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Race Report: Seawheeze Half Marathon, Part 2

Posted Aug 17 2012 12:45pm
Race Day!

Despite eating just a bit too much at dinner the night before (maybe the risotto balls were too much carb loading?) I had a good night's sleep and woke up feeling pretty refreshed and excited on Saturday morning.  I had laid everything out the night before so all I really had to do was shower, get dressed, eat and grab all my stuff.  I was easily ready in time for my 5:30am pick up.

A few weeks earlier I got chatting with another girl from Run Club.  She was saying that some of her friends had dropped out and would no longer be running Seawheeze with her.  Since I signed up on my own anyways, I suggested we go together.  She liked the idea and so just like that I had a new running buddy for race day.

Things were super quiet around the race venue when we first got there.  We wandered around a bit and ended up hanging around Jack Pool Plaza for a bit while the runners gathered.  It was such a pretty morning, but it was going to be hot!  We have been having a bit of a heatwave here in Vancouver and Seawheeze morning was right in the middle of it!

The sun coming up over Coal Harbour

After a rousing warmup and one last trip to the bathrooms we followed the crowds down to the start area.

The corrals were self seeded and for 7500 runners, it was extremely un-congested and easy to find our place.  Immediately you could feel the energy of the day.  Everyone was happy, excited, having fun and well dressed too!  This is definitely a race to do with a friend and you could see friends and groups all over the place hugging, dancing, laughing.  There was even a great DJ playing music at the start while we waited.

The start line had a cool watermelon archway...

It was finally our turn so off we went!  The course worked its way through downtown, over the Dunsmuir Viaduct and into a bit of Chinatown before hitting False Creek.  Immediately there were all kinds of entertainers along the way - costumed people, double-decker bike-riders along Dunsmuir, tai chi demonstrations and yoga poses on paddle boards in False Creek.  Definitely lots to look at beyond the stunning scenery, wish I would have taken more pictures!

We eventually worked our way over to the Burrard Street Bridge and crossed into Kitsilano.  My buddy K and I knew that there was a big hill looming ahead of us.  The course made a turn up 4th Ave, straight uphill to a turnaround right in front of the 4th Ave Lululemon store.  The hill was long and steady but K and I kept our pace and it felt so good to turn around and come back down.  They had an awesome cheer station set up on the way down and I can't even count how many high fives I got as I passed.

Coming back down the hill in Kitsilano...

After this was the dreaded return on Burrard Street Bridge.  Back into downtown is a much longer incline and with the beating sun it was a killer.  We made it though and headed off along the beaches towards Stanley Park.  Up until this point we had stuck together but around 13km or so we decided to split up.  We had been taking it pretty easy pace-wise so after splitting up I decided I would pick up the pace and try to catch up to a faster finish time.  This turned out to be a big mistake.

We had just entered Stanley Park and I was really starting to enjoy the run.  The entertainment was great, the spectators were awesome and the signs people were waving had me laughing the whole way.  We were on the seawall and I felt like I was on cruise control, felt a bit fast for me since I was trying to make up time but I was managing just fine.

Around 15km we made our way around to the other side of the seawall where it was totally exposed to the sun, no more shade until the finish line.  And this was the point where I started to fall apart a bit.  After an easy start, I had booked it for the last few kms and when I hit the direct sun, the heat totally hit me.  Another few km along and I felt like I was getting heat stroke.  I felt horrible.  My legs and back ached so badly, my stomach was upset, I had a headache and I felt like I was sucking air through a straw.  I had terrible chills and goosebumps even.  It was so so hot and I was so so tired.  I actually thought about walking the rest of the way but just couldn't bring myself to do it.

I had been on track to finish around 2:15 but knew that was out the window now.  I decided to slow down and just slog along until I finished.  It had been ages since a water station and when we passed the water park I couldn't help but run through the spray.  I knew at this point we were close but I'm pretty sure I cursed a different swear word with every step from that point on.  Ha ha.

I eventually made it to the end and for the first time ever I didn't even glance down at my Garmin.  I was angry with myself for not pacing myself better and at the moment didn't really care what my time was.  I started to feel better when they put the awesome medal around my neck but all I wanted to do was go lay down somewhere.  I had to settle for a bench and snapped this lovely shot of myself...

This is not the face of a happy runner!

After catching my breath I headed back to the finish line to watch my friend K finish and there she was!  We met up easily after she came out of the finish chute, lamented quickly about how hot it was and then headed off towards the bathrooms and brunch.

The brunch line was long but it moved super quick.  We flashed our wristbands and were let into the food area which was beautiful.  It was catered by Barefoot Bistro from Whistler, BC and was complete with white tablecloths, uniformed staff and silver platters.  We were treated to warm waffles with blueberry sauce, hot quiche and beautiful fruit skewers with whipped cream.  There were also granola bars and funnily enough I didn't see any water in the brunch area.  We plopped ourselves down and enjoyed our feast.  This was seriously the best food ever and I was sad to hear that it ran out shortly after we were there.

We decided to go back to the convention centre after brunch and see if they had restocked the showcase store, but no luck.  We hobbled back to the car and headed home, skipping the afternoon concert because I had a flight to catch back to the island.  I hear the concert was fantastic and just a huge fun party and the whole day ended with sunset yoga on the beach.  Again, yoga's not my thing but I think it would have been cool to be a part of it anyways.

So here are the details from out on the course...
  • Offical Chip Time: 2:26:44
  • Total Garmin Time: 2:26:51
  • Total Garmin Distance:  21.41km
  • Average Garmin Pace:  6:51/km
Certainly not my best time but I fought hard in the heat for every second of that finish time.  At the time, I was ready to give up running forever because the heat had gotten me so bad.  But now that it's done I'm not unhappy with my finish, it just wasn't my best race and I think I learned a lot for future ones.  The cool medal helps make up for it a bit...

This medal is tied up on a pair of shoelaces - neat!

So despite my 'meh' kind of feelings the night before, Seawheeze turned out to be a really great day.  Even with my crappy time on the last 6km of the course, I still enjoyed the whole experience.  For an inaugural event you expect there to be some kinks and yes, there were definitely some pretty kinky kinks that I hope they can work on for next year.  But, on the same hand, they pulled off a pretty incredible event with so many cool details and extras that no other race I've been to has ever had.  It may not have been my best half marathon but it definitely goes down as one of the coolest, most memorable, most unique and most creative ones for sure!

Since this post got awfully winded, I'm going to save my final thoughts for another post...
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