When I spontaneously signed up for Lululemon’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon back in January, I had no idea that it was going to ruin my impression of half marathons. After completing crushing (yes, that word was tossed around a lot in our training app) my first half marathon, I’m afraid that all future halfs will be compared to SeaWheeze. I already can’t wait for next year! So here’s a little recap of my half.

Best weekend ever! This video is a great look at what SeaWheeze is all about:

One of the best things about this half was the SeaWheeze team’s attention to detail. Yeah, there were some long lines, and there’s always something that could be better, but overall the event was fantastic! (Lululemon of course has some haters these days, which is fine by me – since party poopers don’t run half marathons). Price-wise, the entry was $128.72 USD (comparably Rock ‘n’ Roll is $80 if you sign up early, while runDisney Half is $175 if you sign up early) and 100% worth it.

Day 1:
Day 1
Since I had the day off, we stopped at Jam for breakfast (bowl of carbs!) before hitting the road for BC. We had decided to drive to Vancouver because the timing of BoltBus wasn’t ideal for pre-race day transportation and the train prices were a little crazy that weekend. After a bit of a delay at the border, we ended up getting into Vancouver around 4pm. When I was searching for a place earlier this summer, most of the close-in hotels had already filled up for this weekend, and I didn’t have any luck on Airbnb either. I found the The Burrard – a 50s kitsch hotel (on, you guessed it, Burrard St) that I thought sounded just my style. Although it was sold out online, I ended up calling and they had a free room still. Good reminder to call!

Since this was my first half I was a little nervous to try “new” food pre-race, and since I know Chipotle makes my tummy happy I had a late lunch. Thankfully I’ve gotten to experience Vancouver’s awesome food scene on other trips (and after the race!) After lunch/dinner, we walked down to the Convention Centre for packet pickup. I was a little bummed to miss the nooner yoga and some of the other fun things, but arriving to a handful of people in line in front of me was a great way to kick off the weekend. I heard many a grumbly grumblerton talking about waiting in line for hours earlier in the day. After zipping through packet pickup, we chilled out in the outdoor lounge area. They had it all decorated with adirondacks etc, lines for pedicures/massages were way to long and I knew it would just make me cranky so we relaxed and then called it an early night.

I set out my race day outfit and attached my chip to my shoe and although I tried to go to sleep at 10, I don’t think I actually fell asleep for a little while, but since I don’t really remember that means at least I didn’t stay up all night.

Race Day! Saturday, August 10, 2013:
SeaWheeze Half
My alarm buzzed at 5:30 and I leapt out of bed to have my mini breakfast. I brought a banana, bread and peanut butter from home (my standard long run brekkie), and loved that The Burrard has Nespresso (loud! sorry neighbors!) machines in each room. Yes, it’s a little thing, but really makes a difference versus using a crappy mini coffee maker or wandering down to a lobby for mediocre coffee. I did my usual 10 minute yoga (Tiffany Cruikshank on Yogaglo), rolled out my leg a little bit and then we headed out to walk to the Start. The weather was perfect, a little overcast but not to cold. I usually run in a tank and shorts so I didn’t take anything with me to the checkin area. Although next time I totally will take flip flops!

Boyfriend was volunteering at the last aid station so we parted ways at the waterfront. I thought I would have been way more nervous for some reason, but maybe because I’m a novice it just felt fun and full of energy! Everyone was super excited and although I missed the warmup ‘party’ I found my pace group corral and waited. I was a little worried that I would have to use the bathroom mid-race, even though I don’t usually need to on long runs, so I lined up for the porta-potties and it felt like when you’re little “but mommy, I don’t have to go!”

My goal for my first half marathon was just to finish, but if you speak with my subconscious – I was hoping to finish in 2 hours 30 minutes. Given my long training runs, I thought 2:20 was totally doable, but since it was my first race I thought I would go with the 2:30 pace group so I didn’t have people tearing past me the whole time. Next time, I won’t be following this strategy as it seemed like 75% of the people in my pace group had no idea what their pace was. I was going to try and keep my pace around 11 min/mi for at least the first 2 miles like I tried to do in some of my training runs, but no worries about going out too fast, the fastest I could go was 11:14 and 11:02 as there were so many people packed in.

