A little under a year ago, I hovered my mouse over the “Buy Now” (or whatever) button on the SeaWheeze sign-up page. At the time, I was living in Pittsburgh, no clue where my life was going to be in a year. I had been interviewing up and down the West Coast and it’s no secret I was absolutely frustrated with my life at that point. Committing to a race across the continent a year out seemed like a stretch because I didn’t know where my life would be in one month. Would any friends go with me? It didn’t seem like a trip that would be quite as much fun alone.
I closed out of the browser and went back to doing whatever it was I should have been doing at work, reaching out to bloggers or answering e-mails or paying attention in a meeting. Then in October I moved to San Francisco, met Kay and she invited me to come run SeaWheeze with her in June.
Thursday night I flew in to Vancouver, got in decently late (because I was too impatient to wait for a taxi so I decided to take the train and then service was stopped for a medical emergency and a nice Vancouver resident helped me get on a bus) and pretty much went straight to bed. Since I couldn’t technically go to the SeaWheeze Showcase store when it opened at 8 a.m. since it was runners only and you had to show your ticket with your ID, I slept in (for me, meaning 7 a.m.), went for a little shakeout run and then headed to the race expo to meet Kay and her mom to get the wristband for the race.
In case you aren’t clued in, part of the reason SeaWheeze is so special is the exclusive gear at the Showcase Store. Each year the race has a theme (this year’s was science) and you can buy your favorite Lululemon silhouettes from Pace Shorts to Speed Tights to Scuba Hoodies in exclusive prints that match back to the theme. This is Black Friday for the yuppie crowd. People begin queuing up at 8 p.m. the night before.
By the time I finally made it to the showcase store at 4:30 p.m. or so, most things were sold out. A few good pieces remained in a 2 or 4 (luckily for me) and I scored a new workout bag (instead of using an old Longchamp like a real jerk), a singlet and some socks because I go through them quicker than I do laundry. Uh, also the US Dollar is really strong right now so, okay 30% off Lululemon.
Back to the race expo – it wasn’t crazy when I got over there around 10 a.m. so we walked around, sampled really good kombucha (Rise), 49th Parallel Iced Coffee and goodies from Vega then I waited in a line to get my hair braided because the line didn’t seem too awful to wait in at the time.
SeaWheeze Race Expo
By the time I had finished all that, it was nearly noon and I was due to a lunch with the Vega team and a few other influencers at 12:30. I quickly showered and walked to Forage, a Vancouver restaurant that focuses on food sourced locally. I was excited to meet Trevor from the Vega team whom I’ve worked with and is absolutely wonderful to me. The rest of the Vega team was amazing and I also got to meet a few other bloggers, including Angela from Cowgirl Runs! I’ve been reading her blog for years so it was great to meet her in person.
Angela from Cowgirl Runs and me at the Vega lunch!
Friday evening Lululemon throws a free yoga class for all participants – and the community – at Jack Poole Plaza. It was really restorative and it felt great to stretch after not doing enough yoga lately/traveling/walking like 13 miles on Friday.
Kay and me at the Friday night yoga session.
Saturday morning I woke up at 5:45 a.m., did my pre-race ritual of making peanut butter and banana toast while getting dressed, eating and reading some running blogs and walking to the start. I had a feeling I should over-estimate my pace since I had heard this was a race a lot of beginners run so people often don’t place themselves in the right corral. I found the 1:45-1:55 corral, tried to get close to the front and after the Canadian anthem, we were off pounding the streets.
The first part of the race was so congested but I was actually surprised at how people were actually respectful enough to self-seed correctly in this race. I’ve seen people walking within the first two miles of a sub-2 hour corral group. I’m going to chalk this up to this race being mainly Canadians and them being so polite and respectful.
I had decided I wanted to run for fun and try not to look at my watch too much. The 1:50 pace group was in front of me and I just didn’t want to be around a ton of people and I was feeling good and before I knew it, I hit the first mile at 7:40 (aka not looking at my watch obviously did not work out). Typically in the past this is where I tell myself I have no business running that pace and to slow down but I decided to just see how long I could keep it up.
Since SeaWheeze is in Canada, obviously, the race is marked in kilometers. It’s funny to go from 13.1 to 21.1 (or something along those lines) when thinking about how much of a race is left. I had expected this and also thought not memorizing the distances would force me to not look at my watch (fail).
For the most part, and this is coming from someone who lives in San Francisco, the SeaWheeze course is relatively flat. You run from the Vancouver Civic Centre to Kitsilano, the home of Lululemon, back across the bridge and into Stanley Park where you run along the Seawall and the Pacific Ocean. It was absolutely gorgeous. Lululemon did a great job at having entertainment along points you really needed a booster on the Seawall, including a unicorn on a paddleboard. I really wish I cared less about running good [for me] times and stopped to take a photo.
Another really cool moment of entertainment was riders from Method Cycle (what I guess I would say is Vancouver’s answer to Flywheel), riding on the bridge to Kitsilano.
So, since this is already at like 1000 words – about mile 11 I started hitting the wall, feeling awful, forced through and ran a 1:50:37 – a 5-second PR. Which, you know, I wasn’t unhappy with for not really trying too hard and every little PR is a step closer to 1:45, right?
I really need to work on my form when I’m fatigued.
Kay and her mom were cheering me on at the finish line and after I grabbed the Runners’ Brunch (a really tasty liege waffle, grapes, cherries, a strawberry yogurt and an unremarkable quiche), they waited in the massage line with me for about 30 minutes. Saje, a natural wellness brand of essential oils in Canada, was sponsoring the massages. It was fine for a free massage after waiting for 30 minutes – basically she stretched me out – and I really was not sore the next day, so I’m going to say it helped.
The SeaWheeze events culminated in the Sunset Festival where there was a yoga practice led by Alex Mazerolle, a local instructor and studio founder. She was awesome. Really funny and a solid vinyasa practice that was really restorative after running 13 miles that morning. Next time I’m in Vancouver I’m going to have to take one of her classes. There was also food, beer and wine at the festival, a local maker’s market and St. Lucia and Yeasayer preformed. Basically a baby Wanderlust from what I understand.
This is me looking snarky in tree pose.
If you want to really get a good feel for the SeaWheeze experience, I suggest watching their video recap. I’ll tell you that I have a reminder set on my phone for September 16th when registration opens for 2016 if you need any more convincing to register.
Stay tuned for a post on what to eat/drink/do in Vancouver once I get around to writing it… I still have a trip to Mexico that I haven’t written about. Eek.
Chat with me:
Have you ever ran SeaWheeze? What race is on your bucket list? What makes or breaks a race for you?