Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Racing Thoughts

runner and dog

Just us, pondering life and which way to run.

Howdy y’all. We’re full on in the season of Almost-Spring. You know, winter in the morning (ice and possible snow flurries) and then spring by afternoon (snow and mud). Soon enough it will be full on mud.

In the spirit of Almost-Spring, I’ve been thinking about my summer racing plans.  Okay, more like my lack of summer racing plans.  Because I’m so remote and have to travel far and wide to races I’m just not feeling the racing travel love.

I’ve decided to race close to home and will maybe just do a few out-of-town races, or not. We have some decent races up here, except 3 of them are ones I help with so I don’t get to run them. But, the ultra-cool news is that I wanted another local race so I’ve hit up the rec department and we’re going to host a mountain run! I’m not going to miss running this one because it’s in the mountains and there is nothing more beautiful than running with caribou in the mountains with your dog.

two dogs

Kobi is playing with her sister Caribou. She also likes running with the other kind of caribou.

Because we have no idea how many people may show up and we’re not really sure how the logistics of a remote race are going to work, we’re making it free!  We want folks to come out and run and provide input as to how to make it an even more super awesome event next year.  Oh and there will be no swag. That’s right, no stuff. No race shirt, no medals, no water stations, and you have to time yourself. Boy, I’m not selling this one very well.

You will get to see views like this (hopefully with less snow).

summit mountains

So pretty

There will be some perks, such as:  water and snacks at the finish line, you can bring your dog, and the Parks guy promised he’d chase the grizzly bears away – I’m serious.

This is going to be awesome! Come on, it’s in the mountains, it’s gorgeous and shouldn’t running be about running, not the swag?

In case any of you want to travel north and see some stunning mountains and wildlife, you can register here (remember it’s free). It all happens on June 20. It might cost you a little bit in airfare, but if you get yourself here, I promise I will drive you to the race – it’s a beautiful 1.5 hour long drive – as long as you don’t mind Kobi kisses. She likes to kiss passengers.

snow dog

Kobi sends kisses

Would you test out our mountain race? Ever run with caribou? How about grizzlies?  Is it springtime where you live?


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For the Love of Winter

winter running

Just out running in the snow

I have realized I am totally in love with winter. I don’t think love is too harsh a word either. Perhaps this is the first stage of vitamin D deficiency or some other cold weather induced chemical reaction in the brain that has yet to be diagnosed and only occurs in people living close to the 60th parallel. Perhaps not.

running in the snow

Just one of those amazing snow and sunshine runs

Perhaps winter is just in my DNA as I am a mix of solid European farmer types. It’s definitely in Kobi’s DNA. That girl was made for the snow so I’m going to assume I am too. Except for my hands, they get terribly cold.

dogs love snow

Doggy snow roll

Winter is just so much fun (providing it is warmer than -30C). There is so much do to during this amazing season. I can cross-country ski, skate ski, skijor (ok, I’m new to that), snowshoe run or just snowshoe (only a Canadian would have 3 different types of snowshoes). Or I can just plain old run in a nice spiky set of Snowcross runners. It just doesn’t get any better.

skijor

First skijor. It was way too icy. We’ll try again.

To top off this amazing season, I don’t have to worry about bears or bugs, just packs of wolves and protective cow moose and the odd small herd of white tail deer which can also be quite protective of their young. Regardless, it’s still a great season.

wolf tracks

Biggest wolf tracks I’ve seen!

I think I’m so stoked about this season because we have had a pretty decent winter this year.  We weren’t hammered like the east coast with storm after storm and the temperatures have been pretty manageable.  I also took a small tropical break. Nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder.

skydiving

Guess what I did while on vacation?

Can you guess where I was on vacation?  Ever go skydiving?  Am I weird to love winter so much?  


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Running Along

dog in the snow

Kobi with a silly expression on her face.

Howdy y’all.  I figured you needed an update as to what’s been going on up here seeing as I’ve lost hold of time yet again.

I’m still running in the snow, like usual.  I haven’t skied much as it was quite icy, then it was quite cold, then it rained and made everything all icy again, and then it snowed again to cover up all the ice.

Rather than bore you with details of all my adventures with my sidekick Kobi, I thought I’d just mention a few that were extra epic.

