Race Recap: SeaWheeze Half Marathon 2017

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How has it already been two weeks since SeaWheeze?! This year was my fourth consecutive year running this half marathon and you already know how I feel about it. This race is so near and dear to me because it was my first half marathon three years ago and part of the reason why I fell in love with running. After running it for the first time, I knew instantly that I wanted to go back (and it's been that way ever since). There's something about the race atmosphere, fun activities and the spirit and city of Vancouver that gets me. It's one of my favorite races by far and I encourage everyone to sign up and experience it for themselves. I know I want to run it again next year... but we'll start with how this year's race went.

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Geof and I got into Vancouver on the morning of Thursday, August 10th. With the race being on Saturday, August 12th, it gave us a couple of days to enjoy the city. We walked and wandered around downtown, ate lots of good food and participated in some of the pre-race festivities. Because SeaWheeze is a lululemon event, they have a special showcase store with limited edition SeaWheeze gear that's only available the day before the race. They also offer yoga classes and activities on the plaza—things like foam rolling clinics, boxing classes, kombucha tastings, smoothie samples, temporary tattoos, manicures, sneak peeks at upcoming product and more. It makes the experience more immersive and so fun. My meals on the day before the race were spaghettini at Cactus Club Cafe for lunch and rigatoni at Cinara for dinner. Both so delicious.

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Race day started with an early wake-up at 4:30 a.m. and my usual breakfast of avocado toast with nuun. We headed out of the hotel at 6 a.m. and down to the convention center for a sunrise warm-up and made our way to the corrals. Geof went ahead and lined up with the 1:40 pace beavers. I lined up near the 1:55 pacers. I went into this race with no specific time goal, being that I have spent a lot of this year dealing with an ankle/peroneal tendon injury (and had smaller bouts where training was stalled with bronchitis and costochondritis). My ankle is still not 100% yet so I went into this race wanting to run by feel. A finish time of 1:55 seemed like something I could still manage. I don't usually like to run a whole race with pacers, but I do like lining up beside them so you're running around people with similar paces, which equals less weaving or getting caught behind other runners.

Photo: lululemon

Photo: lululemon

Before I knew it, it was 7 a.m. and the anthem was sung, the gun went off and the race was underway! The weather was perfect—65º and partly cloudy—and I felt good from the get-go. Thankfully the smoke from recent wildfires had cleared out. Before the race started, I was a little worried about how fast or how much I could push with my ankle being iffy at times, but quickly found that it didn't bother me. The roads were smooth enough that my ankle felt fine and I didn't need to worry too much about where to step had the surface been more uneven or bumpy. So glad for that. The beginning miles of the race were a bit congested so it took a little bit to settle into a rhythm and find my pacing. 5K—26:14.

Ride Cycle Club cheer station. Photo: lululemon

Ride Cycle Club cheer station. Photo: lululemon

What's great about SeaWheeze is the abundance of cheer stations and supporters along the route. It really helps move you along. It's also nice that the course takes you through different parts of Vancouver, so there's always something new coming up to look forward to. The first half of the race went by so quickly. It began to get more humid, but I was still feeling good. 10K—52:22 / 15K—1:18:00.

Photo: lululemon

Photo: lululemon

I kept pretty consistent miles up through most of the seawall. At around mile 10-11, the wind picked up and was blowing right at my face. Though I felt like I was moving at the same consistent speed, the headwind slowed me down a little (and those seconds can really add up). Getting off the seawall and into Stanley Park, there's a small hill at 11.5 miles and then you make your way back toward the harbor to the finish. That's when I realized how close I was to 1:50. I remember looking at my watch at 12 miles, seeing that it read 1:42 and thought if I picked it up, I could get in under 1:50 (this has kind of been a secret goal of mine for the last little bit, at least before my ankle injury). I ran hard and came so close. Final chip time—1:50:56.

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This ended up being my second fastest half, but fastest on a non-downhill course (and a course PR!). I'm proud of that. I had nothing to complain about. I felt so happy about my performance and know I'm getting stronger. The race gave me confidence in my running and trust that I will come back fully from my ankle injury.

Mile Splits: 
1—8:39
2—8:22
3—8:19
4—8:36
5—8:23
6—8:18
7—8:31
8—8:24
9—8:21
10—8:39
11—8:34
12—8:59
13—8:02
0.13—0:54

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After crossing the finish line, I received a medal, bottle of water, nuun tablet, Vega protein bar and Clearly sunglasses. The finishing chute led runners up to the plaza by the convention center, where a brunch box from Bearfoot Bistro and a Saje essential oil kit was waiting. The brunch box consisted of chocolate chip banana bread, overnight oatmeal yogurt parfait, chocolate and fruit. The banana bread was my favorite and I was still thinking about it the day after. It was that good! Geof and I met back up to fill each other in on how our races went (he ran a 1:38:15), took photos and then it was off to Cartems for a post-race donut (this place is easily one of our favorites in Vancouver).

That evening, we hung out at the Sunset Festival, which is an outdoor concert at Stanley Park that is included in your race registration! There was also an artisan market there, where local vendors were selling their goods. We ate poutine on the grass and I bought an amazing blanket from Forest & Waves. We ended up staying for Cold War Kids but left before Young the Giant performed in order to get some decent sleep. 

Photo: lululemon

Photo: lululemon

For the final three days of our trip, we visited Squamish, British Columbia and Bend, Oregon and explored the trails. Squamish was beautiful. We did a recovery hike/run where the Squamish 50 trail race would pass through the following weekend. It was cool to see a tiny portion of the course and it being all marked up in preparation for the upcoming race. Geof was thinking he might want to do the Squamish 50 in the future.

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The day after visiting Squamish, we drove to Bend. Geof and I have dreams to move out of Utah one day and Bend is on the list. It's a small-ish outdoorsy town that we loved the feel of. We spent some time there to see if it was somewhere we could picture ourselves living. There's a local running store that we really liked (we'd be regulars if we lived there!). We ran a loop on one of the trails at Shevlin Park (suggested by an employee at the running store) and it was so pretty. The trees were so tall and it was much more piney and lush than the trails we have at home in Salt Lake City. 

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All in all, it was an amazing trip. We're already planning on going back to SeaWheeze next year to make it five in a row (but next time, we're planning on flying instead of driving!). The race will be on September 22, 2018 and registration opens this fall.

Have you ran SeaWheeze? What are some of your favorite races?

Favorites: Run Essentials

I'm back with another edition of five things I love. These are some of my favorite essentials that are making summer running a little more enjoyable and little more motivating.

Compete Training Journal
I've recently started another round of marathon training (I'm going for a sub 4:00 for my third marathon this October!) and began using this journal to track my progress. The book was created by pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas and includes tips on how to set goals, train with intention and set smart race strategies. It also has pages to log your runs/workouts and a bunch of useful material on how to look at competition and racing in a good, healthy way. As someone who is detail-oriented, I've been loving this because it gives me space to track my training and improvement all in one place. It'll be something fun to look at down the road.

Photo: VeloPress

Photo: VeloPress

Tailwind Nutrition
I use Tailwind during some of my longer runs. It's so easy to use—just mix it with water to meet your calorie, hydration and electrolyte needs. It dissolves easily into my water bottle and the taste is mild (just a hint of flavor that's easy on the stomach). It meets all nutrition needs so I can carry less (no need for energy chews or extra food). I buy the stick packs because I like trying all the different flavors and I can easily pack another stick if I need to bring more fuel on my run.

Photo: Tailwind Nutrition

Photo: Tailwind Nutrition

PROBAR Bolt Energy Chews
If I don't bring Tailwind on my long runs, I'll likely bring a pack of these organic energy chews. They're loaded with electrolytes, B vitamins and complex carbs for sustained energy. They have great flavors and options that have caffeine. I use these during road races because I don't carry water with me. The only annoying thing is that they can get a little sticky and hard to chew while you're racing but the taste makes up for it. Fun fact: PROBAR is a local Salt Lake City company and I used to work for the design studio that did their packaging!

Photo: PROBAR

Photo: PROBAR

Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat
It's pretty gross how much I wear this hat. I take it with me on every hot summer run and it's accompanied me through my last two races. On most of my runs, you'll find me with a trucker hat on my head and I've found that this is the best one at keeping my head cool while shading me from the heat. It's light, breathable and can pack small and still retain its shape. I love everything about it. Mine is often caked in a layer of sweat but it's so easy to rinse and dries quickly. Patagonia just released some new colors so I might need to get another one (even though I already own two)!

Photo: Patagonia

Photo: Patagonia

Stance Run Socks
I've built up a collection of Stance's run socks and they're the best. They're made with breathable materials and lightweight cushioning and come in the best patterns. There's a variety of styles—tab, crew or calf. I like the tab socks for road running and the crew for trail running. 

Photo: Stance

Photo: Stance

Race Recap: Dino Half Marathon 2017

As some of you know, I've been dealing with an ankle injury since my last race in March. What was initially diagnosed as a ligament sprain was actually peroneal tendonitis, so I've been going to PT once a week and was finally cleared to run again on May 1. For the past two weeks, I've been slowly building my mileage back up. I was given the go-ahead by my physical therapist to try running this half to see how my ankle would do.

