Tuesday, August 16, 2016

SeaWheeze Half Marathon Race Recap

Did you read my post recapping how I arrived at SeaWheeze? If not, you can find it HERE. And now that we are all on the same page and know what led up to my selecting, registering and getting to the lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon, let’s get on with the recap of the race, shall we?

Let me start off my saying that I do not own any lulu gear (I even sold the shorts that they sent me because the pattern was not my jam). Although it is super cute, fits well and is well constructed, the price tag keeps me from buying any (although, if I were to win the lottery I wouldn’t hesitate filling my workout closet with all their awesome running and yoga clothes). With that said (and more of a forewarning that if you are here to find out about how long the lines were, what the selection of the shorts was, etc you are in the wrong place), I was not going to this race for the attire, but for the experience. (I didn’t even walk through the Showcase Store or any of the other pop-up shops that they had…)

Friday morning Ryan and I went to the November Project Pop-Up that they were having (don’t you worry, I will be recapping that experience separately). The workout was from 6:29am until about 7:30 or so. Since package pick-up opened at 7am we made our way over and grabbed my gear. One of the things that is different about SeaWheeze is that there are no bibs - weird, right?! You get a wristband and timing chips that you tie into your shoelaces, but other than that you are bare (not nude, although we were told there was a nearby beach that approved of that). 

This was our view of the Showcase Store from the package pick-up line

The check-in line was fairly short when we arrived (I would assume that was because the majority of folks were still in line around the outside of the Convention Center waiting for their turn to get into the Showcase Store). We waited for maybe 10 minutes before checking in and grabbing my gear. You received a bag (mesh) that you were to use for gear check, sunnies, a tube of nuun, a water bottle and your race number (it was on the two timing chips you attached to each of your shoes and on a slip of paper you would attach to your gear check bag should you choose to use it). 

Our loot

You know you gotta take advantage of a photo booth, right?!

And who can pass up making an animated gif?!
Not us, that's for sure!

I would like to mention, even before getting into the race itself, that what you get for your money BLOWS ME AWAY! Registration for this race was $128 Canadian (which was approximately $95 USD). We were sent a pair of lulu shorts and then given all of those goodies even before lining up at the start - AWESOMESAUCE! (It is also a reminder of how little you get for your money with some other race series <<cough, cough... runDisney>>.)

After grabbing my goodies from the package pick-up, we made our way over to the Rise and Flow Yoga. It was already pretty warm out, so we knew yoga would get a little toasty, but we not only wanted to get our stretch on, but we also wanted to take advantage of everything SeaWheeze (and Vancouver) had to offer. The practice was great (even with the strange growls and group work Crystal Rainbow Jennings had us doing ;)). There was also a noon and evening session that we could have attended, but it was time to shower and rent some bikes so we could see more of the city!

PS The hubby threw on his shoes because he went to the restroom
before this picture was taken (he got some flack for it, but I wanted
to let you know he did not wear his HOKAs while getting his yoga on)

Friday was FULL of activity (we did November Project, yoga, biked for 20 miles, along with all of the walking and adventuring), so by the time 8pm rolled around I was BEAT! Even though the sun was still up it was time to hit the hay. I set my alarms, laid out my #FlatCarlee and foam rolled before shutting my heavy little eyes.

Like always, I was up before my alarms went off. (I actually slept fairly well {which means I tossed and turned and checked my clock to make sure I didn’t oversleep at least once an hour}, but I was jarred awake around 2am when I thought I heard my alarm going off and was so freaked out that I couldn’t fall back asleep for a good 20 minutes.) I made my way to the hotel bathroom to get ready while doing my best not to wake my sleepy-head hubby in the other room (I normally let him get some extra Z’s and just either meet me along the course or at the finish when we are at racecations - depending on the course and accessibility for spectators). 

I left the hotel around 5:45am and made my way down to the Convention Center. Our hotel was about a 20ish minute walk and I wanted to be down there with plenty of time to spare so I could try and find some friends and use the potties if necessary. [Let’s just say that trying to find your friends in a sea of 10,000 runners with no texting abilities is near impossible - lesson learned! Note to self: set up a meeting place BEFORE leaving the comfort of your hotel's free WiFi.]

Once I made it down to where the crowds were forming I snapped a couple shots of the stunning scenery (as per normal, my pictures never do the beauty justice, so just imaging everything 100 times more gorgeous than what my old iPhone caught :)).

One of my friends, Gregg, was pacing the 1:55 group so I figured if I couldn’t find anyone else, at least I knew I would be able to find him for a morning hug. Thankfully some of our other friends had the same idea and we were able to get a few of us together prior to the kick-off. Although we didn’t run together, it was great knowing that we had support nearby if any of us needed it.