I decided to do a slightly longer snowshoe run a few weekends ago so I ran to a little lake, circumnavigated the lake and then ran back home.  That was hard.  It was only 10.5km, but about 2km of it was breaking trail.  Not easy.  I discovered that running in snowshoes gives me a new appreciation for running without snowshoes.  Kobi likely ran 15km as she was off tracking caribou and ran back to me several times to make sure I was still moving.

snowshoeing

Epic Snowshoe run

snow running

Us, circumnavigating the lake.

I was so excited about that snowshoe I had to do it again last weekend, only it was +5C out.  I didn’t realize that snow sticks to the grips on your snowshoes at that temperature (because it’s usually not that warm out) and turns into a giant snowball that just gets bigger and bigger.  Before you know it your foot is at a very bad angle thanks to the giant snowball and you have no grip.

snow running

This was the not so epic day. It looks like fun, but it wasn’t

Of course it took me 2.5km to finally recognize that this snowshoe run wasn’t working out and that I had better turn around and head for home, but not before taking my snowshoes off.  I ended carrying them while I ran, one in each hand.  It was easier than running with them on my feet except my arms got sore carrying them.

I am ashamed to admit that I was carrying only 1.25 lbs in each hand and my arms got sore.   My excuse is that I had CrossFit that morning and my arms were experiencing a form of fatigue unknown to most of humankind.  Unfortunately Kobi wouldn’t carry them for me, something about not having thumbs, so I was on my own yet again.

dog

Kobi digging the run

Have you every circumnavigated a frozen lake in snowshoes just for fun?  Isn’t it cool that we have real live wild free-range caribou up here?  Kobi thinks so.  What can you put on your snowshoes to keep the snow from sticking – anyone have experience with this?  

PS  I’m sad Leonard Nemoy has left us.  His character Spock has always been role-model for me.  


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Catching Up

snow dog

Just out running in her red jacket

I honestly don’t know where the time goes, but I must be having fun because it’s flying by.

Me and Kobi have been up to our usual outdoor adventuring together. We haven’t cross-country skied much because we had some rain, yup rain, which turned everything to ice.  It shouldn’t rain when it’s -7C outside.

The ski trails were ice and I’m afraid of falling and breaking a hip so I didn’t ski. Then it snowed.  A lot.  But then the temperature really dropped. That deterred me from skiing some more as I can’t keep my hands warm when I have to hold ski poles and it’s -25C (or colder) and I even have electric mittens!

It got so cold on the weekend I had to use the treadmill.  It was -32C with a -40C windchill outside. I won’t subject Kobi to those temperatures so she slept on her princess bed while I ran on the treadmill and watched TV.

Here’s some photos showcasing our adventures (in case you don’t follow us on Instagram – you really should though – @outdoorrunning).

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Oh, I did start something new a few weeks ago, Crossfit.

Before Crossfit I thought I was in moderately decent shape, I have realized I am not in moderately decent shape. Holy beat-the-poop-out-of-you work-outs. Crossfit is hard. DOMS has an entirely new meaning to me now. Exactly 22 hours after a work-out I am in full on Crossfit induced pain. Sometimes lasting up to 3 days!

How’s your winter been going?  Are you getting tons of snow? Ever tried Crossfit? What’s your temperature cut-off for running outside?  Have you missed me?


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How I Roll, Sort of

dog on ski trails

Have to have a Kobi photo

I had to take a quick trip south earlier this week, only about 1000 miles south, but everything is that far away from here.

Of course I had to squeeze some running in as I was in a pretty cool rural area and it was only a balmy -5C.  I headed down the road and after a few minutes spotted a snowmobile trail heading into the woods. When it comes to me and trails, it’s kind of like flies on poop, I just gotta check it out.

snowmobile trail

The trail I found

First I stopped to take a photo of the signs at the trail and noticed I was standing on a cattle guard (aka cattle stop, cattle grid, Texas gate, livestock guard). I was totally distracted taking photos and walked backwards over the cattle guard not really paying attention.

I quickly learned that caution should be applied when walking backwards over cattle guards in the snow. It appeared that the snow was packed to the top of the guard, thanks to the snowmobile tracks, but it wasn’t, it was actually hollow underneath. As a result of this illusion, I stepped between the parallel bars of very hard steel and proceed to fall through.

You know that moment when you suddenly realize you aren’t on a solid surface anymore and you’re falling, I had that moment. Then of course the first thought through my head (the one that always presents itself when free-falling) was, “this is going to hurt”.

