Just like that, Seawheeze #5 is done, and what an outstanding weekend it was. I’m pretty sure I say this every year, but this Seawheeze was my favourite so far. Sitting down to write this post, I can’t help but feel excited because in a way, it means getting to re-live the whole thing again – only this time, in photos and words.

seawheeze start line

Unlike other years, my Seawheeze (long) weekend began on Thursday. A wicked thing about lululemon is that almost the entire company gets behind Seawheeze in some way as a volunteer, whether it’s staffing the Seawheeze Store, giving out water at the finish line, or setting up the expo outside in Jack Poole Plaza next to the Olympic Cauldron. It’s truly a team effort, and this year it felt so amazing to be a part of it all.

In my case, I worked with a bunch of fabulous volunteering coworkers to pack the ~10,000 bags that were handed out at package pickup. My evening duties had me in the Seawheeze Store, and it was such a strange experience being in there without hundreds of other Seawheezers (myself included) frantically trying on piles of clothes!

seawheeze store 2016

seawheeze store 2016

seawheeze store 2016

As all of this setup was happening, the line for the store had already been forming outside the Convention Center since 11am. I had every intention of camping out with my friends who were here visiting, just as we usually do. But when they found out how many people were already there at 9pm on Friday night, they decided to place their orders with another friend who was already in line and was willing to step up to the task. Taking on the shopping orders of 2 women means this was a seriously brave dude. Running a FULL marathon may have been easier!

It was a late night, but this decision meant good sleep in real beds. This had me SO excited because I’d been gearing up for vacation time all week and sleep was definitely sacrificed in the process.

line outside convention center for seawheeze store

On Friday we (meaning myself and my girlfriends from back in Ontario, JessicaChristina and Danielle) headed back down to the expo at about 8am to find the line wrapped ALL the way around the Convention Center and then some. The weather was gorgeous and we spent the morning picking up our race kits and checking out the expo.

the meditation d'om

The Mindfulness D’Om

the ivivva-cle!

The ivivva-cle that drove from Boston to LA this summer for the ivivva Coast to Coast Summer Festival

We also took plenty of silly photos like this:

Seawheeze 2016

…as well as one of my name up on the window for having run Seawheeze for all 5 years.

5 year club at Seawheeze 2016

At noon we headed to Field & Social, one of my favourite downtown Vancouver spots, to join our friends from Vega and a bunch of other lovely ladies for Vega’s Seawheeze Social.

Seawheeze Social - photo cred Brit Gill

Photo Credit: Britney Gill

Seawheeze Social - photo cred Brit Gill

Photo credit: Britney Gill

As is always the case for events hosted by Vega, this was absolutely beautiful. If you happened to be in the grocery store looking for green veggies that day and there were none left, it’s probably because they were at Field & Social, acting as part of the decor that surrounded us in the restaurant. Every little detail was so carefully thought out, right down to the menu clips on our place settings.

Vega Seawheeze Social Menu at Field and Social

Seawheeze Social - photo cred Brit Gill

Photo credit: Britney Gill

Seawheeze Social - photo cred Brit Gill

Photo credit: Britney Gill

Photo credit: The amazingly talented Britney Gill

Photo credit: Britney Gill

I saw a bunch of familiar faces and plenty of new ones, chatted about all things Seawheeze and ate a phenomenal plant-based menu that Field & Social prepared specifically for the event. Each dish was totally top-notch, from the smoked tofu salad rolls and 5KM urban salad (all ingredients sourced within a 5KM radius), to the vegan risotto, mocha truffles (made with mocha Vega Sport Performance Protein – I need to re-make these!) and vegan matcha cheesecake.

rice paper rolls with smoked tofu at field and social

5km salad at Field and Social Vancouver

vegan risotto at Field and Social Vancouver

rice noodle salad at Field and Social Vancouver

mocha truffles at Field and Social Vancouver

mini cupcakes at Field and Social Vancouver

vegan matcha cheesecake at Field and Social Vancouver

Aside from the food, conversation and connection, we also came away with some Vega Sport goodies to fuel our race the next day and some of my favourite remedies from Saje. The Pocket Pharmacy contains the roll-on essential oil formulations that I carry with me every day, including pain release (for achy muscles), stress release (self-explanatory!), eater’s digest (for happier tummies) and peppermint halo (for headaches and so much more!) Seriously guys, you’ve gotta get your hands on some of these – they work wonders.

saje pocket pharmacy

Strangely, even after having spent all day talking about Seawheeze, it hadn’t quite sunk in that I was racing a half marathon in the morning. The week had passed so quickly and I knew my body needed rest, so I got all my gear ready and passed out by 9pm.

seawheeze 2016 race gear

My alarm woke me up at 4:30am on Saturday, I ate breakfast (a mix of Love Grown Foods Mighty Flakes and Power O’s – my go-to race day breakfast this year) and packed a double shot of Vega sugar-free energizer for the road. I cleaned my house until it was time to go to the Convention Center because that’s just what I do on race mornings to calm my nerves (everyone’s allowed to have their quirks), then hopped in a cab.

 seawheeze 2016 morning warm-up

After bag check and the group warm-up with our pace beavers, everyone headed to the start line. I met up with Jess for a quick selfie in our corral, and then we were off.

seawheeze start line selfie

seawheeze start line

Since this is a race recap, I suppose you’re expecting a summary of what happened during the race itself, right? That’s next – it’s just taken me ~850 words to get there. Here’s the breakdown:

The first 5KM/3.1 miles – Went out pretty quick, and maybe a little faster than I should have at 20:25.  Legs felt good, lungs were working, but on the whole, doing well.

