It’s January, and that means it’s time to start practice climbs at the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles. The race is on April 6th, and the building is gracious enough to let us practice twice a week on the race staircase from now until the event on April 6th. And tonight was the first practice session.
The entry point to the stairs is the 4th floor, since the only doors below that level are on the outside of the building. In the past, we climbed from 4 up to the vacant 60th floor. But since last year, they finally managed to rent out the 59th and 60th floors, so now we get to climb up to the vacant 55th floor. That’s five floors an about 70 feet less vertical distance, but it’s still enough to hurt.
Since tonight was the first practice, there was a bit of confusion, and the guards at the bottom told us we were only going to go to 54. So I planned my run accordingly, and when I heaved myself up onto the landing at 54 and stopped my watch, the door was closed, and there was nobody there. So I went up one more floor, and the door was open there, and one of the building guys was sitting on the stairs waiting for us. So my time was a little off. I had 9:14 for the climb to 54. That’s an average of about 11 seconds per floor, so if I’d gone to 55, it would have been about 9:25. That’s not terrible, but it’s not great, either.
We went back down and then came up again. The second time, I went a lot slower. I maintained a steady pace, but I wasn’t trying to push it, and my time of 12:44 shows it.
I was thinking about going home after two, but Mary said she was going to go up again, so I decided to go along just for the walk. I went a little ahead of her, and held the fire doors open for her. Some might have thought I was being chivalrous, but I really just wanted an excuse to stop and catch my breath. The third time I didn’t even time, so I have no idea how long it took. I was just glad to see 55 so I could stop and go home.
As an aside, I’ve been taking the train downtown for practice climbs for three years now. And every time I’m walking through Union Station to get to the subway, I have to walk past Wetzel’s Pretzels. The place seems popular. There’s often a line there. But for some reason, the smell of it just makes me want to retch. So I try and hold my breath walking by there, and I hope that the wind doesn’t blow the smell down into the subway. So imagine my horror on the way home when I saw a big sign announcing that they’re opening a new location in the Hope St entrance to the 7th St Metro station. Yick. Now I get to be assaulted by that smell at both ends of the subway.
Anyway, it was a good outing. I even brought along some of my award-winning cookies to share with the other climbers, the building guards, and also the people from the Lung Association who were there to promote the event. I figure I haven’t seen most of them since last year’s race, so it was an excuse to tell the story of winning the blue ribbon again.