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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:

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:

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:

Training for a Half Marathon

June 5th, 2009

I ran my first half marathon this past weekend. Finding training resources online was difficult so I’m passing the tips that I found useful.

How to train for a half marathon:

  • Ensure you can maintain 30 minutes of moderate running at least a month before your running date (this is the most important step)
  • One month before your race, run 18 kms (6 easy, 6 moderate, 6 hard, don’t worry about how long it takes)
  • 7 days later run 20 kms
  • 7 days later run for 90 minutes hard
  • 7 days later run for 60 minutes at a moderate pace
  • 1 day before the race run for 20 minutes at an easy pace

Running with 3000+ people for the first 16 kms was an amazing experience, after the 18 km mark I was questioning my sanity, and when it was over all the race participants were on top of the world. I highly recommend doing a half or full marathon. I raised some money for Team Diabetes and managed to finished in 1:58.  Next year I’m planning to run the full marathon.

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

Running a Half Marathon for Diabetes

April 16th, 2009

I’m running the half marathon for diabetes in Calgary on May 31st . This cause has a personal connection – one of my younger siblings has diabetes.

My training up to this point has been terribly lax, I’ve been running 7km in about an hour. At this pace it’ll take at least 3 hours to break 20kms – Ouch!

If you're interested in donating (or better yet, joining the run too), then follow these steps:

  1. Visit The Canadian Diabetes Association
  2. Search for Adam Kahtava
  3. Donate

Anyhow; life isn't just about geeking out. I've got to run. :)

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