Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Big Donut again!

Filed under: — stan @ 2:40 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the route to La Puente to see the giant drive-through donut. We’ve been there before, but it’s been a while.

It was a pretty nice day for riding. Cool, but promising to warm up a bit. And no forecast of rain. So we headed out, south and east. We stopped for a photo opportunity at the In-n-Out Burger headquarters and In-n-Out University. Then we continued on to the Donut Hole. We stopped for pictures, and Carla even rode through to get a donut.

After that, we continued on, out to West Covina, and then back north to Monrovia and our snack stop at Merengue. It was a pleasant and pretty uneventful ride.

44 miles.


Closing in on the goal

Filed under: — stan @ 9:00 pm

When we got back from Chicago on Monday, we got word that the Monday night stair practice had been cancelled, but that an extra one had been added for next Monday, the 11th. Between tonight and Monday, I should have no problem getting my 100 climbs in.

Tonight, my goal was to start off doing the 4 3/4 floors per minute pace, and to maintain that as long as I could. I was able to do it for the first two climbs, but on the third, I had to scale it back to 4 1/2 per minute. On the 4th time up, I slowed down to 4 1/4 per minute, and on the last one, I just wanted to get to the top before the end of practice at 7:00. So with these five climbs in, I now have climbed this building 97 times. If I do two next Monday, then on race day I can do the 100th climb.

Kathleen got me a Fitbit One for my birthday last week, and I brought it along for tonight’s fun and frolic on the stairs. I was curious how it works out how many floors it thinks I’ve climbed, so I looked it up on their web site. It says that the device has an altimeter built in to it, and it counts every 10 feet of elevation gain as one floor. So by that measure, climbing this building should count for about 64-67 floors, depending on how accurate the air pressure sensor is. In any event, Fitbit says I’m an overachiever today.


Time to play tourist, finally

Filed under: — stan @ 10:25 pm

Since we missed playing tourist in Chicago on Saturday, Monday was the day. We went to the Field Museum to see the exhibit about the 1893 World’s Fair. Since I’d been reading about that last year when we were here, it all fit together nicely.

We saw Sue the T-Rex in the main hall of the museum. Then we went to see the World’s Fair exhibit. It was interesting to see how the attitude of the fair seemed quite foreign to us. It seems that back then, nature, animals, and the world itself were all regarded as things to be used, rather than things to be studied or understood just for themselves. After that, Kathleen wanted to go see the Hall of Gems. And along the way there, we stopped in to see an exhibit about fracking for oil in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, followed by an exhibit of Nazi Propaganda. It was interesting, although it was a bit far afield from ‘Natural History’. But it did make a nice companion piece to the exhibit we went to see a few years ago about Nazi medicine. And parts of it were uncomfortably close to things we’re hearing and reading about today.

After all that, we went to the airport for the trip home. Despite the unpleasant beginning, this turned out to be a pretty good, if short, trip.


Time to climb

Filed under: — stan @ 12:08 pm

Sunday morning came much too early. I was supposed to be downtown for a 7:30AM start up the building. We got up and headed over to the train station. There were puffed-up pigeons roosting in there, just trying to stay out of the cold wind. And on the train downtown, I noticed that there were many, many people on there way there for the Hot Chocolate 5k run. I couldn’t help but notice that they were all smiling and laughing like they were going to have a grand time, while I felt a bit like a lamb being led to slaughter.

Once we got downtown, we walked over to the building. Because we’d gotten in late, I had not been able to get my packet yesterday, so I found out I had to go talk to the people and get a new number assigned so I could run. By the time all that was done, it was almost 8:30 when I got in line. I started out at the same time as Michael from the WCL team, so we stood for a green-screen picture at the bottom. Then it was time to go. As has been the case all year, I just couldn’t face trying to go fast, so I just went up at a modest pace. 4 1/2 floors per minute. It’s fast enough that I pass about 90% or the people there, but not so fast that it’s seriously painful. Still, I got stuck in traffic in the stairwell. There were people with prosthetic legs and crutches climbing the building. While I admire their courage, do they really need an entire entourage around them, blocking the whole stairway for everyone else?

