Running Vancouver – Episode 3

Truth be told, I’ve been nervous about this episode {Jeff can confirm that!} — and even more so in the last 48 hours. The focus of this week’s episode is personal challenges.

I’ve been very lucky since making the decision to learn to run. I’ve had minimal injuries — battled an adductor strain last year and a few issues over the last few months, but honestly nothing that major. I haven’t had shin splints, a stress fracture or knee problems. I haven’t had anything that’s put me on bed rest and no one has told me I can never run again.

Missed a race? Sure. Legs been massive sore? Yep. Fallen on my face? Definitely. At the end of the day, that’s part of the journey. With good comes bad. There’s no sunshine without rain.

“If one could run without getting tired I don’t think one would want to do anything else.” – C.S. Lewis

When Jeff and I chatted about this episode, I knew we needed to talk about Scoliosis. As much as it’s not a large part of my day to day, it’s a huge part of who I am. Running has forced me to become a lot more body aware. My spine was fairly well behaved as I progressed from 0 to 10k, but lots has changed as I’ve moved from 10k to 22+k.

My body took a beating at the Carlsbad Half Marathon {not even mileage built up} and I lost a lot of the momentum I had from last year. I went from running 20k comfortably to being unable to run a minute without pain. Over the last 6 weeks I’ve learned that the pain has been entirely due to lack of strength. My rotation affects every step I take and running adds to the muscle imbalances throughout my body. My shoulders and arms sway differently. My hips are uneven. Each leg strikes the ground with a different amount of force.

Running Vancouver: Episode 3Last year I just ran. Ran and ran and ran. The goal was always farther and faster. Quad action all the time. This year is different. I’ve learned about slow runs — whoa, slow runs. I’ve been working on efficient 5k’s — and nothing longer! I’ve learned the importance of core strength, glute strength and ankle strength {thank you Gastown Phyiso & Pilates}. I’ve learned that I  have to listen to my body and go with the flow.

Some days will be good, some days will be bad. You can’t win them all. All that advice I give everyone else and never take to heart. :)

I’m not nervous about completing the BMO Half Marathon — I’m worried about my time {seems silly saying that out loud}. I told myself I would complete a sub 2:00 half marathon this year and for whatever reason then told myself it should take place on May 5th {perhaps because I’m a competitive beast}. It’s early in the year to take 12 mins off my PB and {insert transparency here} I don’t feel my legs are where I need them to be to hit the goal. My legs have been making progress and my core & glutes are finally working – thanks to Msquared {the duo, Mark & Melina} at Gastown Physio & Pilates. I’m getting stronger every week… I can feel it and it’s exciting. Is 3 weeks away too soon for that sub-2:00? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll know for sure on race day. :)

With the addition of personal challenges to this web video series, my fear was that Scoliosis would now be my crutch. I always talk about Scoliosis publicly — but rarely talk about how Scoliosis and running intercept. I felt like I just gave the world my ‘out’ if I don’t hit my time goal. Crazy talk I know — but someone out there must get where I’m coming from. Picking up what I’m putting down?

I’ve never been treated as the ‘patient’ and I don’t feel like now is the time to start. Scoliosis has made me a smarter runner. It speaks up {usually through pain and discomfort!} when I’m not taking care of me. It has made me so appreciative of breath and on so many runs, it’s given me the motivation to battle it out. In the long-term, I know that all the “extra work” that I do every week {physio, pilates, massage, acupuncture, etc} will make me a stronger runner. People tend to look at alternative therapies as a pain in the ass — they are 100% my normal, my every day and my forever,  and for that I feel grateful.

Forgot about farther and faster — I need to stay centred on physical & mental strength.

We all have our challenges — the key is not let them define us.

Learn more about Sean, Karl and my journey:

‘Running Vancouver’ is a 6-part web video series following 3 local runners journey to the BMO Marathon & Half Marathon. Episodes air every Monday morning on pacerfilms.tv. Check out Episode 1 to meet the runners and Episode 2 to learn about our training.

