“Hills and core anyone?”

Thanksgiving Open Invite Workout (London, Ontario Canada)

(all photos: Steve Ryall)

I’ve been visiting my hometown London Ontario before making the big move to Connecticut. It was the week before Thanksgiving, and I posted on Twitter and Facebook…”who would be up to join me for a workout at the park Thanksgiving Monday? Hills and core?”. The idea came to me just as spontaneously as I posted it. I was planning on heading to the park for a workout anyway, so I thought I might as well open the invite to everyone and anyone who would appreciate joining: all ages, all levels, no pressure, lots of fun…

Hitting the hill

Before I knew it, I was on two local radio shows talking about it, not really having much to say except, “come out; it’ll be fun!”. Another London hometown Olympian, Damian Warner (wearing red toque in photo above), tweeted that he and 2 other National Team athletes would love to come.  London’s Metro paper came out the day of, as well as Steve (meet director of the Forest City Road Races) to take photos – thank goodness because I forgot my camera! I asked a sponsor of mine, Eload, if they could to pitch in some samples of their electrolyte and energy gels (both products I use and love), and they arrived at my parent’s door step within 24 hours.

When I first posted the invite, I was hoping for 15-20 people to show up; Sunday night I guesstimated around 40. I arrived Monday morning to a crowd close to 100, of which 80 or so were there to participate!

It was a beautiful setting at Springbank Park, with the sun out, a crisp breeze, and a fall scent in the air that brings me back to my high school years of tough Cross Country seasons in London.

The group was great, and there was a great excitement in the air. People were there that I had met in the social media world; people I’ve chatted with on Twitter or that posted messages on my facebook page, as well as kids I’ve met over the years at banquets and on the track. A family, the McDougalls, woke up at 6am to travel from Niagara to be there for the workout!

Warming up with Pilates

We went through a Pilates series to warm up, then strides and drills. We hit the steep hill just outside of Storybook Gardens for an intense 15-20 min. workout, and closed off with a short core series. My sister Andrea, and brother-in law Dave (both physiotherapists who worked with me in Calgary)  just moved to London and were there to help out with proper form during the exercises. My dad joined in for the workout too, just like in the ol’ days when we would run together :)

Explaining how to use core muscles properly

It was fun, but it was hard.

I had a few key messages, in general:  not to cheat yourself by staying within your comfort zone; but instead bring “intention” into your workouts and challenge yourself (including ALWAYS running through the pylon, which many learned the hard way). I suggested that everyone go at their own pace, not wanting to be liable for injuries (or heart attacks): advice I should have taken myself, knowing it was only my 4th workout  back after taking a long post-season break of doing absolutely nothing.

There was a buzz in the air when we hit the hill, and a rush of excitement. Before I knew it, I was accepting challenges of racing boys half my age up the hill. It almost killed me. I was so close to revisiting my turkey dinner and pumpkin pie from the night before!

McDougall family that drove from Niagara!

Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and perhaps were a bit surprised at the tired state I was in by the end of the workout; nevertheless, it was an absolutely amazing morning, and I was thankful to have shared it with so many nice people. Please leave comments (especially if you were there)!

For those who wanted the info on my sister and brother-in law physiotherapy practices, here it is:

Dave Zelibka – Physiotherapy and IMS in London, Ontario

Andrea Zelibka – Skye Physiotherapy and Pilates, London, Ontario

Big thanks to Eload for the samples. Eload products can be ordered online from www.eload.net, or in London Ontario are available at The Running Room or MEC.

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9 Responses to “Hills and core anyone?”

  1. It was a great event and I loved how it started with a simple ‘who wants to work out’! I felt the sprints all week and it was a very positive event where I felt welcome even though I didn’t have near the fitness of others there. You and Damian Warner made us feel welcome and you were very down-to-earth when walking us through it all.

    Thank you for putting this together. Definitely a high-light this year!

  2. Thanks Jessica. I thoroughly enjoyed the hill work out this past holiday Monday. The energy of all the participants was amazing!!! i am happy. Was a part of it! Thanks again!!! Happy training :)

  3. Hi Jessica,

    Wow! Congrats on the turnout. I’m up in Caledon ON, and well because of Thanksgiving, my Mom’s birthday and my daughter’s 16th birthday, well there was just too much going on to make the trek south-west…believe me, I thought long and hard about it. If it any consolation, I thought of you all on Monday morning.

    I’m 51 and a huge Olympic fan and supporter. I started running when I was about 17, and being from Montreal, just missed the 76′ Olympics in my own backyard. I only realized what I had truly missed a mere couple years later. Since then I’ve still been very active, and absolutely love amateur athetlics and athletes. I’m new to Twitter, but only joined to follow the likes of yourself, and your Olympic teammates, like Ryan Cochrane, Simon Whitfield, Devon Kershaw, Ryder Hesjedal, etc. Of course that’s only to name a recent few, but have long previously admired the likes of Kevin Sullivan and Becky Scott. I never miss a moment to sing all your praises when amongst my friends, fans mostly of the “professional” sports.

    Anyway, sorry to be so long-winded, but in conclusion, thanks for entertaining and inspiring us…and for sharing your passion and insights with us ‘regular’ folks/’athletes’. You make us so proud!

    All the Best to you and your family in Conneticut. Please continue to Tweet often of your ‘goings on’ and let us know whenever returning home.



  4. A grand “workout”. My friends are all jealous of fit I am now as a result, so thanks again. #RioOrBust

  5. I was so delighted when my beautiful niece bbm’d me to suggest a workout with Jessica. I learned a lot and was blown away by the strength of our Olympians. Pretty amazing give back to the community resulted in smiles as bright as the day. Thanks Jessica and good luck with your next chapter.

  6. I think that was the best idea ever, Jessica! It was a great way to build community and inspire lots of us to get out there and be active. I’m sad to say that I didn’t make it to the end of the workout… I’m used to half an hour workouts and only had an hour to spare that day, so we had to bail before the core part. You sure dedicate a lot of time to working out, but I guess that’s what makes you an olympian!
    Thanks for organizing this, it was the best part of my Thanksgiving weekend!

  7. My hubby & I had a great morning! Loved meeting Jessica and Damian and getting to workout with them! They both had crazy power up those hills! Just let us know the next time you are in town for another workout please!!!

  8. Mackenzie Mayers

    Thank you so very much!! We all had a wonderful time and appreciated all the work you did with us.

  9. My friend and I had a great time! Thank you for bringing everyone together, and thank you for teaching us about sprints – I’ve incorporated them into my workouts and they are making quite a difference in my regular running.

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