Archive

Author Archive

Biking Furious 3 Fernie

August 6th, 2012
Fernie Furious 3

The Fernie Furious 3 is a three day staged mountain bike race through the well maintained trails surrounding (you guessed it) Fernie, BC. Each day the race maked use of a different combination of trails finishing in the centre of town. With the finish line conveniently located near the best post race snacks ever – everything on the menu at Big Bang Bagels. Judging from all the muddy faces surrounding the order line, I wasn’t the only one trying to knock off every item on their menu. Anyhow; the Furious 3 was very family friendly, riders started and ended in the same place (downtown) with most rides wrapping up around noon. This was a great setup allowing participants to get their ride in, grab lunch with friends / family, then check out what Fernie has to offer for the rest of the day. Onto the race report…

Day one, the zombie apocalypse. I’d never raced a mountain bike and have never ridden three consecutive days. Day one would be my first bike race ever. I ride every chance I can recreationally, but I really had no idea what to expect. I seeded myself about mid pack and the gun went off. We went screaming down a gravel road which quickly lead into a double track (fire road) that climbed for about 6km to break up the pack. The double track lead into the lower half of “48 hours” (a steep technical trail skirting closer to Downhill riding than XC riding) and “48 hours” was pure carnage. This trail was rooty, wet, and most riders didn’t realize how steep the trail was – myself included. The entrance to “48 hours” started with a comfortable slope with great flow, then out of nowhere the ground beneath let loose – became significantly steeper. My front tire got caught on the wrong side of a root and I was offline heading straight into the rhubarb with a rider bearing down on my tail. Thankfully a tree stopped me – or rather my face and handlebars ran right into a tree which brought me to a quick stop and left me a bit stunned. The tree was small (3” in diameter) and my face was intact. I untangled myself, checked my helmet, made sure my handlebars were on straight and headed down the trail. As I continued to descend other riders were reassembling bikes and climbing out of the trees like zombies. The rest of the day wasn’t nearly as exciting and was spent on well manicured flowing single track connected by jeep roads with a solid climb up Hyperventilation. At the end of the day, I managed to secure a position in the first wave for the next day’s start. Aside from a couple scrapes I was feeling alright. Off to Big Bang Bagel for a wholewheat everything bagel! Day one’s ride had been 40 kilometers with about 1500m of elevation.

Day two, lost in the cabbage. Day two started on the ski hill. It was raining and had been raining through the night. I was concerned with how my legs would hold out on the second day (a bigger day) of riding. The gun went off and we were sent up the Fernie Resort XC ski trails to break apart the group, soon after, we were riding up access roads, then dropping into single track, then regaining our elevation on access roads, then back down single track. Conditions were reasonable within the resort and the descents were interesting, but as we made our way towards Mt Fernie Provincial Park conditions got muddier and the terrain got steeper. The rain was falling harder, the mud getting deeper, and somewhere out there I got lost. Yes, I took the wrong turn. I’m not sure how it happened, I suspect the mud in my eyes had something to do with it, but the rest of the course was marked really well. About 3km into my detour I met a surprised race marshal on their way home from their morning duties. Luckily they directed me back to the course which was “just around the corner”. Unfortunately that corner was followed by a hill, a descent, a hill, and a descent. I was re-riding the course. Finally I was back on track, but with additional distance and elevation under my belt. I’ll be honest. I was a bit frustrated and the rain didn’t help. Upon reaching the first aid station I decided to yell at the volunteers and eat all their energy bars. Ok… I did neither, getting lost wasn’t their fault, but I did jam as many energy bars in my face as I could – they had really well stocked aid stations by the way. After the quick snack, it was back on the bike and back on the course. From here we headed up the access road of Project 9 which was unrideable and nearly impossible to walk up without doing the duck walk. The rain, clay and previous trafic had bombed out this trail, but the reward of a descent was motivating. After Project 9 and a couple more climbs, descents, and wipe outs. I finally pulled through the finish in just over 5 hours. It was great to be greeted by the smile of Steph (my wonderful wife). Then off to Big Bang Bagels for a Mr. Fernie! Day two was supposed to be 46 kilometres with about 1700m of elevation. With my reroute I managed 50 something kilometers with over 2000m of elevation. Apparently last year a bunch of riders got lost too.

