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Running The Winschoten World 100km Championships

November 18th, 2015

We gave one last round of high fives before the Canadian Team split up and scattered alongside the sea of chompy anxious runners awaiting the gun at the Winschoten road race. Today the Netherlands, Belgian, European, and 100km World Championships were all at stake. The crowd’s enthusiasm was palpable and the energy was electric as 500 scrawny long distance runners tried to avoid shivering in the cool damp morning. I had an unusual amount of anxiety this morning as I toed the line. Secretly… I was wishing for a new set of legs. I wasn’t feeling top notch, but tried to remind myself that anything can happen in these long races and that I just MIGHT surprise myself. Unfortunately, my day never did improve and the Winschoten 100km turned into my most taxing days at the races to date, but… hey! That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Team Canada at the Winschoten World 100km Championships

So… what in the world happened in Winschoten?! Well… the gun went off, I crossed my fingers hoped for magic, then ran. This course was broken into 10 10km loops and for the first three loops Gary Poliquin and I chatted and passed the time (a definite highlight). Loop 4 and 5 were OK, but I was feeling crumby, and by loop 6 I was pooped and spent more time in the portaloo then I’d like to admit. From this point onward I struggled with motivation and real tiredness. I was struggling with some cramping. I felt extremely fatigued, hungry, deflated, and discouraged with how difficult these 10km loops were becoming. I earnestly tried convincing our crew and team that I should stop, but they’d have none of it. I wasn’t physically injured, they wouldn’t let me sit down. I begrudgingly marched on… for another 40km, until I covered the entire 100km in just under 10 hours. Putting that into perspective, the top male was 6hrs and 22 minutes and the top women was 7hrs 8 minutes.

They won't let me stop!!!
The negotiation. Thanks for taking the photo Jeremy Walsh

Looking back, my performance was largely my own fault… well… with a couple factors out of my control. Here’s what I think happened. Recovery; I wasn’t rested. I raced a 50miler four weeks prior. In a perfect scenario I could have recovered, but I failed to factor in: jet lag, hot weather, extremely poor air quality in Calgary, traveling, and the additional stress of being out of my element / routine for too long. Mental fortitude; I underestimated the mental focus required to run a multi hour event. Even while running an incredibly stimulating race with beautiful terrain, grinding climbs, tear jerking views, and ankle twisting single track. I still find the task of running gets tedious as I pass through the six hour mark. Running 10km loops on an exposed paved course required an entirely new level of mental fortitude that I did not possess the day of the race. There’s a good chance that I burned through my mental strength in that same 50mile race four weeks prior. Bottom line, I wasn’t rested physically or mentally. Tapering; I was stale toeing the line. My preferred two and a half week taper was extended to four weeks due to terrible air quality in Calgary – Washington had a huge forest fire and we were blanketed with toxins for almost two weeks. My lungs are sensitive. I shut down my workouts to avoid getting sick when I should have been peaking. I tried making the best of the conditions, but didn’t feel right with the long taper. I could have used more skin in the game; all major expenses for this event were the responsibility of the athlete. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that securing any funding for these events requires a great deal of time and effort (I’m very grateful), but a higher level of commitment from a country or sponsor comes with a higher level of accountability from the athletes. Not trained for the terrain; summer is about four months long and extremely precious in Alberta. I took any chance to run the trails / hills / mountains when I could have been logging hard paved miles. I underestimated the need for course specific running and the confidence that flat hard paved miles can instil. Add it all up, throw in a long day on the roads, and things did go pear shaped, but that’s OK. Hindsight is always 20/20 – definitely one of the downsides to self coaching. I know I’ve gained some new experiences here.