PS – Major gratitude and run love to my practitioners: Mark, Melina and Chris. Spending time with you is the highlight of my week. Thank you for the constant support, laughter and for occasionally talking me off my crazy train. 3 weeks till race day.

Running Vancouver – Episode 1

running-vancouverA few months ago I was asked by a local runner, Jeff Pelletier, if I was interested in being part of a running documentary. He wanted to create a web video series that would document three runners journey to the BMO Vancouver Marathon & Half Marathon.

I was over the moon when Jeff asked me if I wanted to be involved… there are two things I am absolutely sure of… I love Vancouver to the moon and back… and running absolutely completes me. My legs have given me life, breath and strength that I never knew existed.

“Everyone is an athlete. The only difference is that some of us are training, and some are not.” – Dr. George Sheehan

Today marks the beginning of the web series. The first episode has gone live – thanks to a whole load of work by Pacer Films – and there will be one every Monday until race day on May 5th (keep your eyes peeled here). Each episode will be on YouTube – and also on Novus’ community channel.

If you’re interested in watching episode 1 (… 7 short minutes!) and meet the runners involved, check it out below:

I’ve been blogging about my running journey for the past year – and this year have set new goals to dominate. The other two featured in ‘Running Vancouver’ are Karl & Sean. I have yet to meet them – but they seem super legit.

A little bit about the boy squad:

Meet Karl Woll | Twitter | Blog

“As our most experienced runner, Karl has run over a dozen marathons, 50k ultra-marathons, and trail races. He’s back to run the BMO Vancouver Marathon for the fourth time in an attempt to shave just over 10-minutes off his personal best time to qualify for the Boston Marathon – no easy task.”

Meet Sean Martin | Blog

“Sean’s journey began when his daughter Shaelyn was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer, at just 8 weeks old. Now, with Shaelyn 5 years old and healthy, Sean has joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Team In Training to honour her battles with cancer as he trains for his first marathon.”

Jeff did an incredible job and I feel honored to be included in this project. On May 5th, I will be running alongside Runcouver’s #RunCrew – as many of the girls complete their first half marathon. Fingers crossed for that sub-2:00. :)

The entire footage will showcase on Shaw in May.

Thank you for the support – thank you for reading – thank you for watching.

Inspired to Run

All the time people ask me why I’m on social media networks. They want to know what value I see in the tools. They want to know why it intrigues me. They want to know why I keep on coming back.

One thing I love about social is how easy it is to be part of a community and align with people who have similar interests. Since learning to run {and later founding Runcouver}… I have immersed myself in health/fitness/running/racing/etc communities online. I follow races, teams, pro athletes, local runners, nutritionists and a ton of inspirational dynamos kicking ass and crushing goals. I join in on conversation via twitter chats, hashtags blogs and message boards. It oozes through my every day {Note: I don’t follow the people who just post ‘skinny’ quotes everyday with disturbing photos of way too thin women. Ugh.}.

A local runner, friend of a friend and someone I need to get to know better is a young man named Dave {he’s a total babe btw :)}. For the last few months, I’ve been following Dave tweeting and Instagram’ing his day to day. He’s a beast. Truly beastly. He’s the king of goal setting and always thinking of a new way to challenge himself.

This morning I randomly woke up {rested} at 6:30am. I was going back and forth in my head – one more hour of sleep… yes… no… one more hour of sleep… yes… no… Then all of a sudden I realized that Dave was probably running.

Dave loves a hashtag called: #10ktostarttheday.

Dave kills it on the pavement morning after morning. My brain turned into competitive “you must continually improve yourself” mode and I immediately knew I needed to run to.

I hate running in the morning – and something I know for sure is that it’s good to get out of your comfort zone.

Running at night – in the dark – is my comfort zone. It’s peaceful, calming and one of my favourite times of the day. Since I’ve been banned from running by myself in the dark {read about that time I fell on my face}… I probably need to start liking early mornings.

