Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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It’s Nearly Winter Where I Live

dog in the snow

This stuff has already melted, but it will be back

It was so cold on my run last weekend I had to wear a toque (wool hat for you non Canadians), a jacket and mittens (my hands are ridiculously cold all the time).  That run inspired me to do the closet swap  – you know – pack all your summer clothes up and bring out the sweaters.  Gotta love life in the north.  I shouldn’t even bother putting winter clothes away for the short “hot” season we get, but it is more out of principle.

Did you know we had 3.5 months snow free this year?  Pretty amazing hey?

Regardless of the cold, I am still loving running in the wilds right now.  With no bugs and the beautiful colours who could resist?!

dog in the forest

Kobi on our foggy weekend run. Notice she’s sticking her tongue out at me.

 

Kobi has been loving the cooler weather and has 4-7 epic squirrel or grouse chases every walk and run.  Unfortunately one of these epic chases resulted in an injury, a back injury of all things. She must have slipped or tripped as all I heard was a yelp and then she wasn’t keen on jumping up anymore.

White dog

What did you say? I can’t run?

I drove her 390km (230ish miles) one way (and then back again) to see a veterinarian as we were pretty worried (no vet in my town).  No fractures or breaks, but she’s on anti inflammatories and is going to need 3 weeks of rest.  Ever tried containing a hyper-super-fit dog for three weeks?  It’s not going to be easy. Poor Kobi.  She is showing signs of improvement already so everything should be a-okay soon enough.

3 cats 1 dog

I think this will be our Christmas card as I never get all 4 critters in one shot

How many months snow free do you get?   Any ideas on how to keep a hyper dog calm without excessive exercise?


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Running with Dinosaurs

dinosaur mural

When dinosaurs roamed free

I ran another trail race on Saturday, Emperor’s Challenge.  I only had to drive 1200km round-trip to do so.  Yup, I live in the middle of nowhere.  It was also only six days since I ran the trail race in the Yukon (recap here).

I left home late so I didn’t get to my destination until close to 7PM.  I bought and ate some grub, got my race gear together and then painted my fingernails purple.  I started the purple fingernail ritual last May when I ran a PB at the BMO Half Marathon after painting my nails purple, therefore, purple nail polish makes me run faster.

Side-note, I have an irrational fear of dinosaurs. This race is held in an area where there are tons of dinosaur fossils – it’s their claim to fame and hence coal mining is the major industry and also the closest I will get to running with velociraptors (dead ones anyway).

dinosaur bones

GRRRRR

This was my fourth time doing this race and third time on this route.  They have to change routes as the mining company keeps removing the mountains the race is on.  It used to be a small race, but it has really grown popular and they cap it at 1000 entries now.  650+ people showed up this year.  It attracts a very talented group of fast mountain runners.

Emperors Challenge

The scenery is much prettier than this once you get going

It’s 20km long, is a pile of uphill, some flat rocky areas at the top, then a ton of technical downhill, more uphill, and then more downhill.  The last stretch is a long downhill on a gravel road to the finish (downhill doesn’t always feel good).  Of course the very last bit is uphill.  So cruel.

Emperors Challenge

the views are pretty nice

I ran 2:06:27 (my best time yet on this course – see purple nail polish does make you faster) and placed 5th in my age group (141 total) and 14th out of the women (414) so I’m not going to complain.  I will complain about changing in the backseat of my vehicle and giving myself a leg cramp and then driving 6 hours back home.

Two hours into the drive, I took my first break and ate way too many french fries and a large iced coffee which kept me pretty entertained for the next four hours.  I don’t drink caffeinated drinks very often so it hit me pretty hard.

Do you have any odd pre-race rituals?  Are you scared of dinosaurs?  Would you drive 6 hours to run a trail race – with dinosaurs? 

 


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Yukon River Trail Half Marathon

I agreed to do the above mentioned race with a friend (we put it on the race plan about 10 months ago).  It’s held on the first Sunday in August in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories.  It’s only a 950km drive from where I live.

The week before the race I said screw driving that far and decided to fly.  Not totally smart as I can only afford to fly using air miles on short notice and there weren’t many flight options available last-minute.  I ended up driving 390 km to the next closest airport, flew 1.5 hours to Vancouver and then flew 2.5 hours back north to Whitehorse.  I was at least on the same flight as my partner in crime.

Leaving on a jet plane

Leaving on a jet plane

We got in very late Friday night.   Saturday we did a little run along the trail in town (where I met Creepy Barbie) and spent the rest of the day checking out Whitehorse.  Sunday was race day.

creepy barbie was stuck in the fence along the trail

Creepy Barbie was stuck in the fence along the trail

Whitehorse, Yukon

Downtown Whitehorse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event hosts a full marathon, relay marathon and half marathon – all on trails, single track goat trails to be precise.

Most of the folks running this one are locals and the entire event is capped at 325.  There were 100 people in the half marathon.

This is me trying to look cool pre-race.  I haven't quite figured out how to look cool.

This is me trying to look cool pre-race, or like Captain Morgan

The half didn’t start until 10AM.  It’s a gun start and not really chip timed.  You get this little plastic thing you have to dip into a  reader when you cross the finish line.  Not good as my hands don’t work well after I run so I was pretty sure I’d drop it (spoiler alert, I didn’t).

I placed myself up front with the fast folks as why the heck not.  There were some really fast folks there.  One girl up front was maybe 5 feet tall and 85 lbs of fastness.  I saw her doing a warm-up, holy fast Batman.  She ran the half in 1:35 so that tells you how challenging the course was.  She looked like she could run a 1:15 on a road.

