Fuel Your Body

legs up the wall

My running soul sister is named Nicole {learn more about her here}. She’s not my sister and I’ve never met her, but damn, I’m attracted to that mighty fine soul of hers.

I’ve been following her online and watching her grow for 4 years — that deserves a holy cow. How time flies. Anyways, Nicole has been involved in a number of cool projects over the years, but these days she’s coaching runners from 0 to 13.1 {miles!}, building out badass online resources and truly living… a life less bullshit.

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Listen. Really, Listen.

There have been many times over the past few weeks where my body has given me a big eff you. Whether it be a spitting headache or angry calves or a right ankle that freaks out with every step forward… all symptoms have a root cause.

I believe that the nicer you are to your body, the nicer it will be to you. Fill your body with the nutrients it needs. Eat clean, eat local and eat smart. Sweat once a day. Get your heart rate up and give your lungs a work out. Challenge your mind. Spend time with those you love. Stretch — and sleep.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been in a mad case of go – go – go. Work. Train. Sleep. Repeat. On the countdown to race day. Currently I’m laying on my bathroom floor, wrapped in a towel, writing this blog post. Why? I was mid-shower when all of a sudden I thought I was going to faint. I got light headed, felt weak and nausea took over my belly. For a girl that pretends she’s amazon strong, fainting is a weird and a highly uncomfortable experience. All of a sudden I succumbed to the weak little girl who just wanted an “it’s all going to be ok,” coupled with a monster hug.

Once the feeling of “I’m going to die” passed, I took a picture of my legs and thought — Boom. Your body is speaking to you. Now, listen. My auto-immune system is a delicate little fairy at the best of times — and now I’m putting it through the ringer and not giving it any love. I’m running at max without the fuel. A trip to the doctor and some blood work confirmed that yep, the tank is low.

Last week my physio man and I were chatting about balance, priorities and mastery. If you let one thing fall, you’ll notice the consequences.

Today was proof. Now to make some changes.

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.

Let’s get sweaty Vancouver!

Seawheeze 2013Today’s the day!

Registration for the Lululemon Seawheeze Half-Marathon went live THIS MORNING! I’ve been waiting for this day… well, since… last August. :)

Last year I participated in the inaugural Seawheeze – my first half marathon! I can’t say enough positive things about Lululemon’s first race series. The event was fantastic from beginning to end. Lululemon is a company that is committed to customer experience {and I’m pretty positive, employee experience, too!}. The weekend started with a race expo – shopping, yoga and pedicures – and ended up with an outdoor concert. They had everything from custom race gear {not tacky like most races btw, all of it was beyond cute} to unique medals to waffles at the post-race brunch!

Seawheeze is a total experience!

Yes there is a half marathon {13.1 miles baby!}. But there’s also a whole lot of fun, laughter, neon and good times in the sunshine. In order to soak it all up, you gotta participate in the whole weekend! Promise it’ll be worth it!

Last year was a blast, but I’m extra excited to be running this year. Almost all of Runcouver’s #RunCrew will be running the half {for half of them, it’ll be their first one!!} – and a whole lot of friends have jumped on board: Reagan, Adriana, Jen, Nikki, KateMiranda, Chelsea – and the list could go on and on!

If you’re interested in getting on board the Seawheeze train, check out the event: http://seawheeze.com

Get sweaty friends. See you at the finish line.

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.

2013 Run Goals

14482_4741973400731_817288184_nOver the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my goals will be for next year. I haven’t totally figured them out, but it’ll be a focus over the coming weeks. One thing I know for sure is that I love running. Even when I’m procrastinating running and doing everything but running, I still think of it. I know it’s good for my body and brain — and I want to kick some serious pavement {and start to dabble in trails} next year.

Here’s what I know for sure…

5 Half Marathons:

Start to Dabble in Tri-Land:

Become one with the Trails:

Pavement Fun: 

My plan for 2013 was 5 half marathons. I didn’t think I could run 1 this year — and I did! Now it’s time to turn up the challenge:

  • 5 half marathons (including sub 2:00)
  • 10 additional pavement/trail races
  • 1000 km in 2013

The goals are achievable if I listen to my body, proactively work with my favourite physio man — and keep up with the cross training. Oh — and run. ;) I really want to get in the habit of running 3-4km, when I don’t feel like running. In my head… when I process if I’m going to run tonight or not… I always tell myself it needs to be at least 7km. Most of the time I won’t let myself run if it’s less… lame. I need to figure that out stat and get in the habit of doing a few short, easy runs a week… progressing to two 10K’s a week and a Sunday long run.

