Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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What did I get Myself Into

Everyone, at some point, has probably signed up for something without really thinking it through.  I’ve done this quite a few times actually.  Most recently I did just this back in December and now I have to deal with the consequences of my actions this weekend. 

Here’s what I did…

I had just returned to town after a work trip and my friend called and left a message that I should listen to CBC Radio.  It was BC’s Food Bank Fundraising Day and if I donated a bunch of cash, me and nine other lucky people could spend a day with Simon Whitfield (this was just one of several packages being offered).

Those of you who know me, know I am crazy about Simon Whitfield.  Not crazy weird, but crazy in awe of his athleticism and coolness.  I’ve met him twice very briefly and he kindly let me get a photo with him each time.    

Simon Whitfield

This is the first time I met Simon – Victoria BC – prior to the marathon/half. I didn’t really like my hair that day.

Simon Whitfield after the Sun Run

Me and Simon after the Sun Run. I recall I had a pretty good grip around his waist.  He was probably freaking out.

Back to the story…I decided to sit on the idea for a bit as I had a few errands to run, had to pick up Kobi from her godmother’s house and had to get home.  I decided I’d call hubby and run the idea by him. 

I get home, talk to hubby and totally forget to run the idea by him.  That was my subconscious consciously telling me not to run the idea by him as he knows my obsession with Simon and is way too practical (and maybe concerned Simon will have to get a restraining order placed on me).    

I waste a bit more time and then text my friend and ask, “should I do it?”  

“Of course!” she says, adding something about regret. 

I make the call and when I explain I’d like to make a donation for the day with Simon, the lady on the phone says she thinks the last spot was just taken.  “Oh darn,” I say, but I’m thinking, “oh thank god.”  She says to wait one second and she’ll go confirm. 

At this point I am debating just hanging up and then wondering how much I’m going to donate if I don’t get the day with Simon.  She gets back on the phone and says, “you’re in luck, there is one spot left!” 

“Awesome!” I say, but in my head I say, “what the heck was I thinking!?”

I take some time to digest what I’ve just done and the money I’ve just spent (not counting the money I’m going to have to spend to get my butt to Vancouver). 

Then I convince myself that this will be a very cool experience and Simon will just chat with me and the other lucky nine folks about his Olympic experiences, maybe show us his medals, talk a bit about training, all over tea and yoghurt. 

Wrong.  It’s an actual training day!!  Like biking, running, swimming, yoga, and weights with some healthy eating thrown in.  Wait a minute, swimming?  That means I have to wear a bathing suit in front of Simon Whitfield!  I think I am going to die. 

To make me even more nervous, they emailed asking for my triathlon experience.   Oh dear, I don’t have a lot of triathlon experience.  I did 2 maybe 3 triathlons back in the Jurassic age (1993) and more recently, 2 in the last 4 years plus 1 half Ironman 3 years ago.  I haven’t even ridden a bike outside since last October. 

On the upside, I will make the other nine look pretty good.  Did I mention I also get quite clumsy when I’m nervous?  Like trip-and-fall-down clumsy? 

Besides falling down lots, I may also attempt to distract this group of athletes from my lack of triathlon-ability with my brilliant humor.  I have this survival mechanism of resorting to humor when I get nervous.  I’ve actually surprised myself at how funny I can be when scared out of my mind.  Well, I think I’m funny (which is probably just another survival mechanism).    

Writing about this doesn’t seem to be helping much so I’m going to stop now.  I just hope Simon doesn’t Google his name and come across this blog…

What’s your funniest “regret”?  Do you rely on humor or other mechanisms of survival when scared to death?  Want me to pass on any messages to Simon for you? 

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Spring Hasn’t Yet Sprung

dog tracks in the snow

My running route. Looks like a big dog had taken itself out for a walk on the far L and R, I’m the second on the L, then Kobi’s little feet.

I’m tired of the cold.  It became quite cold again on March 21st.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Well it does actually, when you live 2 hours south of the Northwest Territories winter likes to sink its teeth in and hold on.

The forecast for the next 7 days is -18C to -20C overnight with highs up to -2C.  If it has a “negative” sign in front of a number that cannot be called a “high” in my opinion anymore.  Perhaps if I refer to the temperature in farenheit I will feel slightly better.

I’ve had a few decent runs outside this week, but I find my enthusiasm is wearing down.  I had to remind myself during yesterday’s run that I need to be happy and grateful to be running again (recall foot injury) and I am and that kept me going, but it’s getting harder and harder to continue embracing the cold.

dog jumping in the snow

Kobi and her canine enthusiasm. Cold or snow doesn’t phase her.

It also didn’t help that there was a really cold head-wind and the footing was really tricky thanks to the inch of new snow over ice.

I’m sure in another 2 weeks spring will really be here and I’ll be complaining about something else (like mud), but I’m kind of looking forward to complaining about something else – with enthusiasm of course.


