Race Recap: SeaWheeze Half Marathon 2016

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It's been over a week since SeaWheeze, so it's time for the recap! This year was the third consecutive year that I've run the SeaWheeze Half Marathon. I look forward to this weekend all year and it's my favorite race for so many reasons. A: It was my very first half marathon back in 2014 so it's always going to be special to me. I just love the feeling of race weekend, especially with this one. B: The course is beautiful and runs through so many scenic parts of Vancouver. Experiencing the city with your own feet is amazing. C: Bang for your buck—registration is $128 CAD and includes so many perks (like shorts sent in the mail to train in, free yoga classes, a post-race breakfast, a sunset festival concert and so much swag throughout). D: It's much more than a race and is a whole race experience. It's put on by lululemon so you know that the weekend is going to be fun, energetic and full of amazing cheer stations and surprises! 

There's so much I want to include so I'll start from the beginning. Warning: this post will be long. 

On the day before we started our trip, I began getting a cold. It started as just a minor sore throat, but I was worried about it getting worse and the possibility of being sick on race day. I started drinking ginger kombucha and lemon ginger drinks to try and ease it. I'm not sure it helped.

Wednesday, August 10—Travel
Geof and I woke up early and started our drive. Yes, drive. We've turned this race into a big road trip for the past three years and love it. It's interesting to travel by car and see the different cities and environments we pass through. Taking shifts driving is okay when you get to take naps on your off-shifts. This day, we drove all the way from Salt Lake City to Bellingham, WA (920 miles total). 

Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Thursday, August 11—Vancouver
We headed out, had breakfast at a cute cafe in Bellingham and drove another two hours (and 55 miles) to Vancouver, with a short stop at the border crossing. After getting into Vancouver, we dropped off our gear at the hotel and began our trek around the city. The highlight of this day was touring the lululemon SSC. Because I work for the company, I was able to visit headquarters with other educators/key leaders from around the United States and Canada. Geof also got to go and it was fun for him to see the company from behind-the-scenes. I got a tour of the many departments (a lot of them were out helping with SeaWheeze though; we were told that SSC employees were taking part in a 100% challenge for the race—every person had to be involved in some way, whether it was running, volunteering, working the showcase store, setting up—so inspiring), a sneak peek of fall/winter product and a walkthrough of Whitespace (read more about what that is here).

lululemon SSC

lululemon SSC

We then had dinner at Noodlebox, took a walk to Robson Street and visited the lululemon flagship store. On our way back to the hotel, Geof grabbed a falafel pita wrap from a food truck and we headed to sleep for the showcase store the following morning.

Friday, August 12—Showcase Store & Package Pickup
The morning began with an early alarm. We walked to the Vancouver Convention Centre and arrived there a little bit past 5 a.m. for the showcase store, which would open to runners at 7 a.m. The store contains special edition SeaWheeze product that's exclusive to the race. The line was crazy long (we've lined up around the same time the past two years and each time, it's gotten progressively more insane and we've gotten progressively further down the line). My congestion was really kicking in and I drank hot tea while I waited. We talked to the people around us which sped up the hours a little. Eventually, we made it inside the store after 9 a.m. and it was madness inside. A lot of the merchandise was picked over but I was still able to find a few items I liked. I then headed to pick up my race package. This included a mesh duffel bag (to be used for gear check), water bottle, sunglasses, nuun tablets, wristband and shoe timing chips. At this point, my congestion was getting really bad and I was getting nauseous and dizzy. Getting through this line was quick and easy, but I just wanted to get away from the crowds. Because of how I was feeling, we didn't partake in the events on the plaza and missed the vendors and activities. If I had to do it again, I'm not sure I would sacrifice sleep for the showcase store, but then again, I feel like I would get FOMO if I didn't experience the store? I don't know. I do think the lack of sleep did make my cold worse though.

