Thursday, August 18, 2016

Race Recap: SeaWheeze Lululemon Half Marathon And Sunset Festival

If you missed my recap of the pre-race festivities you can find that HERE. This is my second time running the SeaWheeze Lululemon Half Marathon. Last year, I earned myself a new PR of 1:51:44 but this year the goals were much different. I have been having some health problems, since the beginning of the year, and speed hasn't been my focus. Instead, I have really enjoyed slowing down, running with friends, and having fun! As our medals spelled out MISSION COMPLETE.

Race day started early. We had set our alarm for 4:30 since the roads close, in Vancouver, at 6 and we wanted to secure a parking spot close to the start and finish area. We had laid our clothes before, and made our peanut butter sandwiches, so we were out the door in ten minutes. There was a little bit of nervous energy, on the 40 minute drive, but mostly excitement. We wanted to get June a new PR but knew that was easily possible based on how hard she had been training. We found a parking garage about a five minute walk from the Vancouver Convention Centre and made our way to the starting line. We had time to use the bathroom twice, warm-up for a few minutes, and then make our way to the starting line. The race is self-seeded but they do have pace bunnies (or beavers as they're called) which makes it a little easier. And, unlike last year, they seemed to be spread out properly. They also had waves separating racers into three groups; over 3 hours, under 2:30 and under 2:00 which I really think helped alleviate some of the congestion. We lined up around the two hour mark, sang O'Canada and were off! 

The SeaWheeze course is unbelievable. You start with a tour of downtown Vancouver. At one point, I remember telling June I had no idea how I PR'd, last year, as there's quite a few rolling hills. My Garmin wasn't working so I wasn't able to gauge our pace. We were strictly running by feel. My new bluetooth headphones also decided not to work so I was running without any music which was actually fine. There's lots of crowd support, along the course, plus cheer stations and June and I were quite chatty. It's pretty fair to say we were having a LOT of fun compared to some of the people around us.

The Burrard Street Bridge, an out-and back portion of the course, wasn't as tough as I remembered. Before we knew it, we were at the half way point and needed to stop for a photo. We ran ahead a few steps before June noticed we hadn't actually crossed the marker. So, we headed back laughing, and crossed over it before continuing on our way.

 One of our favourite cheer stations was on the bridge. A spin group had set up bikes and were blasting music. We could hear Spice Girls as we approached and definitely broke out into a run/dance party as we made our way past them. Their energy was contagious.

The long stretch along the Seawall was just as gorgeous as I remember. I think June and I both hit a little bit of a wall around the 12 kilometer mark but that's exactly when we spotted a group of mermaids and decided to stop for a photo. We fully committed and dropped in the sand to pretend we too were mermaids which had a lot of people laughing. It was exactly the boost we needed. 

Before SeaWheeze, I hadn't run longer than five miles, in two months. It was the least prepared I had ever been for a race but just felt thankful to be able to running. My doctor had me monitoring my heart rate so anytime it hit 190 we were forced to take a short break. Thankfully, that seemed to always coincide with the Nuun and water stations every three kilometers. June and I loved that each station had a different flavour. We were definitely well hydrated that day which was probably a good thing because it was smoking hot. Thankfully, the Seawall was mostly shaded; however, we saw quite a few runners down and needing medical attention. 

The hill at 18 kilometers also wasn't as bad as I remember (I guess that's what happens when you're not pushing for a PR) and they had a T-REX waiting at the top. June insisted on a photo and then we grabbed a selfie before continuing on to the finish line. 

They changed the finish line location, this year too, so we actually crossed on the Seawall which was pretty cool. I did miss the street lined with screaming people though and the early exit. We crossed the finish line, holding hands, and with huge smiles on our faces.
June got a 30+ minute PR!!!

Now, this is where I missed the early exit. It took us fourty-five minutes to get from the finish line to the free brunch and exit. We were given small Lululemon bags to use to collect goodies along the way. We also got a bottle of water and cold towels which we instantly threw on our heads. In our bags, we collected Sage products, Kind bars and a new Lululemon hat. I do love that you get a surprise gift for finishing!

When we finally made it to the finish area and free brunch I was disappointed to hear they were not serving the waffles that were so delicious last year! Instead, they had a Frittata which I didn't eat. Apparently they had a vegan option but didn't promote it. We ate our food (they also had a cherry tart and grapes) grabbed some photos, and then stood in line for about 20 minutes for the most amazing massage. They also have a Chiropractor on site along with foam rollers and an area to stretch. 

Once we were done that we headed to the Cactus Club for a drink and appetizer and then spent the next couple hours walking around downtown and chilling out in Starbucks. We facetimed with our friend, Melissa, who moved to Dublin and was unable to join us. Next year Melissa!! 

We eventually used a nearby hotel to clean up, and change, and then made our way to the Sunset Festival. The ticket is included in your race registration but friends and family can also purchase extras. We made it to the park around 3:40 and found pay paying ($11 dollars for the day) nearby. We were actually the first in line since the event didn't open until 4:30. We sat around, chatting with other races, and finally were let in. 

We headed straight to grab a beer. We didn't realize they have a special post-race Lululemon store on site so we missed getting any more gear. It is different than what they sell in the Showcase store. Next time, I may check that out first as they did have a cute hoodie I wouldn't mind adding to my collection. Besides the store, beer and multiple food options they also had photo booths, mini golf, phone charging stations and some exhibitor booths. 

The main stage performers started at 7:30 but, before that, there was a huge group yoga session. I didn't do the yoga but we did get there early for a We Run Social meetup. WRS is a community of social-media savvy runners who get together to talk about running as well as support and inspire each other. Meetups happen at most major races, around North America, so if you haven't already been to one I highly suggest checking it out. These people are amazing!! 

June and I ended up leaving before the musical acts came on because my mom had been alone with London all day and we hadn't showered, or napped, like we would have liked. Next year, I think we will plan to spend one night downtown so we can chill out for a couple hours in between the race and festival.

Overall, I absolutely love SeaWheeze. It's well organized, fun, you get a lot for the $128 registration and it's in a beautiful location!! 

Registration opens this fall (yes, it's early and yes it will sell out in minutes) and I will definitely be setting a reminder. 

Hope to see you all in 2017!!!

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