Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon – Race Recap

The trip was short, but the fun was endless at lululemon’s third edition of the SeaWheeze half marathon.  I’ve been a lulu fan since the beginning and could write endless blog posts just on this topic alone. If you’ve ever owned a piece of their gear, you can probably agree that the stuff can make life in the gym, on the road, or at the coffee shop better.  

My friend and running coach, Michele, lives in Seattle and I had mentioned to her that we should do a girls’ trip to run this race.  Michele was quickly on board but stated that she would have to run for fun as she would be in recovery from a 50 miler.  Um… okay.  I understand. 

Originally, I thought that I would use my Wharf to Wharf training as a springboard for a kick butt race, but my summer bad luck did not let that plan play out.  So, like Michele, this was a race for pure fun… and a smidge of pace pushing.

After a flight into Seattle, Michele and I drove across the border into Canada on Friday.  We got to the expo a bit later than expected as there was some traffic just past customs.  The expo closed at 8:00 and we got there around 7:15.  Fortunately for us, there wasn’t much of a line and we got right in and right out.  At the expo, we were given a timing chip, a cute messenger bag (not of the highest quality, but cute and I’ll find a travel purpose for it I’m sure), a water bottle, and a plastic bracelet that served as our ticket to the Sunset Festival post run.  Oddly, the race didn’t have bib numbers.  I kind of liked this, but the former race director in me wondered how many people would bandit the race.  

Lulu teased us by showing pictures of the Showcase Store… take a look… isn’t it lovely?

SeaWheeze Showcase Store (pic from lulu IG)

SeaWheeze Showcase Store (pic from lulu IG)

Sadly, you had to get in line at 4:30 AM in order to get any goods.  Considering how late we got to the store, there wasn’t much left unless you can wear doll sized clothing, or you wanted to shop for your man (and he wears Paul Bunyan sized clothing).  Lots of race participants were really upset that the doors were open to the public and purchasers could buy 15 items each.  If you didn’t get to make a purchase, you can now go to eBay and pay double or triple the cost for an item.  It sounds like this has been a problem all three years so I’m crossing my fingers that lulu will listen and make some changes for future events.

After getting race packets, Michele and I headed out for a lovely dinner and some pre-race vino at Italian Kitchen.  Our meal was delicious and just the right amount for race day.  By the time dinner was all said and done, we headed back to the hotel in order to get some shut-eye before the 7:00 AM start.

Race morning, the logistics to get to the event were easy peasy.  We were just blocks from the start.  Once at the start, corrals were clearly marked and there were “Pace Beavers” holding big signs so runners knew where to jump in.  I gave Michele a good luck cheer and went to line up with the 1:40 pacers.  After the singing of the Canadian National Anthem we were off.

10,000+ runners ready to tackle 13.1 miles (pic from lulu FB page)

10,000+ runners ready to tackle 13.1 miles (pic from lulu FB page)

My intentions for the race was to run a 7:30 pace for most of the run.  I figured that sticking with the 1:40 pace group would be a good start… wrong.  The first mile was a 6:54 and the next two were under 7:10.  I decided to back off just a little as I didn’t have the training to sustain such fast paces.  This is the point that the race became a lot more fun.  I took the time to take in the scenes and make some friends along the way.  As for the course, the race starts and finishes in front of the Vancouver Convention Center.  It weaves along the coast and heads thru the city blocks until Burrard Street.  Runners get to cross the Burrard Street bridge which seemed to be the biggest climb on the course.  This part was fun as you could see the leaders making their way back on the course.  After crossing the bridge, there is a quick out/back past lululemon’s headquarters, and then back over the bridge… which means the biggest climb comes again.  While I am calling it a climb, it really wasn’t, but the pacer made a big deal about it so I went with it.  In California, where people call an actual mountain, “The Hill,” my idea of climbing is slightly altered.

Some things I will never understand, but this dude was out in front and I got quite the view while on the bridge.  Kudos to him for being so comfortable in something that looked solo uncomfortable.