The first bit was on paved trail, then some road and then you hit the single track.  People were incredibly polite about passing.  The second half of the race was really hard.  Some seriously steep sections (up and down and I suck at downhill).

I didn’t take photos as taking your eyes off the goat trail along the cliffs and through the woods would have resulted in a face plant or fall off the side of a mountain into a cold lake below.  I also would’ve likely taken a wrong turn and would still be running out there as you had to pay attention to the trail markers (flagging tape).

Cool side note:  If any of you Canadians watched the Amazing Race Canada Tuesday, the bridge the contestants run across at the end of the show is the bridge I ran across in my race.

I finished in a decent time (I think) as I was the fifth chic in and first in my age group (there were 20 in my age group).  It took me 1:58:44.

The finishing medals are really cool.

The medals are made from pottery.  Very cool.

The medals are made from pottery.

Post race, I pigged out at McDonald’s (I just looked at the food as carbs and protein, that’s how I justified it, plus it was close to the hotel).  A little while later we made our way back into town – walking slowly – to find a place to eat dinner.  We ended up at a pub called the Dirty Northern Bastard.  It sounded too good to pass up.

We left the next morning on a 5:55AM flight back to Vancouver, then I flew back to where I started and drove 4 hours back home.  And I saw a grizzly bear on the drive – cool!

I am totally in love with Whitehorse, it’s so beautiful!  The people are so nice too.  It’s kind of like Hawaii, but in the north and obviously colder and no palm trees.  I think it’s more the feel of the place that made me think of Hawaii, laid back and everyone totally wants to be there.  I want to be there.

Ever been to Whitehorse?  Do Barbie’s freak you out?  What’s the coolest medal you’ve received at a race?  What’s the weirdest name of a pub you’ve been to?  Have you seen a grizzly bear in the wild?

 

Yukon River Trail Half Marathon

 


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I’m so Cool

The temperatures have certainly tempered and I have realized that I don’t mind running in the rain. I used to avoid it, but I’m feeling the love right now, so much so that I ran twice in a row in the rain. The second day it started to pour so hard that we (me and Kobi) had to take shelter under the trees as it was hurting Kobi’s little eyes (she doesn’t wear a hat like I do). My shoes are still a mess from that run as the mud was unbelievable after the down-poor. Good thing I have several spares.

sun and rain clouds

One of my rainy day shots, cool sun laser beam effect or aliens

The rest of the time we’ve just been running to the lake, often twice in a row for Kobi’s sake. She wants to live at a lake.

dog watching loons

Kobi enjoying the loons

The last time at the lake, while Kobi was watching the wildlife, one of these flew towards me (recall my love of these flying beetles of terror).

Long horned wood borer

Notice the hooks on its feet? They really hold on.

I did some pretty cool kung fu/jujitsu arm maneuvers which were very very frightening (even to insects) so I was pretty sure it had flown on by.

A short while later, while I was enjoying the view with Kobi, I felt something on my neck. I did what any well-trained ninja master would do, I screamed, loud and high-pitched. Then I grabbed at the crawly thing on my neck and flung it as far as it could be flung, which was about 2 feet.

Of course there was someone at the lake so they saw my kung fu and heard my not-so-ninja-scream (and probably laughed).  I am so cool.

In case you’re worried about the long-horned-wood-boring-beetle-of-terror, it seemed fine and just crawled around on the ground after the fling. Me and Kobi proceeded to run home without any additional insect run-ins.

Don’t you think those beetles of terror are horribly frightening?  Ever screamed in front of a stranger before (over a bug)?  Does your dog like the lake – wait a minute, what dog doesn’t like the lake? 

And here is a random photo of my adorable kittens (enjoying the clean laundry). 

kittens

Kittens!

 


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Hill Repeats in the Heat and My New Kittens

The title pretty much sums up my last week.

I adopted two new kittens so any spare time I have had has been consumed by hugging, kissing, playing with, looking for and taking photos of my new kittens.   Kittens are a bigger time drain than Facebook, but way more fun and just so cute.

white and black kittens

Aren’t they cute? Casper and Cricket are their names.

It’s been so hot here.  Not Texas hot, but it hits the mid 90’s every day and the humidity is high for us too.  Because it’s been hot I have justified eating lots of ice cream with Kobi.  She’s not complaining.

dog eating ice cream

mmmm ice cream (she gets her own cone)

 

I’ve also been out paddleboarding with my pro Kobi.  She’s so cool.

dog in the water

Kobi pre board

dog on a SUP

Kobi is a pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’ve been running.  Mostly lots of hill repeats to attempt to get ready for my upcoming races.   Why did I sign up for two mountain trail runs?  Because I love mountains and trails of course, but running hills in this weather is getting hard (as is packing 2 litres of water for every run).

Because it’s so darn hot out, all our routes have to centre around water sources so Kobi can cool off every 10-15 minutes.  I’m desperate to cool off too and went so far as standing in a creek to cool my toes, but realized that water in your shoes makes your feet really heavy.  Oh well.  I’ll remember that next time.  It did feel really good for 2 minutes.

dog in the water

Kobi isn’t fussy when it comes to water, ditch water works fine

How hot is it where you live?  Would you opt for heavy wet shoes in order to have nice cool feet for a few minutes?  Do you eat lots of ice cream when it’s hot out (with your dog)?  Don’t you think my kittens are cute?

 


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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!