Furious 3, Team MitoCanada

Day three, is this thing done yet?! Today the sun was out, spirits were high, and most riders were sporting some nice bruises and scratches on unprotected extremities. My mantra for the day was stay out of the rubarb, race smart, and don’t get lost! Thankfully today’s ascents were more gradual than the previous two days, the single track was tacky (not too sloppy) and the climbs up the access roads were offering great opportunities to try to chip away at yesterdays lost time. Although, with 11km left and nearing the 3 hour mark I was starting to get concerned – I didn’t want another another long day. My concerns vanished as an 11km downhill stretch brought us screaming into the finish line. Time for a smoothy at Big Bang Bagels! Day three was 41kms with about 1700m elevation.

I’ve never been so sore, nor had so many bruises and scrapes from participating in a race event. Furious 3 Fernie was a fun introduction to mountain bike racing. I’d happily go back and do it again, but next time I’d do some course reconnaissance beforehand to avoid getting lost.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Mountain Biking, Personal Tags:

Running The Powderface 42

July 23rd, 2012

Chunks of skin falling from my sock while changing shoes is never good. Especially considering my shoes (La Sportiva Crosslite’s) blew their sides out during the Powderface 42 trail run – resulting in my toes jamming into the front of my right shoe for the last 30 minutes. I was happy to discover the skin originated from an old dislodged blister and that the feet were generally OK (the toenails might be casualties), but the shoes certainly did not survive (my shoe review).

Powderface 42

The Powderface 42 is a 42km (26mi) somethingish trail run through Alberta’s beautiful Kananaskis Country – this year due to a bear the course took a detour and was a bit longer. The terrain on this route is fairly challenging and the aid stations are few and far between. I’d never run anything of this distance or with this elevation profile. Needless to say, I did have apprehensions going into this event. The terrain was definitely one concern, but my biggest concern was my lack of long runs. I hadn’t run anything beyond 30km since May 6th (my Vancouver Marathon DNF) and my longest run in the past month had been 25km on June 24th (Rundle’s Revenge). I felt undertrained which reflected my race plan. The plan was to adhere to a strict 75% – 80% heart rate (HR) range to conserve energy for the last half of the course where I anticipated slowing down.

At 7:00am with overcast skies and temperatures around 15C (59F), friendly familiar faces surrounded the starting line. These trail events are small, typically capped at 150 participants. In this event the runners were spread between two distances, with 50 runners toeing the longer distance. 7:30 hits and the gun sounded, off we race into the trees. For the first 5km my HR was pushing above 80% likely a combination of too much coffee, nervs, and excitement. I chatted with some runners, but soon found myself alone focusing on the trail and foot placement. 11km into the run and the 6km climb up to the pass (500m elevation) began. I was feeling strong and made headway on my position while keeping a close eye on my heart rate. Down the other side on the steeper runnable descents I’d catch myself zoning out (road runner style) or rather my foot would catch a root and send me flying off trail – reminding me to remain alert and how quickly my run could end. At the 25km aid station I was still feeling good, but knew it was early and that anything could still go wrong. Another 10km of fairly sustained downhill and I was still felling OK although a couple minor calf cramps paid a visit and there was a good chance that more were in the mail. Some more climbing and no sign of cramps, things were looking good. 4km from the finish and the cramps began. Boy were they annoying. I worked through them by altering my cadence, running slightly sideways (zig-zagging back and forth on the trail), and running them out on the flats. After 44kms (27mi) in total I was happy to cross the finish line and surprised that I maintained an 80% average heart rate without slowing in the last half of the run.

This long distance trail running business is interesting. Events of this nature combine obstacle course traversal with a keen sense of self monitoring – a need to gauge energy reserves and anticipate nutrition / hydration needs as the distances between aid stations are fairly long. I found it interesting that while I hadn’t been logging many long runs my long (4+hrs) mountain bike rides compensated quite nicely. In future trail races I’ll need to run through the creeks and mud holes. I wasted a fair amount of time trying to keep my feet dry, but then again I was getting blisters with wet feet (in my now trashed shoes). I’m hoping that new shoes might make wet feet running more enjoyable. Next event I’ll try targeting a higher heart rate range too. Here’s my track.

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. – Brian Tracy

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, Personal, Running Tags:

Hiking Lake Superior Provincial Park

December 20th, 2011
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park

Lake Superior Provincial Park is one of my favourite places. The lake itself is brilliantly clear, the water clean enough to drink unfiltered (provided you’re drinking it well away from shore). The shoreline is dotted with uncountable warm coves to swim in (August), few bugs (again, August), and breathtaking views, but… I’m entirely biased. This landscape is home (I grew up in the area) and both Steph (the girlfriend, now wife) and I were employed by this park while going to school. Steph as a Natural Heritage Educator and myself as an Interior Ranger.

Working as an Interior Ranger at Lake Superior Provincial Park came with some great experiences; one day our crew flagged down the Agawa train, rode a boxcar with the doors wide open, got dropped off at the Agawa Falls with a chainsaw and cleaned the trail as we hiked out. Then there were the multiday treks where we’d travel (portage, by canoe) through the interior of the park, self sustained as we assessed trail conditions, and explored old decomposing fly-in / hunting camps, and houses from decades gone by. I hiked all but one trail my first summer there. Man, I wish I had a camera back then. Anyhow, back to the topic of this post. This past summer we retraced our footsteps as we hiked Lake Superior’s Coastal Trail.

The Coastal Trail is about 65km, but we chose our favourite stretch – the 25km stretch between Gargantua Harbour and Orphan Lake. This portion of the trail is affectionately referred to as the “rugged” part, but “rugged” is an understatement. Most of this stretch of trail is off camber as you follow the exposed Canadian Shield along the shoreline and when the trail’s not threatening to toss you in the lake, then it’s ankle wrenching boulder beaches with rocks ranging from fist size rocks to the size of a cube van. There are no man made structures to assist in the undulating climbs, and the blue trail markers are few and far between (cairns mark most of the trail). Many times our route (well… usually MY route) would lead to a dead end, I’d scratch my head, Steph would roll her eyes, and then we’d spot a trail marker up on a distant bluff. If a storm unexpectedly kicked up you’d basically be stranded. Walking on wet lichen covered rock or bushwhacking your own route through the dense trees in search of higher ground with a backpack for 25km is sure to get you hurt. Good news though; it’s really difficult getting lost with the world’s largest freshwater lake on your side. The going may be slow, but the views, geology, and orienteering keep things interesting. This is my favourite hike, I highly recommend it.

View more photos here.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:

Marathon Results

June 1st, 2011

Well… I’ve run two marathons in the past month, three to date, and each has been a huge learning experience.

At the 2011 Vancouver Marathon I didn’t fuel properly and bonked hard (hit the wall). Aside from a couple cups of Gatorade I didn’t take any fuel – big rookie mistake! Running a marathon takes something like 3,000 calories, the average runner can store about 2,500 calories, and the deficit has to be made up by eating while on the run. I’ve never hit the wall before and the experience was incredibly frustrating. A kilometer from the finish my legs started feeling like cooked noodles, the finish would have been in view if my vision hadn’t been tunneling. I trudged towards the line in what felt like an intoxicated stupor finishing in 3:10, but my half split was 1:26 and last kilometer almost took 9 minutes – I met my rough goal of 3:10, but was hoping to finish faster.

29 days later I ran the 2011 Calgary Marathon. I played this one a bit too cautious focusing on hydration, and fueling. I was disappointed that I didn’t put more effort into the race. I may have taken a bit too much water as I suffered side stitches at 30km then my calves started cramping around the 35km mark. I finished Calgary in 3:15.

It’s been a great learning experience and there’s lots to look forward to. Long distance runners peak somewhere between the age of 30 and 37 and I’m just getting started. My next target is to shave another 20 minutes off my marathon time.

Here’s a video that gives you an idea of what hitting the wall feels like: Paula Newby Frazier is “Hitting The Wall”.

In other news Ueli Steck climbed the north face of Eiger in 2:47, that’s about 1800m (6000ft) of vertical elevation. Watch Ueli run up a mountain: Ueli Steck speed solo Eiger record.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, Personal, Running Tags:

From Training to Tapering

April 21st, 2011

My taper for the Vancouver Marathon (May 1st) started this week.

