Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015 Sea Wheeze Half Marathon Race Weekend Recap, Part 3: The Race

2015 Sea Wheeze Half Marathon Race Weekend Recap, Part 1: Travel and Expo

2015 Sea Wheeze Half Marathon Race Weekend Recap, Part 2: The Merchandise

2015 Sea Wheeze Half Marathon Race Weekend Recap, Part 4: The Sunset Festival

2015 Sea Wheeze Half Marathon Race Weekend Recap, Part 3: The Race

The rain that had been threatening all weekend showed up in the dawn hours of race day so that the streets were wet when I looked out my hotel window at 5:30 am. The temps were in the upper 50s/low 60s with high humidity. Our hotel offered a free breakfast (or discounted, the staff wasn't too consistent on this but I know I didn't pay) to Sea Wheeze runners, which was a nice change from previous years. I usually try to buy a banana somewhere the day before but our group of nine (me, my sister, my two nieces, my nephew, my roommate Ms. A., Lulumum, Ms. N. and Ms. C.) headed down for breakfast around 6:10 or so. My sister and I had decided a few weeks before the race we would wear Grapefruit and Alarming tops with the matching Wee Space Pace Rival crops as our race "uniform". My sixteen-year-old niece and sister wore Grapefruit Power Ys with Alarming Half Zip Swiftlys and I found an Alarming Metal Vent Tech in my local store for my fourteen-year-old nephew. Unfortunately, Ivivva did not offer a matching palette with lululemon so my ten year old niece had to make do with Zella and Nike.  Lulumum and my roommate, Ms. A., also happened to own Grapefruit What the Sport shirts so the seven of us made quite a bright group as we entered the dining area. The hotel put out coffee, bananas, peanut butter, toast, and muffins. I grabbed some coffee and a banana.

Looking towards to start.

Looking towards the back of the races.
After a quick breakfast we set off for the ten minute walk down the hill to the race start. I found the weather humid and warm in just my What the Sport Mesh top but lots of people, my sister's family (who live in Oregon!) included, were wearing jackets. We got to the corrals just as the race was getting set to start. We once again started in the ~2:30-3:00 corrals and as you can see from the above photos, they were super crowded. People were not as brightly dressed as last year but that could be due to so many wearing outerwear. Our choice of Grapefruit proved to be a nice pop of color on a gloomy day. The diversity in clothing choices was amusing, lots of people wore tanks and shorts and quite a few more were bundled up in jackets and long sleeve tops. I figured most people would shed their jackets by mile two. The corrals were so crowded I never felt chilled at all.

The start screen comes into view.

Looking behind.

Start line gets closer.

View of the start. (credit: lululemon Sea Wheeze video.)
For some reason there was no start arch this year. I heard afterwards there was a balloon arch but it had to be taken down because of wind gusts. The lack of a true start/finish arch made the race a little less special this year so I hope it makes a reappearance next year, even if that means the race fee has to go up to add this nicety back in. We get a lot for our $128 race fee, which has been the same the last four years, so lululemon should take a page from Disney and raise the fees a bit. Update - a reader says the start arch was supposed to be the same inflatable molecule arch used at the Sunset Festival but it was defeated by the winds. That's too bad because those arches were super cute. I'd still be ok with a price increase. They could use it to put out more porta potties, sweepers riding the course on the Sea Wall portion - it's super lonely at the back of the pack, and pay the entertainment to stay until the last runner passes them or 12:15 pm cutoff. When I ran by the tree in the park, the singing group was out of the tree and packing up their stuff, I think it was 11 on the dot. After I saw the tree situation, I called my sister in a panic and asked if they were closing the finish line and get me a medal if they were. A price increase might help slow the sellout rate, too. Disneyland races are selling out a lot slower this year than last.

I suspected this race was going to be a hard one for me: I only trained to eight miles, I was still recovering from injuring my feet in a January race, my feet/legs were tired from a vacation hiking in the Sierra Nevadas the previous week, I was running at my heaviest weight ever, and I was severly sleep deprived (people were calling this the Zombie Run because of the Expo store campout).  (I know, whine, whine, whine.)  My legs felt heavy for the first three miles or so and then my feet started to hurt around mile five. From mile seven on it was like I had a pebble under the ball of each foot. In addition, I was running in a new brand of shoe I had only proofed to eight miles and my feet slid around the last third of the race.  The good thing about the day is that the weather was pretty great for a race - it was on the cool side, it was overcast the whole race, and it never rained much more than a brief sprinkling. The other good thing is that I was able to re-disccover Vancouver and the beautiful scenery as we ran the course.

Heading up the first hill. 

Heading towards the Dunsmuir Viaduct. I love being able to see the race field like this.

 On the Viaduct.

 There was a spin class on the Viaduct bridge.

Two runners with (prohibited) strollers on the course. If you look through various Flickr albums of the race you can see there were at least half a dozen or so people running with strollers. There was also a man who ran the entire race with a dog.

I'm not sure who these people were supposed to be - ghosts of scientists?

"Scientists" on odd bicycles.

Cheer station outsourced to air dancers.

A runner-favorite, the transvestite cheerleaders. I love these guys but they're at the top of a short steep hill.

A nice opportunity to cut the course at this point, which I seriously thought about this year. ;-) Joking aside, I do love when courses double over on themselves and I can look for my faster friends.

Heading onto the Burrard Street bridge. This is typically where I see my faster friends and I did spot my sister, nieces, nephew, and some educators from my local store here.

My sister took this photo, I never saw this guy.

Heading towards lululemon headquarters and the Kitsilano store area. 

Lululemon corporate headquarters. I heard Laurent Potdevin, the lululemon CEO, and his family were watching the race near here but I never saw him. I finally was able to make a potty stop at this point, at nearly six miles. I didn't want to wait in long lines and I didn't really spot too many portapotties on the course. The course goes down the street a little more and turns around. There is a big Ivivva cheer group at that spot but I didn't get a photo of them.

View from the bridge on the way back.

I spotted the halfway sign on the bridge this year. I totally missed this last year. All mileage signs were once again only in kilometers this year. I use a GPS watch so it didn't matter to me.

Heading into Stanley Park and the Sea Wall portion of the race, approaching the Second Beach pool. This run sign was a new entertainment. Shortly after this point was a water stop area where I was handed a whole banana. This was about mile 7.5. My sister texted me she got a whole banana at about mile 11.7 but she didn't get one at 7.5 so not sure what was going on with that. Unlike the last two years, I don't think there were banana and orange slices at the water stations. I could be wrong about this but I didn't see any peels on the street or trash. I didn't want to run into tummy troubles so I ate only the top fifth or so of the banana and threw the rest away. It was a nice little energy boost.

Stanley Park Pool cheer group. (Credit: lululemon Sea Wheeze video.)
There was a group of cheerleaders in orange near the Stanley Park Beach pool that I have to give a shout out to. The girl with the megaphone gave me a personal cheer that really helped lift my mood, which was flagging pretty low at that point. My ten-year-old niece also got a special shout out by the megaphone girl. She and this cheer group was definitely one of my race highlights.

The paddle boarders were back again this year.

Some of the scenery on the Sea Wall. This is the toughest part since it covers the last four or so miles of the course but it's also the most beautiful.

A band or DJ (I had my earbuds in so didn't hear) on a barge in the bay.

Last year there was some sort of toga-clad runner-wash here but this year was a group of scientists. I got a much-appreciated high five from one of them.

One of my favorite entertainments since the mermaids signal the end is near.

A group of scientists in the park. 

I have to give the last Saje cheer group a special mention since they gave me a much-appreciated personal cheer as I ran by. My sister came back to run the last half mile or so with me so that was nice. I was trying to see what the medal looked like but I only saw one person with it and from a distance it looked like a bullet with Mickey Mouse ears. 

It turns out our medal was a carrot. It tied in with the rabbit that was in the [very wordy tl;dr] Sea Wheeze story booklet we got with our registration shorts. This medal felt super heavy and I weighed it when I got back home - it came in at over half a pound. There were numerous reports that people had to explain what it was in their carry on luggage at airport security.

We also got Baller Hats and Saje travel packs. I love, LOVE the finisher's hat because you can only get them if you finish (or buy them on eBay, I suppose). I wear my 'Sup finishers hat from last year all the time but I like the fit of this year's Baller Hat even better.

The men's finisher hat, I'm not sure what model this is.

We also got both cool towels and a space blanket and, of course, a nice runner's brunch with a waffle, fruit, and mini quiche.

I wanted to wait until I had a little runner's amnesia to write up my race recap since this was my slowest and one of the more painful half marathons I've run to date. Overall, it was another well-planned event and an excellent value for the $128 fee we pay. There were a number of new entertainments this year, though it seemed like the volunteer population was on the low side. Whereas last year you'd have groups of three or so people stationed along the course, this year I'd see one at a time. The water stations were well-manned, though. I have read comments that people wished there were more portapotties and water in the Sea Wall portion of the race but I am usually well-hydrated by that point and I always try to take care of business in the first half of the race.

Did you go? What did you think? Will you be back next year?

(PS - A really good Flickr album can be found here.)


Anonymous said...

Great recap, luluaddict! Well done! Congrats!!

Anonymous said...

