Grinding Out Climb Number 50 in the Snow

Friday was the end of the Grouse Grind season for 2011. The reason isn’t because the trail is closed, though with the snow starting to stick at the ¾ marker I am sure it won’t be too long until it is.. My second climb today was the last one because I am at ease that all my season goals have been accomplished.

That morning I woke up knowing it would probably be cold, wet and snowing up on the mountain, but with the drive to complete two more goals: 10 sub 40 min and 50 Grinds for the season; this meant at least two more ascents. Staying active outdoors in the late fall and winter requires wearing the appropriate layers and planning to have dry clothes close by for when you finish. I decided it was time to pull out the long-underwear for the slightly cool damp weather to avoid hyperthermia and keep my torso warm. When we are cold our blood goes to our vital organs to keep them warm, so by keeping my torso means that some of this blood could go to my arms and legs.

Number 49

It was very close to toque weather, but now quite. Instead what it is raining I need a peaked hat to stay prevent heat from escaping and water from dripping in my eyes. The magic gloves are great during this time of year, so with ball cap, gloves, long underwear, shorts and double knotted shoes it was time get my 49th Grind underway.

The canopy provides some shelter so the trail wasn’t too slippery at the start. Since, I had heard that there was black ice near the top on Thursday I knew that I had to drive my legs a little faster for the first three quarters to reach the top in less than 40 minutes. The first quarter was a little slow, 8:40 min, probably due to my body’s requirement for a longer warm-up. My next pace evaluation point was the old blue quarter sign – 11:56 min, just under my goal of twelve minutes. So, far I was definitely on pace. Finishing the second quarter in 9:18, just over my personal best gave me even more encouragement. I passed a couple of multi-grinders who mentioned that I was on target for sub 40 min. Little did they I know I might finish in 38 minutes.

As I climbed the rain started to fall a little harder through the trees. At the third quarter red sign, I might be on pace for a new personal best. There was more foot traffic after this point which made it difficult to navigate at a fast tempo. There was also some snow on the ground making each footstep a little more tenuous. When I started I set my timer to beep every 9:45 minutes, as I reached the last rocky section it had not chimed yet so I knew that 39 minutes was possible. Scrabbling over the top, I hit my watch lap button, 38:35 min! A great time, but not quite what I had hoped for. Still this was one more goal reached: 10 under 40 minutes!

Number 50

Do I go home and come back on Saturday? Or head-back out for a second time? I did bring extra clothes and an additional hat. My shirt wasn’t too wet, so all I changed was my hat. It was raining harder at the beginning this time. Overcoming the cold rain in Vancouver is a matter of mental attitude. I told myself it was sunny and 30c outside. Two objectives were set for this climb. Goals for this last ascent were first to finish and secondly to finish in less than 42:30 min which was my season average. Somewhere along the trail it started to hail. It isn’t very often that people pass me, however I could start to hear foot steps behind me after the second quarter started. Knowing that at some point he would pass me I kept to the right as best I could, but I wasn’t about to slow down at all.

He kept pace with me for quite awhile, but never passed me; there were plenty of opportunities. It almost started to get annoying, but it was admirable that he was trying to keep pace. I have always said, “run your own race and the rest will follow.” Steve Jobs was right to be a leader and innovator in business you will always need to think ahead of what is next and there will always be followers and imitators. As the fourth quarter started more space started to open up between us; it was then that I took charge and sped up.

One of my favourite parts is the last set of stairs where you can more gradually by steering left or steeper by heading right to get to the rocks. The rocky area is my favourite because represents the final push of the Grind before the trees line clears. Looking up I saw the familiar gait and umbrella of Terry, a Grind legend. The snow started to fall heavily, coating the ground with the first white blanket of the winter season. The trail was slippery, so each step had to be taken more carefully. A wonderful white world revealed itself as the trees line cleared. This climbs time was 42:07 making this season’s average 42:24; it felt like a comfortable and rewarding end to a season full of accomplishments.

I had the pleasure of coming down on the tram with Frédérique and Jim who were just one climb away from finishing 150 and 300 ascents for the season respectively (they finished their 5th Grind of the day and reached their goals later that day). Congratulations to everyone who at least completed the Grind even once.

As an entrepreneur being physically active outdoors is important to me because I am able to reconnect with the earth, be within my own thoughts and release most of the negative stress that accumulates during the week. Accomplishing each Grind goal this season builds confidence within me that I am able to transfer into my business.

Another aspect of the Grind that are powerful to me the bonds that are formed between those of us who are part of the Multi-Grind Club. There are people who have done some amazing things who continue to inspire me to challenge myself further. If you are ever to improve in business surround yourself with those who are successful and who push you to new heights.

With the snow falling I am looking forward to snowshoeing and trying the Snowshoe Grind at Grouse.

A Breakthrough Grouse Grind: 90th Climb

Today my motivation was waning and I didn’t feel like going to Grouse Mountain, but I did. I ascended the Grouse Grind for the 90th time in my life (that is with the Grind Timer, which makes it more official). Now, the official count down from 10 begins on my quest to reach 100 by the end of the season to honour a client who passed away this year. This is a big audacious goal because the most I completed in one season was 35 (last year) and when I reach 100 it will be 49 climbs for the 2011 season.

The weather forecast for today was 90% chance of rain and sure enough, someone had posted on Facebook that it was like a monsoon in North Vancouver. I decided to get going anyways, because that is what Barb would do and because I always know that I enjoy myself once I am moving along the trail. Finishing one climb today is alson what was needed to stay on track.

My routine is to first release my hip and lower-back muscles, especially around the pelvis with a little trigger point therapy then had some myofascial release with a foam roller called the Grid, next are few upper and lower body fascial stretches to make sure that my body feels loose and ready to roll. If I don’t do this I will inevitably find that my lower-back fatigues around the 3/4 mark.

Missing the Seabus on a holiday is always annoying, because you have to wait for another thirty minutes. Finally arriving at the mountain around 10:00 AM, I noticed that I left my timer and pass at home – was today meant to be? Part of being an entrepreneur is being able to problem solve on the fly and sometimes make quick decisions. Guest services are great, they have all my information and they are able print a downloading ticket and manual input our Grind times. People forget to bring their gym pass every day at Steve Nash Fitness World.

After setting my watch for 10:30 intervals, a 42 min finish time I pressed the start button to begin my ascent. The time it takes to get from the start to the big warning is usually where I assess how my body is going to perform on that day – 3:00 minutes. Not to slow, but not super-fast. During the first quarter I felt like my legs were feeling loose and turning over quite well. That quarter flew by in 9:20 minutes, my quickest is 8:16 – today wasn’t fast, but it was still well under my daily goal.

My mind started to figure out how much extra time I had due to the first quarter cushion so, I begun to speed-up. The second quarter mark approached in a blistering time of 9:37 (best of 9:36). Alright, “Could I finish in less than 40 min today?” Pacing on this gruelling climb is very important. My hips, legs and lower-back were feeling great, I knew I could go a little faster. I learned the lesson of going off pace during Seak the Peak Relay ’11 in July when I had to slow down because of calf-cramping, which meant I nearly missed my sub 2 hour finish time.

“Keep a steady pace,” I repeated to myself.

To go faster the trick is to turn-over the legs more quickly, by taking advantage of the terrain by changing your tactics. One example is to sprint wider flatter sections. I knew I was on track for a faster time when finished by the 3/4 in 9:38. Now could I push even more get another season’s best on the last quarter? Only time would tell. Feeling charged-up I knew I had a little bit of extra energy, the faster I went the less time there was left to the finish line.

It took a lot of will power not too look at my watch. Technology is great, however there is tremendous power in also learning to run by feel. There is last set of stairs, where you either go left and it is longer and not as steep or you go steep and more intensely up. I chose right. The rest of the climb is scrambling over rocks – which is the most fun part of the Grind for me because I know I am almost finished and I can leap from rock to rock, even using my hands sometimes.

Since the last interval of 10:30 min had not gone off, I knew I was really close to finishing in less than 40 minutes. Sprinting up the last part of the gravel to the timer, I tapped the timer and pressed the lap button. The last lap is a cool-down; it is a measure of my recovery which can be 1-2 minutes. The point is to see how long it takes my heart rate to drop below 120 bpm.

Q1 9:20
Q2 9:37
Q3 9:38
Q4 10:32

Stunned I read my elapsed time of 39:07!

Follow heart beat by heart beat at click here or my 2010 Personal Best

The last quarter was nearly 30s faster than my previous time. My official published time starts at 12 am because it was manually entered and is just shy of my season’s best.

This was an outstanding time for my 90th climb. Keeping reading as I go for 100 by the end of October. The Grind closes when the snow hits the ground and it becomes unsafe.