Over this training session (Jan 1st – April 21st) I’ve logged 750km (466mi) in 60 some hours, gone through two pair of shoes, burned through 60,000 calories, and discovered the joys of running outside. Yes, in the COLD! The coldest day being -28C (-18F). I used to be a fair weather enthusiast, pulling out any excuse to stay indoors in less than ideal conditions, but after breaking my treadmill I discovered that I’m quite weather resistant. Running outside through the winter was fun. Every run was a chance to flip winter the bird, an excuse to wear shorts (well… usually), and each step brought the warm weather closer. Sure there were a couple tough days, but adversity builds character. Right?

This image is an overlay of my long runs in Calgary since January 1st.

Did you know that, the fastest time for the 2010 Calgary Marathon was 2:32, the fastest time for the 2010 Vancouver Marathon was 2:16, the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Standard for the Marathon is 2:15 – 2:18, and that the world’s fastest marathon (2:03) was run this year at the Boston Marathon.

I’m excited to see where this training will take me – hopefully to the Boston Marathon, but certainly not to the Olympics. :)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, Personal, Running Tags:

Accomplishments and The Two Year Rule

January 20th, 2011

Focus on the present, the glory days of years gone by are becoming insignificant.

[An accomplishment] has a shelf life of two years. After that, it’s still an [accomplishment] – just with an asterisk. – The Runner’s Rule Book, Rule #1.51

Focusing on accomplishments from the past two years seems like a good rule of thumb – much like concentrating a resume on your past five years of relevant experience.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal, Running Tags:

Open Source Service Updates: Google Code’s New Project Page

January 13th, 2011
Github or Google Code Source Code Repository Project Badge

My Open Source Service is fixed. The problem being that Google Code’s profile page changed and the project list wasn’t being populated – man, I wish Google Code had an API. Anyhow; I added more tests, reduced some technical debt, cleaned up my page sniffer / scraper and things are working again. The Open Source Service is consumed by my Project Badge (image on the right). Check out the source code updates.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: .NET, ADC Services, Open Source, RESTful, Services, WCF, XML Tags:

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences

January 10th, 2011

So many people … will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon … – Chris McCandless

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings Tags:

Why I’m Running

January 6th, 2011

The long term results of a sedentary career (desk job) and lifestyle are frightening. Like many software developer and other knowledge based workers, I can spend up to 10 hours, 5 days a week sitting in a chair looking at a screen. It has been suggested that “[staring at a screen] is associated with lower resting metabolic rate” (TV watching ‘makes you obese’), and regardless of being “slim or fat … every week spent inactive is roughly equivalent to smoking a packet of cigarettes” (Laziness will send us to an early grave). General health guidelines recommended that we “should do a minimum of 30 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity, five days a week” (How much exercise?), but exercising consistently five days a week is tough without a preferred physical activity.

In the years following University I was focused on my career (being active wasn’t a priority) and nearing my 30th birthday I began to realize my sedentary lifestyle was taking a toll on my health. I was becoming a pasty red-eyed developer. Going up stairs was leaving me gasping for air, riding a bike for 30 minutes was painful, and my metabolism was slowing down.

I made a couple attempts at becoming more fit. The bike; biking was my first attempt to exercise consistently. Cruising the city on a bike had a low barrier to entry, but getting out of the city required about a 2 hour time commitment, and riding in winter was tough. Rollers stepped in for the winter months, but seemed pretty easy without the resistance – I plan on getting a trainer next winter. Then came the gym, but the time limits on the aerobic equipment were frustrating and I didn’t have a desire to work on bulking up. Enters running. Running offered, the lowest barrier to entry (simplicity, tie up your running shoes and run anywhere), an efficient way to maintain cardiovascular fitness (an intense workout can take 30 minutes or less), and fun challenges (races, community, and competition).

I run because it reduces stress, simplifies my focus, makes me feel great, it’s social, and it’s a great way to maintain a fitness base for other pursuits like: biking, hiking, skiing, and even going up the stairs. I run because my career choice doesn’t necessarily facilitate good health.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Whois Service Updates: ARIN’s New RESTful API

December 7th, 2010

My Whois Service is fixed. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) released a fantastic new RESTful API which meant my old text parsing code (dependent on their old service) was broken for a couple weeks. Check out the new ARIN RESTful API and my service source code updates.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: .NET, ADC Services, Open Source, RESTful, Services, WCF, XML Tags: