Do the Impossible

Passionate, eloquent, heart-filled and on a mission to help the world.

If you haven’t watched Michelle Obama’s speech from the 2012 Democractic National Convention, you absolutely must:

“We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.

We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.

We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.”

People like Michelle give me hope for the world.

Dear World…

What would you say to a million people?

Everyday I receive an email from a random person in the world. How? A little idea called Listserve {my friend Derek had tweeted it out ages ago and I signed up!}. Now over 17,000 people have signed up and once a day someone is chosen to email the very global distribution list.

There are no rules. You can write about anything you want. Some are sad, others are happy, most are hopeful.

If your email address is selected, you have 48 hours to come up with what you want to say to the world. Use it as therapy — or an opportunity, it doesn’t matter.

Today I received this from Alex:

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Don’t expect anybody to fix the things that are in need to be fixed.
Look for people that shares your passion and get to work together.
You can change the world.

It brought a smile to my morning. The majority of emails I get through Listserve brighten my day. They are diverse, challenge me and often confirm the fact that we’re not alone in this big bad world.

There are a whole pile of people in exactly the same place as you. Truth.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. 

Spend time doing what you love. Surround yourself with people you care out. Always be thankful. Live in the moment.

To learn more, visit

One Step at a Time

It’s been a tough few days. Actually let’s exchange tough for terrible — and ‘It’s been a terrible few days’ with ‘I’ve been an emotional basketcase since Tuesday.’

Last Friday I had my final race prior to my 1st Half-Marathon. The plan was that I’d do the North Shore Longest Day Race at UBC — and I had two new race friends to do it with, Shea and Melissa! My last long run was last Wednesday. A morning run in Stanley Park, it was slow and steady, somewhat meh. I was registered for the 10K race on Friday, but for whatever reason on Wednesday I downgraded to the 5K. Something in my gut told me I should.

We arrived at the race disorganized {gah, traffic} and pretty much ran to the finish line as the gun went off. I started off the race with a 4:30/km pace {I really really really had to pee} and slowed down to about a 6:30 pace at the 2km mark. The whole race my body wasn’t moving the way it should have been. It was my most difficult 5K to date and I knew that something was wrong.

As I crossed the finish line, I felt my whole body shut down. I was limping and ridiculously stiff. I thought to myself… you’ve been tired and stressed out lately. It’s ok to have a bad race.

The next day I toppled over as I got out of bed in the morning. My left leg filled with pain and I thought — oh no you didn’t. Swore up and down, thinking how on earth will I be able to complete Seek the Peak! Yes I was planning to race the 16km beastly hill hike from Ambleside up Grouse Mountain — don’t ask me what I was thinking when I registered for it… Runners high? Likely because Rethink Breast Cancer is close to my freakin’ heart.

I reluctantly skipped the race and had a low key weekend — generally those words don’t enter my vocabulary. I RICE’d it up. Oh yeah baby, I’ve learned all about the RICE method since I’ve taken up this sport. I took back-to-back anti-inflammatories and stretched out these pretty bones all weekend {which totally reminded me  — and not in a good way — of back in the day Scoliosis issues} seeing absolutely zero improvement.

On Tuesday morning, I limped my way into my physio’s office, Dave at Restore Physiotherapy by the way. He was expecting a super-amped-for-the-Half-Marathon young lady and instead he found a worn down, stressed out, anxious…{and I’ll hesitantly say} runner. We reviewed the past week, he checked me out and continually looked at me with a bleak look. My left adductor longus was VERY unhappy. I had my most painful IMS treatment to date, the tight monster had taken over. My left leg failed all the tests he usually puts me through. Pathetic squat. Pathetic. We talked through the options for the Half-Marathon… run the 21.1k, run/walk, walk, skip out, etc. He gave recommendations and told me that I needed to make the final decision. At lunch, I limped my way to Performance Health Group with my massage therapist, Cynthia {who is absolutely divine and one of the best therapists I have ever been to}. Again, the bleak look. 90 mins of heaven — and hell later, we had talked through every option for the Half-Marathon, the good and bad with my body, electrolyte replacements, support systems and more.

First 5K. First Race. First Medal.