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My New Foot Candy

I received new shoes in the mail today!  Who doesn’t like new shoes and who better to share the wonderful news with than other runners who understand how awesome it is to get new running shoes.

This pair has my collection up to nine now.  Yup, you read that right, nine.  I firmly believe in alternating shoes between runs so that each pair gets a little rest. 

Because of this rule, I have 4 pairs of trail shoes (2 are on the older side so they almost don’t count), 2 pairs of snow running shoes (my Wizard of Oz Dorothy red shoes), and now 3 pairs of road shoes. 

cat and running shoes

Kato wants to be a shoe model when he grows up. He’s mostly unimpressed by all the shoes in his way.

Everyone, meet my shoes:

  1. Trail:  Asics Fuji Racer, Fuji Trainer, Saucony Kinvara TR2 (haven’t even worn these yet), Salomon Speedcross 3
  2. Snow:  Salomon Snowcross x 2 (one pair to be bedazzled)
  3. Road:  Mizuno Wave Inspire 9, Saucony Kinvara 4, and the new Wave Inspire 10

I think I have a problem, although there are likely worse problems to have.

I really wanted the Wave Inspire 10’s in a brighter colour, but white was my only choice as sizes are always limited for me.  You see, I have very large feet for a girl, more like long narrow feet.  My physio even commented on my long toes.  I translated that to mean I have yet another super power (don’t question it, just go with it). 

Because of my long skinny feet, boy’s shoes are often too wide.  Whenever I read a shoe review about a guy’s shoe and a comment is that they fit narrow I get a bit excited because these shoes may fit me and I can add them to my collection. 

Sadly, I won’t be hitting the pavement with these pretty white shoes just yet as it’s still far too mucky and snowy outside for them.  Maybe in another month.

Does anyone else out there have a collection like mine?  Please tell me there is someone else out there with an extensive running shoe collection, please…


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Things We Saw While We Were Out

Spring has stopped by for a little visit.  I’ve lived in the north long enough to know that spring is just here for a quick visit and will soon depart for a week or two.  Translation:  it’s going to get cold again.  After that final cold snap, spring will return in all its muddy glory.

Running has been going well.  I’m running in a variety of conditions including snow, ice and mud.  It’s hard to choose the right shoe for these conditions so I’m sticking with my Wizard of Oz red Salomon Snowcross shoes.  They just need sparkles and then they would be perfect.

solomon snowcross

With sparkles they would be the perfect Dorothy shoe.  Just close your eyes and tap your heels together 3 times…

Kobi is practicing her muddy look and is a lovely two-toned blond/brown at the end of our outings.  I will need a dog-wash station set up soon.

muddy dog

Kobi and her two-toned mud colour

Here are some other random things I’ve seen on this week’s outings:

sky and moon

That little speck in the middle is the moon during late afternoon

Kobi saw this garbage bag while out on a run and was very scared as the wind made it move.  I took her to the bag to show her it was nothing scary and she proceeded to grab it and rip it into a million little pieces.

Dog ripping up a bag

Kobi seeking vengeance on the scary bag. I was responsible and picked up all the pieces.

We ran to our favourite lake and saw this sign:

Sign

They were prepping the trails for the sled dog races and didn’t want the ATVers wrecking them so they left this sign.

And now for your learning pleasure…we hear this little guy every night and every morning when it’s dark (follow the link and then select the audio file):

boreal owl

boreal owl

Boreal Owl:  I didn’t take this photo this week, rather a few years back. It’s a cool story for another day…

Kobi found this feathered dude and chased him into a tree:

grouse

The chicken attempting to ignore Kobi ( no chickens were harmed in the taking of this photo and Kobi eventually left it alone).

dog staring

Kobi attempting to will the grouse/chicken out of the tree

We’re off for another run in the snow, ice and mud today.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love this weather as I’ve had enough of -20C.


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Snow Prints

As most of you may know by now (or now know), I live in northern Canada.  An obvious consequence of this is prolonged cold winters.  

I’ve discovered that to survive the longest, coldest and darkest season, I need to get outside regardless of how cold and/or how dark it is, take Vitamin D, and put maple syrup on everything I eat (I’m serious about this one).  It also helps that I have a very fit, active dog that must run.    

While I’ve been out and about, especially now that we have much more daylight, I’m noticing how much is actually going on around me.  When I speak of going on, I mean what other critters are also out and about.  You see, they leave their tracks in the snow so I know they’ve been there without actually seeing them.  I think I prefer just seeing the tracks versus seeing the associated critter.  Recall my post about my fear of running into my buddy the moose.  