Cattle guard

See how it looks like the snow goes to the top, but really doesn’t.

I fell between the steel bars and landed smack on my butt. It didn’t hurt!  I then did what I always do after a fall, a quick scan to see who saw. No one fortunately.

I did smack my shin pretty good trying to get my leg out from between the steel bars.  I shook it off and assessed the damage, nothing was broken so I proceeded to start trotting along the trail happier than a fly on poop again.

Then that little smarty-pants voice in my head spoke up and reminded me I was in the thick of mountain lion country and it’s winter when mountain lions are the hungriest. Nothing scares me more than mountain lions, well maybe velociraptors, but thankfully those are extinct (although they still scare me).

trail in the winter

About when I started thinking about mountain lions

I had no safety gear with me, no Kobi my fearless protector, and my cell phone was now dead thanks to my cold weather photography obsession with a battery that only had 20% left on it when I left the warm house.

Long story short, I got a little turned around, ended up doubling back and eventually made it back to the cattle guard and the road without getting mauled by a mountain lion or breaking a leg. Phew.

I stuck to the road after that and had an uneventful but enjoyable run. Lessons learned, don’t step between the metal bars of cattle guards in the snow and don’t run in mountain lion country without at least a cell phone that works.

Ever had a run-in with a cattle guard or are you smarter than that?

Setting sun


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Welcome to 2015

Setting sun

This was the last sunset of 2014

It’s been almost a week into 2015 and life in the north has not disappointed.  Here are some exciting highlights…

We had a Chinook on New Year’s day, evening actually.  There was a really warm wind and within a few hours it went from -15C to +7C .  The drastic temperature increase resulted in a drastic snow melt and then 10 hours later it dropped back down to -15C and turned everything to ice.  Have no fear because then it started to snow, a lot, just so all the treacherous ice was well hidden.

winter running

New Year’s day run, Kobi is behind the bigger dog. The Chinook happened after this.

After the impressive snowfall, I had to go for a snowshoe with my wing-girl Kobi.  We took off on the trails behind our place (middle of nowhere) which are all uphill for what seems like forever.  Not 10 minutes in I noticed Kobi lock onto something with her doggy radar.  It was a small herd of elk.  They ran into the woods once they heard me getting Kobi back under control (i.e. yelling at her).  Fortunately I had her under control before she could be a real terror.  That was exciting.

We carried on and then Kobi locked onto 2 grouse.  She loves grouse.  What dog wouldn’t love giant chickens that fly and travel in large flocks?  When one flies away there are more to choose from.  Don’t worry, no grouse were harmed, much to Kobi’s disappointment.

Eventually we arrived at the home stretch which is all downhill.  Nothing feels as good as running downhill after walk-jogging for 2km uphill in fresh snow with snowshoes strapped to your feet.  I have never felt so fast in my life.  I’m sure I wasn’t fast, but I felt like Meb.

snowshoe running

Me running like Meb, notice Kobi is standing still waiting for me

Then there was the full moon on the weekend which was amazing, but then it got really cold.  Like -27C (-17F) not counting the windchill as who counts the windchill (probably smart people).

full moon

Full moon = cold weather

I had to go cross-country skiing the next day because it was just so bright and shiny out.  If it was -30C or colder I may have reconsidered, but heck, it was only -27C (-32C with the windchill, but I’m not a smart person).

A word of caution here, do consider the windchill and don’t try to take too many photos documenting your adventures when it’s -27C out.  It’s hard on fingers and gadget batteries.  Although, recall I have prototyped a pretty awesome smart phone warmer (read here).  I also keep the hand-warmer business in business as my hands are chronically cold from October to May.

dog in the forest

This was the -27C ski day. Kobi is sporting her new pink jacket.

The icing on the cake was the northern lights on Sunday night (and prior to 11PM).  However, by the time I got all my cold weather gear on (snowsuit, toque, headlight, gloves, mittens and neck warmer) and camera tripod ready to go, they had settled down so no spectacular photos.  Maybe next time.

northern lights

Some brief northern lights

How about you, do you consider windchill before venturing outside?  Ever feel Meb fast?  Does your dog like chasing things they’re not supposed to like large ungulates and flying chickens?


