It was nearly 20 years ago when I first completed the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver while training for cross country skiing. I remember being in awe of how steep and how challenging it was. It took me until three years ago to get back on the mountain.
A client asked me the other week “What brings you joy?” At the time I had difficulty answering, perhaps it was because it was the end of the day and week and I was a little tired. There are many things that bring me joy including the Grouse Grind® which provides a close by escape from the city.
Since picking up the timer card in 2009, I have climbed the Grouse Grind® over 125 times. Last night the trail was quieter and more relaxed with several sections where I was alone. On rainy days it is mostly those who are dedicated Grinders who visit the mountain.
There are several reasons that I come to Grouse every week during the summer and crave it during the winter when it is closed.
We get so busy during the day that we can lose contact with the beauty that surrounds us in Vancouver. Yesterday, was no exception. The rainforest canopy last night was absolutely gorgeous after the rain stopped. My family travelled from Saskatchewan to Alberta during the summers for overnight week long hikes in the Rocky Mountains. Now living in Vancouver I appreciate the landscape this city has. It would be a shame to neglect the beauty that is in my backyard. Each climb provides time and space to be my introvert self, reflect, and calm my nerves from running a business while reconnecting with the earth.
The 2,800 steps offer an unparalleled opportunity to challenge my physical capacities. I grew up competing in cross-country skiing and biathlon; it was the hills that I was able to catch people on. Each season I continue to push myself to see how fast I can get on the Grind®, with the aim of being the fastest in my age group.
It is a set course that is measurable. The timer card combined with a heart rate monitor makes it very easy to see changes in fitness as well as chart age group progress.
Being among the fittest in my age group will keep me physically younger, prevent injuries and chronic medical conditions while continuing to inspire others to challenge their own physical limitations. Increasing my stamina leaves with me more energy at the end of some of my long work days which are often both mentally and physically taxing.
For years I struggled with depression due to school bullies. They thought that biathlon was a sissy sport – though we were skiing 10-20km per race, with a rifle on our backs and competed in two races per weekend; this was until I skied circles around my classmates during a PE outing to Cypress. I strongly believe that this lack of self-confidence prevented me from reaching my potential in the sport.
Just cresting the top always makes me feel great and like I have really accomplished something. This endorphine kick lasts most of the day and spills over to other activities. Setting new Personal Bests, doesn’t happen every climb, but when it does I feel fabulous for several days. It provides something to celebrate; it gives me more confidence and belief in myself. This renewed confidence assists me with feeling like I can do what is necessary to grow my business.
I climb to show those who thought that I wouldn’t accomplish much that I am physically capable of great things. I might not be able to win a marathon, but I believe I can be among the fastest on the mountain.
Although I am in introvert and I like to climb alone part of the reasons I come to the mountain is to see friends who share a common interest. There is a group of us who go up multiple times per day (something I once thought was CRAZY). We all encourage each other to push our limits, support each others’ goals and celebrate our accomplishments. We catch up between Grinds at Startbucks or on the Gondola.
When you ascend the Grind® as often as we do – you get to know the wonderful Grouse Mountain staff. Also, it is always nice to say hello and encourage people on the trail who are sharing a similar experiences, but might be climbing for their first time.
This year I am participating in the Grind for Kids fundraiser because the Children’s Hospital was a big part of my personal well-being and I want the kids today to able to experience the same joy I do when I am moving outdoors. My goal is to raise $1000 in 50 Grinds with 25 of those under 40 minutes. I am half way to my Grind goals, but need a little help with the fundraising.
If you enjoyed reading these blog posts please consider making earthier a pledge per Grind or a direct donation on my behalf – click here to donate.
Why do you climb the Grouse Grind®?
Participating in Grind for Kids motivates me because I know that I am participating in something that gives back twice: it increases my own fitness while raising money for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
This type of fundraiser reminds of Jump for Heart – a jump rope event back in elementary school aimed at raising money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Unlike a singular event where you gather pledges to participate on one day, Grind for Kids offers nearly four months of opportunity.
Meeting Jason Chong who completed over 400 Grinds this season and 1,000 in his lifetime, inspired me to finally get on board with Grind for Kids. Thankfully my previous 20 climbs count towards my total goal of a minimum 35.
I founded Lifemoves because I believe that movement is an integral part of life, no matter what your current physical abilities are or what your fitness level is. Giving back to BC’s children is important because it will enable them to enjoy more of life’s movement such as running around in the park, riding a bike or swimming in the ocean.
Supporting this foundation is important to me because it is one way I can thank everyone at children’s hospitals in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
6 months and 4 years old
I was born with a medical condition that made my life very tenuous and my parents were quite concerned about my survival. I had surgery twice as a child, once in Ontario when I was 6 months old and another one in Saskatchewan when I was about 4 years old. All I remember of the second in surgery is the ticklish sensation of having the stitches removed. I also have several good scars to tell the stories with.
As a stubborn 4 year old, I placed my hands in my pockets while going down some icy steps, even though my mother told me not to. There are consequences for such actions, and I hit my head on the stairs. Thankfully the hospital as only a few blocks away.
There were two major times I was in BC Children’s Hospital while in high school. The first was when I ended up on my back, twisted in a snow fence after falling during a cross country ski race in 99 Mile House. After being carted out by snowmobile and ending up on the front page of the local paper, my Dad drove me, sedated and braced in his car, back to Vancouver. I was kept on a minimal diet for three days in case I needed surgery. Thankfully, I didn’t.
This crash happened just before the BC Winter Games in Vernon, which I had qualified for by being first in my zone. I watched the games on TV as all my friends raced on the trails of one of my favourite places to ski. Determined to get back to skiing, I even went up to Hollyburn Lodge on Cypress Mountain by snowmobile while still in a cast.
The second time was when I needed corrective surgery for a deviated septum which was making breathing difficult (it didn’t fully correct). I am not sure how my nosed ended up sideways because I don’t remember breaking it. I woke up to a orange popsicle being handed to me by a nurse, who was also my friend’s mother. Getting the stuffing taken out of my nose was one of the most painful experiences in my life. Thanks Mom for letting me squeeze your hand!
As you see, there are many reasons for me to give back to all those who made a big difference in my life, most likely making it possible for me to continue. My wish is for the kids to have the best care possible and their parents to have outstanding support during their child’s illness.
Please help make a difference on my behalf by donating or pledging for for each climb: