Monday, October 27, 2014

Tallest Building in Idaho Zions Bank stair run

Zions bank building Boise Idaho
Until this past year the US Bank Plaza building was the tallest in Idaho. The Zions Bank building is a beautifully designed building in downtown Boise. I have had opportunities to run the US Bank Plaza building but held off knowing Zions was coming.

Lucky for me BYU was playing Boise State in Football October 24 2014 and my friends were all going to be attending. After the 5 hour drive from Utah with my son, my friend Jeff and his son we pulled into the parking garage at Zions Bank building. Jeff had a work phone call to take in the car so I took my son and his friend Michael to scout out the building. Walking in on the 2nd floor it was easy to spot the stairwell and we entered the door and walked down to the first floor.
Pic at the bottom and the top.
Both of the boys loved the idea of running the stairs with me and I love to have others to join in when possible. Before we began they were pretty excited, especially Michael since it was his first ever stair run. Lincoln ran with me in Wisconsin the previous year so he knows his way around the stairs.

Michael bolted to a fast start, I followed behind and Lincoln was behind me. Michael is a fast little guy. By the time we reached the 10th floor he was burned out walking slowly, then decided to run as fast as he can for the final few floors. We reached the top and rested from our fun run. It took 3 minutes 38 seconds, we didn’t break any records but it was about as fast as those two little guys could go.

I realized I don't usually check the top floor to see if the door is open. I really should do this more often since taking the elevator down is so much easier on my legs than going down stairs. When I wasn’t looking Michael opened the door and wondered into the top floor. I was worried for a minute then realized this will be a nice way down. The top floor is Holland and Hart Law offices. They have a large waiting room with windows looking out to the city of Boise. I really wanted to grab a picture for this post so I asked the front desk women if I could grab a quick picture and they very rudely said “due to client confidentiality you are not allowed to be in here.” Okay then. We walked out and the boys were confused as to why we couldn’t go in, I told them I was confused also.

Holland and Hart Law office on 17th floor of Zions bank building Boise Idaho
We went down to another law firm on the 13th floor, Parsons Behle Latimer and they were more than welcoming to allow us to enter a conference room and take pictures of the city. Funny how one little gesture or comment from a business can ruin a reputation so quickly.
View from 13th floor of Zions bank building looking at the 2nd tallest building in Idaho, US Bank Plaza

We exited the building and attended a game on the famed “Smurf Turf” to watch our BYU team get crushed by Boise St. Even with the loss it was a great experience with our friends and boys. 
Part of our Boys trip group in front of the Bronco statue
Just like life is more than work and daily activities, football trips with friends are more than a win or loss. It is about creating meaningful experiences with others, especially the ones you love. 
Lincoln near the strange Smurf Turf
This building represents the 15th state I have run the stairs of the tallest building in. This goal is so fun and I am really looking forward to the next 35 states.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tallest Building in Delaware Stair Run

Chase Manhattan Centre, Wilmington Delaware. Tallest building in Delaware
Only thing the comes to mind when I think of Delaware is from Wayne’s World when they show a picture of Delaware and say “Hi….were in Delaware.” Turns out it is an interesting state that I would love to spend more time in someday.

I flew into Baltimore Maryland for meetings this week in DC. I rented a car and had the night free to attempt to run some stairs. I have now run the stairs of the tallest building in 13 states making Delaware my 14th which was my goal for the year!

Unfortunately it took a bit longer to get my rental car and fight traffic in Baltimore than I had planned. I arrived in Wilmington Delaware at 6:30 pm and getting access to buildings in the evening can be difficult. I found a parking garage under the building that had a sign saying “Garage closes at 7:00 pm.” This didn’t give me much time to make my way in but I figured the parking garage underneath would be easier to gain access to the stairwell than walking in the front lobby.
4th level stairwell under ground parking
After parking at the Chase Manhattan Centre I quickly found a stairwell in the garage. This stairwell started on the 4 floor lowest level of the garage so I figured this would be a great place to start the run. As I hit the main floor of the building the stairwell exited directly into the lobby next to the elevators. I looked to my right and saw a couple of security guards manning the front information desk and didn’t want to have to deal with explaining myself, nor did I have time to get proper approvals. The last thing I needed was to have my car stuck in the garage overnight when I needed to get to DC that evening.
View coming out of the main stairwell looking toward the garage stairwell
With my adrenaline flowing I quickly surveyed the area and saw a door directly across from the one I just exited next to the other elevator. When I opened the door it was the main stairwell leading up, bingo! The first couple of floors went different ways with a hallway I had to run down but I finally reached the main stairwell leading me up to the top of the building. 
Selfie from the top floor of the stairwell. #14 completed!
The 23 floors were not that challenging to get up. I worked my way back down and it is always so suprising to me how tough it is on my legs to go down.

