Very important disclaimer

Please be advised that the contents of this blog are opinions only (my opinion, the opinions of my family and the opinions of anyone else directly or indirectly involed in this blog). This is not an accredited training blog, nor is it an accredited anything blog. If you (and you) do anything that this blog says, or don't do anything that this site says not to do, and you get injured, sick or killed, you cannot blame me or my family or blame anyone else directly or indirectly involved in this blog. By reading anything on this blog (including this message) you are saying that you are a person who makes thier own choices in life and does not hold the writer of this blog, the writers family or any one else that may be directly or indirectly involved in the production or writing of this blog, responsible for your stupid and irresponsible behaviors, injuries, sicknesses or deaths. With that said, please enjoy my fun blog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mother-in-Law visit and Instagram

I’ll start with Instagram. I love it. You all know I am a fan of taking pictures of stuff. And Iphones. Well, Instagram takes those 2 items to the extreme. Ok. Here’s what you do. You take a photo with your phone(or load a photo onto your phone), then you apply a format to it. Most of the formats are antique looking.

Yep. We spend thousands on high tech devices with multi-mega pixel resolutions and the change it into this.

Yes. That is the desired result.

And this too!

These were both taken within the last 2 weeks. Yep, like I said, I love it! BUT, it’s more than just picture sharing. It’s actually another form of social media. Did you know you can follow me? Yeah, I’m @nzeller on there. look me up. (oh, but just to warn you: the app is only available on Iphone and there is no corresponding website or software. Just an app. but a cool app.

So download the free app and look me up.

Ok. Now. The Mother-in-Law came for a visit from Pennsylvania. No no. it’s not bad. We get along fine. besides she doesn’t come to see me as it’s all for the Boy. She was here for 5 days and it was non-stop fun with Andrew. I busied myself in work and hobbies, even getting a little 5k run in with Happy Dan.


On Sunday tho, I committed to touring the family around. We decided on Drumheller and the Tyrell Museum (Dinosaurs).

We were up and att’em by the stroke of 10:30 so out the door we went. Tim Horton’s for breakfast and a Coffee first, then onto the open road. It was a absolutely beautiful day with temps over 30c/86f (as hot as it gets here), and little to no clouds or wind. We took a longer route to show Granny one of our favorite places, Rosebud, and then made a quick stop at Horseshoe Canyon for her first glimpse of the Badlands that are the amazing landscape carved by the Red Deer River.

First the prairies.


Then on to the Badlands only 15 minutes further down the road.


Pretty cool. Just a small offering of what’s ahead though.

We headed down into Drumheller. The town that was built by coalmines, but now survives as a Tourist center/ Farming supply and um… well that’s about it.

Just west of town is the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology.  This is the place from the outside.


And this is the place from the inside.


Does it make you want to go? It’s a pretty incredible place. Even though it was REALLY busy, we just puddled through. It’s kind of like Ikea where you follow a predetermined route, but you do have the opportunity for many small side tours and there are lots of places to just sit and look around.

Below is a pretty cool picture. I take the Canon DSLR and get it propped up nice and secure against something, turn the flash off then just take a picture on Auto. the shutter stays open until it gathers enough light to produce a decent picture (all of the Dino shots are taken this way). Well in this one, Traci is taking a pic with her moms flash camera to the right of me and so is another person to the left of me shooting as well.

So, Andrew and Granny get set. I shoot my picture and the shutter stays open for 3.2 seconds. This 3.2 seconds is enough to get a sort of decent shot of the dinosaur. BUT. in that time, Traci has taken her flash picture resulting in the sharp, but ghosted image of Andrew and Granny. Also, about a second or two later the person to the left of me shoots a flash photo as well, getting a ghostly image of Traci to my right and a nice clear shot of the guy on my left. ALSO, you can see where the other guys flash picked up Andrew as Granny was putting him down. Very cool indeed.


I love photography. My advice to anyone wanting to get awesome shots? Shoot lots, then shoot some more! I took about 200 pics in 4 hours on this trip. Some suck, most are ok and only a few are really cool.

Like this one.


And these ones.


Spent the rest of the day driving around looking at stuff… home by 6 to have my Mom over for her birthday Cake!


