Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2014 Sea Wheeze Race Recap, Part 1: Travel and Expo

lululemon sea wheeze half marathon medal
We had a choice of medal colors this year.

2014 Sea Wheeze Race Recap, Part 2: The Merchandise

2014 Sea Wheeze Race Recap, Part 3: The Race

2014 Sea Wheeze Race Recap, Part 4: The Sunset Festival

2014 Sea Wheeze Race Recap, Part 1: Travel and Expo

I found my third Sea Wheeze to be just as enjoyable as the first two - Lululemon once again put on a very good race and race weekend.  This race makes my seventh half marathon since my first Sea Wheeze two years ago. It was my slowest half marathon to date but I've been nursing a sesmoiditis injury since mid-July and wanted to be in okay shape to run the Disneyland half this weekend and the two other Disney races I have lined up in the next few months. My only goal for this race was to finish without re-injuring myself and get the bling.

My trip to Vancouver this year was very similar to last year - I traveled by myself (out of Orange County's John Wayne airport this year instead of LAX) to meet up with my sister and her kids in Vancouver. We stayed at the same hotel as last year, the Fairmont Vancouver, located about four blocks away from the Convention Center/starting line.

Misha Collins got a photo op with the Sea Wheeze mermaids.

Unlike last year, our part of Vancouver was jam packed for the weekend. There were a couple of conventions in town, an anime one and one for the TV show Supernatural, plus the race so the line for customs to enter Canada was about three times as long as last year's. Though I traveled by myself I ended up picking up a couple of fellow Sea Wheezers (hi Connie and Chelsea) for each leg of my trip so I had company during my layover in Seattle, while waiting to get through customs, and taking the train into Vancouver. It's pretty easy to spot a fellow Sea Wheezer since we're outfitted in head to toe lululemon and usually sporting a lululemon gym bag as a carry on. It's an easy conversation starter.

In Seattle, I read about the special edition bicycle shirts the Robson store was giving out/selling in honor of its grand opening. I figured I'd stop there on the way to the hotel since my room wouldn't be ready. Though customs took so long that I got into Vancouver after 2 pm, I did go straight to the Robson lululemon store, rollerbag and all, since it's right up the block from my hotel. By the time I was done at Robson my sister had arrived in Vancouver.

Yoga event at the Robson store Thursday night
We had dinner at a place up the block recommended by Vancouver native Lulumum, did some shopping at the Robson store again, and went to bed early since we knew the lineup for the Expo would start before dawn.


lululemon sea wheeze half marathon expo
Pre-dawn Expo lineup, looking to the front of the line.
This year there were two separate lines and physical locations for the store and packet pickup. Unlike last year, runners did not have priority entry over the public which has caused a bunch of grumbling on social media. It was changed because last year's runners who didn't want to shop complained about getting stuck in two hour long lines to pick up their packet. (The Sea Wheeze crowd is dominated by big fans of the brand so I find it hard to believe that the non-shopping people complaining about packet pickup lines were actually that numerous). In my opinion, you should tell runners who don't want to shop to come after noon when there is no line but lululemon decided to go back to the way they had it the first year and let anyone into the store area. Our goal was to be in line early enough to be in the first wave of people let into the store, which we were.

lululemon sea wheeze half marathon expo
At some point some entertainment for the line arrived.

View looking towards the front of the line, prior to the 7 am opening.
Our time in line went by very quickly, chatting with old friends - Lulumum met us - and making some new acquaintances (hello eds, Amy and Terry from North Carolina, Ms. S. and Ms. A.) and before we knew it it was 7 am and time to shop.

The merchandise floor seemed more crowded this year. 
2013 Expo seemed a lot emptier

Looking towards the water.

lululemon sea wheeze marathon expo
Looking towards the communal changing room.
The merchandise areas seemed more crowded this year than last and I found shopping this year a bit more stressful than last, though not as crazy as the first year. I think there were a lot more racks of merchandise this year than last and perhaps more people were let in to shop. There was definitely a greater breadth of selection. The standard technique for Expo shopping is go in, find your sizes, grab armfuls of the clothes you think you want then head to an open spot along the room margins to try it on/sort out what you want and whittle your pile down to 15 items. Workers would come along checking for rejects to be put back on the floor and other shoppers would also ask you if you were going to keep certain items.  We took our time and I think we spent about three hours total in the store. (I will cover the specific merchandise in detail in a separate post.) Honestly, in some ways I almost find the Expo the hardest part of Sea Wheeze weekend. If you find Black Friday-style shopping fun then the Expo will be no problem for you but I have to mentally gear up for it somewhat.

In line to pick up our packets.

Packet pickup counter.

Stuff sack and water bottle.

Bag tag is attached with a headband.

After we were done with the store we moved on to the packet pick up room which was around the corner from the Expo store. The line was on the long side but moved very fast so I think it took us about 10 minutes to get our packet. The packet was a neat messenger bag style stuff sack, a cute Sea Wheeze water bottle, wristband, and our Chip timing chip. Though the outside plaza once again had stations for Sea Wheeze tattoos, organic cotton candy, hairstyles, and other freebies/perks we bypassed these to head back to the hotel to drop our stuff, grab a coffee, and relax for a little bit before lunch.

We had lunch with a long time lululemon community member, Ms. A., who I "know" from my Facebook groups but had never met before and is the nicest lady. I look forward to meeting her again next year. We also took a trip back to the store to see what was left. There were a lot of size 2s left, more size 4 shorts than I would have thought, and a smattering of everything else.

Expo store at 5:30 pm. (Thanks to Ms. D. for this photo.)
The Expo store did so well lululemon decided not to open it the next day. I know around 3 p.m. it was mostly size two stuff, a little size four, and some men's stuff.

Sunset yoga Friday night

lululemon vancouver olympic torches
Olympic torch at night

For those of you who went to the Expo, what did you think? For those repeat Sea Wheezers, what did you think of the shopping experience versus previous years?

Sea Wheeze Race Recap Coming Soon

lululemon sea wheeze half marathon race recap
The obligatory pre-race Instagram photo.
My race weekend recap has been a little delayed this year but rest assured it's coming soon. My kids started school last week so last night was Back to School Night and this morning was PTA meetings, plus my husband stole my laptop with all my photos for a business trip yesterday so I've fallen a bit behind. I want to do justice to all the gorgeous merchandise that was for sale this year and that post is going to take me a few hours to build. The race was just as fun as last year and I think the racer-only swag was, in my opinion, the best year yet. Anyway, thank you for your patience.

Find Your Centre Wrap

lululemon find your centre wrap rust berry

The new Find Your Centre Wrap ($138, french terry) in Heathered Marl Rustberry and gray (don't have a color for this). There is a Heathered Speckled Black version but this looks too light.