Some things I will never understand, but this dude was out in front and I got quite the view while on the bridge. Kudos to him for being so comfortable in something that looked so uncomfortable.

Burrard St Bridge... I'm not a fan of bridges, but this was pretty.

Burrard St Bridge… I’m not a fan of bridges, but this was pretty.

The return trip on the bridge marks the 10k portion of the race.  Shortly after the bridge, runners are directed towards the magnificent Vancouver Seawall.  The seawall goes around Stanley Park (the largest park in North America… I didn’t google this.  Just took the word of the hotel guy).  When I visited Vancouver in July, I loved running in this park, and this time around was no exception.  The only bad part of this piece of the course is that there was a ton of energy in all the miles prior and the seawall was pretty quiet.  The volunteers at the aide stations did a nice job of cheering, and there were a few groups out there to cheer as well.

It was at this point in the race that I made the most friends.  In fact, I started talking to a guy only to find out that he grew up in the town next to my husband and they were actually really good friends in high school.  What a small world!!!  The two miles I spent running with Ian were my slowest miles (no jab at Ian’s speed… the guy just did an Ironman four weeks prior), but these were the BEST miles of the course.  I love chance meetings like that.  Finally, Ian told me he was finished and that I should carry on.  Since I was close to the finish, I pushed on through for a finish time of 1:37:34 (7:23 pace).  I was pretty happy with this result and felt like it was a good place to be going into training for the California International Marathon… until…

The summer klutz award goes to.... ME!

The summer klutz award goes to…. ME!

There was a post-race party in Vancouver that looked like lots of fun, but Michele and I had a very special soccer game to get to so we made the trek across the border after a shower, lovely lunch and celebration gelato. After a long day running, playing and going to the soccer game I tried to carry too many things down the stairs and took a tumble.

With Seawheeze barely in the rearview mirror, lululemon just announced that registration for the 2015 event will be September 10th.  I would definitely sign up for this race again… want to do it with me?  You can find sign up information here:  www.seawheeze.com

Final score:  8.5/10

Pros:

  • Easy to get to packet pick-up
  • Excellent swag
  • Fair price considering the swag
  • Fun course with good aide stations
  • Post race brunch was healthy and had gluten free options
  • Cute post-race lulu hat for messy running hair and a cold, wet washcloth to greet runners at the finish

Cons:

  • Disappointed that the coveted store was barren 
  • Early registration for 2015 (nearly a year in advance) is a bit soon
  • The pacers ran the race too fast – Most pacers try to get runners within a minute of the pace mark.  Nearly 3 minutes is a considerable difference.

 

 

 

Wharf to Wharf – Going 5 For 5 and Thoughts Throughout

Talk about an emotional roller coaster!  The week leading up to this year’s Wharf to Wharf my mind was all over the place.  As I stated in my earlier post regarding this race, I knew that I wasn’t where I wanted to be mentally or physically, but I also knew that I had some good training under my belt that should get me to a Top 100 finish.  Michele (my awesome running coach), writes my workouts and race plans on Sundays.  I had an entire week to wrap my head around the race plan, but there was still a nagging voice in my head that said, “It’s impossible…. you are so out of shape!  You can’t possibly pull off a PR, let alone run close to what you did last year!”  Then, I had days that my mind said, “You got this!  You’ve been hitting your paces at the track, so just start to believe in yourself and do this!”  I won’t keep you in suspense any longer…. here’s how it all went down:

Race morning, I made plans to meet up with some Santa Cruz Endurance teammates at Meg’s house.  Meg wasn’t running because she was kicking some marathon booty in San Francisco, but her house is about a mile from the start so it serves as a perfect warm-up spot (plus, the parking situation is pretty darn good there too).  Since the race is point-to-point, Adam dropped me off at the start so that I didn’t have to battle traffic to get back to my car later.  I’m thankful that he didn’t drop me off sooner because I wasn’t fun company race morning.  After a hug and a kiss, I was out of the car and ready to warm-up with Bob, Bob, and Jaime (yep… two Bobs).

