I have to get in shape; I really do

This morning when I arrived at the tallest building in Columbia — all 25 stories of it — the elevators weren’t working. The mezzanine area was filled with office workers who “couldn’t” make it up to their workplaces. Some went to the cafe on that level to get some breakfast and coffee.

But I had already paid for my breakfast, and it was on the 25th floor. So I headed for the stairs.

And I found out something: I am really, really out of shape. I only made it by stopping for several minutes, twice. But I made it.

You should have seen the looks on the faces of the wait staff at the Capital City Club when I staggered into the darkened (the power had gone out; that’s why the elevators weren’t working) Grille Room. They didn’t know whether to find me something to eat or call an ambulance.

But I ate, and then I headed back down. On that trip, I shot the above video. There would be narration, but I was saving what little breath I had left.

Such are the hardships of modern life. Pitiful, huh?

I wonder if I’m even going to make it through the three miles of the Walk for Life… By the way, we’re up to $707! Thanks to all of you who have contributed so generously.

17 thoughts on “I have to get in shape; I really do

  1. Maude Lebowski

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. I would’ve had to stop at least five times and you have about 15 years on me. I’m not sure if that says more good about your state of health or more bad about mine (or both) but there it is. 25 floors is quite a workout.

  2. Doug Ross

    Luckily it wasn’t like that scene in “Mad Men” when Don and Roger climbed all those flights of stairs and Roger barfed on a client when he got to the top.

    As for the Walk For Life donations, ahem… my peeps having been coming on strong. And, yes, I am too old to use the word “peeps”.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    What did they have to eat, with the power out? You can’t have milk, right–so cereal had to have fake “milk”?

  4. Brad

    Let me qualify two things I said: First, by “filled” I mean there was a highly unusual number of people standing around in the lobby for no immediately evident reason. Maybe 20 or 25 people. Not like it was shoulder-to-shoulder.

    And there was emergency power. There were, as you can see in the video, lights in the stairwell, for instance. And as near as I’ve been able to make out, the outage occurred after mass quantities of food had been cooked. I know this because that evening at a reception back at the club, I spoke with a member (another breakfast regular) who said he had ridden UP, but had to walk down after his breakfast.

    So I figure they had enough power to run the microwave and heat my grits and bacon back up. Or maybe they heated it with gas; I don’t know. And the coffee was in an insulated container. They just didn’t have enough power to run the elevators.

    When I left, there was a plan to get the freight elevator running, if not the main ones. I don’t know whether they implemented that or not.

  5. Anne

    Well, 25 floors is a lot of floors. My husband usually gives up elevators for Lent, which I think is a cool idea. You look like a pretty fit guy, so I feel sure you’ll make it 3 miles, especially if you have a Starbucks cup in your hand for energy. 😉

    Seriously, though, it really depresses me to hear the mezzanine was “filled” with workers who couldn’t make it up the stairs. Did they go home for the day? I understand if there were a few who had health issues preventing them from climbing the stairs, but that should be a small percentage.

    BTW, I read somewhere that not exercising regularly is the health equivalent of being a smoker.


    PS And I’m feeling all self-righteous because I worked out every day this week in an attempt to get back in the habit, so do take my preaching with a grain of salt…

  6. Brad

    Oh, but back to Anne’s point about the pitiful spectacle of people who “couldn’t” climb the stairs.

    When I got back down, there were still a lot of people in the lobby. And having completed the trek, I looked at them with a great sense of my own moral superiority….

    … which quickly melted when I realized how many of them were so obviously, and so badly, out of shape that they will probably never be able to walk up 25 floors for the rest of their lives, whatever they do. It was indeed sad. I sensed that they were having the same thoughts, by the looks on their faces.

  7. Brad

    Speaking of moral superiority, though… after this, I’m REALLY going to be full of it (moral superiority, that is) when my elevator is stopped for someone who can’t be bothered to walk up or down a floor. I was bad enough about it before. I wonder whether I’ll be able to stop myself from sneering?

