Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Random Updates

dog in lake

It’s a been a while hasn’t it?

It’s been so long since my last post, it’s nearly winter. I actually did see snow on the weekend, but it was way up in the mountains so we’re still safe for now.

Wow, so much has happened over the summer I don’t even know where to begin. How about some highlights?

I have been struggling with what I had hoped was just a bruised heel. It’s actually a heel spur and plantar fasciitis. Oh goody!

The heel issue that I was denying started back in June and got really awesome just 3 weeks before my one and only planned out-of-town race this year. Great timing! I still managed to pull off my second fastest time out of 5 attempts at my favourite love-to-hate race, The Emperor’s Challenge.

Emperor's Challenge

The view from the top of the Emperor’s Challenge

Oh, I also smacked myself in the face, lower lip to be precise, with a weight bar at CrossFit. Of course the two most epic CrossFitters from town got to witness my awkwardness. I’m just way too cool. I didn’t cry though and I likely should’ve got stitches as I split my lip pretty good. I have a nice bulgy ugly scar now. Would you believe I did this the day before I had a wedding to go to? Yup! I know how to plan things.

wedding at Muncho Lake

You can sort of see my cut lower lip (I’m the one on the right). 

The day after that I helped with a colour run that could have no colour because apparently corn starch (the stuff the colour is added to) is actually very flammable. Keep that in mind when you sign up for your next colour run. Just don’t smoke and you should be okay.

We also went on an epic hike up a few mountains the other day. Mountains just make me so happy. Kobi too, she’s just a little mountain goat.

dog on a mountain

Kobi posing on the mountain.

dog and hiker

We’re so happy when we’re in the mountains.

An up and coming cool event is happening next weekend.  CrossFit Coach Coty is hosting the first ever trail run with epic CrossFit stations next week! I’m excited! I’m going to try very hard not to smack myself in the face with a kettle bell. I’m sure I’ll manage to hurt myself somehow. It will for sure be in front of an audience too as what better way to humiliate yourself than in front of an aid station and some totally cool CrossFit people who know how not to smack their faces with weights.

I will for sure post after the race and if I hurt myself, I’ll take a photo, unless it’s real bad.

Alrighty folks, that’s it for now. Standby for next weeks epic re-telling of the first ever CrossFit trail run! Bears may be involved!

Stone Mountain Park

One more from the mountains

Seen any snow yet? Ever smacked yourself in the face with a weight bar? Guess how many bears I saw in August? Is it feeling like autumn or winter where you live?


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Adventures in the Back Country

happy dog

Smiley Kobi

It’s me again! There’s been so much going on I haven’t had time to update you on my adventures up in this neck of the woods.
Back on June 20 we held the first annual epic Summit Run-It – a 12km run in the Northern Rockies. We had 30 runners show up and 10 dogs. Not bad for no advertising and it was held the day before the solstice which up here means nearly 22 hours of daylight. I also ended up making race medals with a caribou stamped on them. I can be crafty.

Summit Run-It

Views from the Summit Run-It

dog wearing a race medal

Nifty little race medal hey?

Okay, onto other epic-ness. I did my first backcountry hike a week ago. It was 3.50 days and 3 nights. I was with four others who knew what they were doing which was good because I didn’t. I also brought Kobi. We hiked an area called the Wokkpash. Google it if you’re interested, it’s kind of cool.

Wokkpash River

View of the Wokkpash River

My pack weighed a mere 55lbs. That’s 40% of my body weight. I was pretty certain my hip flexors were going to snap under the strain during the 2 hours of the 5 or 6 km we covered the first night.

Wokkpash campsite

Our first campsite

The next day Kobi had her first near miss with a porcupine. She was on a leash after that as the e-collar didn’t slow her down fast enough. By now my hip flexors were a little more understanding, not so much my hip bones. The hip belt on my pack was digging in pretty deep by now. I named my pack Cruella that day.

Wokkpash River

Shortly after I named my pack Cruella

Wokkpash Lake

Wokkpash Lake. It was only 7km long and we had to walk to the end

Day 3 was more hip pain, back spasms, an insane climb up a mountain as well as more porcupines. Kobi’s feet were showing some wear so I tried putting her boots on her feet, but they just immobilized her, that wasn’t very helpful. Kobi was also unimpressed that I did not bring her princess bed along. I was also wishing for a princess bed.

Forlorn Gorge Wokkpash Loop

Cool rock

Wokkpash porcupine

That little brown blob in the rocks is a baby porcupine. Mamma took off up the hill.

Day 4 was only about 23km worth of valleys and small mountains as well as four river crossings. My hip bones were causing so much pain after the first 2 hours I could only use my shoulder straps on Cruella. Thankfully I had eaten 8lbs of my 8.5lbs of food by this time so my pack was maybe closer to 48lbs. Easy peasy.

Wokkpash, Last Chance Lake

Night #3. Kobi is already in the tent on my bed.

Wokkpash Loop

Day 3, smiling through the pain

With only 2 km left, my right Achilles decided to betray me and I caused a bit of a teary, pathetic scene. Thankfully one of the trekkers in our group is ridiculously strong and carried my pack as well as his pack the rest of the way while I hobbled along feeling sorry for myself. I did give him the rest of my peanut M&M’s for his help and reduced Cruella’s weight by another 300g. Not that anyone noticed by this time.

Wokkpash

Are we done yet?

I will admit I had a few “dark” moments with myself on this trip, but that happens when you’re hungry, sleep deprived, experiencing significant pain, and haven’t showered in 3 days. Reflecting back on this trip now that I’m all clean and not so hungry, it was pretty cool (except for the hip bruises which are still very painful). I haven’t given up on backpacking and will do a trek somewhere else again, just not next week, more like next summer.

end of the Wokkpash Loop

The end

Ever backpacked in the back-country? What are your thoughts on porcupines – cute Ewok type creatures, or mother-natures nasty surprise (for dogs)?


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Where Does All the Time Go??

dog and horses

Kobi and the unicorns

Holy doodle, it has been a while since my last post!  Every week I mean to write a post to fill you in on my adventures, but somehow I run out of time.  So much has happened, but I’ll just dazzle you with the epic highlights in 400 words or less.

dog chasing butterflies

Just chasing butterflies

My first planned race of the year was cancelled so my next first race of the year will be June 20 – the Summit Run-It, the one I’m organizing.  We capped it at 40 people.  It will be epic.

dog eating ice cream

Summer time means ice cream time

We’re in full-on summer, except the odd day where it turns to near winter again.  That means the days are super long, the flying pinchers are out (the most dreaded insect of the north), the wild roses are blooming, and the bears are out again.

long horned wood borer

These large flying beetles smell my fear and always land on me.

I had my first bear encounter of the year last weekend.  The bear was where I needed to go and there was only one way out.  I wrangled Kobi up and got her on the leash and then attempted to get my bear spray out of my hydration vest.  I keep it in the outside pocket on the very back of the vest.  I nearly dislocated something trying to remove the canister without taking the vest off.  My arm joints stayed in place, but I did lose its cool case in my panic.  The bear eventually wandered back into the woods after a stare down and Kobi and I proceeded to run our guts out to get back home.  Reason #27 why I like winter.

dog in grass

Kobi likes all the seasons

In other news, we’re getting a brand new sparkly aquatic centre that opens June 21, I’m very excited.  And I learned how to climb a rope in CrossFit.  I’m all about prepping for the zombie apocalypse and rope climbing is one of those skills you just might need to escape from zombies.

swimmer

This is the old pool

rope climbing

That’s me, climbing a rope. I can get back down safely too

Ta Da – less than 400 words!  What’s scarier, flying pincher or bear?  Do you like climbing ropes?


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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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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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Winter is Here

dog in the snow

Kobi loving the snow

It’s cold and it’s snowy outside.  Not enough snow to snowshoe in yet, but enough snow to hide the ice and make conditions treacherous to run in.  It’s already that time of year when I have to suck it up and start “embracing” winter. The other option is to stay inside on the couch, watch bad reality TV, and eat Cheezies for the next 7 months.  Doesn’t sound too bad.

Figuring out what to wear while running outside in the current temperatures is challenging too.  I never seem to get the layers right and I’m either too hot or too cold, never just right.

snow running

what the trails look like lately

Another bonus about winter running is the half-load of laundry created after each run.  Good thing I have more winter running clothes than clothes in general.  That’s mostly so I don’t have to do laundry 3 times a week.  Instead I spend 37 hours on the weekend washing, drying, folding and putting all my stuff away just to start all over again.  I dislike doing laundry.

I’m easing Kobi back into running.  She ran with me for about 35 minutes the other day.  Only once she almost caused a crash.  There were some grouse feathers on the side of the road, where one had been hit by a car likely, and she decided to put on the brakes to check it out – while she was tied around my waist and we were running an interval. Fortunately I managed to stay upright.  Good to know she’s back to her usual running style.  That’s why we run off-leash mostly.

I’ll take her running for another 20 or 30 minutes again today, just to get those running legs of hers back into shape. Shouldn’t take her long.

Oh, we helped with a zombie walk/run this weekend, Kobi got dressed up for it too!

zombie dog

Kobi taking a zombie nap prior to the event

 

zombie dog

zombie dog or football dog?

 

Are you hanging out with zombies this week?  Are you jealous of my snow and ice conditions?  Ever dressed your dog up as a zombie?  

 

 


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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?