Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Wings Versus Feet

white dog rolling in sand

Kobi rolling in the dirt after our latest run, she wasn’t dirty enough I guess

The bears must be preparing for hibernation as I haven’t seen one in ages.  Nor have any concerned citizens stopped to warn me of any.  I was actually feeling a bit uncomfortable running outside because so many people kept stopping to warn me about bears.  I was beginning to feel they must think I’m stupid as I keep running outside regardless of their cautions. 

There is one particular warning that I will never forget.  A guy in a collector style convertible with 5 huskies in it stopped to warn me about a bear he’d recently seen in the area.  I was so surprised to see that many dogs in a convertible that I didn’t ask if I could take a photo, it would’ve been a cool photo. 

One critter I am seeing a lot of right now is spruce grouse (I think its spruce anyway).  I see them on all my runs and walks with Kobi, I can’t even count how many I’ve seen, well over 20 but some are likely repeats.  They do scare me half to death as they fly up at the very last second and are so well camouflaged I never see them until that last second.  Then I usually scream. 

I think flying up at the last second must be a grouse survival strategy.  This way if the predator has a weak heart, they will have a heart attack or possibly heart failure due to the surprise and won’t be able to catch the grouse for dinner. 

Often Kobi finds them first and I have noticed she has pointing skills (maybe she has some hunting breed in her genes).  She demonstrated them again on today’s afternoon walk.  I was wondering why she was standing so still in one spot looking, I thought she was just waiting for me (insert laugh here).  She had spotted a grouse and was watching it walk along the trail.  Don’t worry, it got away. 

I think she likes them better than squirrels right now as she thinks she has a better chance at catching one and they also seem to be in larger family units so instead of just one exciting animal to chase there are 4 or 5 of them.  I’ll stress again, she’s never caught one and I doubt she will ever catch one. 

I hope I don’t come across as a completely irresponsible dog owner as it probably appears that I let Kobi run wild and chase whatever she wants.  I guess I kind of do, but not really.  She wears an e-collar so I have contact with her at all times when we’re in our rural and remote areas and the buzz setting is all she needs to remind her to stop what she’s doing.  I do draw the line at chasing ungulates (deer and moose) and of course livestock.  Cows and horses mostly scare her anyway. 

Horses in a field

Horses we saw on one of our runs, Kobi did not chase them.

 


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Never Enough Time

many white dogs

Kobi Clones

Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the lack of spare hours I seem to have in a day.  By the time I get home from work, walk the dog (or run the dog), do some general tidying up, make my lunch for the next day (very important), make dinner, eat dinner, then do some more clean-up, it’s time for bed!!

This doesn’t even factor in cross-training, washing the floors, picking up the mail, buying groceries, or cleaning litter boxes.  I can’t imagine if there were kids in this picture!

I’ve decided that in order to do all these things relatively stress-free, I need to clone myself.  Wouldn’t that be awesome? 

Here’s what I need for clones:

  1. One that does the house-work, runs errands, watches some television to keep me up to speed on good sitcoms and what’s going on in Hollywood (and the world), as well as plays with the cats and dog
  2. A chef clone that does the cooking, baking, grocery shopping, lunch-making, and plays with the cats and dog 
  3. An exercise clone who would do all the exercising:  running, swimming, biking, walking the dog, weight training, etc (I think I want to be this one)
  4. A clone that is a chiropractor, massage therapist, physiotherapist specializing in sports medicine, and an investment specialist (we all need one of those)
  5. One of us would work full-time in order to cover the costs of our running obsession as well as eating habits and of course just to stay in touch with the outside world
  6. And finally, a spare clone to pick-up where the others might need help and to fill in if someone needs a sick day.

In my bizarre fantasy, we’d all get together at the end of the day over some nice herbal tea and chat about our day(s). 

Okay, don’t over think this as you’ll ruin it and of course don’t even begin to consider the moral rights issues, I’m trying to keep it light. 

Well, time to go walk the dog, tidy up the house, clean the litter boxes, make my lunch, make some dinner, clean-up some more…

Let me know how you fit it all in?  Do you prioritize or run anyway and deal with the messy kitchen later?


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The World Through the Eyes of Kobi

Dog on a dirt road

Kobi at the start of our walk

I am taking a few days off from running as I have an angry left hamstring (it’s been angry since April and I have chosen to ignore it) and I seem to have picked up a bug, likely from two nights in a row of less than six hours of sleep and being around sick people.

In light of that I thought it would be an ideal time to have a guest blogger, the guest being Kobi.  Now because we humans love to anthropomorphize (that was a mouthful and took a few tries with spell check) everything that isn’t human, I am going to write how I think Kobi experiences the world on a walk or a run, but in English. 

