Every Second Counts (2018 San Francisco Fight For Air Climb Race Recap)

April 23, 2018

Racing up stairs is challenging. That’s an understatement, actually. It’s excruciating difficult and ridiculously exhausting. Due to the intense nature of the sport, every single second counts. My goal, when I race up a building I’ve raced before, is simple: be faster than last time.  On Saturday, I had another opportunity to reach that goal, and I only had to climb 1,029 steps to make it happen.

The race was the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb in San Francisco, held in the 48-story 101 California building. This was my fourth year competing in this race, and my second time racing up 101 California (the first two times were in a different building).

And, for the third year in a row, I was joined by family members at the race. My 11-year-old nephew Eddie was climbing for the third year, it was my sister-in-law Alexis’ second year, and my 13-year-old nephew Maren got his first taste of tower running.

I was in the competitive wave, and we were the first ones to enter the stairwell, around 9:15 or so. The start line was a pretty casual affair. Usually there are representatives from the timing company sending people off in a very organized manner, one every 10 or 20 seconds, but this time around, we were left to our own devices to enter when we wanted, a little while after the person in front of us.

Alexis captured my start on video, which you can watch here.

The climb itself went well. I like the stairwell, which is straightforward and consistent, with right turns, and handrails on both sides that are easy to grip and utilize, especially after the ninth floor, when the stairs narrow a little bit.

I had forgotten my race watch at home, so I really didn’t know how I was doing during the race, except that I felt like I was pushing myself the right amount, and I was certainly breathing very hard and feeling my muscles get increasingly fatigued.

Race organizers posted inspirational posters on the landings – sayings like “you didn’t wake up today to be mediocre” and “you didn’t come this far to only come this far,” and I appreciated those messages, because I caught my attitude starting to slip as the going really got tough during the second half.

RELATED CONTENT: Check out recaps from my previous San Francisco stair races, in 2017, 2016, and 2015!

There was a photographer in the stairwell one floor below the finish line, and I had already begun my end-of-race sprint at that point. (I’ll have access to those photos in a couple days.) Two flights after that, I crossed the finish line, let a volunteer cut the timing chip off my shoe, and fell into a corner on the floor. That corner turned out to be next to the men’s room door, and someone almost stepped on my head going through that door, so I pulled myself up into a sitting position until my heart rate came down.

There was a post-race party last year on one of the highest floors, which was vacant office space, but in the past year it had been rented, which meant that this year there was no access to views. Seeing the city from the finish line is always a highlight of these races, so that was a bummer. The closest I got was looking through an office suite to the windows on the far side.

I didn’t hang out at the top for long. I headed back down, met up with Alexis, Maren, Eddie and Steve (my brother, who wasn’t racing, but came along to cheer us on), and we returned to the start line, so the others could do their climb.

RELATED CONTENT: This was my 58th stair race. Looking for recaps from the 57 others? Click here!

Maren entered first, followed by Alexis, and then Eddie, with me at the back of the pack. Maren and Alexis soon zoomed ahead, and Eddie and I climbed together, which was really fun.

We must have entered in between waves (it was hard to tell, since the start line was so casual), but we had the stairwell entirely to ourselves for most of it. It wasn’t until the last 15 floors that a couple other racers caught up to us, and we caught up to a couple firefighters in full gear, which is always so inspiring to see.

All of us at the top…

…and with our finishers’ medals in the lobby:

We took off before they started posting times, but my friend Jeff texted me, an hour or so later, photos of the print-outs, and I found everyone’s names. Here are everyone’s times for the 48-story climb:

  • Eddie: 15:46
  • Alexis: 13:01
  • Maren: 12:17
  • David: 8:49

Stellar performances all around! And get this: That’s a 2-second personal record for me! A PR is always something to celebrate, whether its 2 seconds or 100 seconds.

  • I finished 57th out of 576 finishers (top ten percent!).
  • I finished 46th out of 298 men.
  • I finished 13th out of 85 in my division (men 30-39).

A great day in the stairwell!

Keep it up, David!

I proudly wore my Bowflex buff during today’s race, since Bowflex very kindly and generously sponsored me for this race. Check out my posts (like this one and that one) about their excellent products – I use them all the time and so should you!

And sending lots of love and gratitude to Mike, Dana, Amy, Ann, and Joe & Joanne, all of whom very generously donated to the American Lung Association on my behalf so that I could race. You guys are the absolute very best!


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My As-Seen-On-TV Workout! I Climbed the Giant Stairway Featured on a New ABC Comedy

April 19, 2018

Have you seen the new ABC comedy “Splitting Up Together”? Only four episodes have aired, on Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30 central. Last week’s episode featured three actors climbing an enormous stairway, and as soon as I watched, I knew I had to climb them myself!

Here’s the same stairs on “Splitting Up Together”: Read the rest of this entry »

Finger Sporks!

April 18, 2018

I have finger sporks and you don’t!

Well, maybe you do. I’m not sure. Regardless, using two or more fingers to hold an eating utensil is for suckers. Because all you need is one finger. Read the rest of this entry »

“Made It To The Top!” (2018 Los Angeles Fight For Air Climb Race Recap)

April 15, 2018

I competed, on Saturday, for my seventh consecutive year, in the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb in Los Angeles. The title for this post comes from a sign I saw on the roof after the race, which echoed exactly what I was feeling after a particularly tough climb.

The race was up 63 stories in the stairwell of Read the rest of this entry »

I Swore I’d Never Return to This Store Again. Here’s Why I Came Back, 8 Years Later

April 12, 2018

I hated clothes shopping when I was 400 pounds. I hated how much I had to look in mirrors, I hated the shame I felt every time I was bigger than the largest size available, I hated every step of the process. It was the worst.

At the time, I wore size 56 pants and either 3XL or 4XL shirts. Because of Read the rest of this entry »

I’m Just Like Seabiscuit! (Derby Day 5K Race Recap)

April 9, 2018

Here’s something you don’t see every day: a 5K race that starts by running through the very same starting gates that horses use at one of the most famous horse racing venues in the country!

The race was the Derby Day 5K, held at Read the rest of this entry »

Five Races Under My Belt So Far This Year… and Five More in the Next Five Weeks!

April 5, 2018

I’ve been thinking lately about my very first stair race, at the Aon Center in Los Angeles. It happened six years ago, and while I can remember it vividly, it also seems like a lifetime ago.

I’ll be returning to the Aon Center a week from Saturday, for my seventh consecutive year racing up the 63-story stairwell. It will be Read the rest of this entry »