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Another Year

dog and runner

We’re so fast, we’re blurry. That’s Kobi in the red.

I haven’t been all that consistent with the ol’ blog lately, but I figured you would all just be dying to read my year in review so I’d better get on it.  Here goes, and I must warn you, it’s brief…

What I did

I completed 8 races:  5 half marathons (2 were trail races), a 10km trail, a triathlon, and a 7 miler (Alcatraz).  Of those 8 races, only 2 didn’t require significant travel (as in driving time and flying time).   I did help organize 2 local races which means I wasn’t able to run them, but that’s okay, the locals need some local races.

Golden Gate Bridge

Alcatraz Escape – Golden Gate Bridge and my purple arm warmers.

What I learned

I’m kind of tired of driving and flying long distances to races and I kind of get overwhelmed with the crowds at those big races.

Victoria Goodlife Fitness Half Marathon

If I’m in this one, I’m wearing a white hat and gray shirt, but I don’t think I’m in this one                                                       source

The plan for 2015

Not sure.  Definitely less travel and mostly trail races.  I will run the Victoria half again as that has sort of become my Thanksgiving ritual (Canadian Thanksgiving) and besides, there’s some family there so it’s kind of like multi-tasking.

What’s currently going on

There is no such thing as running intervals in the current dead of winter conditions so I’m running, skiing, and snowshoeing for Kobi and for fun.  I run with a small pack of humans and dogs on Saturdays too and that’s awesome.  I like socializing as does Kobi.  And Winter Solstice has been and gone, that means we’re progressing past 6 hours of daylight slowly but surely.

dogs

Kobi and her pack of buddies

What’s new with Kobi

She had some sort of leg injury a little while ago that cost me a fair chunk of change driving her 4 hours to see her doctor plus all the tests and x-rays.  They couldn’t find anything so I gave her more rest and rest days between our adventures.  She likes leg massages too.  She’s fine again.  Maybe she just wanted a road trip and a leg massage.

dog in the snow

Kobi loves fresh powder

I have no resolutions for 2015 as I never make any, too much pressure.

Do you like to plan your year or just wing it?  Do you like my purple arm warmers?  Isn’t Kobi the cutest?  Does your dog like snow as much as she does?

Happy New Year!!


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Still Running

Well, it’s still very much winter up here and I’d say I’m into the routine.

runner and dog

Me and Kobi out for a weekend run

My routine is more or less the same except with some additional activities like swimming a few days a week.

For the most part my day looks like this:  I get up in the dark, walk Kobi, eat breakfast, catch up on Instagram (remember to check out Kobi’s page – @outdoorrunning), go to work, walk Kobi, go back to work, finish work and run or snowshoe or ski with Kobi – in the dark, go home, see what damage the cats have done to the house, clean up the damage, prepare my lunch for the next day, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up some more, go to bed.  Start over…

white cat and black cat

The kittens causing trouble in the tub

night skiing

Attempting a selfie with Kobi, but she wasn’t interested

That’s more or less it.  Weekends are pretty much the same, except I can run or snowshoe or ski in daylight.

snowshoeing

Me and Kobi in snowshoes, well she’s not wearing any

My predictable routine made me think about that movie Groundhog Day (recall the Bill Murray movie where he keeps living the same day over and over).  Is my life like Groundhog Day?

I pretty much know what I’m going to do on any given day and some days are pretty much repeats of the previous day, but I also realized that regardless of the same repeated activities, my observations during those activities can be quite unpredictable.

dog and winter runner

Happy Kobi

For example, on those early morning walks with Kobi I may spend half the time staring at the northern lights, something we’re blessed with up in the north, or the stars.  What’s also surreal, is what it sounds like when you’re outside in the dark and it’s snowing really hard, it’s a very different kind of quiet.

human, dog, wolf

My tracks, Kobi and wolf tracks. Big feet!

It’s also pretty indescribable when you see a lynx in the forest when you’re out skiing or see fresh wolf tracks on your early morning run.  I’m also often left speechless (and not just because I was running uphill) watching a sunrise through the trees that is a colour of pink that has yet to be named.  And of course there is always Kobi who never stops entertaining me.  You should see her trying to catch ravens.

If that’s my Groundhog Day, I’ll take it.

winter trees

what it looks like when the sun comes up

Is it extra dark where you live right now?  Do you have a routine?  Ever run with wolves?  


