Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stair Run of tallest building in Arizona

On June 4 2015 I ran the stairs of the tallest building in Arizona marking the 18th state I have run the tallest building in.

Chase Tower at 40 stories and 483 feet tall is the tallest building in the state of Arizona. Downtown Phoenix is in the flight path for Sky Harbor airport so they have an ordinance on how tall buildings can be downtown. 

I visit Phoenix each month for work and yet it has taken me three years to finally get in this stairwell to run to the top. I tried three times unsuccessfully to speak to the property manager of the building. He took my business card once and I left him a couple of voicemail messages and he never called me back to talk about it. I figured that was plenty of due diligence on my part and it was time to just go in, find the stairwell and run up it.
Tunnel from Chase Tower to Parking garage
Chase tower is downtown with a parking garage across the street. There is an underground tunnel connecting parking to the building. The tunnel is lit up in blue lights and then leads to a spacious open lobby area. There are three security guards at the table to the entrance. When I scouted the building on previous visits I noticed the main stairwell is locked with an alarm sign on it. There are three different elevator sections that go to different floor groupings in the building.

This day I had just finished with some customer visits for work and was in my business clothes with three hours until my flight. I went to the second floor and wondered over to where the main concrete tower stairwell would be. There was a small break room and then the stairwell entrance. I walked into the hot stairwell and was happy to see that I made it. I walked down to the main floor level to start my run and noticed there is a security camera and doors that would certainly alarm if I exited out of them.

I noticed a small sign near each door as I started the run up to the top. In my brief glance at the sign I thought it said I could exit any floor except the bottom floor would sound an alarm. That was fine with me and began my run up the stairwell. If you look on the outside of the concrete portion of Chase tower you’ll notice a black strip running up it. Turns out that is a vented area that runs up the stairwell.  When it is over 100 degrees outside that stairwell sure heats up!

I made it up to the 40th floor and saw a small built in ladder going up to a cave like area that houses some HVAC pipes. I climbed up the ladder just so I could show I made it to the top but quickly climbed down to the main stairwell.

It took me 8 minutes 6 seconds to make it up in my business clothes. Not bad. As I caught my breath I took a minute to read the sign by each door a bit closer.

It is clear by the sign that I only had three options out. 1) Walk down and go out the only unlocked door and set off an alarm. 2) Push the intercom and have security come save me. 3) Stand there all day until someone entered the stairwell.

I chose option number 2. I decided to call them from the 2nd floor so I made my way down the stairs. On the 22nd floor I heard people just outside the stairwell door talking and waiting for an elevator. I knocked hard on the door and made some noises to see if they would open the door for me. They didn’t do anything about my knocking so I laughed at how silly I looked and continued down.

I finally made it to the 2nd floor and took a minute to catch my breath and wipe the sweat off my face. I pushed the intercom button and told security “Hey, it appears I’ve locked myself in the stairwell on the second floor, any chance you can come get me out of here?” He told me he was on his way and I waited a bit nervously. I didn’t really know what to expect. Was I going to get an interview of who I was and why I was there? I would be honest as I wasn’t breaking any posted rules but I would prefer to just get out of there without having to go through an interview.

The door opened and I saw a man in his mid-20’s. I started the conversation with a smile “wow thanks! I stepped in here to get a little break and exercise and locked myself in.” before he could respond I quickly kept talking and changed the subject to show I didn’t think it was a big deal I was in there “How is your day going?” We were walking toward the elevator and he says “Long and BORING! NOTHING going on at all today, can’t wait to get out of here.” I’m thinking to myself, well there is some random dude running your stairs, that is something that is going on. At that point I knew he didn’t care at all about sweaty old business man stuck in the stairwell and we made some nice small talk about college and some other things about his day.

I walked out of the elevator and out to the parking garage and was thrilled to have my 18th state checked off my list, each one has been an adventure. I travel a lot for work and spend a lot of time on my own so little moments like the one with this security guard give me a good laugh. On to the next!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

One World Trade Center Stair Run

On May 17 2015 I ran the stairs of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in New York, the tallest building in America.