Being part of the Canadian 100km Team is an experience I’ll always remember and my team mates and our crew were fantastic. It was an honour to wear the Canadian jersey, and the race… well… the Winschoten 100km will live on as my most taxing event to date, but this new running low might give me a whole new comfort range to work with. Next time I’m going through a lousy patch at an event I can remind myself that it’s probably not quite as bad as Winschoten.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Chasing Three Hours

October 11th, 2012

I’ve been chipping away at the sub three hour marathon for two years now (since 2010). Like most runners I don’t have a running pedigree, I came into the game late with a meagre semblance of an athletic history. Sure… as a kid I enjoyed being active – riding bikes, treking – but the geography of rural Canada made self propelled transportation a necessity for fun and socializing. In high school I took up skateboarding along with smoking and missed out on any organized sports or athletics. Through College I followed a similar vein. Became a member of the snowboard club, stopped smoking, joined the mountain biking club, and started riding my mountain bike 30km a day so I could save a couple bucks on transit fare to afford my Kraft Dinner. Through my University years I spent summers planting trees which was really hard work and one of my most rewarding jobs to date. After University I travelling, taught in Japan, got a real job, lived in Ontario, then moved to Calgary Alberta. No athletics, no organized sports. So please… take any bit of my fitness advice with a a healthy grain of salt. :)

As a cubical dwelling software developer (2009) I was spending 8 or more hours at a desk, I was feeling out of shape and generally crumby, but you can read more on why I’m running. I signed up for a half marathon as a dare, trained for a month, and ran the marathon way too fast, but had fun. That brief stint as a runner lasted a month and a half until I signed up for the full marathon the subsequent year (2010). At this point I realized I needed to take things a little more serious. I started doing my research. Learned about fascinating things like: tapers, technical clothing, and nutrition. I followed a basic online marathon training program, ran the marathon, survived and continued to have fun. Read more about my first marathon. In 2010 I was pretty close to a Boston Qualifier and quickly signed up for my next marathon (Vancouver 2011) with the ambitious (secret) goal of breaking three hours. Now I started taking things more seriously… I trained through the winter! I ran Vancouver, but had a humbling marathon. I made so many mistakes in that race (not enough water, not enough fuel, not enough fitness) and hammered into the wall. Read more in my 2011 marathon results. In 2011 I flitted with a couple other marathons that summer improving my nutrition, but left the three hour goal largely untouched.

Finally in 2012 at the Kelowna marathon I broke that three hour barrier and it feels like so much has changed. I’ve been running with people that are significantly faster and more experienced than myself over the past year (I find it motivating to be the slower guy). I’ve accepted that running is hard work, there are no shortcuts to improving. If I want to run faster I need to run more and at a relatively easy pace (75% heart rate maxish, not at a harder pace). While training for my sub three hour marathon I ran five days a week logging 80km (50mi) per week, whereas my previous marathons training was three days a week with about 60km (37mi) weekly. Recently I’ve been running my long runs based on heart rate as opposed to pace. I’ve bought into the theory that by running based on effort I’m compensating for adverse weather and more difficult running routes. Interesting enough I’m running my long runs faster while following effort vs pace. I’m focusing less on complex training programs, although every run has a goal (75% HRM, V02Max, endurance, etc…). I’ve started running tempo runs in place of intervals (the jury is still out on whether this is a good idea). I also started working exclusively at a stand-up desk (tight hamstrings, running, sitting, weren’t jiving with my running). Running has become my lifestyle.

Splits (min/km) for Vancouver and Kelowna

Kelowna vs Vancouver

Here’s my track from Kelowna.

Update: In 2013 I ran a new personal best of 2:43 at the Sacramento Marathon.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Running the Moose Mountain Marathon

September 13th, 2012

I’d been running through the dense vegetation of an Aspen forest without much sign of life for almost an hour now. Tufts of matted grass trail-side occasionally grabbed my foot threatening to take me down. I try calculating how long until I’m out of the woods through a carbohydrate depletion mind fog. I figure another ten minutes. Suddenly something large starts crashing through the brush towards me. It’s black, it’s big, it stands up… I brace for the worst… a blond pony tail whips through the air. Thank goodness! It’s a woman in black Spandex picking mushrooms and not a bear! A couple minutes later and I’m behind the finish line of the Moose Mountain Marathon eating homemade soup and scraping the dried remains of an energy gel from my shirt, shorts, and legs.

