and then I called it a night.



Filed under: — stan @ 10:20 pm

So today was my follow-up appointment with my doctor. The X-ray they’d taken showed some disc degeneration, and a little bit of arthritis starting in my lower back, and apparently that’s the reason I was an invalid for the holidays. But after a week and a half of physical therapy, I feel much better. Not back to normal, but good enough for now. And frankly, there’s no telling if I’ll ever get back to ‘normal’ again. But at least this is an improvement.

When I was talking to my doctor, I told her I’d been feeling much better, and better to the point that I went to stair practice and climbed 51 stories twice on Tuesday. Her first reaction was, “You did what?” But when I told her what I did and that it didn’t hurt my back when I did it, she said that it was all right. And the fact that I’m in pretty good physical condition should help me to recover from this. So with that in mind, I went downtown again this evening.

I had to take Lucinda to art class after work, so I got a late start. I got to the building at about 6:00, so I only had about an hour. But that was all right. I’m still experimenting with this, and I’m not going particularly fast. I was only planning on doing it twice, and even at a slow pace, an hour is plenty of time for that.

I wanted to try pushing the pace up slightly from last time, just to see how that felt. I started out trying for my 4 1/2 floors per minute pace that I used last year when I did the vertical mile. I was able to keep that up for about halfway, and then I slowed down a bit. That pace would get me to the 55th floor in about 11:15 or so, and I got there in 12:15. Can’t complain too much about that.

The second time up, I went slower. Part of that was because I wanted to try using the railing as little as possible. I wanted to see if that would feel different, since I kind of got the sense that I might be stressing my back a bit by using the railing to swing around the turns. In the end, it didn’t seem to make any difference. Stair climbing just isn’t hard on my back, and it doesn’t hurt, even when I’m not using the railing and just standing straight upright and climbing. So I guess that’s a good thing. We’ll just have to see, but as long as I’m not in pain, I’m not causing any more damage to my nerves. So I’ll take what I can get at this point.


Back to the stairwell

Filed under: — stan @ 9:30 pm

I had to go downtown today to visit the Federal Building and pick up my new government ID card. I brought along my stair-climbing clothes in case I felt up for some stairs afterward. I’ve been going to physical therapy for a week, and I’m able to walk a bit now, so I thought it might be a good experiment to try if I felt up to it.

After I finished at the Federal Building, it was still too early to go to the Aon building for stair practice. So I walked down the block to L.A. City Hall. I’d heard that they have an observation deck on the top floor there, and I was curious to see it. I went and checked in at the front desk, and they told me how to get up there. I asked them if I could take the stairs. They just looked at me, even though I was standing in front of them with my “Elevators are for Wimps” shirt on and everything. But I managed to convince them that I was serious, and they showed me the way to the staircase.

The climb up wasn’t bad. I figured that if I could climb to the 27th floor at City Hall without any sciatica pain, then I was up for trying the 51 floors at the Aon building. When I got to the top, I took a walk around all four sides of the observation deck. It was kind of the Land that Time Forgot. They had signs on each side showing the major buildings and other landmarks. And it was pretty obvious that the signs date back to the late 1970s. The view of Bunker Hill had the current Aon building, completed in 1973 and the Bonaventure hotel, built in 1976, but was missing the Wells Fargo building, which was finished in 1983.

After that little sightseeing trip, I headed over to the Aon building and got changed for stair climbing. Right now, I’m just trying to practice walking upright so I can learn to do it reliably without pain. So I didn’t plan on using the railing while climbing. I walked up at an easy pace of about four floors per minute, just holding the railing for balance. And I was able to make it all the way to the 55th floor without any back or leg pain. So that was pretty good.

I rode the elevator back down, and I did it again. I went a little slower the second time up, but I was still able to stay upright. So it was a Good Thing. Still, I was kind of tired after the second time up, since I’m a bit out of practice now. So I thought I’d better stop at two. I’m going back to the doctor on Thursday, so I’ll wait for that before deciding if I’m going to go downtown for practice again that night.