So I am now going to share with y’all a bunch of snapshots of what I have been seeing outside over the last few weeks. 

raven wing print

Looks like a pterodactyl, but it’s actually a raven wing print

Mice and voles seem to be very active this winter and I see their little highways and meanderings everywhere.

mouse or vole tracks

These tracks disappeared down a little hole by the branch sticking out of the snow

mouse snow tracks

My trail packed the snow so this little critter had to create an “overpass” to get to the other side

mouse tracks

More little critter tracks

mouse tracks

This one is a little blurry, but this little guy was out dancing I think

This one is kind of sad and/or gross, but I found a dead version of what was leaving lots of tracks – meadow vole and a fat one at that – cause of death, unknown.  Kobi found it on the way back and brought it home, she likes to play with dead mice, doesn’t eat them, just plays with them.

dead meadow vole

Vole in the middle of trail, not sure why he/she died there

Grouse, affectionately referred to as “chickens”, make the coolest tracks and have the biggest “poops” considering their size.  These are Kobi’s favorite bird to chase (next to ravens) as they hang around in family groups so there is usually more than one and they aren’t great flyers (they typically walk around more than fly).  I’ve been chased by a mommy chicken a few summers ago BK (before Kobi).   It was scary and funny to be running from a bird the size of a small chicken.  Imagine a wild brown bird hissing and charging you with its wings folded back.  See, that’s pretty scary!

Grouse tracks in the snow

Grouse tracks going all over

Grouse poop

Grouse poop. Their poop piles are huge!

These tracks in the photos below are of unknown species.  Maybe martin, lynx and squirrel, not necessarily in that order – you decide.

animal tracks

This was much bigger than a mouse, but smaller than a dog

animal prints in the snow

Looks like some rabbit (left) and maybe lynx or something else?

dog smelling tracks

Kobi smelling more “mystery” tracks

And of course, the critter that has caused me the most angst this winter, especially when it’s dark out, Mr or Ms Moose.

moose bed

Kobi investigating a moose bedding site. Likely the same moose that was freaking me out on my night walks over a month ago

moose poop

Moose poops, Kobi’s favorite frozen snack, yes, that’s gross I know, but she loves them

And finally, leaf tracks.

leaf print in the snow

Even leaves leave tracks


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More Winter Adventures

I’m gently embracing my slow reintroduction to running so as not to smother this renewed relationship and once again have running leave me.    

I was so excited to run last Sunday that I bolted out the door without even checking the temperature.  I knew it was cold as our windows had frost on the inside which means it’s colder than -25C (-13F) outside so I did dress appropriately.  I was also only going to attempt a short distance so it couldn’t be that bad.   Within 15 minutes my eyelashes looked like this.  I think it was closer to -30C.  

Frozen eye lashes

Kind of a scary close-up, but aren’t these the coolest eye-lash extensions ever?

I did a very slow walk/jog (3×2 minutes) for a total of 30 minutes (4km-ish).  It felt so lame to run such a short distance, but Kobi was stoked to go for a “walk” longer than 2km.  

winter sunrise

Kobi stopped for 3 seconds so I could get a shot of her and the sunrise that morning

 

Tuesday I decided I needed to run again and it was a balmy -3C out.  I was aiming for a 1×4 walk/jog, but after the first set, I said screw it and just ran.  I ran a slow 4+km without stopping or walking.  During the entire run I was completely fixated on what might start hurting.  Fortunately, nothing hurt too much.

Dog in the snow

Kobi says, “just run!”

Besides obsessing over every little twinge I was feeling, I was scoping out the snowmobile trails so as to fulfill my need to look fierce on skate skis.  Early on with my injury, my physiotherapist recommended not skate skiing as it would flex my foot in a bad way.  That was a while ago so I went for it Wednesday (plus it was only -9C out).  It was amazing!  And my foot didn’t hurt.

What was also pretty amazing was that I only had to walk about 300m from my door to the trails where I popped on my skis and headed on my way.  How cool is that? 

I skied 2km and then figured we’d check out the trails on the other side of the highway.  We bolted across the road “sans” skis (I didn’t want to wreck them) and were once again in skiing bliss.  We skied and skied and skied and then took this other trail and skied some more and then I took this photo. 

sunset and black spruce

The view from the skate/snowmobile trail – just seconds before my epiphany

Suddenly I thought to myself, “what a pretty sunset.  Hmm sunset, it’s going to get dark soon and I have no headlight and I’m nearly in the middle of nowhere.”  Everywhere is the middle of nowhere where I live. 

We started heading for home, much to Kobi’s disappointment (I swear that dog would run forever).  I was really really getting tired by this point and had to be extra careful not to wipe-out as part of my trail was beside the Alaska Highway and I hate falling in public.  I managed to stay upright and still felt somewhat fierce regardless of my exhaustion.   Kobi was fully stoked (according to her  “stoke-o-meter) to have run her little guts out on some new trails.  Success.  

PS  I was very sore Thursday.

PPS  I ran again on Friday (7km with a few walk breaks).  Foot is holding together.

PPPS  It’s -30C with a -40C windchill right now so I doubt I’ll be skate skiing this weekend.