The consensus was that I shouldn’t run the Half-Marathon.

I spent the day onsite with a client, doing everything possible to stay distracted and the moment I walked in the door after work, I burst into tears. Like crazy levels of tears, not like a pansy little girl cry. Melted into a puddle.

So what’s the big deal?

Last December I decided that I would take up running. Not for any particular reason other than I knew it would be good for my head. I set a goal of a Half-Marathon in June. Why? Because I didn’t know that 10K’s existed… for real. :| I registered for some races to keep me on track with my goal and to ensure I wouldn’t fall behind on my distance.

January 17, 2012 was my first run EVER — and on a treadmill, what on earth was I thinking?! Oh and by the way, it was terrible. On January 22, I completed my first race, the Chilly Chase 5K in Vancouver. It POURED with rain — crazy sideways terrible rain. I finished 23/39 with a time of 32:54. I had been reading John Stanton’s book and it reinforced, focus on finishing, don’t focus on time. So I finished! I was passed by what looked like an 8 year old, really wasn’t ok with that. Over the next month, I ran pavement in Vancouver, trails on Salt Spring Island and the beach in Costa Rica. I learned that hill training helps you become a better runner and that beach running is beautiful and terrible all at the same time.

Harry’s Spring Run Off

March 25 was my 2nd race: Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K, a charity run for prostate cancer. Haley joined the Half-Marathon training bandwagon and it was our first run in Stanley Park. Beyond terrified. I never thought I was going to make it past 6k; thankfully I randomly ran into Tory and she coached me to the finish.  8km, 54:06, 329/428 gender, 70/87 age. I also felt TERRIBLE and thought I was going to vomit as I passed the finish line. This was an important race because I learned that I can’t stomach gatorade. Also learned that I love Blue Monkey Coconut Water.

April 3rd marked the FIRST DAY of my life that I’ve EVER seen some sort of muscle definition. Big day. On April 11th I ran my longest distance {in the rain to boot}; 10.66 km, 1:12:07. April 15th was my 3rd race, the Vancouver Sun Run 10K {with 50,000ish other people!}. Finished in #15,732rd place at 1:04:32, 6138/21497 gender, 1447/3594 age. PB!! Learned a lot about crowds that day. On April 23rd, I hit PB 8K, 50 mins and PB 10K, 1:02. On April 24th, I experienced the most stunning sunset run — a red sky that blew my mind.  April 29th marked the Times Colonist 10K in Victoria. On this run I learned the importance of peeing pre-race, dealt with a 4 min potty line up at the 4k mark. Unofficial results {took off the potty line up}, first SUB-60 10K, 59:57. 2706/5924 gender, 378/834 age. Hurrah!

Strong is the new skinny. :)

On May 6th, I volunteered at the BMO Vancouver Marathon. My job was to cheer on the participants in their final 200m towards the finish line. It was AMAZING to watch so many different types of people cross the finish line — there was no consistent… EVERYBODY RUNS. On May 7th, I registered for the Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon in Seattle and the Lululemon Seawheeze Half-Marathon in Vancouver. If thousands of people can do this, I can do this. May 21st I achieved my longest distance to date, 15K, 1:35:10. It was my first “I’m a machine” type of run. I also learned that you shouldn’t run in Stanley Park at night {the only time that Richard has ever given me bad advice}. My 5th race was the Run for Water 10K on May 27th in Abbotsford. We had no idea where Abbotsford was when we registered, FYI. Took gatorade {by accident} instead of water from a volunteer — all shades of grey at the finish line. Ended up with 10k, 58:41! PB! 200/567 gender, 65/151 age.

Soaked to the bone, but stoked I hit my first 10K.

June 5th I hit a total distance of 200km and PB 5K 27:27. Holy freaking cow. 200 kilometres. June 9th was the Starbucks Run for Women 10K and my worst race to date. Disorganized, late and started the race 12 mins after the gun went off. Uh huh… 12 mins. Played catch up which stressed/psyched me out. Trail race which I’d never done. Finish line time was 1:06:25 at 10.8km distance. Passed 339 women to make it to 128th place. As I started late, unofficial results came back at 54ish minutes and FOURTH PLACE in my age group. Eeeep. And that brings us to last week… June 16th, my 7th race, the North Shore Longest Day Race 5K.