Code Name: Dalmatian

Filed under: — stan @ 4:27 pm

Today was the last race of the year here in Los Angeles. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s climb up the Wilshire-Figueroa building in downtown L.A. This year was the first time that we were going to race all the way to the roof, making the total climb 1,245 steps, or the equivalent of 54.1 ‘regular’ floors in this building.

We’ve been climbing this building since July, since it was the site for our practice climbs before the YMCA’s climb up the U.S. Bank Tower. And just last Monday, I reached my 100th climb up the staircase. In honor of this occasion, I emailed Rebecca, the event organizer, and I asked if I could get bib number 101 for today, since the race would be my 101st climb up the building for the year. She wrote back that she had planned on assigning the first 20 numbers in the order we’d finished last year, and I’d been 7th overall last year, so I was slated to be ‘007′. Hmmm. That was a tough one. But in the end, I told her that I thought ‘101′ was still funnier and more appropriate for the day, so she agreed to give it to me.

In the morning, we headed downtown to the building. Kathleen was going to do the climb, too, so we got checked in and ready to go. Being in the ‘fast’ group, I went up near the front of the line. We all know each other up there, and we sorted ourselves out by how fast we expected to be. Besides my 101st climb, my only other goal for the day was to beat George. So I started a few places ahead of him. I was maybe the 8th or so person off the line, and that worked out well. I didn’t pass anyone, and nobody passed me. I was even able to maintain focus the whole way up. I did have one small wave of ‘what-the-HELL-are-you-trying-to-prove-here’ at about the 35th floor, but I was able to press on through it by just concentrating on my goal of beating George. I knew that he was coming up the staircase behind me, so I knew that I had to stay ahead of him.

I was aiming for a pace of 6 floors per minute, and I was able to keep to that up to about 30. After that, I came up about 3 steps short on each 1-minute block. Still, I went faster than I’d gone all year in practice, so that was a good thing. I tried to sprint up the last two floors, and when I saw the light from the roof door, I was able to sort of run up the last bit to the roof. I don’t think I need to describe just how painful that was. But I made it to the roof, and my reward: collapsing on the concrete helipad there. I spent a minute or so lying down, and when I looked up, I saw George lying on the concrete a few feet away. After we’d both caught our breath, we took a picture together on the roof before heading back down.

When they posted the results, I saw that I’d done 9:29. This was reasonably good. I could have possibly gone faster, but it was still faster than I’d gone in any of the practices or other races this year. And more importantly, I beat George by 4 seconds. Not much, but enough. I ended up being 12th overall, which I can’t complain about, since there were something like 200+ people doing the climb. So overall, I was satisfied, even if I didn’t make the top three in my age group this time.

Now I get about six weeks off from stair climbing before practice starts up again in January for the Lung Association’s climb up the Aon building. Fun times.

Full results are here:


One Hundred!

Filed under: — stan @ 9:17 pm

Tonight was the one special added stair practice session, and because it was a holiday, Kathleen and I were both off work, and we could go downtown together to do it.

I went in with a plan of just doing two climbs, so that my total would be 99 going in to the race on Saturday. Since I was not going to a lot of times up the building, I thought I’d try the first time for speed. Specifically, to see if I could do 6 floors per minute, which is the fastest I’ve ever gone up this building.

The first time up, I was able to maintain my pace up to about the 20th floor. After that, I started to lose a few seconds each minute. I was doing about 5 3/4 floors per minute. Oh well, It’s just very hard to get in the right frame of mind to do this sport. In any event, i made it to 51 and headed back down to do it again.

I thought I might catch up with Kathleen on my second time up the building, and I did, right around the 25th floor. So I turned off my watch and we walked the rest of the way up together. At that point, I had climbed the building 99 times.

Since it was still early, I decided to go ahead and go up one more time to make my 100. That way, I’ve got my 100 no matter what happens on Saturday, and 101 is a good number, too. So I headed up one more time. I didn’t bother to time it, and I just went up at a nice easy pace. The whole point was just to get to the 51st floor and know that I’d climbed that staircase 100 times since we started in this building back in July.

So now I’ve got my goal for the fall. The only thing left to do is to try and beat George in the race this Saturday.

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