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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:

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:

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:

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:

Travel Stories

November 1st, 2010

A couple fun stories from our trip around Europe.

The $30 laundry. We packed light, which made laundromats a frequent necessity. One evening in Italy we found a laundromat, I found the change machine, but couldn’t read the instructions. Thinking that these machines were universal, I fed it a 20 Euro bill. I was surprised when the machine expelled 20 Euro worth of flat pieces of metal that could only be used in that laundromat. I carried the fake coins around for the remainder of the trip, tried to use them at other laundromats, but never did find another washer that took the fake coins.

Emergency at Buckingham Palace. We met up with a friend in England who took us on a tour of traditional British Pubs – bangers & mash, along with many fresh pulled pints were consumed. The next day I decided to go for a run through the Royal Parks, I ran for an easy 45 minutes, but as I approached the heart of the park, in front of Buckingham Palace, I started feeling a tightness in my stomach. I frantically began my search for a toilet. I started scoping out the snack vendors for facilities, nothing, I started moving towards the park’s parameter, nothing, I looked for possible tree coverage, nope. Visions of being arrested for squatting in-front of Buckingham Palace were screaming through my mind just as a found a tourist map with clearly marked bathrooms, a quick stop at the Green Park tube station and I was back at it. Crisis averted.

The economy hotel. We booked most our hotels the day-of on Hotwire or similar bidding type websites. Not knowing what hotel we were purchasing led to a very wide variation of quality in our accommodations – which kept things interesting and fun. Hotel Wanda was definitely one of our interesting experiences. We struggled for sometime finding Hotel Wanda in the medieval streets of Florence, but eventually bumbled into a 20 foot door with a buzzer for our hotel, we rang, the door was buzzed open, we stood in a dark room of halls, doors, apartment entrances, plaster statues, and stairs – no signage. After some trial and error we discovered the hotel entrance on the 2nd floor where we were greeted by a man at reception (and the only member of staff in the hotel). The man apologized for being drunk, then showed us our room and disappeared. The room was huge, a giant ashtray was sitting on our table (both of us are somewhat sensitive to smoking), upon further inspection, the comforter was riddled with cigarette burns, and the lock on the door was broken. We decided to make the best of it, opened the windows to let some fresh air in, and headed out to explore the city. Upon our return (in the evening) we discovered there was a bar beneath our room, the smoke from the bar patrons, along with their conversations and the music were wafting into our opened windows. No hotel staff were to be found. We closed the windows, popped in the earplugs, and tried to salvage the night. It was a cheap hotel, and we certainly got what we paid for.

We weren’t the only one with similar experiences at Hotel Wanda:

an apparently very drunk gentleman yelled at us from down the street and asked if we were looking for Hotel Wanda. He apologized, took us upstairs and, despite being extremely intoxicated, attempted to tell us which rooms we could have. Although the rooms were very big, it was a bit dark and strange.- Crazy experience (and not in a good way)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Back at it: A Summer Recap

October 28th, 2010

I love summer, every moment of it! It’s difficult to write a blog post or even digest tech content in the precious summer months.

A Summer Recap

Biking. I was able to get lots of mountain biking in. Although the conditions were usually wet and the trails muddy, I was still able to get out on the bike twice a week. Besides, according to my philosophy, the amount of mud you take home on your bike is directly proportionate to the amount of fun you’ve had. No mud, no fun. Although most my friends would disagree. :) I also picked up a bike for Steph at the end of this summer and we toured some of the easier albeit LONG rides (Elbow Loop, Goat Creek to Banff Springs to Canmore to Goat Creek).

Hiking and Backpacking. We managed to knock of a couple local hikes: Mount Baldy (photos), Mount Lawrence Grassi (photos), Moose Mountain (photos), Black Prince Lake (photos), Prairie Mountain (photos), Stanley Glacier (photos) along with a backpack trip to Floe Lake (photos) and another to Forks and Turbine Canyon (photos).

Europe. I FINALY got to Europe, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long-long time. Europe lived up to my expectations, we visited France (photos), Italy (photos), Vatican City, Holland, Belgium (photos), and England (photos). My favourite country while in Europe was Italy. Italy was more exciting, crazy, dirty, and entrepreneurial than the other countries, but Thailand is still my favourite country. I’m dying to go back to Southeast Asia.

Running. When I wasn’t biking, or hiking, I’d fall back on my trusty shoes, and you can bet I was running while in Europe. Running was an amazing way to experience a city. My favourite run was in Paris (running from Notre Dame, through the the Louvre gardens, to the Arc de Triomphe, under the Eiffel Tower, then back to Notre Dame). I want to do the Paris Marathon next year. I also ran the parameter of Lamballe France, through the rural country side and down a river near Guipry France (South of Rennes), the circumference of Venice Italy (I got horribly lost), through the hill paths between Manarola and Riomaggiore Italy (an hour long hill workout in the heat), a 12km session on a Belgium treadmill (yawn), and around the Royal Gardens of England (pretty). Yeah… I admit I am borderline obsessed with running.

So now that summer is over I’m back at it. A big thank-you for sticking around. :)

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

Finishing a Marathon

June 7th, 2010

At the 32km marker a series of signs were staked into the grass along the course. The first sign read “You’re doing it!”, the next “Only 10 more kms!”, and the next “You’re running a marathon! You ARE a marathon runner!” A tear welled in the corner of my eye, perhaps from the pain in my quads, or the reality of still being 10km from the finish, but more likely because it finally dawned on me that I was indeed running a marathon – an event I’d been looking forward to since running the Half Marathon a year earlier.

Training for a Marathon was relativity easy. Basically you run one long run every week, in addition to running 6-10km 4 times every week, then rinse and repeat for 3 months. As boring as that may sound, once I got into a routine, and found a running partner, I looked forward to running. Here’s the schedule I followed (I know, I know, don’t laugh, it’s from the far from reputable About.com): Basic Marathon Training Schedule for Beginners.

My next goal is to qualify for a Boston Marathon (qualifying time is 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds). I’m not too far off the qualifying time, as I managed to finish Calgary in 3:22.

Get out there and run! :)

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