Anyway, I made it up in reasonable style. Felt pretty good at the top. No collapsing like a sack of potatoes this time. I spent a little time looking at the view and socializing, and then I headed back down. At the bottom, I rounded up some paper, a pen, a piece of cardboard and Jane and Steve to climb with me. The three of us got back in line and went up a second time. I took notes along the way so that I can fix up the chart that I made last year from PJ’s GoPro video.

After the second climb, I headed back down and we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and ready to go to Kathleen’s aunt and uncle’s house.


Off we go

Filed under: — stan @ 10:10 pm

On Saturday morning, we headed down to LAX again in hopes of actually getting to Chicago today. And despite the chaos yesterday, it seemed normal today, aside from the fact that Terminal 3 was still closed, and there was a solid like of police cars parked in front of it. Everything else was normal, and we got out on time.

Arriving in Chicago, we got our bags and took the train to our hotel. Then we rode the train into the city to have dinner at the Blue Line Lounge. That was supposed to be our activity for Friday night, but that didn’t work out. Still, I got to have the tarragon chicken pot pie. And after that, we headed back to go to bed, although I did take a minute to look at the Sears Willis Tower from the train platform.


Never a good sign

Filed under: — stan @ 6:58 pm

Today was the day for our trip out to Chicago for the Sears Willis Tower stair climb. We headed down to LAX, arriving at the parking lot at about 9:30. As we were arriving there, was heard some sirens and saw a couple of fire trucks headed into the airport. We didn’t think too much about this, since that’s not more than what we’d see if there was a car accident of something like that. But then we noticed five or so news helicopters hovering stationary over the airport terminal area.

Hovering news helicopters are the buzzards of the modern world. Seeing them is never a good sign. When the shuttle bus arrived, the driver told us she had orders not to bring anyone in to the airport, and that they were closing down all operations there for an indefinite time. We waited around for an hour or so to see if the situation would be resolved, but it quickly became clear that it was going to be a long time. So I called United, and they transferred us to the same flight on Saturday, and we went home. Fortunately, since we were out in the long-term parking lot, we were able to leave, unlike the people who were locked down in the terminals.

So we went home. I made a turkey pot pie for dinner, and we went to a movie. And that was that.


Dogged persistence

Filed under: — stan @ 9:50 pm

I’m still attempting to make 100 climbs up the Wilshire-Figueroa building stairs by the end of the last race on November 16th. So tonight was yet another practice, and I was there with the goal of climbing the building five times.

The first three times went fine. I was able to maintain my ‘modest but slightly brisk’ pace all three, and I got back to the start with plenty of time for the fourth. But on the fourth time up, I just hit the proverbial Wall. I didn’t feel good at all, and my pace slowed to a crawl. I managed to make it to the top, but I was pretty wiped out. Still, as luck would have it, I got back to the bottom at 6:43, so I was still ahead of the door closing at 6:45. So I thought I’d try one more time. And it was grim. It was a slog, and a struggle for survival all the way up. Still, I made it.

I have now climbed the building 92 times. There is one more practice that I can come to next Wednesday. If I can do five that night, then if I do the race, plus two extra on the 16th, I’ll have my 100.


Filling the quota

Filed under: — stan @ 9:45 pm

It’s Monday, and the start of another week of stair practice. I’m still trying for 100 climbs up the Wilshire-Figueroa building for the season. I’ve got 82 so far, and I was aiming for five tonight.

I was the second one on the stairs. We got a little bit of a late start, but not too bad. I was on the stairs by 5:36. I aimed for a slightly faster pace tonight than last week, just to increase my chances of getting through four climbs before the cutoff at 6:45.

