Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Bugs and Bears

rainbow

A rainbow in my yard!! But sadly, no pot of gold.

Bugs and Bears is my name for the season affectionately known as summer.  This season is all about biting blood-sucking insects and large blood-letting predators.

First, there are the mosquitoes that drive you mad with their incessant buzzing and biting.  When it’s too hot for them outside, their friends the horse-flies take over.

Did you know that a horse-fly can fly up to +40km an hour?  Maybe that’s why they’re called “horse” flies.  This means you can’t escape them when on a bike and you definitely can’t outrun them.  They flock together and fly around your head while you’re running.  It’s awesome.  What’s even more awesome is when they sink their fly teeth in.  According to Wikipedia, they have “knife-like mandibles to rip and/or slice flesh apart”.  How lovely.

Then there are the black flies (about 1/8 the size of a horse fly).  They leave a nasty bloody bite mark that itches terribly and usually gets infected.  And we can’t forget the no-see-ums (teeny tiny wee little biting flies).  I swear if you looked at these under a microscope they would be all fangs.  Their bite really hurts and they also leave bloody bite marks.

no-see-um drawing

No-see-um. This is what I think they look like.

Oh, and then there are the “pinchers”.  If there is one insect that instills the deepest fear in me, it is the dreaded pincher (aka the longhorn wood-boring beetle).  When I see them flying, I start waving my arms and jumping around frantically all while screaming.  I think this attracts them.  They also have hooks on their feet so once they land on you, they hold on.  They also bite when they feel threatened (they eat wood so they have strong jaws and my screaming makes them feel threatened).

longhorn beetle

I’m shuddering just writing this caption. Photo credit Wikimedia

Then of course there are the large predators – bears.  It’s cool when you see them hanging out on the side of the road when you’re driving by (in a car), not so cool when you’re on a bike or out running.  You really only have to worry about the sows defending their cubs, the predatory ones (yes, they do hunt people up here), or the ones you surprise.  That pretty much covers most of the bear situations you’re going to encounter while out running.

On a positive note, I get a great running tan (if there is such a thing) and everything is so green and lush.  Such a lovely time of year.

What’s your favorite blood sucking insect?  Does your dog get terrorized by biting bugs?  What’s your favorite running season?  Does your dog like eating grass?

white dog eating grass

Kobi eating her greens

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Tale of a Trail Race and a Mountain Climb

Toad River Run

Race signs – it’s very rural.

On Saturday I ran a very cool 10km race (and then climbed a mountain).

The race takes place way up north in one of the more picturesque parts of this province  (ruggedly stunning).  The race is hosted by a place called Stone Mountain Safaris and is a fundraiser for the small school in the community of Toad River.  There is a 5km walk/run and a 10km walk/run.  I think there was a shorter kids race too.  There were 90 people registered including kids and a small herd of dogs.  I think maybe 20 people (including kids) ran the 10km.  The race is mostly on trails through pastures and wooded areas and a bit of gravel road at the end.

Stone Mountain Safaris

The “lodge” that hosts the race is quite beautiful.

I drove up the morning of as it’s only a 2.5 hour drive and starts at 9AM so it’s doable.  Kobi was fully stoked as she got to come along.

The weather was perfect for racing, overcast and not too hot.  It’s a mass start so I was up front with Kobi as she’s like a race horse out of the gates and I didn’t want to trample any small children by accident.

field and mountains

This is what our views were like during the run

I was passed after a few minutes by a much younger dude, but I kept him in my sight the entire race.  I kept Kobi on the leash for the first little bit as the horses run with you and then away from you.  She has no horse sense so it was best to keep her leash on.  Once through the gate that kept the horses out, Kobi was off leash.  She mostly ran with the faster dude up a head as she likes being up front.  She was courteous enough to wait for me at corners and then would just take off again.

The course was well-marked, and there were route directors on atv’s at every confusing spot.  I did stop once to get a photo of this guy playing a mandolin (the faster younger dude obtained a slightly better lead on me as a result).

man playing a mandolin

This is what our live entertainment looks like up north.

