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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Red Deer Half Marathon Weekend…

Results for the Woody’s RV Marathon, Half Marathon (and 10k) are here.

And the free photos will be here. Apparently took over 10,000 at the race.

First things first. Thanks SO MUCH to the race crew, volunteers, and spectators at the Race. Best race yet for all of those things. Big race support in a pretty intimate setting. Red Deer just jumped up a LONG way in my ‘like’ scale based on the parks, paths and people I experienced this weekend.


Ok, on to the weekend.

I booked this race WAY back when I was debating whether I was going to run Vancouver or Red Deer for my first marathon. We remember how that race went, right?

Well, I am still under trained for these races, as my life hasn’t slowed down at all. The good news is, in about 10 days I'll be able to close a very stressful chapter from my recent past and I'll be able to get back to training and writing about training. Can’t wait. I miss the internet. I still love every minute of racing. Every. minute. Up here in Winterada, it is getting closer to that day we call summer, so the leaves have reluctantly started to come out of the trees. This weekend last year I was whacking the trees in my backyard so the snow didn’t break them to bits.

We hooked onto the camper and went up to the Lions Campground in Red Deer for the weekend (btw, we won’t camp there again. The site was nice enough, but we were constantly harassed by a staff member for really trivial things, plus at one point I was in the bathhouse taking a shower when this guy and his wife come in and starts spraying antibacterial foam all over the washroom. I yell out, ‘HEY I’m in the shower here’, he says ‘I know” as the cleaner is flowing into my stall, he just keeps working away. we called him the campground Nazi.)

We love to camp. In fact, it’s our favourite thing to do as a family. We tend to rough it. looks like a tough time hey?


So Friday was a blur, basically just chucking our stuff in the truck and camper and zooming up the highway to make sure we got a spot in the campground. We did, then we ended up in Walmart and Safeway for the better part of the afternoon getting groceries and supplies. That was pretty much it for Friday. Pretty early to bed.

Saturday, we got up at a little before 9am. Thankfully Lisa H posted on Facebook that the family run was at 9:30, not 10:30 like I originally thought. We put our running gear on and headed out to the school where the start line was. But not before Traci took a huge digger over the dog fence we put up for the donkeys. She’s ok tho, bruised, but un-phased after a short timeout, and we made it to the start line in time.


Andrew was READY!! he did so good. Until…


He spotted the mother of all playgrounds. We spent a good 15 minutes here, then found a shortcut back to the finish line.


I was lucky when we got back as this guy dumped all the coffee stir sticks onto the ground, but I had just finished mixing my coffee. Then he dumped his own coffee out by accident. I made some comical remark then left.


Finally got to meet Lisa H. Facebook is very cool. I meet the best people there, then they talk me into running their races, then get to meet them in person and find out they are just as cool in real life. Thanks for the awesome race! Maybe next time we’ll have time to go for coffee and chat some more.


The rest of Saturday was spent doing normal camping things as shown in the following pics. (notice barefoot Traci Z in one of the following pics?). We are going shopping at Gords this week for a pair of lighter more minimal shoes. her cushioned shoes are killing her…


Had Taco’s and red velvet cake for pre race supper. Drank a bunch of water and headed to bed. The alarm went off at 5:45, I ate a multicolored cereal breakfast and had some more water. The night before I wrenched my back a bit and it was bothering me so I popped a couple Tylenol. The race start was only 3km  away from the campground so I decided to walk. Turned out to be a good time to test my new Vibrams, complete with the nitrous bottles in the heel. They worked great and I was at the start line in record time.


Pretty nice for right in the heart of the city…


This is a portion of the race course. I have to admit though, that I couldn’t get to the start line soon enough and actually had to take a dump in the forest down there. My Apologies to all of Red Deer, but I did walk WAY into the bush, went off the trail into very rough shrubbery and I did bury my… well. you know.  This was a first for me. I was very proud as you can imagine.

Sure is pretty though…


Of course Joanne and Daren are going to be there. They race EVERYTHING.


Great to see you both! Hey, guess what!? It’s time to go race! As  walked over to the bag check, I got to give my favourite answer to one of the many questions I get at every race. At this point I am still wearing the Vibram’s. A guy looks and says “You aren’t going to run in those are you?”

“Nope I am not” and I took them off.

Ok, Let’s race!


The guy in the red was a real pecker.


Here is David! He walked up to me before the start and just says “Hi Neil”. I don’t recognise him as he has shaved and is wearing a GoPro camera. David is at all the races too. We ran together for 17kms. Thanks so much for the company David, that was just what I needed today! He rant he full, and rocked it!