Lisa is da bomb dot com! Something has always come up when we have tried
getting together, so since we FINALLY made it happen we had to record it!

Some of the crew pre-race!

And the moment we had all been waiting for, GO TIME! We sang the Canadian anthem, counted down and then it was time to RUN VANCOUVER! 

Ready to RUN!

Seeing as I woke up sore from the prior day’s activity (um, let’s be real, I don’t know if I had EVER done as many push-ups and burpees in my ENTIRE LIFE as I did on Friday), I knew I wasn’t gunning for a PR. My goal was to enjoy the city as much as I could while still focusing on a decent run (there is a possibility that I might be attempting a really BIG and SCARY goal in a few weeks, and if that is the case I need to buckle down and get to work on my training). I told the hubby that I would probably be somewhere around 1:55 but honestly had no idea what my body would allow.

Oh yeah, how could I forget… The weather! I was told to expect such amazing weather from Vancouver. Not too warm, not too cool, but just right (like Goldilocks and her perfect porridge). Well, so that was what I was expecting… What I got was the heat and humidity following me up to the True North. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely wasn't terrible, but when I was expecting cooler (and certainly less humid) weather, this was a bit of a surprise. 

The first few miles of the race were pretty congested. Although it is a fairly large race (with 10,017 registered runners) which sells out within minutes, the race is still self seeded without corrals (they do have a wave start, but the first wave was everyone up through estimated 2:00 finishers). As long as runners accurately seed themselves, this isn’t the worst thing in the world - but the issue is when folks don’t line up properly. I would say the first two to three miles were spent with a good amount of weaving or having to “go with the flow” because there was no way around some of the hoards.

Don’t get me wrong, having groups of stoked cyclist cheering for
you is amazing, but this was a pretty bad spot that caused a
rather large bottleneck along the course. Thankfully I was just out for
the enjoyment of the run and didn’t worry about the shuffling too much.

Since Ryan and I biked 20 miles the day before, we had seen most of the course - but it is so stunning that I could run it DAILY and never get sick of the views! I probably should have grabbed more photos of the scenery, but I was getting in a groove so decided to just take mental pictures - not to mention the pictures wouldn’t do the exquisiteness justice. (Yes, this means you miss out, but I guess you will just have to run the race in the future to see what I am talking about.)

My favorite part of the course was definitely when we made it to Stanley Park. It is such a gorgeous area that it felt like you could run forever (well, minus the fact that the humidity had us drenched and the rising sun had the temps rising faster and higher than we would have liked). Ryan and I had biked around the park on Friday, but just like most of the rest of Vancouver, I could visit it all the time and never get enough. PS Most of the following pictures were taken while ‘on the run’ so I apologize in advance if they are a little blurrier than you are used to.

The shade along the back side of Stanley Park definitely helped keep us cooler!

This bridge was built by the same person as the Golden Gate Bridge (it just isn't red)

And I even found a T-Rex at a water stop. (Just in case you were wondering, I will ALWAYS stop for a selfie with a dino! I mean, you know I love my character stops and dinosaurs just make them THAT MUCH BETTER!)

Trying to take a mid-run selfie never works for me... I need some
tips from the amazing Dani on how to get them better!
I had to laugh because this picture makes me think that the TRex
escaped and I was running through the woods away from him!

The seawall was pretty amazing too, but I forgot to grab pictures along the way (mostly because it was warm and I was ready to be done). Just trust me when I say that the views were amazing. (I was able to snap a couple pictures during my Sunday morning recovery run to try and make up for the void on Saturday.)

Before we knew it we were wrapping up the race and heading in towards the finish. I was a little bummed because with all of the build up and excitement I was sad the race was already coming to a close, but my sweaty and tired body was stoked that the finish line was in sight. I crossed the finish line in 1:47 and some change (although my Garmin had my half time at 1:45 because the course measured long - possibly due to the weaving and non-tangents I was running).

Thanks for grabbing this picture for me Tony!

I am stoked to see that at each split I was able to pass more and more runners!

I sort of love that the medal isn’t unveiled until you cross the finish line. It makes it that much more special. And it was worth the wait (and weight - seeing as it was one heavy duty medal). The theme of this year’s SeaWheeze was 'special agents', so the outside edge of the bling even has a hidden message (‘mission accomplished’). 

