Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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?



Aqua Girl and Flash (Sort of)

Alcatraz Challenge

The ferry in the top right en route to the “jump-off” point

Golden Gate Bridge

The view was pretty sweet a few hours after the race









On Sunday I did a pretty cool event – The Alcatraz Challenge in San Francisco (1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz and 7 mile run across a famous bridge).  I did not do the swim.  When I agreed to this, my entire motive was to visit a high school friend living in the city and run across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I am not yet a strong or brave enough swimmer to jump off a ferry and swim from Alcatraz to shore.  But my friend (whose idea this was) hooked me up with a super awesome swimmer and new besty Karlene (aka Aqua Girl) so how could I say no.

Two of the four of us did the entire event (1.5 mile swim and 7 mile run).  I think I got off pretty easy.

Saturday AM we did a quick pre-race run through the city.

San Francisco

I was practicing my fast photography while on a pre-race run Saturday AM through the city

San Francisco

More views on my Saturday AM, this is across from the Farmer’s Market










Then we met up with my high school friend at the Farmer’s Market.  He also has a blog so you must check it out because it’s about art in San Francisco and we all need to appreciate art in that city.

The market was amazing.  I forgot that fruit comes from California and that it isn’t weird to see apricots and cherries in May.  I do need to get out more.


My new pre-race fuel – pecan macaroon from Miette Patisserie.

breakfast in San Francisco

More eating at the market. That’s Aqua Girl front left, my home town buddy back left, and my high school friend and blogger David front right



After the market we hit the race package pick-up and listened in on the swim presentation – what you need to know to survive the swim.  The package pick-up was at this place called the Sports Basement.  I could have spent days and thousands of dollars there.

Sunday AM I saw my friends off to the ferry while I headed to Crissy Field to await their arrival.  It was terribly windy and likely the worst swimming conditions the event has seen in years.  The first swimmer showed up in 33 minutes and then my swimmer showed up at 43 minutes.


Alcatraz Challenge

This was the first batch of swimmers coming in around 37 minutes

The first thing my new besty said to me (recall she’s an amazing swimmer) when we found each other at the transition, “those were the worst conditions I’ve ever swam in!”  I gave her a hug, took her chip and off I ran.  Of course the fog had rolled in over the bridge so I didn’t see much for views.  It was less foggy on the way back.


Golden Gate Bridge

This would have been a good view had it not been so foggy at the start

Alacatraz Challenge runner

I let this dude pace me to the turn-around on the bridge and then passed him










It felt like I was running fast as my legs felt weird and I felt like throwing up a few times (who needs a watch when you can determine speed by how badly you want to throw up).  I ran the 7 miles in 49:27 so I was pretty happy.

Funny story – they had computers out so you could check your times – the other women’s teams were much younger and one team had randomly commented to my swimmer how some “40 year olds had beat them”.  Aqua Girl laughed and said that she was one of those 40 year olds.  Feels good to beat young-uns.  We came in first for the women’s open division.

Alcatraz Challenge

Me and Aqua Girl on the podium with the 20 year olds

The best part was that my other two friends also placed!  One was first in her age group and the other was third.  Way to go Canada!

Alcatraz Challenge

My home town buddy took first place in her age group – she did the entire event

Alcatraz Challenge

Go Canada! Friend in orange posing with her medal. The first placer wasn’t there to claim her medal










Ever done the Alcatraz Challenge?  Would you ever be compelled to do such an event?  How good are you at taking “fast photos” while running? 












My Recent Half


It wasn’t all rainbows on our run Sunday.

I ran the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon on May 4 (on Star Wars Day).  I should have dressed up like Luke Skywalker or an Ewok, but I didn’t.

Pre-race we (me and my friend R) hit the expo Friday and Saturday.  Saturday we met up with our buddy John Stanton (Running Room founder) at the 3km Friendship Run after eating a giant breakfast at this amazing Italian place we stumbled across.  I’ll just say I didn’t eat oatmeal.

friendship run

at the Friendship Run Saturday AM

I’ve never raced in the rain and of course Sunday AM I woke up to pouring rain.  I put on my giant throw-away hoodie and garbage bag and off we went (I looked kind of homeless).  I recall putting on my shoes and not having time to double knot them and thinking, “I’ll do that on the train.”

We ran to the train in the pouring rain and all I could say and think was “why didn’t I wear capris?!”  Then after walking 20 minutes in pouring rain we got to the race area and got into a never-ending port-a-potty line.  Twenty minutes later I still hadn’t remembered to double knot my shoes.

We were the last 2 people out of the toilet area – I kid you not.  I was having a panic attack about not getting to our corral in time and my friend said something wise or smart or funny to me that snapped me out of it.  A slap in the face likely would’ve worked too.  We made our way over to the start and I naively asked if I could still get up front to my corral – I was told they left 10 minutes ago.  We were well behind the 2:30 pace bunny.

Once we finally got going I ran like I stole something for the first 10km and passed thousands (maybe it was just hundreds) of people.  By 13km I wasn’t having as much fun as I had been having, but was finding the rain tolerable.  I was cold a few times when the wind was coming off the ocean, but otherwise it was okay.  By 18km I was feeling the hate I usually feel for the 21.1km distance.

