Race Recap: SeaWheeze, Round 2

seawheezeYou may have read my recap of last year’s SeaWheeze and this year, I was back at it. If you don’t know, SeaWheeze is a VERY hard to get into (it sells out in minutes) half marathon put on by athletic wear giant Lululemon in Vancouver. This was the fifth year the race has been held and estimates indicate that about 90 percent of the runners are female.

As usual, the race was a ton of fun! From the swag to the concerts held Saturday night, Lululemon really knows how to welcome a gal. It’s a lot to take in in just two days. The race offers a lot to do, so if you’re interested in attending, running or volunteering next year, it’s a good idea to read up on the events. From yoga sessions and shake-out runs to hair braiding, manicures and sunset music festival, there is so much to do you won’t be able to do it all — so prioritize and also try to see the city!

My group and I went kayaking the day before the race to see the coast and not tire our legs, but there are other options too — like hop-on hop-off tours and the famous aquarium in Stanley Park.

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Staying near the course proved to be helpful for those who had not visited Vancouver before, to get the lay of the land. Plus, our cheerleader could easily take in the course and plan where to cheer us on. (Thanks, Morgan!) Also, it was nice not to spend a ton of money on cabs or tire our legs out by walking the entire city in one day.

Our hotel (The Westin Bayshore) was also close to a Whole Foods to I stocked our room’s mini fridge with pre- and post-race goodies. The Westin was a partner hotel and SeaWheeze offered special rates. The rooms booked up early, so if you’re planning on attending, book your room as soon as possible.

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The line-up for the runners-only hours of the showcase store started around 2 p.m. the day before — which is not surprising but also not how I wanted to spend my time. We arrived at the showcase after the runners-only hours to find at least one item apiece that we really loved. My group of ladies ranged in sizes 6 to 10 and we purchased some men’s items, too. We also shopped at the famous Lululemon Lab that has a new location closer to where the race action is.

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Our group wanted some downtime before the race, so we didn’t stick around for yoga or manicures and braiding the night before the race. Instead we made a dinner reservation at a place near our hotel (Cardero’s) which is highly recommended when there are so many groups in town — and I managed to braid my own hair just fine the next morning considering the hour!

Two in the group decided to walk/run the race while my friend Sara and I decided to mostly run it, however slowly. I estimate we walked about 2 miles of the race total, mostly on the uphill stretches. We lined up according to pace and we had the best time in line waiting to move up to the start line. The volunteers at this point were awesome — this guy especially was a five-star comedy act.

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Everyone who encountered him raved about him! His name is Niko and so many folks loved him they tracked him down via social media to say “Thanks!” So, Niko, if you’re reading this — cheers! You made us proud to be with the under three-hour club!

The course itself was slightly different this year, and I have to say I liked it more. Less time on the seawall and although the bridge area is rough, it provides more space for awesome groups to set up shop. There was even a puppy petting station — who doesn’t love that? And mermaids!

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The race ended on the seawall, and running the final part of the race next to the ocean is lovely. We knew once we headed that way that we were over half way finished!

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Our group had some folks who didn’t have access to the data plans on their phones so we set up a meeting place — the giant pixelated Orca near bag drop.

Side note: Post race proved to be the most confusing and unorganized part of the weekend. There was not a lot of water available at the finish line and on a hot day that spelled trouble. My friend was feeling unwell and needed water, which meant getting out of the super-long line for breakfast and swag. The line for breakfast was unreal! Last year I zipped in and out of line in 15 minutes. This year the race finished on the seawall instead of on the other side of the convention center and who wants to walk up stairs or a giant ramp after running 13.1 miles? After waiting about 30 minutes in line and not making it more than half way, my friend texted saying she had found water and a volunteer had brought her breakfast and an extra one for me so I could go and be with her. That was awesome, but better logistics are needed!

While I’m still not sure how the final 6K took us over an hour to finish, I’m still excited about signing up for next year’s race. The older I get, the more I enjoy races where the city and the volunteers get really excited, and I’m a huge fan of mostly female races. The race weekend proved to be worth training for, and I loved spending time with ladies from all over the country. All of the social media groups that sprung up around the race connected women and men from all over the country. If it’s a race you’re considering doing solo, don’t worry. You’ll have friends by the end of the weekend.

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If you’d like to run SeaWheeze in 2017, keep in mind the race sells out with in minutes and the date of registration (usually September 2016) has not been announced. So keep an eye on it here!

Anyone else do SeaWheeze this year or any other year? What was your experience? —Kate

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