Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Adventures Abound

This past weekend involved flying fish, fighting raptors, stinging Hymenoptera, baby unicorns and large predators.  Well, sort of.

It all started Saturday when I went out for an hour-long run. Turns out this was one of those runs where you just don’t feel the love.

I headed to the lake first so Kobi could have a swim break. There were all these schools of little minnows close to shore. Then they started jumping like crazy. I think they wanted to fly or become land dwellers, they were going nuts.

minnows jumping

Flying Fish

We stayed a while and watched the fish who wanted to fly before carrying on.  Then we saw a raven and a hawk fighting or maybe they were playing, it was cool.

Forty minutes in and I still wasn’t feeling the love, but I was starting to accept this.

Then I collided with a large flying thing. It was either a bee or a hornet as it got tangled in my camelback strap and stung me! I actually started yelling and cursing and then failing and throwing my camelback off as fast as possible as I feared it was still tangled and would keep stinging me.

I never actually saw the stinging Hymenoptera so I don’t know which it was – bee or hornet. I first assumed hornet as they are always angry and like to sting. However, I was wearing the brightest yellow shirt ever and bumblebees like flowers so perhaps I looked like a flower and the bee didn’t realize I was running and therefore the collision. I’m sure a bee would only act in self-defense so I forgive the bee. Not so much if it was a hornet. Regardless, it hurt. I haven’t been stung in a while and I had forgotten what the burning piercing pain of a sting was like.

I carried on as I’m not allergic to stings, I’m just a wimp.  I also wanted to check out the baby unicorns ahead.

baby horses

They could be baby unicorns?

They’re not real unicorns, but they’re cute and I would love to see a real unicorn.  After the unicorns horses I hit another watering hole for Kobi and then headed home.

dog in the water

Northern water dog

The adventure didn’t stop there. Sunday I talked myself into a bike ride. I’m not super crazy about cycling up in my neck of the woods as the roads suck and are not bike friendly and I can’t take Kobi with me.

During the first 5 minutes I saw 3 red tail hawks playing around and thought that was pretty cool and maybe this would be a good ride. It wasn’t. I never really get used to large semi-trucks speeding by me at 110km/hr. Then I saw the biggest black bear cross the highway in front of me. That was all it took, I turned around and high-tailed it home. Total ride: 45 minutes.

But wait, there’s more…Monday I saw a giant fresh steamy pile of bear poop about 300m into my jaunt with Kobi. Kobi pee’d on it then proceeded to charge into the woods back and forth so the bear wasn’t too far away.

bear poop

Bear poop

Oh, icing on the cake, these guys are everywhere right now. I don’t know how to spell a shiver, but that’s what they make me do.

spider

Check out its hairy legs

Ever had one of those runs where you just aren’t loving it? What do you think, bee or hornet? Are you allergic to stings? Ever been stung while running or cycling? Aren’t those horses cute?  Does that spider freak you out?  Seriously they are everywhere this year!!

kittens

You needed a kitten update too, they’re way cuter than spiders

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Colour Run and a Wipeout

 

colour runners

Colour Run
Photo Credit Artography by Tracy

I have not run for over a week now. After running two half marathons one week apart, I figured a week off would be beneficial (not so much for Kobi).  My IT band is also a bit angry.

In lieu of not running I helped with a Colour Run. The run is held on a trail that can be quite thick with bears this time of year. My job was to bike patrol to ensure no runners or walkers were alone or in trouble at any given point (it was a 2.5km out and back).

colour run

Start of the Colour Run

The race started and I was riding in front keeping an eye on the first runner behind me. I stopped a few times and waited and when I saw the first colour station ahead I slowed way down and looked over or under my shoulder to see where the runner was. That caused me to veer way over to the edge of the trail.

I figured “oh heck, I’ll just ride through this.” That is ride off the trail into the woods. The shoulder was quite steep on the edge of the trail and I was at a bad angle so I did not “ride through this”, but instead fell, rather hard, in front of 10 people and the race photographer. Yup, I like an audience.

I did what any person would do with a crowd watching, I jumped up throwing both arms in the air declaring “I’m okay!!!”

I was not okay. I didn’t even take a photo of my shredded forearm and shoulder as I was trying not to draw any extra attention to my injuries. I figured the coloured cornstarch would help slow the bleeding as well as hide it. It seemed to work.

colour run

You’d never know I had wiped out a little while earlier.  Photo credit Artography by Tracy

Fortunately I didn’t have to defend anyone from attacking bears and 2 hours later I was home scrubbing multi-coloured cornstarch off and assessing the damage. There are going to be scars, but the worst part is everything really hurts – my neck, my already angry IT band, my hip and I can’t lift my left arm without squeaking in pain.

I hate falling. On the upside, I didn’t curse (which is unusual for me) and I should be good for wipeouts now. I’ve had a running wipeout thanks to Kobi and now a bike wipeout thanks to me. I’ll be sure to be extra careful at the pool as I don’t want to face plant on the deck, that would be embarrassing.

The downside is, I’m going to hold off running for a few more days until I can at least move my neck again. Poor Kobi, she’s going to disown me if she doesn’t get to run soon.

Have you ever done a colour run? Ever crash your bike in front of a crowd?


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Running with Dinosaurs

dinosaur mural

When dinosaurs roamed free

I ran another trail race on Saturday, Emperor’s Challenge.  I only had to drive 1200km round-trip to do so.  Yup, I live in the middle of nowhere.  It was also only six days since I ran the trail race in the Yukon (recap here).

