Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Rambling into March

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Snow seal

Well, somehow I missed February.  Likely something to do with it being a shorter than usual month, although this year was the leap year or leap day as Kobi and I affectionately call it.

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Happy Leap Day

 

All was going quite well for me running-wise until I forgot how to check my weekly mileage and unknowingly jumped from 32km a week to 42km then to 50km.  The week of 50k was where things went spiralling downhill.  I actually started spiraling at 42, but I didn’t want to acknowledge the pain so I opted to wait until the pain was not going to let itself go unnoticed.

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This is all thanks to that bony hook in my heel.  I think I’m going to name my heel spur.  Maybe we can develop a more cordial relationship if we’re on a first name basis.  “It” was tolerating runs over 10km, but I think “It” prefers 2 days in a row off every 2nd run.  Now I know.  Hopefully this doesn’t take longer than a week to settle down because us runners are an impatient lot.

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One of our rest days

 

Kobi and I did have some great runs through February and were enjoying the balmier temperatures.  I have to admit the snow conditions have been tough, as in very sand-like.  March is only going to be worse as March is that month where all the seasons fight for territory.

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Kobi likes to eat and run

In closing, here are some highlights since I last dropped in:  I had a bone graft and dental implant – now that was a whole new definition of fun, a few sleep-overs with one of Kobi’s besties – Zola the Rhodesian Ridgeback with an overbite featured above and below, and I got my CGI Level 1!  That’s short for Climbing Gym Instructor.  Yup!  That means I can teach y’all to climb at an indoor climbing wall now!   Run-on and climb-on folks!

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Kobi and the amazing Zola

 

How was your February?  Did you leap on leap day?  Help me pick a name for my heel spur, vote on one of these or suggest a new one, choices are:  Captain Hook, Sid, or Wolverine.  That’s all I got.

 

 


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Running with Wolves

dog photobomb

Oh hello

Over the long weekend I headed up the highway to the tiny community of Toad River where my friend was house-sitting at a local guide outfitters lodge/home. Being the spontaneous types we are we decided to run to a place referred to as the Nonda Creek Tower. It’s a radio tower at the end of a very rough road. I had driven to this place 10+ years ago so my memory wasn’t serving me well. I figured the route could be anywhere between 6km and 25km. Neither one of us consulted a map Google first.

dog in the mountains

Woo Hoo, we’re in the mountains

We aren’t totally dumb and did pack day-packs to be on the safe side (I’m quite certain mine weighed 20 lbs).
After 9km of blissful uphill running on a nice hard snow packed surface (thank you snowmobilers) we still had no clue how much farther the tower was.

group shot

We look so happy! The dogs didn’t want their photos taken though.

We did clue in to the fresh wolf tracks and wolf scat (poop, but scat sounds smarter). I also noticed that Kobi started heeling a few times. I just thought she was tired or perhaps demonstrating how well-trained she is (she’s a hooligan, but I’m easily fooled).

winter road

Not a bad view

Finally, at 12.5km, we admitted defeat and turned around as we still had to get ourselves back to the truck. By this time the hard packed snow was more like soft snow and my feet were wet and my toes were hurting from attempting to grip the snow from inside my shoes (futile, but I do this).

dog in a creek

Just a cool photo for your viewing pleasure

A few km’s into the return trip, Kobi heels again, this time so intensely she nearly trips me. Again I’m thinking, “what a good girl, so well-trained.” I’m completely exhausted at this point and my blood sugar is low and all the cells in my body were doing their best just to keep my legs moving at the expense of the higher cognitive functions of my brain. Basically, my brain didn’t translate heeling dog = imminent danger.

I’m quite sure there was something lurking in the woods watching us, likely wolves. I’m sure Kobi and the other dog Dino knew we were being watched, but the two completely exhausted humans were unaware.

mountain view at Toad River

More mountain views

Perhaps my obliviousness was my subconscious way of not freaking out. Had I put two and two together, I would’ve been scared. Especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere where cell phones don’t work and where no one else knows your exact location.

Kobi eventually took her usual place of 20-30m in front of the pack (I should have named her Scout) and we made it to the truck. Exhausted and with sore toes, but we made it.

winter trail

This is where Kobi is when there isn’t danger, way out in front.

