Monday, October 01, 2012

Stair Climb Royalty

I wrote a significant portion of my LMLK book during lunch breaks on a laptop in my car. After completing that project, during lunch breaks in 2005-2007 I occasionally climbed the staircase at a hospital next door to where I was working. I began doing so out of gratitude for God protecting me during a car crash in 1999 since this is the hospital where I received treatment. When the company I worked at relocated from 2008-2010, I missed that healthy activity.

But when I began working at another company in an 8-story high-rise last year, I resumed this pastime & reached a point where I sought new challenges such as doing multiple laps, not using my arms, using only my arms, etc. I did my fastest 7-flight sprint in 40 seconds (note that an uninterrupted elevator ride takes about 20 seconds). Then I found out that each year a contest is held at the tallest skyscraper in downtown L.A., the 74-story US Bank Tower (originally referred to as the Library Tower), which is the 10th tallest one in America. Now that's what I call a challenge!

The downtown YMCA uses the event as a fundraiser since the building's staircase is normally off-limits for security reasons (I suppose). To help participants prepare, they arrange for training sessions at other high-rises nearby. In August they were held at the 777 Tower, which is 52 stories, but we were only allowed to climb 50 (again, presumably for some sort of security reason). My best time for all 49 flights was 9:30.

In September we switched to the 54-story Wells Fargo Tower, & I was so pleased with my progress that I compiled a video using still photos & my audio recording, & posted it on YouTube this weekend to commemorate my accomplishment of 49 flights in 8:42, all 53 in 9:43. I'm deliberately not linking to it here because the sound of my heavy breathing & gasping for air is not something I want to share with casual readers, but it's not hard to find.

I didn't do as well as I had hoped at "the big one" last Friday:

  • #19 of 149 men in my age range (50-59) who finished
  • #182 out of 1,466 men who finished
  • #209 out of over 3,400 people who were registered to participate

(Note that more than 600 people quit or never began; there were 3 ambulances parked at the entrance.)

For many weeks I've been wondering how I'd do, & although I'm disappointed by my performance, at least now I have a realistic benchmark for next year. The highpoint of the day was getting to say a quick prayer to God from that highest point in The Angels city, looking down on so many landmarks. Building the Babylon tower wasn't bad; building it to exalt people over God was.

Each participant received a bag full of promotional items (nutrition bars, T-shirt, water bottle, pen, keychain, etc.), & I got a big kick out of this cardboard crown:

"CAP [Cooperative of American Physicians] Crowns Thee Stair Climb Royalty"

Until this occasion, I didn't know YMCA stood for Young Men's Christian Association (a.k.a. "The Y"). I had always assumed the C meant "community". I wasn't the only one; Google returns over 2,000 examples including this one for a 2012 Christian political candidate (expand his Additional Information section where he says he enjoyed working out at the local Young Men's Community Association & playing basketball).

In 1844 a 22-year-old man in London (of all places; I had thought it was strictly American) named George Williams formed it as "a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets." The first American branch utilized Boston's famous Old South Church in 1851. Cool!

G.M. Grena


Todd Bolen said...

George - whatever you think of your accomplishment, I think it's tremendous. I can't imagine climbing that many stairs if the elevator wasn't broken!

G.M. Grena said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Todd! I spent some time last weekend reviewing all the finish-line photos, & processing all the official results, which were slightly updated since I wrote this blog article. I'm now #250 out of 3,161 times posted, though some are redundant (for reasons unknown); #219 out of 1,783 men; #21 out of 179 men in my age range. The fastest time was 00:09:35, the slowest was 2:00:56, the overall average was 00:24:25. The youngest participant was 8; the oldest was 77; the average was 37. I'm furious that 31 women beat me, & am anxious for next year's rematch! I purchased an adjustable weight-vest that can add a 40# load. To help you understand why I was disappointed, imagine that the elevator was not only broken but that they were giving away free copies of your most-needed, most-expensive, hardest-to-find Bible-related book at the top of the staircase. Now imagine that you made it all the way to the top, only to find that 31 atheists had been given copies of the book before supplies ran out.