Oh, Crap… Fifteen Days Away?

It turns out that this post is months and months in the making. Way back in 2012, I decided I would sign up for the American Lung Association 2013 Fight For Air Climb. It’s a charity event that involves racing up the stairwell of the 63-story Aon Center in downtown Los Angeles. If this rings a bell, it’s because I participated last year (read all about it here), so when I heard there was an early bird discounted registration for this year’s event, I bit the bullet and signed up. I honestly didn’t know if I would participate or not, but I figured I could sort that minor detail out later, and, in the meantime, I saved $10 or $15 dollars. Of course, I never got around to figuring out if I would actually participate… because I kinda forgot all about it.  

IMG_1888Then, a few weeks ago, I got an email from the Lung Association with the subject line “8 weeks away!”  Oh, I should figure out if I’m gong to do it or not.  Then one came that said “6 weeks away!” Yikes, am I gonna do it or not?  Then, “4 weeks away!”  CRAP. It’s time to make a decision. 

Last year, I spent months training for the Fight For Air Climb, and I’m glad I did, because it’s not an easy event. The Aon Center has 1,377 steps, and you gotta climb all of them to make it to the finish line. Thanks to all that training, I was able to complete the climb in 15 minutes and 24 seconds, which still, to this day, astounds me. So when I got the “4 weeks away” email, I started figuring out my options, and I determined that there were 3 courses of action I could choose from.

  1. Be a pussy and skip the event altogether, citing lack of preparation as a reason.
  2. Participate, but casually walk the steps at a leisurely rate.
  3. Get my ass in gear, start training, and do my goddamn fucking best.

I seriously considered choices #1 and #2, but knew that, at the end of the day, I’d feel shitty about myself if I didn’t choose #3. So I chose #3. I’m doing the stair climb.

I just got the email, the other day, proclaiming that the event is only 15 days away, and I’ll be honest: my heart started racing. I’m not ready yet, but I still have time, and I think I will be. Thankfully, it will be a difference experience this year, mainly because I know what to expect. I know I’ll need to fight my instincts at the beginning, and not exert too much energy on the first 10 floors, like I did last year. I know that the stairwell is brightly lit and more spacious than you might think, and the course will have volunteers every couple floors cheering me on. But I still need to be in tip-top stair-climbing form, and I have a new secret weapon of sorts: the St. Andrews Stairway.


The St. Andrews Stairway was the focus of a blog post a couple months ago – it’s a public, 10-story staircase up the side of a hill in Hollywood, and it’s now become a centerpiece of my training. I’ve been going once a week to train on them. My training workout is based around a 5 minute interval. I race up the stairs, all 153 of them, as fast as I can. It takes me, on average, 85 to 100 seconds to get to the top.  After catching my breath at the top (20 seconds max), I come back down at a moderate pace (90ish seconds). That leaves roughly 90 seconds at the bottom to catch my breath before starting up the stairs again at the next 5 minute mark.

My first training session involved 7 of these up-and-down cycles: 6 of them on a 5-minute interval, and 1 of them on a 4 minute-interval (just to see if I could do it).  My second training session was 8 cycles: 4 on the 4-minute interval, and the other 4 on the 5-minute interval.  My third training session is scheduled for this evening and I’m planning on 9 cycles, interval to be determined.

If it sounds brutally difficult to ascend and descend a 10-story staircase every 5 minutes, let me assure you: It is. It’s terrible. It’s quite possibly the hardest workout I’ve ever devised for myself. When I’m finished, I want to lie down and never get up ever again. But I also feel incredible.

I’ve been doing lots of other cardio, in addition to the St. Andrew Stairway excursions, in preparation for the big climb. I’ve worked out 8 of the past 9 days, and those workouts included 2 sessions on the StairMaster at the gym, various other gym-based cardio, including bike, elliptical, and ARC trainer, a class at Slimmons, and and a run around my neighborhood. Last weekend, I also did a fitness DVD I’ve never tried before. It’s one of Richard’s DVDs from about 10 years ago, called “Blast and Tone.”


The DVD’s focus is on toning, and there’s a strength section, an endurance section, and an abs section, plus a warm-up and cool-down. The whole workout is only about 35 minutes, which is a little short, but it was a good workout, partly because I used heavier weights than the DVD recommends. My favorite part was towards the end, when Richard screamed “You know what you deserve? MORE KISSES!”  It turns out he calls one of the dance moves a kiss, but it’s classic Richard nonetheless.

Because of all this exercise, I’m now feeling much better than I was about the impending stair climb event, and by the time it’s here, two weekends from now, I’m pretty damn sure I’m going to rock it!



8 Responses to Oh, Crap… Fifteen Days Away?

  1. Before getting to far into your post, I thought about your St Andrews posts, seems like a good (and hard) training schedule and plan. Good luck with the event.

  2. Karen says:

    Wow, David. You know how to motivate! Thanks for the mindset to start my day with purpose 🙂 I needed this today… I have my own exhausting deadline in 4 days, and I needed to recommit myself. Wishing you the best for successful training and a great event!

  3. Caron says:

    Impressive schedule to get ready for the climb. Much luck to you and I hope you do great! 🙂

  4. Susan says:

    Wow – you continue to be simply amazing. Keep it up, David !

  5. Bev Jull says:

    First let me say good luck with the climb!!
    I think I might just have to check out the St. Andrew’s stairs when I’m in LA this fall . . . just to see how long it takes me!!! . . . and I love the Blast & Tone DVD!!

  6. Deb says:

    Wow! Best f luck with the actual climb!

  7. Jeff D. says:

    Well done David! Do you know that you can also practice in the AON building? They’ve set up practice sessions for us to do so. Here is the schedule:


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