Mile 5: Getting ready to run over the Burrard Bridge, my previous nemesis but these days we’re on better terms because I’ve practiced running over and back several times. I kept counting in my head to 11 over and over again until I got to the top (strange tactic, but it works during times of suck), then tried to get back into a nice steady rhythm and bring my heart rate back in check on the way down the other side.

Mile 6: Finished the stretch along Cornwall Ave, turned around, and was ready to trek back over the bridge one more time. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. 8. 9. 10, 11….. My 10km/6.2 mile split was 43:51, which was a little slow but at least the uphill bits were out of the way.

Mile 7: Running a nice gradual downhill until the sea wall. Wheeeeeeee!

Seawheeze Course Map 2016

Somewhere around 9 miles: I was really starting to lose steam here and took my gel out of my SpiBelt and tore off the top, getting ready to slurp it while running up to an aid station. It was a while before I hit said aid station, but once the gel was in and washed down with a bit of water, I almost instantly started to feel better. Things were feeling decent given the circumstances, and thankfully this stretch of the course was in the shade.

Mile 11: It was getting HOT at this point as I ran under the Lion’s Gate bridge. I had a bit of a stomach cramp so I opted not to finish my gel as I thought that might make it worse. I knew there was a bit of a hill off the sea wall into Stanley Park, so I ran steady until then, grabbed water at the last aid station and pushed through the rest. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7….

Mile 12: I passed the ivivva cheer station and saw a whole bunch of my co-workers, which gave me an instant boost. Not long to go!

Mile 13 to the finish: I negligently didn’t check the course map before the race so I had no idea that the finish line had been moved down on to the path along the water. (In previous years, it’s been the same as the start line.) Once I realized this I figured I should start sprinting, so I picked up the pace and passed the 2 people ahead of me, then finally crossed the finish.

seawheeze finish line

My chip time was 1:36 which makes this my slowest half marathon of the year, but given my reduced focus on running and attention shift to overall fitness and health over performance, I’m not at all upset about it. This whole weekend was about so much more than just the race, and I was willing to sacrifice a few minutes on my time in order to enjoy it to the fullest.

seawheeze 2016 finisher's medal

runner's high achieved - seawheeze

Shortly after I was done I saw a bunch of familiar faces, including my friends Jess and Kate from work. Jess was my hero because she greeted me with arms full of bottled water, and Kate won the women’s division. Seriously, this girl is on fiyahhhh! A huge inspiration for sure.

post-race celebrating with team ivivva

post-race celebrations at vega's plant base

#squad

We changed out of sweaty clothes, we brunched, we selfie snapped and soaked in the post-race celebration atmosphere for a while before heading home for proper showers. There was no time for napping however, because lululemon had arranged a surprise little adventure for myself and a couple of friends.

harbour air flight tour

harbour air flight tour selfie

That afternoon we hopped on a Harbour Air float plane and went for a tour over Vancouver’s North Shore, Bowen Island, and the rest of the city. It was so cool to see the beautiful place I live in from that angle, and the fact that it was a super clear and sunny day meant some pretty great photos.

harbour air flight tour

harbour air flight tour

harbour air flight tour

A float plane view of the sea wall. We covered all these miles during the race – and more!

The last event was the Sunset Festival in Stanley Park. There was yoga, food and 3 bands including Chromeo who was fantastic, despite me knowing only 2 of their songs. I was completely spent by the time I got home late that night, but the whole day – and entire Seawheeze experience, for that matter – was loads of fun.

sunset festival - party

chromeo at sunset festival in stanley park

Having spent so much time downtown on Saturday, we were all feeling the need to get away for a few hours on Sunday afternoon.  To shake out our race legs we went for a climb up to Quarry Rock, a really pretty hike in Deep Cove on the North Shore. Again, I was in awe of how stunning this place is, and it’s only half an hour from home – you can’t beat that!

view from the top of Quarry Rock Vancouver

view from the top of Quarry Rock Vancouver

Today is my birthday and the girls’ last day here, so we’re filling it with all sorts of fun celebrations before they fly home tonight. There were countless highlights from this weekend, but I think the biggest was having so many friends all in the same place at once. I’m beyond grateful for it all, and can’t wait for 2017 so we can do it all again!