I walked out the main stairwell door, passed security then entered the garage stairwell and was out of the building at 6:47 pm. One of the quickest buildings I have run. 

I hit the road to DC and enjoyed a great week of work. It feels great to get 14 states off my list.
Chase Manhattan Centre, Wilmington Delaware

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tallest Building in Guam

The Guam Westin hotel in Tumon Guam at 21 stories tall is the tallest building on the island of Guam. I am not counting US territories to my goal of running the tallest building in each US state, but I was in Guam for work and of course I can’t pass up the opportunity to run the stairs of the tallest building in Guam. There is another building down the street that is 30 stories but it has been under construction for years and is not open yet.
30 story building under construction
The trip to Guam is very long coming from Utah. I flew to Los Angeles, then Tokyo, after a 12 hour layover finished with a 5 hour flight to Guam. 16 hour time change does some strange things to your mind and body. I had to work all day starting 8 hours after arriving so my mind was in a fog for the first couple of days.

The meetings I attended were in the Westin but I was staying in the Hilton down the street. One night I woke up at 3:00 am and there was nothing I could do to get myself to fall back asleep. I jumped in the car and drove over to the Westin arriving around 3:30 am. The place was quiet with the only person I saw being a security guard. The first 3 floors start on the beach level and are open stairwells overlooking the restaurants. Then I found the stairwell next to the elevator and made my way up to the top only taking a few minutes.
View from the top floor of the Westin Guam
I exited the top floor and took the glass elevator back down to the lobby level and went back to the Hilton. Strange thing to do at 3:30 am I know, but in my defense it was 11:30 AM the previous day back in Utah.
3:30 AM selfie from top of the stairwell of the tallest building in Guam

Looking back on my pictures from the trip I am amazed at the beauty of this beach in Tumon Guam. I have been there two times this year and have yet to even touch the ocean water. 
Beautiful Stairwell off the beach near the Westin on Gun Beach
Appears to be the shortest stairwell on Guam

Friday, August 8, 2014

Stair Racing Summer Break

I was recently asked by a follower of my website why it has been so long since I have posted. Good question!

In the world of stair racing there is an offseason, the summertime. Most of the American Lung fundraiser races are from January to April. The fall races start in September at the Los Angeles US Bank stair race through November at the Willis tower in Chicago.

For the US stair climbing association the year starts in September for points calculating purposes and goes until August of the following year. If I ever wanted to really compete nationally and gain as many points as I can in a year, I would start in September and do as many races as I can. Maybe after I am done with my 50 states I can take a year to get as high in the rankings as possible......hhmmmmm.

If you think about summertime why in the world would you want to be racing and training in a stuffy stairwell when you can be outside hiking, running or golfing? This summer I decided I need a new way to train when I am at home. The suburbs of Utah are not known for their towering skyscrapers.
Thanks to my dad for sending me this rendering of what the former World Trade Towers would look like in Utah.
I was looking online one day and found some commercial stair masters like they have in the gym. There was a very old used one for $1,700 that wasn’t far from my house. I tried to talk them down to $1,000 and they wouldn’t go that low. Next one that came online was listed in Elko Nevada which is a 4 hour drive from my home. It is a Stairmaster Stepmill SM5 only 1 year old they these people purchased for $6,500….way out of my price range!

They listed it for $4,500. I offered them $1,700 via email and asked them to contact me if they are interested in going that low. A few weeks later I received a counter offer of $3,000, still out of my price range. My wife is patient and accepting of a crazy hobby but that is asking too much of her. I countered saying $2,000 is the highest I would be willing to go. A few weeks later they countered with $2,500 and I again told them I would be willing to come pick it up for $2,000 but that was it.

