Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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For the Love of Winter

winter running

Just out running in the snow

I have realized I am totally in love with winter. I don’t think love is too harsh a word either. Perhaps this is the first stage of vitamin D deficiency or some other cold weather induced chemical reaction in the brain that has yet to be diagnosed and only occurs in people living close to the 60th parallel. Perhaps not.

running in the snow

Just one of those amazing snow and sunshine runs

Perhaps winter is just in my DNA as I am a mix of solid European farmer types. It’s definitely in Kobi’s DNA. That girl was made for the snow so I’m going to assume I am too. Except for my hands, they get terribly cold.

dogs love snow

Doggy snow roll

Winter is just so much fun (providing it is warmer than -30C). There is so much do to during this amazing season. I can cross-country ski, skate ski, skijor (ok, I’m new to that), snowshoe run or just snowshoe (only a Canadian would have 3 different types of snowshoes). Or I can just plain old run in a nice spiky set of Snowcross runners. It just doesn’t get any better.

skijor

First skijor. It was way too icy. We’ll try again.

To top off this amazing season, I don’t have to worry about bears or bugs, just packs of wolves and protective cow moose and the odd small herd of white tail deer which can also be quite protective of their young. Regardless, it’s still a great season.

wolf tracks

Biggest wolf tracks I’ve seen!

I think I’m so stoked about this season because we have had a pretty decent winter this year.  We weren’t hammered like the east coast with storm after storm and the temperatures have been pretty manageable.  I also took a small tropical break. Nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder.

skydiving

Guess what I did while on vacation?

Can you guess where I was on vacation?  Ever go skydiving?  Am I weird to love winter so much?  

Setting sun


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Welcome to 2015

Setting sun

This was the last sunset of 2014

It’s been almost a week into 2015 and life in the north has not disappointed.  Here are some exciting highlights…

We had a Chinook on New Year’s day, evening actually.  There was a really warm wind and within a few hours it went from -15C to +7C .  The drastic temperature increase resulted in a drastic snow melt and then 10 hours later it dropped back down to -15C and turned everything to ice.  Have no fear because then it started to snow, a lot, just so all the treacherous ice was well hidden.

winter running

New Year’s day run, Kobi is behind the bigger dog. The Chinook happened after this.

After the impressive snowfall, I had to go for a snowshoe with my wing-girl Kobi.  We took off on the trails behind our place (middle of nowhere) which are all uphill for what seems like forever.  Not 10 minutes in I noticed Kobi lock onto something with her doggy radar.  It was a small herd of elk.  They ran into the woods once they heard me getting Kobi back under control (i.e. yelling at her).  Fortunately I had her under control before she could be a real terror.  That was exciting.

We carried on and then Kobi locked onto 2 grouse.  She loves grouse.  What dog wouldn’t love giant chickens that fly and travel in large flocks?  When one flies away there are more to choose from.  Don’t worry, no grouse were harmed, much to Kobi’s disappointment.

Eventually we arrived at the home stretch which is all downhill.  Nothing feels as good as running downhill after walk-jogging for 2km uphill in fresh snow with snowshoes strapped to your feet.  I have never felt so fast in my life.  I’m sure I wasn’t fast, but I felt like Meb.

snowshoe running

Me running like Meb, notice Kobi is standing still waiting for me

Then there was the full moon on the weekend which was amazing, but then it got really cold.  Like -27C (-17F) not counting the windchill as who counts the windchill (probably smart people).

full moon

Full moon = cold weather

I had to go cross-country skiing the next day because it was just so bright and shiny out.  If it was -30C or colder I may have reconsidered, but heck, it was only -27C (-32C with the windchill, but I’m not a smart person).

A word of caution here, do consider the windchill and don’t try to take too many photos documenting your adventures when it’s -27C out.  It’s hard on fingers and gadget batteries.  Although, recall I have prototyped a pretty awesome smart phone warmer (read here).  I also keep the hand-warmer business in business as my hands are chronically cold from October to May.

dog in the forest

This was the -27C ski day. Kobi is sporting her new pink jacket.

The icing on the cake was the northern lights on Sunday night (and prior to 11PM).  However, by the time I got all my cold weather gear on (snowsuit, toque, headlight, gloves, mittens and neck warmer) and camera tripod ready to go, they had settled down so no spectacular photos.  Maybe next time.

northern lights

Some brief northern lights

How about you, do you consider windchill before venturing outside?  Ever feel Meb fast?  Does your dog like chasing things they’re not supposed to like large ungulates and flying chickens?


