Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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September Stuff

Turns out August was a pretty low mileage month for me. Between back to back races, tapers and recoveries, I didn’t run much.  September will be different.

September also means the bears are out in full force which is totally nerve-wracking.  Turns out the ones I’ve been seeing have a mamma with them (even though I thought they were kind of big to still be with their mamma).  Every walk and run has Kobi on high guard with hackles up.

I honestly can’t wait for snow right now just so these guys go to sleep already.  Oh yeah, it did snow on the weekend, but it melted.  The weather is supposed to be quite nice for a few more weeks so I’ll be running nervous for a while longer yet.

It feels very primal to be running in fear all the time.  Isn’t this what we did 5,000 years ago?  Ran in fear from pretty much everything?  It’s stressful.

Enough about that.  Now I shall entertain you with photos from the week…

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How’s your September going?  Are you jealous of my snow?  Don’t you wish you could nap like Kobi?  


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Adventures Abound

This past weekend involved flying fish, fighting raptors, stinging Hymenoptera, baby unicorns and large predators.  Well, sort of.

It all started Saturday when I went out for an hour-long run. Turns out this was one of those runs where you just don’t feel the love.

I headed to the lake first so Kobi could have a swim break. There were all these schools of little minnows close to shore. Then they started jumping like crazy. I think they wanted to fly or become land dwellers, they were going nuts.

minnows jumping

Flying Fish

We stayed a while and watched the fish who wanted to fly before carrying on.  Then we saw a raven and a hawk fighting or maybe they were playing, it was cool.

Forty minutes in and I still wasn’t feeling the love, but I was starting to accept this.

Then I collided with a large flying thing. It was either a bee or a hornet as it got tangled in my camelback strap and stung me! I actually started yelling and cursing and then failing and throwing my camelback off as fast as possible as I feared it was still tangled and would keep stinging me.

I never actually saw the stinging Hymenoptera so I don’t know which it was – bee or hornet. I first assumed hornet as they are always angry and like to sting. However, I was wearing the brightest yellow shirt ever and bumblebees like flowers so perhaps I looked like a flower and the bee didn’t realize I was running and therefore the collision. I’m sure a bee would only act in self-defense so I forgive the bee. Not so much if it was a hornet. Regardless, it hurt. I haven’t been stung in a while and I had forgotten what the burning piercing pain of a sting was like.

I carried on as I’m not allergic to stings, I’m just a wimp.  I also wanted to check out the baby unicorns ahead.

baby horses

They could be baby unicorns?

They’re not real unicorns, but they’re cute and I would love to see a real unicorn.  After the unicorns horses I hit another watering hole for Kobi and then headed home.

dog in the water

Northern water dog

The adventure didn’t stop there. Sunday I talked myself into a bike ride. I’m not super crazy about cycling up in my neck of the woods as the roads suck and are not bike friendly and I can’t take Kobi with me.

During the first 5 minutes I saw 3 red tail hawks playing around and thought that was pretty cool and maybe this would be a good ride. It wasn’t. I never really get used to large semi-trucks speeding by me at 110km/hr. Then I saw the biggest black bear cross the highway in front of me. That was all it took, I turned around and high-tailed it home. Total ride: 45 minutes.

But wait, there’s more…Monday I saw a giant fresh steamy pile of bear poop about 300m into my jaunt with Kobi. Kobi pee’d on it then proceeded to charge into the woods back and forth so the bear wasn’t too far away.

bear poop

Bear poop

Oh, icing on the cake, these guys are everywhere right now. I don’t know how to spell a shiver, but that’s what they make me do.

spider

Check out its hairy legs

Ever had one of those runs where you just aren’t loving it? What do you think, bee or hornet? Are you allergic to stings? Ever been stung while running or cycling? Aren’t those horses cute?  Does that spider freak you out?  Seriously they are everywhere this year!!

kittens

You needed a kitten update too, they’re way cuter than spiders


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Colour Run and a Wipeout

 

colour runners

Colour Run
Photo Credit Artography by Tracy

I have not run for over a week now. After running two half marathons one week apart, I figured a week off would be beneficial (not so much for Kobi).  My IT band is also a bit angry.