I left home late so I didn’t get to my destination until close to 7PM.  I bought and ate some grub, got my race gear together and then painted my fingernails purple.  I started the purple fingernail ritual last May when I ran a PB at the BMO Half Marathon after painting my nails purple, therefore, purple nail polish makes me run faster.

Side-note, I have an irrational fear of dinosaurs. This race is held in an area where there are tons of dinosaur fossils – it’s their claim to fame and hence coal mining is the major industry and also the closest I will get to running with velociraptors (dead ones anyway).

dinosaur bones

GRRRRR

This was my fourth time doing this race and third time on this route.  They have to change routes as the mining company keeps removing the mountains the race is on.  It used to be a small race, but it has really grown popular and they cap it at 1000 entries now.  650+ people showed up this year.  It attracts a very talented group of fast mountain runners.

Emperors Challenge

The scenery is much prettier than this once you get going

It’s 20km long, is a pile of uphill, some flat rocky areas at the top, then a ton of technical downhill, more uphill, and then more downhill.  The last stretch is a long downhill on a gravel road to the finish (downhill doesn’t always feel good).  Of course the very last bit is uphill.  So cruel.

Emperors Challenge

the views are pretty nice

I ran 2:06:27 (my best time yet on this course – see purple nail polish does make you faster) and placed 5th in my age group (141 total) and 14th out of the women (414) so I’m not going to complain.  I will complain about changing in the backseat of my vehicle and giving myself a leg cramp and then driving 6 hours back home.

Two hours into the drive, I took my first break and ate way too many french fries and a large iced coffee which kept me pretty entertained for the next four hours.  I don’t drink caffeinated drinks very often so it hit me pretty hard.

Do you have any odd pre-race rituals?  Are you scared of dinosaurs?  Would you drive 6 hours to run a trail race – with dinosaurs? 

 


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Yukon River Trail Half Marathon

I agreed to do the above mentioned race with a friend (we put it on the race plan about 10 months ago).  It’s held on the first Sunday in August in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories.  It’s only a 950km drive from where I live.

The week before the race I said screw driving that far and decided to fly.  Not totally smart as I can only afford to fly using air miles on short notice and there weren’t many flight options available last-minute.  I ended up driving 390 km to the next closest airport, flew 1.5 hours to Vancouver and then flew 2.5 hours back north to Whitehorse.  I was at least on the same flight as my partner in crime.

Leaving on a jet plane

Leaving on a jet plane

We got in very late Friday night.   Saturday we did a little run along the trail in town (where I met Creepy Barbie) and spent the rest of the day checking out Whitehorse.  Sunday was race day.

creepy barbie was stuck in the fence along the trail

Creepy Barbie was stuck in the fence along the trail

Whitehorse, Yukon

Downtown Whitehorse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event hosts a full marathon, relay marathon and half marathon – all on trails, single track goat trails to be precise.

Most of the folks running this one are locals and the entire event is capped at 325.  There were 100 people in the half marathon.

This is me trying to look cool pre-race.  I haven't quite figured out how to look cool.

This is me trying to look cool pre-race, or like Captain Morgan

The half didn’t start until 10AM.  It’s a gun start and not really chip timed.  You get this little plastic thing you have to dip into a  reader when you cross the finish line.  Not good as my hands don’t work well after I run so I was pretty sure I’d drop it (spoiler alert, I didn’t).

I placed myself up front with the fast folks as why the heck not.  There were some really fast folks there.  One girl up front was maybe 5 feet tall and 85 lbs of fastness.  I saw her doing a warm-up, holy fast Batman.  She ran the half in 1:35 so that tells you how challenging the course was.  She looked like she could run a 1:15 on a road.

The first bit was on paved trail, then some road and then you hit the single track.  People were incredibly polite about passing.  The second half of the race was really hard.  Some seriously steep sections (up and down and I suck at downhill).

I didn’t take photos as taking your eyes off the goat trail along the cliffs and through the woods would have resulted in a face plant or fall off the side of a mountain into a cold lake below.  I also would’ve likely taken a wrong turn and would still be running out there as you had to pay attention to the trail markers (flagging tape).

Cool side note:  If any of you Canadians watched the Amazing Race Canada Tuesday, the bridge the contestants run across at the end of the show is the bridge I ran across in my race.

I finished in a decent time (I think) as I was the fifth chic in and first in my age group (there were 20 in my age group).  It took me 1:58:44.

The finishing medals are really cool.

The medals are made from pottery.  Very cool.

The medals are made from pottery.

Post race, I pigged out at McDonald’s (I just looked at the food as carbs and protein, that’s how I justified it, plus it was close to the hotel).  A little while later we made our way back into town – walking slowly – to find a place to eat dinner.  We ended up at a pub called the Dirty Northern Bastard.  It sounded too good to pass up.

We left the next morning on a 5:55AM flight back to Vancouver, then I flew back to where I started and drove 4 hours back home.  And I saw a grizzly bear on the drive – cool!

I am totally in love with Whitehorse, it’s so beautiful!  The people are so nice too.  It’s kind of like Hawaii, but in the north and obviously colder and no palm trees.  I think it’s more the feel of the place that made me think of Hawaii, laid back and everyone totally wants to be there.  I want to be there.

Ever been to Whitehorse?  Do Barbie’s freak you out?  What’s the coolest medal you’ve received at a race?  What’s the weirdest name of a pub you’ve been to?  Have you seen a grizzly bear in the wild?

 

Yukon River Trail Half Marathon