Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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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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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.

winter running

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.

snowshoe running

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.

dog in the forest

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.

northern lights

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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Seriously? It’s April!

I’m speechless….

snow falling

Look what started today?

dog in a snow storm

The snow is actually hurting Kobi’s eyes!

dog in the snow

It snowed 2+ inches in 3.5 hours! And it’s still snowing. At least Kobi is staying clean.

dog and human prints

Snow prints. I’m sick of snow prints.

On the bright side, we’ll get to experience spring all over again….

Please tell me everyone else is having a nice April?  No snow right?  And you’re running in shorts and T-shirts right?  

 


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Snow Prints

As most of you may know by now (or now know), I live in northern Canada.  An obvious consequence of this is prolonged cold winters.  

I’ve discovered that to survive the longest, coldest and darkest season, I need to get outside regardless of how cold and/or how dark it is, take Vitamin D, and put maple syrup on everything I eat (I’m serious about this one).  It also helps that I have a very fit, active dog that must run.    

While I’ve been out and about, especially now that we have much more daylight, I’m noticing how much is actually going on around me.  When I speak of going on, I mean what other critters are also out and about.  You see, they leave their tracks in the snow so I know they’ve been there without actually seeing them.  I think I prefer just seeing the tracks versus seeing the associated critter.  Recall my post about my fear of running into my buddy the moose.  

So I am now going to share with y’all a bunch of snapshots of what I have been seeing outside over the last few weeks. 

raven wing print

Looks like a pterodactyl, but it’s actually a raven wing print

Mice and voles seem to be very active this winter and I see their little highways and meanderings everywhere.

mouse or vole tracks

These tracks disappeared down a little hole by the branch sticking out of the snow

mouse snow tracks

My trail packed the snow so this little critter had to create an “overpass” to get to the other side

mouse tracks

More little critter tracks

mouse tracks

This one is a little blurry, but this little guy was out dancing I think

This one is kind of sad and/or gross, but I found a dead version of what was leaving lots of tracks – meadow vole and a fat one at that – cause of death, unknown.  Kobi found it on the way back and brought it home, she likes to play with dead mice, doesn’t eat them, just plays with them.

dead meadow vole

Vole in the middle of trail, not sure why he/she died there

Grouse, affectionately referred to as “chickens”, make the coolest tracks and have the biggest “poops” considering their size.  These are Kobi’s favorite bird to chase (next to ravens) as they hang around in family groups so there is usually more than one and they aren’t great flyers (they typically walk around more than fly).  I’ve been chased by a mommy chicken a few summers ago BK (before Kobi).   It was scary and funny to be running from a bird the size of a small chicken.  Imagine a wild brown bird hissing and charging you with its wings folded back.  See, that’s pretty scary!

Grouse tracks in the snow

Grouse tracks going all over

Grouse poop

Grouse poop. Their poop piles are huge!

These tracks in the photos below are of unknown species.  Maybe martin, lynx and squirrel, not necessarily in that order – you decide.

animal tracks

This was much bigger than a mouse, but smaller than a dog

animal prints in the snow

Looks like some rabbit (left) and maybe lynx or something else?

dog smelling tracks

Kobi smelling more “mystery” tracks

And of course, the critter that has caused me the most angst this winter, especially when it’s dark out, Mr or Ms Moose.

moose bed

Kobi investigating a moose bedding site. Likely the same moose that was freaking me out on my night walks over a month ago

moose poop

Moose poops, Kobi’s favorite frozen snack, yes, that’s gross I know, but she loves them

And finally, leaf tracks.

leaf print in the snow

Even leaves leave tracks


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Enough Snow Already

snow shoes

My snowshoe run/jog attempt

I had the week figured out, or so I thought.  My plan was to alternate each day between running outside and cross-country skiing until Sunday.  The weather forecast even indicated this could be a possibility.  Not so.  I woke up today to a ton of new snow on the ground and more still coming down coupled with a nasty northwest wind.

As a result, I talked myself into running on the treadmill (again).  I think I’m experiencing significant treadmill remorse as I’ve been running on the darn thing so much versus sucking it up and running outside.

Low and behold, 25 minutes into my treadmill run, the power went out.  I was convinced this was the universe trying to tell me to get my lazy butt out the door.  I mean, it is all about me so why wouldn’t a power outage happen solely to convey a personal message?

I sucked it up and got geared up for an outside run and of course just as I was heading out the door the power came back on.  That was the universe laughing at me.

I managed to run jog (very slowly) in snowshoes for 4km.  I thought my heart might explode it was so hard in all the deep fresh snow.  Kobi loved it even though she had to constantly stop and wait for me to catch up.

After the snowshoe we did a wee bit of Boxing Day shopping (a few stores actually open up for the big day in our little town).  It’s mostly an opportunity to run into absolutely everyone you know and chat about stuff.  I did purchase a purple toque and some jeans for a good price.

Not sure if I will be able to ski tomorrow as there will likely be another foot of new snow.  I reckon I’ll be snowshoeing for the rest of winter at this rate or I’ll be buying Kobi her own treadmill so she can run and watch television with me.

snowfall

Some serious snowfall happening today

Have you ever felt the universe is sending you a message?


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More Winter Excitement

dog on a winter trail

Kobi exploring on a new deer trail we checked out today (likely looking for deer poop).

It was another really cold weekend.  I got out for a cross-country ski on Saturday and then opted for a treadmill run on Sunday.  The ski was brutal.  It was slow going because of the cold, there is just no glide when it’s -30C.  I think  Kobi found it cold too, I need to get her a jacket. 

Our Saturday evening walk was fun (insert sarcasm).  It was totally dark, as usual, and I was walking the trail where I’ve seen the moose tracks.  There were no fresh tracks so I figured he or she had moved on.

I was deep in thought with my head down trudging up the trail and of course Kobi was up ahead (slaying dragons).  I heard her bark, which is very unusual for Kobi when we’re out walking – she only barks at strangers and scary things.  So when she barked, I figured it was either a moose, wolves, vampires, velociraptors, or perhaps a lynx.  There are so many rabbit signs on this trail there has to be lynx around. 

Anyway, Kobi barks, I freeze and attempt to see what has her barking.  I see nothing (as it’s pitch black) so I call her and she comes charging back to me 90 mph and races past me towards home.  I take this as a sign that there must be imminent danger and proceed to follow her, fast.  Only I’m wearing snowshoes, my giant aviator hat (with rabbit fur – lynx attractant?) and a Helly Hansen snow suit that is three sizes too big (my husband got it for me and I swear he’s convinced I’m three sizes bigger than I really am or he figures one day I will be so he better buy things that I can grow into). 

snow suit

It felt like I was running pretty fast, like Kenyan fast.  Considering what I was wearing and that my glasses were totally fogged up from the adrenaline sprint, I was impressed I didn’t wipe out.  We made it back to the road just fine and I didn’t see anything in pursuit of us. 

The next day I went back up the trail and didn’t see any tracks so I’m not sure what she thought she saw or heard.  Perhaps she was just messing with me (that would be kind of funny).  I’ve always thought that Kobi is super smart and as a result she knows not to let on that she’s smart so she doesn’t have do too much.   That’s the true definition of smart.

Sunrise

Sunday’s sunrise

 


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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.