In lieu of not running I helped with a Colour Run. The run is held on a trail that can be quite thick with bears this time of year. My job was to bike patrol to ensure no runners or walkers were alone or in trouble at any given point (it was a 2.5km out and back).

colour run

Start of the Colour Run

The race started and I was riding in front keeping an eye on the first runner behind me. I stopped a few times and waited and when I saw the first colour station ahead I slowed way down and looked over or under my shoulder to see where the runner was. That caused me to veer way over to the edge of the trail.

I figured “oh heck, I’ll just ride through this.” That is ride off the trail into the woods. The shoulder was quite steep on the edge of the trail and I was at a bad angle so I did not “ride through this”, but instead fell, rather hard, in front of 10 people and the race photographer. Yup, I like an audience.

I did what any person would do with a crowd watching, I jumped up throwing both arms in the air declaring “I’m okay!!!”

I was not okay. I didn’t even take a photo of my shredded forearm and shoulder as I was trying not to draw any extra attention to my injuries. I figured the coloured cornstarch would help slow the bleeding as well as hide it. It seemed to work.

colour run

You’d never know I had wiped out a little while earlier.  Photo credit Artography by Tracy

Fortunately I didn’t have to defend anyone from attacking bears and 2 hours later I was home scrubbing multi-coloured cornstarch off and assessing the damage. There are going to be scars, but the worst part is everything really hurts – my neck, my already angry IT band, my hip and I can’t lift my left arm without squeaking in pain.

I hate falling. On the upside, I didn’t curse (which is unusual for me) and I should be good for wipeouts now. I’ve had a running wipeout thanks to Kobi and now a bike wipeout thanks to me. I’ll be sure to be extra careful at the pool as I don’t want to face plant on the deck, that would be embarrassing.

The downside is, I’m going to hold off running for a few more days until I can at least move my neck again. Poor Kobi, she’s going to disown me if she doesn’t get to run soon.

Have you ever done a colour run? Ever crash your bike in front of a crowd?


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Wild Runnings

white dog

On Sunday, I completed my last long run prior to my two upcoming races.  I wanted this final run to have lots of long hills and rather than driving 1.5 hours up the highway to the mountains, I opted to run a brushed-in old road/trail out my back door.

As you may or may not recall, I live in an untamed part of the world and I am a bit paranoid of large predators.  The trail is very brushy and thick with berries so I’m extra nervous.  What bear wouldn’t want a portion of protein with their fruit?  So I asked Mr. Husband to ride his ATV while I ran.  He agreed.

More or less what my trails looks like

More or less what my trails looks like

It has to be pretty boring to ride an ATV with someone who is attempting to run up a hill.  I say attempting as it doesn’t really look like running, more like a hunched over sllooowwww jog.  Fortunately there are no photos of my less than perfect uphill running form (just think of Quasimodo wearing a camelbak and Asics).

atv

My bear protection

It was nice to have the comfort of company, but it didn’t help that he kept riding up beside me to say he saw more wolf poo.  This happened like 3 or 4 times.  Then he commented on a weird smell at one part of the trail.  I told him it was stink currants, but it was likely a bear.  Bears really stink and if you are ever unfortunate enough to get close to one or close to where one just was, you will smell it.

I tried the “I’m just going to ignore all these comments” approach as ignorance is bliss, but fear won out and I ended up only running the route twice (I was aiming for 3). It didn’t help that at one point Kobi had her hackles up and wouldn’t pass a part of the trail.  It was probably just a weird shadow as her eyesight isn’t that great, but it still freaked me out.  I finished up my run in a more open area and all ended well.

Would you run with wolves or bears?  How’s your hill running form?  Check out my kittens, they’re growing!!

white kitten

Sleepy Casper – he’s so pale.

Cricket knows how to chill

Cricket knows how to chill

 


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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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Summer Hours

Why is it when you’re having fun time goes by way too fast?  That seems to be how things have been rolling for me.   I’ve also been burning up any spare time preparing for some races.

bear poo

Random photo of very large bear poo on the trail

I did a near Olympic distance triathlon (the swim is only 1000m not 1500m) a few Sunday’s ago and managed a 2:29:59.  My secret goal was to complete it under 2:30. Talk about squeaking in hey?!  I had no clue at any point what my times were so that was a really nice surprise.

dog wearing a shirt

Kobi sporting my triathlon swag

I have two more races this summer:  a trail half marathon in Whitehorse and then a 20km mountain run in Tumbler Ridge 6 days later.  Both are very challenging elevation wise.  I really wanted to do the Whitehorse run and I just couldn’t miss Tumbler (it’s my favorite).  I just hope I don’t get too wrecked from the Whitehorse race.

