## Friday, February 23, 2024

### 1.25 staircases

I finally broke the 1-staircase barrier today and did 1.25 staircases, i.e., I did an entire staircase from B1 to 26, then went back to B1 and did the stairs up to the 6th floor. This particular run is the hardest because the distance between floors isn't uniform.

B1 to 1 = 4 flights, 9 steps each = 36 steps (shops/restaurants; lobby)
1 to 2 = 3 flights, 9 steps each = 27 steps (lobby; more shops + salons; admin offices)
2 to 3 = 3 flights, 9 steps each = 27 steps (admin; gym space)
3 to 4 = 4 flights, 8 steps each = 32 steps (gym space)
4 to 5 = 4 flights, 10 steps each = 40 steps (gym; 5th = residential)
5 to 6 = 2 flights, 9 steps each = 18 steps (residential the rest of the way)

From 5 to 26, the residential floors are all the same height and stair length: 18 steps between floors. It's like that the rest of the way up. Going from B1 to 6 is as much a psychological hurdle as it is a physical one: there's more distance between floors.

So when calculating where I am during any staircase-training session, there are two ways to do it: (1) raw number of steps or (2) by floor number. As you see, though, when I say B1 to 6 constitutes a "quarter staircase," it's technically more than a quarter because many of the floors are 1.5 or 2 times the height of "normal" floors (from 5 to 26). But it's hard to mentally calculate the raw number of steps while I'm huffing and puffing, so I've arbitrarily reckoned my progress this way:

B1 to 6 = 0.25 staircase
B1 to 14 = 0.5 staircase
B1 to 22 = 0.75 staircase
B1 to 26 = 1.0 staircase

In terms of raw steps, the total is 558 from B1 to 26. Divide that by 2, and technically, the halfway point is at Step 279, which is the landing between the 10th and 11th floors. Halfway to that is the technical 0.25-staircase mark.

You might ask yourself: why did you set the 14th floor as the "0.5" mark and not the 13th? Easy. That's because I live on the 14th floor, so if I'm doing 0.5 staircase (or 1.5, or 2.5 staircases), I can end there and just go back to my apartment without using the elevator.

While it was a small victory to reach 1.25 staircases today, I now know that that's my new minimum. So next week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I'll have to do at least 1.25 staircases. Sometime in March, I'll bump it up to 1.5 staircases (1 full staircase + B1 to 14), then maybe in April, I'll be doing 2 full staircases. The weather will be substantially warmer by then, so doing this exercise before the sun comes out is paramount. Heat is going to kill me otherwise. I'm going to be a sopping, sweaty mess. And if heat becomes a big issue, I might have to scale my progress back, reaching 3 staircases only in the fall once summer is done.

Normally, when I reach a new milestone, there's this feeling of grim victory, but today, I was just ready to get in the elevator and go to the 14th floor when I finished. I was tired, hanging my head, and everything felt dim and hollow. We'll see how all of this goes next week. Tomorrow and Sunday, it'll just be half-staircases as I rest. MWF are my "on" days. This Saturday, I hope to do a longish walk.

NB: for comparison, the staircase walk up the flank of Namsan is about 1100 steps. So two apartment staircases is about the same as (or maybe a little more than) one trip up Namsan. Of course, Namsan is relentless; there's only one flat stretch where a person can pause to catch his breath, and that's fairly close to the top. My secret to conquering my building's staircase is to pause for an extra breath or two at every flight. For my money, the stairs are the hardest way up Namsan; I prefer the bus roads, which are easier: the bus-road slopes are longer, but not as steep and twisty as the stairs. There are other trail-like paths up the mountain; I know only a couple of them, but John McCrarey used to explore many of those trails when he lived close to the mountain. He could take you on a hike that'd get you breathing. He likes to slap up a photo of a hike he and I did some years back. I had backslid and was out of shape when we did the hike, and he took a pic of me winded and bent nearly double with fatigue. Despite being small for a mountain, Namsan gets you in good cardiovascular shape for sure. Back when nearby Yongsan Garrison was still a thing, there used to be US Army guys who'd run up the steps several times to stay in shape. Running up Namsan is unimaginable to me.

NB2: another benefit of increasing my staircase load is the greater amount of time it takes. Up to now, a single staircase has taken me, at most, about 15 minutes to do. Now, at 1.25 staircases, my heart is beating and my lungs are working for closer to 20 minutes—more like a real, legitimate workout. And all of this strengthens my heart, which is something the docs at the hospital told me I had to worry about three years ago when I had my stroke.