BMO half marathon runners

It was pretty wet out

BMO Half Marathon

Eyes are closed


BMO Half Marathon

I’m catching the lady in red

Then I thought about how I forgot to double knot my shoes.  Either my thoughts drew the universes attention to this (I do have super powers) or I subconsciously felt my shoelace getting looser.  By 20km my shoe lace was whipping around like nobody’s business.  I didn’t want to stop in front of the crowds coming up and I didn’t want to trip so I stopped to tie it.  I don’t know how many people passed me as I wasn’t counting anymore.

BMO Half Marathon

Eyes are closed again.  I’m sleep running.

I stopped at the “find out your time booth” on the way out of the race area and was pleasantly surprised at a chip time of 1:38:13.  I was expecting a 1:40ish considering my lack of training and the rain.  Then I ran 5 blocks to the hotel as I was suddenly frigidly cold.

Okay, now to the best part.  This event also hosts a Boston Qualifier marathon.  My totally fast second cousin was running the marathon.  They start after the half so I had time to get changed and make my way back to the finish line.  I checked his split times on-line and saw he was running fast!!

I dragged R back with me in the pouring rain and screamed and cheered at the marathoners (and halfers still coming in).  Then I saw him and the clock read just over 3 hours!!  I don’t think I have ever screamed so loud in my life!  He ran 3:00:36 and qualified for Boston (he had to run under 3:05)!!  Fricken Amazing!!  I am in awe of his running talent.

We all met up for dinner later and he said he might do Boston.  I think I lectured him for about 15 minutes about how he had better do Boston, no maybes, just do it!

Oh yeah, friend R had the idea of counting dog breeds we saw along the race route.  I counted 15 and she counted 35.  According to the photos, I do run with my eyes closed half the time so that explains that.  I also lost track of breeds after the first six dogs.

Do you count things while racing or out running – like beer cans, dogs, people you pass?   Do you like racing in the rain?  Ever wear a garbage bag to a race?  Do you think my fast cousin should sign up for Boston (I only want to hear yes answers)?!



2013 Most Memorable Moments

Seeing as 2013 is on the way out, I felt compelled to do a little blurb about my most memorable moments of 2013.  So here they are and I warn you, it’s all about me!

January to March – running during the early morning hours with my friends.

runners in the winter

My favorite photo of me and my friends running with our dogs in January

April – me and Simon Whitfield (Google him if you don’t know who he is) after the Vancouver Sun Run in April.

photo with Simon Whitfield

Me and my hero Simon Whitfield

May – Vancouver BMO Half Marathon – ran a personal best and the weather was stunning!

June – local triathlon – won my age group – I was the only one in my age group –  lol!

August – I started this blog and ran the Emperor’s Challenge mountain race (20km).  Came in 2nd in my age group and 6th overall out of the women (and there were more than 10 women, 376 to be exact – 46th out of 586 runners).

finish line of the Emperor's Challenge

The finish line at the Emperor’s Challenge in Tumbler Ridge, hottest day ever!

September – bought my first SUP/kayak and fell in love with paddling…

kayak on a lake

The maiden voyage of Nalu my SUP kayak

September cont’d – lots of bears and Kobi’s birthday party – she turned 2!

Dog and bear poop

Kobi and bear poop

October – Goodlife Fitness Victoria Half marathon.  Ran into my cousin Nate at the start line (totally random).  He passed me at 18km.

November – Vancouver Historic Half, came in second in my age group.

Siwash Rock Vancouver Seawall

This is the view on the run – Siwash Rock on the Seawall in Vancouver – so beautiful.

December – snow…

snow in the trees


and more snow…

dog in the snow

Kobi is turning into a snow mole

And I ran 1,004 miles in 2013.  The last 6 miles were obtained December 28, 2013!!  I haven’t run since, but I will run tomorrow.

Happy New Year, happy running and all the best in 2014 everyone!


The Last Half of 2013

Half Marathon start in Vancouver

I’m in the white hat looking at my watch

I ran my final race of 2013 last Sunday – The Vancouver Historic Half.  It’s two loops around the sea wall in Stanley Park.  My most favorite place to run – although the run along the beaches from UBC to Kitsilano isn’t too bad either.

It was so wonderful to run in only capris and 1 shirt versus 2 layers of pants, 3 shirts, a jacket, ear band, toque, mittens, and headlight (yes, I pretty much have a load of laundry after each winter run up where I live).

Prior to any race, I typically don’t run at all the week before.  I was going to do the same with this race, but my friend (who was also running the race) said she had to do a run the day before and a warm-up run right before the race (she has a coach).  The week before any race is time for me to eat too much and scoff at other runners running before a race.  I need to save my energy.

I was easily swayed and besides, I was in Vancouver and I would not waste a running experience “sans” snow (that’s French in case you didn’t know).  I tagged along for the interval run the day before the race.  All the while I’m thinking, “OMG, who runs fast before a race?”.  Then right before the race we did a warm-up run – I know, CRAZY!!  I was certain I would have no energy left at all to complete the race at this point.

