Monthly Archives: August 2015

Updates Galore!

Hi all!

Sorry for falling off the face of the earth for a bit. The last 2 weeks have been busy and gloriously lazy at the same time, and we’ve mostly been out in the boonies with limited cell and internet service. Lots and lots of updates. Mostly all good! However, this trip has been one wild ride. No sooner do we make plans, than we realize that our initial ideas are not going to work as expected. So pretty much forget what we previously described as “the plan” in our last post. Here’s the basic rundown 😉

  • Caleb and I attempted tag team running for about a week after our last post. And when I say Caleb and I, I mean mostly Caleb. Even after taking it easy/not running for a week I was still hobbling, and seriously wondering if I had injured myself. Not being able to even eek out 2 miles is pretty sad. I was considering whether I would need to quit the run for the sake of future mobility, and decided that I needed a professional opinion. Caleb and I both came down with minor colds during this time, and for a few days it was a pretty sad state of affairs.
  • I went to a sports specialist in Prince George and got the happy news that I was injury free!! In the words of my dr. “no injuries, but your hip and knee are very angry with you.” I’ve improved a lot, but decided to take another week off to recuperate before attempting “round 2” of running.
  • I was offered, and accepted, a job contracting for NOAA when I get back! Hurray for employment!
  • Happy birthday to me! (as of last week) Here’s to the 30s!
  • Caleb and I have been visiting scenic places in the woods. We went to Horsefly (this requires a lot of gravel roads and we passed through a cattle drive) and went to the “Fall” festival, which was a very small town fair with local produce and animals. I was kind of amused that they considered it their fall festival (late August), when I looked around and noticed that the trees were in fact starting to change color. I’m not sure how this happened, but we’ve gone from brutal summer heat to cooler temps within the span of a couple days (I guess we did drive north a bit, but still!!) PS Caleb denied my request for a traveling baby bunny.
  • We decided to take a spur of the moment trip Jasper, which was never in the plans, but it was so close not to visit. We could barely see or breathe driving east. Apparently the smoke from BC fires, as well as the fires in Eastern Washington, was being blown north. We talked to other tourists who had been in Banff, and they said that it was even worse down there. Luckily for us, most of the smoke cleared for a day and we were able to enjoy the park. It was stunning!!!! Everyone needs to go there at least once!! We’ll definitely be back. We saw lots of elk, and a couple black bears, but no moose 🙁 I’m beginning to think that Canada really doesn’t have any.
  • After 2 months of living out of a car, it’s starting to get a little old. Caleb and I set up our tent in the pouring rain last night. We were actually pretty dry, but I’m not looking forward to adding wet clothing/tent into the mix. Those teardrop trailers are starting to look really appealing.
  • Ok, new plan. We’re actually currently bound for Hyder, and we’re going to run south as far as we can go until October. What??, you may say. I know, I know Hyder was supposed to be our final destination. Hear me out. At this point, Caleb and I are looking forward to getting as much running in as possible, but we won’t be anywhere close to reaching our targeted milage.  Considering that fall is pretty much here in northern BC, we want to run towards better weather rather than run towards rain and snow. It was difficult to envision cooler temps when I was sweating profusely packing in Seattle heat, so we’re not entirely prepared for fall/winter weather. Oh, I guess I have to mention that we want to catch the grizzly bears who are at the tail end of feeding off of summer salmon runs. I guess these guys start hibernating soon.

So to recap: Running round 2 is beginning. Caleb and I are both running, starting from Hyder and going south until October when we need to start making our way back home.

PS. Overall, I love Canada. I could quite easily defect here. The scenery is stunning, the people are friendly, and they have poutine!!

Runners knees, massages and meteor showers, oh my!!

There are a lot of updates this week!! The most significant is that my knees have been progressively bothering me. I’ve been good about stretching and taking days off if they are needed, but last Thursday I tried to go for my normal run and barely got a mile in before I was hobbling and truly having trouble just walking. It was hard to admit that running wasn’t happening that night, but my body was pretty clear about the fact that I needed some extended time off. 217 miles is apparently my limit before bad things happen. We attempted to move to a different campsite last Friday, only to find that we had stumbled upon a really popular lake, and that all the sites were taken for the weekend. At this, we decided it was time for a vacation from vacation.

It was wonderful.