Moose Mountain Marathon Course

The Moose Mountain Marathon in Kananaskis Country starts and finishes in the West Bragg recreational area (45 minutes outside Calgary Alberta). Close to 150 runners participate in the three distances (16km, 29km, and 42km). The 16km (10mi) course is the most popular distance and also the least scenic. The 16km route takes you through the Aspen forest of the Telephone Trail where you spend most of your time looking at your feet, dodging mud holes, climbing through cattle fences, and being frightened by Spandex wearing mushroom pickers. The 29km (18mi) is the most scenic, it’s basically one big hill race with a 1000m (3200ft) gain / loss. The 29km route takes you along the Moose Road Trail, Moose Packers Trail, to Moose Mountain Trail, and then back. At about the 10km mark you break through the tree line and continue to run the next 8km surrounded by spectacular panoramic views. The 42km (26mi) option combines the 29km route and most of the 16km route. The elevation gain for the 42km distance is somewhere in the ballpark of 1700m (5500ft), the highest point around 2300m (7500ft), and the actual distance closer to 40km than 42km. It’s a great course and event. I will definitely run it again.

My race plan going into this event was progressively conservative – in the Powderface 42 I targeting an 80% max heart rate, this time I targeted a marginally higher rate of 83%. Things went well, I took the climbs at my own pace, worked through a couple side stitches in the first half, and legs felt good on the descents (likely the results of weekly trail running). Coming through the 27km aid station I was told that the guy ahead of me had a 5 minute lead. So.. I took my time, ate some party mix (there’s nothing better than cheezies and chips on the run), had a couple drinks, took a quick pit stop in the woods, then back on the trail. The final portion of the run was through the overgrown Telephone Trail where it’s hard to look at anything but your feet – let alone know if someone or something is closing in on you. After crossing the finish line I was surprised to learn that I had narrowed the gap to 70 seconds. If I had known we were that close I would’ve run harder! I finished with my 83% goal. Here’s my track.

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

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:

Life, The Lofty 2012 Race Plans and How They’ve Panned Out

July 12th, 2012

Here’s a brief summary (both good and bad) of what I’ve been up to between now and my January ambitions. My race ambitions may have been a bit too lofty at the beginning of the year – which is likely another case of Canadian Cabin Fever. If you’re unfamiliar; the symptoms generally start with a twitchy mouse finger in mid January which progresses into a race registration rampage where common sense like recovery time and logistics are overlooked.

Jonathan Toker, Adam Kahtava

Injuries. Oh no! I experienced a couple setbacks in the form of injuries. Heel Bursitis; I tied my shoes too tight and what initially felt like a blister turned into two weeks of downtime in January. Achilles Tendinitis; Ok, it probably wasn’t tendinitis. Let’s just say it was an Agitated Achilles and that I spent too much time looking at Achilles Tendon ruptures. Better safe then sorry. Achilles issues are scary! Thankfully a second opinion from a Physiotherapist and some acupuncture cleared up the issue in a couple weeks. The agitation was likely the result of new skate ski boots, riding a bike with the seat too high, and skate skiing for too long too soon.The Angry Piriformis. What a pain in the butt. If you’re in a small space (like a plane) for multiple hours, then MOVE. I tried to win Angry Birds in a cramped airplane seat after a couple tiring weeks of building up mileage. I should have been moving, and stretching – anything but hunching over a tiny phone screen. Upon leaving the plane I felt a pain in my buttock that didn’t go away for almost four weeks. Piriformis was weird, I could run for under two hours without feeling much pain. So… I tried running the Vancouver Marathon – which I’ll address later. I still haven’t won Angry Birds. Do the levels ever end?

Oversights. Spending time in a tropical climate at sea level on a flat island at the end of a Canadian winter while trying to peak for a marathon was a mistake. Most Caribbean islands cater to beach time not runners and running routes. In a single day I was chased by 15 dogs – 7 of those dogs were in a single pack. I ended up running with rocks in hand and sweating it out on a treadmill in a hot gym. I know, I know, insert violin sound sample here (*Wa-Waa-Waaa*). I’m fortunate to get to spend time in Turks and Caicos. I did learn how to SCUBA dive, and had a blast on the island, but training deteriorated.

