Saturday, September 28, 2013

YMCA Stair Climb 2013

EVENT: YMCA Stair Climb
DATE: Friday, September 27, 2013
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 1:30 pm

To me, stairs are pretty much as bad as hills.  However, unlike hills, stairs can actually be quite dangerous, so I tend to avoid them.  Unfortunately, as a public transit user and a high-rise worker, I come across many stairs, and when I do, my legs often feel like lead.

I'm not quite sure how I agreed to sign up for this event.  Although I consider myself decently fit, 1) I'm out of shape from cutting back on working out, and 2) stairs have always made me lose my breath and get my legs all locked up.

Notice how this building dwarfs the others...

This event, which benefits the YMCA, involves climbing up the stairs of the U.S. Bank Tower, one of the tallest buildings on the West coast.  (The "down" portion is elevator, thankfully for my knees.) This sucker is 75 floors tall.  As a reference, the building I work in has 54 floors, and in my previous job, 3 floors.  It's not like I even use the stairs regularly, unless it's just a few floors.  And a few months ago, I tripped on a stair step at Union Station in front of everyone during rush hour.

However, I'm not one to back out from something like this, so my ego got the best of me once again.

I knew I should train, but I was never serious enough to stay after work to attend organized training.  In the couple of months prior, I tried to walk up the stairs during lunchtime walks, but this wouldn't last very long due to me sweating in the summer sun in my work clothes and somewhat uncomfortable "work-appropriate" lunchtime walking shoes.  A few mornings (and once or twice after work), I'd take the elevator to the lowest floor that was permissible and walk ten floors before going to my floor.  Sometimes, I'd go back down and repeat this.  I timed some of these and saw I was coming in at around 2 minutes and 15 seconds, which I figured wasn't bad because I had my canvass bag full of stuff and was not in workout gear.  However, these jaunts would get me sweaty and short of breath, and I'd multiply 10 floors in 2.25 minutes by 7.5 (for the 75 floors of the actual event) and lose confidence in myself.

I did not enter this with any intention to "compete."  Since there were team-timings in addition to individual, though, I worried I'd let my team down, especially since I'm fairly new at my job and have a reputation as a runner... not good, especially when said job/commute sucks up a lot of what used to be "training" time.

I honestly don't have a lot of memories of these 17 minutes.  There was a lot if heavy breathing, sweat, and general nervousness that I'd fall. I started to lose it/get nauseated by the 60ish floor, though my heart rate was sky high by the 20s... Counting down seemed to help.

Just like a running event, I was never so happy to reach the finish!!

Post-mortem (like what I did after LA Marathon 2012), here are some tips for doing this event that I am jotting down for future use:

1) Bring a water bottle.  This Amphipod one that I have would have been great because it stays on the hand. The air was dry, and water stations were not frequent enough for me. By the end, I was so dry that I tasted slight blood (tmi?).

2) The air is stuffy in stairwells, unlike outdoors (generally), so breathe calmly if possible.

3) Don't start out too quickly! I was conservative because I knew I would die if I did... Maybe a little TOO conservative, but better safe than hurling.

4) Although tempting, don't stop! Just keep going if you can. Extra heaving breaks aren't particularly useful, so I kept going. Plus, I was getting crampy, so keeping at it was best.

Overall, I just wanted to accomplish this new vertical PR in one piece. Next time, I would definitely train more and wear lighter shoes/clothing.

Some pics of the day:


  1. You are a rock star - I would have not liked the "stuffy" air in the stairwells, that would have done me in.

  2. Very Good And Interesting