Running stair races frequently bring out fireman wearing their full 120 pound outfits and it pokes at your heart to think of all the hard things they do for us as Americans. This race magnified that understanding 1000 fold. Thinking I would not fully grasp the significance of this race I went on a 9/11 tour the day before to hear from two tour guides that were there on 9/11 and survived but had family or colleagues that perished. It certainly brought back many of the memories of sitting in my parents’ home in 2001 eating cereal with my best friend Jeff as we watched the news cut out to the show the attacks live. One of those moments in life you remember even the smallest details of the day due to the sheer shock of what was happening.

Morning of the race
The morning of the race there was a very moving tribute to the first responders who perished in the attacks. As if the tour Saturday wasn’t enough motivation, the opening ceremonies struck the heart even stronger. They shared the stories of Captain Billy Burke a firefighter who stayed back on the 27th floor to stay with two civilians, one a paraplegic in a wheel chair and the other was a coworker who refused to leave the wheel chair bound man. Captain Burke’s crew called back over the radio multiple times for their Captain as they went up the building, rescued some people and then returned them back to the street. Each time Captain Burke would tell them “Keep Going, I’m right behind you.” Captain Burke sat with the two civilians calling their family and friends to say goodbye to them. It wasn’t until his crew was back on the street minutes before the north tower collapsed they learned that Captain Burke wasn’t leaving these civilians. All of Captain Burke’s team survived that day except for him.
View from top of One World Trade Center
Captain Burkes brother very emotionally spoke before the race to tell us all this story. The Tunnel 2 Towers Foundation was started by Stephen Stiller and Captian Burke's brother is a board member. Even after a few days after the race I still tear up recalling his passionate comments regarding this fundraiser. After he spoke the bagpipes played a song and it was off to the starting line. I was quietly crying as I made my way through security to the entrance of One World Trade. Running the stairs of the tallest buildings in each state has always been an emotional experience considering I run for my niece who has never been able to walk and will most likely never be able to. Adding the words from the dust of Captain Burke “Keep going, I’m right behind you” added another layer to the motivations for pushing my body beyond fatigue as I rose up the stairs.
Opening ceremony, I am front and center in the black shirt

I was lucky enough to be in the Elite Climber group that started early in the day thanks to my prior performance in other races around the country. There were around 40 of us at the starting line. The majority of this group is part of the West Coast Labels team. They are the worlds best group of stair racers that travel the world running in stair races and raising money for the organizations that put on these races. They were generous enough to allow me to be part of their team for this race even though I am nowhere near their athletic level. I was actually quite honored to be part of their group since I look up to many of them.
In line waiting for my turn
My training leading up to this race was……I will generously call it subpar. I knew it would be a bit of a struggle. Mentally there were some interesting twists to this race that we in no way could have known since this is the first ever race. The first thing was the first 6 floors must have gigantic ceilings in them. I reached floor 4 and felt like I should be at floor 13. Once I hit floor 6 I decided to start counting the stairs to get an idea of how many stairs there were in between floors. The Stairmaster in my garage counts 10 steps as 1 floor although most buildings are around 12 steps per floor. I started counting as I ran and turned multiple times until I finally hit 51 steps! The thought of running 94 floors is hard enough but 51 steps on each floor is something my body was screaming NO about. The good news is once I hit the 51st step the sign on the next floor read number 20. It was a relief as a normal pace of 12 steps for each floor continued the rest of the way until around the 89th floor.

I was pushing my jelly legs and lungs as hard as possible once I hit 89th floor thinking I only had one more to go. Then another twist as the last floor had 4 flights of stairs. I came out the door and thought I was done. I turned two corners and saw the finish line was 20 feet in front of me. They posted a video of me running to the finish line and its funny to see me come around the corner because in my mind I was sprinting to the finish line but on the video I looked more like a stumbling drunk. I don’t remember the volunteer handing me water after I crossed the line but saw it on the video.

I found a place to sit down on the dirty concrete to let my head stop pounding for a few minutes. Finally I grabbed my water and looked around to notice there was a wall where they were allowing us to write names of those we run for. I mustered the strength to stand, grabbed a sharpie and wrote the name of my niece Whitney, her mom Stephanie, my wife and my kiddos on the concrete wall near the floor where I was sitting and sweating after the race. It will soon be covered in sheet rock but their names will always be there on the concrete as a remembrance of why I run.