Some of the vendors on the plaza included Saje (shown above), Clearly, nuun, Vega, RISE and KIND. There was also a product cafe, meet your pace beaver, flash tattoos, hair braiding and yoga classes. Photo: lululemon

Some of the vendors on the plaza included Saje (shown above), Clearly, nuun, Vega, RISE and KIND. There was also a product cafe, meet your pace beaver, flash tattoos, hair braiding and yoga classes. Photo: lululemon

We walked to Tim Hortons for a quick bite (Geof and I shared half of a chicken panini) and another stop at Cartems Donuterie. My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I got two donuts but was only able to eat one—vanilla bean. Back at the hotel, I took a nap and a hot shower, hoping that it would help my congestion. We headed back out in the early evening to a drugstore to get me some cold medicine and visited the Gastown district, where we had some delicious baos at Bao Down and visited some of the shops. We walked back to the Coal Harbour area and had our carb dinner at Cactus Club Cafe (butternut squash soup + spaghettini and meatballs). I had the spaghettini as my pre-race dinner the year before and remember it being so amazing and how much I loved it. With me being congested and headachey, I wasn't able to finish my meal because I felt so sick. The more I ate, the more I thought I might throw up. We were planning on doing the evening yoga class on the plaza, but with the nausea I was having, we decided it would be smarter to go back to the hotel and allow my body to rest.

It's a tradition to lay out my race day gear the night before each race. I didn't end up wearing my hat though.

It's a tradition to lay out my race day gear the night before each race. I didn't end up wearing my hat though.

Saturday, August 13—Race Day & Sunset Festival
I was getting a little sicker by the minute, so it was hard to get up in the morning, but the excitement of race day can do wonders. I felt stuffy and congested still, but the dizziness seemed to have gone away. It was replaced with a cough though. My long run meal as of late had been avocado toast, so that's what I had for breakfast (plus a glass of nuun) and we started our walk to the convention center. We arrived just in time for the warm up on Jack Poole Plaza and it was off to our corrals to await the start. I lined up between the 1:55 and 2:00 pace beavers. Having run eight half marathons before, I didn't have the usual nervous pre-race feeling, but felt anxious and unsure of how I would do because of my cold. I tried to remain optimistic. The Canadian anthem was sung and then we were off!

Photo: lululemon

Photo: lululemon

Surprisingly, I felt better than I imagined. The weather was around 70°F with humidity in the 85% range, so it felt hot and humid and I was sweating more than usual, but it was really great for my throat since it felt less dry and I was able to breathe a little easier. It probably helped being at sea level too.

Geof and I begin most races together but he jets off in the first mile and I run the race on my own. I actually like this because I get to run on my own accord, based on how I'm feeling and at my own ability. It's really great alone time. The first part of the race takes us through downtown, along the viaduct (passing one of my favorite cheer stations—the Ride Cycle Club spin class) over to the Chinatown area and along the city portion of the seawall. It was super congested with people and I had to do a lot of weaving and passing around other runners. 5K—26:42.

The next few miles took us over the Burrard Bridge and along Cornwall Avenue to the Kitsilano neighborhood, where there was a turnaround and we run back over the bridge on the other side. I missed the puppy cheer station at the turnaround and was bummed about it! I was looking forward to this cheer station all day but was concentrating too hard (or just too excited about the turnaround point) and missed them completely. Sad. 10K—55:11.

The course is funny because it seems pretty flat but there are small, rolling, gradual hills that you don't really realize until you look at the elevation profile later. The Burrard Bridge was like that. After the bridge, we headed down toward the seawall at Stanley Park. The race was flying by. It was almost nine miles before I looked at my watch for the first time to see how far I'd gone. I think after running this course two times before, I had a general sense of the distance, but once you're on the seawall stretch, it seems to go on for a while. I was holding a consistent pace and was just surprised at how good I was feeling. I had to cough here and there but still felt strong. 15K—1:22:40.