I have also been up to my new favorite thing next to running – paddleboarding.  I love it.  I suck at it and my technique is probably all wrong, but I don’t care I’m having so much fun.  The awesomest part is that I really really wanted Kobi to board with me and would you believe she had it down in 20 minutes!?  I was stoked.  She is a SUP superstar.  She should have her own reality TV show!

dog on a SUP

Me and Kobi boarding

Those of you who run with your dog know how awesome it feels, but I have to say that paddleboarding with your canine is rad.  Just watching her take in the scenery while we’re on the water is so amazing.  I do get a little worried when she sees ducks or snaps at horse flies, but so far so good.  She even digs her PFD.

dog in a PFD

Kobi demonstrating safe boarding techniques in her PFD

Do you SUP?  Would you want to SUP with your dog?  Ever done two races in one week or am I the only person out there who can’t race plan very well?  What’s the biggest (native) wildlife poop you’ve ever seen out running?


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Water Dog and Flying Ants

Springtime can be a really nice time of year in the north.  The days are very long, the birds are back and singing constantly, the frogs are croaking, and once the mud dries, the running is amazing – until the mosquitoes come out and terrorize you.  Translation:  3 days of great running.

dog swimming

Kobi taking her first swim of the year

water dog

One of Kobi’s water stops

dog shaking

Kobi post swim

 

Kobi also loves this time of year as there are water ponds and puddles everywhere so she can cool off and regain her super powers every 10-15 minutes.  She also discovered playing in culverts.  Last week she ventured into one and had to run in and out of it at least 5 times before I could coax her on again.

dog in a culvert

more playing in the culvert

dog in a culvert

Kobi in yet another culvert

 

After our playdate with the culvert on a walk last week, I wanted to go for a bike ride.  You see, I signed up for a triathlon so I had better get on a bike a few times before the event.  Turns out the day I decided to ride was rather warm (24C) and that resulted in the first of the year flying ant invasion.

Apparently under the right heat and humidity, all the queen and male ants from all over Antville fly out at the same time in order to meet up and procreate (I Googled it).  They mate, the dudes die and the females go back and make their colonies bigger and also diversify the gene pool.  Please feel free to clarify any of this if there are any ant experts out there.

flying ant

There were more of them than this, but this is one with its wings still on

It’s kind of cool to read about, but not so cool to bike through swarms of slow flying large insects.  In short, it freaked me out.  I had several (it seemed like 100’s, but likely only 10 or 20) of them hit me and stick to my shirt and helmet, and get tangled in my hair (of course they had to get tangled in my hair) all while I’m speeding along on my bike.

I remembered back to a horrific crash I took as a little kid when I was out riding my cool bicycle that looked exactly like this:

old style bicycle

This is what bikes looked like back when I was a kid

A flying ant was heading straight at me as I was barreling down a gravel road.  I ducked, gravity took over, and I crashed and slid along the gravel.  It was the memory of that crash that helped me maintain my cool all while being pelted by ants, I’m also far too old to fall off a bike.  Oh yeah, my current bike doesn’t look like that one.

Have you experienced a flying ant event or other large insect event?  Does your dog dig culverts?  Do you like riding or running or both?  Did you have a bike like the one above – maybe not in pink – or am I just the oldest coolest person out there?

 

PS  Stay tuned, I had a pretty cool adventure over the weekend….

 

 


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More Snow Adventures

 

Summit Mountain

Aren’t mountains pretty?

To change things up a bit and take advantage of the beautiful weather, I went up the highway on Saturday with a friend and her dog (Kobi’s besty).   First stop, a pretty little canyon and a frozen river.

Canyon in Stone Mountain Park

We walked up the river a bit, but it was scary as you could hear water under you and the ice was cracking in places.

After the river photos we headed to a trail that led to a radio tower.

Alpine

Sort of the start of our snowshoe. Pretty hey?

