Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Running Along

dog in the snow

Kobi with a silly expression on her face.

Howdy y’all.  I figured you needed an update as to what’s been going on up here seeing as I’ve lost hold of time yet again.

I’m still running in the snow, like usual.  I haven’t skied much as it was quite icy, then it was quite cold, then it rained and made everything all icy again, and then it snowed again to cover up all the ice.

Rather than bore you with details of all my adventures with my sidekick Kobi, I thought I’d just mention a few that were extra epic.

I decided to do a slightly longer snowshoe run a few weekends ago so I ran to a little lake, circumnavigated the lake and then ran back home.  That was hard.  It was only 10.5km, but about 2km of it was breaking trail.  Not easy.  I discovered that running in snowshoes gives me a new appreciation for running without snowshoes.  Kobi likely ran 15km as she was off tracking caribou and ran back to me several times to make sure I was still moving.

snowshoeing

Epic Snowshoe run

snow running

Us, circumnavigating the lake.

I was so excited about that snowshoe I had to do it again last weekend, only it was +5C out.  I didn’t realize that snow sticks to the grips on your snowshoes at that temperature (because it’s usually not that warm out) and turns into a giant snowball that just gets bigger and bigger.  Before you know it your foot is at a very bad angle thanks to the giant snowball and you have no grip.

snow running

This was the not so epic day. It looks like fun, but it wasn’t

Of course it took me 2.5km to finally recognize that this snowshoe run wasn’t working out and that I had better turn around and head for home, but not before taking my snowshoes off.  I ended carrying them while I ran, one in each hand.  It was easier than running with them on my feet except my arms got sore carrying them.

I am ashamed to admit that I was carrying only 1.25 lbs in each hand and my arms got sore.   My excuse is that I had CrossFit that morning and my arms were experiencing a form of fatigue unknown to most of humankind.  Unfortunately Kobi wouldn’t carry them for me, something about not having thumbs, so I was on my own yet again.

dog

Kobi digging the run

Have you every circumnavigated a frozen lake in snowshoes just for fun?  Isn’t it cool that we have real live wild free-range caribou up here?  Kobi thinks so.  What can you put on your snowshoes to keep the snow from sticking – anyone have experience with this?  

PS  I’m sad Leonard Nemoy has left us.  His character Spock has always been role-model for me.  


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Catching Up

snow dog

Just out running in her red jacket

I honestly don’t know where the time goes, but I must be having fun because it’s flying by.

Me and Kobi have been up to our usual outdoor adventuring together. We haven’t cross-country skied much because we had some rain, yup rain, which turned everything to ice.  It shouldn’t rain when it’s -7C outside.

The ski trails were ice and I’m afraid of falling and breaking a hip so I didn’t ski. Then it snowed.  A lot.  But then the temperature really dropped. That deterred me from skiing some more as I can’t keep my hands warm when I have to hold ski poles and it’s -25C (or colder) and I even have electric mittens!

It got so cold on the weekend I had to use the treadmill.  It was -32C with a -40C windchill outside. I won’t subject Kobi to those temperatures so she slept on her princess bed while I ran on the treadmill and watched TV.

Here’s some photos showcasing our adventures (in case you don’t follow us on Instagram – you really should though – @outdoorrunning).

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Oh, I did start something new a few weeks ago, Crossfit.

Before Crossfit I thought I was in moderately decent shape, I have realized I am not in moderately decent shape. Holy beat-the-poop-out-of-you work-outs. Crossfit is hard. DOMS has an entirely new meaning to me now. Exactly 22 hours after a work-out I am in full on Crossfit induced pain. Sometimes lasting up to 3 days!

How’s your winter been going?  Are you getting tons of snow? Ever tried Crossfit? What’s your temperature cut-off for running outside?  Have you missed me?


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Another Year

dog and runner

We’re so fast, we’re blurry. That’s Kobi in the red.

I haven’t been all that consistent with the ol’ blog lately, but I figured you would all just be dying to read my year in review so I’d better get on it.  Here goes, and I must warn you, it’s brief…

What I did

I completed 8 races:  5 half marathons (2 were trail races), a 10km trail, a triathlon, and a 7 miler (Alcatraz).  Of those 8 races, only 2 didn’t require significant travel (as in driving time and flying time).   I did help organize 2 local races which means I wasn’t able to run them, but that’s okay, the locals need some local races.

Golden Gate Bridge

Alcatraz Escape – Golden Gate Bridge and my purple arm warmers.

