Two years ago I finished the Grouse Grind Mountain Race and the first words out of my mouth were, "I'm NEVER doing that again." (it's 2.9km up Grouse Mountain, climbing 2,800 ft, with an average grade of 30%). Of course once my heart rate dropped and I could breath properly, I began to quietly plot my return to the mountain. Unfortunately last year I couldn't make my comeback as my elbow was broken after Beijing (you need both arms for this race), but I did return in the off-season with my sister, Amanda and her husband, Rob for a family "fun" race (I think I documented this event in a previous blog). There was trash-talking and tactics, but in the end, it was just a fun, hard scramble up the mountain. I didn't run a stellar time that day, but I was already thinking ahead to the race the following year, hoping that our triathlon schedule would allow me to return to Grind Race. It actually couldn't have worked out better, with the last race of the season one week ago. The preparation wasn't ideal (I would have like to done some uphill training/stair climbing), but I was just as excited as I was for any other race (maybe even a little more so...).
Last night I was able to talk Amanda into doing the race. She is anything but competitive when it comes to sports but she is fit and loves to hike the Grind most weekends. She actually did the hike yesterday, setting a huge personal best of 38-minutes. So, of course she HAD to race in the elite wave, right?! I think she felt a little out of place at the starting gate and didn't find my only race tip overly reassuring: "run to the trailhead as FAST as you can!" She found some serious competitive fire though and crushed her previous time, running 37:37, finishing 8th. What's UP! I think this was her first experience visiting that "special place" in the world of hurt... I couldn't be more proud :)
I didn't achieve my dream goal for this race, but I ran a best time (32:56), finishing 3rd. It was a more positive experience than the first time and I actually enjoyed moments of it. The highlight was definitely my extreme lack of coordination in the final quarter. There were a couple sections near the top that are runable, but after leaning over, power-hiking for the previous 30 minutes, my quads were more tired than I had anticipated. I went to lift my leg over a tiny rock and clipped it, sending me face-first into the dirty muck. This happened twice in a row...(to the guy behind me, I apologize for blocking the entire path with my flailing body). I finished with more mud on my hands and knees than I would have liked, but this time I had a smile on my face and once again, began to look forward to next year's race!