Photo: lululemon

Photo: lululemon

The seawall part of the race is my favorite. It's so pretty and I love looking out at the water. Something about the smell of the ocean makes me happy. It was shaded in some parts which was a good break from the sun. At mile 11, I felt like I still had energy to kick it up a notch and started to pick up the pace. It felt amazing to be able to pass runners as I got closer to the finish. I've never felt as strong during a half marathon as I did in this one, even with being sick. The end of the race changed this year and instead of running back into the city, we stayed on the seawall. The ivivva cheer station here was so fun! I gave all of the girls high fives as I ran by. I kept running until one final turn and saw the finish arch and ran it in. Final chip time—1:57:03.

Look at this medal! The edges even had a secret message that read Mission Complete when decoded.

Look at this medal! The edges even had a secret message that read Mission Complete when decoded.

Because of all of the weaving, I ran further than 13.1 miles. My watch said 13.35 when I crossed the mat but I was seriously so happy. I had a new course PR and I don't know any half where I've run this consistently with so much life left in my legs. I owe it all to the work I've been doing with coach Emily and really feel like she's making me a stronger runner. I wondered if I could have done even better if I wasn't sick but there was no time to think about that. I was just so excited to complete a half marathon feeling as good as I did and wanted to find Geof! I walked further down the finishing chute where I was handed my medal (I love that it's a surprise until you finish!), a bottle of Smartwater, a cold wet washcloth, Saje essential oils, KIND bar, nuun tablets, lululemon finisher hat and Vega recovery mix. The post-race breakfast was provided by Bearfoot Bistro and consisted of a red pepper spinach frittata sandwich, sour cherry tart and grapes. I grabbed my food and went to find Geof. He finished with a time of 1:43:44; he's on fire lately! I ate my grapes, saved my sandwich and gave Geof my tart (I don't love sweets after running). We went inside the convention center to get massages (the best) and then I finished off my breakfast sandwich and sipped on a Vega smoothie.

Post-race goodies. Smartwater not pictured.

Post-race goodies. Smartwater not pictured.

The rest of the day was a blur. We had a snack with some friends from San Francisco, ate a bunch of food downtown, visited some shops on Robson Street and shuttled to Stanley Park for the Sunset Festival. We skipped the yoga class again because I was afraid that going upside down in downward dog might make me feel worse, so we ate poutine and veggie burgers, checked out the artisan market and sat on the grass for the concert. Youngblood, Dear Rouge and Chromeo performed. I wasn't too familiar with Youngblood or Dear Rouge, but they were both great. Geof and I have both liked Chromeo for a long time so it was fun to see them live. We left mid-set because I was getting tired and needed sleep to shake my cold. Geof wanted to see the digital orca sculpture at night so we shuttled back over to the convention center. Little did I know, he had a huge surprise up his sleeve! We were just admiring the orca with its sparkly lights and I was taking photos and looking out at the harbour. After a while, I was getting even more tired and asked Geof if we could go back so I could sleep. He wanted to stay out there for five more minutes. I started to talk about running and pooping (I know, so polite of me) and then Geof started talking to me, saying the nicest things and then asked me to marry him! Ahh! I couldn't have been happier and it made this day the most perfect, best day. We walked back to the hotel, me clutching the little box with the ring inside, smiling.

Chromeo performing at the Sunset Festival. Photo: lululemon

Chromeo performing at the Sunset Festival. Photo: lululemon

Sunday, August 14—North Vancouver
The following day included lunch and ice cream at Stanley Park and exploring North Vancouver. We hiked the Grouse Grind, a 1.8 mile hike with 2,800 feet of elevation (I did it in 54 minutes and beat my time from last year, despite many cough attacks) and had dinner at Amici, one of our favorite Italian restaurants. 

That concludes the Vancouver portion of the trip! Geof and I both discussed how we can't wait to come back for next year's race (rumor has it that it's going to be nature themed) and plan on registering again. We then drove to Boise the next day and explored the city for another day before making the drive back home. It was a whirlwind of a week, but I'm glad to be home. It feels good to sleep in my own bed, with little Izzy dog snuggled up by my feet (boy, did I miss her!).

Trip Statistics:
Ginger Beers Drank—3 / Donuts Devoured—2 / Flannels Purchased—3 / Poutine Consumed—2

Have you run SeaWheeze? I'd love to hear about your race experience.