I’m really excited to work on my pace, cadence and speed. Last year I avoided hill training like the plague. This year I’m geared up for bridge repeats and challenging runs. The ‘flat as a pancake’ seawall will always be my fave, but in order to improve, I’ve gotta switch it up {solid advice from my aunt!}.

Lean mean running machine in 2013. That’s the plan!

Not a Runner to… wha… a Runner!

RunBabyRunExactly one year ago today I set a goal. On December 22, 2011, I told myself I would run a half-marathon. Not because I knew how far a half-marathon was… not because I knew how far 10K was… just because I knew it would be good for my mind.

On January 18, 2012 {such a procrastinator}, I ran for the first time in my life — and on January 22, 2012, I completed my first race. Woop!

Since then it’s been a wild ride. I’ve completed 15 races:

… and ran somewhere between 600-700 km. Not exactly sure as I wasn’t always neurotic with my Nike+ GPS app. ;)

DNF: Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Seattle — injured!

Body: No major injuries, but adductor issues mid-year and my right ankle has been bothering me the last few months. Lost 1 toenail — very close to losing another.

Trained in: Vancouver, BC; Salt Spring Island, BC; Victoria, BC; Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Raced in: Vancouver, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Victoria, BC

Favourite race: Lululemon Seawheeze!

Personal Bests:

  • 1K: 4:11 {August 2012}
  • 1 mile: 7:23  {August 2012}
  • 5K: 24:51 {December 2012}
  • 8K: 43:57 {December 2012}
  • 10K: 56:53 {September 2012}
  • 15K: 1:35:10 {May 2012}
  • 23K: 2:20:17 {August 2012}

So there you have it, 11 months of running — BOOM — officially a runner! :) Running has been hands down the best thing that has happened to me this year. For the first time in my life, I feel strong. I have never ever seen strength in my body — when I check out my arms in the mirror {let’s be honest, guys aren’t the only ones who check themselves out} or to see a picture of these lean legs — I think whoa…! Remember when you were a stick thing Jillian Walker? Remember when?!

Those days are over. Strong is the new skinny.

Strength coupled with breath {and mental sanity} has been my saving grace this year. Looking forward to continuing the journey in 2013 — and celebrating my run anniversary with Monique in San Diego in January!

Thank you to Haley, Derek, Reagan, Pete, Michelle, Jen, Katie, Kate, Kittima, Clare — and the #RunCrew for the encouragement and advice this past year. Meant the world. xo

Strong Faces Unite

Yesterday morning I made a video {took 10 hours to upload ha ha} about how the West Coast needs to represent in Saucony Canada’s ‘Show Us Your STRONG Face’ Contest. That was before I fell behind 150 votes… heh.

Check it out:

So, whatta you know… today is the LAST DAY {thank goodness, eh!} to vote. Voting closes at 10pm EST / 7pm PST.

So get on it…

VOTE HERE

Thank you, thank you! Make sure to let me know what I owe you hehe. xoxo

PS – Hope you enjoyed the Mexican tunes ha ha — a Rdio playlist made that happen {a will work on my audio skillz next time}. ;)

Find Your Strong

Since entering Saucony Canada’s “Show us Your STRONG Face” contest — I’ve been stalking them online learning more about out their #FindYourStrong campaign.

Today I stumbled upon this…

… and now I’m totally in love with Dorothy Beal. Crazy inspirational — she’s a total dynamo!

In addition to being a momma to 3 and running 20+ marathons… Dorothy was just featured on the cover of Women’s Running magazine for November/December {um, hello babe!!} — and she has an awesome blog, Mile Posts.

“You find yourself. You find what you’re made of.” – Dorothy Beal

Life works in mysterious ways. Giving myself a high five for stumbling upon Saucony Canada’s contest, then stalking them online and now finding Dorothy ha ha. Can’t wait to introduce Runcouver’s #RunCrew to her!