Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Summit Run-It

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Group shop seconds before the start.  That’s me and Kobi far right.

We did it! We held our second Summit Run-It on June 5.  This time we advertised, last year we didn’t as we just wanted to test out the idea. This year we had 51 folks participate and about 12 dogs.  Several hiked the route and the rest ran.  The route is uphill for 6km and then you turn around and get to run all the way back downhill.  There are some steeper sections, but they aren’t too long.

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A real mountain man.  He always races in jorts and he’s very fast.

This event is free so you don’t get a race shirt, have catered food or win any prizes. You do get to drive yourself 1.5 hours up the Alaska Highway to the incredibly scenic Stone Mountain Provincial Park.  Water, granola bars and dog treats (for the canines) were available post-race and participants received handmade finishing medals.

Blog June 2016 medals

Low budget finishing medals

 

We did have two “aid” stations. We had a park ranger at the mid-point and a volunteer fireman at the turn-around.  These stations only had water for dogs and were primarily there just to provide assistance to participants should it be needed.  The other park ranger and volunteer fireman stayed at the finish line ready for dispatch in the unlikely event of an emergency.  We are in the great white north, so one never knows what one might encounter.

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We also provided free photos of participants taken during the race.

Now onto me, recall I have basically been off running since March with only a few shorter runs completed recently. My intent was to run to the turn-around and then just dawdle along and take photos of the other runners.  I realized early on that one does not sustain running fitness by not running for 3 months.  To avoid vomiting in front of folks, I changed plans and started taking photos much earlier than planned.  I was okay with that.

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Selfie time – aka rest time

I had Kobi in her harness and a bungee leash attached to my waist. This set-up speaks to her inner sled-dog so she pulls very well.  I was worried that her pulling my pathetically out-of-shape butt up a mountain might re-hurt her recently healed foot so she wasn’t on leash for too long.  I can see why folks like canicross.  Man, you can really give’r when you’ve got a dog pulling you.

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Mountain crocodile

Of course Wolverine (aka my heel spur) didn’t want to miss out on the scenery and fresh mountain air so he hung out with me too. On a pain scale of 1-10, I was at a 7 by the finish line.  Just so happens Mavis, our local massage therapist, completed the event and has been working on my foot a bit so she did some post-run work on me.

Let me tell you about Mavis:  she also did this event last year, is close to 80 years old (but looks way younger), still works as a massage therapist, is constantly taking new training in her field, swims three times a week, and hikes like no one’s business.  She is amazing.  She even brought almond cake to share with everyone post-race.

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Mavis the Amazing

It was a good day.  Happy running y’all!

Are you all about the swag or would you dig this kind of event?  Uphill or downhill runner?  Maybe I’ll encourage folks to bring baking next year like Mavis did.  Do you know of someone like Mavis?  Isn’t she the coolest?!  

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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!!

 


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I Ran a Race (Last Week)

Pacific Ocean

Coastal Scenes

I have many quirks (aka superpowers) that you may or may not care to read about, but one that somewhat relates to this post is that I don’t like telling folks what races I have coming up.  I am paranoid that something will happen and I won’t be able to race and then you will be sad.  You likely won’t care one way or the other, but I want to protect you from any unnecessary stress just in case.

Anyway, I nearly had to un-plan my last secret planned race due to Kobi’s injury which totally justifies, in my mind, why I should keep my mouth shut.

I booked this trip over 2 months ago (flights, hotels, etc) and husband was even going to come along as his siblings conveniently live in the city where the race is.  Once he learned that Kobi needed 3 weeks of rest, he quickly offered to stay home and look after her, a little too quickly I might add, and encouraged me to carry on and go to the race.

So I headed off to run a half marathon in beautiful Victoria, BC.

I flew down to the opposite end of the province from where I live and then planned on taking a small seaplane over to the island from the mainland – just for the adventure of it.  Turns out it was foggy the day I was going to do this so my flight was cancelled.  I knew there wouldn’t be many commercial flight options left so I found a commercial bus line that drives you to the ferry and then takes you to downtown Victoria (I had 10 minutes to catch the bus).

What would have taken 30 minutes via seaplane took four hours by bus and ferry.  I also have issues with public transit type forms of travel thanks to my fear of germs.  I had myself convinced I was sick the next day, but I seemed to get over it race day.

foggy ferry ride

Just a bit foggy out

Now onto the race.

The weather was perfect for racing – overcast and not too cold and not too hot, just right.

Another of my quirks you may be fascinated to learn about is that I never wear my Garmin when I race and I rarely if ever look at my watch when racing either.  I love running by feel.

Here’s how I do it:  run just fast enough so that I don’t feel like throwing up and leave enough in the tank to run the last 3km as strong (I always feel yucky by 18km) if not stronger than the first 10km. That’s it.

mixedbreed dog

Rosie the lion/dog was there to cheer me on at the 13km mark.

I had secretly (well, not now) really really wanted to run under 1:36.  The clock said 1:36:30 when I crossed the finish line, my chip time was 1:36:19.  I was at first a little bummed, but I got over it as it was 8 seconds faster than my fastest half marathon ever time and just under 2 minutes faster than my fastest time for this race.

What I find cool about this race is that there are a few loops you have to run out and back so you get to see the pros fly by a few times.  Love watching them.

Okay, now a Kobi update.  She’s doing much better.  She still isn’t 100% herself and knowing that dogs are great at hiding pain I’m sure she still needs some time.  Technically we have only 7 more days and she can start running with me again – I’ll ease her in slowly of course.

Ever had to make exciting last-minute travel changes?  Do you ever race by feel?  Any other pointers to racing by feel?  Do you like Kobi’s white teeth?  

white dog

Isn’t she cute?

 

 

 

 

 


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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