So just after 6:45am, I left my house. Runners on, rain jacket on and prepared for a brisk run in the dark {I knew it wouldn’t be dark for long…}. :)

Epic RunI headed to Burrard Bridge… 3K turned into 5K… 5K turned into 10K… 10K turned into 15K… and before you knew it…

I was at 18.9k!

Whoa. So long broken face!!!

My iPhone died just outside of Chinatown, but I continued running to Yaletown. I hit 20k and felt more alive than I have in weeks.

#20ktostartthedamnday

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Dave.

Thank you for getting me out of bed. Thank you for getting my head in the game. Thank you for being a source of inspiration, both online and offline.

Your presence is noticed.

See you on the seawall. Run baby run.

Don’t fall. Breathe.

St Pauls - CardiologyThe last week has been a whirlwind.

One thing I know for sure is that falling on your face is quite disruptive to life. :) A weekend in the hospital {and the fall itself} left me completely drained and I had a brutal start to the week.

While in the hospital, the doctor said he would write me off work for a week. Tough girl Jillian said to him, “oh no… I don’t need that. I’ll be good to go for Monday.”

Truth be told, I probably needed one day. One day to process what had happened. One day to realize that I was totally scared to put on my runners again. One day to get some sleep and ice my face.

After I was discharged from St. Paul’s, I was given instructions to complete a round of Cardiology-related tests as an outpatient. The plan was I would get an ultrasound of my heart, spend 24 hours hooked up to a holter heart monitor and complete a heart stress test.

The tests went well and all I kept on thinking was – I’ve never had any issues with my heart, this ticker better be healthy. The heart stress test was by far the hardest. It was my first time putting on my runners since the accident and the nurse challenged me to hit up a hardcore incline on the treadmill. My knees are pretty banged up still and my legs are achy as hell, but I told her I’d give it my best shot. I made it to level 4 out of 7. 12 minutes. 16% incline. 5 miles per hour. 182 beats per minute.

While in the hospital, I don’t think I realized how much the accident screwed with my head. My immediate concerns were: 1) Is anything broken? 2) Can I still {physically} run? I didn’t think once about the impact falling on my face would have on my mental game.

I’ve had crazy anxiety all week. I’ve been thinking about my run goals for the year. I’ve been thinking about my upcoming half marathon in 2 weeks. And honestly, I’ve been debating if I’m capable of where I’m headed.

A week later, the doctors are still up in the air about how I fell, but leaning towards me fainting or that I had a cardiac issue. They told me that the tests may come back totally fine and I’ll have to accept the unknown.

Well I’ll know you what… the unknown is a scary place. It’s hard to accept the diagnosis of a ‘freak accident’.

Why?

Because who knows when it might happen again.

This morning I told myself that I had to run today. Just slip on those running shoes, layer up and get out there. I went back and forth in my head all day… to run… to not run… what if something happens?

Before you knew it, the clock struck 4:30pm and I still hadn’t left the house {doctor’s orders were to not run solo at night for a little bit}. Gah. Fail.

The fading blue sky was all I needed to motor out the door. I headed up the Granville Bridge and I just kept on repeating:

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Don’t fall. Breathe.

Don’t fall. Breathe.

Don’t fall. Breathe.

Most anxious run of my life.

Slowest 8k since I began this running journey. But I think I’m ok with that.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”  – Helen Keller

Back to the grind.

Note: A few days later, I was given the all clear from the Cardiologist. Tests came back a-ok and his advice was to be careful and keep running.

Why Hello Pavement…

15K playlistYesterday afternoon started off perfect. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Vancouver and I was set to do a long run. The plan was minimum 15K. I was planning on running Stanley Park, then English Bay to Yaletown, but at the last minute I switched to an adventure in Kits. I was worried I would get caught in Stanley Park in the dark — and we all know I don’t like that park in the dark. :|

I updated my tunes and off I went {pssst… if you have Rdio, you can view and listen to the playlist here!}

I headed over the Granville Bridge as an epic sunset was taking over the sky. My legs were moving and I was excited to tackle new ground. A friend / mentor / ultra running crazy man, Adam Campbell, has been reinforcing to me that I need to switch from counting kilometres to focusing on time and going with the flow. I decided to do just that …. {briefly at least… I had good intentions :)}.

