As I continue to train for Pine to Palm (my first 100 Mile race), I deviated from my long mountain run this past weekend to join some friends in a colourful outburst of partying, music, yoga, and all-around awesomeness. And yes, there was a half marathon throw in there too.
The 2013 lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver was the second annual event, and it’s tagline “Yoga. Run. Party.” is exactly what the weekend was all about.
I registered for Seawheeze for
three four main reasons:
1. I knew there would be a group of my fantastic friends flying to Vancouver to run the race. They had heard through the grapevine that last year’s event was awesome enough to warrant a trip to Vancouver.
2. The last time I ran a half-marathon was two years ago – right before I got into ultrarunning. My fitness has increased dramatically and I’m a much better runner since my last half so, much like wondering if your ex got fat even though you’re over them – I was simply curious what my finishing time would be.
3. As a new Vancouverite, I wanted to experience a Vancouver race. What’s more Vancouver than lululemon and running the seawall?
4. I wanted the special edition registration shorts. This actually could be reason number one but I’m trying to appear balanced. Shhh. Just play along.
As a student of Marketing, planner of events, and lover of running, I have a heightened awareness of “the little things.” I have an annoying ability to see inconsistencies within a movie scene. I stay awake at night wondering if it should be “ultra running” or “ultra-running” or “ultrarunning.” Don’t even get me started on AutoCorrect. My point here is, I notice these things. And NO ONE got the little things more right than #Seawheeze.
The package pickup was a party of epic proportions. Everything was entertaining and everything was Seawheezy. From being fed and entertained waiting in line, to noon hour yoga in one of the most beautiful locations in the world, to shopping the special edition gear, to the two dj’s spinning (inside and out) – the event got me in the Seawheeze mindset, the Seawheeze colours, and the Seawheeze community.
As for race morning – I arrived earlier than intended, and had lots of time to chill, make my ghetto pace band, untangle my earphones (I am legitimately afraid of the amount of time lost in life due to untangling earphones and necklaces), find my friends, and get settled in my race corral. I was thinking I would shoot for a 1:45 finish time which put me in corral number one. Why 1:45? Despite the fact that I do run a lot, and for rather long distances, my “usual” runs involve very slow paces, a fair amount of hiking, and at least one sandwich break. I wasn’t so sure how I’d do with this whole run-fast-don’t-stop thing. And the amount of speedwork I’ve done lately adds up to a whopping ZERO minutes, so, understanding the 100 Miler in September is my priority, I’d basically just wing this one and hope for the best.
The ghetto pace band I mentioned above was a piece of athletic tape I stuck on my watch with split times for 5km, 10km, 15km, and 20km. I used a 1:40 pace which would give me some breathing room for bathroom breaks, fixing shoelaces, crumple-over-and-cry moments…you know, average race stuff. My boyfriend asked me what that pace worked out to per km and I had no answer for him. I guess knowing that would defeat the purpose of winging it?
The race route is near and dear to me as it’s very close to a route I run from my house. It’s an unreal urban experience that takes you along the glassy seawall, through Kits (my hood!) then around the perimeter of Stanley Park. Looking out towards the ocean always takes me back to when I lived in Manly, Australia, and made a pact with myself that I’d always live somewhere with an ocean nearby. The pact also involved wanting large mountains out my window and a surfboard in the garage. I haven’t got the surfboard yet but 2 out of 3 is a good start.
At the 10km mark I was on pace to the times scribbled on my watch. Almost to the second. At this point I had a revelation, of sorts, in regards to mindset. This is actually quite difficult to admit in public (the internet is not public at all, so we’re good) but mindset is something I really struggle with during ultras – I get DOWN on myself. I kick dirt, hate life, wallow, want to quit. I do manage to make it back to ‘normal’ eventually, but waste a lot of good energy in the process.
The advantage in a half-marathon is there’s little room for error and everything happens fast. I had a pace to keep and I needed to push it – even though my legs were screaming. My mind wandered to a quote I’d read on Facebook that morning – a quote from Cowboy Jack Clement, a legendary songwriter and producer who had died a few days earlier. One of the greatest moments of my life was spending a day with Cowboy Jack, along with 49 other university interns, and day none of us will forget. The posting reiterated something Jack had taught us which was, “don’t take any of this too seriously.”
And I took that to heart. I mean – truly – I really don’t have the right to get down while I willingly push myself through these paces. Be it a half-marathon or a 100-Miler. When I asked for this. When I say I love this. When someone sitting in a hospital would give anything to have my problem. And so, I changed my mindset and turned up my music, told my legs to keep moving, and truly enjoyed watching the kilometer signs tick by knowing I was on pace to crush my Personal Best (PB) half-marathon time.
I crossed the finish line in 1:39:45, totally stoked, somewhat surprised, and a bit shocked that my winging it actually worked. I’m fairly certain that’s about nine minutes off my last half-marathon time. It’s crazy to think how much my life has changed since that last half-marathon. I’ve changed jobs, created a new ultra running lifestyle for myself, and moved to Vancouver where I now get the ocean and the mountains on a daily basis (and yes I’ll get that surfboard soon enough).
As for the after-party…there ‘aint no party like a Seawheeze party. That evening my friends and I gathered in Stanley Park for a few downward dogs, refreshments of the adult variety, and tunes from the awesome Xavier Rudd. And remember those details I mentioned? They kept it going to the very end with beautiful lanterns weaving through the crowd to close off an amazing day.
So yes – I will continue to take a break from the trails once in a while and enjoy the pavement for a day. I’ll definitely be back for Seawheeze 2014.
I may even do some speedwork first.