We found a cute place in the country near 100 Mile House on airbnb.com. It was glorious to have a kitchen and a real bathroom again. I went and got a massage, and found a Jacuzzi to soak in, both of which helped a lot. We watched movies and had good access to high-speed internet. But most of the weekend I couldn’t walk well and got really stiff if I sat in one place for more than an hour.  I got antsy after 2 whole days off, and tried running again Sunday night when things started to improve. I managed to get 6 miles in, and didn’t feel too terrible on the run.  However, it was bad news bears again on Monday.  Ugg.  I have a really hard time resting and backing down from a challenge, especially when we are on such a tight time schedule.

Both my siblings have been checking in on me, and both have been imploring me not to sacrifice my knees for this trip. This is simultaneously annoying and endearing because they are right (even though I don’t want to admit it). They both know that I am stubborn enough to drive myself into the ground without a second thought rather than to admit defeat or back down. The reality that I do need some more rest before continuing has been slowing sinking in. I guess I could go float in the lake for a bit…

The good news in all of this is that I don’t think I’ve done anything irreconcilable – inflammation and pain go away with rest. And having taken Monday-Wednesday off, I’m walking normally. Hey, this resting thing may not be too bad. The only problem? My timeframe.
I always knew that this was somewhat of an ambitious trip – 3 months is not a long enough window of time unless I started doing more than 10 miles a day. I have to be back early October for an important family wedding (hurray!), my potential new job, and frankly the weather will turn nasty around this time as well. So I can’t really extend the trip, nor can I (at this point) cram more miles into the day. What to do? Cut particular sections? (Sounds like cheating) Do as much as possible and be happy with that? (I wouldn’t be happy) Call it quits? (um, did you read any of the above?) Caleb and I talked about a potential solution and this is what we came up with! I’ll let him take it from here:

 

(Caleb:)
We knew we’d be modifying our plan for conditions as we went, but to be honest, neither of us were prepared for some of the conditions that have made both the run and living on the road difficult, such as how hot it’s been up in the interior of the province.
And just as Kim was starting to have pain and difficulties with running, I was starting to notice the effects of not enough exercise: besides taking care of camp as we worked our way up the route, I had mostly been sitting and trying to work on my laptop when I had free time (or wanting to do nothing except crash in the shade when it was hot). I had brought my running and hiking gear with me, but as I thought about it, I sheepishly realized that I hadn’t gone for a single run yet since leaving Seattle.

I didn’t realize just how much the lack of exercise was affecting me until it occurred to me that in the last few weeks I had started to feel a bit “down,” like a cloud that had gathered so slowly that I didn’t notice until the sun was hidden. I couldn’t attribute it to any other cause besides too little exercise, as well as not eating as healthy as I could, and—last but not least—neglecting prayer/meditation/quiet time. Those disciplines are so crucial to one’s mental health and overall well-being, and yet they’re so easy to neglect!

I knew it was time for a change, and that’s when I started to wonder if we could turn this run into a relay! I could get back into the rhythm of running, while helping make up mileage. We could potentially cover 20 miles in a day if we both ran on the same day in top form. And one of us could still run while the other took a rest day. Kim welcomed the idea when I proposed it, and even though I didn’t know if I could run hundreds of highway miles or not, or even if I was still in shape to run long distances, I was willing to give it a try. It was time for a personal change, if only to get back into shape… but also to take on a challenge, boost our flagging morale, and recover from our setbacks.

I did my first run on Tuesday, just before sunset, on an arrow-straight section of highway just south of the village of 70 Mile House. It had been hot that day, but had turned into a delightfully cool evening. It felt strange for us to reverse roles as I got geared up and started my running tracker on my phone. I took off with a spring in my step. It felt great to run. The sinking sun was glowing fiery orange behind the seemingly endless flat, boggy boreal forest. Only occasionally did a logging truck or RV whizz by me, and I remembered how wonderfully peaceful and meditative running can be. I felt like I could charge on forever.
Then my phone squawked: “One… mile…!”

Oh…boy…how many miles did I say I was going to try to do, again?

 

PS. We had incredible seats for the Perseid meteor shower. Until we both fell asleep…

The Good. The Bad. The “Um, that just happened.”

