Sea Wheeze 2012

13.1 mi.  This race and the prep leading up to it was filled with so much fun and enjoyment for me. Travel, friends, fun and FUN, (the band) made for a great weekend in Vancouver . Charlotte, Stanton and I drove up Friday afternoon from Seattle. From home – I knew Teresa and Robert, Lanae, Elizabeth, Becca and Heather would be around. We arrived at our hotel at 7:30pm after big traffic backups and border delays. We walked the 7-8 blocks to the Convention Center to get the race packets and see the lulu Showcase Store. So much of the stuff was gone already, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to bring nice things back to those I said I’d shop for. Quotes from other participants on lululemon’s facebook page rang true…

“Loved the race and the course, but agree with all the feedback about the store and would love it if Lulu made some merchandise available only to runners online!”

“My feedback would be: the store needs to give runners first dibs on merchandise. VOLUNTEERS and others should shop after as this time the volunteers had first access. It was a huge incentive for ebayers to pose as volunteers this weekend and thats a real shame because they had access to exclusive race package items as well.”

So slim pickings, but I already knew that as we drove up towards Vancouver. Teresa sent me a text saying that at 2:00pm there were plenty of guy clothes left, but ladies popular sizes were sparse. When we got inside the Vancouver Convention Center, I picked up my packet, a chip with lulu founder Chip Wilson’s face on it (Chip on the chip!), some very long light blue lulu shorts, and a wrist bracelet for admission to all racer-only areas. I went to the Showcase Store and took pictures of the different retail islands sorted by size. I sent them via email to the girls back home so they would hopefully give me some direction as to what to buy. No returns or exchanges – so these purchases had to be right. Shoot straight, Dave!

We went to Subway for dinner because it was quick and on our walk home. The city looked really nice at night, the mountains framing the skyline as the sun set.  Our food was purchased “to go” so we could head back to the Sheraton and get ready to sleep. With three nights behind me already on the trip I was just about adjusted to West Coast time, I knew I’d sleep ’til the alarm went off. Some quick clothes and gear prep, the sending of the emails, and I went to bed. The morning of the race I felt good knowing the start temp was in the 60s. Charlotte said it was humid, but not for me like our Florida days. We gathered up our stuff and did a slow warmup jog down to the Convention Center and start line. We didn’t see anyone else we knew, even after trying to arrange to meet by the big LED screen in the main plaza. Charlotte and I did some additional warmup running against the grain of people heading down to the race. That felt good, to zip around in a parking lot at race pace.  I must have looked very ridiculous! Then we went into the corrals. I figured we could start in the first corral, right up against the tape. This way we’d be in all the pictures taken of the first-ever Sea Wheeze race. Robert and Teresa worked their way up to find Charlotte and I in corral #1, they were VERY MUCH on the race start plan of blowing out our first few blocks then relaxing to our desired pace. Originally Robert was going to pace with me, but in light of his triathlon age group nationals being next week, he decided to stay at a more relaxed pace and run near Teresa.  Our start strategy worked, we were front and center for the pictures and lulu video! Before that, I went on the main stage and did a quick hello to the crowd and a welcome to all those I referred to as our Palm Beach County “A Team.” That was fun and unexpected! I decided to run with the 1:30 “pace beaver,” the name race organizers chose for lulu’s best runners. Our guy was funny and talented, helping people with form and stride. He was good to run with too, always talking to us and stoking the crowd! As a result of seeing how much fun he was having, I’d like to pace a group at a marathon in the future…

The race started quickly, my first mile due to the sprinting start was 6:03. I relaxed into the pace I belonged at (6:52) and allowed the 1:30 pace group to catch up. I thought the course was very nice, a tour of the city and many of its sights. The beginning 3 miles were a slight descent and went by the city’s hockey and CFL stadiums, then down a hill into the neighborhoods. There were plenty of cheer stations along the route with unique lulu inspired characters. I did think that the first water station was too far into the course, I guessed it to be at 2 1/4 miles. I could’ve used one at 1.5 mi. The pacer kept us rolling along very good – going well even while heading uphill. The marquee hill(s) was a trip over a bridge that led to the lululemon HQ building. Up and over the metal bridge, the crowd support was really good. From the building, neon clad girls rappelled sideways perpendicular to the walls as more lulu yoga girls posed on the roof. They had prepared well for the entertainment of the day’s runners! Oddly, Charotte saw none of this in her race experience. The Molson brewery across the street from lulu HQ changed their message board sign to display a “Good Luck” to runners announcement. We ran around a corner in the neighborhood near Kitsana Beach and then up a slow, steady incline. Here we saw the race leaders heading back at us coming down the hill. Our pacer knew all the top men and women, cheering each on by first name as they passed us. We made a right turn and then up another steeper incline, it was well staffed with fans and volunteers. The turnaround at the top should have meant time to catch our breath, but the pacer had us accelerate on the down slope to make up for a bit of a slowing on the run up. I was low on fluids here, I noticed I was dry when I attempted to spit. Then we came past lulu HQ again and across the metal bridge, I saw Heather Cruz. She was the only person I’d encounter on the course from back home. We ran down off the bridge and to the shore heading for Stanley Park. There was a beach and thankfully no big wind, the pacer said that on windy days the seawall segment of Stanley Park can stop you flat out! The water stops here were deceiving, meaning the signs said the aid stations were 400m away but seldom did that match up to reality. I took fluids at every stop, either water or something called Vera (?) drink. We rounded the westernmost point of Vancouver along the Stanley Park seawall. It seemed like every turn would lead to the place where you could see around where we’d be running to, but most of them led only to a view of more turns and more seawall running. Once we ran straight east, we saw a large highway suspension bridge and made our way under it continuing east. One guy in our dwindling pace group said he didn’t know the elevation map on the race website was in meters, that’s when I realized neither did I! I knew this was harder than I thought. We entered a park at the end of the seawall and climbed up a short hill to the city streets again. Along the run, I saw people dressed as fish, mermaids, brass bands, the Iviva gymnastics kids, and a guy in a green lulu unitard. There was always something neat to see while on this course, either people or scenery. I ran past a misting station, not daring to run through it fearing that I was tired at this pace and I might loose concentration and just slip and fall. Once we made it to the streets near the convention center the pacer said we were very close to the finish. My Garmin said we were only 1 or 2 tenths of a mile away, but when we rounded the last corner and looked down the street, we had to run all the way back to the inflatable watermelon start arch. I knew I was already past 1:30, so was the pacer. He finished in 1:31:45, my time was 1:32:07. Robert came in shortly after me and asked me how I did, I told him my time then he asked how long it was… I didn’t think to look. My Garmin said 13.4. I knew I paid close attention to getting the tangents correct while running the course, no extra steps if I didn’t have to. Others in our group clocked 13.4, one watch read as high as 13.55 miles. I know my pace average was perfect, 6:52 on the Garmin. For longer than 1:30. So I was happy with the race. I ate a good breakfast of waffles with blueberry sauce and fruit skewers. I didn’t know there were massages in the registration area, or I could have been early on that line then eaten my breakfast food with people I knew. I did the lulu store shopping despite the low inventory, I think I got nice limited edition clothes the girls back home will love!

This was a good first time effort for lululemon and their Sea Wheeze race. It’s great to travel to a race, especially when my expectations for the race and time to finish aren’t crazy. It didn’t matter what time I finished with, more importantly I was back out traveling. Doing what I truly love – exploring in a different city and doing exciting things with my friends.

Click on any of the photos below to see a gallery…

One thought on “Sea Wheeze 2012

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