Tag Archives: Grouse Grind

Grouse Grind: Three years in the making

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.

Pooped on the Grind 2011.

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!

Can you feel the excitement?

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.

Just about done!

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???

Until next time…

Grouse Grind: Eight years of love-hate

The girl looked over at the boy sitting at the desk kitty corner to hers. “How hard could the Grouse Grind really be?” she asked.

The boy was a good person to ask, she thought, after all he was an ardent climber of said mountain, going at least once a week, oftentimes more. And the girl, who’d only just recently been taking more of an interest in her health had been toying with the idea. She’d been going to the gym for awhile now, had started referring to herself as Queen of the Stairmaster, and the Internet told her the Grouse Grind was nature’s stairmaster, so really, she was practically made for.

The boy paused. He looked up from the photos on his computer, let a smile form on his face, and asked, “Do you want to go? I’ll take you.”

us Grind-blog
From 2010

That girl was me. That boy was Big Ring.

On July 2, 2005, Big Ring took me on my first climb up the Grouse Grind. We were just work buddies at the time. We enjoyed discussing celebrity gossip and teasing our fellow colleagues, but we hadn’t spent any time together outside our job. It was an innocent enough plan, there were no thoughts beyond a friendly get together, and yet, when I woke that morning, I dolled myself up with makeup, did my hair, and was honestly worried about how the rain (never mind the sweat) would affect my style. Yep, I was a total newbie!

Not even two minutes into the climb, I was cursing it: “Stairmaster my ass!” I was breathing so hard my lungs felt like they were gonna cave in; I was sure the sweat pouring off my face was tinged black from mascara; my legs were throbbing by the second quarter; and by the third I was giving real thought of flinging myself over the side of the mountain thinking it easier to get an air ambulance than to finish that murder of a hill.

From 2011

I loathed that climb. I loathed the people around me, the slower people, the faster people, the talkers, the runners, the flip flop wearing girls, and the grocery bag carrying guys. I loathed the trees, the rocky terrain, the ropes, and the slippery steps. And if it weren’t for Big Ring’s super smooth, super tanned, super shaved, cycling legs, I probably would have loathed him too. (What can I say, I’m a legs girl!)

I don’t remember exactly how long that climb took, but I do remember, between my bouts of wheezing and gasping, discussing TomKat, lamenting the War of the Worlds remake, and plotting ways of offing Dakota Fanning. I remember thinking “Will this never end?” And I remember promising my body that if it got me through the hurt, I would never, EVER put it through such torture again – EVER!

From 2011

Sorry body.

Eight years ago today, I climbed that mountain for the first time; I have climbed it countless times since with a man who started out my work buddy and became my husband (he proposed to me at the top of the mountain 4 years later!), the father of my child, my best friend, my strongest, most devout cheerleader. My love!

From 2012

Happy first date/non-date anniversary Big Ring!!!

The big ‘C’

I’m not Brittany, and I’m not Christina. I’ve run marathons, half marathons, countless other races. I’ve ridden up the demanding hills of Horseshoe Bay on my bike, and twice in one day up Jericho. I can climb the Grouse Grind in a respectable 55 minutes. And I thought, as scary as the prospect is (just like all those other things once were) I could surely compete in childbirth too. The docs, however, seem to have other ideas.

A couple weeks ago my obstetrician asked what my intentions were regarding childbirth. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question, so I was prepared, and instantly said I wanted to go the natural way. She gave me a questionable look (apparently the size of my  hippopotamus thumb-sucking alien baby is cause for concern) but left it there merely saying, well we won’t know whether the baby will be able to fit until the time comes.

Fair enough. I knew I had a big baby, and sure it scares the bejesus out of me to push that sucker out, but everyone in my immediate family has had big babies. And my hips look to be far more child-bearing than my mom’s and sister’s who were both rail thin when they got preggers. But then last week I had to see a different obstetrician and she pretty much stuck the fear of God in me.

She spent a good 10-15 minutes going over the dangers of me going through vaginal childbirth.  She told me that my last ultrasound showed a baby with a belly in the 95th percentile, while the rest of it is within the 50th percentile … so pretty much I’ve got a pot-bellied baby!

Really hope our baby doesn’t look like shrunken head guy from Beetlejuice!