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Work Travels

Last Sunday I skied with Kobi, her BFF Dino, and my friend.  The weather was stunning and the trails weren’t too bad.  We’ve had a ridiculously long snap of warm weather.

ski trails and dogs

What it looked like last weekend on the trails

Then work took me out-of-town and because of the warm weather I opted to drive the five hours so I could bring my ski gear with me and test out the trails south of here.

After picking up enough food to last me a month, I settled into my hotel and just as I was finally falling asleep, the individual in the room above me decided it was time to return to his room.  Now, to add some context to this, I am in a different time zone in this town, an hour ahead of what I am used to.

Noisy person proceeds to drop large heavy objects on the floor for about 30 minutes.  It sounded like he was dropping weights on a tile floor.

I finally get to sleep only to be awakened by Mr. Noisy at 5AM (4AM my time – thank you time zone change).  He can’t do this quietly either.  I swear he put on his work boots and proceeded to lope around the room for an hour!

At one point it sounded like he was dragging a fridge around the room.  I’m dead serious as I don’t know what else would’ve made that kind of noise.

I changed rooms later that day as I couldn’t handle another night and morning with Mr. Noisy.  The remainder of my stay was a bit quieter.

Recall I brought my skies with me as I heard there were great cross-country ski trails and the weather was super nice down this way too.  Of course the first attempt at finding the trails resulted in me getting lost, but I eventually figured things out and found the trails.

ski and skate trails

Super wide, well-groomed trails, but no dogs allowed.

Once on the trails, I made the silly decision to leave the groomed trails to check out the rest of the trail system.  It was super icy and treacherous on those trails, but I eventually found my way back to the safer groomed trails and managed not to fall and break a hip so everything ended okay.

I did go skiing again on day 3 and stuck to the groomed trails this time.  The ski was good, but lonely without Kobi.

I got to ski with Kobi again on Friday when I was back home and enjoyed this beautiful sunset.  Unfortunately this long bout of warm weather has taken its toll on the snow.  The trails are now a mess of treacherous ice, tree branches and dog poop.  I won’t be skiing until we get some snow again.

sunset

The sunset on our ski on Friday

I’ll have to stick to swimming and snowshoeing and hopefully by the end of the week I’ll attempt to run again.

Ever had a noisy hotel guest ruin your stay (not just the x-rated kind).  Do you like to explore new areas when you travel out-of-town?


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We’re Having a Heat Wave!

sunrise

This is what the sky looked like Saturday AM

It all started Tuesday night.  The forecast noted a wind warning and warmer temperatures.  They were right.  The wind was brutal and it was even raining horizontal for a while.  The temperature jumped to +7C that night.

Since the windstorm it has been unseasonably warm.  Like +5C (with lows to -5C).  It’s forecasted to stay warm all next week too.  This is one long Chinook.

Monday night, prior to the heat wave, I had a moonlight run on the community trail.  Of course it was cold that night (-17C).  Kobi loved it and we were the only ones out there.  We did come across some snow angels though.  No photos as I didn’t have any pockets to put any digital gear in.

I haven’t run since Monday as I’ve been having some weird foot issues.  It started earlier in the month and I had hoped it would just go away, but it hasn’t.  The top of my foot hurts between the ankles.

I’ve been doing some Google research and have self-diagnosed myself with extensor tendonitis.  I’m going to see a physiotherapist on Monday when I’m out of town for work as we don’t have a physiotherapist where I live.  We also don’t have a veterinarian (more for Kobi than me), but I digress.  I shall see what the physio dude thinks.

Skiing doesn’t seem to bother my foot much so I’m doing that.  Thank goodness because Kobi goes a little loco when she doesn’t get run lots (as do I).    We did have a lovely long snowshoe Saturday afternoon as walking doesn’t hurt (no wildlife encounters).

dog in the back of a car

Kobi after our ski in +5C. This is her I-don’t-want-to-go-home-face.

Well, I’m off for another ski as it is a balmy +4C already and Kobi is (un)patiently waiting for me…


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Life in a Snow Globe

I’m beginning to feel like I live in a snow globe as it never seems to stop snowing.  I did see that big yellow star they call the sun yesterday and for a little bit today, but it’s gone again.  I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen the sun since the beginning of December.  It’s getting depressing.

I decided to run on New Year’s day in town as I figured the trails would be better there, they were worse.  I did get to the see the elusive moose just at the bottom of my road when I was en route to town though, so he or she does really exist – Kobi barked at it.

Moose in the snow

The moose that makes the tracks I keep seeing, it’s a bit blurry.

So back to the run.  It was horrible.  It took me 45 minutes to cover 4.5 km.  I got excited when I could run on part of the trail that the deer had been using as it was slightly easier than breaking trail myself.  I did a lot of cursing in frustration while Kobi was running around having fun.  I need to try to embrace her dog happiness regardless of conditions.

Trails covered in snow

Our New Year’s Day run in the snow.

I gave up on the trails and opted for the road for the last bit of the worst run ever.  Problem with road running is that Kobi needs to be on a leash and she turns into a sled dog the second a leash goes on.  She is from the Northwest Territories so she could be part sled dog, who knows.  Anyway, it was more cursing on my part and Kobi running out of control. Lot’s of fun.

To add to my worst run of the year I came down with a nasty cold that night – compliments my hubby who got it first.  That was karma catching up with me as I am very unsympathetic to him when he gets a “man cold”.

To prove my superior strength to him (as I always boast I am so tough) I went to swim class the next morning and cross-country skied a few hours later.  I did have to go to bed after the ski as I was feeling absolutely horrible and completely drained by that point, but I didn’t tell him that.

The ski was stunning, apart from feeling like digging a hole in the snow and curling up to sleep.  I took this picture during the ski as it reminded me of something from a Dr. Seuss book.

Black spruce in winter

The view during my ski yesterday.

Oh, I want to thank HappyLife.HealthyLife for nominating me for the Liebster Award, how cool is that?  Check out her blog, she is hilarious and also offers these cool training plans.  I’ll address that awesome nomination in my next blog, but first I have a question for you other bloggers.  I understand that I need to nominate a few more bloggers and I read so many awesome blogs, but I suspect some of them have also been nominated in the past.  How do I know if someone has been nominated before, or should I just nominate away?


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Enough Snow Already

snow shoes

My snowshoe run/jog attempt

I had the week figured out, or so I thought.  My plan was to alternate each day between running outside and cross-country skiing until Sunday.  The weather forecast even indicated this could be a possibility.  Not so.  I woke up today to a ton of new snow on the ground and more still coming down coupled with a nasty northwest wind.

As a result, I talked myself into running on the treadmill (again).  I think I’m experiencing significant treadmill remorse as I’ve been running on the darn thing so much versus sucking it up and running outside.

Low and behold, 25 minutes into my treadmill run, the power went out.  I was convinced this was the universe trying to tell me to get my lazy butt out the door.  I mean, it is all about me so why wouldn’t a power outage happen solely to convey a personal message?

I sucked it up and got geared up for an outside run and of course just as I was heading out the door the power came back on.  That was the universe laughing at me.

I managed to run jog (very slowly) in snowshoes for 4km.  I thought my heart might explode it was so hard in all the deep fresh snow.  Kobi loved it even though she had to constantly stop and wait for me to catch up.

After the snowshoe we did a wee bit of Boxing Day shopping (a few stores actually open up for the big day in our little town).  It’s mostly an opportunity to run into absolutely everyone you know and chat about stuff.  I did purchase a purple toque and some jeans for a good price.

Not sure if I will be able to ski tomorrow as there will likely be another foot of new snow.  I reckon I’ll be snowshoeing for the rest of winter at this rate or I’ll be buying Kobi her own treadmill so she can run and watch television with me.

snowfall

Some serious snowfall happening today

Have you ever felt the universe is sending you a message?


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More Winter Excitement

dog on a winter trail

Kobi exploring on a new deer trail we checked out today (likely looking for deer poop).

It was another really cold weekend.  I got out for a cross-country ski on Saturday and then opted for a treadmill run on Sunday.  The ski was brutal.  It was slow going because of the cold, there is just no glide when it’s -30C.  I think  Kobi found it cold too, I need to get her a jacket. 

Our Saturday evening walk was fun (insert sarcasm).  It was totally dark, as usual, and I was walking the trail where I’ve seen the moose tracks.  There were no fresh tracks so I figured he or she had moved on.

I was deep in thought with my head down trudging up the trail and of course Kobi was up ahead (slaying dragons).  I heard her bark, which is very unusual for Kobi when we’re out walking – she only barks at strangers and scary things.  So when she barked, I figured it was either a moose, wolves, vampires, velociraptors, or perhaps a lynx.  There are so many rabbit signs on this trail there has to be lynx around. 

Anyway, Kobi barks, I freeze and attempt to see what has her barking.  I see nothing (as it’s pitch black) so I call her and she comes charging back to me 90 mph and races past me towards home.  I take this as a sign that there must be imminent danger and proceed to follow her, fast.  Only I’m wearing snowshoes, my giant aviator hat (with rabbit fur – lynx attractant?) and a Helly Hansen snow suit that is three sizes too big (my husband got it for me and I swear he’s convinced I’m three sizes bigger than I really am or he figures one day I will be so he better buy things that I can grow into). 

snow suit

It felt like I was running pretty fast, like Kenyan fast.  Considering what I was wearing and that my glasses were totally fogged up from the adrenaline sprint, I was impressed I didn’t wipe out.  We made it back to the road just fine and I didn’t see anything in pursuit of us. 

The next day I went back up the trail and didn’t see any tracks so I’m not sure what she thought she saw or heard.  Perhaps she was just messing with me (that would be kind of funny).  I’ve always thought that Kobi is super smart and as a result she knows not to let on that she’s smart so she doesn’t have do too much.   That’s the true definition of smart.

Sunrise

Sunday’s sunrise

 


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Moose Tracks

Moose tracks

Fresh moose tracks where we walk

We’ve had a week of nothing but snow and cold.  I haven’t run outside much as a result.  Every walk with Kobi involved wearing snowshoes and choking on snowflakes.  It finally stopped snowing on Friday and today (Sunday) it warmed up to -10C.

On our Friday lunch hour walk, in the sun, a moose had meandered along the same trail we were walking along.  I was pretty sure I was going to end up seeing it as the tracks were very fresh and Kobi was pretty excited.  The snow was so deep she had to stay on the trail rather than try to follow the moose tracks.

Dog in the deep snow

Kobi in the deep snow

One thing about Kobi, maybe most dogs, is she loves eating moose and deer poop.  She was thrilled to find some moose nuggets and wasted no time in indulging herself.  I’ve given up trying to stop her and she doesn’t eat so much that she makes herself sick, good thing she can show restraint.   Hey, we all have things we like to eat but know we probably shouldn’t.  Mine is red liquorice.

dog in the snow

Kobi digging for nuggets

Yesterday we had a great ski in the forest.  I’d have taken photos as it was stunning out there with all the new snow and sunshine, but it was -24C and I was reluctant to remove my mittens.

The ski tracks weren’t set yet as it had been snowing so hard for days.  I wanted to ski for 2 hours and on our second loop around we ran into the awesome trail groomer dude who was out setting track.  I did a happy dance when I saw him.   He probably thought there was something wrong with me as trying to dance on skis likely doesn’t look like dancing.

We followed him back in order to have a slightly easier ski on nice set tracks.  I was really tired by that time and Kobi’s feet were full of snow and ice (I felt bad for her).  We motored along and made it back to the parking lot in great time.  I started my vehicle, put Kobi inside, got some of my gear off and then proceeded to lock myself out of the vehicle.

Yup, that’s another of my super powers.  When fatigued I do stupid things. Fortunately there was another girl in the parking lot who leant me her phone (as mine was in the vehicle safe and warm with Kobi) so I could call home for help.  I was only slightly hypothermic by the time my hubby rescued me 20 minutes later (the other vehicle was buried in snow and it was also -24C out so it needed to warm up a tad first).

I will have to teach Kobi how to unlock doors.  At least I had put a warmer jacket on before locking myself out or it would’ve been really bad.

What’s your funny “locked out of the vehicle story”?

Dog paw

Kobi’s feet are adapting to the cold and snow by getting more hairy


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12 More Days Until Winter Solstice

dog in the snow

Kobi enjoying all the snow

Time has been flying by and I’m sort of okay with that, for now anyway.  The thing is, we don’t get much daylight anymore and I really just want to get to December 21 when I can get the “shortest” day over with and start counting every extra minute of daylight we get after that. 

My life currently feels like it mostly takes place in the dark except for my highly coveted noon hour walks with Kobi and of course our weekend adventures together.  The rest of the time we’re walking, running, skiing, and snow shoeing in the dark. 

Kobi gets 3 walks a day 90% of the time (unless we’ve done a long run or ski then that counts for 2).  Morning walks and our longer evening outings (walk, run, ski or snowshoe) are all done in the dark.   

I’ve noticed that I keep my headlight directed down at my feet during these “dark” outings and rarely look off to the sides of the trail for fear that I’ll catch some critters eyes  other than Kobi’s looking back at me.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I saw another set of eyes.  Likely freeze or scream and then run like an idiot, probably all in that order. 

I don’t know what it is about the dark, but it always instills a slight bit of fear in me.  As you know, I’m grateful for the extinction of dinosaurs, but lately “fear” has been turning my thoughts to vampires.  What a perfect environment for them.  Dark and cold, or do vampires mind the cold?  Not sure.  I don’t think Kobi thinks about fear, I think she just puts it into high gear and gives’r until she runs into something that scares her and then she quickly runs and hides behind me.  I should try that. 

Anyway, I’ve digressed.  What I really wanted to get to were a few new discoveries since my last post: 

  1. Musher’s Secret makes a great protective salve on my face when it’s -20C and colder out (Musher’s Secret is actually meant to protect your dog’s tender toes, see runningwithsam),
  2. I recalled that there are actually days where there is no moon (skied in the woods that one night and this is likely where the vampire thoughts originated),
  3. skate skiing for 1.5 hours straight is fricken hard,
  4. x country skiing for 2 hours straight is also fricken hard,
  5. snow shoeing uphill for 2km – wait for it…really fricken hard, 
  6. and my quads haven’t stopped hurting for over a week now. 

One more update for you…I’m now at 27 out of 150 in my outdoor snow adventures challenge.  I suspect I’ll reach 150 as winter isn’t going anywhere any time soon.


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Rambling Along in the Cold

I have been attempting to write about my running adventures for a while, but things (work) have been getting in the way.  Sucks, but it does help pay for my running shoe addiction as well as my fitness tourism affliction. 

Where to begin…the first run after my last longish run (Nov 9 – time flies!) involved intervals on the snowy trails to my favorite little lake.  Stand-out memory:  cold, snowy and difficult, but sunny. 

Dog running on a frozen lake

Kobi running on the lake that is already frozen.

Then I did a short little run in the community forest when I had a spare 45 minutes.  It was gorgeous!  The moon was out and I had a hoot with Kobi.  Couldn’t get any decent shots as my camera was dead/frozen after 20 minutes. 

full moon and trees

The full moon on our run in the woods

Then I pulled a stupid.  Let me re-phrase that, and then I went for a run at dusk a few days later.  I neglected to bring my headlight or extra reflective gear.  One of my superpowers is my exceptionally short memory and inability to plan ahead. 

I ran with Kobi back to our favorite lake and realized the trails were going to kill me as they were so hard to run on – imagine running in unpacked sand in a snowsuit.  Okay, I don’t run in a snowsuit, but I’ve got a lot of layers on thanks to the -24C temperatures.  I decided to run the lake road back a forth a few times to get my mileage in.  This road scares me during the summer when the bears are out and in the winter when I’m convinced there are packs of wolves waiting for me.  But laziness beat fear (yay lazy!).  I would not/could not run an extra five kilometers of trail, it was just that hard. 

I of course underestimated how much lake road running I had to do (another superpower of mine – the inability to do simple math when running in the cold or the heat or when hungry).  So I had to keep running on the trail for another 1.7km in addition to the 2.47km I had already run on the trails to get home (I’d have gone to three decimal places if my garmin permitted). 

I resorted to my last resort – Kobi and her superpower, that is her inability to heel when on a leash.  I put the girl on her leash and she assisted/pulled me for those last 1.7km.  Please note it is pitch black by this time and I can’t see a thing.    

Dog in the snow

Kobi prior to her having to run on the leash

I pretended we were pioneers in the 18th century running to the next settlement (home) to do something (have a hot shower).  I honestly don’t know why I was thinking that, but it was kind of fun pretending it was the “olden days”.  We made it to the settlement just fine. 

And finally in summary, I did a quickie snowshoe run, well more like jog as I don’t run fast in those things.  Kobi loved it and therefore I loved it too.  It was super cold again, but Kobi needs her exercise and I also need to start collecting “outdoor adventure snowsports series” points.  This is the second winter I’ve done this.  I set a challenge at the beginning of winter to complete “x” number of winter related activities before the end of winter (more like end of snow). 

Last winter I set the goal at 150, then 175, then 200 as we had a ridiculously long winter (I landed at 206).  This year I’m setting the goal for 150 again.  I can only count running on trails in my snowcross runners, snowshoeing, skate skiing or cross-country skiing.  I’m currently at 8. 

frost on my toque

Me after the snowshoe run. My toque is actually not furry, that is the frost.

I forgot to turn my headlight off for the photo-op, but at least I remembered to wear it this time!