Here’s how it begins….

Where’s the human?  Oh wait a minute, there she is.  Is she wearing shorts or those tight short pants?  Nope, we’re not going for a long fast adventure then, hmmm, what is she doing?  She’s going downstairs, I must follow as fast as possible as she might be trying to leave without me.  She’s putting the big black collar on me, OMG, I am so excited, that means we’re going on an adventure!  (Translation – e collar). 

I want outside now, now, now, let me out first, I must get outside first.  Let me out, let me out, let me out now!!

We’re outside…I must run as fast as possible down the driveway.  I must get there first.  I must smell everything.  Here’s a smell, oh and another, and another smell, oh wait another smell, I must follow this smell. 

I think I’m hearing a word I hear often.  I better run back, oh, there she is, sheesh she is so slow.  Oh, I smell a squirrel, oh, I see the squirrel.  I must climb this tree.  I hear that same word again – sounds like K-O-B-I.  I hear that a lot.  I better go back. 

Now she’s making me sit beside this smooth flat stretch (translation – road).  Why do I have to sit?  I prefer to run.  I’m still sitting, hurry up, I’ve been sitting for hours (translation – 2 seconds).  I heard OK, I must run fast.  Oh, I smell a bear, I smell dogs, I smell a million smells and I must smell them all. 

Wait, now I hear something.  I must chase this sound, I hate this sound.  Why is my neck buzzing?  Huh?  Oh, I hear that word again (translation – Kobi wanting to race a truck but distracted by the e collar and her name).  I love to run, run, run, and smell everything. 

Gotta poop, gotta poop, gotta poop.  This spot isn’t good, this isn’t good either.  Maybe if I spin around a bit, nope, maybe I’ll turn this way, nope, not good either.  I’ll move over here and spin around a few times.  Ah yes, this is good.  I POOPED! 

Now I must run again, run and smell and smell.  Yikes, what is that?  Maybe if I look really big and bark it will retreat (translation – hackles are up).  Where is the human?  I need her to take control of this situation.  I’m freaking out here!  Finally, she has taken control and is standing on the alien.  I can proceed now and investigate and kill the alien, kill the alien (translation – large pink plastic wrapper from house insulation on the trail at first scared Kobi, but then she grabbed it, shook it and ran with it until it was dead). 

We’ve turned around now.  What smell did I miss?  Did I miss this smell?  There is the alien again, whatever, boring.  Oh, I think I smell a mouse.  I smell something here…bear poo, I must pee on it. 

Must run after that loud noise (translation – another vehicle goes by).  Why is my neck buzzing?  I hear that word again (translation – Kobi, come here).  I better run back to her.  Why do I have to sit and wait again.  I hate waiting, it takes forever!!!  Yawn.  Translation – waiting to cross the road again.  I heard OK, now I can run again, yaaaay.  Oh, I see one of those black things in the air, I hate those things. I must chase it and catch it (translation – raven). 

I don’t want to go inside, I want you to throw sticks and chase me.  PLEASE!   PRETTY PLEASE!  Translation – cute brown eyes staring up at me.  Ah ha!  Works every time!  She’s throwing the stick now.  I got it first and no one can ever have this stick back from me.  Just try to catch me!!  I must run fast, as fast as I can around and around the yard.  The human runs so slow she’ll never catch me. 

Okay, I’m ready to go inside now.  Where’s my dinner? 

If we were on a run instead of a walk, imagine the above, but 10x longer.  Dogs are just so much fun. 


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Best Friends and Rainbows

dog jumping

Kobi the white blurr and the tail end of Dino, her BFF

Everyone needs a friend who loves doing the things we love to do.  This friend should ideally be of equal ability to us or perhaps just a little bit stronger.  Not so much stronger that we nearly kill ourselves trying to keep up to them (or drive them nuts waiting for us all the time).  This friend should also be a bit braver than us or maybe just approach things a bit differently.  Or we just need to be gullible enough to say yes to their ideas.  Regardless, I am blessed to have such a friend.  Her dog Dino is also Kobi’s BFF so it is perfect.

Last weekend, this friend suggested that we go on a hike into the mountains.  The purpose of this hike was to swim in the lake that is the feature point at the end of the hike.  Who would think to pack a wetsuit through the mountains in order to swim across a lake?  Certainly not me, so I immediately said yes!

The hike was beautiful and literally covered in blueberries (no bears or grizzlies thank goodness).  We got to the lake and there were 3 mountain bikers there who probably thought we were absolutely nuts as we were getting into our wetsuits.  If you haven’t seen someone trying to get into a wetsuit before, it is quite funny as it takes a while.  Fortunately, they left before we entered the water, recall it takes a while to get into a wetsuit.

Up until this point, I hadn’t really considered where the water for this lake came from – first clue, mountains, second clue, oh I don’t know, glaciers maybe?   It was the coldest water I’ve ever been in.  Imagine an ice cream headache  x10.  We didn’t actually make it across the lake as it was so cold on our hands and faces it felt like we were going to freeze solid and break into a million pieces like roses dipped into liquid nitrogen and then dropped on the floor.

Kobi swam out with us to make sure we were okay, but she became so cold she tried climbing on top of us.  The older wiser Dino just barked at us from the shore.  Her barks were translated to this:  “You idiots, get out of the water!  Do you know how cold it is?  How am I supposed to rescue three of you from that lake when I hate swimming!  Did you think this through?  Get out of the water NOW!”.

We took her advice and got out alive (we didn’t make it across the lake but were okay with that) and proceeded to laugh our heads off.  That is likely a survival mechanism for warming up after swimming in ridiculously cold water.  Kobi literally ran in circles chasing her tail, winding up one way and then unwinding the other way.  Then she ran as fast as she could while making these little grunting sounds (don’t worry, she was okay).

The hike out was uneventful except for the handfuls of blueberries and then the typical unpredictable mountain weather that always has to happen – extreme winds and then rain.  The storm was short-lived and by the time we were almost back to the vehicle you would’ve never known it had even occurred it got so nice again and of course, there was a rainbow.

All in all I built a little bit more character and can now say that I swam in that lake (that I don’t even know the name of) all thanks to my adventurous friend.

Rainbows and mountains

The Rainbow at the end of the hike


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Saving the World and Second Dates

sun reflecting on a lake

The late afternoon sun

Have you ever had one of those moments when things become so clear that everything makes sense?  When all of a sudden you realize you can solve all of the world’s problems?

I had one of those moments today on my morning run.  I’ve had similar epiphanies during other runs, answers to all the hard questions, only to forget all the answers 2 minutes after my run.  Not today.  The answer is so simple too.  If everyone ran, everyone would feel so good they wouldn’t want fight anymore and we would achieve world peace everyone would be happy and eat healthy.

Of course there are significant flaws with this simple solution to the world’s problems.  But let’s just pretend it could be that easy.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

The weather has been so amazing in this province this past while that I think most everyone in British Columbia is euphoric.  BC is the best place on earth (sorry G, Britain is nice too , but what you lack there is made up for with cool accents, Top Gear and James Bond).

To add to my euphoric state I had a second date with my new “girlfriend” Nalu (the kayak/SUP for those of you unfamiliar with her).  We went out twice today, but I’ll count it as one date as it was all on the same day.  I’m completely exhausted, but sad that I have to leave her tomorrow.  I’ll be back to get her next spring.

I have to admit, I miss Kobi and will be happy to have her back as my running companion and adventure seeker.


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Random Acts of Consideration

dog in a pool

Kobi enjoying her pool after a long run

For Saturday’s long run I chose to run to town using the ATV trails beside the road.  The route is very hilly and a nice change from my normal route, although Kobi has to stay on leash for the majority of it.

We didn’t see or hear Hugo and I actually notice that I’m a bit concerned about his well-being – now that I’ve named him and all.  I was soon distracted by 2 large dogs that came running out after us.  I shall not name breeds in order to protect their identity.  After I stopped and did some assertive “go homes” they left.

Then we had this powerful dog breed saunter over.  He had a warty face and wasn’t neutered (use your imagination) – a few red flags for me.  I put myself between him and Kobi and noticed his hackles were up.  I soon realized that I didn’t want to get caught in the middle of what might happen.  All I could think of doing was the Cesar Millan “ssstt” and surprisingly he looked up at me and walked away.  This is where I would insert a warning similar to one you see during a car commercial “professional drivers on a closed course, don’t try this at home”.  Only mine would say “non dog behaviour professional who just got lucky, do not try this at home”.

Not 5 minutes later we had 2 more nasty black dogs come charging out at us.  They looked like they didn’t get much socializing or care for that matter.  I resorted to a few loud expletives this time in the hopes the owner(s) might hear and call their dogs in.  They didn’t.

By this point I’m pretty annoyed by people and their inability to take responsibility for their dogs and frustrated that I’m going to have to turn around at some point and run the “dog gauntlet” again.  We fortunately didn’t have  any issues until the last 3 km when a German Shepard (oops, I mean powerful breed) started running behind us, he was sneaky too as I didn’t hear him for a bit.  He backed off when I turned around.