There was still plenty of snow up there (elevation start is 4,250′) so snowshoes were a must.  The snow was packed quite well so we didn’t sink too badly, but we also used poles.  Those really help decrease the number of face-plants you take.

Dog on a mountain

One of the few times Kobi was close enough to see. She was running around like she’s never been outside before.

The weather was stunning!  We didn’t need jackets until we got to the very windy summit.  I have no idea the elevation gain, maybe 1,500′?

Stone Mountain Park

More of the view(s)

We saw a few interesting things along the way.  This was the first.  We’re convinced it was a bear den.  Or someone who just dug a whole in the side of the bank.

Hole in the snow

I’m convinced this was a bear den.

Then we saw some tracks.  Kobi saw them first, or smelled them first.  She started barking, had her hackles up and then ran back to me.  That means it was something she didn’t want to tangle with or had never smelled before.  At first I thought they were canine and then I thought maybe it was a bear that had woken up way too early.

I did some Googling when I got home and I am 98.9% certain they were wolverine tracks (not the Hugh Jackman X-Men character).  I deduced this based on the location – alpine, Kobi’s reaction – fear, and how they looked – cross between a canine and a bear = wolverine.  Not a critter I want to run into.  Actually, it is one of the scariest critters to run into.  They are fearless, strong, carnivorous, and did I mention fearless?  I’ve heard they go after bears.

 

alpine

More views along the way. I was too scared to take photos of the beast tracks

We continued onwards and upwards, quite literally.  We could see our destination, the tower, way off in the distance.  After what felt like forever, we finally made it to the top.  Of course we startled some caribou also hanging out up there.  I always hate when I startle cute wildlife.  No photo as I was frantically calling Kobi to get her leashed up so as not to chase the poor critters.

Summit Tower

The tower way off in the distance.

Alpine

The tower way off in the distance, but this time on our way back. Our tracks go on forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

girl and dog

Me and my wingman (girl) at the top. We took our snowshoes off for the last 200m as the snow was all blown away.

Mountain portrait

My friend and Kobi’s besty Dino.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I checked the map when I got home and we snowshoed 12km!  That explains why I was so tired.  Kobi is still sleeping today.  She ran like an absolute maniac the entire time we were out there, you would think she had never been outside before.  Seems to be how she rolls.

What’s cool is this is only an hour and half drive (less actually) from where I live.  There also wasn’t anyone else out there – kind of cool and kind of spooky.

Do you think that was a bear den?  Do you think I deduced correctly in identifying the wolverine?  Ever felt like you’ve been running, walking, hiking, snowshoeing forever and it’s only been 15 minutes?

 

 


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Living the Wild Wild Life

Sunday we had absolutely stellar weather.  I headed out on a run during the AM and early on had 4 ATV’s pass me.  One ATV had so much exhaust spewing out of it I think I may have lost some brain cells.   So much for being healthy.  Another ATV in the group slowed down to pass me and Kobi.  I thought he was being polite, turns out he was lighting a cigarette.  That made me laugh, or maybe it was the exhaust fumes.

Shortly after this, I came across a trail I hadn’t yet explored and decided today was the day.

winter trail

The new-to-me trail I went run-exploring down.

I didn’t pack any water and was kind of thirsty so I thought I’d eat some snow.   This time of year it’s important to watch out for little black bugs affectionately known as snow fleas.  Kobi photo-bombed my attempt at taking a picture of them.  I didn’t eat any snow.

snow flea and dog

If you click on the photo you can see the small black specks. Snow fleas!

This new-to-me trail ended at a snowmobile trail that I used for skate skiing (recall this post) and the conditions looked awesome.  It just so happened that my friend had suggested we skate ski later that afternoon.  I said I knew the perfect place.

After my run I ate these and then went for my ski.

pancakes

I don’t usual post photos of my food, but these looked so good and I did not stop at 3 and yes, that is maple syrup on top of the strawberries.

We got to the trail and were getting ourselves organized and lo and behold, these guys (girls actually) walked out right in front of us!!

mountain caribou

Not my photo, but exactly what we saw – Mountain Caribou!!

I’m sure the caribou would’ve hung out, however, they saw the dogs and took off back into the woods.  I didn’t get a chance to take photos.  I’ve seen caribou up here often, but never this close.  It was wild!