Once we crossed the finish line we got even more goodies - a bag to put everything in (LOVE, not because I need more bags but because I hate having to try and carry arms full of fuel and hydration through the finisher’s shoot), KIND bars, Vega recovery powder, nuun tablets, a wet (and cold) washcloth, some awesome Saje products, Smart water (stoked to have bottles of water after the last few races I’ve done have only had little Dixie cups at the finish line) and a hat... And that was before we got to the runner’s brunch!

Um... can you say AWESOMESAUCE?!

We were then given some scrum-didly-umptious brunch {although I am a little bummed that the waffles everyone talked so highly about from past races were not included} - including a breakfast sandwich (stoked that they offered a vegetarian option if you asked for one), grapes and a yummy pastry. I normally can’t eat after a race but I had a few bites and everything was DELISH (and the hubby confirmed when he ate all of my leftovers). 

I figured I would find some of the crew after the race so Ry and I hung around for a bit. Gregg found us and we chatted about the race (he paced a perfect race and crossed the finish line right at 1:55 on the nose!). We looked around for others but no one was to be found so we gave more sweaty hugs and decided to head back to the hotel for a shower.

On the way out of the finishing area I grabbed a couple last pictures, found my sweet friend Sheri who lives in San Diego and paced the 1:40 group and swapped my Brooks for sandals before making the trek back to the hotel. 

Sheri asked me to show her my "Carlee face" beforehand so she
could perfect it - SHE ROCKED IT!

Normally my jumping pictures are duds, but I love this one!

It might not be an Olympic gold, but the Olympic torch was a great touch!

For what you get with your registration fee, this race is a no-brainer, even if you aren’t a lulu loving runner (or yogi). Travel can be pricey and Vancouver is definitely not a cheap town, but seeing as we were also using this as a way to celebrate our 8 year wedding anniversary it was totally worth while (especially since the US Dollar is strong compared to the Canadian Dollar right now). 

The only thing that I was slightly bummed about was that there wasn’t a doggy cheer squad on the course… Okay, let me clarify - there was word of a station with puppies (and I was figuring I'd stay for a good 5-10 minutes just soaking up the puppy kisses and snuggles). Well, the info turned out false (or maybe I just totally missed the doggies) and my heart was a little broken… But thankfully there was plenty of other entertainment along the way (including mermaids, guys flying with jet packs out in the water and an assortment of 'interesting' groups throughout the course). 


lulu definitely knows how to put on a good party (and thankfully the party wasn’t over because we still had the Sunset Festival later that evening to throw down at - but more on that in a future post). 

#RealTalk: I was halfway tempted to write a "fable" in place of this recap about how awful the race was so that less people would attempt to register next year (and I would have a better chance of getting in for a second year), but you all know I’ve gotta #KeepItReal, even if that means I don’t get in because one of you take my spot!

With that, my first international race and 30th half marathon was complete! (And I'd consider it a MAJOR SUCCESS!)

I was trying to make the medal look like the 0 in 30, but I don't think it really
worked out.. Maybe next time I'll put them a little closer together...

How many half marathons have you run?


Shannon said...

Where did you guys stay? You're a frugal girl after my own heart and I'm going to try to sign up for 2017 and need hotel recommendations that aren't crazy expensive!

Unknown said...

What a great recap! Though I did have a friend who found the puppy cheer station so it was definitely real.
I NEED to do this race one of these years. Usually it conflicts with a family thing, this year I just plain old messed up my dates.

Sam said...

Great to hear you had a fantastic time! The secret message on the medal says "Mission Complete". Also, the puppy cheer station was at the U-turn on Cornwall Ave. So that's after you cross the Burrard Bridge, run past the Lululemon headquarters and then turn around to run back the other way. Right at the U-turn is where they set up the puppies. I was running on the leftmost part of the road so I couldn't stop at the U-turn without causing a massive collision and pile up.

I run a lot of runDisney races and always in costume. Both are special in their own ways and are among the top races on the planet.

Ange // Cowgirl Runs said...

I'm bummed I had to miss out this year, but my sick kitty was more important than a race *sniff*
that said I'll most definitely be back next year - assuming I can get in!!

KookyRunner said...

Awesome race recap! I am hoping to register for this race next year.

San said...

Wow, you ran such a great race and the race course looks beautiful :)
Is it really hard to get into the race? Do you have to qualify? I've never been to Vancouver, so signing up for the race next year sounds appealing like hell and you make it sound like so much fun. Also: THAT MEDAL! AMAZING! (love that photo where you're looking through the medal!)

Shannon said...

Ok, this seriously is a race I MUST do! It's now on my bucket list. Also, I am oddly obsessed with the name, SeaWheeze! LOL!