Bob, Jaime, Bob and I ready for a little warm-up fun.

Bob, Jaime, Bob and I ready for a little warm-up fun.

After our short warm-up, we found a little known about restroom (and no… I won’t share this location… sorry, I love you, but Bob, Bob and Jaime have threatened my life if I divulge the secret spot).  After the quick restroom stop, the Bobs and I headed to an empty parking lot to do some quick strides before entering the corrals.  On our way to and from our strides, we were able to see other running friends and teammates and give a quick smile, hug and good luck message.  Then, we were in the corral and there was no real turning back.

There they are... all 16,000 runners (and an estimated 4,000 bandits).

There they are… all 16,000 runners (and an estimated 4,000 bandits).

While in the corral, I was still trying to figure out how this race would go down.  I figured that I would at least try to go out with Michele’s paces in mind (6:25) and see how it went.  The first mile was a lot of weaving in and out trying to get around the runners that quite possibly should not have been in the Elite corral.  Mile 1 was 6:30 pace, but I was feeling okay with that considering how much I had weaved.  The second mile includes the first hill of the race.  Mile 2 ended up being 6:30 pace as well.  I have a tendency to look at my watch a bit too much so I turned it to show only the clock after this mile.  Mile 3 has a couple of hills and my time slowed to 6:41 pace.  It was shortly after this that I started to think about Mile 5 coming up.

(Side note:  Adam informed me on Saturday that he decided not to go to the race this year.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much this news took out of my psyche.  I had been preparing myself for not seeing Zeuf at her post, but I had not even started to think about Adam not being there either.  This news really made me sad, but I too have to understand that he knew and loved Z much, much longer than I had, and he had the joy of manning Mile 5 with her years before I came along.  It totally makes sense that he wanted to do something else that day too.  He made plans to go on a bike ride with the dudes, and he was right… this was my race and my results did not directly depend on where he was at on the course.)

I didn’t pick up my pace much during Mile 4 and ended up with a 6:40 mile and then… Mile 5 came up.  At this point in the race, I honestly didn’t want to run any longer.  I wasn’t tired, my body didn’t hurt, I just didn’t have the heart any longer.  Mile 5 was a whopping 6:51 pace.  When I passed 36th Avenue, it was quiet.  I told the folks standing there that this was Zeuf’s mile and that cheering was not optional.  I’m guessing the fans there understood because they did begin to cheer.  I picked up my pace a bit after that and finished the last mile in 6:33.

Official Watch Time:  39:49

Official Watch Time: 39:49

My official race time was 40:00 good enough for the coveted Top 100 (56th female).  You can find full results here.  With an average pace of 6:39, I was pretty far off of my actual race plan, but when it was all said and done, I really thought that running a 6:40 pace was where I was at mentally in this race.  When I reflect on this year’s Wharf, I look at it as closure.  Closure that I needed from the achilles and broken hand incident, closure from the lack of cross training, and closure for Mile 5.

The finish line!!!!

The finish line!!!!

Bob James and I with out Top 100 jackets.  Woot! Woot!

Bob James and I with our Top 100 jackets. Woot! Woot!

Final thoughts:

  • “Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.” – Quoting tennis great Arthur Ashe, this was the perfect mantra for 2014’s Wharf to Wharf.
  • To the young lady that received card #99…. your joy and excitement after your finish still has me smiling today.  You, young lady, have a very bright future in running.  Thank you for the reminder that running really is joyous and should be celebrated. (Looking at the results, Kate Tavella placed 98th overall.  She is only 13 years old!)
  • And by celebrated, I mean…. with Mimosas (once you are 21, of course)!
Cheers!

Cheers!

How was your Wharf to Wharf experience?  Have you ever had a mental block while running?  What is your strategy for fixing negative thoughts?