She said when you’ve got a ‘husky’ baby you run the risk of presenting shoulder dystocia which is when the head makes its way out, but the shoulders get stuck under mama’s pelvic bone. If that happens, she described a chaotic “emergency style” delivery room with doctors and nurses everywhere trying to manipulate the baby out by doing things like pushing mama’s knees back or the docs trying to pull the shoulders out from under the pelvic bone (uhm, OUCH!). She also noted there’s a possibility the baby’s collarbone could be broken! Not cool 😦

And she prefaced all that with: “I’m not trying to scare you, but ….” Are you freaking kidding me? Seriously, I’m beginning to think they get a thrill out of seeing my eyes grow so wide they nearly pop out of their sockets!

Damn these doctors, not only do they make me wait for 50 minutes before seeing me (my appointment was at 3!) they set off a flurry of worries!

I left that appointment feeling pretty damn despondent. I mean, if my family is built to have babies as my moms has said for as long as I can remember, what the hell is wrong with me? Why was this shoulder thing never once mentioned to my moms or sister-in-law, who are both five-foot nothing and had ginormous 9 pounders? Why were c-sections never once in the cards for them? And it can’t just be the diabetes, because my sister-in-law had gestational diabetes for all her pregnancies? So what the hell is wrong with me?

I know a c-section isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me, and I know some super strong women who had to undergo c-sections for various reasons, but when you’ve heard your whole life your body was built for baby bearing, and now that’s potentially being snatched away from you, I don’t know it feels like a DNF or a DQ… a failure. And the worst part is, I feel I’ve done everything right. My blood sugars have been near perfect, I haven’t over indulged in sweets and fatty treats. I just don’t understand where I went wrong. And that sucks!

We haven’t made a final decision yet, we’re going to wait and see what my next ultrasound on Aug. 23 reveals. The OB said if the baby appears to be 10+ pounds (are you freaking kidding me? How the heck does it go from 5 pounds to 10+ in one month???) then we’ll need to have a serious discussion about the risks and benefits for both sides…

And because of all that, I was forced – forced, I tell you – to go buy a new pair of shoes… or two. And then I was forced – forced, I tell you – to go for another calming pedicure.

Otherwise it would have been tears city, and we can’t have that now can we 😉

Tradition with a twist

When I woke up on that rain-soaked morning seven years ago, I didn’t know my life would forever be changed. All I knew was that it was super early, the rain was viciously pounding against my bedroom window pane, and that I was desperately praying for my phone to ring calling off the morning events to be. Thankfully, that call never came.

Big Ring’s nonchalant offer to climb the Grouse Grind that July 2005 morning was innocent enough; we were friendly coworkers who enjoyed talking movies, TV, celebrity gossip, and making jest of our fellow colleagues. What more could there be?

It’s not like we were going to get married or anything 😉

So, seven years ago I took my first trek up the Grouse Grind. It was not a pretty sight (despite me dolling myself up – shower, hair, makeup, the works… oh how times have changed). My breathing was so heavy, I thought I would hyperventilate; my legs ached by the second quarter, and by the third, I had clear visions of hurling myself over the side, figuring it would be easier to get picked up by air ambulance than to finish that damn climb.

Between my grunts and wheezes, we talked TomKat gossip, discussed the atrocity that was War of the Worlds, and negotiated plans for offing Dakota Fanning… I also managed to sneak a few peaks at Big Ring’s super sexy cycling calves which I had not previously been privy too.

Pretty sure it was those calves that first stole my heart 😀

At the top July 2, 2010.

Today is mine and Big Ring’s first non-date/date anniversary, and for the past seven years we’ve celebrated it with a traditional climb up the Grouse Grind. But this year, it wasn’t in the cards. While the Grind is just 2.9 km, 2,830 stairs (I’ve done longer climbs throughout this pregnancy) the terrain is rugged, the last two quarters are pretty much straight up, there’s no guarantee how slippery the rocks would be, and with my climbing style in the last half, bent over, using my hands to help propel me forward, I’m guessing that wouldn’t be the most comfortable for me or thumb-sucking alien baby. Plus, the fact that I’m still a heavy breather from the get-go, I just didn’t feel confident I’d be supplying TSAB with the necessary oxygen he or she requires. Nope, I was not willing to take that chance.

Instead, Big Ring had planned on going for a ride with his riding group this morning, but when the ride got cancelled because of the rain, and he started moping around the loft, wringing his hands as to what to do, I finally said to hell with it, it’s our non-date/date anniversary, by golly, we are going up the Grind one way or another.

