Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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The Season of Mud

The season of mud has arrived.  I think it’s called spring in other more modern places.

mud and dog walking

My running trails look like this now. Aren’t my Mucks pretty!?

I do like this season because it means things will be green soon, but I don’t like this season because before things get green, they’re very brown and wet.  It also means the bugs and bears will be out soon.

This favourite season of mine also makes running tricky.  You see, I like trail running and the trails are mostly mud and/or soft impassable snow right now.  Which means I have to run on the paved community trail in town.  That means Kobi is “supposed” to be on a leash.  She’s not very good on a leash, more like I’m not very good on a leash.  I don’t heel well and I also don’t sprint, stop, sniff and repeat with the same level of enthusiasm she does.

dog running

The view on most of my runs. Yes, we were breaking the law and I was off-leash.

This season of mud also brings with it random snow-storms and other extreme weather events like severe wind and hailstorms.  Two more of my favourite things.

dog and hail storm

Kobi’s please-don’t-make-me-run-in-this-hailstorm face.

dog catching ball

We had snow showers and hail storms all on the same day!

As a result of the mud and nasty weather (aka hail storm), I have not run much this week.  But Kobi did have her first bath of 2015.

dog bath

Casper was supervising. Kobi really doesn’t mind baths, but you can’t tell that by the look on her face.

I’m sure things will dry up soon enough and I’ll be back on the dirt trails worrying about bear encounters.

Does your dog like baths? Which do you prefer, running in a hailstorm or severe wind or both?  What’s your favourite season?


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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?  

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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It’s Nearly Winter Where I Live

dog in the snow

This stuff has already melted, but it will be back

It was so cold on my run last weekend I had to wear a toque (wool hat for you non Canadians), a jacket and mittens (my hands are ridiculously cold all the time).  That run inspired me to do the closet swap  – you know – pack all your summer clothes up and bring out the sweaters.  Gotta love life in the north.  I shouldn’t even bother putting winter clothes away for the short “hot” season we get, but it is more out of principle.

Did you know we had 3.5 months snow free this year?  Pretty amazing hey?

Regardless of the cold, I am still loving running in the wilds right now.  With no bugs and the beautiful colours who could resist?!

dog in the forest

Kobi on our foggy weekend run. Notice she’s sticking her tongue out at me.

 

Kobi has been loving the cooler weather and has 4-7 epic squirrel or grouse chases every walk and run.  Unfortunately one of these epic chases resulted in an injury, a back injury of all things. She must have slipped or tripped as all I heard was a yelp and then she wasn’t keen on jumping up anymore.

White dog

What did you say? I can’t run?

I drove her 390km (230ish miles) one way (and then back again) to see a veterinarian as we were pretty worried (no vet in my town).  No fractures or breaks, but she’s on anti inflammatories and is going to need 3 weeks of rest.  Ever tried containing a hyper-super-fit dog for three weeks?  It’s not going to be easy. Poor Kobi.  She is showing signs of improvement already so everything should be a-okay soon enough.

3 cats 1 dog

I think this will be our Christmas card as I never get all 4 critters in one shot

How many months snow free do you get?   Any ideas on how to keep a hyper dog calm without excessive exercise?


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Hill Repeats in the Heat and My New Kittens

The title pretty much sums up my last week.

I adopted two new kittens so any spare time I have had has been consumed by hugging, kissing, playing with, looking for and taking photos of my new kittens.   Kittens are a bigger time drain than Facebook, but way more fun and just so cute.

white and black kittens

Aren’t they cute? Casper and Cricket are their names.

It’s been so hot here.  Not Texas hot, but it hits the mid 90’s every day and the humidity is high for us too.  Because it’s been hot I have justified eating lots of ice cream with Kobi.  She’s not complaining.

dog eating ice cream

mmmm ice cream (she gets her own cone)

 

I’ve also been out paddleboarding with my pro Kobi.  She’s so cool.

dog in the water

Kobi pre board

dog on a SUP

Kobi is a pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’ve been running.  Mostly lots of hill repeats to attempt to get ready for my upcoming races.   Why did I sign up for two mountain trail runs?  Because I love mountains and trails of course, but running hills in this weather is getting hard (as is packing 2 litres of water for every run).

Because it’s so darn hot out, all our routes have to centre around water sources so Kobi can cool off every 10-15 minutes.  I’m desperate to cool off too and went so far as standing in a creek to cool my toes, but realized that water in your shoes makes your feet really heavy.  Oh well.  I’ll remember that next time.  It did feel really good for 2 minutes.

dog in the water

Kobi isn’t fussy when it comes to water, ditch water works fine

How hot is it where you live?  Would you opt for heavy wet shoes in order to have nice cool feet for a few minutes?  Do you eat lots of ice cream when it’s hot out (with your dog)?  Don’t you think my kittens are cute?

 


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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?

 

 


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Painful Recap

dog and grass

I must have a photo of Kobi in my posts

I hit the community trail last week with the intention of running for 60 minutes to stretch out my legs after my last little race (recall the Alcatraz Challenge).  I was feeling pretty good, so good in fact, I felt like I was flying up the first long hill.  I saw a girl and her dogs up ahead that me and Kobi know from trail encounters  so I decided to keep Kobi off leash.

I forgot Kobi is a scent dog, not a sight a dog.  As I was flying around a switch-back Kobi “sighted” the dogs up ahead, but didn’t recognize them.  She stopped abruptly right in front of me (as I was flying up the hill).  For a 40 pound dog, she can hold her ground.  I crashed into her and took an epic wipe-out – on pavement.  Fortunately I was holding my phone in one hand and her e-collar controller in the other (forgot my FlipBelt) and skidded on those first.  Unfortunately my knees weren’t carrying anything and I skidded on those next.

Cut knees

Ouch. Running with your dog can be hazardous

After falling, I did not jump up in embarrassment as it hurt so bad.  Instead I let out a very loud, long string of expletives.  I just can’t control my vocabulary when angry or in severe pain (it’s a superpower).  The girl up ahead was too frightened by my language to offer assistance, I don’t blame her.

I sat in the middle of the trail for a few minutes and wondered if you could actually break a knee.  I finally got up and hobbled around assessing the damage.  I had nothing to wipe up the blood pouring from my knees and of course I was wearing my white Injinji toe socks (I love toe socks and thank goodness for OxiClean).

Eventually I carried on with my run and received a few odd looks from passers-by, they probably thought I was pretty tough.

A few days later I was in the closet digging out more band-aids for my knees and knocked over a giant bottle of shampoo that landed smack in the middle of my big toe.  That hurt so bad I broke out in a sweat.  I think I’m clumsy.

Have you ever worn toe socks – do you love ’em or hate ’em?  Has your dog ever caused an epic wipe-out?  Do you carry band-aids when running?  I think I might start carrying some (if I could remember my FlipBelt).  What’s the worst thing you’ve dropped on your big toe?