A good day indeed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My goal is to race all the CRR XC winter races

Is is too soon to talk about winter? The Harvest Half Marathon is on Oct 1st. That is less than 6 weeks away. 2 years ago during the Harvest Half it snowed.

Well. This is what we have to look forward too… soon… gaaa! It was 85f the other day. That same night it dropped down to 34f. And then back up to 85f. Crazy.

photo by Dawn (PinkChick)

I AM actually looking forward too it!

Also, I took this video tonight. The boy loves to dance when SYTYCD is on. He is getting pretty good at mimicking the dancers, especially at the end of this video…

So anyway. I hope to be back regularly blogging this fall sometime. We are good, just really busy. Once the house sells, we will be less busy. So there’s that.

In the meantime, I am active over in:

Facebook: Barefoot Neil Z
Facebook: Harvest Half Marathon (I am the admin)
Twitter: Barefoot Neil Z
Instagram: nzeller

Well that’s all for now, Hi to all my bloggy buddies! Just so you know, I take a look at all your blogs from time to time, I miss you all and will be back soon! Take care! Here is a couple pics from our camping trip last weekend!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Dead F’n Last!

I mentioned good run buddy in the last blog post. She was the last person to cross the finish line for the Calgary 70.3. She didn’t make the official finishers list, but the race org placed that big ass belt buckle medal around her neck when she crossed the line – because she fucking deserved it!

Every BIT of it!


What would you do? Have a read at her own race story. I have a feeling there is a lot more emotion under these words… Let me know what you would do in this situation.

This is the email I received from her today.

Hey Neil,

I’ve been meaning to thank you for your motivation during the race on Sunday!  I’ve been a little busy this week, but I decided to write a race report.  I wanted to send it to you so that you know how my race experience went.  I didn’t make the final cut-off time but I finished the entire distance and learned a lot about myself and what it takes to complete something so challenging.  Thanks for being there and being a part of my day.  True friends are the ones who give you their strength so that you can take it and carry on. 

Thank you!

(name withheld)

P.S. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to take an excerpt from my report for your blog.  We all get motivation from others and you never know who might take this and pay it forward J

Calgary 70.3 July 31st, 2011 – A Great Personal Achievement!

My day started off quite well with a nice relaxed swim, I didn’t have trouble adjusting to the water and only had trouble sighting with the sun straight ahead.  I had some trouble with my goggles part way through the swim so I stopped there, but afterwards just tried to keep an even and relaxed pace.  Staying on course was difficult as the buoys were so far away.  I’m sure I swam extra distance.  I exited the water later than I had hoped to, but still made the cut-off time which was my main goal anyway.  Total swim time 1:06:59. 

Wished my T1 could have been a little faster, had I not decided to put on sunscreen or visit the outhouse but I felt both of those were important at the time!  T1 time 10:31. 

Once on my bike I felt comfortable.  I felt some fatigue going up Grand Valley Road, for some reason I don’t like riding on that road much, as I think because of the pebbly road quality I don’t “roll” very well – so the bike is more effort on that road.  I tried to make up for it on Horse Creek and found I was in a good rhythm, passed about 4 or 5 athletes and was happy with 2:02 across the half-way timing mat.  The hill out of Cochrane took more out of me than I expected.  I started to get very worried about making the bike cut-off and even started preparing myself for being told I couldn’t continue.  But decided I wouldn’t deal with it until I was there. Average 22.4 kms/hour which I was happy with considering it included the hill.  Total bike time 4:11:23.

