Today, I’m traveling back to New York after almost a week in the Pacific Northwest. While I always look forward to heading home, it was difficult to close out such a fantastic vacation. Everyone was right; I loved Vancouver and Seattle. I spent three days in Vancouver to run Lululemon’s SeaWheeze, then two days in Seattle. The majority of this post will focus on a race recap, but I will include some travel recommendations at the bottom.
Before going into detail, I want to highly recommend that you consider registering for SeaWheeze next year. Registration opens on September 16, 2015, for the August 2016 race. Apparently, there will be a secret agent theme. Now, I’ll explain why this race was one of my favorites.
Expo & Showcase Store — By the time I arrived in Vancouver on Friday afternoon, I had already seen Instagram photos of people lining up at 4am to get first dibs on the Showcase Store at the Convention Center. The exclusive SeaWheeze merchandise, which matches the theme and features the race logo, is so popular that Lululemon puts a limit on the number of items you can purchase. Fortunately, runners are allowed to shop from 7-9:30am before the public can enter. I visited the Expo and Showcase Shop around 3pm and still found plenty of brightly colored merchandise to fit the science theme of the race. The first items to sell are jackets, sweatshirts, and leggings. I chose a striped tank, patterned crops, and black spandex shorts.
The rest of the Expo was also well organized. Packet pickup took minutes. My friends and I found it interesting that the race used shoe time chips rather than bibs. Other attractions included yoga classes, beauty stations, airbrush tattoos, and food trucks.
This race was the first I’ve run on a Saturday. It was different to arrive in a new city and a new timezone less than 24 hours before racing, but it ended up working well. My friends and I grabbed dinner and fell asleep early the night before the race. We worried it might rain during the race, but we woke up to a 60-degree, overcast morning. I specifically chose an Airbnb within walking distance of the starting line, so we arrived with plenty of time to stretch, use the bathroom, and move into the starting area. At 10,000 runners, this was the smallest half marathon I’ve run. Runners did not have to join corrals but could choose to follow pacers.
1K-5K — I’ll go ahead and admit that I only trained up to 8 miles for this race. I let summer travel take over my schedule, so I wasn’t expecting a fast time. To start, I lined up just behind the 2:10 pace group (my current PR). The race started at 7:00am with separate gun times for various pace groups. I started slow and steady with one of my friends. The beginning of the course weaved through city streets, across a bridge, and past a group of spectators on spin bikes. We then ran along the more urban portion of the Seawall. Around the 5K marker, my mind started to wander.
5K-10K — I refocused when the course took a sharp uphill that led the group across a fairly long bridge. My friends and I had walked this bridge the night before and knew what to expect. Running over it to Kitsilano wasn’t terrible. On the other side, we ran a dreaded out-and-back near the Lululemon headquarters before taking the tougher leg back across the bridge. At this point, we were magically halfway through the race. I checked on my fuel levels and was ready to take on the more scenic part of the Seawall.
10K-15K — I have yet to mention that I didn’t time myself in any way on this course. I didn’t use an app or a watch, and the course didn’t offer clocks at each kilometer marker. I didn’t think much about it, and chose to run by feel. After all, I had no true time goal. This portion of the race took us halfway along the beautiful Seawall–a narrow pathway that separates Stanley Park from the English Bay and Coal Harbor. I felt great here and was passing runners ahead of me. There were also entertainment stations with cheerleaders and mermaids to distract us.
15K-21.1K — By the time I reached 17-18K, I was ready to be done. I was tired and wondering when the Seawall would end. It was also exhausting to think about how we would get from the Seawall back to where the starting/finish line was set up. I cursed myself for not studying the map better. The course took an uphill through Stanley Park and back along the water near the Convention Center. By then, I knew I was close. I picked up my pace and wove through the streets toward the finish line, having no clue what my time would be. I finished in 2:12. Not bad!
After the race, my friends and I headed back to the Airbnb to shower and eat. We spent the afternoon exploring Vancouver before we took an easy shuttle from the Convention Center to Stanley Park for the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival. The annual festival includes yoga classes, food trucks, local craftsmen, and music performances. We loved watching the sun set while sipping Curiosity Lager and listening to St. Lucia. The festival was the perfect way to celebrate another half marathon in beautiful Vancouver. I’m already considering a registration for next year.
All Images via Lululemon
Vancouver Recommendations — Eats – Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, Cactus Club Cafe // Sweets – Earnest Ice Cream, Bella Gelateria // Drinks – 33 Acres, Brassneck Brewery, Alibi Room // Other – Grouse Mountain, Vancouver Running Company