I was the first chick to finish, well actually Kobi was.  I went over to congratulate the much younger-than-me dude on his win and compliment his speed.  He replied back in the most beautiful Parisian French accent that I would be welcome on their trail running team.

Then I asked a dumb question, “where are you from?”

“France”, he said.

That explains the beautiful accent and the fact that I didn’t know him.   I think he is working up here at one of the lodges.  I then had a short daydream about trail running in France.  I imagined scenic routes along the coastline with castles and vineyards as backdrops.  Sigh, wouldn’t that be lovely?

After my short daydream I came back to reality and cheered on my friends and the other runners coming in.

After the awards we took off to climb a mountain as a 10km race is a good warm-up for that and we were in the mountains so you can’t waste them.  We drove just under an hour back to Summit Lake and proceeded to hike up Stone Mountain (opposite side of my snowshoe to the radio tower).

Summit Mountain

Just one of the “steep” parts

I have done this hike before and always forget how steep it is.  It is just under 4km to the far peak (there are 2).  At the first peak it was noticeably  colder and windier and I swear I saw snowflakes.  I will admit I was a bit giddy from the views or perhaps hypoxia – maybe both.  We made it to the final peak and took a short break,  added rocks to the cairn and headed back down.

Stone Mountain Park

Kobi cooling off in the snow before the final peak way off in the top left of the photo.

Okay, so climbing up a mountain is hard, but climbing back down is harder.  I was in an isometric quad hold for over an hour thanks to the steepness and loose rocks.  My quads were destroyed and still are!  And I have a triathlon this weekend!  How smart was that?

Stone Mountain Park

View from the top of the world. Man was it cold up there.

Kobi slept the entire next day and her feet were a bit worn by all the rocks (I felt bad).  She had a hoot though, as did I (except for my quads).

sleeping dog

A very very tired Kobi.

Ever run a race where horses were running with you?  Have you run trails in France?  Does your dog like climbing mountains?  What do you do to keep their feet from getting too tender on rocks?

 


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Post Run Polka Dot Pig

Fortunately I have no epic wipe-outs to write about this week (so far).  However, it is currently snowing outside!  Yes, snowing.

Up until today, the weather had been getting warmer and my runs had to centre around Kobi’s need to stay cool and refreshed.  Laying, swimming, and wallowing in water is the only way she can re-charge her superpowers in the heat.

Her favorite superpower recharging location is a small lake that is reasonably close to my home (just under 4km one way).  Getting there involves running in a few areas that bears like to inhabit resulting in my being a bit freaked out.

dog swimming

Kobi swimming away…

I do carry bear spray and a phone.  A phone is likely not all that helpful in a serious bear encounter, but it makes me feel better knowing I might have time to call someone or at least get some cool photos for my blog.  Kobi is also highly sensitized to their presence and turns into a barking Godzilla when she sees one or smells one.

gravel road

This is the road that scares me, but it’s so pretty

I’m quite sure one was close by when we ran to the lake on the weekend as Kobi turned into a 40 lb white, hairy Godzilla and charged into the woods all hackles up and barking.  I felt safe and scared all at the same time.

And then I thought what I always think when I encounter a bear or something scary, “at least dinosaurs are extinct, that would be much worse.”  I’m not sure why that helps, but it does.

wet dog

superpowers restored

Okay, now to the real reason I published this post.  I wanted to attach a funny video of Kobi.  I’m not sure why she does this, but after a run she gets really hyper.  She either runs around the yard at super high velocity, terrorizes the cat, or plays with one of her toys with great enthusiasm.  Perhaps she’s just happy we didn’t encounter any dinosaurs.  In the video she has found her most obnoxious toy to play with enthusiastically (before crashing for a nice long nap).

Does your dog get super hyper after a run or walk or is Kobi just odd?  Have you seen any cool wildlife while out running?  Are you grateful dinosaurs are extinct or am I just odd?