As you well know at this point, I was one of the lucky 10,000 people to score tickets to this year’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon. This race is by far the fastest selling I’ve ever run. The morning tickets go on sale is always a bit stressful, & there’s always a little drama afterwards. This year was no exception.
Fortunately, I actually had a lot of friends score tickets this year, which made it really fun to share in the excitement surrounding the whole weekend. Half the race is about Lululemon (the swag, the gear, the festival that follows the race…) & the other half is about the actual run. I understand that gear is more of a factor for many people who sign up, but even as a huge lulu fan myself, it’s a little much for me.
Last year, I opted to wait in the crazy line for exclusive SeaWheeze gear, available only to registered runners. This year, I was still in Vernon, BC when the store opened & missed a lot of the pre-Wheeze stuff. I just wasn’t willing to spend the extra time & money to be in Vancouver for an extra day. Instead, I met up with my friend Zoe at the expo, did a quick lap, grabbed my race package, & headed to our hostel to drop my bags.
We then decided food was more important than anything else & headed to my favourite sushi spot in Van, Kadoya, where we fueled up for the run with an obscene amount of sushi & a pitcher of beer. Not exactly your optimal pre-race meal. I was going into this race injured though so I figured I couldn’t really do much more harm. Expectations were low.
Zo & I are both members of November Project in our respective cities so when NP Van announced they were doing a pre-race Crate Escape, we knew we had to go. I’m so glad we did. It’s such a cool event! We both figured we might not have the opportunity to attend another one (although, I did manage to make it to SF’s last week!).
Crate Escape is a travelling storytelling series, hosted in different NP cities all over the world. They’re usually in the evening so it’s a great intro to NP if you’re not sure you’re ready to take that early morning plunge.
The next morning came pretty early. We’d laid out all our stuff for the race so we wouldn’t wake our dorm mates, but I still felt pretty guilty. They’d both had late nights. Last year, there were four of us so we could turn on the lights without fear of being terrible roommates, but this year it was just the two of us. Everyone else stayed in more adult accommodations. We’re cheap. It works. (Although we discussed that we may need to spring for a hotel room next year.) The kitchen only opened at 6 am, which was just early enough for us to quickly devour the food we’d picked up the night before & walk to the race.
Walking to the start line is always such a fun experience, as you run into different people running it as well. Generally, no one else is out wandering the streets that early except the participants & their cheering section. We got there early enough to check our gear & got in line for the port-o-potties. That lasted all of 10 seconds before we decided to try the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Best. Decision. Ever. There was a line at the main floor washrooms, but a helpful concierge told us to head upstairs & use the conference washrooms. Swankiest pre-race pee of my life. We obviously took a lot of selfies.
We decided to pass this tip on to a few of the ladies in the port-o-potty line before heading to the corrals, where we easily found a few of our November Project friends. I can only assume it was the good karma from our washroom tip off & not the fact that Brogan is easily the tallest & loudest person I’ve ever met. 😉 (I mean that in the best way possible. It was super cool to meet one of the founders of November Project!)
We seeded ourselves in the second corral with our friends & the 2 hour pace beavers. I was thinking this might be a bit fast for me considering my lack of training, but I went for it anyway. Zoe wanted to break 2 hours for the first time. Meanwhile, I was telling myself I needed to be happy just to finish. (Fat chance! I’m far too competitive to be happy with that!)
The start itself is always such a rush- you’re running with so many other people, everyone still feels great, there’s a crazy energy! Looking back, we took it out pretty fast. The weather was perfect for running & we were clearly feeling good. I swear sea level does wonders when you’re used to training at altitude. Thanks, Calgary. (Or maybe sushi & beer is just the perfect pre-race meal?)
Zoe & I were chatting on & off, enjoying the run, when we hit the Burrard Street Bridge. Zo wanted to stick to the inside, which was separated from runners making their way back across the bridge (already?! SO FAST!) by a line of traffic cones. As I was enjoying the view from the bridge, my foot caught on a piece of unmarked cone & I went down pretty hard. Luckily, I bounced back up pretty quick, but I’d scratched my dad’s Go Pro (that I was holding), ripped a hole in my new lulus, & scraped my hand pretty badly. The GU Gel in my pocked had also exploded down the side of my pants, so my other hand was a sticky mess from this discovery. Zo asked me if I wanted to stop at a first aid tent, but that was the last thing I wanted. This sounds pretty stupid in hindsight, but I was more concerned with how much time it would add to my race. There was a water station as soon as we got off the bridge where I managed to clean off my hands a bit & keep going.
I somehow managed to keep up with Zoe’s awesome pace until halfway up the bridge on the way back. I was still trying to decide how much damage running would do to my already injured knee so I opted not to push to catch up & ran my own race.
My fall ended up being a bit of a blessing though as it distracted me from the pain of the actual run. At one point, I was toying with the idea of stopping, thinking I was at 10 km & couldn’t run another 10+. I checked my phone for the first time in the race & was actually at almost 15 km! I’d zoned out for a solid 5 km. It was just the push I needed to keep going.
This race was full of firsts for me, actually. First time not checking my phone or watch for my pace, first time not walking except at water stations, first time not doing an insane sprint to the finish, first time not checking the clock at the finish.
Let’s talk about that last point. I always know my finishing time. Always. This year, I crossed that finish line in a half sprint, assumed I’d run around a 2:15 or a 2:20 & went to find Zoe. When I found her, I immediately asked if she broke 2 hours & she said she did. I couldn’t have been happier for her! I gave her the biggest sweatiest hug I could muster.
At this point, I still hadn’t thought of looking at my time. As we walked up the ramp collecting your various swag, I texted friends & family to tell them about the fall (& the race, I guess). We ate breakfast, I got first aid, & I still hadn’t checked. It wasn’t until Zoe looked up her official time that I thought to check mine. I couldn’t even get it to work so it was her who told me I’d officially ran a 2:02. A 2:02?! What?! I guess there’s something to be said for experience.
I couldn’t be happier with my run this year. It was definitely an unforgettable experience, & that’s saying a lot coming from someone who got engaged at the end of a race once. Mostly, I’m in awe of what our bodies are capable of. I’m so proud of my body for accomplishing what it did. I truly didn’t do anything to help it out, besides having run several half marathons in my life. So way to go, body! You’re pretty incredible.
That’s it for my 2017 SeaWheeze Race Recap. Writing this post has me excited for SeaWheeze 2018 again – I know I’ll try to register again. Sorry, Future Alanna.
I also ran with my dad’s Go Pro. Unfortunately, I just carried it so all of my footage is terribly shaky. Until I edit it better, I created a quick video using Go Pro’s new Quik App. It’s not great, but it gives you a glimpse into my race!