He climbed:

I did not:

I took the gondola (which, my gawd, cost $44 – no wonder I like climbing more; just  $10 to get down!) and waited for him at the top. And sure, I would have loved to have been able to climb the Grouse Grind this morning, would have loved to have been able to compete against my best time, but even so, it was still a pretty awesome feeling to be the one at the top cheering Big Ring on … normally, he’s the one waiting for me.

It was tradition with a twist!

Eat dirt!

Maybe screwing up the dates last week, and maybe getting a head start, and maybe battling the Grouse Grind in monsoon-like weather were the reasons for me totally rocking the mountain yesterday in near perfect Grind-climbing weather. OR maybe I’m just that awesome 😉


  • 9:30 a.m. BG before: 14.5
  • Temp. basal: zero
  • Distance: 2.9 km, 2,830 stairs
  • Elevation gain: 853 metres
  • Time: 55:20!!! PERSONAL BEST BABY!!!
  • 10:50 a.m. BG after: 13.5
  • BG correction: 2.15 units

Did you see that finishing time? 55:20! One minute 18 seconds faster than my previous best three weeks ago, which was 37 seconds faster than my previous, previous best, and more than 20 minutes faster than when I first started climbing the Grind six years ago!. So what if I had feelings of upchucking, or had scratched the hell out of my hands, or looked as though I’d taken a nasty fall with all the mud caked on my thighs, or had been eating dirt for the better part of the climb, that time was worth every second of the pain. If I could have screamed through my heaving breaths, I would have. Flopping onto the nearest rock, however, was all I could manage the next best option.

I totally look like I’m about to jump for joy don’t I? Totally!

There were some challenges though. Blood sugar challenges. Normally before strenuous exercise, I cut my breakfast bolus insulin by 40 per cent, and for my runs, it usually works starting me out with a BG between 9.0-10.0. But yesterday, major breakfast bolus fail. When I sat down to the breakfast table at 7:30 a.m. my BG was 7.2. By the time I was ready to climb two hours later, they had surged up to 14.5. Yikes! And, as much as I hate to admit it, looking at previous Grouse Grind posts, it seems I have a history of climbing high 😦

It was probably a good day to have a high though, as I was meeting up with the peeps from I Challenge Diabetes, a non-profit organization founded by Olympic rower Chris Jarvis that brings Type 1s together for athletic endeavors. And while none of these people are medical professionals, they are all diabetics, they have all lived this disease, and the information they’ve gleaned through years of trial and error can oftentimes far exceed what a doctor on a tight schedule can give you.

Chris and I sharing our diabetes tales.

So I was talking to Chris about my BG issues, and he suggested maybe it was stress kicking my blood sugars up. I’m not sure why the Grind would cause me stress as I’ve done it tons of times before, but given the state of my belly every time before taking on the Grind, maybe he’s on to something. But then again, it could also have something to do with the fact that my breakfast was two hours prior and maybe the inactivity was just too long for such a reduced bolus. I’m thinking it might be time to enact a little of my own trial and error.

Getting a head start

The things I learned yesterday:

  • If it’s pouring bathtubs of rain outside, stay home.
  • If it’s pouring bathtubs of rain outside, and you do go out, pack a change of socks, shoes, and maybe even a towel or two.
  • If it’s pouring bathtubs of rain outside, and you have a scheduled date, never ever leave the house without first double checking that you got the right date.

When I woke up at 7 a.m. yesterday morning to get ready for the Grouse Grind, every bone in my body wanted to stay in bed, especially with the continuous rat-a-tat-tat of the rain I could hear outside. This was not optimum Grind-climbing weather. Sunny days, overcast days, a little sprinkle here and there, great. Monsoon, not so great. Had it been any other day, I would have bailed, said forget it, just wrapped my blanket around me and vegged on the couch for the remainder of the day. But alas I was meeting up with a group from I Challenge Diabetes, a non-profit organization that brings together Type 1s in athletic endeavours, and so, it was already determined I would hike, monsoon or not.