Regardless of breaking my “rules” of not running at all before a race, I managed to run the half in a decent time of 1:38:31.  I reckon the pre-race runs didn’t take away all my running reserves (maybe just some).  Oh, and a huge shout-out to my race buddy Tina who ran a new personal best and smashed her previous best time by something like 13 minutes!  Awesome!!

Quick side note, there’s a guy I always see in Vancouver races who runs in a Gingerbread man suit and full face mask under that.  I’m not sure why?  Perhaps it makes him run faster.   It looks hard, but I do catch him every time, takes a bit though as he lives up to his costume and is quite fast.

Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man at the Vancouver Historic Half Marathon

The day after the race, I headed back north to the snow and cold.  I didn’t waste any time and hit the ski trails with my skate skis and Kobi.  Kobi loves the ski trails and always runs into her other dog friends, she has so many friends!

I actually remembered to bring all the appropriate gear with me while skiing.  Except my headlight batteries seem to have had enough of the cold and it was pretty dim by the end of the last ski.  No serious wipe-outs fortunately.

Wildlife count this week:  one great grey owl and very fresh lynx tracks.  Both the owl and the tracks got Kobi pretty excited.  She tried following the owl into the woods, but preferred sitting and listening to its hooting – it was cool.

Ski trails

Skate skiing in the forest with Kobi


I am a Fitness Tourist

post race runner

Me post-race snacking

I have been off on a short fitness tourist vacation.  I travelled to the beautiful city of Victoria, BC in order to participate in the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon

Here are some standout race and pre-race moments: 

  1. Arrived in Victoria 4 nights before the race, not smart as I don’t sleep well when not in my own bed so I was pretty exhausted the morning of the race. 
  2. Behaved like a complete tourist and walked close to 20km a day hitting museums and stores in the three days leading up to the race.  My feet were killing me and I was convinced I had given myself plantar fasciitis – I’m a chronic pre-race hypochondriac.
  3. Ate way too much fudge, I have no excuse for that one. 
  4. Picked up my race number to see that it was all the numbers in my birthdate, either a good omen or bad one (see number 2).  Seeing as I survived the run I now feel that I just wasted incredible luck and should’ve purchased a lottery ticket instead of registering for this race as I may have been able to retire a millionaire (what are the odds of getting a race number that is your birthdate?).
  5. Applied purple nail polish to my finger nails (toe nails are always purple) as I swear that colour makes me run faster.
  6. Pre-race ritual is to use one of the port-a-potties.  Cost me 20 minutes in a line-up.  Would’ve been faster to walk back to the hotel. 
  7. Made it to my approximate corral location with 5 minutes to spare, looked to my right and saw my cousin in the start line (we’re second cousins).  We always seem to end up running the same races and I see more of him than my other cousins as a result.  Clearly my other cousins need to take up running if they want to visit me.
  8. Carried my own water bottle of Cytomax so I could speed by water stations and avoid choking on cups of water that I couldn’t wrap my lips around.  I dropped the bottle cap at around 15km and didn’t want to toss the bottle as the race was in a residential area and I didn’t want to litter so I held on to it until the next water station.  I looked funny as I was trying to hold a cap-less water bottle very still so as not to splash it all over me for nearly 3km until I made it to the next water station.  I just realized I could have dumped it out. Obviously, all the blood was in my legs and not my brain at that time. 
  9. At about 18km my cousin went flying by me, I figured he was already a head of me.  So I thought, “good, now I can see if I can match his pace and he’ll take me into the finish line.”  Didn’t happen, I looked for that next gear, but I was already in it apparently.  I did keep him in sight.  He is a very fast runner and 14 years younger so he ought to be faster (I try not to dwell too long on the fact that he didn’t really train much for this race). 

I crossed the finish line in a respectable time of 1:37:55.  My post-race gift to myself was a small silver dog pendant that I can wear at all the races that I can’t bring Kobi to. 


Shred the Trail and Best Birthday Ever

puppy in the snow

Kobi as a baby

It isn’t my birthday, but it is Kobi’s birthday today.  Coincidentally, there is a fun run and half marathon on the same day.  You would almost think I planned it that way, but it wasn’t entirely intentional. 

I was never exactly certain about Kobi’s actual birthdate, but September 21 seemed close (based on the approximate age she was when I found her).  I also liked that date as it’s nearly the equinox which is cool (not so cool that the days get shorter now).  Turns out we also plan a community half marathon and fun run the third Saturday of every September and today’s event fell on the 21st.   

How many dogs can say they have over 100 people, 25 dogs, and a trail run for a birthday party?  I doubt too many and if they are out there, I’d love to hear about their parties! 

Because I’m one of the race coordinators I wasn’t able to run the race, but Kobi did run the half marathon with her Godmother (yes, she has a Godmother) and they both had a great time and ran pretty fast too.

I had the best time cheering on other runners and walkers and would highly recommend any runners out there who haven’t volunteered at a race yet to do so.  It is a lot of fun. 

Happy second birthday Kobi!

dog sleeping

Kobi and her post party nap