Here is the result of the GoPro he is wearing. He had it set to take 1 picture every minute.

Here is my start line video. My feet are in this video.

About 1200 runners total, so it was a bit of an accordion to start, but we were going steady as soon as we crossed the timing mat.


The next picture shows the surface for much of the race. I have to admit, I’dve been better off in this race wearing my 5’s, but you know me. Always one to look for more Barefoot education. About 80% of the race was old, rough asphalt, there was a km or so of path gravel and the rest was new asphalt and a stretch about 200 meters on new glorious city sidewalks. The other bad thing about racing in a very treed route in late May, is Trees are dropping really sticky piles of tree crap. I found myself trying to scrape off sticky gunk much of the time.

That said. Most beautiful race course I’ve ever raced on. So un real. The gravel section was an actual island on a pond. the rest of the race followed all the ups and downs of Red Deer’s amazing pathway system. I will come back next year. I will wear minimal shoes.


Ok, for the birders out there. I was fortunate to spot the very rare mid-Albertan red beaked Shrew. I pointed it out for you here. Do you see it there in the woods? look closely.

Blue eyed Red Beak

Did you see it?**

Ok, ok, ladies. I am an equal opportunity blogger. Here is a 60+ year old fella who spent the entire weekend in his Speedo (seriously), but mercifully put on a pair of regular swim pants when it started pouring rain this morning.


So, not too many more picture  by me. I had a hell of a time with my Gel-Bot strap and spent multiple minutes fiddling with it until at 18k I threw the whole thing away. After that my hands were free and I snapped a couple photos nearing the finish. I was using the Gel-Bot for the first time ever, as I left my new (and old) Nathan Belts at home by accident. Big whoops by me…


This was the nice downhill finish (for shod runners, the rough pavement was just the cherry on the uncomfortable cake that was this race as a barefooter) I was able to sprint a bit at the end to avoid being chicked.


Now this series of shots were taken with David C’s GoPro. He was nice enough to send me the raw images… these show the race course very nicely too

GOPR1870 copyGOPR1879 copy

Good form! And THANKS Gu Energy!  this has to be one of my favourite race images ever! Just sort of embodies everything doesn’t it?

GOPR1909 copy

The gravel..

GOPR1918 copy

The gravel on the island.

GOPR1919 copy

As we were running here this guy comes up from behind and kind of runs beside me and behind David. I ask, Are you trying to pass?

He replies: No, I am just running beside you so that if you step on something and veer off toward the water I will catch you like your own fairy godmother.

I say: Thanks!

GOPR1922 copy

I finished the race in 2:17:xx, which is very slow for my standards. Heck I did a 2:18 in a blizzard a month ago and a 2:01 last November. I attribute this time to A: the surface and B: my lack of knowledge of the course. It was WAY more hilly than I expected and I went out for 15kms at a sub 6ish/ minute pace. I also spent a lot of energy in full Ninja mode on the gravel and rough surface. The final 3km were really slow with a bit of walking. Still, I loved it. I choose to do this, so I have no regrets about any choice I make to race, barefoot or not…


The scenery was so nice, I later on Sunday took Traci and Andrew to see some of the areas of the race course that I really enjoyed.


Then we ate! YUUUUM!!! I love race day feasts! especially camping!


The next scheduled race for me is the K-100 relay, and next weekend am volunteering for the Calgary Marathon Weekend. Should be fun. I’ll be taking LOTs of pictures of behind the scenes stuff for sure…

** I took the picture only for the purposes of this blog. I am always thinking of your entertainment… and besides, she’s the one who wore the buns 1 size too small…


  1. Your summer races are ridiculously pretty. Very envious. And I always enjoy a good mid-Albertan red-beaked shrew sighting during a race. The buns, on the other hand, are better left in the breadbox!

  2. Fun race! What a gorgeous area! I seriously need to do more Canadian races. :)

  3. Great recap of, well, everything! Love all the photos! One day when I'm big I might be brave enough to come do a race there.

  4. love the pics with mini-Neil!! so cute!!!
    flying home in 48 hrs
    i cannot wait to see some green!!!!!!
    bye bye LA pollution

  5. Andrew is a cutie. Oh, and studly too. Just like his Dad. Cool pics. Duh, it's Neil's Blog. Man, if you had been wearing shoes you would have run a 1:45.

  6. Free pictures? Awesome.

    Sorry you were disappointed with your finish time but congratulations on another successful race!

  7. Looks like a great time.

    I was in Calgary this weekend last year... snowing!

    Oh's still my home town.