I got to the mountain about 25 minutes early, and found parking right away, which never happens (I suppose the rain does have some redeeming qualities). The Seek the Peak Relay for Breast Cancer – 16 km, 4,100 feet of vertical gain, starting at Ambelside Park in West Vancouver and ending at the top of the Grind – was in action when I got there and I thought it was kind of odd that ICD would schedule a hike on the same day as a race, but didn’t question it much. With about 15 minutes to go, I walked to the starting area, where there was no one, and huddled under a nook, and waited … and waited … and waited. With every minute that ticked by, an unnerving pit grew larger in my stomach. I finally pulled out the ticket I printed off from ICD anddddd I was a week early. Awesome.

I’d love to say this is the first time I’ve done this, but nope, it’s not.

I had two choices, I could bail and suffer the fallout of severely high blood sugars for the rest of the day given that I’d already had a -30 per cent temporary basal for over an hour and that I’d given myself 40 per cent less bolus for my breakfast, which would inevitably make me feel super ill and lethargic, or I could climb.

I chose the climb.

What was I thinking?


  • 9:45 a.m. BG before: 12.1
  • Temp. basal: -30 per cent (2.5 hours)
  • Distance: 2.9 km, 2,830 stairs
  • Elevation gain: 853 metres
  • Time: 57:24
  • 11 a.m. BG after: 13.2
  • Temp. basal: +50 per cent (1.5 hours)

Rain redeeming quality number 2: When it pours, the fair weather climbers, the tourists and the all-out annoying stay away. I pretty much had the mountain to myself aside from a few stragglers here and there. There were no flip flops, no one carrying their babies in packs, no tears, it was just me and the mountain, which was awesome. Although, I did get disoriented a few times without having people leading the way in front of me. If I had the mountain like that when it wasn’t pouring, and I didn’t have to pussyfoot up the rocks, which at some points were more like waterfalls than steps, I would have totally rocked my time. But no it was raining, pouring, all out storming, and come to think of it, rain sucks – bad.

The rocks were slippery as hell, I slipped several times, and once almost full on fell backwards. My shoes were sinking in the quicksand, my legs were splattered with mud, my clothes were so dripping wet, I had to keep hiking my shorts up, and my socks, oh my socks, soaked right through.

This reminds me of a questionable pair of ink-stained jeans I loved to wear in Grade 8.

When I reached the summit, and saw my time, 46 seconds slower than my PB, the first words out of my mouth: Dang it! But in my defense, I trudged up that sucker with 500 pounds of extra water weight on my back – how many others can say that? Yeah, that’s right, hardcore 😉

I did bring an extra pair of pants and a top and this here became my makeshift change room!

Making it count

Not all long weekends are perfect, in fact many don’t seem long enough, but this one was pretty darn near close to perfection. Sure I may have had a splitting head ache for a few hours of it and a couple of lows that tried to bring me down, but not even those could ruin it. In fact, they were just mere hiccups compared to everything else. Nothing spectacular happened, but a lot of good happened, and that combined surely adds up to spectacular.

On Canada Day, Mario and I had a spontaneous date night and went out for some traditional Canadian grub at Las Margaritas (seriously, how is Mexican not Canadian?) then we went and saw Beginners at the Fifth Avenue, which is one our favourite theatres. And the movie, oh my goodness, I was on the verge of tears through the entire thing, and even at one point squirted a few which rarely ever happens. Yes, it was a sad one, but such good one. The story, the acting, the characters were so compelling, so great. Heck, even the dog was. If you haven’t already seen this movie, you must seek it out. Perfect.

On the way out of the theatre, Mario’s eyes were drawn to the BMW dealership, but not for the cars – for the BMW bikes! Only Mario 😀

On Saturday, we watched an impressive first stage of the Tour de France, which was won by Filip Gilbert – BELGIUM REPRESENT!!! (My sleep for the next three weeks will be somewhat jarred with the alarm blaring for a half of a second at ungodly hours, because apparently watching the Tour live is better than watching it on PVR … I don’t get it either, it all looks the same to me.) And then we did our traditional anniversary climb up the Grouse Grind, and followed that up later in the afternoon with a local beer on the patio of a new restaurant at Granville Island – in the sun! Perfect.

How proactive … and funny!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon wandering around Steveston by myself. I was on a mission to find something I’d seen at the Steveston Farmers’ Market a few weeks back, but when I couldn’t find the seller person (and I was super persistent walking back and forth through the market like three times) I decided to just hang out, discover the boutiques, lazily stroll down the wharf, take in the smell of the salt and seafood, and the beauty of the day. Perfect.

How was your weekend?