No Half-Marathon?

Before last Friday, I felt ready for the Half-Marathon. My distance was close enough to where it should be. I had been killing my races and I knew that the only thing I needed to ensure was that I wasn’t quick out of the gate. I learned the factors that contribute to a good race vs. a bad race. I learned how a negative split can help me. I learned when I run best — in the evening, in the rain. I learned that a 5K is just as important as a 15k. I learned the importance of stretching, strength training and conditioning. I memorized the elevation map, learned about pace bunnies and found an electrolyte replacement that didn’t stir the tummy {Grape Ultima FTW}.

I was nervous — but ready.

On Tuesday, I felt like my world fell apart. Dramatic I know.

I never expected much from running. I hated it for the first 2.5 months. Hated it. Since starting this journey, I have learned so much about myself and my body. Running has been my Eat. Pray. Love. Running is my outlet, a place to escape from the world and have time to myself. Running {and training probably} has made me very aware of what I put in my body. I’ve always been vegetarian-ish, but since starting running I’ve stumbled into the world of vegan, raw food and green smoothies. I sleep better. I feel better.

In 1997, I was diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. Two years of bracing and an out of control spine later… I had a Spinal Fusion with Instrumentation at the BC Children’s Hospital. In my university years, I broke the bottom of my rods tobogganing. Up until January 2012, I felt weak. For my entire life, I have felt weak. Growing up, I was the definition of “skinny {ph}at.” I can eat whatever I want and maintain the same weight. I have a slim frame, which people default to strong — so far from true. I regularly wear a pair of pants from Grade 10.

For the first time in my life, I feel strong.

My Spine. Photo Credit: OfStorms Photography

I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason. For whatever reason, I stumbled down the path of running. For whatever reason, I actually stuck with it. When I reflect back on the last few months, I shake my head at what I have achieved. Not in a million years did I think I was capable of running 1km, let alone more than that. Since the beginning I’ve always had it in my head that the Half-Marathon is the end date. On June 23, 2012, I would move onto the next goal.

After a super reflective week and a hell of a lot of support, I now know that I am not done.

This is just the beginning.

My body has decided that it’s not ready for this week’s Half-Marathon and I have accepted that. {Just don’t mention the words race, half, marathon, run, running, lululemon or gatorade for the next 3 days or you may need to give me a hug.} I’m not prepared to be further injured, or god forbid, be out of commission for months on end. I haven’t run in one week and I feel terrible. Sore, stiff, exhausted, anxious and impatient. I can’t wait for my feet to be back on the pavement. I can’t wait till I heal up. I can’t wait to get back out there.

But I will wait till my body tells me it’s ready.

I no longer have to run. I truly want to run.

Surround yourself with who you want to become.

This week I was 100% an emotional disaster. I cried at the mention of the Half-Marathon {many of you likely regret wishing me good luck on the upcoming race ha ha}. I had 3 amazing men reach out to this week and I’m beyond grateful for the advice.

  • Derek – Thank you for talking me off my crazy girl ledge. Thank you for rampaging on me over text, making every attempt to make me realize that I need to be proud of what I have achieved. Thank you for using so many f-bombs, telling me it’s ok to be an emotional psycho case, explaining how running/training/athletics is very much an internal sport — and telling me that I can’t stop running.
  • Jeff – Thank you for being the first person to reach out and ask what was wrong. Thank you for explaining your past injuries to assist me in further understanding training and injury management. Thank you for the positivity, support and for making me realize that running will be a career.  Thank you for teaching me that running is more than a race {music to my ears} and introducing me to the running community.
  • Richard – Thank you for picking up the phone when I pleaded for a friend. Thank you for understanding how Scoliosis fits into my world and for reinforcing that I need to take care of me. Thank you for talking me through every option and hearing me out. Thank you for listening — you were patient, sincere and I feel so lucky to call you my friend.

Big love to Dave at Restore Physiotherapy and Dr. Nielsen & Cynthia at Performance Health Group.