I ran past Burrard Bridge, then Kitsilano Beach and before you knew it I was en route to Jericho Beach. I was feeling great and decide the I would turn around at 10K instead of the planned 7.5K — I felt like I could do 20K and I wanted the challenge. Jericho was new territory for me and I didn’t know the area. I got to the beach (10K mark) just as the sun was setting and pink was taking over the sky. I knew I wanted to get away from the beach area before it was dark, so I booked it back up to the street. A few blocks away from the beach I bailed.

One moment I was running, the next moment I heard my cheek hit the pavement. My right cheek struck first, then my right shoulder. I was immediately in shock, but conscious. My whole body was screaming with pain and I turned over to sit on the pavement. I had torn my Lululemon thermals open and I could taste blood on my mouth and see it on my legs.

At the moment, I realized I was in the middle of no where. Somewhere near Jericho. No idea where I was — and not in the sight of a runner. I started calling all the friends I knew in Kits, someone who could come and pick me up. No one answered and I moved to my downtown friends. Katie {from the #RunCrew} picked up her phone and in tears I told her that I needed her to come get me. {Thank you for the cement rescue darling}.

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We made our way to St. Paul’s Hospital and soon enough we were in emergency. My cheek was swollen up and my legs were angry. I had no idea if anything was broken, but felt like the fall was sketch enough that I should probably get checked out. I was fast tracked to see a nurse and the process began. X-rays of my shoulder and legs — thankfully both banged up, nothing broken. Then a CT scan of my head and face — right cheek bone fracture. Then a EKG, blood work and a whole lot of questions to answer.

The doctors were less concerned about my physical injuries and more concerned about why I fell. They either think I fainted or that something was going on with my heart {irregular heartbeat etc}. No history of fainting or heart issues by the way. I was moved into another unit to meet with the Cardiologist and shortly after 1am, I was admitted to Cardiology for the night. They wanted to monitor my heart and meet with the Head of Cardiology in the morning.

I haven’t been overnight in a hospital since 1999. It’s funny how it all comes flooding back to you. Vitals every hour. Nurses coming in. Machines beeping. Code white. Code blue. They hooked me up to the machines and told me they’d let me sleep for a few hours. Just after 6am, the hospital hustle started. They were back to do more blood work and hook me up to more machines.

Shortly after 9am, the Head of Cardiology arrived to chat. We walked through what happened on the run and the tests that were run in emergency. As I had been stable overnight, he would release me but wanted me to stay attached to the Cardiology unit as an outpatient for the next few weeks. This week I’ll have an echocardiogram {heart ultrasound}, do a cardiac stress test {watching your heart when you run on a treadmill} and pick up a holder monitor {electrodes applied to skin and attached to tape recorder for 1-2 days}.

Fingers crossed, all tests come back good, I get the all clear from the Cardiologist and I’m back to the grind soon. He did confirm that running is good for the heart and he wants me to be back at it as soon as I can.

580556_4836531964636_1570522840_nRight now, I’m sore as hell and it’s the last thing my body feels like doing. My head on the other hand… knows I was on my way to an epic 20K run and can’t wait to get back on the pavement.

Thankful for everyone that has reached out since my tumble — and thank you to Katie for sticking by my side. The team at St. Paul’s was fabulous — I couldn’t have asked for better care.

There are likely lessons that have come from this event — but I’m not far enough removed from the situation to think of them yet. :) For now I will focus on healing my broken face, doing the required cardio tests this week, and getting myself to physio this week to take care of my shoulder and legs.

Reflecting on 2012

Reflection is always important — but the end of the year continually reminds me that I need to pause, reflect and determine how I want to move forward. The past 12 months have been a whirlwind.  I started the year with this quote:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” – League of their Own

… and my word, it hit home. This past year was tough! One thing I know for sure is that you need to be thankful for the hard times in your life, because those are the times when you grow and learn the most.