My IT band started hurting around mile 6 which was so frustrating. I had no pain while training until 2 weeks before, during my 12 mile training run. So it wasn’t a surprise during the half, but I decided that fuck it, I was here to run my first half! And I’ve put so much time into training that I tried to turn up my music and ignore the pain. The cheer sections were huge pain killers. So many hilarious signs, drag queens, mermaids, SUP, so much fun! I had gone through the course on Google Street view to look at the giant “hill” of the bridge. Thankfully it wasn’t that bad. I feel like Vancouver is pretty similar to Portland when it comes to running the waterfront and while running back up the bridge was not the most pleasant it was great compared to the last mile!

The route was gorgeous, starting in front of the Convention Centre, looping around through Chinatown, past the stadium, the sea wall and marina through False Creek, up and over the Burrard Bridge to Kits beach turnaround, back over the bridge and down to the seawall through English Bay to Stanley Park. After following the whole sea wall in the park, we cut up the last little hill to Lumberman’s Arch and the final aid station before the finish. The distance between the 2 water stations in Stanley park was a little intense combined with my IT band pain, but I powered through and hit the finish line in the 2:30 mark with one final push (literally) from the 2:30 pace beaver screaming “you can still make 2:30!”

After crossing the finish line, I was in a total daze. I was handed a cold washcloth (best thing ever), a finisher’s medal, Skull Candy earbuds, and a few other random things as I wandered away. While it would have been awesome to have someone meeting me at the finish line, seeing my biggest champion at the last aid station (when I needed it) was way better!

After the race, I slowly hobbled back to my hotel. By the late afternoon, I was feeling better and we tracked down a Japadog cart before the Sunset Festival. The Burrard has free bikes, so we cruised down to Stanley Park for pre-concert yoga with Ryan Leier. It was the perfect ending to a long day. And even though I wasn’t familiar with Passenger and Xavier Rudd (the concert), it was great background to eating dinner and going to the photo booth that I’d missed at the finish.

All in all, it was an incredible weekend and a happy way to experience my first half marathon!

My pace
Since the race was in Canada, I left my phone in Airplane mode, had my Spotify playlist set to Available Offline (I signed up for a trial), and used my Nike+ app in “indoor” mode so I could still keep tabs on my pacing. Here are my miles/splits:

  • Mile 1 – 11:14
  • Mile 2 – 11:02
  • Mile 3 – 10:55
  • Mile 4 – 11:05
  • Mile 5 – 10:55
  • Mile 6 – 11:08 - IT band started hurting
  • Mile 7 – 11:28
  • Mile 8 – 11:23
  • Mile 9 – 10:50
  • Mile 10 – 11:16
  • Mile 11 – 10:48
  • Mile 12 – 11:42
  • Mile 13 – 10:47 [Fastest]
  • Mile 13.6?!

SeaWheeze Race Swag {& perks}:

  • Lululemon Speed shorts – plaid and amazing (they also had a choice of a longer pair, but I already had a pair of these that I love)
  • Seawheeze cinch-tote bag
  • Skull Candy Finisher earbuds – I had been using my standard iPhone earbuds, so these were such a sweet treat at the finish!
  • wooden locket “medal”
  • Sunset Festival – yoga, concert (food and beer for sale)
  • a cold washcloth at the finish line – amazing! details, people, they matter!
  • photobooth pics
  • Runners “brunch” (I was a little hungry and didn’t want to wait in line so I went back to the hotel, next year I will not be so silly)
  • Friday events: nail painting, massage, yoga etc.
  • (boyfriend volunteered which got him a free Lulu shirt, entrance to the Sunset Festival and a super fun way to participate while I ran!)

What should my next fitness goal be?!