Thank you to the girls {Jen, Reagan, Monique, Katie and Michelle} for your support this week — and always. Thank you to my running cheerleaders: Dawn, Cecilia, Miranda, Mike, Shannon and Jeremy. Thank you to my team at UrtheCast for being understanding and supportive.

And lastly thank you to my running partner in crime, Haley. Proud of you darling and I know that you’re going to kill it at the Half-Marathon this weekend — finish baby finish.

In 5 months I have:

  • Ran: 240km
  • Completed: 37 runs
  • Raced: 7 times
  • Burned: 12,347 calories
Achieved personal bests:
  • 1K: 4:34
  • 1 mile: 8:04
  • 5K: 27:27
  • 8K: 47:49
  • 10K: 58:41
  • 15K: 1:35:10

Kinda crazy.

My name is Jillian Walker and {for the first time ever} I am a runner.

PS – Sometimes you have to move backward, to move forward. Physio rehabilitation begins next week. The hope is that my 1st Half-Marathon will be the Lululemon Seawheeze in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. T-50 days.

Run Away and Hide

When I’m overwhelmed, the #1 thing I always want to do is run away and hide. I want to curl up in a ball, with my head under the covers and wait for the overwhelm to pass.

Last week was a bad week. My 27 years on this planet have taught me that — bad happens. Every week can’t be perfect. With bad and good — comes learning. And learning is the goal right?

Regardless I defaulted to my comfort zone — the little girl that gets overwhelmed by bad — she runs away and hides.

On Thursday I walked away from social media. Yep, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. On Sunday I flew to Palm Springs. I put my iPhone on airplane mode and off I went to the land of hot.

I left the world behind me with hopes of figuring life out.  I wanted to gain clarity on what was important, who was important and most important of all — why.

I learned a few things:

  • You can’t figure out life in 4 days
  • You can’t figure much out running away from your problems

When you head to the land of hot, you generally — sun, sleep, read, eat, drink and do nothing. Well that’s exactly what I did. The 40 degree heat filled my lungs and brought me peace. I spent my days in Palm Springs calming the hell down and taking a moment to myself. One might call it a — ME-cation.

Surprise surprise I returned home just as lost as when I left…! There’s gotta be some good tho — Right? Right? Yep, I was rested, brown, tackled 3 books {Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk, Linchpin – Seth Godin, Fire Starter Sessions – Danielle La Porte} — and no more damn tears.

It’s been 11 days… I thought I would be ready to be back. But I’m not.

Running in the Rain


For the first time….


I enjoyed running.


Holy cow.

10.66 km; 1 hr 12 mins.

No stopping.

{Well except for when I was running on the spot at traffic lights :)}

Poured with rain.

Soaked to the bone — but SMILING.

4 days till the 10K Vancouver Sun Run!

PS – A running inspiration, @nicoleisbetter, has just started a premium “behind-the-scenes, this-is-what-I’m-doing-as-a-runner, welcome-to-the-inside-of-my-brain” newsletter called Runner’s Brain. Check it out here!

Second Race Complete!

Running sucks.

Yep, you heard correctly… it sucks.

Start Line!

Today was Harry’s Spring Run Off aka Haley and my SECOND race! Yep made it through the 5K in January and today was our first 8K. Training has been blah since I got back from Costa Rica. I’ve barely been running and yoga-ing once a week and my longest run this year was yesterday at 5.4km.

I hate excuses just as much as the average person, but the reason why I’m not sticking to schedule comes down to time. I book my nights {yep 5 nights a week} with events, coffee dates with my mentees and late nights at work. In my head, ‘after work’ is when I should run. So I run on the weekends, then have a bad exercise {or no-exercise filled} week and run again the following weekend. I was chatting with a friend last week about my lack of evening commitment to the sport and I think morning runs are going to be my new friend.

So anyways I was expecting today to be TERRIBLE. I have run just over 10 times since the start of the year, barely attend yoga and I’ve been cramping like 5 mins into every run. So last night I’m texting my friend, Harry Saini and he told me to drink truckloads of water before a run {or a race} and that could be why I’m cramping. Then I read, you’re supposed to be fully hydrated — which means you’re pee runs clear. So I drank truckloads of water… and it worked!