This year I learned:

  • People are #1. Throughout the year I ended up being in a number of situations where I didn’t feel like people were being treated fairly. One thing I know for sure is that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In both my personal and professional life, I believe in ‘lead with heart.’ As leaders, we need to be human. We need to respect people’s feelings, listen and truly treat people like we want to be treated. Choose your friends, boss, clients — and every relationship in your control, wisely. 
  • Transparency is the new marketing. No one is perfect — and I don’t believe that anyone wants to work with or be friends with people who claim to be. First and foremost, we’re all human. People want to deal with real people — and vulnerability is a strength. Be open; allow people to see who you are. Talk about your learnings — and your failures. Admit fault when you’ve made a mistake.
  • Don’t fight change. I cried a lot in September — more tears than I’ve had in years in fact. During periods of change, the only thing you can control is your reaction. Everything happens for a reason and change is inevitable. Accept it for what it is and figure out how you’re going to move forward.
  • Always have a plan b. When you’re headed into uncertainty, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Enough said.
  • Trust your gut. There is a lot to be said for intuition. When you get a feeling that something shady/wrong/sketch — it probably is. Use your head, but trust your gut. Take in all the information, but always remember to look out for you.
  • You have to take care of yourself first. I’m continually guilty of taking care of everyone else, before I take care of me. I’ve been falling into that trap for years with boyfriends, best friends and random people I have met along the way. This year I learned to be put me first {it’s still such an odd thing}. I stopped attending events I didn’t want to go to. I didn’t return phone calls when I didn’t feel like talking. I refused to be the go-to, because I knew it wasn’t in my best interest. A little wisdom from Paul Coehlo, “When you say yes to others, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.” Don’t apologize for making yourself a priority.
  • Slow down. Life is meant to be lived.

Despite the ups and downs of the year, a lot of good happened. I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Palm Springs, Whistler, Seattle, New York and Mexico. For the first time in my life, I learned the power of physical strength. I learned to run — completing 15 races — and became a regular at power yoga. I learned the importance of fuelling your body with good and keeping a close eye on your health. I cut out wheat, dairy and now regularly spend time in the kitchen. I truly love cooking and exploring new foods. I met a number of new friends in 2011 and throughout this past year, I focused on developing and strengthening those relationships.

Highlights of the year:

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January

The year started off with a chilly dip in the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, I was blessed to meet a local entrepreneur, Helen. She invited me to the Polar Bear Swim that took place at English Bay. With 2000 people, we charged at the 8 degree ocean. After a few shrieks in the ocean, we were back on the beach shivering and smiling. 1st Polar Bear swim complete!

February

After finding a deal through YVRdeals {and Chris Myden}, I booked a trip to Costa Rica. At the time I had no plan, just needed a little escape. I had met an entrepreneur {all around fabulous woman}, Shannon Ward, a few months earlier — and she would be living in Costa Rica while I was down there. I ended up heading to Santa Teresa and spent 10 days with my her family. The trip was filled with sunshine, surfing and delicious eats. A highlight was taking a raw food cooking course with Joanne at The Healing Cuisine.

March

International Women’s Day took place on March 8th. I was honoured to be included in Networking in Van’s “Women Making a Difference” campaign. On IWD, people all over the world celebrate the achievements of women, inspire other women and reflect on the progress women have made in our communities. There were a number of events that took place in Vancouver and I had the privilege to learn from a few. I’m thankful to have met a ton of female entrepreneurs in Vancouver — and around the world {including Judy, Jill, Heather, Zoe, ChristineKatherine, Erin and more}. Positive role models who are movin’, shakin’ and making a difference in the community.

