Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Living the Wild Wild Life

Sunday we had absolutely stellar weather.  I headed out on a run during the AM and early on had 4 ATV’s pass me.  One ATV had so much exhaust spewing out of it I think I may have lost some brain cells.   So much for being healthy.  Another ATV in the group slowed down to pass me and Kobi.  I thought he was being polite, turns out he was lighting a cigarette.  That made me laugh, or maybe it was the exhaust fumes.

Shortly after this, I came across a trail I hadn’t yet explored and decided today was the day.

winter trail

The new-to-me trail I went run-exploring down.

I didn’t pack any water and was kind of thirsty so I thought I’d eat some snow.   This time of year it’s important to watch out for little black bugs affectionately known as snow fleas.  Kobi photo-bombed my attempt at taking a picture of them.  I didn’t eat any snow.

snow flea and dog

If you click on the photo you can see the small black specks. Snow fleas!

This new-to-me trail ended at a snowmobile trail that I used for skate skiing (recall this post) and the conditions looked awesome.  It just so happened that my friend had suggested we skate ski later that afternoon.  I said I knew the perfect place.

After my run I ate these and then went for my ski.

pancakes

I don’t usual post photos of my food, but these looked so good and I did not stop at 3 and yes, that is maple syrup on top of the strawberries.

We got to the trail and were getting ourselves organized and lo and behold, these guys (girls actually) walked out right in front of us!!

mountain caribou

Not my photo, but exactly what we saw – Mountain Caribou!!

I’m sure the caribou would’ve hung out, however, they saw the dogs and took off back into the woods.  I didn’t get a chance to take photos.  I’ve seen caribou up here often, but never this close.  It was wild!

The skiing was awesome and I could have worn shorts it was so warm.  We felt like we were those fierce Norwegian skate skiers at Sochi, except we moved in slow motion compared to them.

stop sign

Signage on the snowmobile trails where we skied. Pretty much the middle of nowhere.

Ever seen a snow flea?  What are your thoughts about smoking while driving an ATV?

 

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More Winter Adventures

I’m gently embracing my slow reintroduction to running so as not to smother this renewed relationship and once again have running leave me.    

I was so excited to run last Sunday that I bolted out the door without even checking the temperature.  I knew it was cold as our windows had frost on the inside which means it’s colder than -25C (-13F) outside so I did dress appropriately.  I was also only going to attempt a short distance so it couldn’t be that bad.   Within 15 minutes my eyelashes looked like this.  I think it was closer to -30C.  

Frozen eye lashes

Kind of a scary close-up, but aren’t these the coolest eye-lash extensions ever?

I did a very slow walk/jog (3×2 minutes) for a total of 30 minutes (4km-ish).  It felt so lame to run such a short distance, but Kobi was stoked to go for a “walk” longer than 2km.  

winter sunrise

Kobi stopped for 3 seconds so I could get a shot of her and the sunrise that morning

 

Tuesday I decided I needed to run again and it was a balmy -3C out.  I was aiming for a 1×4 walk/jog, but after the first set, I said screw it and just ran.  I ran a slow 4+km without stopping or walking.  During the entire run I was completely fixated on what might start hurting.  Fortunately, nothing hurt too much.

Dog in the snow

Kobi says, “just run!”

Besides obsessing over every little twinge I was feeling, I was scoping out the snowmobile trails so as to fulfill my need to look fierce on skate skis.  Early on with my injury, my physiotherapist recommended not skate skiing as it would flex my foot in a bad way.  That was a while ago so I went for it Wednesday (plus it was only -9C out).  It was amazing!  And my foot didn’t hurt.

What was also pretty amazing was that I only had to walk about 300m from my door to the trails where I popped on my skis and headed on my way.  How cool is that? 

I skied 2km and then figured we’d check out the trails on the other side of the highway.  We bolted across the road “sans” skis (I didn’t want to wreck them) and were once again in skiing bliss.  We skied and skied and skied and then took this other trail and skied some more and then I took this photo. 

sunset and black spruce

The view from the skate/snowmobile trail – just seconds before my epiphany

Suddenly I thought to myself, “what a pretty sunset.  Hmm sunset, it’s going to get dark soon and I have no headlight and I’m nearly in the middle of nowhere.”  Everywhere is the middle of nowhere where I live. 

We started heading for home, much to Kobi’s disappointment (I swear that dog would run forever).  I was really really getting tired by this point and had to be extra careful not to wipe-out as part of my trail was beside the Alaska Highway and I hate falling in public.  I managed to stay upright and still felt somewhat fierce regardless of my exhaustion.   Kobi was fully stoked (according to her  “stoke-o-meter) to have run her little guts out on some new trails.  Success.  

PS  I was very sore Thursday.

PPS  I ran again on Friday (7km with a few walk breaks).  Foot is holding together.

PPPS  It’s -30C with a -40C windchill right now so I doubt I’ll be skate skiing this weekend.