What I learned

I’m kind of tired of driving and flying long distances to races and I kind of get overwhelmed with the crowds at those big races.

Victoria Goodlife Fitness Half Marathon

If I’m in this one, I’m wearing a white hat and gray shirt, but I don’t think I’m in this one                                                       source

The plan for 2015

Not sure.  Definitely less travel and mostly trail races.  I will run the Victoria half again as that has sort of become my Thanksgiving ritual (Canadian Thanksgiving) and besides, there’s some family there so it’s kind of like multi-tasking.

What’s currently going on

There is no such thing as running intervals in the current dead of winter conditions so I’m running, skiing, and snowshoeing for Kobi and for fun.  I run with a small pack of humans and dogs on Saturdays too and that’s awesome.  I like socializing as does Kobi.  And Winter Solstice has been and gone, that means we’re progressing past 6 hours of daylight slowly but surely.

dogs

Kobi and her pack of buddies

What’s new with Kobi

She had some sort of leg injury a little while ago that cost me a fair chunk of change driving her 4 hours to see her doctor plus all the tests and x-rays.  They couldn’t find anything so I gave her more rest and rest days between our adventures.  She likes leg massages too.  She’s fine again.  Maybe she just wanted a road trip and a leg massage.

dog in the snow

Kobi loves fresh powder

I have no resolutions for 2015 as I never make any, too much pressure.

Do you like to plan your year or just wing it?  Do you like my purple arm warmers?  Isn’t Kobi the cutest?  Does your dog like snow as much as she does?

Happy New Year!!


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Still Running

Well, it’s still very much winter up here and I’d say I’m into the routine.

runner and dog

Me and Kobi out for a weekend run

My routine is more or less the same except with some additional activities like swimming a few days a week.

For the most part my day looks like this:  I get up in the dark, walk Kobi, eat breakfast, catch up on Instagram (remember to check out Kobi’s page – @outdoorrunning), go to work, walk Kobi, go back to work, finish work and run or snowshoe or ski with Kobi – in the dark, go home, see what damage the cats have done to the house, clean up the damage, prepare my lunch for the next day, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up some more, go to bed.  Start over…

white cat and black cat

The kittens causing trouble in the tub

night skiing

Attempting a selfie with Kobi, but she wasn’t interested

That’s more or less it.  Weekends are pretty much the same, except I can run or snowshoe or ski in daylight.

snowshoeing

Me and Kobi in snowshoes, well she’s not wearing any

My predictable routine made me think about that movie Groundhog Day (recall the Bill Murray movie where he keeps living the same day over and over).  Is my life like Groundhog Day?

I pretty much know what I’m going to do on any given day and some days are pretty much repeats of the previous day, but I also realized that regardless of the same repeated activities, my observations during those activities can be quite unpredictable.

dog and winter runner

Happy Kobi

For example, on those early morning walks with Kobi I may spend half the time staring at the northern lights, something we’re blessed with up in the north, or the stars.  What’s also surreal, is what it sounds like when you’re outside in the dark and it’s snowing really hard, it’s a very different kind of quiet.

human, dog, wolf

My tracks, Kobi and wolf tracks. Big feet!

It’s also pretty indescribable when you see a lynx in the forest when you’re out skiing or see fresh wolf tracks on your early morning run.  I’m also often left speechless (and not just because I was running uphill) watching a sunrise through the trees that is a colour of pink that has yet to be named.  And of course there is always Kobi who never stops entertaining me.  You should see her trying to catch ravens.

If that’s my Groundhog Day, I’ll take it.

winter trees

what it looks like when the sun comes up

Is it extra dark where you live right now?  Do you have a routine?  Ever run with wolves?  


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So Little Time

I honestly thought I would have a surplus of spare time once winter set in.  I’m not sure why I had this idea, but I imagined the colder days and early onset of darkness would leave me with more free time to leisurely drink hot cocoa after an awesome snowshoeing adventure in the wilderness.  Turns out it’s the opposite, I have way less time.

winter shot

Random photo when I was out of town for work. So few trees.

Winter is a huge time drain.  Any and all activity that involves going outside takes a pile of time gearing up for and it takes a lot of gear just to survive a walk, run or ski with the hound.  It also doesn’t help that my memory is about 3 seconds long and I forget at least 2-3 critical items during the gear-up and have to run up and down the stairs to find the critical items before I actually end up getting outside.

dog and snowshoes

Kobi impatiently waiting for me (again)

I’m just grateful Kobi comes in a nice furry little package and doesn’t require all the gear that I do, otherwise it would take an hour to get out the door.

dog toes

Kobi’s growing in her winter boots

I had also forgotten that running in cold snowy conditions takes longer and you need to be a bit more prepared for the unexpected.  That leads me to a few other ‘things’ I had forgotten.

Thing 1:  I remembered that I really dislike drinking cold water when I’m running around outside in the cold, it just makes me colder.  To solve this I turned some tacky beer can coolers (you know, the little slip on foamy covers) into water bottle cozies!  Fill up a water bottle with hot water, put a few of those bad boys on it and voila, you’ve got water that is still luke-warm an hour into your cold weather activity.

Thing 2:  I remembered that cell phones don’t like the cold and die really fast.  To solve this dilemma, I made a nifty iPhone jacket.  I’d take a picture of it, but someone will steal my amazing prototype and get rich off it.  It’s pretty awesome and it works!  That’s all I’m going to say.

dog in snow

Kobi loving the trails

I actually go so far as carrying some basic survival gear with me in case we get in some extra trouble and need to hunker down.  You know, things like matches, extra gels, hand warmers, and a fixed blade (that’s more to fight off Yeti, vampires and frozen zombies – yes, I have irrational fears).

winter runner

Purple Ninja (with my survival pack).  It was -32C at the time this photo was taken.

If anything, the colder, shorter days have taught me to be a bit more prepared when I head out the door, but at the cost of time of course.  So much for that relaxing hot cocoa.

How about you, do you carry extra gear for winter running?  Do you even experience winter running where you live?  What’s the coldest temperature you will run in?  Do you like Kobi’s hairy toes?  They will get hairier.  

 


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Winter is Here

dog in the snow

Kobi loving the snow

It’s cold and it’s snowy outside.  Not enough snow to snowshoe in yet, but enough snow to hide the ice and make conditions treacherous to run in.  It’s already that time of year when I have to suck it up and start “embracing” winter. The other option is to stay inside on the couch, watch bad reality TV, and eat Cheezies for the next 7 months.  Doesn’t sound too bad.

Figuring out what to wear while running outside in the current temperatures is challenging too.  I never seem to get the layers right and I’m either too hot or too cold, never just right.

snow running

what the trails look like lately

Another bonus about winter running is the half-load of laundry created after each run.  Good thing I have more winter running clothes than clothes in general.  That’s mostly so I don’t have to do laundry 3 times a week.  Instead I spend 37 hours on the weekend washing, drying, folding and putting all my stuff away just to start all over again.  I dislike doing laundry.

I’m easing Kobi back into running.  She ran with me for about 35 minutes the other day.  Only once she almost caused a crash.  There were some grouse feathers on the side of the road, where one had been hit by a car likely, and she decided to put on the brakes to check it out – while she was tied around my waist and we were running an interval. Fortunately I managed to stay upright.  Good to know she’s back to her usual running style.  That’s why we run off-leash mostly.

I’ll take her running for another 20 or 30 minutes again today, just to get those running legs of hers back into shape. Shouldn’t take her long.

Oh, we helped with a zombie walk/run this weekend, Kobi got dressed up for it too!

zombie dog

Kobi taking a zombie nap prior to the event

 

zombie dog

zombie dog or football dog?

 

Are you hanging out with zombies this week?  Are you jealous of my snow and ice conditions?  Ever dressed your dog up as a zombie?  

 

 


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Mostly Running (Away from Other Dogs)

winter running trails

More trails and still snow

It’s been an unusual week in that twice me and my wingman Kobi have had dog run-ins.

We were heading to our favorite little lake, that we usually have to ourselves, when I noticed a truck way down the road.  The dude was driving while his dogs were walking/running.   I stopped, made myself very visible and put Kobi on her leash.

One dog came up and was okay and then the second really big dog came up and totally attacked Kobi.  I of course put myself between her and the dog and was just getting myself together to kick the offender with my metal spiked snowcross shoes (good for ice and defense) when the dude finally got out of his truck to get his dog.

I literally screamed an expletive that I’m kind of proud of, but also kind of embarrassed of. It was like the expletive had a mind of its own and I had no control over what was coming out of my mouth (recall Ralphie from A Christmas Story).

The dude apologized and said he didn’t see my dog.  Seriously!!  How could you not see my dog!!  Kobi seemed okay, no broken skin, but probably bruised.

Then a few days later we’re running the same route and this time this old, fat, scruffy, but kind of cute husky dog starts heading across the road towards us.  A lady is yelling at him to come back (I think the dog was deaf or had selective hearing).  I quickly grab Kobi as I figure we’re in for it.

