Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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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?


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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