Milestone #1 – Grouse Grind

Today was a big day for me and I am struggling to put it into words. It is the first time that I laid out a fitness goal and achieved it.

For those of you that don’t know this is the Grouse Grind (taken from the Grouse Grind Website): 

The Grouse Grind® is a 2.9-kilometre trail up the face of Grouse Mountain, commonly referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.”
This trail is very challenging. Keep in mind that there is a wide range of mountaintop trails that might better suit the average hiker.


Trail Facts
Length: 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles)
Elevation Gain: 853 metres (2,800 feet)
Base: 274 metres above sea level (900 feet)
Summit: 1,127 metres (3,700 feet)
Total Stairs: 2,830 
Statistics: Annually, over 100,000 people hike the trail.
Average Time: On average it takes up to an hour and a half to complete the hike. For novice hikers, two hours is recommended.
Participants: Hikers range in age from 7 to 90, with an equal male/female split.

This is what I chose to be my first fitness milestone when Emilia and I first began working together.

This morning as I was getting ready it was very apparent I was nervous, anxious, excited and 10 o’clock couldn’t come soon enough. I was nervous because I’ve heard everyone’s horror stories about the Grouse Grind. My second fitness goal is to run a 5K and several people, including Emilia, have told me that a 5K is easier than the Grouse Grind. I’m also going with Emilia, my personal trainer, and my dear friend Claire, avid hiker extraordinaire.  What if I’m too slow for them? What if they get bored or annoyed because I’m going to slow? Then I received this awesome text from my Mom and she said that this is my goal, no one else’s. Emilia and Claire are my cheerleaders and two of the last people in the world that would get annoyed or frustrated. Half the battle of preparing for this hike is telling myself that I can do that. I can climb those stairs, I can make that mountain my b*tch!

Nothing could have prepared me for what I met on that mountain face. It is a beautiful hike, ridiculously hard, but beautiful hike. This hike wasn’t physical for me, it was apparent that the training I had been doing with Emilia had paid off. It wasn’t until past the half-way marker that my body started to let me know it wasn’t stoked with my activity, but I knew it would be fine. What people failed to let me in on is that the further up the mountain you go the less oxygen there is, because you get further and further away from sea-level. I wasn’t prepared for the difficulty breathing part, but the biggest win for me today was the mental challenge.

It started at the ¼ marker, I started to get teary eyed. The stretch to the first ¼ marker is the longest and the thoughts that started to go through my head were both positive and negative. The further up the mountain we got the more tired I got and the negative thoughts started to creep in more and more, then add on the difficult breathing and the thoughts got louder and louder. Every time I would stop Emilia and Claire would chime in with positive reinforcement but it became clear that it was going to have to come from within to get my ass up that mountain. Emilia looked me in the eye and said “Nikki you are stronger than the thoughts in your head, let’s get to the next marker”. I knew she was right. Every time a negative thought would enter, I would simply say to myself “Balls out Nicole, let’s go” and I reached a point where it was sheer will and determination that was getting me up that mountain.

As soon as we reached the top Emilia and Claire started cheering and I started crying because I had done it! I had beaten my thoughts and kicked that mountains ass! I didn’t let my past history of “I can’t do it” or “I’m too fat to do it” win, I freakin’ did it! I was tired but by golly I did it! There were points on that mountain that I didn’t think I was going to make it, but when  I stop and look back there were people of all ages, all fitness levels getting their asses up that mountain. Some ran, some walked, some had no problems and some had the same problems I was having, but everyone’s goal is the same, get up that mountain. There are people going past you that hand out high fives or help you through the steep part with foot placement because they want to see you win. Today…I won! 
Next Goal: 5K Run on Sept 23rd. 
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