I ran, I partied, and I collected one of the loveliest medals ever. Welcome to my race recap for the lululemon Seawheeze Half 2017! My first half marathon took me to London. My second took me to Vancouver. I love travelling to run and running when I travel. This was the perfect way to mix both, especially because I had never been to Canada. Seawheeze isn’t just a race, it is also a weekend of pre- and post-Wheeze activities.
Signing up and shorts
Sign up for this race opened in October 2016 at 6pm London time. Wonderfully I was still at work and on a computer. Otherwise I think I would have completely missed this and been too late. As it was I managed to grab my place and pay for it without too many problems. There were stories of people’s card being rejected – thankfully this didn’t happen to me.
Once I had that confirmation email in my inbox I knew it was nothing more than a waiting (and training) game. Time would pass and soon enough I would be in Vancouver running!
Part of the entry fee also covers an amazing pair of race shorts. Mine arrived a couple of months later and had the coolest monochromatic print on them. After looking through Instagram, I saw lots and lots of people training and running in them. I know you should never race in brand new kit just in case but I couldn’t bring myself to wear them pre-race.
So they went into my hand luggage, pristine and never worn along with the rest of my race outfit. I never, ever put my racing kit in checked-in luggage. Again because of the ominous just in case.
Picking up my race kit
On the Friday (before the race on Saturday), I headed to Jack Poole Plaza to pick up my race kit. I expected it to be busy because this race is popular but strangely I didn’t expect such amazing levels of excitement. The weather being so gorgeous definitely helped. When we landed the smoke from the recent wildfires had given Vancouver a hazy feel so seeing a clear blue sky and sunshine was lovely.
There were so many people waiting for their race kit, so when I joined the queue I thought it would take at least an hour. Wonderfully it was speedy so in less than 20 minutes I had my race kit with me.
I hung out at the plaza for a couple of hours doing some of the pre-Wheeze activities and just soaking in the atmosphere and music. So many people had travelled from all over the world like I had. It was wonderful hearing all the accents and stories from everywhere.
There was so much happening:
- Boxing classes with All-City Athletics
- Foam rolling and stretch classes with Movement108 – these were very, very welcome
- Smoothies and snacks at Vega‘s Plant Base
- Aromatherapy mists and roll-ons from Saje
- Sunglasses from Clearly Contacts
- Manicures from Blanche Macdonald Nail Studio students
- Beaver meet ups. Seawheeze pacers are called Beaver and you could meet them, exchange a high-five and familiarise yourself with them pre-race.
- Lots of yoga, meditation, and foil tattoos!
Both Sister and I ended up getting foil tattoos. In fact, I might have actually ended up with three!
The big thing that happened on this Friday which I didn’t do was go to the exclusive Lululemon Seawheeze store and get some clothes. I went to Vancouver with the best intentions of not doing this but since I know me very week I knew I would probably change my mind. Then I saw the queue. And the queue was lo-o-o-o-o-ng. It snaked around the plaza and onto the street. That definitely made my mind up for me!
Afterwards I headed back to the Airbnb which was well within walking distance and relaxed for the rest of the day, getting an early night. I set a ridiculously early alarm (much to Sister’s annoyance) and had all my kit and breakfast laid out ready for me to put on / eat without much thought the next morning.
Since I wasn’t alone I didn’t have a bag to check in. Which meant I didn’t need to get to the start line much earlier than 7am when it all started. Of course I did and after hugging Sister and parents goodbye, I found my pace group (2 hour 15 minute pace) and waited.
There wasn’t a massive rush out of the corral but I found myself leaving the 2:15 pacer behind. Could this…would this? Could I? Could I break 2 hours? From what I have read, the 2017 course didn’t really differ from previous years so I ran along at a comfortable pace enjoying the view until the hills started. I have trained on hills. I can handle hills. But these seemed never, ever ending. At one point I seriously wondered if I was actually moving forward.
What really helped during the first half of the course was having my family find me and cheer for me at three different points! I loved seeing them and having them there. And it made that initial period all the easier.
The second half of this race was all through Stanley Park and I think this was the favourite part of the race for me. From the park you can see the sea, and the mountains for miles and miles. The air is crisp and clean. We ran past beaches and forests. It was all kinds of breath taking. Throughout the race there were some amazing cheer stations and these really helped to make the miles fly by.
Even though I started the race definitely clock watching and wanting to break the two hour barrier, this was not the race for me, in terms of time anyway. The hills completely took it out of my legs and by mile 9 my left ankle and knee were aching. I slowed down and kept a steady pace until the finish. The 2:15 beavers caught up with me and I managed to stay with them until the very end, coming in at 2:12:07. It turns out that this was PB! On a hilly course too so woohoo!
Once I was given my medal, by an amazing lulu team member who called me ‘your majesty’ (I WILL TAKE THAT THANK YOU) I queued for the post-race brunch. Out of everything this was the thing which totally zapped my energy: the slow shuffle towards food. But get to the front I did and with my medal, I grabbed the brunch and made my way back to the plaza to find my family and grab some photos.
The rest of the day = the most amazing shower ever and a visit to botanical gardens (which I will be writing about later). However the Seawheeze weekend part doesn’t finish when the run ends. There is a party – a Sunset Festival – in Stanley Park and initially I had that pencilled in. I read up about it and there are food and artisan markets, yoga, a post-run concert, and all the dancing. It sounded amazing but in the end I decided not to go.
The queue to get on the shuttle busses to take you there were massive and I was exhausted. Yes I had FOMO the next day but I was incredibly well rested and ready to be a proper tourist.
And that’s a wrap folks! This weekend was definitely one of my most incredible summer memories. The friends I met there, the new ones I made, the sweat, the beavers, the work lululemon and the volunteers put into make it happen, running through a truly magical city, the incredible feeling of being completely supported by everyone around me, the weight of an incredible medal. Seawheeze was the perfect way to start my Canadian adventure.