Today’s race was great! It was a gorgeous day in Stanley Park and a few thousand people came out to create awareness and fundraise for prostate cancer. In my opinion, I did really well until about 6.5km. At that point I was winded and felt like I was going to throw up. The blue gatorade didn’t sit well {note to self}, I super had to pee and I was just done with running.

I ended up finishing in 54:06. I was expecting a little quicker, but all good considering that’s the longest distance I have ever run in my life! The last 0.5km I just kept chanting — I’m going to puke, I’m going to puke, I’m going to puke. Except for that one point, I jumped in the air and posed for a picture. :) I crossed the line, walked past the crowds, grabbed a juice box, sat on the ground and within a few minutes I felt superb.

So why do I think running sucks?

It’s a real test on your mental sanity:

While I’m running… think about all sorts of things — everything from someone else’s running outfit to how blessed I am to live in this beautiful city to how determined I am to beat the person in front of me. Once I prance, skip, dance my way through the first few km’s, then I switch to ‘Why am I doing this again?’  I go over all the reasons why running is good for both my mind and body — then I switch to, you shouldn’t be doing anything you don’t love. Around 5km, I end up back in the mind frame of – “I CAN DO THIS.” By the time I finish any goal or race, all I want to do is lay down in silence and let my mind and body calm down. It’s very exhausting.

You learn a hell of a lot about your body:

Running has made me give so much respect to my body. It’s a machine. Ever since I had my Scoliosis surgery, I’ve always felt limited. My breathing and lungs took a huge hit and I know I need to train them back into shape. My surgeon from Calgary, Dr. Richard Hu, told me that exercise is the best medication. He always encouraged me to drag my ass to the gym or put feet to the pavement. Nowadays, I forget that I have rods in my spine, I forget that I have weight limits and sports restrictions — instead, I just move. I move until my body tells me to stop. Even with the little running that I’ve done thus far, I feel stronger, healthier and I sleep like a baby.

I am bored out of my skull:

I have yet to figure out how people find running to be so relaxing and calming… how running allows them to escape from their brain and just breathe. I think the entire time. I play song after song after song — not engaged in a single one. After 5 or 6 songs, I’m bored of music and I want more. I want to be learning, doing, eating, something. The only thing that currently helps my boredom is changing my route. {Note: If anyone has good running routes in downtown-ish Vancouver between 5-12km, let me know!}. I’ve thought about audio books, but haven’t headed down that path yet. I know that I need to get the boredom resolved as I train for the 10-20km distances.

Finish Line!

Perhaps with any hobby or activity comes positives and negatives — but I want this whole running thing to be awesome all the time! I am 100% learning a lot. Running isn’t easy — it’s challenging! 2 months ago I never would have thought I could run 8k.

I was lucky to have my running partner in crime, Haley in town for the race — we’re both headed to Seattle for the Half Marathon in June. We ran into Kittima at the start line too!

Haley and I originally started with a list of races we wanted to do to work our way up to the Half Marathon. We had 4 in mind — but in the last few weeks we’ve added an additional 3! 10km used to be frightening, but now we feel ready for it {with a few more weeks of training}. We’ve signed up for an additional in Victoria, a fun run in Seattle and a new run taking place in Vancouver in early June. The charity is Because I am a Girl, which totally hits close to my heart — must do!


The updated race goals:

Not terrified of the Vancouver Sun Run in a few weeks… actually rather excited. :) Congratulations to all those who ran today — whether it be at the event or feet to the pavement anywhere in this beautiful city.

Happy Sunday!

First Race Complete!

On Sunday, I ran the longest distance I’ve ever run.


Late last year, I committed to myself that I would run a half-marathon in 2012. Over the last few years I’ve been a disorganized nightmare. I knew that I would likely get to 4 days before the half-marathon and be like – shit, I forgot to train.

So I registered for a whole pile of runs to keep me on track. 5K this month, 8k in March, 10K in April, 10K in May and then the Half (aka 22 freaking kilometers) in June.