 

 


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Nearly Running

After being sidelined from running for about 5 weeks I found I had a bit more free time on my hands (and a lot less laundry), time that I should’ve used more productively.  Like tackling some closet organizing or doing some extreme house-cleaning, or even just more house-cleaning as I always have white dog hair and tabby cat hair everywhere.  However, I prefer procrastination over house-work. 

I did knit two pairs of these cool wristlets.  Good for chilly morning blog writing. 

wristlets

Wristlets I knitted. I’m just so crafty sometimes.

Back to the main point of this post, if I even have a point.  I am nearly back to my outdoor running adventures again.  The adventures are a bit short compared to the good ol’ days, but I’m optimistic they’ll be getting longer each week. 

dog sleeping

Kobi resting up getting ready for running again

You may recall I had been tracking my winter snow sport activities, but that came to a halt after the warm snap and my stupid foot issue.  I landed on 102 out of my goal of 150.  If we ever get some nice new decent snow again, I will ski and snowshoe again. 

I should explain that I am a bit of a cross-country ski princess.  I want good tracked trails if I’m going to classic ski.  You see I don’t really like classic skiing.  I love skate skiing.  It’s fast and looks fierce.  Mind you, those Olympic folks make classic skiing look fierce.   I don’t look fierce when I classic ski. 

What really looks fierce is biathlon.  Packing a gun while skiing would be the ultimate in cool and likely command respect (or some weird looks). 

Olympic Biathlete

This is what I think I look like when I skate ski, but I don’t look remotely this cool.

I can totally see myself skiing in the woods on the snowmobile club trails (because those are the only trails you can skate ski on up here) with Kobi running ahead (she’s always faster than me) and me packing a cool looking gun with backpack straps on it.  I feel fierce just thinking about it.

 As there are no set targets to shoot at I would just use trees as my targets.  And because this is the north, I would likely run into an RCMP officer or two in red serge on the back of a dog sled patrolling the snowmobile trails too.  Can’t you see it?

RCMP and sled dogs

They don’t use dog sleds anymore and only dress up in red serge for special events, but it just looks so cool.

I think those biathlon guns are very expensive so here is my reality:  I take hubbies BB gun, attempt to attach some backpack straps to it with duct tape (which will be unsuccessful or just look really stupid), then I’ll end up falling on my back while skiing and really hurt myself and/or breaking his gun.  Still sounds like fun.    

Are there any sports that make you feel fierce?  Real or imaginary.


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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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The Last Half of 2013

Half Marathon start in Vancouver

I’m in the white hat looking at my watch

I ran my final race of 2013 last Sunday – The Vancouver Historic Half.  It’s two loops around the sea wall in Stanley Park.  My most favorite place to run – although the run along the beaches from UBC to Kitsilano isn’t too bad either.

It was so wonderful to run in only capris and 1 shirt versus 2 layers of pants, 3 shirts, a jacket, ear band, toque, mittens, and headlight (yes, I pretty much have a load of laundry after each winter run up where I live).

Prior to any race, I typically don’t run at all the week before.  I was going to do the same with this race, but my friend (who was also running the race) said she had to do a run the day before and a warm-up run right before the race (she has a coach).  The week before any race is time for me to eat too much and scoff at other runners running before a race.  I need to save my energy.

I was easily swayed and besides, I was in Vancouver and I would not waste a running experience “sans” snow (that’s French in case you didn’t know).  I tagged along for the interval run the day before the race.  All the while I’m thinking, “OMG, who runs fast before a race?”.  Then right before the race we did a warm-up run – I know, CRAZY!!  I was certain I would have no energy left at all to complete the race at this point.

Regardless of breaking my “rules” of not running at all before a race, I managed to run the half in a decent time of 1:38:31.  I reckon the pre-race runs didn’t take away all my running reserves (maybe just some).  Oh, and a huge shout-out to my race buddy Tina who ran a new personal best and smashed her previous best time by something like 13 minutes!  Awesome!!

Quick side note, there’s a guy I always see in Vancouver races who runs in a Gingerbread man suit and full face mask under that.  I’m not sure why?  Perhaps it makes him run faster.   It looks hard, but I do catch him every time, takes a bit though as he lives up to his costume and is quite fast.

Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man at the Vancouver Historic Half Marathon

The day after the race, I headed back north to the snow and cold.  I didn’t waste any time and hit the ski trails with my skate skis and Kobi.  Kobi loves the ski trails and always runs into her other dog friends, she has so many friends!

I actually remembered to bring all the appropriate gear with me while skiing.  Except my headlight batteries seem to have had enough of the cold and it was pretty dim by the end of the last ski.  No serious wipe-outs fortunately.

Wildlife count this week:  one great grey owl and very fresh lynx tracks.  Both the owl and the tracks got Kobi pretty excited.  She tried following the owl into the woods, but preferred sitting and listening to its hooting – it was cool.

Ski trails

Skate skiing in the forest with Kobi