The lesson today is that you can gather all the data you want, but the decision is really completed with instinct and feeling. Some days are break through days while other are steady as you go. Either way keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep climbing.

Related Posts

  1. 2011 BMO Grouse Mountain Run
  2. Paying Tribute to a Client Who Loved the Grind

BMO Grouse Grind Mountain Run Experience

October 1st – North Vancouver Saturday was the 21st BMO Grouse Grind Mountain Run. Again it was overcast, a little foggy and looked like it was going to rain. Yes, this is an organized timed run up the Grouse Grind (some would think this is crazy).

Racing this trail is very different than using the timer card because you are running with a larger group which is about your own pace rather than when you are on your own, setting your pace and passing whomever is on the trail. I was in Wave 3, just behind the Elite Men and Women.

This was my third year, but first season that I have really connected with a group of fanatical multi-grinders. Our group regularly completes more than one climb per day; some have even done more than five and few more than 10. We are supportive fans who celebrate each other’s accomplishments while motivating each other to challenges ourselves even more.

Several of us competed in this year’s event. We all gathered before the race to encourage and cheer each other on. This year was extra special because I was paying tribute to a client who usually participated, but had passed away. Her mother Mavis, called me a couple of days earlier just to see if I would be there.

Since I wasn’t able to go up the day before I had to line up at pre-registration to get my race package, including my bib and chip timer. After all the years of competing, I am not shy about taking my warm-ups off in public. There were a few concerned looks as I sat outside of Starbucks with my track pants around my knees while pinning bib 3-131 to my shorts. My next step was to down a couple of gels and finish my water before placing my bag in the bag-check before 9:30 AM.

I found Mavis standing outside of the warm-up area. Giving her a big hug I asked her asked how she was doing. We reminisced while she showed me photos of her daughter. She wished me luck and said that she would be on at the top. To space runners out there are several waves which go off in 1 minute intervals.

There is a lot more strategy in this event than doing it on your own. Scurrying my way around the crowd gathered behind the starting shoot I found my way near the left-hand front edge of my group. With new wider start of Grind there isn’t as much of a slow down or jostling to get through the gate. It is really up to you to find your own path around people while staying on the trail. There are also new red painted ¼ markers along the way which I use as my pace markers.

Everyone is in a fairly tight group for most of the first quarter, so you expend a fair amount of energy trying figure out when is the right opportunity to pass someone or instead hang back. I really don’t like cutting people off, but with racers literally breathing down your neck there is a certain amount stress that goes with this event. At the first quarter I was slower than my season’s best for that piece of trail, probably due to the traffic and my decision to hold-back a little.

During the second quarter there was plenty of back and forth going, but also at one point someone asked me to “hold my line,” so I did expecting them to pass. I think I even slowed down, but they didn’t pass me. If your intent is to pass, then go by quickly and strongly otherwise I will find any means I need to get up the mountain and run my own race.

My next pacing mark is stony corner that has a waterfall by it. Looking my heart rate which was 181 bpm my time at this spot wasn’t where it should be if I was going to finish in less than 40 minutes. Somewhere during the third quarter I felt my right buttocks and hamstrings pull a little, not good. Survival at this point was most important so was keeping a steady pace. It seems as though when I am pushing past my lactate threshold I end up with a bit of gas in my stomach which prevents from going faster.

By the third quarter everyone is spaced out a little more and your are more or less on your own. Rounding a corner you can see that I like to bound up the stairs two at a time if I can because there is so much joy in moving freely.The intensity seems to bring on a bit of stomach gas, which makes it difficult to pursue a faster pace.

The timer on my watch was set at to go off every 9:35 minutes; it beeped as I found myself on the rocks, the last part of the climb.

Now the end is not just over the rocks, but instead the rest of the race loops around to the right, then left to finish near the chalet. The transition from steep climbs to fairly flat ground is similar to that of cycling to running in a triathlon. Your legs feel like jelly as you try to figure out a new cadence and speed.

Just before the finish is a timer pad so that the announcer knows who is about to finish. It is very nice to hear my name while crossing the finish line. The timer pad beeped as my foot struck the line. Looking at the clock at my own Garmin timer – the final time was 40:49, official time was 40:45, 11th in my age group and 77th overall.

My time this year was consistent with the average of the other the years (40:40 and 40:50). The 14 of Multi-Grinders placed in the top 5 of their age group, 9 were on the podium and 5 actually won their category. We celebrated these accomplishments and those of the season with lunch at afterwards.

Experience the race first hand with this video account (not mine)