The first time up, I got 10:27, which was all right. And the elevator ride down was pretty fast. We didn’t have to stop, so it only took about four minutes. I started up the second time, still aiming for my 4 3/4 floors per minute pace. I was able to maintain that all the way up, and came in at 10:44. The second elevator ride down had one stop, but it wasn’t too bad. I got in the stairs for my third climb at 6:06.

I was starting to slow down a bit on the third climb. I did the 4 3/4 floor pace for about the first 20 floors, and then I slowed down to 4 1/2 per minute. Still, I got to the top the third time at about 6:17. At that point, I knew I had a good shot at five for the night.

I went up the fourth time, arriving at the top at 6:32 with a time of 11:18. And the elevator ride down was reasonably fast. I got back to the door at 6:39, so I headed up for a fifth time.

The last time up, my only goals were to not stop, and to make it to the top before 7:00. I didn’t see anyone else on the stairs, but I could hear someone coming up below me. I got to the top in 12:32, which is not blazing fast by any means, but not bad for the fifth consecutive climb of the night.

So now I have 87 climbs up the building so far this season. I can make it to two more practices, and if I can make five on both of them, then all I have to do is three climbs on race day, and I’ll have my 100.


Another Halloween ride

Filed under: — stan @ 6:41 pm

Today’s bike club ride was supposed to be out to Glendora for a tour of Rubel’s Castle, but that fell through at the last minute and will have to be rescheduled. So in the meantime, we did yet another Halloween-themed ride. Today’s destination was Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood to visit Vampira.

It was foggy in the morning. Riding into downtown, my glasses were fogging up, and it was pretty hard to see for a time. Fortunately, it started to lift by the time we got downtown. We saw the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in progress, and we also saw the Wilshire-Figueroa building sticking up into the fog. I’m on track to climb that building 100 times by the time we’re done with the last race of the year there.

We rode out to Larchmont for bagels at Noah’s. There was some sort of street fair being set up there. The camels were an odd touch.

After the stop, we headed up into Hollywood and Hollywood Forever. We found Vampira over on the east end, just across the street from the pond and from DeeDee Ramone. We also stopped to see Johnny Ramone, and I noticed lipstick on his guitar this time.

The ride back was our usual route through Eagle Rock and Highland Park. By the time we got back to Pasadena, it was a pretty nice day. So overall, it was a fun ride.

42 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 9:41 pm

So tonight, I went downtown with the intention of getting in five climbs up the building. This was planned to stay on track to be able to complete my 100th climb of the year up that building on race day, November 16th. I took the train there, and I was ready to go at 5:30. Sadly, the organizers were late, and we didn’t get into the stairs until 5:38. Still, I thought I had a fighting chance of being able to make four climbs by the cutoff of 6:45.

I did my usual ‘moderate’ pace, getting to the top in just a bit over 11 minutes. I got lucky, and the elevator ride down was only 4 minutes. We didn’t have to stop for any janitors or construction people this time. So I was back in the stairs and heading up the second time at 5:53. Again, I made it to the top in just a bit over 11 minutes. But the second time down on the elevator was a nightmare. We must have stopped about 8 times on the trip down, and it ended up taking a full 12 minutes to get down. So I didn’t get back into the stairs again until 6:16.

Once more, I did a reasonable time up, and the third elevator ride down took 7 minutes. I got back in the stairs for the fourth time up at 6:34. At that point, I pretty much knew there was no way I could get up and back down in 13 minutes. Still, I went a bit faster, getting to the top in 10:52. And the fourth elevator ride down was as fast as that elevator can go. I got back to the door at 6:48, three minutes after the cutoff. And even though they say we’re just supposed to be out of the stairwell by 7:00, and I could make it up in 11 minutes, they still wouldn’t let me go again.

Thus ended my grand plan for tonight. The only saving grace is Rebecca said I could go up extra times on race day to make up the difference. So all is not lost. I may still make my 100 after all. Stay tuned.

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