I yell back at the lady and ask a stupid question, “is your dog friendly?”

When you ask a stupid question, expect a stupid answer.  “Yes,” she says, “but he bites.”

Okay, how do you consider that friendly?

She tells me just yell at him and he’ll turn back.  I yell and he keeps up his slow, old dog jog towards us.  At this point I figure me and Kobi can surely outrun this guy and rather than getting bit by an old friendly dog I’d rather try to outrun him.  Which we did.

Thankfully, he wasn’t there on the way back so she must have wrangled him up.  Here’s hoping for no more dog adventures on future runs.

dog sleeping

Way too much excitement for Kobi results in her heading to bed early

Ever used an expletive that kind of caught you off guard?  Ever been chased by an old, slow jogging, friendly dog that bites?


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Things We Saw While We Were Out

Spring has stopped by for a little visit.  I’ve lived in the north long enough to know that spring is just here for a quick visit and will soon depart for a week or two.  Translation:  it’s going to get cold again.  After that final cold snap, spring will return in all its muddy glory.

Running has been going well.  I’m running in a variety of conditions including snow, ice and mud.  It’s hard to choose the right shoe for these conditions so I’m sticking with my Wizard of Oz red Salomon Snowcross shoes.  They just need sparkles and then they would be perfect.

solomon snowcross

With sparkles they would be the perfect Dorothy shoe.  Just close your eyes and tap your heels together 3 times…

Kobi is practicing her muddy look and is a lovely two-toned blond/brown at the end of our outings.  I will need a dog-wash station set up soon.

muddy dog

Kobi and her two-toned mud colour

Here are some other random things I’ve seen on this week’s outings:

sky and moon

That little speck in the middle is the moon during late afternoon

Kobi saw this garbage bag while out on a run and was very scared as the wind made it move.  I took her to the bag to show her it was nothing scary and she proceeded to grab it and rip it into a million little pieces.

Dog ripping up a bag

Kobi seeking vengeance on the scary bag. I was responsible and picked up all the pieces.

We ran to our favourite lake and saw this sign:

Sign

They were prepping the trails for the sled dog races and didn’t want the ATVers wrecking them so they left this sign.

And now for your learning pleasure…we hear this little guy every night and every morning when it’s dark (follow the link and then select the audio file):

boreal owl

boreal owl

Boreal Owl:  I didn’t take this photo this week, rather a few years back. It’s a cool story for another day…

Kobi found this feathered dude and chased him into a tree:

grouse

The chicken attempting to ignore Kobi ( no chickens were harmed in the taking of this photo and Kobi eventually left it alone).

dog staring

Kobi attempting to will the grouse/chicken out of the tree

We’re off for another run in the snow, ice and mud today.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love this weather as I’ve had enough of -20C.


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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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We’re Having a Heat Wave!

sunrise

This is what the sky looked like Saturday AM

It all started Tuesday night.  The forecast noted a wind warning and warmer temperatures.  They were right.  The wind was brutal and it was even raining horizontal for a while.  The temperature jumped to +7C that night.

Since the windstorm it has been unseasonably warm.  Like +5C (with lows to -5C).  It’s forecasted to stay warm all next week too.  This is one long Chinook.

Monday night, prior to the heat wave, I had a moonlight run on the community trail.  Of course it was cold that night (-17C).  Kobi loved it and we were the only ones out there.  We did come across some snow angels though.  No photos as I didn’t have any pockets to put any digital gear in.

I haven’t run since Monday as I’ve been having some weird foot issues.  It started earlier in the month and I had hoped it would just go away, but it hasn’t.  The top of my foot hurts between the ankles.

I’ve been doing some Google research and have self-diagnosed myself with extensor tendonitis.  I’m going to see a physiotherapist on Monday when I’m out of town for work as we don’t have a physiotherapist where I live.  We also don’t have a veterinarian (more for Kobi than me), but I digress.  I shall see what the physio dude thinks.

Skiing doesn’t seem to bother my foot much so I’m doing that.  Thank goodness because Kobi goes a little loco when she doesn’t get run lots (as do I).    We did have a lovely long snowshoe Saturday afternoon as walking doesn’t hurt (no wildlife encounters).

dog in the back of a car

Kobi after our ski in +5C. This is her I-don’t-want-to-go-home-face.

Well, I’m off for another ski as it is a balmy +4C already and Kobi is (un)patiently waiting for me…