The last 4 days have been quite the whirlwind of festivities, and this morning I’m especially thrilled that I opted to take today off work to recover from it all. To say it was one of the best weekends of the summer would be an understatement, and I’m going to try to sum up the highlights of this year’s Lululemon Seawheeze half marathon, my birthday, and the fun we had in between in a single blog post. So here it goes!
On Friday night Christina and Danielle arrived from Ontario, and after arriving back at my place we managed to squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep before heading to the Vancouver Convention Center at stupid early-o’clock to wait in line for the Seawheeze Runner’s Shop to open. For those that aren’t familiar, each year Lululemon runs a pop-up shop of sorts for Seawheeze participants, and this was the first year that we had priority over the public who were allowed in later.
There were about 100 people ahead of us at 3am, camping out with yoga mats, sleeping bags and pillows. We passed the time chatting with some friends who had flown in from the US for the race, and I met some of my fellow early-rising blog readers. I also just might have had a nap. On the concrete. Like a dirty dirt. Ewwwwww. ?
The doors opened at 7, and just as we’ve done every year in the past, got our shop on for a good hour or so before going over to pick up our race packets. The clothes in the Runner’s Shop were nice, but I have to admit that I really liked the patterns from last year better. I’m not complaining at all though – it made it much easier to exercise self control this time around!
The food was presented family-style and every dish that came out of the kitchen was absolutely stunning. Here’s what was on our custom plant-based menu:
During our lunch, we also talked about race nutrition with Vega’s National Educator, Emma Andrews, played some fun Vega product trivia, and exchanged pre-race rituals. If you happen to be in Vancouver and want to try a restaurant in the downtown area, there are endless possibilities but Forage does not disappoint!
Post-lunch, we went back to check out the festivities at the Seawheeze pre-race expo which included airbrush tattoos, manicures, and hair styling (because good hair is obviously an essential on race day). The weather for this weekend was the chilliest it’s ever been in the 4 years I’ve run Seawheeze, hence the very grey skies you’ll see in most of the photos from the day.
Friday felt super long because we had such an early start, and after laying out all of our race gear for the half marathon the next morning, the three of us were all in bed by 8:30.
We woke up at 5:45am to rain, but luckily it stopped just before we headed to the start line for 7am. For this particular race, my goal was not to PR, but to treat it as a training run for my half Ironman that’s now less than 2 weeks away. (AHHH!) My coach suggested that I avoid going all out on this one, just to be sure that I wouldn’t completely fry myself and run out of steam two weeks early.
Our plan was for me to run the first 10 miles as a progression through my zone 2 heart rate (140-150 beats per minute), then kill it in the last 5K. With that in mind, I had no idea what time I’d be shooting for because for the first 10 miles, I’d only be allowed to run as fast as my zone 2 heart rate would allow.
Not going all-out and staying in my zone 2 range was certainly a test of patience, but to be honest, this was one of the most enjoyable half marathons I’ve ever done. The on-course entertainment at Seawheeze is always fantastic, but this year I got to take it in even more than previous years because I wasn’t focused at all on time. There was everything from an outdoor spin class lined up along the road to a band playing on a barge in the water along the sea wall, and all of this made the miles pass by really quickly.
I took a Vega Endurance Gel between two aid stations around the 8 and 10 mile marks, along with a bit of water at each station to wash it down. When it was time to hit the gas on mile 10 and go as hard as possible for the last 5K, I felt energized and my legs felt strong. I went as fast as I could through the last stretch of the sea wall, out of Stanley Park, and through the streets down to the finish line, crossing the line feeling absolutely spent but extremely happy. My time ended up being 1:44 which is 14 minutes slower than my course PR, but like I said – this was not about the finish time and if anything, was like the Vancouver Subaru Triathlon I did back in July in that it gave me confidence that my body is fit and ready for Challenge Penticton Half.
One of my favourite parts about this year’s race (aside from the wicked on-course support – thank you SO much to everyone out there cheering!) was our medals, which were golden carrots. Those that know me well know that carrots are the veggie I eat the most of, so seeing a whole bunch of golden carrots being hung around every finisher’s neck at the finish line made me extremely happy. We also received trucker hats, snacks, and post-race recovery kits from Saje. The cheering as we ran down the finishing chute was so motivating, and as they do every year, Lululemon managed to make everyone feel like rockstars.
After the race we took a bunch of photos to celebrate, but didn’t stick around in line for the runner’s brunch because it was really chilly. The weather had been perfect that morning for running (a little breezy and very overcast) but not so pleasant when it came to standing around in sweaty clothes. Instead, we headed home for showers, then out for brunch to eat all the things.
Speaking of eating, I’ve talked before about how fantastic Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant is, and for this year’s Seawheeze weekend, we made it there a total of 3 times – twice for dinner and once for brunch. Like Forage, Heirloom sources many of its ingredients locally and changes the menu to keep dishes seasonal. Not only is the food fantastic, but the servers are lovely and so detail-oriented. My absolute favourite item on the menu is the Kale Slaw, a massive pile of baby kale, shredded purple cabbage, carrots, almonds, dried cranberries, nuts and seeds with miso tahini dressing. This thing is huge and I’d eat it every single day if I could because it’s so delish.
Other epic eats from our weekend of feasting:
One of my favourite parts of the weekend (aside from the race of course) was my “birthday cake” at Heirloom. Christina had spoken to our server while the rest of us were sitting at our table, and mentioned that it was my birthday. She told him I’m not much of a dessert person or a drinker, so a cake or a birthday drink probably wasn’t the best idea. (I’m pretty sure this dude thinks I’m the most boring person ever, but I’m ok with that.) She also told him that I really, really like watermelon.
He went away, and a few minutes later came back over to our table with this:
That would be watermelon with a candle and a shot of E3Live (a blue-green algae that has tons of health benefits and I suppose is the health nut equivalent of doing shots on your birthday.) Hands down, this was the winner of all the birthday surprises!
The sun finally came out on Saturday night for the Seawheeze Sunset Festival which took place in Stanley Park. The lineup included a great big group yoga class, followed by 3 bands – Yeasayer, Bear Mountain and St. Lucia. We sat on yoga mats on the grass, listened to music and chatted with friends we know through social media, and it was definitely one of the most chilled-out music festivals I’ve ever been to. When it’s acceptable to turn up in stretchy pants, a tank top, a hoodie and flip flops, what’s not to love?
Sunday was meant to be our day for the Grouse Grind, but we ended up doing some more casual sightseeing around Vancouver downtown and at Kits Beach. It was gorgeous and sunny, and I’m pretty sure next year we’ll be dedicating an entire day for soaking up the sun while laying in the sand!
Last night I collapsed into bed feeling exhausted, but at the same time, so happy to have had the chance to spend the weekend with people I love being around. As I said last week, 26 was a huge year in so many ways, and I’m looking forward to 27 being filled with many more new adventures!