The Dino Half took place in Vernal, Utah on Saturday, May 13th. Going into the race, I had no idea what to expect. With my lack of training for the past two months, I wasn't sure how I would do, being that my longest run since getting cleared to run was six miles. What I found out is that if you have a solid base already, it's easy to get your endurance and mileage back to where it was. I was pleasantly surprised.

Race weekend began with Geof and I driving to Vernal and picking up our race packets. I fell asleep in the car while seated cross-legged and once I stepped out of the car, realized my left calf was super tight. After picking up my packet, someone stopped me in the parking lot and asked if I had a running blog. She said she had read my post about the Dino Half from last year! That was so cool and it caught me off guard, so I apologize if I was acting awkward. I never imagined anyone but my friends and family would read my blog. 

We dropped our things off at the hotel and headed out to eat a pasta dinner at Antica Forma. I had linguine with meatballs and it was perfect. At dinner, I started to get an itchy tickle in my throat and was worried I might be getting sick. I let that thought drift from my mind as we ate and after dinner, we took a short walk by the restaurant to walk off the tightness in my calf. We went back to the hotel, gathered our gear for the race, foam rolled and headed to sleep.

I woke up the next morning with my throat and calf feeling pretty good. Rest must have worked out those kinks. I ate avocado toast, drank nuun and got ready. I taped up my ankle with KT tape and wore a compression ankle sleeve for precaution. We headed out the door around 5:50 a.m. to catch the buses to take us to the start of the race in Dry Fork Canyon. Once dropped off, we lined up for the port-a-potties, stood by the fire and I wrapped myself up in a heat sheet. It seemed like the wait before the start went by quickly, even with the race starting ten minutes late. At 7:40 a.m., after all the buses had dropped off their runners, they counted down and blew the horn.

The weather was nice—breezy and warm. I felt good at the beginning. Race day can make you feel so much better with all the adrenaline that kicks in. The first three miles of the race were on an eroded road and it was bumpy and rough. My ankle actually shifted and popped three times but as I continued to run, the pain from the shock of the pops began to subside. I had to work to stay on the flatter areas, but after those initial miles, the canyon road smoothed out and I was good. My ankle never popped again after that.

Geof and I ran together for the first three miles and then I went ahead when Geof slowed on some of the hills. He has been having some pain in his calf and ran the hills slower and more carefully to not aggravate it. I was feeling surprisingly so good and was keeping a nice pace. At mile 6, the 1:55 pacers came up behind me, overtook me and I ran behind them for a long time. They were running faster than they should have, but listening in on their conversations, I knew it was to bank time on the downhill portion of the course before the last miles leveled out.

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

I started to lose steam at mile 10 (yup, my legs had not run this far since my ankle injury in March) and I began to slow a little. My calves were feeling tight and sore. My 8:00-something pace went into the 9:00s but I was determined to keep those pacers in sight. After mile 10 sometime, Geof appeared by me again! He said he had been trying to catch up to me the whole time. He was just who I needed to see and we kept pace together for the last few miles.

When we only had half a mile to go, I ran past the 1:55 pacers and thanked them and said I had been following them for 7 miles. Geof and I tried to pick it up and we ran it in! I also ran my fastest Dino Half and I feel good about that with my lack of training lately (this was our third time running this race). Final chip time—1:52:34.

Mile Splits:
1—8:07
2—8:12
3—8:07
4—8:09
5—8:19
6—8:30
7—8:15
8—8:31
9—8:29
10—9:04
11—8:56
12—9:34
13—9:27
0.12—1:00

Post-race consisted of eating a spicy chicken sandwich, fries and custard at Freddy's, watching the new season of Master Of None, getting dinner at Vernal Brewing Company and frozen yogurt at Farr's. The next day, I woke up early because I couldn't sleep. I was having a hard time because my throat began to hurt really bad and I started to get really sick. We checked out of the hotel and drove back home, taking the long route through Flaming Gorge. It was really beautiful. I needed rest and took some short naps in the car on the way back.

Flaming Gorge

Flaming Gorge

The dry air and running into the wind during the race probably played into me getting sicker and making the virus worse (did you know that during endurance running you lose red blood cells?), but I wouldn't have traded running for anything. I'm really happy that I ran a strong race with a recovering ankle that isn't 100 percent. It makes me optimistic for what the year will bring and how much more I can improve once my ankle is fully healed. Excited.