Once I made it into T2 I felt very tired and wondered if I could continue.  I headed out on the run and hoped my fuel in the last 10 minutes of the bike and powerbar at T2 would help me.  Just as I was started to get my legs I saw Neil!  He ran some strides with me and gave me strength to carry on.  I told him I felt “done” and he asked what I was going to do.  I said I was going to keep going.  He said “atta girl” which was so encouraging!  I wonder though if he thought I was nuts. (ed note: to be honest, I didn't know what to think and I was worried about her) About 4k into the run I felt disappointed and defeated.  I looked down at my Garmin and knew that if I could only keep this pace (9:45/km average pace) I wouldn’t finish the race in time.  The finish line area was only steps away (ed note: the diabolical run course that passed the finish line at 4k and 17k) and I was the closest to quitting anything I have ever been.  Then a girl jogged passed me and started walking immediately in front of me.  I decided to just keep walking some more, and went down the Weaselhead hill.  I jogged as much as I could before my stomach would complain and I had to walk.  The girl in front of me kept doing the same.  My disappointment turned to aspiration, that maybe I can still finish this, even if it’s just for me.  I jogged and walked the remainder of the race and half-expected them to pull me off the course at some point.  But it just wasn’t in me to quit after I had come that far.  The race took me longer than I expected or hoped for, but I just couldn’t quit.  I passed through the Team TriLife aid station and they told me not to give up and to push through everything.  Once I reached the top of the Weaselhead hill again, I was tempted again to call it a day as the finish line area was again only steps away.  I saw my coach and she let me know the finish line had closed officially, but that she knew I could run the final 4k.  After 113.3k, what was another 4k?  I knew my husband and best friend wouldn’t mind waiting just a little longer for me.  And I knew I owed it to myself after all the training.  1k from the finish line, a truck involved with the race stopped and out jumped BFF!  I was so happy to see her, and I saw that our buddy Neil had dropped her off.  What amazing friends!  BFF ran with me for a bit and I just enjoyed her company rather than check my watch for how far it was to go.  Around the corner was DH and he gave me so much strength to make it to the finish line.  And I also wonder if he thinks I am nuts. (ed note: probably)

I crossed the finish line and I think it was somewhere between 8:45 and 9:00 for my total time.  I wasn’t an official finisher by the Ironman cut-off time but I covered the entire distance.  The volunteers presented me with a finishers medal, stating that I was a finisher just like anyone who completed the distance.  I still felt disappointed that I didn’t reach all my goals…….except for the most important one: to finish.  I am very happy that I finished something I started.  If I could do this, then now I can learn from it and use the experience to become a better triathlete.  I know what I need to work on, and that means I have new aspirations and goals.

So? What do you think? I am pretty sure my relatively fragile ego wouldn’t have let me cross last. I think I may have taken the DNF… but who knows.

This is the actual race course. Down the path, over the bridge way down on the right center, over to the far side and back…

Monday, August 1, 2011

Calgary 70.3 Ironman Volunteer Report

All in all a super fun day…

Calgary Ironman Website
Calgary Ironman 70.3 Results here.

Traci dropped Nathan and I off at the Truck rental place at 4pm on Friday then we took the 2 mini Hinos up to the North side of the city to load up the aid stations. That went pretty well, and armed with our experience from the Calgary marathon volunteering weekend, we took the trucks home, confident we were ready for Sunday morning.

I got up at 4:30 on Sunday morning and put together some water bottles and snack, and by 5am I was out the door heading to North Glenmore to set up the aid stations. Nathan was already there when I arrived right at 5:30 and Doug (run captain) had the last few items for the trucks. I was able to find a coffee at the T2 admins station, so that helped, and then we were ready to go. Aid station 2 was just a few meters from the start finish line as is was a pretty diabolical out and back run course that had the runners passing the Run finish twice before mercifully crossing the finish on the 3rd pass.


Great for spectators, suck for racers. It was the worst later on in the day as it was so hot and the last 1/2 of runners had to deal with that heat head on. I walked over to this area later in the day and just couldn’t imagine running past the finish while having 4 agonizing km left to run yet.

I took a few shots of the start of the day and our drop offs. We don’t have to set the stations up, just deliver them to the right place. These folks have the unenviable task of getting the T2 drop bags in the right place. As this is a point to point race, the racers have to rely on the volunteers setting up the transition here.


What a typical drop off looks like. Tables, garbage pails, cups, water jugs, Drink mix, gels, shade tent, sponges, cookies, first aid kit, and on and on.


Nathan in his mini Hino! lookin’ good!


After dropping off AS 2, I was walking back to the truck and saw my shadow in this beam of sunrise. Cool huh?


Doug mentioned at one point how the main group of volunteers were all runners, and that helps when explaining things like route planning and general race setup. He entrusted me to set up this tricky part of the course. There is a traffic lane on the left, and a 2 direction run course on the right with 3 separate entry and exits in this area. I got a gold star for this.