So of course it’s last Tuesday… I haven’t trained and I’m like – shit, I forgot that I’m doing a race on Sunday. So I dragged myself to the gym and pumped out 3K. Well let me tell you… it was awful and I thought I was going to DIE. Two days later, I ran again. This time 4K. I felt good, but knew I still had a lot of work to do. {… by the way, the 10 min run, 1 min walk… definitely makes learning to run easier.}

I participated in Vancouver’s Chilly Chase which raised money for various local charities. The shortest time was 23:14 and the longest time was 46:06. It was a rainy, windy morning and I was really just excited to get the race over with. :)

My goal was to finish in less than 35 mins and I finished in 32:54, 17th place. Woop.

Definitely need to work on my time, but everything I’ve been reading says the most important thing is finishing. If you finish, you win. Now I feel confident I can run 5K again. No problem. By middle of March, I need to run a solid 8K. I’m now on the training plan for Harry’s Spring Run Off and as soon as it’s done will begin the Half training to bridge from 10K to 22K.

I’m rather liking this last week of running. My body feels good and I’m sleeping well. The only problem? Running bores my brains out. Need to remedy that situation — currently debating light audio books.

This came across Pinterest today. Timely.

Happy Monday.

Running Forward

At the start of every year I set goals that revolve around relationships, career, health and travel. I send a copy of them to my personal board of directors — they do their best to keep me on track and hold me accountable. By far, my best year was 2010. It was an amazing year, not even in results — but in progress. I was focused, determined and had direction.

2011 was a bit of a crapshoot. Yes I ignored my mentors. Yes I quit my corporate job.  Yes I moved to Vancouver… but still, something has been missing. Life has been up and down — and for the most part I let the unknown hold me back. I spent a lot of the year incapable of making a decision. Many amazing opportunities were presented to me, but I just couldn’t make a move. 2011 was 100% my year of being stuck.

Well stuck no longer…

Major changes have happened in both career and life.  I feel blessed to be surrounded by amazing colleagues. I love that I’m continually challenged and learning every day. I live in Vancouver… one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

I feel very lucky.

I’ve been thinking about my 2012 goals for last 3 months. I’ve been excited to end this year and start fresh with a new year. For the last few weekends I’ve been wanting to write my goals, but I told myself that I have to catch up on my email before I’m allowed to. {If you’re waiting for one… only 353 left…!}

Right now my goals are in my head — and in the next week, I will put them on paper.

Yesterday I told my coworkers that one of my 2012 goals is to run a half-marathon. Then I was told disgusting stories of what runners go through. Like disgusting. Still in shock {don’t click here}. So anyways, today I googled ‘how to run a half marathon‘ and was surprised to find out that 5K and 10K runs exist. I didn’t know this! I knew they existed out in the wilderness, but not like a proper race!

So now I feel like my goal is lofty… but I’ve said it out loud so I must PUSH FORWARD.

I’ve never been a runner. Perhaps it’s because of my Scoliosis — but it’s probably because I lived in freezing cold Alberta for the last 9 years. My only complaint against running is that I get bored — and I don’t particularly like to be alone with my thoughts. Music gives me momentum, energy and last of all, life.

Since moving to Vancouver I’ve ran 4 times. Yes, that’s not very much. The difference between Calgary and Vancouver is that this city makes me aware of my health — every single freaking day. I think about how I don’t go to the gym in my building. I think about how I don’t walk 4 blocks to run on the seawall. I think about how I don’t run to work instead of walk to work. I think about the guy who lives down the hall from me who always look ass tired and he still runs. I think about how beautiful the weather has been this winter, yet I’m still not running.

Lifestyle City. Lifestyle City. LIFESTYLE CITY.

I am better at life when I write things down, check off boxes and have something to look forward to. I know that I’m not capable to hit the ground running and jump on the marathon bandwagon without training. At the same time, if training becomes a chore, I will 100% quit quit quit. So what’s going to likely work for me? Some cute running pants, a few events to look forward to and consistency.

So here’s the plan:

At the end of this, I have no expectations to be a runner. Nor do I even think I’ll make it through the half-marathon without leg cramps. My goal is to test my heart, mind, body and soul. Yep, that’s it. Maybe I’ll fail. Maybe I’ll succeed. All I know right now is that I’ve give it a damn shot.

See you on the seawall?


PS – I’ll obviously be the one rockin’ the neon pink running pants. ;)