The good thing is I actually had a once every three year meeting in Elko Nevada and it was coming up in two weeks. I was really hoping if I stayed patient they would accept the $2,000 and I could come pick it up while I was there for the conference. I knew I had an upper hand considering who buys actual stair masters for their home? Also who would drive all the way to the small mining town of Elko Nevada to buy one? I just realized reading through these two questions that pretty much I am the ONLY person willing to do this! After a week they responded that they would do the $2,000 if I could come pick it up. I did it! Feeling pretty good about my negotiating skills.
The guy in the red hat is the one I bought the stair master from in Elko. This little ramp made it very easy to place in the truck.
I drove my father’s Ford Ranger out to Elko and picked up the Stairmaster from the peoples home. It was much taller than I anticipated! I had some bungees and at tarp but it was clear that wasn’t going to be enough to hold it down properly. After covering it with the tarp and a bunch of heavy duty tie downs I was ready to hit the road. A bunch of people at the work conference I was at thought I had a missile launcher or a mechanical bull on the back of my truck.

The drive back was…….stressful! I could see the reflection of the truck and stairmaster in the road in front of me and it was huge! 

The wind blew the tarp so hard that eventually some of the bungees snapped and the tarp ripped. Halfway into the drive I took off the tarp and hoped the Stairmaster was built strong enough to withstand the winds.

After 5 long hours I made it home. The Stairmaster is now proudly in my garage and I use it at least 3 times a week when I am in town. My wife has even used it a few times and it has given her a good workout. I am about ready to start my 8 year old son with training on it.
My wife admiring it before we put it in the corner of the garage. 
A Stairmaster is not as difficult as running actual stairs in a building but it can still burn calories quickly and prepare me for stair races better than running outside. This fall I am travelling quite a bit for work so I will post some of the stair runs I am able to complete.
The number of floors may be inflated but it is a great quick workout!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tallest Building in Indiana Stair Run

Chase Tower is the tallest building in Indiana and on March 26, 2014 I ran the stairs of this building marking the 13th state I have run the tallest building in.

What a crazy four day stretch! In four days I have run the tallest building in Kentucky, Washington and Indiana. My meetings in Indianapolis ended at noon and my flight was at 5:30 pm. Some colleagues returned to the hotel to work out, some rushed to the airport to find an earlier flight, others began the three hour drive home, some headed for downtown to run the stairs of the tallest building in the state……well actually I guess I was the only one that did this. I did have another colleague with me who is on the same flight to Utah and needed a ride to the airport.

Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument is 284 feet tall and built in 1902 in honor of those who served in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.

We drove into the city, found the Chase tower then searched for parking, which is not an easy task as it is scarce. This area of town is really beautiful. There is a giant war memorial behind Chase tower honoring the people from Kentucky who fought and died in the service of the United States. It is hard to notice the scale of this memorial in a picture unless you look at the people standing by the door to the gift shop at the base of the tower. This crazy goal of mine takes me to places I otherwise would never go to.

My colleague Derek and I entered the building and he politely said he would wait at the paradise bakery in the building while I did my thing.

Lobby of Chase Tower. The stairs are just past the second set of flowers on the left.
I took the escalator to the public second floor and made my way to the stairwell. The door was unlocked and when I entered it appears there was a gate to not allow people up but it was taken off permanently and the stairwell was clear to run up. Considering Derek was waiting for me and the stairs were right there I hit the bathroom to change clothes, dropped off my backpack with Derek and began the run. My legs were pretty sore from going down all of the stairs in Kentucky two days before so I maintained a steady pace. It was nice to make it to the top in 9 minutes 45 seconds feeling like I had a great workout but not as winded as usual.

It is interesting how going up the stairs I skip a stair every step I take. Going down I hit every step so I don’t fall and get hurt. It makes my muscles more sore and also seems to take longer since I am taking double the steps. 

Derek was so patient and was also surprised at how fast of a workout it was. I was back so fast he didn't get much work done while I was gone. I changed my clothes and Derek and I walked down the street to eat some good lunch at Mccormick and Schmick's before going to the airport for our flight home.

I didn’t expect to cross this building off my list on this trip so it was a nice surprise. When I made a vision board last October my goal for the end of 2015 was to have my total states run to be 13. I have now done this goal with many months to spare. Like I have said all along I don’t have an end date in mind for when I run all 50 states but the progress so far has been encouraging and I know I am getting stronger.
View from the top floor looking down the stairwell

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tallest Building in Kentucky Stair Run

The Aegon Center in Louisville is the tallest building in the state of Kentucky. On March 24 2014 I ran the stairs of this building marking the 12th state I have run the tallest building in.

It’s been quite the travelling weekend for me. Sunday morning I ran the stairs of the tallest building in Washington. I flew home to spend the afternoon-evening with my family then at 6:00 am flew to Minnesota for a layover, then flew to Indianapolis for some work training taking place Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday afternoon I was able to take my work calls in the car and drive to Louisville. This meant I had been in 5 states in two days.

