Sunday, August 23, 2015

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

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 3: The Race

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

We were thinking of skipping the Sunset Festival this year because we were feeling a bit tired after the race but once we saw reports of a special Sunset Festival Jeweled Magenta Scuba and Warrior Scarf on Facebook we decided to go. From our experience last year (long lines, blah food, small portions) we knew enough to eat dinner elsewhere so we stopped at Subway on the way to the shuttle buses.

You know you're in Canada when Subway has these.

We picked up a lone fellow-American and first-time Sea Wheezer, Cindy, on the walk down the hill from our hotel to the convention center and she hung out with us until Yeasayer hit the stage.

The entrance to the Festival had this really cute molecule arch, too bad the race didn't have this. The security lady took pity on us since we had children with us and let us bring our Subway meals into the venue. Note for next year, eat outside the gates. It seemed the food choices were the same as last year, organic burritos, burgers, and salad in a jar. I later heard one woman bitterly complaining to her friends how bad the burritos were. I didn't think they were that awful last year but were on the bland side and not especially filling after completing a half marathon.

The line for the lululemon merchandise tent. By the time we got there, they were sold out of size eight and twelve scubas. They also had the same Gray High Mileage Duffel from the Expo (I'm pretty sure they just trucked the Expo leftovers up to the Festival), a gray print Nice Asana Tote, a men's hoodie, and a Warrior Scarf for sale.

Photo credit: eBay
This was the Nice Asana tote, only on sale at the Festival. It didn't have the same bug lining as the High Mileage Duffel.

The women's Scuba was Jeweled Magenta with a beautiful orange interior and lulu logo. The back had a sticky Sunset Festival appliqué on it. Since I am a big Jeweled Magenta fan, I liked this Scuba a lot more than the ones for sale at the Expo. My sister ended up getting three of these, one for my ten year old niece as a congratulations for completing her first half marathon, one for her and my older niece to share, and one as a thank you to me for waiting in line all night to get her her Expo gear (she is a great sister ;-) ). I got the last size ten Scuba and it's on the tight side for me right now but it's a nice incentive to drop some weight before next Sea Wheeze since running at the weight I am now is causing me major problems.

I also got the Warrior scarf since it was so pretty. There were other vendors there but we only cared about what lululemon items were for sale.

By the time we sat down yoga was just finishing up. We found a nice spot on the hill to sit, in a similar location to last year. We brought our race space blankets with us to sit on and we sat down to eat our contraband dinner. My nieces and nephew also got some of the marshmallows on a stick that were for sale for dessert but I didn't try them.

The location of the trapeze was changed this year to the bottom of the hill.

I think this big mat was laid out for yoga. You can see porta potties on the right, in the distance.

Some views of the crowd at the top of the hill.

My other friends, Ms. A., Ms. N. and Ms. C., joined us later in the evening since they elected to have dinner at a restaurant. We only stuck around through the second band, Yeasayer, since the kids were bored and we were rather tired.

It was a mellow finish to race day and I'm glad we went. 

Did you go? What did you think?

Lululemon's recap video:

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.)