We’re finally almost home and I notice a picker truck passing us quite slowly and then stopping.  I think that perhaps he’s lost and looking for someone’s address (as it is a rural area).  He hops out of the truck and walks over to the edge of the road all apologetic for intruding, but wanted to warn me of a really big black bear about 1km ahead.  Hugo!  I thanked him for his concern and explained I was turning off before that so we would likely be fine.

I was quite moved that a random stranger would take the time to stop a truck, that clearly wasn’t easy to stop, to warn me of a potential wild animal encounter.  I once again had faith in the human race, well some members of it anyway.  I really doubt I’m going to run that route again.


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Finally, the Long Run and Only One Bear

white dog after a long run

Kobi covered in dirt and burrs after our long run

You’re probably getting sick of hearing about bears and hopefully soon I won’t be running into them and can write about other adventures, but not yet.  Yesterday’s long run (20km) had no serious bear run-ins, unless you count the one Kobi chased away.  She’s my hero.  Here’s how it all started…

The night before this run I was laying awake in bed trying to think of a route that was outside on trails, would be somewhat safe from bears, and would afford Kobi some off-leash time.  It didn’t help that two of our neighbors had just called to warn us of bears in the neighborhood.

I landed on running in the area where I live (regardless of the phone calls).  There are ATV trails worn in beside the roads and some gravel roads that are okay to run (if all the other neighborhood dogs aren’t up yet).  I also thought being close to a road would be safer as someone is bound to drive by at some point.  The only issue is there is a 1.5km section of lonely road/trail that I have to run through to get to more populated areas, and of course, this is where all the bears like to hang out.

We had no problems at the start of our run.  It was the last 5km that were quite exciting.  That was when the very sweet truck driver stopped and warned me that he had seen a bear about 15 minutes ago.  Not 1km later (in the 1.5km section of no-man’s land)  I smelled the most horrible smell ever.  If you have ever smelled a bear you will never forget it, kind of like skunk, cat pee, and something dead for a long time.

Kobi then proceeded to see the bear and bark and chase it into the woods.  I think I let out a loud expletive and then I know I really picked up the pace.  I only had 4 km to go and really wanted to get this run done.

Why must I run knowing there are bears all over the place?  Three reasons:  1) because they aren’t as bad as Velociraptors, thank God those are extinct, 2) I imagine I’m the star of a cool reality television show, except it would be hard for a camera crew to run behind me and the video would be bouncy and likely cause motion sickness when viewed, and 3) it wears Kobi out and I get a break from entertaining her all day long.  I can hardly wait for Monday’s run.

Dog and kitten

Young Spock, the kitten, would not let Kobi sleep after her run


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Guilt, Fear, Bears and Running

Dog playing with ball

How Kobi burns off extra energy

It’s August and it’s already cold outside. Not unusual when you live north of the 58th parallel.

I went so far as not completing my long run (20km) on Sunday because it was raining and windy and cold and yes, I’m made of sugar. I should’ve just sucked it up and done it because Kobi (my dog) was annoyingly hyper all day as a result and I ended up restless and feeling guilty for not doing it. I hate that feeling of guilt.

Weather should never really be an excuse not to run. Okay, it can be an excuse, but rain and a bit of wind is not really an excuse. Tsunamis, tornadoes, blizzards and excessively cold or hot temperatures are excuses. Even then, if the power hasn’t gone out, there is always a treadmill one can find.

I’ve also done this long enough to know that the guilt will get to me and now I can’t make up that long run because it’s already Thursday and I’ve lost my long run weekend window. I do have another excuse for not running and it’s likely the root cause of my first weak excuse: bears. They are out in droves this time of year. I swear the colder temperatures has them scrambling to fatten up for winter on whatever rose hips, cranberries, crab apples and guilt-ridden runners they can find (I don’t think they like eating guilt-ridden runners though, too sour).

Most of my bear experiences have involved me screaming and the bear screaming and both of us taking off in opposite directions, but there have been a few times when the bear didn’t leave and I was probably a bit too persistent in wanting to pass where he or she was versus just turning around and getting the heck away. Having Kobi now adds a new element to bear experiences. She freaks when she sees them or smells them. Her hackles go up and she barks like a crazy dog – looks kind of dragon-like actually. That has to date scared the bears away, but I’m concerned that on some random occasion she is going to bark at the wrong bear and come charging back to me for help with a bear charging behind her. That scares me.

Hmm, what’s worse, fear or guilt? I think guilt. I clearly need to go for a run. Besides, it might make for a good story and I’ll likely run a bit faster out of fear.