Jonathan Toker, Adam Kahtava

Race Results. The Calgary’s St Patrick’s Day 10km was run shortly after the Achilles issue. Up to that point I hadn’t run more than 10km for a couple weeks and wanted to survive. I felt the run was a success. I tried running the Vancouver Marathon despite having the niggling Piriformis issue. I’m not sure what I was thinking. In retrospect I should have clued in and dropped down to the half while rolling out my Piriformis muscle with a tennis ball a day before the race, because at kilometre 30 (the 18th mile) the dark force and a conveniently located coffee shop became my own personal finish line. Funny though, shortly before my mid race coffee break I had decided to finish at all cost. That fleeting thought lasted for about five minutes. Vancouver is a big marathon with many spectators. I was in the first wave, my name was on the front of my bib in big letters, and EVERYONE was looking for someone to cheer on. So this slowing, nearly limping runner (me) was garnering attention. “You can DO IT ADAM!” “No pain no gain Adam!” I stopped, sat down on a curb laughed, took off the race bib, folded it up (along with my ego) and stuffed it in my pocket. I then walked a shortcut back to the finish and cheered friends over the finish line. It was still a great time to catch up with friends and an excuse to visit Vancouver – oh, and the new route is nice too. At the Calgary Marathon my Piriformis issue was still present, anything over two hours of running was out. I opted for the Half Marathon and had a good run on the new course. Rundle’s Revenge was so fun! So much mud, so many great people, and my legs were in full working order. Then there was Fernie’s Furious 3. A three day staged mountain bike race with an average of 40km per day on Fernie’s well manicured single track. I did get lost on the second day which added some bonus mileage, elevation, and time, but this was my first MTB race. I didn’t care much, I wasn’t any real competition, and now got to mix some orienteering into my day. I had no idea bike racing was so much fun and easier than running (sorry mountain bikers). The Powderface 42 is yet to be determined. It’s coming up quickly.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Now Streaming HD: The New Camara

January 30th, 2012

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a gear weenie, but I’m in good company – most IT workers share my enthusiasm. Friends in real life are cringing at the thought of the “Adam Paparazzi” in their face. Similarly friends on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and RunKeeper are rolling their eyes in agreement as they read this and see another status update roll by.

As a self proclaimed technology enthusiast; most of my activities are GPS tracked (along with my vitals), and a camera is close at hand. I enjoy sharing my experiences – most of my childhood friends and family live in Eastern Canada (2,500km away), so technology is the great connector. The way I see it; while having a camera on (or in your face) can be annoying at the time, eventually this media will become invaluable to your family, friends, and yourself as your memory fades.

My latest piece of gear is a camera that mounts on a helmet / bike and a YouTube Channel.

Here’s a video of Steph and I, on Mount Standish in Sunshine Village.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal Tags:

The 2012 Running Plan

January 16th, 2012

Here’s my rough running plans for 2012 – after all, an organized schedule means I can take advantage of early bird discounts, which translates into more events.

Calgary’s St Patrick’s Day 10km, March 17. I’ve never run this event before, it’ll be my second 10km event and my winter running motivation.

Calgary’s Police Half, April 29. Last year this event was pretty challenging – Calgary was blanketed with fresh snow the night before the race. Typically this race is lead by a police cruiser, but the car got stuck about a kilometer into the course, portions of the route weren’t cleared, and the snow covered ice was slippery, I know, I fell. This race is a nice ease into the running season.

The Vancouver Marathon, May 6. This event crushed me last year – totally my own fault, I didn’t take enough fuel and bonked hard. I really enjoyed Vancouver for its scenery, climate, and sea level advantage. I’ve got a bit more experience with long distance running and hope to do better this year.

The Calgary Marathon, May 27. Where it all began – in ’09 I signed up for my first race ever and have been running since. This year I’m running for Team MitoCanada. Please consider donating to (or better yet, joining) my team.

Rundle’s Revenge, June 24th.

Fernie’s Furious 3, June 30th – July 2nd. A three day staged mountain bike race.

Powderface42, July 14th. It’s a 42km trail run around Powderface in Kananaskis, I’ve biked the route so running it will be interesting, painful, or all of the above.

My fingers are crossed for an injury free season.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: 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: