Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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). 





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?



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! 


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!


Running into Fashion

Kinvara 4 runners and a white dog

The purple runners and Kobi

I am sick or ‘estoy enferma’ (I’m taking beginner Spanish and likely got that wrong).  I decided to run today regardless and besides, the razor blades in my throat only feel dull now, not too sharp.  I also heard that you can run sick as long as you don’t have a fever – probably heard that from an unreliable source, but I’m sticking with it.  I also hit the pool bright and early this morning and had my butt kicked by the instructor. Sprint after sprint after sprint and I didn’t drown or faint so I figured I could run. Besides, Kobi needed a run regardless of  my cold. 

I decided to run after work on the trails in town as the trails out my way are nothing but mud right now.  This way I could just haul Kobi back to town with me and then we’d hit the trails right after work.  I also needed some running gear so as I was pulling out running attire, I realized that was coordinating everything to go with my purple runners.  

I have to digress here for a minute as this is kind of funny.  I was on-line window-shoe-shopping the other day and found some Saucony Kinvera 4’s in my size so I was all hot and bothered to order them as I wanted to try them so bad.  I didn’t buy them as I know I need to give myself a “time-out” on any shoe purchase as I tend to buy things I don’t really need (kind of like giving yourself 24 hours to calm down before replying to an email that you gets you all fired up).  Anyway, I was on my “time-out” and then forgot about the shoes until this morning when I saw these cool purple shoes tucked into my running shoe collection.  Guess what they were?  The Kinvera 4’s I wanted to buy!  I already had a pair and totally forgot!  How bad is that?  I either have:   A) too many running shoes,  B)  a very poor memory or,  C)  a dislike for them and therefore forgot about them.  The answer is A and B as how could I not like a purple running shoe! 

Now back to my fashion coordinating.  I select some Lululemon capris with a purple highlight, a black Nike shirt with a subtle white/reflector highlight and a black hat with white highlights.  This outfit tied in very nicely with the purple shoes and of course Kobi’s purple leash.  Remember how I think the colour purple makes me run faster?  

The run was good, but I was cold.  In all my fashion coordinating, I neglected to remember gloves or ear warmers.  I had also wanted to run intervals, but I ended up sort of doing a tempo run as my throat and lungs weren’t up to intervals. 

As far as wildlife encounters:  Kobi chased 3 grouse, 1 raven and 15 squirrels (6 on the way up and 9 on the way back, likely some repeats).  She also had two poops conveniently by garbage receptacles so I could be the responsible dog owner and clean up after her without having to carry a poop bag for miles, although it did help with the cold hands (gross hey?). 

white dog

Kobi post run

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Recovery Week, a Trail Run, and Now a Cold

dogs in the woods

Kobi and her BFF in the larch stand

I always like to take it easy the week after a race.  I think I just like an excuse to take it easy or I’m a bit lazy – maybe both.  I transitioned back into the exercise world later in the week with a swim, a yoga class and my favorite Rushift workout with GSP. 

I did my first post-race run on Saturday (16.4km).  Part of the run was in the community forest.  I haven’t seen any bears (including Hugo) or sign of them in weeks so I wasn’t worried about running in the woods at all (I did a test walk the day before on the trail and saw no signs either so I was pretty confident).  The squirrels and grouse are still out in full force though.  I think I counted at least 10 squirrels on the run.  Kobi probably counted more. 

I was thrilled to run with a friend and her dog so I had someone to chat away at and Kobi had someone to run with too.  I’ve been running on my own for so long now, it was nice to have company especially on a longer run.  I think I talk too much when I’m running with other people and I doubt I gave her a minute to say anything.  Clearly I need to get out more. 

I couldn’t resist a photo of this part of the trail.  It’s a larch stand and if you’re at all familiar with trees, you know that larch trees shed their needles for the winter (like a deciduous, but they’re a conifer).  This part of the trail was covered in larch needles.  It looks like coloured sawdust. 

The weather has been absolutely amazing this last little while.  If I was more dedicated I could have been cycling every day, but I’m not.  I’m also coming down with something and feel absolutely lousy.  I hate getting sick.  I have one more race to do this year at the end of November – the Vancouver Historic Half – so getting sick now is going to interfere with my training.  I hate that. 


My Week in Review

trees in autumn

How I wish it looked today (this was Wednesday)

How to summarize this week in close to 500 words?  Here goes…

Wednesday I left work early to pick Kobi up as I had planned to go back to town to run the community trail as the trails out this way were muddy.  On the way home, a very low flying small plane flew over me and I noticed the wing on the plane was on fire.  I realized the plane was attempting to make an emergency landing on a side road in town. 

Me and several other drivers turned down the road, to try to help I think.  When I got close, I saw the plane had landed and was engulfed in flames.  That was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed.  The pilot escaped with minor injuries – pretty unbelievable.

I got home late as a result of the plane crash and ended up running on the muddy trails out this way as I wasn’t in the mood to drive back to town.  We (me and Kobi) did intervals on the trails, always harder than running on a track or road, but my preference.  Hey, Usain Bolt trained on a dirt track back in Jamaica, so there is something to be said about keeping it real. 

I haven’t seen Hugo (the black bear) in ages, but have seen his tracks.  I think he’s gone into Ninja mode and is out there, but not making his presence known.  I did notice these “wolf” tracks, at least I think they’re wolf.

Dog tracks

Pretty big dog prints

Friday’s run was a tempo run on the trail in town.  To sum that one up, pretty much felt like throwing up the entire time and as a result the tempo only lasted 20 minutes. 

Today’s run ended up 1.7km shorter than I had originally planned (planned 24km, ran 22.3km and yes, I am counting the 0.3km).  It was one of those runs that built more character than anything.  I couldn’t even food motivate myself, which is how I can usually get through anything. 

All I could do was try to get the run over with.  My hands were cold (I was wearing those cheap dollar store mini gloves) and my clothes had soaked up so much rain by 6km I felt about 10 pounds heavier.  I may as well have jumped into a pool prior to running I was so completely soaked.  My pants also kept slipping down because they were so heavy and water-logged.

You see, I rarely have to run in the rain as it typically doesn’t rain all the time up here and hardly during my scheduled runs – used to think I had great-weather-running-karma – up until now.  And I had to do the long run today as I’m running the Victoria Half Marathon in 2 weeks and this was the last long run prior to the race.   

I really really hope it doesn’t rain in Victoria on October 13.    

Wet white dog

How I felt during today’s run

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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.


Nothing is Ever Easy

dog in a lake

Kobi after her swim

I’m all about structure in my life and Wednesday is scheduled as my second of four runs for this week.  I decide that this run shall be to a small lake that Kobi loves to swim in.  She loves a nice mid-run swim to cool down and it was quite hot out.

I proceed to get my gear ready.  I decide to use the largest of my three hydration packs as I can put more stuff in it.  I opt not to use the water bladder and instead just toss in a bottle of water, a bag of sport beans, my phone, my camera (the camera on my phone sucks, I think I wrecked it somehow), a hunting knife (hey, you just never know), the biggest canister of bear spray I own, chapstick (can’t go anywhere without that), and several gels.  Please note  it is only 7km to the lake and back, not 50km.

This hydration/backpack now weighs 7 pounds, seriously.

We finally head out along our favorite trail and as we pass a nice cool riparian area Kobi goes charging and barking into the woods.  Likely a bear, but I’m not afraid of bears anymore as I was talking to a Conservation Officer in town and he said they have had no reports of aggressive bears in town.   This means that I’m safe from all bears – in my naïve little mind.  Naivety is one of my superpowers.

We get to the gravel road that heads to the lake, the shady, spooky, gravel road that heads to the lake.  Now I’m scared.  I swear I hear something running beside me in the woods, it was likely just my pony tail brushing against my “backpack”, but I’m getting really scared now.  This road has turned into the dark staircase to the basement I was scared of as a kid, only this staircase is 1.5km long.  I keep telling myself that the bears aren’t aggressive this year, they’re all “nice” bears and besides Kobi isn’t acting weird.  She was probably keeping her cool for my sake.

We finally make it to the lake (I think time moves slower when you’re scared) and Kobi swims around like a happy swimming dog and then I see a truck coming down the road.  I think to myself, oh good, at least I’m not alone.  Then I decide I’m scared of whoever these people are.  As soon as they get to the lake I take off running with Kobi.  This time I smell something nasty on the way back and I swear it’s another bear.  Kobi notices it this time too.   We finally get back to our trail by the road and I feel safe again.  I have no idea why I feel safe as it is essentially as remote as the road to the lake.

We make it back to that nice little riparian area I spoke of earlier.  Sure enough, Mr. Bear is there.  Kobi doesn’t even bark, just charges in after him for a few metres and he takes off.  See, they aren’t aggressive this year, and for some reason, I’m not as scared as I was about 10 minutes ago although I probably should be.  I lasted another 2km and finally had had enough.

I should mention that this had to be one of the hardest runs mentally and physically I’ve done in a while and not because of the bears, I think I just need to learn to pack lighter.  That’s a whole other story.

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A Quick Shoe Review as I was Denied a Wildlife Encounter

Cat and Asics Trail Shoes

Oscar and my trail running shoes

Phew, no bears today, just cold, only 4 degrees C.  I did a 40 minute run with 25 minutes of it at my tempo pace.  Tempo for me means near race pace, but not the feeling-like-puking-pace.  I save that feeling for intervals.

As I don’t have any exciting bear stories I thought I would give my two cents on a shoe review.

I love trail running and as a result have a few pairs of trail shoes that I’ve tried this season:   the Asics Fuji Trainer and the Asics Fuji Racer.  I had to get the Fuji Trainer in a men’s size as I have big feet and can’t always get my size on-line.  The Fuji Racer I did special order so it’s a woman’s shoe.

I like the Fuji Trainer the best and have never had any blisters or black toenails from them.  I also like that they have a soft sole, aggressive tread, and they’re fairly light.  I can feel everything I’m running on – awesome for trails as I feel like I can wrap my feet around obstacles versus slipping off them.  I would definitely buy a second pair of these shoes as I really like them.

I like the look of the Fuji Racer better (purple and black) and it is also super light.  This shoe is also very responsive.  It has “drain” holes on the bottom which is kind of neat and great if you’re running through a lot of deep water.  Not so great if you’re running in wet conditions as your feet just get wet from the bottom up.  I find that my baby toe gets pinched a bit on the right side, not bad enough to really hurt, but noticeable.  The Racer also gave me a bit of a toenail bruise on a longer run (20km).  I wonder if this would be the case with a men’s version of the Racer or just because I’ve lost that toenail so many times it doesn’t grow back normal anymore?

I see there is a Fuji Trainer and Racer 2 out and I’m curious to see if they are as responsive as the first models.  Let me know if anyone has tried the second editions out and what they think of them.

Next time I don’t have a wildlife adventure I’ll talk about what road shoes I like right now.