After we set up the North side, we hopped in the 2nd truck and set up the South side. This photo out the window of the truck shows the general scenery of the run course.


We were done our drop offs with plenty of time, so we stopped for an egg mcmuffin and another coffee, so that was good. We got back to the other side with about 45 minutes to spare until we had to report to our intersection for our marshalling duties, and ended up shuttling a few people to their locations too. It’s not illegal in Canada to move people in the back of a 1 ton cube van… is it?

Volunteer Steven was waiting around for us when we arrived, and after the first of many cone placement adjustments, we settled into a very long day of traffic control. Our corner was probably the most tricky one as it was only 600 meters from the start and finish line and actually crossed itself. T2 and the run start was down the road on the right, while the finish was down the road to the left. Steven spent the day telling the runners coming from the start that they were to stay to right and yield to the finishing runners, Nathan hung around right at the crossover and ensured the runners went the right way and I spent the day down the road warning the runners that they had to go through the cone chute and take the left road. I made sure I spoke loudly, clearly and with as few words as possible, knowing that some runners may be operating on less than a full brain tank with only 600 meters left in this tough race. I am sure they appreciated the gesture.


Just to put a fine point how awesome the venue here is, there was a deer that spent  most of the day crossing over the course in front of runners, pleasantly surprising most, and startling some!


Being here early has it’s advantages too. We had a visit from this very curious little fawn and its Mama before the runners came through.


So, we were pretty amazed with how quickly the lead male runner was upon us, but it was pretty slow for a while after him. The first few pro guys were there and gone, but then we had a pretty long wait until the women. I think for me it proved that I should stay a mid pack runner. It is very lonely at the front. (like I have the option, haha!)

All I can really say about being out there all day is that every one who passed by us were inspiring in a thousand different ways. There were racers who were relaxed, struggling, in pain, funny, appreciative, quiet, slobbering, grunting, run farting (you know, step-fart-step-fart), walking, swearing, laughing, shuffling, eating, and generally showing the distance they had already covered. I haven’t been around triathlon before and I kept reminding myself that even though the racers were in the first 600 meters, their demeanour was well earned over the previous 57 miles.

Here are some pictures from the day:


Toward the end of the race, once the bike course was closed and no more runners were starting, I took a walk over to the edge of the valley rim and took this photo. Its the weaselhead bridge and is part of the race course. some people don’t appreciate it as there are pretty significant hills to scale, but I have raced and ran this route many times and the scenery and general awesomeness of the area make up for any hill here.


After heading over to the southside to pick up the aid stations there then dropping of the first truck for unloading, we walked back to the second truck and finally got to see someone cross the finish line. note the time. Talk about guts. There were 5 other runners out on the course still and we got to see and encourage each one. The run course had been closed for some time by then, but the race org let them finish, and even provided them with support in the way of a sweeper bike person, they left the roads closed past their permit, and left the clock running right until the end. One of my good running friends happened to be the final runner across the finish line, and I am so proud of her for her fortitude and sheer will to finish this race that she started so many months ago. I imagine she is disappointed in the finish time and by being last and the fact she didn’t get an official time, but I am sure in the next weeks and months she will take great pride in this race, and how she kept moving in the face of so many obstacles. I do know for a fact that there are a great number of people in Calgary that are so proud of her. I know I am!


Pretty tired, Nathan and I went out and picked up the last 2 aid stations, got all the stuff back to the clean-up area, turned in our radio and took the trucks back to the rental store. Traci was there to take us to Nathans truck and then it was home time. I was feeling pretty good, enjoyed a nice supper, but fell asleep for the night with Andrew at 8:30.

The day couldn’t have gone better. I had great company all day, made some new friends, gained a great appreciation of a sport I really still don’t understand, and felt good about helping out. One thing I did different this time around as opposed to the Calgary Marathon day was I wore minimal shoes. At the Calgary Marathon I wore my NB 1063’s and almost couldn’t walk after being on my feet all day. This time I wore the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves and came away with nothing more than really stinky feet. I was sockless for the day, so you can imagine how stinky the ol’ dogs would be after 12 hours in 30 degree heat all day.


Good times. Congrats to all the racers, Congrats to the Org for a fantastic event, Congrats to all the volunteers.

Next blog, I answer your questions…