I’ll know better next time to pay more attention to Kobi’s reactions.  I have high-tailed it out of many areas before because I’ve seen her acting odd.  I’ll blame my recent poor observation skills on low blood sugar and thin mountain air.

Do you find yourself gripping your toes inside your shoes when you run on uneven surfaces? What do you think was lurking in the woods? Wolves? Yeti? Other?


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How I Roll, Sort of

dog on ski trails

Have to have a Kobi photo

I had to take a quick trip south earlier this week, only about 1000 miles south, but everything is that far away from here.

Of course I had to squeeze some running in as I was in a pretty cool rural area and it was only a balmy -5C.  I headed down the road and after a few minutes spotted a snowmobile trail heading into the woods. When it comes to me and trails, it’s kind of like flies on poop, I just gotta check it out.

snowmobile trail

The trail I found

First I stopped to take a photo of the signs at the trail and noticed I was standing on a cattle guard (aka cattle stop, cattle grid, Texas gate, livestock guard). I was totally distracted taking photos and walked backwards over the cattle guard not really paying attention.

I quickly learned that caution should be applied when walking backwards over cattle guards in the snow. It appeared that the snow was packed to the top of the guard, thanks to the snowmobile tracks, but it wasn’t, it was actually hollow underneath. As a result of this illusion, I stepped between the parallel bars of very hard steel and proceed to fall through.

You know that moment when you suddenly realize you aren’t on a solid surface anymore and you’re falling, I had that moment. Then of course the first thought through my head (the one that always presents itself when free-falling) was, “this is going to hurt”.

Cattle guard

See how it looks like the snow goes to the top, but really doesn’t.

I fell between the steel bars and landed smack on my butt. It didn’t hurt!  I then did what I always do after a fall, a quick scan to see who saw. No one fortunately.

I did smack my shin pretty good trying to get my leg out from between the steel bars.  I shook it off and assessed the damage, nothing was broken so I proceeded to start trotting along the trail happier than a fly on poop again.

Then that little smarty-pants voice in my head spoke up and reminded me I was in the thick of mountain lion country and it’s winter when mountain lions are the hungriest. Nothing scares me more than mountain lions, well maybe velociraptors, but thankfully those are extinct (although they still scare me).

trail in the winter

About when I started thinking about mountain lions

I had no safety gear with me, no Kobi my fearless protector, and my cell phone was now dead thanks to my cold weather photography obsession with a battery that only had 20% left on it when I left the warm house.

Long story short, I got a little turned around, ended up doubling back and eventually made it back to the cattle guard and the road without getting mauled by a mountain lion or breaking a leg. Phew.

I stuck to the road after that and had an uneventful but enjoyable run. Lessons learned, don’t step between the metal bars of cattle guards in the snow and don’t run in mountain lion country without at least a cell phone that works.

Ever had a run-in with a cattle guard or are you smarter than that?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Winter Wanders

Winter trees

The view during our ski. It was actually snowing really hard when I took this.

It’s been a week mixed with some sun and snow and slightly warmer temperatures.  But of course it’s the weekend now so the temperatures have dropped.  Yesterday was  -20C with a wind-chill of -27C and it’s currently -27C with a -31C wind-chill, but it is sort of sunny out.  It will likely start snowing soon because it seems to like to snow here.

This is how I looked last Sunday after running outside for 75 minutes in -25C, no clue on the windchill.

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This is my winter ninja look.

I bought Kobi a pretty little red jacket.  I’m not certain if she needs one or not. She has a good coat of hair, but she is mostly an indoor dog unless we’re out on one of our daily adventures and I’m concerned she might get a bit cold sometimes.   I think I’ll just get her to wear it when it’s -20C or colder, warmer than that and I don’t think she needs it.

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Kobi sporting her Little Red Riding Hood jacket

She wanted to pull it off when she wore it for the first time, but during our weekend ski adventure she didn’t seem bothered by it at all and did all her usual dog stuff like pooping, rolling in snow, chasing squirrels and finding dead animal bones.

And for your viewing pleasure, I made this short work-out video with a friend this morning.  Check it out if you want to take your work-outs to a whole new level (and have snow).  Just a few notes:  I’m wearing the cool dark blue snowsuit, the other dog is Kobi’s BFF Ginger Daisy,  those are grosbeaks you hear in the background (birds at my bird feeder), it was -30C out when we did this, and remember you do any new work-outs at your own risk.