The landscape driving through Indiana was quite flat with many fields and old barns. It seemed like one our out of every four billboards were about some caverns in Kentucky that feature the world’s only indoor zip lines. I will admit I was tempted to make the detour to give this a try.

I wanted to snap a picture of the “Welcome to Kentucky” sign so I kept my phone handy and paid close attention to the posted signs. Funny thing is I could have benefitted from looking on a map to get a general idea of how far south of Indianapolis the border is. Turns out the border is the Ohio River that runs through the city of Louisville and was on the final two miles of my drive. I pulled my camera up no less than 7 times on the near two hour drive…..I’m pretty smart.

The Aegon Center is only 35 floors tall and 539 feet tall so it is nearly half the size of the building in Seattle I climbed the day before. I entered and did my usual process of asking security where the property manager’s office is so I could ask him my strange request. The security guard told me he is on the 24th floor and I could go up there but be prepared that he will tell me no. That sounded good to me! I’m in sales so I am used to hearing no, or meeting with people who are at first not happy to be meeting with me.

There were two things I noticed on my way up to the office, first, there is no key card required to go from floor to floor on the elevator. Second, once on the floor the stairwell is easily accessible. Some buildings the stairwell isn’t accessible on the public floors so the only way to get in is to take the elevator up, enter the stairwell and then go down to the bottom to then start the climb. Buildings like the Aegon Center are nice when I want to run the stairs without going through the approval process.

I entered the property manager’s office and met a very nice receptionist. The property manager was unavailable in his office so I waited in a chair and noticed a very cool chess board with buildings as the pieces. I asked about this and learned it was a gift for her 20 year anniversary with the company. I asked why it wasn’t at home and I guess she has cats that would eat up all the pieces… more reason why I will never have a cat.

Many of these property managers are in a tough spot when it comes to my request. If they officially allow it then what happens if I fall down the stairs and get injured or I do something damaging to the building? They obviously think about the insurance consequences and I understand that. Speaking to them is the right thing to do in most buildings so I am happy when I am able to have this conversation before I run. I will not detail all of my conversations in the office only to say I did not get a no like the security guard thought may happen….but I also didn’t get an 'official' yes.

I went down to the third floor, changed my clothes in the bathroom and hit the stairwell. I dropped down to ground level and 6 minutes 35 seconds later I was at the door to the roof on the 35th floor (there was no floor 13). 

I was thrilled to have another state off my list. Even though I ran a large race the prior day I was not tired and maintained a good pace on the way up. I took the steps back down to the ground level and exited to the street.

Once in the car and driving down the street I passed by the KFC YUM Center where the Louisville basketball team plays. Basketball is a big deal in this state and it turns out University of Kentucky and Louisville are playing against each other on Friday in the sweet sixteen of men’s NCAA basketball tournament. The locals are really excited for this game and the rivalry is pretty heated among them.

I made the two hour drive to my hotel in Indianapolis in time to do some computer work and go to dinner with my colleagues. 12 states down 38 more to go!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tallest Building in Washington Stair Race

The tallest building in the State of Washington is the Columbia Center in Seattle. On March 23, 2014 I joined 6000 other people in “The Big Climb” race to the top of the building making Washington the 11th state I have ran the stairs of the tallest building in.

This race is on a Sunday morning so I booked a 6:15 pm Saturday evening flight out of Utah to Seattle followed by an 11:00 am Sunday morning return flight. It is a quick trip but knowing I will be away from home a lot over the next three weeks I need to spend as much time with my family as possible.

My son had his first golf tournament of the year Saturday afternoon and the tee time was set for 3:17 pm 45 minutes south of the airport. I was very disappointed when the times were posted since I love to caddie for my son. After getting lost driving for 2 hours to find the golf course we made it to his tournament and I caddied for the first 3 holes and he was doing great. My brother in law came and swapped me out so I could get to the airport. My son ended up taking 4th with a few triple bogeys that hurt his round but I am super proud of him.

I arrived at the airport just in time to board my flight and was off on my trip. The flight to Seattle is a nice short 90 minute flight and the views on a clear day coming into Seattle are breathtaking with the snowcapped mountains,  lush green forest that leads to the ocean and many bays. I have lucked out that every time I have been to Seattle it has been sunny.