The key word for the last week is heat! It’s been in the 90s (even at night) and it regularly reaches 100 degrees during the day. This has made for super slow going, because we don’t want to do anything! Our campsite has actually been pretty busy due to a 3-day weekend for British Columbia Day, but if you look around the campground, people are slumped over in camp chairs unable to anything else! We’ve been surviving and getting work done in the itty bitty town libraries that miraculously have AC. We’re due for some cooler weather soon, and actually got some rain last night, huzzah!! I think this week can be divided into the good, the ugly and the “um, that just happened” categories:

The Good!
•    I made it to the 200-mile mark!!!
•    We did a day trip 50 miles away to the major town of Kamloops on my rest day. It was glorious!!! They have a Costco, and we probably spent 2 hours stocking up. One can never have too many potatoes, especially in food deficient towns. We also finally found coconut water, and digestives (the best cookie ever!) We also found this incredibly cute farm that had a bakery, and the largest green onions I have ever seen. We got some peach blackberry pie too! If you can’t tell already, good food that isn’t grossly expensive is super exciting to us.

The Bad.
•    We have been waiting for weeks to see the movie Minions and finally made it to an area that had a theater. It was terrible. So terrible.
•    Running has been really tough this week. I ran for 2 days in 95-97 degree heat (and I started at 7pm), and it kicked my butt. This is an entry from my journal:

“We are now a month in, 200 miles down. I am truly exhausted. I woke up this morning in a fog – unable to move my limbs, flies landing on my face and allergies ablaze. I now understand why older people don’t like moving if they can help it. It’s hard, and painful and takes a lot of mental energy. A cup of coffee, some AC, and Aleve makes me feel like half a real person again. Only 2 days in, I’m scheduled to go running tonight, but its not happening. My body is rebelling against me, and is finally saying “enough. I’m done with this madness.” And as much as I would like to get some more miles in, I know I have to listen or I’ll never move again.

It actually works out. The last few days I have been running in 90+ degree weather, and it’s supposed to cool off tomorrow. Running in that kind of heat really does something weird to you. Your legs get crampy and don’t want to move at all. There is something in the air that makes you feel like a sloth, and there is a lot of mental energy devoted to fighting inertia.

Surprisingly though, it was on one of these runs where I was close to fading that a forgotten song came on and I was filled with adrenaline and tackled the last remaining hill. It felt good just to run for the sake of running. I was flying up the mountain and nobody was going to stop me. These moments are rare in my semi-permanent state of fatigue, but they do happen and its one of the many reasons I run. Ok, its naptime. I’m pooped.”

The “Um, that just happened.”
We moved north to a new campsite. It’s small, nice enough, and super cheap. The catch? The owner. The owner is a Tex-Mex, big, really tan kind of guy who used to live in Mexico, but now owns this RV park. He is an avid gardener and makes money by selling produce off the side of the road too, and looks like he really enjoys chatting it up with people who come to buy his tomatoes. He also offers an all you can eat BBQ every night. He also has major OCD.

•    First thing he told me was that I couldn’t hang my towel on a post in our campsite. He told Caleb to get the hell out of his kitchen when he poked his head in to ask about the wifi password. You have to pay a dollar to use the shower, and you had better $&#@ well pay him before showering occurs.
•    I was very groggy one morning and came out of the common bathroom. He was next door talking to a group of other people, and I was walking away when all of a sudden I hear “Did you turn the light off?” It takes me several seconds to figure out that he has abruptly stopped his other conversation and is now talking to me. “Yup,” I answer. He does a closer inspection to double check that I have in fact turned the light out, and is pleased to find that I have. “There’s a good woman!!” he shouts for all to hear. I still don’t know what’s going on.
•    We decide that BBQ sounds great, and that we may have more normal interactions with the gruff owner if we attend. There are several different meat options, including “roadkill” ribs, chicken and steak. Caleb orders the chicken and I get a steak. The owner turns to me and says, “right or left breast.”
Me: uhhh, excuse me?
Owner: “Right or left breast?
Me: “What?”
Owner: “Most people have a preference.” (Completely deadpan, I might add)
Me: “OK, I had no idea. But I’m not getting the chicken, so you better ask him.”
Owner turns to face Caleb. Caleb decides he wants the right breast. Owner asks, “How long have you guys been together?
Caleb: “2 years.”
Owner: “No wonder you want the breast.”

And so the adventure continues.