I brought my sister Stephanie and my 7 year old daughter who is the same age as her cousin Whitney to New York for the weekend. They stayed back at the hotel in Times Square since I had to get up so early and the security was tight that they couldn’t even be there at the top to see my finish even if they would have come.

Security was so tight, understandably so, which meant I was not able to bring my phone to take any pictures. Thanks to the charity and their photographer Conner Misset and the Tunnel 2 Towers organization I was given some of the photos from the day.  

I took the long elevator ride back to street level and began to head back to Time Square. I had a surge of energy while looking for a taxi and began to jog back. I made it all the way back to the hotel and it was such an enjoyable run. My legs never seem to get tired after these races, it’s my lungs that can’t keep the pace as I climb the stairs. I am going to work on my endurance over the summer.

The stairwell was hot and humid when I ran. During 9/11 the power was out and the stairwells were dark since there are no windows. There were glow in the dark strips on the rail but it’s difficult to imagine the heat, smoke and darkness in those stairwells and then add on all those thick fireproof uniforms the firefighters wear. I can’t imagine how some of them made it up so high, picked up civilians and then carried them back down to the street. It’s an impossible feat.
My sister and daughter on our New York trip

The two girls and I had an excellent three days in New York City that will never be forgotten. If not for this race we would never had planned this trip so I am incredibly grateful for the experiences this stair climbing quest is providing me. I have now run the stairs of the tallest building in 17 states. Looking forward for the next adventures!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stair Run of Tallest Building in Utah

Pre race selfie with Wells Fargo Center Tallest building in Utah
On March 7th 2015 I ran the stairs of the tallest building in Utah, the Wells Fargo Center in Salt Lake City. Funny how I live in Utah and have been working on this goal for two years which has seen me run the stairs in 15 states and finally I get Utah off the list. 

I always thought the LDS church office building was the tallest building in Utah but it turns out the Church office building has a higher ground level so it just looks taller. 

The Huntsman Cancer Institute puts on a race each year at Wells Fargo and it is surprisingly the most economical race I have entered so far at only $35 per person. Since it is such a good price I decided I should bring my sweet 6 year old daughter Claire. She was so excited to run in her first race and more importantly, get a medal. 
Registration in lobby of Wells Fargo Center
We arrived at Wells Fargo Center at 9:00 am for registration and the cool thing about this race is they have an option to run as many times as you can in a 6 hour period. There were racers that started at 6:00 am and wow they looked tired. 

Claire and I started up the stairwell and I was happy to see how narrow the stairwell was. I already have long arms so when a stairwell is narrow it allows me to grab the rail on both side and propel myself up the stairs taking pressure off my legs. Since I was running with Claire I was not racing for the fastest time so I stayed behind her and pulled myself up the stairs. 
Claire making her way up the stairs
She ran at a good pace for the first 7 floors and then she began to feel fatigued. By the 11th floor she was asking me if we were almost done because she was getting tired. We pushed on to the top only stopping once for 20 seconds for Claire to catch her breath. We reached the top of the building and Claire was so happy to collect her new shiny medal.

They had a 2 story area to gather after the race with the usual snacks like bananas and creamsicles. We finished in 7 minutes 9 seconds putting claire as the 14th fastest female under 19 years old out of 32 racers in her age group. Not bad for the little six year old! It was a super easy stair climb for me but very fulfilling to have my daughter with me. 

The main reason for running these stairs is to do this for my sweet niece Whitney who can’t walk. Her life motivates me to stop being lazy with the healthy body I’ve been given and get out there and exercise to accomplish greater goals. Claire is very close in age to Whitney so seeing Claire progress through different stages of her life always makes me think of where Whitney would be developmentally in her life without the Cerbral Palsy. So in a way, having Claire with me is like having Whitney with me even more. 

This is the 16th state I have run to the top of the tallest building in the state with more states to come this year. The adventure continues!
Interesting to see how high you could go by repeating the climb

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!