Race Recap: Seawheeze Half Marathon

Race Recap: Seawheeze Half Marathon

Halfway through a 12K runIt is a known fact that the Seawheeze opens registration a year in advance and sells out in minutes. Since I’ve only started running seriously in January, I knew I wouldn’t be able to register and thought I’d be SOL until 2016. Clearly fate had other plans for me. A week before the race, a friend of a friend changed their mind about running the race and was willing to give their entry to me (minus the shorts). I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I said yes.

Was I ready?

Ever since the Scotiabank Half Marathon, the longest run I’ve done was a 10K. I’ve been taking it easy on the endurance runs but have been keeping up with hill training. I had a week left until the Seawheeze so I decided to run a 12K just to see how I felt. It didn’t feel too bad… I guess not since my average pace was 6:02/km. This gave me a boost of confidence. I only planned a few workouts leading up to the race… a November Project workout and a hike up the Grouse Grind. The NP workout was very leg-focused and I left with sore quads. Add to that the pain of the Grouse Grind, I felt that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to do both 😛 Friday was a rest day and the race was on Saturday. Usually races are on Sundays… I would’ve appreciated the extra rest day but what could I do? I just rolled with it. Literally… the rolling session with my TPGrid really helped. My PB for a half marathon was 2:18:04 at the BMO in May. I decided to be ambitious and go for a 2:15 goal.

Race Gear I set out my Seawheeze outfit and it included my November Project shirt (since I knew some of my tribemates will be there cheering), my new Lululemon Seawheeze speed shorts and hat, Tiux compression socks (my first time wearing these for a half marathon), and my adidas Ultra Boosts. For snacks and hydration, I had nuun tablets and a package of Honey Stinger pomegranate gel and chews in orange blossom. I was very happy with everything I brought with me. My shirt was inspiring, the shorts were super comfortable, the socks kept my legs moving, my boosts were light on my feet and everything I ate tasted good. Orange honey stingers are my favourite so far, compared to the fruit smoothie and cherry flavours. I ate a chew every 2 km and it seemed to do the trick. Starting Line at the Seawheeze View my Seawheeze race on Strava here. First Half Waiting to start The first half was fun and fast. My adrenaline was pumping and I was very excited to get my third half marathon started. After a short straightaway there was already a climb on Granville Street from Cordova to Dunsmuir… and a little bit on Dunsmuir as well but soon it was a nice long downhill. It led us to the Dunsmuir viaduct, which I’ve never run on before. Surprisingly it was quite flat. A spin class from Ride Cycle Club was on the viaduct, spinning, cheering, high fiving, and waving white towels for us. It was awesome… the view of False Creek and Science World from the viaduct was amazing too. We made a left on Main and climbed a little bit until we made a left at Keefer. Soon we were heading towards the seawall via Carrall Street and very familiar territory for me. I kept my pace relatively fast at around 6:00/km or below. We made a right underneath the Granville Street bridge and a left on Beach Avenue. At this point, I was already preparing myself for what’s to come… the Burrard Street Bridge x 2. When I got onto Pacific, it was 2-way runner traffic. I realized that the people we were passing were gonna be the top finishers. It was pretty inspiring and soon I had to keep up my game because my November Project friends were stationed at the base of the bridge. I couldn’t let them see me walk! I saw them and gave them some much needed high fives and cheers, which really energized me and got me over the bridge. It’s amazing what a little contact and energy can do for your self esteem and willpower. To keep from feeling the pain on the bridge, I kept my eye out for runners I knew on the other lane. That totally worked because before I knew it, I was on Cornwall approaching 9 km. There was a bit of a traffic jam close to the turnaround point but I didn’t mind slowing down a bit. The 10 km mark was leading up to the bridge so I decided to walk and consume my gel. I resumed running at the base of the bridge and kept the momentum knowing my tribemates were at the bottom and again, I couldn’t let myself or them down. So I pushed and again, I kept myself distracted and looked for friends coming from the other side. The second set of high fives from my NP family propelled me into the second half of the race. Second Half We were led onto the seawall, honestly, not my favourite part. The Stanley Park seawall can be quite boring and seem endless so mental toughness was key here. It also doesn’t seem as flat as they say it is. Running the seawall has always been a tough slog for me. I managed to keep my pace going until the 13 km mark. At this point, I had to start really focusing at certain points along the course to keep myself moving. I didn’t feel as terrible as I did on my last half though. For one, we had ideal running weather: overcast and a bit breezy. The few kilometers to Lumberman’s Arch seemed endless and by the time I got there, I felt rejuvenated. It’s been a while since I last saw a hill so I attacked it and down we went again. I could see the city again and I knew that once we got off the seawall it was only a matter of time. I didn’t push until I had about 500 meters left. I was feeling tired but good. I knew I had a great chance to get a PB so it kept me motivated. I had a little bit left in the gas tank and decided to give it all I’ve got for the last hundred meters. I was running so fast, I was afraid I’d trip but thank goodness I didn’t make a spectacle of myself LOL! I ended with my best half marathon result to date: 2:14:48! I made it under my goal time too. I guess I wasn’t being too ambitious.  