April

In April, I had the opportunity to speak at 2 events — York University’s ‘Apex Leadership Conference‘ and Simon Fraser University’s ‘Synergy Conference.’ The events were back to back — with one being in Toronto and the other in Surrey. In a matter of 24 hours, I held a workshop and facilitated a panel, flew across the country and held another 2 workshops at Synergy. It was an absolutely exhausting — and totally rewarding weekend. One thing I’ve figured out in the last few years is that education is a core part of who I am. I truly love teaching students and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to facilitate two very engaged groups of students.

photo_1May

May was busy — with a trip to Palm Springs for a me-cation and learning from Richard Branson at a Board of Trade event. A total highlight was my weekend away in Whistler to visit my adopted family, the GossWards. Shannon, Brett and Kaede had moved back to Whistler from Costa Rica — and I wanted to see their lovely faces again. I  had never been to Whistler, so Shannon and Kaede took me up the mountain to do Peak 2 Peak. It was the end of the season, but skiers and boarders were still taking on the remaining snow. Whistler is a beautiful little gem — from taking in the views at Blackcomb to Sushi Village to a little birthday surprise, I feel lucky to have met {and learn from} this wonderful family.

June

On June 2nd, my niece Maddie turned 1 {and I turned 28}! Maddie was born on my birthday in June 2011. Now we’ll be celebrating together forever! On Friday, I had a dinner party at my place {thank you for being the Executive Chef, Dan!} and on Saturday I took the float place over to Salt Spring for a family birthday with Maddie. We had a fun afternoon in the sunshine at Mom’s house — halibut burgers, birthday cake and a very spoiled  1st grandchild!

July

In July, I headed to New York with Marina for the UN Global Partnership Summit. We spent a few days learning from global change makers from the United Nations, Global Poverty Project, ONE Campaign and Pan American Health Organization. A highlight was learning from Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation — absolutely inspiring few days determining how young leaders can support the UN Millennium Development Goals and create positive change in the community. In addition to the summit, Marina and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, shopped in SOHO, dined in Little Italy — and I ended the trip with a run through Central Park.

August

Whether taking a pool day, attending a festival or parade, or running the seawall — the month was a busy one!  On August 10th, I completed my first half marathon {holy moly, eh!}. After an adductor injury mid-year, I was forced to take a DNF for a Seattle half marathon — and then I registered for Lululemon’s Seawheeze half marathon in Vancouver. In retrospect, it was my race. Luon, sunshine and running in the city that I love. Reagan and I ran together; finishing in 2:22 {feeling totally good and injury free!}.

photo_2September

Vancouver is one of the best places to live in the world — and I continually remind myself that I’m blessed to live here. Thanks to the team at Vancouver We Love You, my friend, Kate, had the opportunity to use SUP boards throughout the summer. One day in early September, we headed down to Kits Beach for a SUP sesh at sunset. It was a picture perfect night filled with paddling, laughter and trying not to fall into the ocean.

October

TELUS asked me to blog an international event coming to town, We Day. We Day is a day of celebration, inspiration and an opportunity for youth to take action and create change in their communities. I had an absolutely incredible few days with the team at Free the Children and the We Day youth. From meeting Desmond Tutu to learning from Spencer West to documenting the day — the event was a highlight of the year. It was inspiring to watch 18,000+ youth get excited to positively impact their school and community.

November

Running has hugely changed my life. Throughout my running journey, I was continually asked — How did you start running? How do I start running? Can you help me? … After a bit of brainstorming, I launched Runcouver. The goal is to connect all levels of pavement crushers and trail dominators, into one positive, motivating, goal crushing community. In addition to Runcouver, I launched the #RunCrew. The 2012/2013 pilot consists of 10 young women who are committed to striving high and I’ll be coaching them to their 1st half marathon in Summer 2013.

December

The year came to an end with major job change. After almost 2 years consulting, I decided to go back in-house for an amazing opportunity at a growing company. I am now a HR Generalist at Avigilon. I feel blessed to work on a progressive, entrepreneurial team with a down-t0-earth {and wicked smart} leader. My role supports day-to-day global HR operations, with a focus on employee relations, training and development, benefits and compensation and employee experience.  I’m learning a ton and my days are wild busy — both good problems to have. I’ve officially been there a month and I feel like I couldn’t have landed at a better company. It’s awesome to be surrounded by people who truly love what they do.


“You have to fight through some bad days, to earn the best days of your life.” – Unknown

Officially closing out 2012. To laughter, love and living in 2013.

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