I’m Racing This Weekend Whether I’m Ready Or Not…

…And I’m as ready as I’m going to get!

It’s been a tough couple of weeks, ever since I stopped exercising to let my knee get better. But last night I attended the final stairwell training session in the Aon Center, and I feel pretty good. And exhausted.


I was skeptical about what I’d be able to do in the stairwell without aggravating my knee, but this training session has been on my calendar for months, and I smartly worked my way up to it. After five days of no exercise, I resumed activity last Saturday by going on a few long walks. Then I slowly added in gym equipment: the bike, a little elliptical, and the Arc Trainer (all of which engage the legs differently but are all no impact.) I also incorporated my awesome at-home machine, the Bowflex MAX Trainer, doing the easiest program (called Steady State).

I brought my elevation training mask to Aon Center, and that was helpful, too. I’ve worked my way up to the 15,000-feet setting, and it’s terribly difficult, in a good way. Training at 15,000 feet for real, by the way, can’t be done in the lower 48 states: Mt. Whitney, the highest U.S. non-Alaskan mountain, is about 500 feet shorter. So that’s a good feeling!

In addition to physically challenging me, the elevation mask provides a nice mental release, too. Without it, I’d be comparing these training sessions to my race day performances, and I’d drive myself crazy crunching numbers, pushing myself to accomplish certain times, and psyching myself out. I have a tendency to let bad training sessions linger, and it’s just not healthy. With the mask on, just climbing the stairs is challenging enough. I don’t worry about times, speed or pacing… just continuing to climb. And since I almost exclusively train with my mask on, when I race without it, I end up going super fast because breathing is so easy. The five personal records I’ve set at my 2016 races (most recently in San Francisco) are proof!

Speaking of personal records… I’m trying to stay positive about my two upcoming stair races. I’m competing in San Diego this weekend and in this very building next weekend (both are American Lung Association Fight For Air Climbs), and I’m hoping my little knee-related hiatus won’t affect my performances too much. As much as I’d like to keep my streak of PRs going, I’m trying to remember that all I can do is show up and do my very best, and the race will be a success, regardless of my time. I’m a competitive sonofabitch though, so that can be a hard pill to swallow. I’m working on it.

What I can focus on RIGHT NOW is that I had a great final training session in the Aon Center, and it was fun, too. We can climb to the 55th floor, which has windows on all sides, and Aon is a couple blocks from the other Los Angeles buildings that have races. I love being up there and seeing the skyscraper roofs from a different angle. Here’s the Figueroa at Wilshire roof, 54 stories up, where the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Climb ends. I’ve done that race (and stood on that roof) three times:


There’s my elevation mask!

And here’s the US Bank Tower roof – 75 stories tall, 20 stories higher than where I was standing. I’ve been on that roof three times too!


I kept my mask on while my heart rate came down after my first climb at training last night, but I couldn’t wait to rip it off after my second climb. Here am I after two 51-story climbs:

We start on the 4th floor - that's why it's a 51-story climb, and not a 55-story climb!

We start on the 4th floor – that’s why it’s a 51-story climb, and not a 55-story climb!

And after my third and final climb, John the security guard took a picture of me and my friends Madeleine and Jeff…


…but I like the selfie we took in the elevator more (complete with a custodian photo-bombing!).


Three climbs tonight means I did a total of 153 stories, and climbed 2,160 vertical feet. And this was my seventh training session, and I did three climbs at all of them, so, in total, I’ve climbed this building 21 times since January. That’s 1,071 total stories, and 15,120 vertical feet – nearly three miles!

I’m racing in this building next weekend… and I’m ready for climb #22!

Keep it up, David!


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