Overall Race Review

I love this race: the vibe, the course, the people, the clothes, and the activities. The course is beautiful, not too challenging, and really showcases the natural beauty that Vancouver has to offer. The positive vibes from the runners, volunteers and race organizers were infectious. If you weren’t smiling, you must have been having a really bad day. I’m going to list all the things I loved about this race.

  • Eating the carrot medalFree stuff: the swag included a gear bag (which I still use as a gym bag), a water bottle, free JJ Bean coffee voucher, a gorgeous (and heavy) carrot medal, massage oils from Saje, a Lululemon ballcap, brunch (we got a waffle, mini quiche, fruit and yogurt),  and of course the training shorts (which registrants received at the start of training). We also got a wet face towel at the finish line to cool down – I’ve never gotten one at a race before and I thought it was a really nice touch.
  • Free activities: Nooner yoga, sunset yoga, free braiding and nails for women, the men’s lounge, cotton candy, cold brew coffee, post-race massages
  • No bibs: Runners get a wristband and that’s your ticket to everything. Great idea.
  • Cheer stations: Lululemon works hard to make it entertaining for runners not just at the start/finish area but all throughout the course. Some neat things I saw were human statues, big white balloons, the spin class on the viaduct, rock band on a barge, mermaids, paddleboarders, and a bunch of sponsored cheer stations by ivivva, Saje, and the Felions.
  • The Expo: It seemed very organized and there were loads of volunteers helping keep the line moving. Runners received their gear bag with timing chip, water bottle, and coffee voucher. At the expo you were also able to record a video for your runner, which would then play once their chip hits a certain mat along the course. I didn’t know about this until after the race and I was wondering what that big screen was for… but I guess that’s it. Nice touch Lulu!
  • The Showcase Store: I liked this but I also didn’t like it (see below). I arrived at around 1pm and there were still loads of items available in my size (6). The patterns this year were not as outstanding as previous years but I did find a cute top and shorts.
  • The Course: This would be a great first half marathon course. It’s fast and mostly flat. With Lululemon turning this into a weekend event, it makes for a great destination race if you’re coming from out of town.
  • Sunset Festival: It was fun just to lounge on the grass on your blanket or yoga mat while enjoying live bands perform on stage. They had some food available (I didn’t partake) and even a trapeze area where people can channel their inner circus performer… just one swing though, and then you line up again 😛 They also had a free shuttle going back and forth from Jack Poole Plaza to the festival site. They really thought of everything.

Criticisms

  • No refunds or transfers: I don’t understand why Lululemon expects people to commit to this a year in advance with no chance of transferring their ticket officially to another runner. Things happen, injury, pregnancy, other commitments… why not let other people run? Even if there’s a transfer fee and a deadline that people need to get their transfers in. Why, Lululemon? Why don’t you offer transfers?
  • The Showcase Store: Everything is regular price, nothing is on sale. Not to mention if you want to see the FULL inventory you’ll have to line up hours before the store opens because people will buy everything. 15 items max? Really? How about 5 instead? That way there will be less Craigslist and Ebay resellers hawking your clothes. We missed out on the hoodies and other cool patterns that were available.
  • Allow more runners to participate: This is a popular event for a reason, why not open it to more runners? Or allow people to sign up in different time slots so people can have a fair shot at it?

I think that’s it. I had a great time but next year I’d like to run as me this time and get another PB. Hopefully 🙂 Seawheeze 2016 registration opens on September 16, 2015. Good luck getting in! I know I will need it!