I rented a car and began the drive to downtown Seattle while driving past the large Boeing air field. 35 years ago my father had a job offer out of college to be an engineer at Boeing in Seattle and I sometimes think how different my life would have been if he would have taken that job and placed our family in here. I don’t know exactly what point of the highway it was but I came around a bend in the road and there was downtown Seattle towering in the distance. There was the Columbia Center towering over all of the buildings and my heart kind of sank and I said out loud “WOW”. I don’t know if it is due to the building being on a hill and the ocean being close but considerably lower, but I was intimidated!
My bed at the Artic Club. Eskimos.
I booked a Hilton Doubletree called The Artic Club that on the map looked close to the Columbia Center. When I arrived and parked on the side of the street it was funny to see that the building is actually kiddie corner from the hotel. This Artic Club is very unique with a wall of old pictures of people and a shelf full of top hats. Maybe my favorite part of it was the white tall glowing polar bear in the lobby.

Being a Hilton Honors member I always seem to get upgraded and have in my profile to stay in a room on a high floor away from the elevator. They put me on the 9th floor at the end of the hall in the corner. Funny thing about this spot is out of the corner window was a direct view of the Columbia Center. I opened the window, stuck out my head and couldn’t even see the top of the building. Intimidated again but laughing at how perfect not only the hotel was but the room.

View of Columbia Center from my Artic Club room

My room is the 9th floor with windows open

I’ve posted before about the president of the US StairClimbing Association is PJ Glassey. He owns a gym in Seattle called XGym and specializes in stair race training. He has a great website with tips for getting into this crazy stair racing world and is often featured in articles as an expert. He invited me to register for the race on his XGym team. This team wins the race every year and also gets to begin the race first at 8:30 in the morning. While I am nowhere near as fast as these guys it was an honor to run on their team and I made sure to position myself at the back of the line so they wouldn’t have to pass me.
Xgym team I was a part of. Xgym won the race with the fastest individual and fastest team
After a team picture we lined up and started the race. The stairwell is tight with 8-10 steps before hitting each platform and turning. It started on the 4th floor and ended on the 72nd floor so is actually a 69 story climb. At the starting spot before entering the stairwell there is some strange artwork with these bodies of people and rather than having a head they have a ladder that another guy is climbing on. One of the strangest pieces of art I've ever seen. 

I made it about 15 floors with a quick jog until I needed to skip steps at more of a walking speed. It was honestly a tough climb. Around floor 35 some negative thoughts started to creep into my mind when I realized I was barely halfway there. I didn’t let those thoughts stay in there long as I began to think of my niece Whitney who cannot walk and how I have this body that is very tired but capable of doing this. It was a dark dusty concrete filled stairwell, I didn’t have any headphones on so I only heard my breath and feet plodding along but I began to feel very grateful in my heart to be at this place at this moment in my life. This gave me the focus to keep pushing myself floor by floor.
This is the sweaty mess I am sitting on the floor trying to slow my heart down after the finish line
I hit the top floor in 12 minutes 45 seconds, grabbed a water bottle and found a place on the floor to fall down to let my heart pounding sweaty body cool down. After relaxing for a few minutes I stood up and could not believe the beautiful view out of the windows. One window I could see the space needle, out another was the Seattle Seahawks football field and out the other was Pikes Market and the harbor. What an amazing sight and if you are ever visiting Seattle on a sunny day I highly recommend taking the elevator (or the stairs:) to this viewing room.

The final results of the race placed me as the 89 fastest out of 392 males 30-39 years old. I was confused at the preliminary results that listed only around 3300 racers. The website proudly lists this race as the biggest in the US at 6000 racers. Thanks to PJ's article on the US stair climbing association website I learned that 2000 of the racers are non timed. Another 700 racers simply started the race and didn't finish. They must have stopped at one of the many water stops and took the elevator down. It really is one of the toughest buildings I have run and reading the article about elite climbers having a hard time it makes me feel a little better about my "wall" I hit at the 35th floor.

I took the elevator down, went to my hotel to shower and drove to the airport to catch my flight. I made it to the gate just in time to board. The view flying out was spectacular as usual. Looking down at the city skyline from the airplane I felt grateful for this experience and the memories this goal is providing me. My body feels healthy my mind is clear and I feel in a strange way like this goal is making me a better person.

The next couple of weeks I will be travelling to Kentucky, Indiana, the Philippines and Guam. I hope I get the opportunity to run some more stairs and will post about it when I do.