Loved the race! I hope they don't raise the price though. Stuff like balloon arches and what not aren't important to me so I didn't even notice it was missing this year vs the years before. They do a great job from start to finish with this race. Having done at least 25 half's and several fulls over the past couple of years this race never fails to impress me with course medical support, water stations, cheer stations and the finishers chute plus all the goodies. You really do get your money's worth with the SeaWheeze race! Whereas Disney continues their greedy grab of high priced races on both coasts but gives you nothing but a plastic bag, cheap shirt and useless virtual goody bag, lululemon gives you a lot of bang for your buck both in treatment and freebies. My favorite race of all time.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated to sea wheeze, but does anyone else find the seams on the run for gold tank horrible? Terrible placement, they rub against my oblique area. Why couldn't think too be seamless!? Big disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Yes, fabulous recap! I also ran the race and had a great time.

My favorite cheer stations were the cycle group over the first bridge/viaduct, cheerleaders in Stanley Park, and the band that was playing on the boat or barge thing as you left Stanley Park.

Since I jogged and walked the race I had a good number of strollers around me on a constant basis. They were all really polite and it was pretty cute to see the kiddos enjoying their ride along the course. There was one heavier-set guy last year with red longhair (who I think wasn't even registered) who was SO annoying with his stroller. While running around one of the bends in the park he hit me in the ankles and that really hurt! I was happy not to see him this year:).

Big shout-out to Saje and their awesome products. I also really loved the women's hat this year. The reflective portion at the front is so cool and the fit is perfect.

Stephanie said...

This was my first half marathon. I thought it was very well organized, great volunteers, fantastic course support and awesome swag. I'm hoping to run next year too!

Great recap!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great recap! It is fun to read and relive the weekend. It was both my first Seawheeze and first half. I thought that the race was awesome. I was concerned about the rain and cooler temperatures at first, but it wasn't bad and better than running under the hot sun (though I did miss wearing my sunglasses).

I watched them attempt to set up the start/finish line balloon arch from my hotel room. Though they gave it a good effort, the breeze was too much, and the arch didn't stand a chance.

Loved the support along the course but must have been in the zone because I missed a lot of the sights along the way, like the SSC, halfway mark, SUPers, the band on the barge, etc. Next year, I will pay better attention!

LuluAddict said...

@ anon 7:04 pm - so what the balloon arch literally made of balloons or was it a custom inflatable arch like has been used for previous races?

Anonymous said...

@ LuluAddict - the balloon arch looked just like the ones at the entrance of the Sunset Festival.

Leigh said...

Oh dear, my man got the women's hat. I won't tell him but I won't feel so guilty if I lose mine and steal his 😉
I ran very pregnant last year, and I can confirm way fewer portapottie ships year. Or they were moved to the starting gate location(?).

Anonymous said...

I really hope they do not raise the entry fee. I agree we get a good bang for our buck but think they are doing just fine considering the amount we are spending on the specialty merchandise. I really didn't find anything to be missing this year. The pre-race activities/booths were all great including tattoo stations, cotton candy, frozen yogurt, massage and yoga (and sage mat cleaner kits). I will say the cheer stations were a little lackluster this year but think that had more to do with the weather and people staying home because of it.

Anonymous said...

It was the same molecule arch that is pictured in your Sunset Festival entrance photo. I will email you a photo I took of it during start line set up. :)

Anonymous said...

Those cheerleaders in orange look like they are the cheerleaders for the BC Lions, a professional football team in the Canadian Football League. Awesome how they were able to get people from the community to do that ��

LuluAddict said...

@ 11:11 am - Bummer the wind defeated it then. That arch was super cute at the Festival.

@ anon 10:26 am - One reason I don't mind an entry fee price increase is that it might mean the race will take 45 minutes to sell out instead of 36. ;-) Higher prices have slowed down the rate Disneyland races are selling out.

LuluAddict said...

@Leigh - I have no idea where they stuck them because I think I saw one set before the set I used at mile 5.5/6 near the corporate headquarters.

tljjazzy said...

I'm just curious-do races in the U.S. list both kilometers and miles? (I noticed you mentioned the signs were in km only.) I was in the U.S. recently and had no real sense of how far anything was bc all signs were in miles lol Was that how it would feel for you running this race without your gps watch?

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing! I will probably never be brave enough to go to one of these events, but this is absolutely amazing. So proud of you!

LuluAddict said...

@Amy - you can do it! If you don't want to run, there were a lot of walkers in the race. The lululemon recap video doesn't show it but there WERE people in the race who weren't young, beautiful, and slender and who were a little sweaty, too. ;-) Search for Sea Wheeze on Flickr and you can find albums were you'll see a lot more diversity in the runners than the video shows - old, young, chunky, slender, lol.

LuluAddict said...

@tljjazzy - the race did have have a few signs in miles the second year. I remember seeing them. That is why I remark on the lack of them the past two years. The first Sea Wheeze drew half its runners from the US and I can't imagine that portion has gone down that much in subsequent years so it's not like it's a very local crowd running this race. Moreover, I know a lot of Canadian who do their training in miles.

LuluAddict said...

@Amy - One of the really good Flickr albums:

tljjazzy said...

Ty for your reply! :-)