It was a climb three years and one week in the making.
Last week, my feet, my legs, my glutes, my head, my heart finally returned to the Grouse Grind! Oh what a feeling!
Three years ago, I had set a personal best of 56:38 and then clobbered that time three weeks later with 55:30!!! It was a glorious, muddy, sweat-stinging eye, Grouse Grind climbing season. One that I had been working towards for years; ever since mine and Big Ring’s first date/non-date in 2005. One that I was so super proud of.
I had no realization, that summer, it would take three more years for my return.
Two years ago, I was yoga-ball pregnant. I did go to the Grouse Grind that year as part of mine and Big Ring’s annual Canada Day climbing anniversary, but sent Big Ring off on his own while I rode the gondola up.
Last year, it was our first summer with Little Ring and we hadn’t yet discovered the wonders of babysitters. No Grind for either of us.
But two weeks ago, at the start of our two-week, stay-at-home vacation, Big Ring popped the question: Want to do the Grind? Instantly a combination of excitement and fear filled my belly. What if I totally sucked? What if it took me more than an hour? What if I was one of those annoying criers at the first quarter? Or was subjected to a bout of diarrhea like that one time in my early climbing days? (I still feel bad for the wedding party that came into the washroom while I was in there!)
I’d gone for a run early that morning, which was a bit of an excuse, but I wanted fresh legs for my first climb back, and so I suggested we hold off a couple days.
And then there was Dear Physio and his evil acupuncture needles. It was unadvisable, he told me, to put my glutes through such strenuous activity one day after the procedure. He told me to play it by ear and see how I felt in a few days. A few days passed and my glutes were still giving me grief. By Monday, I’d had enough. I told Big Ring to get out his grind-climbing clothes – we were going to climb the Grouse Grind!
Let me tell you, it was a GOOD climb. I didn’t score another personal best, I wasn’t expecting that, but I did keep the bright orange of Big Ring’s jersey in my vision past the first two quarters – normally he’s gone long before the second quarter!!! And my gawd, I was so happy to be back in this element. Climbing the stairs, the rocks, using my feet, my hands, the instant sweat crystalizing over my skin, the huffing and the puffing, the strain, the wobbly legs, the push to move those legs faster, the strip of sun peaking through the trees telling me my time was nearing its end, the smile of Big Ring with his camera waiting at the top, and the post-Grind mud tan – the best kind of tan around.
There were familiar bouts of uneasiness in my stomach, the same I get when I push myself hard on a run, but there were no thoughts of quitting, no thoughts of stopping, no thoughts of pausing. I learned, long ago, when it came to the Grouse Grind, it’s best to keep moving – always – no matter how slow or laboured that movement may be (hello points of crawling!) because the second you stop, whether it be to catch your breath, or take a sip of water, you’re already thinking about the next stop and the one after that. Your pace and your push suffer.
Now why the heck can’t I have that same frame of mind when running???