Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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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! 

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Running on Empty

tracks in the snow

Morning tracks on the trail

There was no “low fuel” warning light that came on for me today.  I was fine one minute, then having a hunger meltdown the next.   I had forgotten how the cold burns extra calories and this was my first long run in the cold since last winter (which I think was only 5 months ago).  

I did a short night-run yesterday in order to get a few extra kilometres in so as to stick to one of my running rules:  your longest run must not be greater than the total of your weekly runs.   I needed another 5km in order to run the 23km I wanted to do today. 

The night-run sucked.  It was dark (obviously) and cold and I had neglected to put on a neck warmer so my chin was cold.  I wore a headlight, but because it was snowing, it was like driving in a snowstorm with your high-beams on.  As a result I could hardly see or hear where Kobi was (recall I let her run off-leash on the trails as I’d likely suffer a serious injury if we were tied together).   I was grateful it was only a 5km, but Kobi ran like she’d never been outside before.  I think she likes running in the dark. 

white dog in the dark

Kobi(s) on our night run

Onto today’s run.  It was -12C with a reported -15C wind-chill.  I started off doing a short burn on the forest trails and then hit the paved community trail.  I ended up back at the forest trail where I was to meet my friend who would run the last 8km with me.  I had just enough time to do a quick clothing change (dry shirts, jacket, toque and mittens) before she showed up.   I find after running over an hour in anything colder than -10C I need a dry clothes change, it makes life so much more bearable.

We ran about 2km together and then all of a sudden I started raving about food (I always think about food, but not like this).  I loudly and enthusiastically explained what I was going to eat after my run (pancakes, maple syrup, canned peaches and a latte) and how awesome these almond butter chocolate balls are that I made (seriously they are the best!  I’ll post the recipe below).

My friend commented that I was getting a bit off – she seems to see my hunger warning signs before I do.   I swear when I get hungry, my body starts devouring my brain cells for the nutrition it needs and I become someone else, like someone who has been taken over by an alien body snatchers species and I can no longer think for myself.

I took another GU and a ton of Cytomax, only because my friend strongly recommended I do this.  I did have one gel earlier (an hour into my run) with tons of Cytomax drink, but I think the cold just took a bit more out of me as one gel and Cytomax is all I usually need on a 20-24km run.

Thankfully, about 5 minutes after the second gel and Cytomax I started to feel better.  And then I felt really good.  And then I recognized that I was entering the “runner’s high” zone.  Suddenly I felt really really happy and was coming up with amazing ideas and saving the world – again.

I seriously think I need to take some voice notes on my phone when I hit this high as I suspect I sound like a raving lunatic versus the genius I think I am.

I did make it home and did eat my pancakes with maple syrup and canned peaches as well as a Kona coffee latte.  I’ve also just polished off my second grilled chicken burger with goat cheese, avocado, and red pepper and I am too embarrassed to say how many almond butter chocolate balls (and everything else) I’ve eaten.

Oh yeah, here’s the recipe from Canadian Running – Nov/Dec 2013 – Almond Butter Chocolate Balls

  1. 1 cup almond butter (mix in the oil)
  2. 1/2 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla
  4. 4 oz dark chocolate (I like 70% cocoa)
  5. 1/2 tsp coarse salt

Mix the almond butter, sugar and vanilla.  Roll into 20 equal sized balls (I made 25).  Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and put them into the freezer (1-1.5 hrs).  Melt the chocolate.  Roll the almond butter balls in the chocolate once they are frozen, garnish with a few grains of salt (I left some without) and refrigerate until the chocolate is set (about 30 minutes).  So good!