The skiing was awesome and I could have worn shorts it was so warm.  We felt like we were those fierce Norwegian skate skiers at Sochi, except we moved in slow motion compared to them.

stop sign

Signage on the snowmobile trails where we skied. Pretty much the middle of nowhere.

Ever seen a snow flea?  What are your thoughts about smoking while driving an ATV?

 


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Once in a Lifetime

photo montage

Photo montage of the day

I survived the triathlon training day with my triathlete hero Simon Whitfield!

Some of you may recall my last post about the said day as I was just a bit nervous.  If you would like your memory refreshed, just go here.  In a nutshell, it was a day for 10 folks (they added one more so it was 11) to hang out with the talented Simon Whitfield and others and a learn a bit about triathlon from the pro’s.

Prior to my departure I was a bit behind schedule, not unusual for me as I work best under pressure.  I needed the clips off my bicycle as they were going to lend me a bike for the big day.  One YouTube video, 2 phone calls to husband, one probable broken clip on my one bike and 45 minutes later I was still clipless.  I tackled my other bike and had no trouble removing the clips.  Why didn’t I just start with that one??

I then scrambled to get the house clean as for some reason I must clean the house before I leave it for a night or two.  Not sure why, but hopefully the cats appreciated my efforts.

Oh yeah, one small incident at the airport on the way.  I guess my bike clips looked suspicious (in my checked bag!!) so the security dude pulled everything out of my suitcase to find them, but wouldn’t tell me what he was looking for.  It’s great that he knows what all my underwear looks like now just like everyone else who happened to be standing around in the waiting area.  This is a small airport so security is quite intense, go figure.

I arrived in Vancouver Friday night to rain.  Saturday morning it was still raining.  Now I’m getting nervous about the bike part as I have ridden a bike in the rain once, by accident, when a storm caught me off guard.

I made my way over to  the north shore and we hung out at Thomas Haas for a bit first.  OMG best hot chocolate and croissant I’ve ever eaten in my life.  If I were to have died that day (say in a bike crash), I could say I had truly lived life just  through that taste experience alone.

Then we piled into the International Triathlon Union  (ITU) office, Simon arrived, and we all got an opportunity to introduce ourselves through our stories.  There were a few folks who had done Ironman (one who qualified for the Worlds – go Diane!), a few just getting into triathlon, and a few who loved the sport and wanted to learn more.

After the stories, folks headed out on the bikes with non other than Allan Prazsky.  Turns out they didn’t find me a bike to borrow.  I was kind of relieved as I was worried I’d either cause a crash or crash myself.  Instead I ate more Thomas Haas chocolates and hung out with Loreen Barnett (first Canadian chic to do Ironman in the early 80’s and just an amazingly awesome lady), Ed Rice (photographer with a cool accent) and Simon Whitfield (!!!!) and his awesome little girls.  I’m not complaining.

Then we headed to the pool for the swim session.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in a high school change room and I can’t say I want to be in one again for a little while.  Why are teenagers so messy and smelly??  Regardless, the pool session was the most amazing session which was great as I quickly overcame my fear of wearing a bathing suit in public.  I honestly learned so much in this session.  I also nearly froze to death, the water was sooooo cold.

After the swim we had the most delicious lunch provided by Nourish Market and then had a super informative talk by Dave Vukets (Prima Bars) on real food nutrition for training and competition.  I took notes on my energy bar wrapper.

runners

That’s Simon way in the front with the hat on holding the little girl’s hand. His kids ran with us too.

We were pretty far behind schedule by this point and spent about 10 minutes on the run component (outside in the wind and rain).  Simon provided a few key points and then we headed to Level 10 Fitness to learn from Anthony Findlay.  This guy is the head strength and conditioning coach for nearly every Canadian elite athlete and team.  So cool.  He showed us all the moves we need to know to stay strong as triathletes.

Then we had an awesome unwinding yoga session with Christine German and we were done!

Phew!!  There is so much more I could write, but I don’t want to tie up your time anymore than I have.  I’ll just say it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m so glad I went for it.  Everyone was so cool and fun and keen and the ITU did such an amazing job organizing the day.  It was surreal to be hanging out with this caliber of athlete and trainer.

triathlon training day

Here we all are at Level 10 Fitness. I’m on Simon’s right.