A Little LEGO Present… For Myself

Despite the mixed feelings I’ve been having about my 5-year weight loss anniversary, I did splurge on a little special something as a present to myself. A little special something… made of little LEGO bricks!


I went to the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower, in Chicago) in November for the stair race there, called SkyRise. SkyRise was an challenging, fantastic experience (read my race recap here), and I’m immensely proud that I climbed 103 floors in under 28 minutes in the tallest stairwell in the United States.


I love LEGO, and I wanted to commemorate my SkyRise experience by building a little LEGO Willis Tower. What I quickly realized was that the LEGO Willis Tower set is a pain in the butt to find. That’s because LEGO isn’t making it anymore. It’s “retired.” I learned that when I went to the LEGO Store. “Try Barnes & Noble,” the salesguy said, “they sometimes have the old sets that we don’t sell here anymore.”

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Two Barnes & Noble and a Toys R Us later, and I still didn’t have a Willis Tower set in my hot little hands. So I went online, where I found lots of sets on eBay and Amazon Marketplace, all of which were being sold at crazy prices. I finally bought it from the place I knew would still have it: The online store for the Willis Tower Skydeck Gift Shop.

I knew that gift shop would have it, because I saw piles of them on display when I was there in November. (I didn’t buy one then because I didn’t have my wallet on me.) Less than one week later, and I was in business.


The set only has 69 pieces. I’m good at LEGO, so I was able to build it quickly, in only 3.5 minutes. It was a very satisfying 3.5 minutes.


Except for the spires, all entire building is made of black LEGO pieces, which makes it kinda hard to photograph, but it looks as accurate as it can be for a model of a 1,450-foot building that’s been boiled down to 8.5 inches.


This is my second LEGO Architecture set. A few years ago, I bought a Burj Khalifa set, to commemorate the time I climbed the equivalent of that building (which is the world’s tallest) on a StairMaster.

The Burj Khalifa and Willis Tower LEGO sets do not use the same scale, but I’m a nerd, so when I photographed them together, I used perspective and camera angles to correct that, so the models appear the right size, in relation to each other, as they would in real life. This photo took longer to set up than it took me to build the Willis Tower:


And now both LEGO buildings live happily on my bookshelf. It’s a fun to look at that little LEGO Willis Tower, because I can’t help but think of what I did in that stairwell just a few months ago.

Speaking of stairwells, I’m off this weekend for two days of racing in two tall buildings in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve never done two races in the same weekend before. I’m expecting it to be a grind. I’m expecting it to be intense. And I’m expecting it to be a very, very satisfying.

Keep it up, David!


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8 Responses to A Little LEGO Present… For Myself

  1. Nice!!
    Loved reading this!
    Would be cool if you had a Lego building for every building you have climbed.
    I am climbing the Aon in Chicago this weekend

  2. Sarah Van Houten says:

    3.5 minutes! that’s fast.

  3. Love it! What a great gift to yourself, David! 🙂

  4. Kristi says:

    If you’re ever looking for retired sets, we’ve had good luck with bricklink.com. I love that you got to build a building you’ve walked up! Best of luck on your races this weekend!

  5. Linda says:

    Wasn’t Willis amazing? I climbed it in 2013 in 21:20. Hope to go back this year!

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