Emptying Out The Tank …

10 Apr

Now I know you’re aware that I’m not the greatest morning person, I lived with that my whole life, but climbing 63 stories in the evening wasn’t something I had in mind, especially after a 7 a.m. hockey game, 10 am Jesus class, a two-hour-visit to the school carnival, and two-hour baseball game.

Nope. Not what I envisioned.

However, the Powers That Be at the American Lung Association thought it would be an awesome idea to scale Los Angeles’s second tallest building just in time to see the sunset. You know … during epic traffic encounters on the 101, 5, and 110 freeways.

They thought that after the exhaustion of scaling 1,039 steps in claustrophobic environment with close to 500 people the skyline would be one to remember.

They thought that because it was my fifth trip to the top of the AON Center that it would be a laid-back workout, that I knew what I was doing.

Whoever said, “it’s just like riding a bicycle,” never stair climbed in his life. Like. Ever. Let me tell you, scaling this monster for the fifth year in a row was not easier the fifth time. It’s never easy. I still felt just as suffocated in the enclosed stairwells as I did the first time around. I still felt my calves burning and my knees aching by the 27th floor. I still tried to not look up at the signs because 63 stories seemed so far away when I was still on the 31st floor. I still thought those volunteers with pom-poms were lying to me when they said, “you’re almost there, you’re almost there” because they were, well everyone was lying except for that chick on the 61st floor. I still felt like I was going in slow motion as it became harder and harder to breathe. I still felt all the heaviness, and weariness of every nook and cranny of my Ben-Gay-Icy-Hot loving 41-year old muscles. I felt it all with every step and every breath.

But one thing kept me going.


I kept seeing my hands hold his hands at the hospital. I kept thinking I was the last one to talk to him before surgery and the last one to see him before he passed away. I kept seeing moments from my childhood sporting awesome polyester bell bottoms and moments from adulthood where talks and laughter surrounded us. I saw them all, and just when the exhaustion of the 45th floor hit me, when I thought I was losing the pictures in my mind I saw the poster. There it was taped on the stairwell, a picture of my Dad, my sister and me, “Why We Climb”.


That was all I needed to pull whatever reserve I had remaining in the tank, and I pushed passed the I’m-gonna-pass-out-right-now-feeling. I ran by the people sitting on stairwells, clinging onto bannisters for dear life, and standing at the last water station.  I saw number 61 and pulled the Ninja-Warrior-Gatorade-Commercial-Worthy athlete out and stormed up those last steps.

I hit the roof running and the burst oxygen filled up my lungs as I stepped outside. I raised my hands up like Rocky and put my finger up to the sky. I got there in 16 minutes and 16 seconds and 16 seconds.

They thought the sunset would be a memorable one …



They were right. I still remember it.



4 Responses to “Emptying Out The Tank …”

  1. Jenny Hansen April 11, 2017 at 7:32 PM #

    You’re a frigging rockstar, Guat!!! I’ve worked in DTLA before when they do a climb like that in the 1st Interstate building. Is that where you were?

    • The Guat April 19, 2017 at 11:21 PM #

      Ha! Thanks! That was a tough race, for sure, and that’s exactly where I was, right across the street from bank. Cra-zy! So the next time you pass by the AON Center on a reminiscent trip of your DTLA working days you can totally think of me. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Cayman Thorn May 1, 2017 at 4:37 PM #

    You ARE a frigging rock star! Holy guatabulous, I can’t believe you kicked that stairway all the way to heaven. (Had to). One thought from my observation deck (Had to, again). You doubled down the first two paragraphs. Which is A-Okay by me, because it’s THAT awesome of an accomplishment. Belated congrats to you.

    Happy Sweet 16! (Last pun, I promise).

    • The Guat June 6, 2017 at 9:15 AM #

      Dude I can’t believe I missed this comment! It was a super exhausting awesome feeling. I get nervous and scared when I do this race don’t know why that happens … Maybe because I see the ginormous building in front of me, but always push through it. Thanks for reading and letting me know about my double-double there. I fixed it 🙂

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