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So Little Time

I honestly thought I would have a surplus of spare time once winter set in.  I’m not sure why I had this idea, but I imagined the colder days and early onset of darkness would leave me with more free time to leisurely drink hot cocoa after an awesome snowshoeing adventure in the wilderness.  Turns out it’s the opposite, I have way less time.

winter shot

Random photo when I was out of town for work. So few trees.

Winter is a huge time drain.  Any and all activity that involves going outside takes a pile of time gearing up for and it takes a lot of gear just to survive a walk, run or ski with the hound.  It also doesn’t help that my memory is about 3 seconds long and I forget at least 2-3 critical items during the gear-up and have to run up and down the stairs to find the critical items before I actually end up getting outside.

dog and snowshoes

Kobi impatiently waiting for me (again)

I’m just grateful Kobi comes in a nice furry little package and doesn’t require all the gear that I do, otherwise it would take an hour to get out the door.

dog toes

Kobi’s growing in her winter boots

I had also forgotten that running in cold snowy conditions takes longer and you need to be a bit more prepared for the unexpected.  That leads me to a few other ‘things’ I had forgotten.

Thing 1:  I remembered that I really dislike drinking cold water when I’m running around outside in the cold, it just makes me colder.  To solve this I turned some tacky beer can coolers (you know, the little slip on foamy covers) into water bottle cozies!  Fill up a water bottle with hot water, put a few of those bad boys on it and voila, you’ve got water that is still luke-warm an hour into your cold weather activity.

Thing 2:  I remembered that cell phones don’t like the cold and die really fast.  To solve this dilemma, I made a nifty iPhone jacket.  I’d take a picture of it, but someone will steal my amazing prototype and get rich off it.  It’s pretty awesome and it works!  That’s all I’m going to say.

dog in snow

Kobi loving the trails

I actually go so far as carrying some basic survival gear with me in case we get in some extra trouble and need to hunker down.  You know, things like matches, extra gels, hand warmers, and a fixed blade (that’s more to fight off Yeti, vampires and frozen zombies – yes, I have irrational fears).

winter runner

Purple Ninja (with my survival pack).  It was -32C at the time this photo was taken.

If anything, the colder, shorter days have taught me to be a bit more prepared when I head out the door, but at the cost of time of course.  So much for that relaxing hot cocoa.

How about you, do you carry extra gear for winter running?  Do you even experience winter running where you live?  What’s the coldest temperature you will run in?  Do you like Kobi’s hairy toes?  They will get hairier.  

 


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Racing and Stuff

 

white dog

Always need a photo of Kobi

I thought I’d have more time to update y’all with my latest winter adventures, but time seems to be getting away from me.  So instead, I’ll update you on my latest and final race of 2014.  I’ll update you on my snow adventures later.

I ran the Fall Classic in Vancouver, BC on Sunday.  It’s held at the University of BC campus and is a loop you do twice for the half marathon and once for the 10km.  I ran the half.  And I didn’t have much fun.

seawall

My pre-race run on the seawall was quite pretty!

For the first time ever prior to a race I seriously considered just leaving right after I picked up my race package rather than heading to the start line.  My head and heart just weren’t into it.

The race itself is nice and  small (just under 450 people), is a beautiful course around the campus and very well-organized.  They had a ton of volunteers with silly signs along the route, but they clearly weren’t having fun.  Looked more like they were told they had to do it.

The weather was chilly (-1C) and my hands were pretty cold.  It didn’t help that I wore my bargain “touch screen” gloves.  When I packed these they were folded into each other so I didn’t see the finger was ripped.

gloves with a hole

My “expensive” touch screen gloves.

I ran about 3-4 minutes slower than I was anticipating (1:39:40), but it felt like I was going faster.  Probably didn’t help that I had forgotten my lucky hat and didn’t paint my fingernails purple the night before.  Recall I’m convinced that those two things make me run faster.  Totally proved to me that race rituals are important and do make you run faster.

One cool thing about the race, I saw Forrest Gump.  I passed a dude that totally looked like this.  His shirt said “Gump” though so I think he knew he looked like this.

Forrest Gump

There was a dude running that looked totally like this in the race.

Have you ever seen Forrest Gump at a race or out running?  Do you believe that race rituals are important?  Are you happy for me that my racing is done for 2014 – I am!!