  8. Lynn

    Just a technical note: the building actually has 24 floors, there is no 13th floor. Still to walk up and down is an accomplishment. FYI Tom Brokaw runs stairs as his fitness routine.

  9. bud

    Brad, you need to watch the Biggest Loser. They had 400 pound folks on there who couldn’t walk up 1 floor let alone 24. In one episode, after just a month or so of training, they were able to walk up to the top of a huge building in Los Angeles, probably 50 floors or more. Most folks can get in shape they just need to put aside all the excuses and do it.

    Sadly, this has become the fattest country in the history of mankind and it’s time we changed our routine. I’m a tad overweight myself but I still manage to walk up 5 floors every day to my office. I rarely take the elevator. Obesity has supplanted tobacco as the nations number 1 health concern. If we’re going to be afraid of stuff our own over-active appetites and lack of excercise should be more of a concern that Al-Queda.

  10. Kathryn Fenner

    I work out daily, and have done so for a long time, but walking down the 11 or so flights for a fire drill at my last office job did a number on my knees. Judge not….

    and bud– There is a lot of serious scientific debate about the so-called obesity epidemic. They even wonder if it may be attributable in part to a virus. It certainly is not as clearcut as “eat less and move more”—your body adapts and is designed to hang on to weight, and will adjust your metabolic rate to do so.

    I think tobacco use is still a very clearcut health problem (it may help a few diseases, though–Parkinson’s?), while merely being obese is a co-existing condition for many illnesses, it is not at all necessarily the cause of them. Some “obese” people are quite fit, and some thin people very unfit. Some people with health problems are obese, but which came first?

  11. bud

    Kathryn, I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m a bit overweight myself so I’m certainly not one to be critical. However, this is not something we should just shrug off as something unsolvable while we drive through the fast food window and get our triple burger with a big gulp soda. It takes work and dedication and perhaps a trip to the doctor to make sure there isn’t some underlying physical issue.

    But it’s a worthwhile endevour to strive for a slim body and healthy diet. If the Biggest Loser folks can do it most anyone can.

    (There have been many Biggest Loser people re-gain their weight so it takes a lifetime of committment. Not an easy task by any means.)

  12. Steve Gordy

    It’s a bit much to expect anyone to walk up 24 flights of stairs (or to walk down, either); but in the event of an emergency, at least having the ability to walk down could be a life-saver. But then, I don’t even like using the StairMaster; I’d rather get on the elliptical and imagine I’m running in the Peachtree Road Race.

  13. Kathryn Fenner

    @ bud– Of course people can choose the small size or the salad at the drive thru, or better yet, walk on in, but I do worry about the panic reports and shaming of the apparently overweight/obese.

    The Biggest Loser people have enormous resources at their disposal and are prescreened. Your results may vary!

    Given the believed prevalence of undertreated thyroid conditions, for example, and the time and money pressures families with young kids face, it’s an uphill battle. Look at how tough it has been for Oprah and Kirstie Alley, who have huge amounts of resources–personal chefs, personal trainers, etc.

  14. bud

    Kathryn, I agree with every word you said. All I’m trying to say is that obesity is a serious health problem in this country. If we don’t figure it out our life expectancy will eventually suffer. I suggest we cut the military budget and build a few fat farms around the country with the savings. If we only help 20% change their life then we’d be doing a great deal to enhance the welfare of this country.

  15. Brad

    Actually, Bud, you might want to consider the opposite of your plan.

    Maybe what we need to get us in shape is a universal draft — no exceptions.

    As Dewey Oxburger can attest, there’s nothing better than basic training to turn doughy Americans into “lean, mean, fighting machines.”

  16. Kathryn Fenner

    FWIW, Brad, your climbing stairs and being out of breath is not necessarily an indicator of your total fitness–if you were usung muscles you don’t customarily use, you will get out of breath a lot faster. If you normally walk or run on a level surface, say, you might be quite fit, but since you are using your stair-climbing muscles (more quads, and glutes) you get out of breath because those muscles get tired and start throwing off chemicals that make you breath harder…..

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