This last weekend I had the opportunity of climbing The Grouse Grind in Vancouver, BC with some other business owners that I meet with monthly. This was our annual retreat. We were told one of the key elements to a successful retreat is doing something you’ve never done before. Something out of your comfort zone. For me, this checked both boxes.
Length: 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles)
853 metres (2,800 feet)
Base: 274 metres above sea level (900 feet)
Summit: 1,127 metres (3,700 feet)
Total Stairs: 2,830
Annually, over 150,000 people hike the trail.
On average it takes up to an hour and a half to complete the hike. For novice hikers, two hours is recommended.
Hikers range in age from 7 to 90, with an equal male/female split.
… I’m in pretty good shape, however, there are some basic truths and laws I have no choice but to adhere to! First of all, I’m huge!! … 305 lbs and 6 ft 5 inches. It’s not that I won’t ride in planes without sitting in the exit row, it’s that, physically, I won’t fit!
I’ve definitely played to my body type when it comes to physical activity.
So when the guys said, “Hey! Let’s do the Grouse Grind!” what do I say…..? “Well, yes!” I say, “Yes of course!”
In a situation like this, everyone says the classic statement: “It’s not a race.” We all smile and agree, but in our heads, we know this is a race and are all plotting to destroy each other the second it starts.
There are a few guys that run
on their way to Tim Hortons, and others that are so young and athletic, they were still going to crush the mountain even after being crushed by the hangover they got from crushing the party they attended the night before… I have enough self-awareness to know, I’m not going to win. But, with an encouraging smile on my face and a “great job!” when they get to the top, there are a few team members I can obliterate.
On the big day, after an 8am flight from Edmonton, we hop in our minivan rental and shoot across Vancouver. “Shoot” meaning we sit in traffic for a while.
Finally, we arrive at the mountain, grab our gear and start the grind! After all the polite trash talk, when you start to climb, the reality is it’s just you and the mountain. As I get passed by small children and senior citizens, my head shifts to ‘well if they can do it, I sure as heck can.’
In the weeks leading up to the race, I trained hills and stairs to get my legs prepared for battle. But when climbing something you’ve never climbed before, it’s tough to know when to push and when to rest. It’s amazing the advantage we have when we climb a mountain we’ve conquered before!
1 hour and 19 minutes later, after putting one foot in front of the other, I prevailed! Some of my teammates beat me, and others, I respectfully crushed, but at the end of the Grind, we all had a fantastic time and took on a challenge that made us better and stronger!
What grind are you training for?
What discomfort lies ahead?
What mountain are you going to conquer next…?